Author Archives: W

Booking Through Thursday: Real Life

Booking Through Thursday asks:

I am paraphrasing from a friend’s Facebook wall her question:

“How would a teen-age boy who is going to work with his hands ever use Literature of England in his work?”

The age-old “How am I going to use this in real life?” question. How would you answer it?

Very interesting question with, of course, multiple answer approaches.

I have to channel my 11th-grade English teacher a little here, because the vague question amuses me. When I wrote essays in high school, he brutally used his pen to scratch any mention of “this.” This what? He would ask, and he would waste class time to lecture us every time he encountered it. “Explain yourself. This what?”

So this question brings back memories of that guy, his eccentric hatred of the word, and I think I know why he disliked it so much. This what? How will I use what in real life? The knowledge I gained from literature, both instructional and cumulative?  The stories I enjoyed? The act of reading (closely)? Or just books in general?

Let’s insert them one by one into the question and answer them. The answers overlap in their most basic ways, such as to expand knowledge base or to connect, but each one highlights a different application of literature. To me, at least.

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Booking Through Thursday: Periodically

Booking Through Thursday asks:

Even I read things other than books from time to time … like, Magazines! What magazines/journals do you read?

This is my first Booking Through Thursday meme question and I’m excited to partake in such an interesting practice: weekly memes! What an ingenious way to keep the blog engine running in between my reviews!

Of course the question is somewhat-but-not-really-book-related. I always come up short when not talking about books, but here is my list of non-book types of things I read:

  1. Cosmopolitan. What I always find odd is that magazines will send their mags out way before the month that the issue is supposed to cover. For example, I have already “read” Cosmo’s February issue. How can that be when it’s not even February yet? This becomes even more preposterous when you consider all the trends that it lists (new makeup! new hot steals! new things to try this month!) are a month early. Wait a minute! You mean, February’s hot steals are really January’s hot steals?! That’s right. You read it here first. Also, I don’t subscribe to this magazine. I peruse my roommate’s copy.
  2. The NY Times. When I was a freshman in college, I took a class that, kidding aside, changed my life. I loved it and I loved my professor more, who was a bitingly witty woman who dispensed her jokes in between her serious lectures, so much so that it was difficult to tell when she was joking or when she was lecturing. The class as a whole could never figure it out, so I always felt that extra bond with her when I tittered by myself, convinced I was the smartest student for having got her asides. Anyway, she told me I should read this paper everyday. I listened. I am a better person because of it.
  3. The Wall Street Journal. Fast-forward to my senior year, I took another class, which in its own way, changed my life too but definitely not for the better. My professor was interesting. He definitely loved his subject, but when he was joking, I never understood why he thought that was funny. I was perpetually puzzled by his humor. But he told me I should be reading the Journal every day. I call it reading when I scan the headlines randomly once a month.

And now, a bit of a visual:


These two are always duking it out, this time for my love. I mean look, their presentations are even screaming it. The Times is white and the WSJ is black. How much more proof of a rivalry do you need?

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Rating: 5/5 stars
782 pages

Before I begin reviewing, a word first on my lack of updates. I’m posting a lot slower than I thought I would be. I aimed for 2-3 times a week, but I was too optimistic, I think. Of course the issue isn’t how fast I read, because I’m not reading the books I’m reviewing now, I’m just going back and reviewing what I read before, but even that takes some effort. You’d think that five times a week after work I’d be able to squeeze in the time to whip up a couple of paragraphs, but nope. In between trying to feed myself, sleeping and attempting to have some semblance of a social life, I’m tuckered out. Part of me thinks I’m making excuses (there’s always never enough time to do something!) but uhm, yeah I suppose that’s it. There’s really no reason I wouldn’t be able to concentrate to serve up the goods, but I never got the hang of typing on a desk, so I lounge in bed while writing a review and then next thing I know, a few hours have gone by and I still haven’t written anything.

So what’s the point of this? Just that I can’t promise reviews except at the glacial pace that I’m currently on now. There. That sets the bar low enough so that when I do have time to review more than once a week, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Ah-ha, the W is working extra hard to deliver content! as you will say.

Yes. I am. Making every effort!

And now, onwards with the review! Another spoiler warning, I’m going to reveal a good chunk of the book’s story but be assured that they do not interfere with the main plot, only the setup.

The book takes a different angle to how the concept of magic is presented in fantasy novels. The usual offering is that the world is set in an alternative universe where kings and kingdoms rule the Earth (or other worlds of the authors’ making) and there are people gifted with the ability to use magic. Then some type of war is brewing, the characters are easily identifiable as good or evil, and they all gear up for a showdown or two. Well, Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange does have all the elements of fantasy except for the first one. She sets her magical place in England and leaves the magicking to only two men, Mr. Norrell and Jonathan Strange.

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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Rating: 3/5 stars
588 pages
I didn’t pick this book up on my own. I got it for my boyfriend and after he read it, he recommended that I give it a try.

The story is simple, Shadow is leaving prison after doing three years time due to a crime that wasn’t made clear until very far in the book. He learns, however, that his wife died in a car accident just as he is leaving. Then when he was on his flight back home, he meets Mr. Wednesday, who is intent on recruiting him for a job. His name, of course, isn’t Wednesday. Shadow isn’t keen on it but Wednesday is persistent and eventually Shadow relents. What follows is a kind of weird, but interesting adventure. The “weird” factor is just its fantastical elements, though.

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