Update-palooza

Whoa, 7 months since I’ve written a blog post! For shame! For shame! But let’s not dwell on past mistakes. Let’s hold hands and look into the sunrise of a new day… poetry, bitches.

Anyway, despite the fact that I have not been blogging, I have been reading! Boy, have I been reading. Where am I in the 50 Book Pledge you may ask? Drum roll please….

bumbumbubmbumbubmubmbbraaaaaaaaaa (that’s a drum roll)

I have read 59 books! I know! I am incredible, no need to tell me. Now I am aiming for 75! What a ride it’s been, my friends. I’ve read some incredible books! I’m not going to pontificate on all these books right now; I’m thinking I’ll do a big post at the end of the year and list them all, discuss my favourites, etc. If you want to see what I’ve read so far, check out my 50 Book Pledge bookshelf: http://www.50bookpledge.ca/bookshelf/119101809k

My favourites so far, though, have been: The Mistress of Nothing, Remains of the Day, Never Let Me Go, The Red Tent, Great Expectations, and The Orenda. I highly recommend all of these.

How have I read this many books, you may ask? Well, it’s a combination of having no life, eating a lot of fast food, and being so very alone. (cue manic laughing that turns into tears)

But seriously folks, it’s been a good year for book-loving! Here are some exciting book-related facts/thoughts I want to share:

  • It’s currently literary prize season and I am an unashamed literary prize whore! Reading finalists for the Giller and Man Booker Prize is my crack-cocaine.
  • The Kingston WritersFest just happened a few weeks ago and I got a lot of great books signed, including one of my all time favourites, “Colony of Unrequited Dreams.”
  • I won all 13 books on the Giller Prize Longlist through their Twitter contest! The contest involved writing a 13 word description of one of the books on the list. Haven’t received the books yet but when I do, I am going to put them on the floor and dive into them like Scrooge McDuck! 
  • Alice Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature today and this makes me extremely happy. I even cried a little when I read about it. I also like the fact that she didn’t publish her first book until she was 37. This makes me feel like I still have a chance to turn my life around (aka stop spending my time watching Gilmore Girls and planning out pointless stand-up routines), and actually sit down and start writing.

I think I might throw myself an Alice Munro party: Get some wine, some chocolate, put on the YouTube fireplace, and sink into one of her books I haven’t read yet. Mmm sexy.

Signing off now for sexy times.

Cheerio,
Library Lyndsey

A #50BookPledge Moral Dilemma

I am the type of person who stops reading if I don’t like a book. I think that life is too short to force yourself to read something you’re not into. There are too many other great books!

So hypothetical scenario re: the #50BookPledge. If you start to read something– and you announce publicly that you are reading it– do you have to finish it? What if you’re more than half way through, and what if the book you’re reading is recommended to you by multiple friends and family members who are REALLY into it and then what if you hate it so badly but are too scared to tell people because you’re afraid they will burn your hair when you’re sleeping or something. What’s a reader to do?

I think you can guess by now that this hypothetical person is none other than yours truly. And the book I am referring to: Book #11: “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon. I liked it at first: time travel, Scotland in the 19th century, politics, intrigue and Scottish bandits. But then it turned into 50 Shades of Grey meets the Scotland highlanders. (Although I have never read 50 Shades, I know enough about it to comfortably make this comparison.)

gabaldon_outlander

I am about 60% finished the book and perhaps things calm down– perhaps the male protagonist stops beating his wife and being a misogynistic, controlling dick and perhaps the female protagonist stops being a pathetic pinheaded dolt– but I just don’t want to spend the time to find out.

Truthfully, I did try. For 2 weeks, I wouldn’t let myself read anything (not even the AMAZING new history of SNL book I bought) until I was done Outlander. But I just ended up not reading at all and watching Saved by the Bell on Netflix instead.

I need to get reading again… So I’m calling it: 8:22pm, Thursday, March 21. Rest in peace, Outlander.

Sorry to the people who adore this series. Please don’t hate me. Please don’t make a voodoo doll in my likeness or put arsenic in my soup. I will not judge you if you do not judge me.

Now on to bigger and better things (and re-doing Book #11 since I only want to count it if I’ve read the whole thing): “Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live.” Now that’s more like it.

Peace and love,
LibraryLyndsey

Books 5-10: One line reviews

Wow. It’s been some time since my last post. Time flies when you’re bogged down by stress, anxiety and drinking until you can’t feel feelings anymore.

But I have been reading, so do not worry. It seems to be one of the best cures for my anxiety. Well that and meat lover’s pizza.

I haven’t been reading as fast as I did at the beginning of the challenge but I’m certainly not behind! What I haven’t been doing though, naughty LibraryLyndsey, is keeping up my reviews on this lil ol bloggy. So I thought I’d catch up by doing one line reviews for books 5-10.

Here we go, folks.

Book 5: “Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes” by Jude Morgan
5 out of 5 stars
Review: The Brontes are unable to reconcile their imagination and literary desires with the harshness of the realities of the outside world… Relatable.

Book 6: “Moral Disorder” by Margaret Atwood
4 out of 5 stars
Review: Margaret Atwood is such a good writer that she makes me want to give up any literary aspirations I may have and sell straw hats on the highway instead.

Book 7: “The Reinvention of Love” by Helen Humphreys
2 out of 5 stars
Review: Whiney French journalist has affair with Victor Hugo’s wife and then gets old.

Book 8: “Small Island” by Andrea Levy
5 out of 5 stars
Review: A mind-blowingly fantastic novel about a Jamaican couple who are disillusioned when they move to England after WW2 and realize the British aren’t as cool beans as they thought they were… but at least they’re better than the Americans!

Book 9: “Before Green Gables” by Budge Wilson
3 out of 5 stars
Review: A well thought out prequel to the Anne series, this book makes you realize why Montgomery didn’t write a prequel herself: because Anne’s an orphan and it’s bloody depressing!

Book 10: “Matilda” by Roald Dahl
(A childhood favourite, I have allowed at least some of my #50BookPledge books to be re-reads.)
5 out of 5 stars
Review: Matilda, the extraordinary little being she is, is a little hero of mine… so much so that AS I was reading this book, I had her likeness tattooed on my back!

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Yup. ‘Tis true. I had this tattoo done a week and a half ago. My very first! I chose it because how wonderful the sketch is, because of what Matilda means to me, and of course because of the literary-ness of it all. “The Reader of Books” is the title of the first chapter of Matilda.

So now I am a certified badass because of my tattoo although some people tell me that because the tattoo is of a little girl reading a book, it cancels out the badass-ness of it all but I say no! It only makes me MORE of a badass because I don’t care what no one thinks, man! I march to the beat of my own drum!

(Can badasses still have Disney movie marathons on Saturday nights?)

Cheers and love,
Library Lyndsey

 

Bad books and Beautiful blankets (alliteration!!!)

Book #4, “Dust City” by Robert Paul Weston was a disappointment. Good premise, bad writing. If you feel like a modern look at fairy tales, watch Shrek instead. Hell, watch Shrek 2. Even that’s better. I don’t like to be harsh but I was just saddened by the potential of the story and the crappiness of the writing.

But my mother taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all so instead of a writing a bad review, I shall write about my other favourite thing besides reading… CRAFTING! (yay!)

I named this blog “Libraries and Lace,” because although it’s mainly a book blog, I wanted the “lace” part to represent my love of crafting, mainly crocheting and knitting. That’s right. Just when you thought I couldn’t get any nerdier!

I won’t drone on about my love of the yarny arts at this point, but I thought I’d share a few pics.

The first 2 are of the blanket I made for my sister and her family for Christmas. It took me 2 months but it was so much fun to make and I loved the way it turned out. I basically crocheted all these squares and then stitched them together. I am very proud and braggy.

kb1 kb2

 

Now, I am working on advancing my knitting skillz (adding a z makes it cooler). I’m knitting a bright pink, wicked cool scarf for moi. See…

scarf

 

Well, there you have it, my possums. Another layer of Library Lyndsey’s onion has been peeled.

Also, currently reading Book#5: “Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes,” by Jude Morgan. AMAZE BALLS  so far!

Cheerio,

Library Lyndsey

Why I shaved my head: Thoughts on Schultz’s “The Blondes”

Whoo! I just breezed right through this one. It was easy to read, quirky, and apocalyptic as hell. Get it? Apocalyptic as HELL. Guffaw!

Written by Canadian author, Emily Schultz, the novel is about a young woman currently living in New York City, Hazel Hayes, who had an affair with her married professor and finds out she’s pregnant. To complicate things even more, all of a sudden blonde women all over the world start randomly and viciously attacking people. It seems that there is an epidemic that only affects blonde women, turning them into rabid killers. As you would expect, it is featured all over the news; people become paranoid– shaving their heads, dying their hair, wearing masks, treating all blonde women and basically most women like they are pariahs. When Hazel tries to escape New York to go back to Toronto, she witnesses some horrifying things and is severely affected by how the world is dealing with the pandemic.

It’s a creative and strange story and written so well that it’s hard to put down. As I was reading it, and even after, I wasn’t able to shake off the apocalyptic world that Schultz created. I found I was checking my Twitter and Facebook feeds and for a brief moment feeling surprised that people weren’t writing about this Blonde plague. I started to feel a little paranoid myself. Maybe it’s because I’ve been cooped up in my apartment for 5 days with a viral infection, but I definitely regret shaving my hair and de-friending all my blonde friends from Facebook. Guffaw!

I’m sure I could say more intelligent things about this; pontificating on theories of beauty and gender, examining disease paranoia… but I’d much rather go play Fruit Ninja on my iPhone. M’kay?

Anyway, give this one a try. You won’t regret it. I also recommend Schultz’s first book, “Heaven is Small,” which is also very unique and quirky. She came to the Kingston Writer’s Fest a few years ago where I saw her read and was captivated.

Happy readings to all!

Love,

Library Lyndsey

Book 2, “The Beautiful and Damned” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, reviewed

This is a hard book for me to review since all throughout and even after finishing, I’m not sure how much I really like it.

I love jazz age fiction, I loved Gatsby and I love Hemmingway and Waugh novels and the way they can so wonderfully capture the restlessness and excess of the middle-to-upper classes of the time. Stories of the “lost generation” or “the bright young things” as they were called in England, always seem to convey a wonderful combination of melancholy and frivolity that intrigues me. Meaninglessness and bathtubs of gin… what could be better, amIright? It was the beginning of modernity as we know it and I just want to put on some stockings, stick a feather in my hair, listen to some jazz, and use the words “frightfully” and “dreadful” as often as I can.

“The Beautiful and Damned” exemplifies this perfectly but with a bit of a darker edge to it.

It’s the story of a young man, Anthony, and the captivating and beautiful woman he marries, Gloria, who float around New York City in the 1920s drinking, partying, and spending more money than they have with the expectation of inheriting a very large sum when his grandfather dies. However, when the money does not come through (because the grandfather, a staunch prohibitionist, disapproves of their frivilous lifestyle and cuts them out of the will), Anthony and Gloria are ruined and spiral into a hateful and destructive marriage where they crumble into debt and alcoholism.

Depressing, right? I know. Which is why I said that I may not have thoroughly enjoyed it as much as I wish I did. I mean, it’s January– the sun seldom appears, everything is muddy and dark, I’m always grumpy and here I am reading existentialist diatribes like this:

“For it seemed to me that there was no ultimate goal for man. Man was beginning a grotesque and bewildered fight with nature– nature, that by the divine and magnificent accident had brought us to where we could fly in her face.” (page 220)

It got to be a little too much. Can you blame me if once in a while, I closed the book, threw on some Lady Gaga and danced around my apartment wearing every hat I own?

It was beautifully written though; Fitzgerald’s prose is poetic and his protagonist, Gloria, the classic “Belle Dame Sans Merci,” was a complicated and fascinating character– a character which I could write much more about because she kind of drove me crazy but it will make this review too long and I’m already bored. Maybe at some point when I have too much time on my hands, I will write a rant about the “Belle Dame Sans Merci” archetype but not right now. Anyway, many critics say that she was based on Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda. Eesk, what a handful she musta been!

I do recommend this novel but maybe read it with a sunlamp on you or some tropical music playing in the background just to take the edge of.

Hope you’re reading is going well! Feel free to share!

Love,

Library Lyndsey

Does cocaine make you do things fast; or “Sarum,” a review

Religion, agriculture, politics, regency, war, trade, architecture, food, laws, class systems, feudal systems, economics, literature, art, feminism, ancestry, modernity… there is pretty much nothing this book didn’t cover about the history of England. What an amazingly fascinating but oh-so-long read! (Seriously long. I read like I was on cocaine and it still took me 2 weeks to read it. Does cocaine make you do things fast or is that speed? Obviously, I didn’t learn much about the affects of illegal drugs.)

Anyway…

Starting out with the story of our paleolithic ancestors moving south for a warmer climate and eventually landing in what we now call Salisbury, England (or Sarum as it is referred to in the novel), each chapter then acts as almost a short story, that flows through the centuries and follows the generations of the original paleolithic family that settled there, as well as Saxon and Norman families that are also huge influence in Britain’s history.

In each chapter the author always sets up the cultural, economic, religious, and political atmosphere of that particular time in history but mixed in with captivating stories of the people that were directly or indirectly affected by the times. Merchants, knights, kings, slaves, archbishops, canons, magnates, servants, farmers, masons, mill owners, bishops, clergymen, sailors– all classes of people spread across the pages with all sorts of stories to tell of love, marriage, betrayal, affairs, deaths, friendships, rebellion, conformity, etc.

The thing I appreciated most about the novel was the vast array of characters that Rutherford created. Although he was brilliantly sneaky in how he was able to educate the reader about the history of England through fictional plotlines, his characters were remarkably human and the stories he told were often touching and sometimes heartbreaking. He also created some amazingly strong and wilful female characters that stood out to me the most. Not all his female characters were rebels of course, but the ones that were made me cheer on the sidelines and appreciate him including them in his stories.

Rutherford is a great historian and a great storyteller. I recommend this to anyone who wants to take on an epic read and has a thirst for history. If you don’t want either of those things, stick to your Archie comics. Just kidding. I love Archie.

Phew! Book 1 of the #50BookPledge done. I’mma choose some shorter books for the next few, methinks.

Cheerio,

Library Lyndsey