Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Books that Blew Our Minds: Spudbabe

Kindergarden-4th Grade:
Polar Bear Brothers, Ylla (1960)
I couldn't take the pressure of picking a new book in 10 minutes every week during Library class.  So most weeks I would panic in the last 20 seconds and take out Polar Bear Brothers.  It's about two polar bear brothers who play together-ADORABLE!!

Elementary School (when I wasn't reading Polar Bear Brothers):
My Brother Sam is Dead, James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier (1976)
I'm pretty sure this had a traumatic effect on everyone who had to read it at that age.  Seriously though, who has 9 year olds read a book that has a young boy watch his older brother get executed at the end?  Those teachers were a bunch of sick F-ers. 

Middle School
Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls (1961)
This is a traumatic book for EVERYONE who reads it regardless of age/sex. 

Junior High School:
Catcher In The Rye, J.D. Salinger (1951)
Because 13 year olds are retarded. 

High School
Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell (1936)
I still don't understand why Scarlett was so in love with that fruit loop Ashley over Rhett.  Rhett was sexy and wonderful (marital rape aside) and loved her so much!!!!  And I just started crying...  

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien (1937-1949)

I at first refused to read any of these books or watch the movies because they're for dorks.  Then Elle Ewok rented the first movie and made me watch it with her.  We then watched it 5 more times that weekend.  Then I read all the books, watched the first movie 20-30 more times, stood in line to see the other two movies, bought all the extended release DVD's and watched them multiple times, bought the action without those books and movies, it could have been many more years before I realized I was a complete Dork too.
20 - Something:

The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand (1943)

I just can't speak highly enough of this book.  I absolutely LOVED it.  It came into my life at a time when I was starting to grow up (a little bit) and was trying to form my political beliefs in a more solid way.  Up until then all I knew was that I didn't like responsible people paying for losers and that George W. Bush had a cute butt.  I still feel that way, but reading the Fountainhead helped me to refine my beliefs and had a sexy romance in it to boot. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

SLYBC Question of the Day: What is Your Favorite Pilgrim Tale in Hyperion?

Elle Ewok: One thing most members of Yinzer Book Club share in common is our desire to make out with Dan Simmons because we love his books so much.

Hello Sexy!

As noted in "The Books That Blew My Mind" post below - Hyperion (by Dan Simmons) is one of my favorite books of all time. It is structurally based on The Canterbury Tales in that the book tells six independant stories (each of which can stand on its own as a great short story) and connects them all together via the main (but separate) plot line.

In Hyperion six pilgrims travel to a far away planet to meet THE SHRIKE. If the Shrike is not the coolest horror/villian/monster ever written I'm not sure what is. It is pretty much guarenteed that they all will die horrible horrible deaths at the hands of The Shrike and there is only a small chance that one of them might survive and have a wish granted. Yet, they all go. Why you ask? What would compel a person to do such a thing? Well that's what the short stories are for. To reveal the motivations behind the Pilgrims' suicide mission.

Each of the short stories are fantastic. But some are better than others and some are truly exceptional. I asked SLYBC members and friends to nominate their favorite Pilgrim Tale:

Elle Ewok: The Priest's Tale - "The Man who Cried God" (Part 1)
Elle Ewok: "This is the best short story I ever read. EVER. Horrifying and deeply imaginative."

Spudbabe: The Priest's Tale - "The Man who Cried God" (Part 1)

Spudbabe: "I hate picking the same thing as Elle Ewok."

Trixie Beldon: The Scholar's Tale - "The River Lethe's Taste is Bitter" (Part 4)

Trixie Beldon: "So good!!! And sad!!!"

Spudbabe's Fiance: The Scholar's Tale - "The River Lethe's Taste is Bitter" (Part 4)

Spudbabe's Fiance: "Um I forget. Probably the dude with the baby."

Cock-eyed Bobby Eff: The Soldier's Tale - "The War Lovers" (Part 2)

Cock-eyed Bobby Eff: "Very tough question. I could spend an hour discussing each. I'll go with the colonel. I always dig stories of warriors who get the girl. But the Keets story is right up there."

Books that Blew My Mind: BeezusKiddo

The tricky part of making this list for me is that I haven't read most of these books for a long time, and I remember little more than that I loved the bear with me through my feeble reviews... Elementary School: Matilda, Roald Dahl (1988).

I loved everything Roald Dahl wrote. I think I've probably read all his books, including the books he wrote for grown ups. I think I read Matilda 10 times as a kid. Matilda was neglected, even loathed, by her parents but she found happiness in books. We were kindred little spirits (except my parents didn't hate me, they thought I was ok).

Junior High: Helter Skelter, Vincent Bugliosi (1974) and The Thief of Always, Clive Barker (1992)

Neither of these books are good. They're both garbage. I went back and tried to read The Thief of Always when I was in college, and thought "I was obsessed with this?" Yes, I was a morbid, dark kid in Jr High (and some of high school). I searched for books as demented as possible. I loved these books, and for a brooding kid in a podunk town, these were amaaaaaazing. Thank goodness I developed some taste as I grew up.

High School: The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck (1939)


This is when I finally started to "get" literature. The Grapes of Wrath is my all time favorite book. It holds a special piece in my heart because this is where I cut my teeth on reading critically and learned how to interact with a book. Chapter 2, the chapter about the tortoise crossing the highway, is the most perfect chapter in all of American literature. It is the whole book, the whole era, all the feelings, all the thoughts, all in one little tortoise.

College: One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1967)

It has been almost 10 years now since I read this book, so I suppose it's excusable that the only things I remember are that (1) this book is really hard to read, and (2) it is so worth it. It is amazing and mindblowing, but don't ask me what happened, because I don't remember. I just remember that everyone had the same name. After revisiting favorite books from my past and finding out they were actually terrible, I'm now more hesitant to go back and revisit favorites...but Oprah loved this one and put it on her favorites list, so it must be good for reals.

Law School: The Series of Unfortunate Events Books, Lemony Snicket

Law school involves reading all day and reading all night (followed by a career of reading all day, and reading all night). During leisure reading time, I needed a break. During those 3 long years, I read a lot of young adult novels. They're fast, easy reading, and a lot of fun. The Series of Unfortunate Events books are intelligent. Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) is a master at cross-writing his works for audiences young and old. While the stories are enjoyable for little ones, they're also full of sharp literary and political wit for grown-ups. Yes, you may feel silly checking books out of the children's section of the library, but check these ones out, they're well worth it. YA may well be my favorite genre. Other YA series you should NOT miss: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, and The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins.

20s: The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger (2003)


Over the last few years, I've been reading a lot of fiction bestsellers. It's easy enough to pick one up at the big fancy display at the library, or Costco, or the airport, or wherever I happen to be. I can't say that The Time Traveler's Wife is a work of timeless literature, but it is a really, really good read. I love having that feeling where I want to keep reading, where I want to put everything else aside and just read this book, because I'm really enjoying it, and I want the whole rest of the world to just disappear. I think I got through this book in like 24 hours, and yes, I cried a few times. Do yourself a favor and skip the movie, the movie is terrible. The book, though, is fantastic and it is well worth it to set aside a weekend to get lost in it.

Honorable Mentions: In Cold Blood, Truman Capote (1966) and No Country for Old Men, Cormac McCarthy (2005)


I still like crime books, but unlike my Jr. High self, I now actually have taste. Each of these books are amazing. They juxtapose smooth prose with unspeakable horrors. The effect is enchanting. These are the books where I get to the end, and I am so sad, because the book was so amazing and now it's over.