Monthly Archives: February 2010

Linked Up: Paging Through the Internet

My mom loved thinking about and talking about reading almost as much as she loved the actual act of reading.

In her absence, I’ve turned to the giant reading conversation that is the World Wide Web. Here’s what the Internet is saying about books, authors and the publishing industry this week:

My brother’s favorite things (Nintendo! Gaming!) meet my mom’s favorite things (Books! Reading!) as Nintendo announces its new DSi XL will also act as an ebook reader. [Wired]

Following on the news that The Disney Channel will release Harriet the Spy – Blog Wars, Gawker reimagined some of my favorite children’s books with a technological twist.[Gawker]

You know what we need more of? Books about Obama. [USA Today]

John Grisham is bringing his lawyer tales to the kiddies. [The New York Times]

New York Magazine speculates whether faux memoirist James Frey is secretly a bestselling sci-fi writer. [NY Mag]

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Robin’s Reading List Authors Say What?

When the authors on The List aren’t busy writing exciting works that attracted Robin’s attention, many can be found speaking their mind on Twitter.

Amazon gripes, movie quotes, too much information and more. Check out who’s tweeting what this week:

@rebeccawalker

how is it that i cannot get copies of my own book from Amazon in fewer than fourteen days? #bw&j

@johnrobison

Favorite movie quote? Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son . . . Animal House

@sfinnamore

Social Media is the new bottled water/people did fine without it before but now they feel they need it to go on living. We’re soaking in it.

The only people who truly need bottled water live in 3rd world countries. The only people who truly need Social Media are shut ins & lepers.

@danijshapiro

There are journeys a writer goes on to write a book. And there a book a writer writes in order to go on the journey… #devotion

@michellerichmon

TMI…If you were married to Mark Sanford, would you really want to write a memoir about it? http://jennysanford.com

Reading Break: An Olympic Story

I’m going to admit up front that this post has nothing to do with reading (unless reading CNN counts?) and is only tangentially related to my mom. However, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want.

I am not a die hard figure skating fan, and the Winter Olympics have only held my attention sporadically the last two weeks. However, last night I sat down to watch the women’s skating finals because it’s my favorite sport of the Games and, frankly, I had nothing else to do.

As usual, I soon became absorbed in the individual skaters’ stories: the South Korean skater who is a superstar in her country, the American who spent the day before the event doing homework and is going to Stanford for college, and the Canadian whose mother just recently passed away.

It seemed clear that the fight for gold was probably going to come down to rival countries South Korea and Japan. Barring any major mistakes, the real race for everyone else would be bronze. The patriotic side of me thought I should root for the Americans. But call me a sucker, I wanted it for Canada. Joannie Rochette’s mom died of a heart attack Sunday – just two days before her first skate. And yet here she was, keeping it together and trying to make both herself and her mom proud.

As you can imagine, I really felt for her and I am just so glad she got the bronze. (Not just because of her mom, of course, but also because she skated so damn well.)

Below is the article from CNN about her. It’s a little long for this post, so you’ll have to click “Keep Reading” for the whole story.

With mom in ‘heart and soul,’ Rochette goes for medal

By Jason Hanna, CNN

(CNN) — Things were good for Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette in the weeks before the Winter Olympics. She had a 2009 world silver medal. Training was going well. And, she told her agent, she had her confidante and source of strength by her side.

“‘I have my mom,'” agent Dave Baden recalled Rochette saying to him at the time. “‘At this point, I know what to do, and I have my mother.'”

“She’s been training for this all her life, so the only thing she needed to get to that next level was the strength she got from her mother,” Baden said.

That strength, he said, is helping her pull through the Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, even though her mother is now gone.

Therese Rochette died Sunday of a heart attack in Vancouver at age 55, Canadian Olympic officials said. Joannie Rochette opted to stay in the games, and two days later stirred a crowd with a courageous performance that earned the third best score in the women’s short program.

On Thursday, the 24-year-old will finish her drive for her first Olympic medal during the free skate program at Pacific Coliseum.

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But Wait…There’s More

Perhaps my dad just needs to be less thorough in his cleaning. While recently digging through more of my mom’s belongings, my dad stumbled across yet another piece of paper with names of books written on it. For someone so organized, it seems my mom found plenty of places to tuck away reminders of books she wanted to read.

By now, you all know how it works. The following books have been added to the list:

The Late Lamented Molly Marx by Sally Koslow

Deeper than the Dead by Tami Hoag

Looks like this will be quite the long term project after all.

Originally, I’d considered attempting to read the whole list in a year. There’s just something inspiring about “the year I spent reading all the books my mom didn’t get to.” But then I realized just how many books there were and how few weeks there are in a year. Now, with the book count up to about 55, I’d have to read more than a book a week, which means little time for any other books, let alone any other life.

Let’s just say, I’m glad I didn’t end up imposing a time limit on myself. Instead I can look forward to reminders of my mom’s love of reading for a long time to come.

Will Cover Spying Go the Way of the VHS?

When my iPod’s out of power and I’ve left my Kindle at home, I keep myself entertained on my commute with a little careful observation. And by careful observation, I mean sneakily reading over the shoulder of a fellow subway passenger. And by sneakily, I mean not sneakily at all.

I may be picky about my own reading material selections, but when it comes to “sharing” with other commuters, I’m quite flexible. I bone up on current events from newspapers, take in a paragraph from a novel or even skim that document you’re holding. But when I can’t get close enough (or maybe don’t want to get close enough… this is the subway) to actually read what other people are reading, I satisfy my curiosity by looking at their book covers. It’s always fun to see who’s reading what and whether it’s something I’ve read, want to read, or could ever imagine that stranger reading.

As it happens, I am not alone in my literary voyeurism. Every so often, The Huffington Post takes the reading pulse of America by posting observations of what people around the country are reading in public. Similarly, the other day my roommate Carley sent me the link to a whole website dedicated to the art of spying on random New Yorker’s reading material. CoverSpy then posts the book covers and descriptions of the people reading them organized by day.

But are things heading for change? Looking at yesterday’s round up on CoverSpy, nestled among the usual book covers was a picture of a Kindle. The description of course read “Title Unknown, Author Unknown” because a Kindle reader is not so easily spied on. To get the vitals on one’s e-book reading, you’d have to get pretty close to the reader. And as I mentioned earlier, with all the people on the subway, you might not want to get too close.

As e-books proliferate, does that mean the age old practice of cover spying must go the way of records, audio cassettes, VHS and soon AOL email (Sorry, Dad!)? Soon all we’ll see in our field of vision are shiny silver devices as ubiquitous as iPod earbuds have become. Now how will I take a mental survey of New York’s literary preferences? Or accidentally read someone else’s steamy sex scene as I pass the stop at 33rd street? Or silently judge you for your reading choices? Oh, technology. At least now no one will know if I’m reading Shanghai Girls or The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants…2.

Next Up: Shanghai Girls

Now that I’ve finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, I’ve moved on to my second selection from Robin’s List. I chose to take on Shanghai Girls next because it seemed like a completely different story than Guernsey’s, I enjoyed Lisa See’s earlier book Snowflower and the Secret Fan, and I was ready to start typing a shorter book title.

I’ve heard many good things about Shanghai Girls and I hope it lives up to the hype. The book description certainly sounds interesting:

For readers of the phenomenal bestsellers Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love–a stunning new novel from Lisa See about two sisters who leave Shanghai to find new lives in 1930s Los Angeles.

May and Pearl, two sisters living in Shanghai in the mid-1930s, are beautiful, sophisticated, and well-educated, but their family is on the verge of bankruptcy. Hoping to improve their social standing, May and Pearl’s parents arrange for their daughters to marry “Gold Mountain men” who have come from Los Angeles to find brides.

But when the sisters leave China and arrive at Angel’s Island (the Ellis Island of the West)–where they are detained, interrogated, and humiliated for months–they feel the harsh reality of leaving home. And when May discovers she’s pregnant the situation becomes even more desperate. The sisters make a pact that no one can ever know.

A novel about two sisters, two cultures, and the struggle to find a new life in America while bound to the old, Shanghai Girls is a fresh, fascinating adventure from beloved and bestselling author Lisa See.

For more information about the book, check out Lisa See’s website and sample a chapter, read a Q&A with the author or just bask in the glowing reviews Lisa has posted. But I’ll be the one to determine if the Dallas Morning News, The Miami Herald, Bookpage, USA Today, the Washington Post, etc. know what they’re talking about. Check back soon (but not too soon because the Olympics are taking up valuable reading time) for my write up on Shanghai Girls.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society Reviewed

It’s official… I’ve finished one of the books on the list! And it turned out to be the perfect book to kick off this project for this is a blog that talks about books in honor of a woman who loved to talk about books and this is a book about people who love to talk about books. Follow all that? Good.

But the people in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society didn’t always love to talk about books. They started a literary society during the German Occupation as a cover up for an illicit meal they’d managed to put together. In order to keep up the facade, the quirky members of the group kept reading and meeting in case a German soldier ever showed up to test their story. When one of the members finds a book with author Juliet Ashton’s name in it, he writes her a letter and thus begins Juliet’s fascination with the society, Guernsey and all of the people involved.

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