Grumpy Words

November 18, 2008

Finding time for fiction

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I never thought I’d say this, but…

I have too many books to read.

I know, it’s blasphemy. And it’s a good problem to have! But I’ve just been signing up for some new blog assignments for my corporate life, and most of them require me to read some awesome new books that are coming out early next year. Plus, a coworker friend of mine has a book coming out in March, and she’s just given me a hot-off-the-press copy. So my pile keeps growing, a nice blend of yet-to-be-released YA books, some highly-reviewed contemporary novels, and a bestseller or two.

In between them, though, I’m trying to write my NaNoWriMo stuff (uh…trying would be the operative word there), and to organize my “real” novels I’ve been working on for a year+, and now, I’m obsessed with villanelles and sestinas after Saturday’s Girls Write Now poetry workshop. It’s tough, y’all. There is no time to do all of this, but it’s all so amazing, that I’m trying my best.

I have a sinking feeling that I won’t get anywhere near the 50K word deadline for NaNoWriMo, though, but I had fun trying. Maybe I’ll post bits and pieces of what I’ve done here when the month is over.


August 29, 2008

English teachers to blame?

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Confession: the first time I visited my older sister’s fourth grade classroom, I wondered if I’d made a mistake by not majoring in education in college. I paced her carefully decorated room with its high windows and deep closets, its blackboards and tiny desks and bookshelves, and though, “Crap. What am I going to do with this English degree?”

Suffice it to say, I love teachers. I still keep in touch with some of my high school and college professors, and I know they have an extremely tough – and usually underpaid and undervalued – job. So when I came across this article in the Washington Post, I posted it to my facebook, and immediately got some reactions. 

Essentially, the writer is saying that the constant and unchanging tests, stock writing assignments, and focus on book trivia has taken the love out of reading for students. I can see her point. I’ve been a devoted reader since second grade, and even I would sometimes roll my eyes at the multiple choice tests (what’s more important: grasping the themes of Gatsby, or memorizing what happens in each chapter?) and standard essay questions. But I worry that this article blames the teachers a little too much. And considering teachers already get all the blame for most things that go wrong with students, I’m not ready to jump on board with this, too.

June 20, 2008

Summer Reading, Summer Writing

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Shira here. My main summer reading tradition for the past 5 years has been Harry Potter. I’m talking the hard core over-excitement for the new book to come out that I just get too impatient to wait excitement. I then proceed to reread the books backwards until the new one FINALLY comes out. As for now, adios to Harry, Ron, and Hermoine for this summer. With the help of Facebook’s Visual Bookshelf (don’t laugh), I have created a list of my hopeful summer reads. Plus, with my I’m-going-to-Spain-and-therefore-have-no-cash issue, I  cleared my debt at the public library AND learned how to reserve books. This library need is heightened by the closing of my favorite local bookstore: Paperbacks Plus. It’s a sad literary fall to start off the summer with, though I encourage everyone to support it in its final days.  On my list for this summer are Sisterhood Interrupted by Deborah Siegel, young skin Wise Mind OLD SOUL by Amanda Diva, Daughter of York by Anne Easter Smith, and The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir. In other words, a lovely mix of feminist lit and tudor novels.

I, like Morgan, also hope to WRITE MORE over the summer. Now that I am finally done with school and have over a week until Spain, I hope to immerse myself in my old and rough GWN portfolios to do some polishing, revising, and developing. If I get around to this between packing, shopping, and readying, I hope to drag all my unfinished pieces to fields of Central Park or Wave Hill. I am very excited!!! Also, I hope to start a chapbook with Morgan for the GWN summer project. Do you have an exciting summer writing itinerary?

May 14, 2008

Summer reading

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I have some traditions when it comes to summer reading: every June I reread Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters while draped over the ledge of my parents’ pool; every July I reread The Great Gatsby on the first cloudy day; followed by August, when I reread my all-time favorite book, Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence.

This summer, I may break my traditions slightly, since I’m trying to spend more of my ‘reading’ time doing other things – namely, writing. So while I may put off my annual rereads of the classics this season, there’s no way I can give up Judy Blume.

What are you you planning to read this summer?

April 25, 2008

Book Talk

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Morgan here. So I just found out the theme of Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest book, and wanted to share. Let me preface this with: I loved Prep and count it among my top 10 favorite books. Her second title, The Man of My Dreams, was decent, from what I remember (although the fact that I don’t much remember it speaks volumes, perhaps).

Anyway, her new book imagines the life of Laura Bush, from birth through present day. It’s fictionalized, of course, and the woman has a different name, but all the biographical details are the same, down to the horrific (and wrong) events of the 2000 election. Take a look at what the NYT has to say.

I will totally be reading this.

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