reading while traveling

books-1163695_640Apparently this is a thing I like to do: read a book set in the place I’m traveling to.

Right now, I’m heading off to a weekend in Acadia, Maine, and I’m reading The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel, about a man who lived as a hermit in the backwoods of Maine for nearly 30 years.

When I went to Iceland, I read a book called Boy on the Edge by Fridrick Erlings, about a foster kid growing up in Iceland – I could look outside and understand the descriptions of the lava fields in a way I probably couldn’t have if I hadn’t been right there.

When I went on a road trip after college, I read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road and Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild.  I also read, as we drove through the southwestern states, a terrible book by Bentley Little called The Revelation, which took place in Arizona.

These were all nearly coincidences – I requested Stranger in the Woods a while back and only now just got it.  And I had Boy on my Overdrive Wish List, and it just happened to be available as I was loading up my Nook for the trip.  Most of my road trip novels were ones I took with me, so I did choose them with the trip in mind, but The Revelation was found somewhere along the way.  More loosely, when I did a semester in Italy, I picked up a copy of Alex Garland’s The Beach in an English bookstore – it wasn’t about Italy, but the traveling aspect was there.  And the movie was released in Italy at around the same time.

This summer I’m heading over to Ireland, and I would love to read something set there.  Of course, I’ve already read The Dubliners.  Any suggestions?  Otherwise I’ll just hope that a magical coincidence will bring me a good Irish-themed book just in time… or that we’ll find an Irish bookshop to visit there…

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when bookworms get earworms

The first book that ever really got a song stuck in my head was If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth.  The title is taken from a Wings song, “Band on the Run.”  If you didn’t know, reading the book would tell you that Wings was a project of Paul McCartney’s after The Beatles, and the main character Lewis is pretty much obsessed with them and with music in general, although his story is happening in the 70s and so he can’t just download them.  Anyway, everytime I looked at this book’s cover, the song started playing in my head…

It seemed to be a bit of a trend that year, as I came across I Think I Love You by Allison Pearson.  Never actually read the book, because every time I saw this book in the library it was full on David Cassidy and the Partridge Family and I just couldn’t do it.

So, of course, I’ll include the song below so you can have it stuck in your head, too.

After that point, I had songs on the brain every time I saw a book title.  That’s the only way I can explain why every time I saw the cover for Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi, I got Metallica’s “Through the Never” stuck in my head.

Twisting

turning

through the

Ever Night!

Thankfully, I stopped getting songs stuck in my head so regularly.  But recently it’s come back.  I blame the advanced reader copy I received of Bad Blood by Demitria Lunetta.  Of course.  Taylor Swift.  You KNOW that’s going to get stuck in your head.  ‘Cuz baby now we’ve got bad blood…

And then, while I was reading Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, I couldn’t stop hearing Blondie’s “Heart of Glass.”

And then another Taylor Swift song swooped in while I was reading After the Woods by Kim Savage.  Are we out of the woods yet? Are we out of the woods yet? Are we out of the woods yet? Are we out of the woods? Are we in the clear yet? Are we in the clear yet? Are we in the clear yet? In the clear yet? Good.

It comes to a point where I’m relieved to finish one of these books, just so I can get the damned song out of my head.

What books have given you an earworm?

 

 

3 on a theme: books within books

I am often reading between 3 and 5 books at the same time, and occasionally there’s a theme that might not be remarkable in one book… but when I see it in three books, I take notice.

Well, I started this blog post with three recent titles, then I kept finding more.  I’ll try to keep it to these three, because their inclusion in the novels felt more important to the plot than some of the other fictional titles.

collage

All read in December 2016-January 2017

The premise of Melanie Raabe’s The Trap includes a mention of the fictional book right on the cover blurb: “I know who killed my sister.  I wrote this book for him.”  The narrator, an author, writes a book called Blood Sisters about her sister’s murder in an effort to lure the murderer, a journalist, to her secluded house, where she plans to get him to confess.  There are chapters from the fictional book, which later one wonders how closely these chapters actually follow the truth.

A fictional book called The Bubblegum Reaper brings together two teens in Matthew Quick’s Every Exquisite Thing.  The fictional novel involves a teenage boy who falls in love with a twin who talks to turtles, only he isn’t sure which of the identical twins he’s in love with.  The characters, in their obsession with this book, discover that the author lives nearby and after striking up a friendship with him, also discover that The Bubblegum Reaper seems to be a thinly veiled story of his own life.  Every Exquisite Thing reminded me a LOT of The Fault in Our Stars, which has its own fictional novel, An Imperial Affliction.  Still no idea why the book is called The Bubblegum Reaper.

Finally, and you knew I’d be back to talk about this one, A List of Cages features an entire SERIES of fictional novels: the Elian Mariner books, which sound suspiciously like The Little Prince to me (and I just finished reading Everything, Everything, in which the main character reads and re-reads The Little Prince).  I haven’t actually read that book, so I could be way off, but basically Julian uses these books both to remind him of Adam, and to escape into the stars much like Elian Mariner does.

I often find that characters in books read other books, and most of the time they are real books that exist.  Obviously, authors are readers and they want to pay homage to the books that inspire them.  The use of a fictional book gives the characters the ability to interact with the authors’ lives – obviously, The Trap wouldn’t have worked with a real novel, because it’s all about the author, and the same for Every Exquisite Thing (and The Fault in Our Stars).  For A List of Cages, I think the reason for using a fictional series is largely for one scene, in which one of Julian’s classmates asks what he’s reading, and he gets excited to talk about his favorite books, and we as the reader don’t know what level these books are until the classmate makes a terrible comment, and suddenly we realize that high school freshman Julian is reading books meant for elementary school children.  In that way, The Little Prince wouldn’t have worked, because many adults read it.

Lots and lots of other books include fictional works.  Probably the coolest example of this is Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell, in which the main character writes fanfiction for the Simon Snow series (it bears close resemblance to Harry Potter).  So many people were writing fanfiction for this fictional series that Rainbow Rowell actually wrote the fic Cath was working on, and it was published as Carry On Simon.  Doesn’t always happen, but I sure would like to read The Bubblegum Reaper!

Addition, 3/10/17: Found another one!  Currently reading The Man in the High Castle, wherein there is a book titled The Grasshopper Lies Heavy.  I keep getting the feeling that there is a parallel universe where people read the book The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, which refers to a fictional book called The Man in the High Castle.

 

stealing time to read

I read a lot.  Every year for the last ten years I have read over 100 books. During two of those years, I read over 170 books.  As you can see from the little Goodreads widget on my blog, I’m usually in the middle of reading 3-5 books.

When people say they don’t have time to read, I both can’t understand them and understand completely.  In high school I remember sitting down on my bed every afternoon and reading for hours (this was pre-internet).  I don’t do that anymore, not very often.  This is how I understand when people say they can’t find time to read.  I certainly don’t have hours everyday to just sit and enjoy a book.

Or do I?

Nowadays, most of my reading is done while I’m eating.  I read while I eat breakfast, and while I eat lunch (dinner is usually on the couch watching TV).  But mealtime accounts for about an hour of reading time every day.

Lunch with Simon & Baz #carryon #rainbowrowell #books #reading #simonandbaz

A post shared by Kate (@spoffk) on

I also listen to audiobooks during my commute.  That’s a half hour to and from work, so there’s another hour, and sometimes I’ll continue to listen while I do chores around the house, like folding laundry and preparing breakfast or dinner.  Sometimes I’ll also listen while I play games on the computer (generally only when I’m at a good part in the audiobook).

I keep my Nook in the bathroom, so when I’m doing my business I’m often reading then, too, but usually only when I’m reading a book with short chapters – right now it’s Challenger Deep, by Neal Shusterman.  That accounts for about 15 minutes of reading a day.

Recently, I’ve started reading in bed at night, too, mostly to eliminate the screen brain I have from being on the computer and watching TV in the evenings.  There’s another 20 minutes.

And, I have to admit, occasionally I sneak some reading at work as well (I’m a librarian, though, so I like to think it’s work-related).

All told, without sitting down expressly to read a book, I manage to carve out nearly 3 hours of reading every day.

3 books on a theme: brothers who died in the war

img_3252I am often reading between 3 and 5 books at the same time, and occasionally there’s a theme that might not be remarkable in one book… but when I see it in three books, I take notice.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters included among its characters a set of brothers, one of whom is “killed in the war” (the war being World War I).  Stephen’s ghost returns to haunt the narrator and resolve some things that happened between the brothers.

Shortly after reading this one, I read Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge, which took place shortly after the end of World War I, and featured another brother killed in the war.  Sebastian “returns” via letters that are deposited in a desk, and haunts his fiancee as well.

Then I started reading an advanced copy of The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco, and yet another dead brother showed up.  No World War I this time, as the story takes place in a fantasy universe, but Fox dies in the war, and his sister brings him back from the dead.

Coincidence?  Maybe.  In any case, very strange that three books I read within a month’s time had brothers who died in a war and then returned from the dead.

31 Days of Halloween, Days 28-31

It’s been a busy weekend, and I haven’t had time to post (or watch many horror movies, for that matter…).  But I did do many things to celebrate Halloween so here they are!

On Saturday morning I ran in the Costume Dash 5K, which was my only costumed event of this year.  My friend dressed as a cookie and I dressed as a carton of milk.  There were lots of Mario Karts, mermaids, and super heroes.  It was fun puzzling out what some of the costumes were meant to be, and I got a pretty good time (for me, anyway) of 36 minutes.

Saturday afternoon involved a hike to the Freetown State Forest in Fall River, MA (home of Lizzie Borden!).  This forest is located in the Bridgewater Triangle, a hotspot of strange paranormal events.  Specific to the forest:

  • Creatures called Pukwedgies by the Wampanoag are claimed to roam there, causing all kinds of dangerous mischief such as kidnapping people or pushing them off cliffs (to their deaths).
  • The quarry (which I visited) is a site where many people claimed to feel a sense of foreboding, and a number of suicides have occurred there.  Also, President Ronald Reagan apparently saw a UFO here?
  • UFOs, Pukwedgies, and apparently Bigfoot have all been sighted here.
  • A number of murders have occurred in the forest.  One missing girl was found dead and tied to a tree, and a prostitute was found brutally murdered (murdered by her pimp, who was also a Satanist).  In 2001, two bodies riddled with bullets were found on Bell Rock Road (which we drove down to get to the hiking trails…).
  • Other reports of Satanic cult activity, reports of an aggressive pack of dogs, an escaped emu, and as recently as May of this year, wire was found stretched across the trails at a height meant to decapitate dirt-bike riders.  Yikes!
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Not far into the trail, we came across what I call the “Death Camper” – a totally trashed trailer inside a locked fenced-in area.

Later we watched a few fun Halloween movies: Teen Witch (again) and Hocus Pocus.

Last night I attended Rise of the Jack O’Lanterns, which involved lots of professional pumpkin carving.  There were some amazing horror movie themed pumpkins, such as this one:

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mv5bmtm2otm1mty5nf5bml5banbnxkftztcwnjawmzkymq-_v1_uy268_cr20182268_al_Then last night I watched a doozy of a horror (?) movie called Brain Damage.  The description called it “surreal” and I certainly got that… It’s about Aylmer, some weird phallic-looking worm, that can give people drug-like trips.  In exchange, while you’re high, Aylmer likes to eat brains.  He also likes to sing… There were some bizarre deaths, including one where a girl goes to give Aylmer’s host a BJ and instead ends up with Aylmer in her mouth.  Just bizarre all around.  Recommendations if you enjoyed this one?  The only one that comes to mind is Eraserhead

Tonight will probably involve watching The Walking Dead, so I will leave you with a simple Happy Halloween!

31 Days of Halloween, Day 18: Teen Witch

p11602_d_v8_aaIn one of my recent searches I stumbled across this beauty, which had been lost to my subconscious for a good reason.  From the opening that made me wonder if I had somehow accidentally turned on a Michael Bolton music video, to the odd musical numbers, this was a trip back to the 80s.  So many cliches!  The mean popular girls, the shoulder pads, the nerd who can somehow transform into a beauty who is obsessed with the jock (who has a heart of gold, naturally).

I definitely didn’t remember (or perhaps these things went over my head) the sex ed class wherein the class clown reels off a list of penis synonyms, or the nerd that the main nerd is tricked into going to a dance with who repeatedly tries to grope her.  But luckily our heroine is about to turn 16 and come into her witchy powers.  Now everything she wishes comes true!

So, why does she have to learn actual spells in Latin, when she can just wish her little brother to turn into a dog?  Who knows!  The next obvious step is getting the popular girls to turn on themselves and spell the jock to fall in love with her.  One of her clever plans is to have the jock come over to do schoolwork and she hides all the chairs in her room so they have to both sit on the bed.  Naughty, naughty!

Some of my favorite moments:

  • Teen witch pulls out a voodoo doll.  Mom: “Oh, isn’t that cute!”
  • Rap battle
  • Random saxophone solo
  • The bedazzled jean jacket, heels with ankle socks, hair teased to the sky

Want to experience a piece of the magic?

There are only a handful of other Halloween films that can compete with this, such as:

  • The Craft (1996) – Witches in full mid-nineties glory, but basically the same plot.
  • Hocus Pocus (1993) – This one stands the test of time much better than Teen Witch, but it’s still a lot of fun!
  • The Worst Witch (1986) – Tim Curry is so… dreamy?  This stars a young Fairuza Balk (of The Craft fame).  You really need to watch to the end for that awesomely awful musical number.