Literary Ladies or the Women of the Written Word Who Continually Inspire

Though oftentimes there are complaints about the dearth of complex, empowering women in film, literature has long been the champion of heroines. This week’s Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday post celebrates the heroines that have inspired us as readers. There was also an option to choose women of film and television, but books are where it all started for me so that’s what I’m focusing on.

*As usual, all following links lead to Goodreads*

1. Alanna of Trebond from The Song of the Lioness series: Alanna a.k.a The Lioness a.k.a The Woman Who Rides Like a Man a.k.a. The Lady Knight was and still is my hero. I found this series when I was a pre-teen and it was a really empowering series to read as a young girl. I still go back and re-read these books from time to time because I still connect with them.

2. Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter series: What can I say? Hermione showed a generation of young girls that is was OK to be brainy–better than OK, she made it noble and necessary. But she didn’t stop at book-learning either, Hermione followed her friends into the proverbial fire and often saved them from it too.

3. Anita Blake from the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series: She raises zombies, she executes vampires, and she wields sarcasm like a gun. Better yet, Anita is a character that struggles with her sense of morality and faith in the midst of temptation and fear. I have always appreciated her flaws as a character as much as her strengths, which is the hallmark of a powerful heroine.

4. Skye O’Malley from The O’Malley Saga: Bertrice Small was one of the first romance writers that I gravitated towards, and Skye O’Malley is arguably one of her finest characters. Skye creates an empire and revels in her independence, plus she has some serious seductive powers. Long before hashtags were a thing, Skye O’Malley was winning.

5. Mary Boleyn from The Other Boleyn Girl: The Other Boleyn Girl is one of my favorite historical novels. I’ve always been fascinated by the Tudor era, so I knew about Mary in passing, but Phillipa Gregory brought Mary to life in a vibrant and vulnerable way.

6. Diana Bishop from the All Souls Trilogy: I immediately connected with Diana in The Discovery of Witches because of her passion for archival research, which I was also doing at the time. Diana becomes quite a bit more than an academic throughout the series, but that will always be one of the principle reasons I love her.

7. Lisbeth Salander from the Millennium series: Lisbeth is one of the most bad-ass literary characters I’ve encountered, female or male. She’s troubled yet competent, secretive yet sexually open: the Millennium series is really her story.

8. Claire Randall from the Outlander series: One of Claire’s biggest strengths is her compassion and capacity to love. The time traveling thing is also great, but so many of her actions are defined by her kindness that cannot be mistaken for weakness.

9. Diana Mayo from The Sheik: E.L. James would be nothing without E.M. Hull. The original romance novel, Hull’s book created a whole market (don’t get me wrong it has some serious flaws a la Fifty Shades but is a much better read). Diana Mayo is headstrong and fiercely independent, which makes her an infinitely more interesting character.

10. Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice: Lizzie Bennet has been a role-model for generations in large part because of her flaws–her biting wit, her stubbornness, and her, well, pride. Her flaws are precisely why Elizabeth Bennet is compelling and lovable, which makes for one hell of a heroine.

There you have it! My top ten notable heroines. With the exception of Stieg Larsson, all of these characters were written by women as well. I’m not sure if that says more about female writers or about my personal preferences, but it’s an interesting coincidence nevertheless.

Who were your favorite femmes?

Thanks for popping in!

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Bookish People Problems

Ever feel your eye twitch when someone interrupts you while reading? Or does your gag reflex engage when someone tells you that they’ve seen the movie and that’s the same as reading the book? Then this post is for you!

This week’s Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday post is all about the book related problems I wrestle with. Maybe you struggle with the same bookish people problems that I do. If so, fear not. This is a safe space. And we can commiserate in the comments.

1. Shelf Space

Every reader out there probably has this problem. So many books to covet but such limited room. Making the tough purchasing decisions can be kind of painful. Choosing a book at a bookstore can be its own poignant agony, and then deciding whether or not to keep said book after reading it is a whole other kind of anxiety for me. I try to only keep the books that I would re-read and am a big believer in used bookstores for the books that I cannot justify keeping. I assuage my guilt of getting rid of a book with a “pay it forward” mentality.

2. Incapable of Finishing a TBR List

Seriously though. TBR posts are very common on Top Ten Tuesday and I have never fully completed one. My to-read list on my Goodreads account is currently stocked at 139 and it continues to grow. I get too sidetracked by other books, or, you know, life events to truly finish all the books I say I’m going to read. Which leads to…

3. Never Enough Time

Closely related to item number two, I sometimes find myself stricken by anxiety at the idea that I will never get to read all the books I’d like to read. Sometimes the idea gives me chest pains. I’m not kidding. I have given myself panic attacks about my inability to read everything I want to read in a lifetime. Priorities have never been so painful!

4. Resisting the Hype

I refused to read Harry Potter for two years after its initial release. The Harry Potter series are some of my all-time favorite books and I resisted them for TWO YEARS because I was annoyed by the hype. I think there is a glitch in my brain that stubbornly denies the appeal of popular opinion until said opinion has moved on. I do this with movies and TV shows as well. It’s a genuine problem.

5. Keeping Up With Trends

Closely tied in with problem number four is a burgeoning curiosity about trends. I want to know what’s going on in the book-world, so that I can resist it, and then scramble to keep up with it. I realize this is nuts. But it’s how I roll.

6. Wandering in Bookstores

I’m a methodical bookstore wanderer. I have to make a circle of the whole dang store. HAVE TO. Lord, help me if there are multiple floors. It’s not that I look at every book or every shelf precisely, but I don’t want to miss anything I might want to read. This isn’t a problem for me when I have leisure time but if I’m with people and I can’t complete the circuit I feel let down. Not to the point that I need to tell my friends that I need to look at the whole store, but close.

7. Airport Bookstores are my Drug of Choice

In the last five years I can count on one hand the times I have walked out of an airport without at least one book. It has become compulsory for me to look at the books in airport bookstores–the little kiosks with touristy junk, Cheetos, and three narrow shelves of books. It’s a drug and I’m all about it.

8. Movie ≠ Book

If you tell me you’re just not a reader, I have to accept that because people are different and differences are great. But if you try to tell me that watching the movie is the same as reading the book, I am trying really hard not to shake you. Movies and books are different creatures: like a house cat and a lion on the Serengeti. They may have some genetic traits in common but they’re wildly different animals. Capiche?

9. Fantasy, Always Fantasy

I have been reading romance novels since I was about twelve. Now I don’t have unrealistic expectations about reality in the bedroom department or even the physicality department (I mean it would be nice if a ruggedly handsome biker with a heart of gold turned out to be my soul mate but I’m not banking on it). Nope, my problem is that in romance novels there is a moment where you’re swept off your feet closely followed by a deep emotionally transparent conversation. I don’t expect that, per se, but fantasizing over it definitely a thing that I do. *Sigh*

10. Just One More Chapter

Every bibliophile has told themselves this potent lie more times than they would like to admit. I haven’t gone to bed before midnight in weeks for this very reason. I can’t truly call this a “problem” because I love doing it, but it does have some ramifications on my intellectual presence the next day.

I realize for many of these bookish problems, I am not alone. Some of them, I might be on my own, but personal quirks aside I think these are fairly typical. Tell me all about your best and worst problems in the comments!

Thanks for popping in!

Surprisingly Un-Read

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about the books in “x genre” that you can’t believe you haven’t read yet. Since starting the weekly memes at The Broke and the Bookish, I have been reading more YA in part because there are so many bloggers who champion the genre through their linkups. So this week, my TTT is about the YA books I can’t believe I haven’t read.

*As usual, links and pictures sourced from Goodreads*

Every Day (Every Day #1)

1. Every Day by David Levithan

This book has been on my Goodreads TBR list for years.I have no idea why I haven’t cracked this open. I still want to read it, so maybe some day?

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth

I’m a bit stunned that I haven’t read Roth’s über famous YA novel. There is no good reason why this hasn’t happened. Must read soon.

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)

3. Stolen Songbird by Danielle L Jensen

I don’t actually know much about this series–The Malediction Series–but I found it on Goodreads and was intrigued enough by the description to add it to my TBR.

Half Bad (Half Bad, #1)

4. Half Bad by Sally Green

The cover of this novel is so eye-catching! I’m also a big fan of paranormal tales no matter if they’re YA or more “adult.” So this one should be a win for me once I finally get around to reading it.

My Ex From Hell (The Blooming Goddess Trilogy, #1)

5. My Ex From Hell by Tellulah Darling

I’ve heard so much about The Blooming Goddess series and I just need to start this thing! I’ve always been a sucker for mythology, so I’m excited to take on Darling’s version of the Greek gods.

How to Build a Girl

6. How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

This is another novel that has been cropping up on other bloggers’ TTT lists. It’s been on my radar for a while now but I haven’t ever picked it up. Maybe that will change soon? Plus we have the same first name. Spelling solidarity.

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

7. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Another epic series that I haven’t even started yet. This book and its sequels get so much love from the blogging community but I’ve never cracked the spine on one of these books. I’d certainly like to though.

Matched (Matched, #1)

8. Matched by Ally Condie

Societal dystopias are extremely popular right now in YA and take many different forms. The idea of society picking your perfect mate is somewhat tempting if you’ve ever struggled in the dating world (a.k.a. all of us), but then again perfect is an awfully tricky concept to nail down.

Stardust

9. Stardust by Neil Gaiman

This one I own but have never opened. I also adore the film, so I have high hopes for this one.

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1)

10. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Last but certainly not least is the first novel in The Mortal Instruments series. It sounds like the kind of book I would adore, so I’m not at all clear on why I haven’t picked this up.

Since I’ve only recently started exploring the world of YA again this list could probably go on for much longer and include some other heavy hitters. For now these are the Top Ten Books I’m most shocked to have not read in the YA genre, but I’ll likely fix some of these soon.

Thanks for popping in!

What My Book Club Would Read (If I Had One)

Part of the reason I love The Broke and the Bookish weekly Top Ten Tuesday meme is because I adore getting book recommendations from other readers. And book clubs are another great source for challenging or unexpected reads. This week’s TTT topic is about the top ten books you would have in your book club line up, if you had a book club that is.

I do participate in two book clubs through Goodreads–Bookworm Bitches and The Life of a Book Addict–but I use these online book clubs primarily to keep up with what’s new and exciting in the book world. I rarely read the books when I’m supposed to, but I also enjoy the list challenges these groups have on the discussion boards (i.e. I’m participating in the A-Z title challenge right now).

But if I were in charge of my own book club, here’s what it might look like…

*As usual, all links and pictures are sourced from Goodreads*

Don't Breathe a Word

1. Don’t Breathe a Word by Jennifer McMahon

All of the books on this list will be books I haven’t read yet, because that’s what I think book clubs are all about–new and exciting reads. Don’t Breathe a Word has elements of a thriller and the paranormal, which I think would appeal to a diverse group of readers and lead to an engaging discussion.

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek

2. Popular by Maya Van Wagenen

I think every book club should try to tackle at least one work of non-fiction. This memoir follows Maya as she tries to survive high school by following a 1950’s popularity guide written by a former teen model. There’s a lot to be said about the perils of high school, beauty standards, and the modern woman even without reading this book, so I think it would be a rich read for a book club.

Damned (Damned #1)

3. Damned by Chuck Palahniuk

Palahniuk is one of those modern authors that you should read at least once just to have an opinion. His novels are often odd and slightly dark but manage to reveal much about humanity in the midst of his own ridiculous scenarios. In Damned, a thirteen year old girl finds herself in hell. Without knowing how long her stay will be, she decides to make the best of her situation.

Havisham

4. Havisham by Ronald Frame

This novel is supposed to be a prequel of sorts to Dickens’ Great Expectations as it explores the trauma that creates the tattered, Gothic figure of Miss Havisham. I think these classic-adjacent novels that have become increasingly popular are great reads for a book club since you get to look at parallels between the two books.

Cloud Atlas

5. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

This book’s premise seems complex and I think that’s what makes it a good book club read. Others might catch details you missed or connect threads in an intriguing way. Some books are just better to read with group effort, and I suspect Cloud Atlas would be one of those books.

Gone with the Wind

6. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Book clubs are also great for tackling classics; as much for motivational reasons as discussion reasons. I’ve always wanted to read this dense classic and think a book club would be a great place to make it happen.

Man in the Empty Suit

7. Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell

A man with the ability to time travel spends his birthday every year with various versions of himself. When his forty-year old self turns up at the party dead, the younger versions implore the thirty-nine year old man to figure out what happens before it’s too late for all of them.

Fangirl

8. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I wanted to include at least one YA novel on this list because I think book clubs should cover a little bit of everything. I liked Attachments and would like to read more of Rowell. Fangirl would be a light and fun addition to a book club roster.

Bad Feminist: Essays

9. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

This is a collection of essays that covers everything from politics to pop culture to, yes, feminism. It would be another chance to really have some personal and deep discussions with a group of friends, which is what would make it a great book club selection.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore

10. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

A mysterious bookstore owned by a mysterious man; let’s face it, if you’re in a book club, you’re up for reading a book about books. This particular novel sounds quirky and enjoyable, particularly if you’re a book lover.

There you have it: my reading list for my hypothetical book club. What do you think?

Thanks for popping in!

Bookshelf Lingerers

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these, but here come the return of Top Ten Tuesdays! If you’re not familiar, Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish with category prompts and participation is open to anyone. It’s a fun way to get yourself blogging regularly and connect with other readers.

This week, I’m reviving an older category and exploring the top ten books I just HAD to buy but never made it farther than my bookshelf.

*As usual, all links and pictures are sourced from Goodreads*

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously

1. Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

I loved the movie and went right out and bought the book. Yet this memoir has sat on my shelves for quite some time. I’d still like to read it; actually all of these books on my list are books I would still like to read. I just need to put it in the rotation!

Memoirs of a Geisha

2. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

This book has also been adapted to a film, but I wasn’t terribly impressed with the movie. Still, I wanted to read the book because the novel was getting a lot of good press long before the film came to be.

The Devil Wears Prada (The Devil Wears Prada, #1)

3. The Devil Wears Prada by Laura Weisberger

I swear not all of these are film adaptations (though many of them are)! This book is one that I always tell myself I’m going to read and then never manage to do it: it’s a seasonal commitment that I always break.

One Day

4. One Day by David Nicholls

Now, I never saw the movie but my understanding of the premise for this story made me feel that it would be undeniably better in print. So in essence, not seeing the movie is what made me want to read this book.

Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls

5. Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris

Without a doubt, Sedaris is my favorite nonfiction writer. He’s hilarious and poignant, often at the same time. This is his most recent collection of essays and I have high hopes.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

6. World War Z by Max Brooks

Years this book has been on my shelves. Years. And I still haven’t managed to crack it open. Maybe 2015 will be the year it happens?

Gone with the Wind

7. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell 

I have mixed feelings about this being on my shelves and on my list. I hated the movie. I know that could be a controversial opinion for some folks, but there it is. However, a friend in college told me that the book was much better and explored Scarlet’s flawed character more earnestly, so I’m willing to give the book a chance.

The Rosie Project (Don Tillman #1)

8. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

This book has actually been lingering on my kindle, so it’s more of a virtual shelf space holder. I don’t use my kindle very often as I prefer real books, which is likely why I haven’t read this book yet.

Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)

9. Kushiel’s Dart by Jaqueline Carey

I picked up a used hardback copy of this at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles and have been meaning to read it ever since. Part of my problem is that I check a ton of books out of the library, so those get priority while books I actually own are taking the backseat. My friend, Russ, is really insistent I read this so I can tell him how it is, and that will probably motivate me to get this one read sooner rather than later.

Love in the Time of Cholera

10. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I have read several of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short stories, but this is the only novel of his that I own. I love his use of language and the tenderness he brings to each of his subjects. I’m definitely looking forward to this one.

Every time I make one of these lists I feel like there will never be enough time for all the books I want to read! But it’s a wonderful dilemma to have.

What are some of your bookshelf lingerers?

Thanks for popping in!

My Most Anticipated Sequels

This week’s Broke and the Bookish weekly meme is about the top ten sequels I cannot wait to get a hold of. Not all of these are super current, some of these sequels are from older series that I’m just now catching up on while others are highly anticipated treasures. Either way I’m anxious to get reading!

*Pictures and links sourced from Goodreads.com*

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)

1. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

I try really hard not to buy too many hardbacks because they’re space hogs on my book shelves. This book, the final book in the All Souls Trilogy, has been out since July and I have been bidding my time until it is released in paperback. I can barely stand it. I am enamoured with Harkness’ series and cannot wait to see how this ends! I’m equally excited to see what she does in the future.

 

Prototype: A Novel

2. Prototype by M.D. Waters

This is part two of a two book series. You can read my review of book one, Archetype, if you click here. I am so compelled to know what happens to Emma Wade!

 

A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4)

3. A Feast For Crows by George R.R. Martin

Anyone who has tackled a Martin book knows that these books need to be planned. You can’t casually pick up a book in the Song of Ice and Fire series and just expect to knock it out. Well, you can, but you likely won’t get any work done or have much of a social life. I’m trying to do both at the moment, but mayhap around Christmas time?

 

Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles, #2)

4. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

I read Cinder a few months ago and got sucked in. I’ve just been waiting on a break in my reading schedule to dive into the second book in The Lunar Chronicles. Must. Know. What. Happens.

 

Crimson Night (Crimison, #2)

5. Crimson Night by Trisha Baker

I really need to get over myself and just buy a used copy of this on Amazon or eBay. This is an out of print series that I fell in love with before I realized it was an out of print series (anyone else have this problem?). Rumor has it that it’s being reprinted, but I live in fear of author edits in series that have been out of print for a significant length of time. One day, I’ll make it happen!

 

Dark Skye (Immortals After Dark #14)

6. Dark Skye by Kresley Cole

Cole has been building up this storyline for several books now, and I’m so excited Thronos and Lanthe finally get their story told! If you couldn’t tell, I’m a big fan of paranormal romance and Kresley Cole has one of the best, farthest reaching range of creature-characters that fit together in a way that makes sense. Cannot wait to read this one!

 

Rapture (Fallen Angels, #4)

7. Rapture by J.R. Ward

When I started reading J.R. Ward it was for her Black Dagger Brotherhood series (which is still great) but lately I’ve been more drawn into her Fallen Angels series. Both circle around Caldwell, New York and have very similar types of male protagonists, but I’m always excited to see where Ward takes her characters next. I’m behind on both series but will look forward to catching up!

 

The Vampire Lestat (The Vampire Chronicles, #2)

8. The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

This one is probably more wishful thinking on my part. When I get around to reading Anne Rice, I really enjoy it because she has a cinematic quality to her writing. But I hardly ever get around to it. The Vampire Chronicles is one of those series that I always think about and go, “Oh yeah, I should start that back up again.” We’ll see if I get off the ground with this one or not.

 

Hit List (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #20)

9. Hit List by Laurell K. Hamilton

It’s officially rare for me to be complete a Top Ten Tuesday without mentioning Laurell K. Hamilton. Currently there are twenty-four books in the series, and this is number twenty. Hamilton is still writing the Anita Blake series though so that’s good news for me. This particular novel involves Edward, one of my all time favorite characters in the Anita Blake series. He doesn’t appear often, but when he does I get pumped.

 

Voyager (Outlander, #3)

10. Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

I tend to go long stretches in between reading the different books in the Outlander series, which could be bad for my memory. But these books are such commitments. Don’t get me wrong, they’re worth it every time. I just have to schedule reading this size book. However, I feel the urge coming on again, so perhaps sometime soon.

So there are my most anticipated sequels. Hopefully I’ll be able to dig into a few of these through the new year.

Thanks for popping in!

A Night’s Hard Reading

As you might have guessed, I love to read. But that doesn’t mean that every book is an easy read. This week’s Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday post is about the books that were hard to get through.

All of the books on this list were books I finished reading, because I could make a whole other list of books that were too terrible to complete.

There are a variety of things that could make a book hard to read, so I made a general list instead of a specific one i.e. it was hard to read because of length or bad writing. And hard to read does not always mean that the book in question was bad. My first book on this list is a great case-in-point, so let’s get started.

*Pictures and links from Goodreads*

The Year of Magical Thinking

1. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

This is one of the hardest books I have read in recent memory. Not because of bad writing. Not because of length or complexity. No, this book was hard to read because it forced me to face my own grief. And that is challenging. For my full review, click here. Didion is an amazing writer, and while this book was hard for me, it was undeniably worth the read.

The American Heiress

2. The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin

Now, this book was hard to read for technical reasons. The main character, Cora Cash, was so vapid that she deflected any sympathy I was ready to give. Such a difficult character to connect with. I wanted to throw my book across the room more than once.

Storm Front (The Dresden Files #1)

3. Storm Front by Jim Butcher

There’s nothing I love more than deep-rooted misogyny draped in the veil of chivalry. Harry Dresden wants to see himself as a noble, chivalrous man, yet at the end of the day cannot help but see women only as pretty things to be saved, pitied, or screwed. So, yes, I found this book to be challenging for all the wrong (or right?) reasons.

Bridget Jones's Diary (Bridget Jones, #1)

4. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Just one of my problems is the punctuation on Jones’s. I know this is a book beloved by many people, but I thought this was a painful read. A character repeatedly being embarrassed is not a fun experience for me. And the obsessive weight watching and counting of cigarettes made me wince instead of encouraging laughter.

The Three Musketeers

5. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

I am still slogging through this book, but I am determined to finish the damn thing. This book is a hard read for an interesting set of reasons. A) I’m stubborn and thought reading the unabridged text would be a lark and B) I may have seen too many Musketeer movies. Since I am so familiar with the story courtesy of film, the unabridged text feels even more lengthy. It’s fabulously well written and is witty and full of action. But’s it’s been a hard read nevertheless.

The Metamorphosis

6. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Some books you just cannot get past the content even if it is well written. This is a story about a man who becomes a huge cockroach. I can’t. I just can’t. Even thinking about the man-bug thing makes me want to heave. I finished it because it was required reading in high school, but it scarred me for life.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years #1)

7. Wicked by Gregory MaGuire

Again, I realize I’m one of the few here, but I struggled with this book. I think a large part of it is that I wanted to like the book so badly that my expectations were sky-high. I read the book way before seeing the musical, so the stage show was not a factor. A ton of my friends were reading MaGuire in high school and were singing his praises. So this book was a hard and disappointing read because of author hype.

The Sound and the Fury

8. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Another book that I actually enjoyed finding its way onto the hard list. This Faulkner classic lands itself of this list because of the POV of Benjy Compton, a character with an unspecified mental health issue whose chapters are written with past and present blended together. I read this book in high school as well and if it were not for an enterprising former student who had colored the sections in primary colors and left me a key in my copy of the book, I would have been in big trouble while reading The Sound and the Fury.

Peace Like a River

9. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

There is a giant blank spot in my brain when it comes to this book. I have a vague sense of anger and frustration left behind, which leads me to believe that I have repressed the reading experience altogether. I do remember that it took me forever to read because I was not enjoying myself.

Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

10. Walden by Henry David Thoreau

I read this book for the first time in high school and I struggled with it because of my own vanity. I felt attacked by Thoreau’s dismissal of clothing and other superficial elements of society, and so I clammed up and made this essay hard to read. I didn’t want to be told that I was a bad person because I cared about the way I dressed. As I’ve gotten older, I realize that is not entirely Thoreau’s point, but there are certainly elements of judgement in there for people who think about their image too much. I’ve reread it since and have found plenty to connect with, but I will always remember the difficulty of that first read as a fifteen year old.

Clearly, books can be hard to read for many different reasons. Which books have kept you on the struggle bus?

Thanks for popping in!

Authorial Confessions

For this week’s Broke and the Bookish weekly meme I’m looking back on a former topic–authors I have never read. As a former English major and ongoing fan of books in general, some of these make me blush. The concept of revealing my top ten unread authors reminds me of a game in one of my favorite books called Humiliation (the book, if you’re interested was Changing Places by David Lodge). In Humiliation you admit famous literary works you’ve never read and gain points for everyone in the group that has read each of your unread beauties. So in the spirit of David Lodge’s party game, let’s see how many points I can rack up, shall we?

1. Kurt Vonnegut: I can hear some of my hipster friends crying as I confess this. Sorry, y’all. I’ll get around to reading Slaughterhouse Five someday, I swear.

2. Ernest Hemingway: To justify myself a little, I’ve read his short story “Hills Like White Elephants,” but never one of his novels. Hemingway has beautiful, evocative language, so he should be my kind of writer. I think what held me back was that initial high school intimidation after reading his short prose and realizing the man was allergic to explaining who was talking. Maybe if I can get past that age-old terror, I’ll give him a shot.

3. Douglas Adams: This poor man is forever on my TBR lists. There is no particular reason for avoiding A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, just a persistent case of later-itus.

4. Barbara Kingsolver: Critics agree that Kingsolver is one heck of a writer, but I’ve never really had an inclination to pick up one of her books. I can’t really see that changing anytime soon, to be honest. Nothing against the lady personally but I’ve yet to be grabbed by one of her back-jackets.

5. Jack London: Nope. Nope. Nope. Wilderness survival stories and angry animals are not for me. Nope. Nope. Nope.

6. James Joyce: Intimidation, thy name is Joyce. Several friends took a study abroad class on Joyce’s Ulysses while we were in England. Some of them cried about it. Either real, salty tears or cries of rage and frustration. But many of them walked away happier for the experience. Most of them that I’ve kept in touch with still talk about that summer course, so I feel compelled to give in on this one at some point.

7. Jonathan Franzen: I’d love to cross this guy off my unread author list. He’s an epic writer of the modern era, and he even wrote a hefty book set in my hometown (The Twenty-Seventh City). I also had a beloved teacher in high school recommend Franzen to me, so I may be feeling particularly guilty about this one.

8. Ursula K. Le Guin: For a good long while I’ve heard that Le Guin is an amazing fantasy writer. And I’m inclined to believe it! Another author that has been recommended by some very trusted sources. I imagine Le Guin won’t languish on this list for long.

9. Nicolas Sparks: I swear, every movie that bears his name makes me more determined not to read anything he puts out. The Notebook was an amazing and moving film, so I would probably be willing to make that exception. His other novels, not so much.

10. John Green: His books are supposed to be compelling and well written YA fiction. I’m not nay-saying any of that. I just haven’t gotten around to him yet.

So how many points did I manage? I’d love to be able to cross a few of these writers off my unread list soon, but others may just languish there for the foreseeable future. If I can slog through any of these in the near future, I’ll try to post about if they met or failed any expectations I may have had. Happy reading!