The Big Read, an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed. How do you do?
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince- Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
Dobson and Minnery accused Obama of wrongly equating Old Testament texts and dietary codes that no longer apply to Jesus' teachings in the New Testament.
--From Rocky Mountain New's article
Sounds like he's trying to say one of two things here:
- He can pick and choose what you follow out of the Old Testament.
- The New Testament trumps the Old Testament.
And if #2 is true, then any argument depending on an Old Testament citation is to be taken through the lens of Christ's own words. The guy legendary for throwing the money changers out of the temple, Mr. How-Much-Is-Your-Net-Worth Dobson? Heard of him?
And I seem to remember that this whole anti-gay thing depends on arguments out of the Old Testament, since the New Testament says mostly things like, "Be good to each other. Don't be a hypocrite. Take responsibility for your actions. God's will is mysterious, so don't get cocky." And that's just the beginning.
"I think [Obama's] deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said.
Actually, um, Mr. Dobson? I think you're suffering from an attack of Do-Unto-Others-As-You-Would-Have-Them-Do-Unto-You. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.
And then we saw the following bumperstickers:
"I'd Rather Be on Autofollow"
"My Gamer Fragged Your Honor Student."
A good day.
So, in the interest of research on Alien Blue, which-as-you-know-Bob, is my story about aliens and beer, I dropped in on a local brewery.
Rocky Mountain Brewery is the new brewery side of My Homebrew Shop, run by Dwayne Lujan. I went on a recommendation by a coworker, in fact, the same coworker whose constant ramblings about his adventures in homebrew that were one of the seeds of the story.
You know what? My impression is that homebrewing is a lot like writing, in that a lot of people talk about wanting to do it but don't actually get around to it; a smaller number of people (but still a fair amount) do get around to doing it, but in a halfassed way; a small number of people dig far enough into the craft to get any good at it; and a very few people have become very fine indeed, with well-chosen failures and surprising successes.
The brewery seems like it's on its way toward the last group. Granted, I don't know all that much about beer, but I do know more than most people do. --I know more about rocket science than most people do, but you wouldn't want me with one hand on the big, red button, either. I can look at a piece of equipment and tell you whether it's the fermenter or the lauterer.* I know what fresh hops smell like. I know that Irish moss and isinglass**are good for getting rid of unwanted proteins and involve collagen somehow. But I thought it was good, and I'm excited to go back in a week and a half and try the raspberry cider when it comes out.
So anyway. I walked in what looks like the right door but probably wasn't. The place isn't pretty. It's in a big tin-sided warehouse/garage/redneck strip mall building, and the interior hasn't been finished off yet. They've built a bar for tasting, but some of the drywall isn't painted, and you can walk right into the brewing area if you feel like it.
I didn't see anyone, so I wandered through the brewery into the homebrew shop. Thirty types of malt, or more. A fridge that looked like it had been stolen from a good florist was filled with drawer after drawer of different types of hops and mad-scientist vials of yeast varieties. Specialty grains. Malt-in-a-can. Powdered corn sugar. Preprinted wine labels. Caps and caps and more caps. I opened up some of the malt barrels, shoved my face in, and sucked up the smell of a field of late-summer grain toasting under the sun. Ahhhh...
One of the guys came over eventually. He looked like he was barely old enough to drink legally, let alone brew beer that was any good, but he was. Later, I met the owner, but he was extremely busy and seemed kind of creeped out by having a female in his space making direct eye contact--an Iowa grandpa type, if you know it.
I told the younger guy what I was doing--I suspect "I'm writing a book" is kind of like a Get Out of Jail Free Card--and said I was considering brewing a batch of beer on premises, which I am. The homebrew shop has this deal where you can brew a five-gallon batch of beer for about $65, using their equipment and advice. You could do wine, too, but I forgot how much that was. Beginners kits for both, too.
Well, that got me a tour. I feel like...I know more about beer than I did before I walked in there. It's hard to explain; I feel like I've always known the things I know now, only I know that I didn't know them before I walked in there on Friday.*** At any rate, it connected all my carefully-researched bits of information into a whole.
I tried the Rocky Mountain Brunette (a nut-brown ale) but wasn't impressed; I've never had a nut-brown ale before, and I suspect the whole genre isn't to my taste. My tastebuds said, "Where's the porter? Where's the stout?"
The Smoked Hefe Weissen was worth writing home about.**** I took to it immediately, but the guy I talked to warned everyone else who tried it--I was there for a couple of hours--that they might not like the smokiness at first taste, but it would grow on them. It did.
I'm used to unfiltered wheat beers that feel like you can chew on them, refreshing but mighty in the thews, as it were, so I wasn't expecting theirs. A light, slightly-filtered beer with crispness and a bite on the tongue, it turned out to be the perfect beer-and-pizza beer. Summer food beer. I wish I'd had crab salad and crackers to eat with it, now that I think about it. Happily, it'll be one of the permanent beers on the brew list, so I can take home a growler whenever I feel like it, which is what I did on Friday.
Unfortunately, they'd almost been drunk out of house and home since their grand opening, and they were out of the porter and amber ale I'd spied on the list, and the raspberry cider.
So if you're in town, I recommend stopping by. If you're not in town, I recommend finding out whether you have a small brewery nearby. It's a lot of fun.
**Seaweed and fish bladders.
***If that makes sense, cut back on the Dramamine.
Diamonds that Fool Experts Grown in the Lab - Smithsonian Magazine
It's because of these admittedly unglamorous properties that lab-produced diamonds have the potential to dramatically change technology, perhaps becoming as significant as steel or silicon in electronics and computing. The stones are already being used in loudspeakers (their stiffness makes for an excellent tweeter), cosmetic skin exfoliants (tiny diamond grains act as very sharp scalpels) and in high-end cutting tools for granite and marble (a diamond can cut any other substance). With a cheap, ready supply of diamonds, engineers hope to make everything from higher-powered lasers to more durable power grids. They foresee razor-thin computers, wristwatch-size cellphones and digital recording devices that would let you hold thousands of movies in the palm of your hand. "People associate the word diamond with something singular, a stone or a gem," says Jim Davidson, an electrical engineering professor at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. "But the real utility is going to be the fact that you can deposit diamond as a layer, making possible mass production and having implications for every technology in electronics."
Delivering a commencement address is a great responsibility; or so I thought until I cast my mind back to my own graduation. The commencement speaker that day was the distinguished British philosopher Baroness Mary Warnock. Reflecting on her speech has helped me enormously in writing this one, because it turns out that I can’t remember a single word she said. This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard.
You see? If all you remember in years to come is the ‘gay wizard’ joke, I’ve still come out ahead of Baroness Mary Warnock. Achievable goals: the first step towards personal improvement.
I have a new mantra:
I hate my dryer. I hate my dryer.
I've never had problems with bras and dryers before. Never. But this one has turned all my bra hooks into dimensional entry points for Creatures which Must Not Be Named But Have Too Many Ooky Tentacles and Consonants.
Take it as a measure of my stubbornness that it's taken wiping out all my hooked bras to make me change my ways and pull the bras out before they see the dryer.
- I don't buy expensive bras.**
- I don't buy clothes that need to be fussed over.**
- I don't use undergarments to spoil myself.**
- I have problems finding bras that fit.**
I promise I will not run my bras through the dryer anymore.
Here's the thing. My boobs are big. It's genetics. My Middle- and Eastern- European ancestors bred for flotation devices, not aerodynamics. My breasts were already too big before I had my daughter, and they didn't get any smaller after I breast-fed. I got over people staring at them years ago--had to; I hate tight necklines the way a cat hates a leash--but I've never gotten over the constant battle I have to keep from throwing my spine and neck out of whack. Or the fact that I can't wear properly-sized shirts, because I can't button them up. Or the fact that I can't wear bikinis, and boy, do they make a lot of cute bikinis right now. Or the fact that finding bras that fit involves tearing up my self-image and shoving it down the trash can.
Yes, take a look at all the cute bras on the shelves, take a good look, and wave goodbye, because you'll never see them again. Flowers? Lace? Colors? These are things for women with smaller breasts.
The rest of us wander the secret back rows of bras for hours, looking for anything--anything!--with our cup-size on it. For a culture that worships women with large breasts, I sure see a lot of ugly beige bras.
It's like the designers are saying, "Ha! You may have the big breasts, but I will ensure you feel like an unappealing slob, because I hate you! I hate you!"
Now, I could special-order bras, but that would mean I couldn't try them on before I got them. Please, please don't add a comment or send me an e-mail or even tell me to my face about how there are lots of places that have nice bras for women with large breasts. I want to be able to walk into a store, try on a cute bra, pick out a cute pair of matching panties, buy a set for less than $20, and go home without feeling like I'm in the Twilight Zone. I want to feel normal.
Of the fifty or so bras I found--among thousands--in my cup size, maybe fifteen were my band size as well. Of the six I tried on (covering all the styles available), one was even remotely comfortable. Because it's not enough that most big bras are bland as hell, the manufacturers have to add a "feminine" touch and put bits of razor-sharp lace across various areas that tend to dig in after a few hours. --If they could get away with installing thumbscrews or Iron Maidens***, they would.
I took home both of the bras in the "comfortable" model, one white, one (ooh, racy) black. I found one model with pastel green, purple, and black varieties, but 1) they'd put lace across the bottom band and 2) the cups were two layers of paper-thin mesh. Dryer or no dryer, those things wouldn't last a month. Those bras were there for cruelty's sake.
I screwed around at a book store after that, because I wasn't ready to face anybody yet, and if there's a shopping experience that'll make me feel better, it's wandering around a bookstore. My current yoga routine is so boring that I don't do it on a regular basis, so I stopped at the fitness section.
Brimming with self-pity, I flipped through book after book until I saw a women's yoga books had a whole chapter on yoga for bulimics. And another on surviving cancer (including breast cancer). On working through osteoporosis.
I quit whining then. I picked up a different women's yoga book, because it had exercises on strengthening the muscles that support the breasts. Actually, I got it because I couldn't flip through the first book without feeling depressed.
At home, I tried out the first set (not the breast exercises, did those later), and barely made it through, which is the perfect level for yoga. Too hard, and you're left shaking and wanting to puke; too easy, and you take it for granted.
Much like life.
*Mark this day. The heck with this keeping the mouth shut thing.
**I tried, but I'm a Midwesterner, and we're not supposed to do that. It's too decadent.
Wow. Go check out this book.
I've seen a bunch of YA fiction that tries to introduce teens to more literary writing. Aside from The Book Thief, I don't remember reading anything recently that manages to pull it off. Most of the time, the beginning looks promising, but the ending sucks, because it tries to get all transcendental and stuff. Not here. A perfectly ental, perfectly appropriate ending.
The writing is so good, I can't even burn with jealousy.
Florin remembered how proud everyone at Mondfield Castle had been two years ago, when the chapel's opaque horn window panes had been replaced with leaded glass. Compares to these heavenly windows, the ones at home were plain to the point of poverty.
How much money had Theodo paid for this splendor? Whose blood had he shed in order to acquire it?
Almost simultaneously he felt ashamed of this envious thought: extolling the beauty of Heaven was always pleasing in the sight of God.
The story's about a naive prince who's captured by a neighboring monarch and forced to become a jester. Note: Jesters are not clowns. The court jester is allowed to get away with the awful tricks he pulls because people think of him as a soulless beast, no more responsible than then monkeys living in the same tower. Florin, caught between his pride and the threat of his father's torture and death, struggles to keep his humanity while the jester trains him to caper and joke in the face of humiliation. --You hear that phrase sometimes. "He Struggles to Keep His Humanity!" (echo, echo, echo). Nope. This is the real deal.
When Florin returned to the king's bedside, he had to exert all of his willpower to stand up straight and hold his head erect. He had a frightfully distinct sensation that loose strips of skin were dangling down his back, and it was only with the greatest difficulty that he restrained himself from pulling down his costume and peering over his shoulder. At the same time he felt something warm running down his chin: blood from the lips he'd bitten while being whipped.
King Theodo eyed him lingeringly. Then he said: "You learnt a lesson down there. What was it?"
I haven't seen The Passion of the Christ, but I've heard it was too gory. Earnest people nod earnestly about the movie and talk about how inspiring it was*. Almost everyone else says it was too gory. This book handles the same type of situation with love--not the cheap love that grandstands, but the kind that just lives it, daily, without expecting thanks or even acknowledgment--and humor as well as pain. Well done.
*I hope they aren't considering copycat crimes.
- Over Hexed, by Vicki Lewis Thompson
- Desert Blood 10 pm/9 c, by Ronald Cree
- Azu Manga Daioh, the Omnibus, by Kiohiko Azuma
- Hell House, by Richard Matheson
...And part of a Magic Tree House book. And part of Lee Lofland's Howdunit Book of Police Procedure and Investigations.
What can I say? I did a lot of yard work.
Over Hexed. I haven't read a romance novel since I was a teenager, and even then, eh, whatever. Borrring. But Vicki Lewis Thompson passed this one out to everyone at the Pikes Peak Writers' Conference, so I felt obliged to at least crack the spine.
Fun stuff. Merry. A wizarding couple gets the boot from their comfort-zone New Age town in New Mexico, ending up in Big Knob, Indiana. (Yes, it's that kind of book.) While trying to make the spoiled-brat dragon guardian of the local forest shape up, they amuse themselves by helping a overly-pursued young man turn off his sex appeal. Two weeks, max. Promise. And yes, that's the exact moment the woman of the guy's dreams shows up, and he has to rely on...talking (!) to the woman to stop her from tearing down his childhood home to put in a big box retail store. As you may have guessed, hijinx ensue.
Okay, nevermind the debate between erotica and porn. What's the line between romance and porn? My guess here is the ending, which focuses on relationships rather than sex itself. Nevertheless, I had to think about it.
The author has another series based on nerds, too. A Nerd in Shining Armor. Talk Nerdy to Me.
I probably won't chase her books down, but I'll probably pick them up when I see them, for bad days when I need a good laugh.
"I'm looking for an old-fashioned screw." Sean Madigan knew he was in trouble as soon as the words were out of his mouth.
Desert Blood, 10pm/9c. This very well could be the world's first YA Hispanic Mystery novel, I don't know. When I picked it up and read the back, I immediately categorized it as one and dismissed it. But it kept showing up at our local writers' group meetings, so I eventually picked it up and started reading. Twelve pages later, people were calling my name. "DeAnna...DeAnna...it's time for your critiques. Are you ready?" Wha?
So when I met Ron Cree at the conference, I told him I planned to pick up the book, because I kept reading it when I saw it. He handed me over a copy, which totally floored me. Look, it's the first time this kind of thing has happened to me, all right?
--But enough about how I got the book.
When the famous Nick Hernandez, star of the hit police action show Desert Blood, adopted Gus Gonzalez a couple of years ago, everybody said his career was going to tank. It certainly opened the door for even more nasty tabloid action than he'd had to face before. But now someone's making threats against Nick and Gus, and Gus is having trouble sorting through all the plots and lies around him to find out who's out to get him.
I have to say, I successfully did not suspect Gus. I suspected everyone else, and I had no idea who was guilty until the end. I finished the book in one straight sitting, too -- just as soon as I thought about putting it down, there'd be another hook to pull me along.
In big, bold letters, the front-page tabloid headline announced that I'd been abducted by aliens: HERNANDEZ HEARTBREAK! ADOPTED SON TAKEN CAPTIVE ABOARD FLYING SAUCER...
I was sitting on the edge of my bed, scanning the details of my unfortunate abduction and wondering at the same time if I had a clean shirt to wear.
Azu Manga Daioh. I've read all the individual manga, but this is the first time I've READ THEM ALL IN ORDER! Squee! The girls of a Japanese high school face all the challenges life can throw at them, including an alcoholic, sadistic teacher whose only saving grace is her apathy; vicious cats; a child genius; a perv teacher; chopstics; and my favorite--hiccups. The same author as Yotsuba&!, another brilliant work of utter brillianceness.
Hell House. Another one-sitting book about the worst haunted house ever. Spoooky. Not perfect, but very nearly so. I read the first few pages, was hooked, realized I was hooked, and asked myself how the hell I'd been sucked in so fast. So I backed up and noticed the first sentence:
It had been raining hard since five o'clock that morning. Brontean weather, Dr. Barrett thought. He repressed a smile. He felt rather like a character in some latter-day Gothic romance. The driving rain, the cold, the two-hour ride form Manhattan in one of Deutsch's long black leather-upholstered limousines. The interminable wait in this corridor while disconcerted-looking men and women hurried in and out of Deutsch's bedroom, glancing at him occasionally.
Yes, that's right. Mr. Matheson had the incredible chutzpah to start his story with "It was a dark and rainy night..."
--Actually, it worked pretty well for me. I got "mosaic and tapestry" first and "water beads" second. Our house pretty much reflects that. Although it does make me wish for purple tapestry curtains for the living room.
That's right, a YA forensic mystery, with all that implies, like details about dead bodies that you probably think your YAs shouldn't be exposed to. Neither do a lot of the people in the book, but Cameryn has more problems with her personal life than she does watching an autopsy. Cameryn's the coroner's daughter in a somewhat-fictionalized Silverton, Colorado. She wants to get into forensics when she grows up...actually, she's into forensics now, with a part-time job as her dad's assistant. One of her teachers dies mysteriously...really mysteriously.
The prose is decent, the characters believable, the plot realistic, the mystery okay but not hard (if I can figure it out, it's not hard, as anybody who knows my fight record with Agatha Christie can attest) -- but it's the forensics that shines. Details that made me wince and gag and drop any illusion of ever really wanting to be a M.E. nevertheless left me impressed with the skills involved and the powers of observation the main character brings into play (except in her personal life). But hey. Nobody's perfect.
(Caveat: This is the second book in the series. I picked it up at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, and all the first-books were out. The first is The Christopher Killer.)