Friday, June 18, 2010

Books to Start a Life

This week, a friend graduated from college with her RN degree.  We were so proud of her!  It got me thinking about graduation gifts.  There is the gold standard of grad gifts: Oh, the Places You'll Go!  Then there are those small books on leadership and pursuing your dreams.  Those are great choices for encouraging grads, but it got me thinking: What book would I choose to give a graduate.  Here's what I came up with:

1. Letters to a Young Poet - you don't have to be a poet to get something out of this book.  I "reviewed" it earlier this year, but it is eminently quotable and deep enough to require re-reading to get it all.  It is one of those books a young person needs on their desk to refer back to in uncertain times. 

2. East of Eden - the concepts taught about choosing how your life will go can be freeing to a young person as they set out in life.   Thou mayest.

3.  The Complete O. Henry - little gems, short stories, happy reading.

4.  The Compete (Fill In the Blank) Poems - it doesn't matter who writes the poetry, having the classic poets around will help you when you first fall in love, the first time you lose your job, when your room mate goes crazy and you think you are going to have to call the cops (wait, maybe that won't happen in everyone's life).

5.  A Journal - I know this sounds corny, but what are graduation presents for.  This is not just any journal - if you can find one, get one without lines.  Even if the graduate isn't a writer, they will enjoy the metaphor of filling the pages of a life they haven't yet begun. 

What would book would you get for a graduate?  What books start a life?


Thursday, June 17, 2010

On the Nightstand

Here at Our Year in Books, most of our reading is done before bed, whilst laying (in various positions) in bed.  I was cleaning our bedroom earlier today and got an idea about a post.  The title is a dead giveaway, isn't it?  Here's what's currently on the nightstands:

-D: (the nook isn't present, but can be considered)
3 issues of Maximum PC (one current)
Saki: Complete and Unabridged
Mental Floss presents: In the Beginning (A Mouthwatering Guide to the Origins of Everything)
The Complete Chronicles of Narnia (we started reading this together approx. 1-2 years ago) by C.S. Lewis
Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan (it's downstairs, but only because I carried it from the nightstand)

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
American Creation by Joseph Ellis
Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks

Lots of great reads.  We aren't reading the majority of them.  This is an exercise, in part, to make us change it by the next time we post. What's on your nightstand?  Which book are you most excited to read? And where do you do most of your reading?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You best recognize! Review from da' hood, Yo! mad props, fo' real.

I'll have to preface this blog post with a very unnerving comment made over at Dead White Guys Lit. Some fellow bloggers aren't too friendly about Twilighter's and let the world know. Mind you, I'm fine with that b/c I will NEVER go see or read Twilight. It's way out of my sphere of influence (although I have some friends that enjoy it and I won't hold it against them. =P). But, a comment was made that compared Robert Jordan's epic works to Stephanie Meyer's tween vampire trend-work! She called the works BAD! Oh, my inner ghettotude came out and my head was going side-to-side, fingers snapping, and about fourteen "oh no she didn't"s were uttered. He has helped shaped the modern fantasy epic, and is this generations J.R.R. Tolkien based on innovation and scope. Needless to say, it took about twelve Valium and a coma to calm me down for defacing a great author.

Pop off! Pop Off!

Surprise, Surprise! I was reading a Robert Jordan book at the time of the comment posted above. In fact, you could say that every day for the last 15 years I have been reading a Robert Jordan book at one point. My inner circle of high school friends would also attest to the sheer magnitude of greatness that Robert Jordan started, but wasn't able to complete(*sob*). Crossroads of Twilight is the tenth book in The Wheel of Time series. At this point in the story, we're still entrenched in about 30 different plot lines. Crossroads is a little different than the first nine books. The events of this novel happen almost entirely during the time as last few chapters of Winter's Heart. Rand and Nynaeve are doing something exceptional with the One Power that can be felt by everyone on the continent. Book Ten takes you through the other main characters storyline's during the time that's happening. Egwene, Elayne, Mat, Perrin, Faile, and their surrounding characters have varying reactions to the "big event" while dealing with the drama of their own situations. I have a feeling that Jordan does this b/c he couldn't fit all that information into the last novel. It would have made it 1200 pages or so.... which I would have been happy with. Epics are great!

You best stop frontin'!

I continue to say that Jordan is a wonderful author. He has created a living world who's scope is as large as Tolstoy's War and Peace... (1000+ characters). He is long winded and does take description down to the nth level. But that tedium is made worthwhile when the action starts and the pieces start falling into place. I've been reading the series since The Shadow Rising came out in '93. Every time a new book came out I would go back and re-read the series. It's been a tough one with the amount of books, but there was never a time that I didn't read the series and pick something new out. I get some joy out of reading book 3 for the sixth time and noticing that he picked that plot up and/or finished it out in a later book. Yes, he describes clothing and politic enough to make people cringe....  but a good portion is there on purpose. In light of that, the Egwene section of Crossroads is slow and not my favourite part, but all is forgiven/enjoyed by the time I close the cover.


Rating: 7.5 CBs - ratcheting up anticipation after a couple slow progression novels. ALMOST to Brian Sanderson's (Jordan's successor) 12th book!!!! By the way, very ghettorammar to be had. Hope I wasn't misleading, Yo.