Archive | Literature

RSS feed for this section

50 Books That Will Change Your Life

Back on World Book Day (March 6), the World Book Day website listed their poll results of books that changed readers’ lives. Here’s that list for my own personal reference and an asterisk next to books that I have read.

Books that will scare you…

  • The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
  • The Rats by James Herbert
  • The Shining by Stephen King *
  • 1984 by George Orwell *
  • Lord Loss by Darren Shan

Books that will teach you about love…

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Forever by Judy Blume
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte *
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte *
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank *
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer * (They didn’t guarantee it’d change your life for the better)
  • How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Books that will make you laugh…

  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams *
  • Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  • Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
  • Geek Girl by Holly Smale
  • The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Age 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend

Books that will transport you…

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  • Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman
  • Percy Jackson series by rick Riordan
  • Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling *
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein *

Books that will change the way you think…

  • Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
  • A Streetcat Named Bob by James Bowen
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusack

Books that will make you cry…

  • Before I Die by Jenny Downham
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • War Horse by Michael Morpurgo
  • The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  • My Sister’s Keeper by Jodie Picoult
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck *
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Books that will help you understand you…

  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger *
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Books that will thrill you…

  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess *
  • City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins *
  • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
  • Gone by Michael Grant
  • Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth

State of Entertainment

We’ve been rewatching “Babylon 5” for the past few weeks. It’s the first time we’ve watched it on our big screen, high-def television and even with its sometimes really low resolution (you can always tell when an effect shot is coming up) we can see things we’ve never noticed before. The attention to detail on that show was pretty amazing.

I’m reading a few different things. I’m finally making headway on Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne. I struggled with it for a while because a) the protagonist was a whiny-baby who never ceased to complain about his lot in life and b) Verne gives several geology lessons in the book, especially in the beginning. But, that has passed. The main character has finally (somewhat) gotten into the spirit of the adventure and now we’re on to paleontology lessons, which I find more interesting.

I’m also reading I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Despite his non-sympathy with introverted people it’s a very good book. It’s even an interesting read. Financial books are normally very dry and dull but this one is not.

Last night we picked up a new “Doctor Who” story – The Face of Evil. it’s Leela’s first appearance and so far it’s very good. It really grabs your interest from the start and keeps moving right along.

The Mystery of Hermione Granger

Hermione Granger (Emma Watson)I’ve been following along as Mark Re-Reads the Harry Potter series and in his post today he discussed Hermione and what motivates her to be the insufferable know-it-all she was in the beginning.

This, along with the questions my husband has posed, has made me curious about Hermione.

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books (as if I really need to say who she is, ha!), gives us a pretty good background for both Harry and Ron but there’s very, very little about Hermione’s pre-Hogwarts childhood. We know she’s from an all-muggle family and that she is most likely an only child. But that’s all we really know. There’s never any mention of extended family, how she fared in her pre-magical education (although we can assume she excelled in probably everything) and if she ever had any friends before Hogwarts.

I was quite surprised when I saw the last movie that we actually got to see Hermione in the muggle world (and in one of the most heart-wrenching scenes offered by any of the films.) Hermione is never ‘seen’ in the muggle world in the books, ever. She writes from her holiday trips with her parents, but that’s the only clue we have about her non-magical life.

I find this rather odd. Rowling is so good about making the world of Harry Potter seem so real. There is so much detail in all aspects of her story-telling that I have to wonder if Hermione’s lack of a past was on purpose. Certainly it’s not really important overall, but it would have been nice to have some clue as to why Hermione was such a nosy, stickler-for-rules busybody. It’s almost as if Hermione was fully formed, on the spot the second she stepped onto the Hogwarts train.

On Rowling’s website she states that Hermione is a bit like her when she was younger. Perhaps Rowling didn’t give us a past for Hermione because it was too close to home. A world-famous author needs a little privacy I suppose.

Things I Have Learned

No resolutions this year. I know what needs to be done, I know what I want to do and making a list won’t help me accomplish anything other than making yet another list to add to the plethora of lists I’ve made every year for decades.

Plethora. I’ve always liked that word, although I have never personally had a plethora of piñatas.

Anyway, so instead of a resolution list, I’m going to make a list of things I’ve learned over the past year. Yes, I will still be adding to my abundance of lists but at least this one is different. Some items will make sense only to me, some will be depressing and I have no doubt that most of them will be pop-culture related.

So, let’s get on with it.

  1. I have learned that the following are cool: Bow-ties, Fezzes and Stetson hats
  2. I have learned that people will believe any lie put before them if it affirms their fears
  3. I have learned that the only Tea Party worth paying attention to occurs in Wonderland
  4. I have learned that gold is not a good skin tone for Peter Cushing
  5. I have learned that Star Trek: Enterprise got a lot better after it’s first season
  6. I have learned that Pecan Pie is good for the soul
  7. I have learned that the Harry Potter books stay good, no matter how many times I read them
  8. I have learned that putting your faith in others’ intelligence and reasoning will only lead to great disappointment
  9. I have learned that Wil Wheaton is a very funny individual and that his pets are freakin’ hilarious
  10. I have learned that none of my family reads my blog
  11. I have learned that the first Doctor was awesome and that Ian and Barbara are now in my top five favorite companions, third to Donna Noble and Ace
  12. I have learned that Amy Pond is my least favorite companion and I sincerely hope she’s gone before Matt Smith finishes his run as the Doctor
  13. I have learned that despite it’s rather weak last episode, Lost was still one of the best shows ever produced
  14. I have learned that Danny Kaye was a pain in the ass to work with but that I still love watching and listening to him
  15. I have learned that when it comes to growing flowers, my gardening skills are sorely lacking
  16. I have learned that I like Hydrangeas quite a bit
  17. I have learned that putting a bird bath in the middle of your garden will cut down on the number of nasty bugs on your plants
  18. I have learned that Craig Ferguson is the coolest late night talk show host ever
  19. I have learned that Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants equals true genius
  20. I have learned that Spider and Scorpion does not update often enough
  21. I have learned that watching a meteor shower with my husband is now one of my favorite things to do
  22. I have learned that I still do not like Jonah Hill and don’t understand why Apatow (or anyone else, for that matter) continues to cast him in movies
  23. I have learned that I can lose hours of a day playing Roller Coaster Tycoon
  24. I have learned that J.J. Abrams relies on lens flares WAY too much
  25. I have learned that you apparently never stop missing your favorite Kitty
  26. I have learned that no one but my husband gets my Eurotrip references
  27. I have learned that no one but my husband gets me, which is why I love him so much
  28. I have learned that my tolerance for people is at an all-time low
  29. I have learned that I find physics difficult to learn
  30. I have learned that my grasp of World Geography is shaky at best
  31. I have learned that some movies/mini-series are MUCH better than the books upon which they’re based (North and South trilogy)

I’m sure there are things missing from this list – I certainly hope so, anyway – but that’s all I could think of for now. My memory isn’t what it used to be…which is another thing I learned this year.

Hey, I think something’s happening today

Now what was it? I know it had something to do with one of my geek obsessions. I’m getting a book vibe, no! A movie vibe. Wait – both?!

Oh yeah, nothing big. Just part one of the last Harry Potter movie. As Ted Mosby would say, “Ain’t no thing but a chicken wing.”

Yeah, I know. Makes no sense.

But yeah, I was just reminded that today is November 19th and it struck me that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1 comes out today and I actually gasped. (I’m such a dork).

I’ve seen all the movies in the theater except the first and I hope to finish them that way, but getting to the movies has proven difficult for us the past few years. There’s the cost, yes, but mostly it’s because we hate dealing with people. We won’t be happy going to the theater again until cell phones are banned inside the building and ushers actually kick assholes out. Don’t see that happening anytime soon so we just don’t go.

We missed Toy Story 3, The Expendables, Scott Prilgrim Versus the World. Hell, we’ve missed most everything for two years now. The last movie we saw in the theater was Iron Man 2 and before that, I think it was Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

I’ve been re-reading the books. I haven’t been in a voracious reading mood lately so it’s going a little slow, which is good, actually. I’m processing more. Picking up on those little clues, names, etc. I’m on number four now, my least favorite of the series, but I’m enjoying it more this time than I ever have. I decided to re-read them because I’ve been following Mark Reads Harry Potter and I realized I remember so very little from Deathly Hallows. I’ve only read that one twice.

I can’t count how many times I’ve read the others, especially the first three. When I started with my current employer five years ago, all I did all day was scan documents. This was very boring so I listened to audio books. I don’t have many audio books – about ten – so I listened to them all many times. I had the first three Potter books (read by the spectacular Jim Dale) and I listened to them over and over. Never got bored with them. That’s really saying something.

J.K. Rowling may have her writing flaws – those pesky adverbs being one, but really, what writer doesn’t have that problem? – but her storytelling is off the chart. She also managed to create a hero that is so very human while still being a great HERO. Very rarely in these types of long stories is the main character my favorite character, but Harry is my favorite. He is very much a normal kid – average grades, typical pre-teen/teen hangups, all the flaws that come with that. But he rises above all that and does what he has to do to save the world, utilizing his strengths and having the intelligence and humility to turn to others for help when his own abilities aren’t enough.

Here’s to Harry Potter (via J.K. Rowling) – for changing the world for the better by teaching kids (and adults) about tolerance, true friendship and the importance of standing up for what you think is right.

Fans is short for Fanatics

Miles & Ben: "Dr. Linus"

Miles & Ben: "Dr. Linus"

So, here’s another “Lost” post for you which will probably include spoilers. If you’re not caught up with all the new episodes and don’t want anything ruined for you, go away now. 🙂

I’ve been watching “Lost” since it first aired way back in 2004. I even liked the ‘slow’ part of Season 3, especially the second time I watched it. In addition to watching the show and coming up with my own theories (most of which have been shot down mercilessly as more information is revealed) I’ve really enjoyed the online community of “Lost” fans. We’ve all shared theories, quandaries, our desire to know the truth and in general how much fun we’re having with the show.

But I have to say, I’m not enjoying “Lost” fans anymore. I try to go to the same places and read what people are saying but all the whining and bitching is really getting on my nerves. All these years I’ve continuously read “I trust the writers to know what they’re doing.”

Now, all I read is, “I want to know what everything means RIGHT NOW – and I mean everything. If they leave anything out, I’ll hate this show forever.”

For example, in this past week’s episode “Dr. Linus” (my favorite of the season so far, but that’s no surprise since I have a very unhealthy fascination with Benjamin Linus), there was a great bit where Miles mentions Nikki and Paulo and the fact that they have $8 million dollars worth of diamonds right there in their graves. I thought that was funny, totally in character for Miles and a nifty little shout-out to everyone’s least favorite Losties.

So, when I visit one of my favorite “Lost” chats/discussions, what do I read about this? “This is exactly the kind of “answers”/closure/filler that I don’t care about and wish they wouldn’t waste my time on.”

I guess fanboys/fangirls are the same no matter what they’re a fan of. So many of them just can’t stand it when something they care about goes in a direction they don’t want, or that it’s not moving fast enough – or slow enough – or it just isn’t right, dammit! “I want Green Lantern to have black hair, not brown hair. Now it’s all just ruined!”

And no, that’s not an exaggeration. I’ve read about these ‘fans’ who will totally abandon something they profess to love more than anything for something as simple as a bad costume.

This also brings to mind all those Hermione/Harry Potter shippers who had a hissy fit when Hermione and Ron got together instead and started demanding J.K. Rowling change her plot lines and APOLOGIZE to them for being wrong.

So, the point of my rant? Relax, people. Yeah, it’s important to you and that’s great but when you start laying claim to something you had no hand in creating, you really need to get over yourself.

Me, I do still have faith in the “Lost” writers and producers. We’re going to get the answers to the questions they want to answer. All the other stuff that they’re going to leave out? I’ll just decide for myself. That’s one of the advantages of unanswered questions in fiction – for those willing to fill in some of the blanks themselves, they get a wholly original story that no one else has. “Lost” is not my property, but I have my own, personal version of the story that no one else can have.



After reading over this again I think I need to clarify something. The above makes it sound like I think fans should accept whatever is presented to them without critique. That’s really not what I meant. When something you like just starts to get bad when it was once good, the fan has every right to complain or abandon the project.

I guess what’s really been irking me is the pettiness of the complaints and the general impatience. “Lost,” in particular, is moving at the same pace it always has – and it has never been a break-neck show in terms of plot movement. What people have praised in the past is now being scorned.

Banning Books = Stupid

I hate public censorship so this is a good week to read all those books that have been attacked and threatened with censorship. It’s Banned Books week and while there are books out there that everyone knows has been censored, there are tons that make you wonder what these people were thinking when they tried to ban the book.

Here’s a short list of banned books from the past and the reasons why they were pulled from the shelves.

Go read a banned book today!


The Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince trailer is now online! It’s pretty damn spooky. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought it was a trailer for a horror movie. Steak sauce!

Naked Dumbledore

Embedded video removed – it messed up my template.

CLICK HERE to see the video. (Don’t worry – it’s just puppets)