Top Ten Tuesday: Remember Remember

Top Ten Tuesdayis an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

Today’s topic is “older” books we don’t want anyone to forget about.  Often readers get caught up in the excitement of new releases (“The Casual Vacancy,” anyone?) and the books that came out two or three years ago tend to lose steam.  I’m splitting this list into two sections: those recent releases that need to be refreshed, and classics that should not under any circumstances be allowed to fade, whether or not they’re actually in danger of doing so.

First, the modern:

1. “Shadows of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  Every time someone mentions “The Name of the Wind,” this is the book I think of.  It has mysterious deaths, unique books, forbidden romance, Spanish history…basically exactly nothing that is in “Name of the Wind.”  I have yet to read its two sequels, but since the third supposedly connects the first two, I’m interested in finally reading them.

2. “Interpreter of Maladies” by Jhumpa Lahiri.  “The Namesake” will probably live on as Lahiri’s most famous novel, but since she won a Pulitzer for “Maladies,” her very first collection of stories, I think this deserves to be remembered more.

3. “The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer.  I got my mom and sister to read this one and we all loved it, but I’m afraid of it fading away as another one-hit-wonder summer-book-club read.  It deserves a place among well-read comfort-food books like “Pride & Prejudice.”

4. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro.  I haven’t read anything else by Ishiguro yet, and although he’s most famous for “Remains of the Day,” I would hope this one survives as one of his most popular works.

5 “The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril” by Paul Malmont.  This one may not get remembered much since I don’t think many people read it in the first place, but I loved it.  It’s shameless bibliophile pulp fun.

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Top Ten Tuesday: 39 Months of Favorites

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week’s TTT is your favorite books read during the lifespan of your blog, which is almost too easy – ten favorite books that I’ve read in the last three-ish years?  Let’s make this a little more challenging and go by year:

Ruby Bastille started in March of 2009:

1) “The Castle of Crossed Destinies” by Italo Calvino was loaned to me by an erudite Irishwoman while I was an intern there.  It is the second-weirdest book I’ve ever read (after “Perdido Street Station” – no wait, third-weirdest, after that and the awful hallucinogenic mess that is “Mumbo Jumbo”) but it was also really really good.

2) “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri.  This anthology only has a couple stories and a novella, but they’re almost all heartbreaking and lovely.

2010 was the year I forgot I had Goodreads to track my reading, but these stand out in my memory:

3) “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” by Steig Larsson is hard to forget, and fun to read in the parts that don’t make you want to curl up in a corner with a teddy bear.

4) “My Name Is Mary Sutter” by Robin Oliveira had a strong, talented heroine and a thoroughly-researched Civil War setting.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Covers

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list  that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week’s theme is our favorite book covers!  I wrote a post about book covers a few months ago, but it was short and I’ve fallen in love with a few more covers since then.

1. “The Serialist” by David Gordon.  It’s about murder and writing – simple premise, awesomely simple cover.

2. Anything by Alan Furst.  Furst’s books are exactly what the covers show: dark, atmospheric tales about little people caught up in dangerous events.


3. “Matched” and “Crossed” by Ally Condie.  These covers caught my eye ages ago, thanks to how “Hunger Games” instilled in me a fresh interest in YA.  I finally put them on my library hold list, along with “Divergent,” because apparently I am fourteen again.  (Although so far I am not impressed with “Matched,” possibly because I am not actually fourteen.)  Anyway, I love the bubble metaphor, the futuristic font, and the clean color scheme.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Theme Songs For Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week we will post a new Top Ten list  that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join.

This week’s theme is books we’d assign theme songs.  This turned out to be a bit difficult when you rule out the soundtracks from movies based on books.  “Pride and Prejudice!”  “Lord of the Rings!”  “Harry Potter!”  Okay, maybe it’s only a problem for me because I have a thing for soundtracks, but still.  It could have been so easy.

1. “Hymn” by Bond
For: “The Lord of the Rings” by JRR Tolkein.
  This song always makes me think of the farewell scenes in “Return of the King,” especially the Gray Havens.  Sniffle.

2. “Uprising” by Muse
For: “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins.
  In my mind, this song was the trailer music for “The Hunger Games” movie.

3. “Howl” by Florence + The Machine
For: “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer.
  I hate myself for this, but the song makes me think of Twilight books.  They’re kind of perfect for each other.

4. “Never Let Me Go” by Florence + The Machine
For: “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro.
  The song which is so central to the book’s plot is fictional, but Florence’s haunting melody makes a good substitute.

5. “Crusaders” from the “Kingdom of Heaven” soundtrack
For: “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley.  The book and the movie share a similar early-medieval setting (give or take 400 years), and the “Kingdom of Heaven” soundtrack offers some beautiful songs that make for good reading music.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Recommend To Non-Science-Fiction Readers

I can remember talking about Ray Bradbury with some very well-read classmates and the professor during a creative writing class.  We were all discussing our favorite authors, and he’s one of mine.

“Isn’t he dead?” someone asked.

“No!  He’s like, ninety, but he’s not dead.  I would know.”

“He’s kind of crazy, though.”

I would have argued, but the professor was nodding sagely, as professors are wont to do.  They told me about his “Ray Bradbury Theater,” which admittedly sounded a bit crazy.

“But ‘Fahrenheit 451,'” I protested to unimpressed ears.  “‘Illustrated Man.’ ‘Martian Chronicles.’  Some Twilight Zone episodes!  The guy practically invented science fiction as we know it.”

It turned out the problem wasn’t entirely with Bradbury – it was with science fiction itself.  They (like many) didn’t consider it literary enough.  Even the genre itself occasionally hides under other names, like “speculative fiction,” in attempt to disassociate from the pulp stigmas of “sci-fi”.  As a result, and as in many genres, some readers overlook it entirely, and they miss out on some incredible works that have shaped not just the genre, but other books and pop culture as a whole.

So for today’s Top Ten Tuesday, here are my recommendations to people who think they’re too literary to try science fiction.  A huge flaw in this list is that I haven’t read many of the genre’s greatest – primarily Isaac Asimov, Ursula K. LeGuin, Neal Stephenson, or Philip K. Dick.  I can’t really endorse them, having never read them…but I’ll endorse them anyway, especially Asimov and Dick, since many popular sci-fi movies are based on their stories (“I, Robot,” “Minority Report,” and “Blade Runner,” to name a couple).

1. “The Illustrated Man” by Ray Bradbury.  If I was trying to win someone over to Bradbury, this is the book I’d force on them.  A mysterious tattooed man takes shelter with the narrator, and his cursed tattooes come to life and tell stories of space travel, nuclear apocalypse, Martians, and robots, complete with themes of discrimination, religion, censorship, human purpose and destiny, and family.

2. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood. Oh, dystopias. What is it about them that makes us actually enjoy reading them?  Is it because we’re safe in our comfortable non-dystopian world?  “Handmaid’s Tale” will destroy your comfort within a couple pages, but the beauty of speculative fiction is that it won’t necessarily happen…right?  Right?

3. “Perdido Street Station” by China Mieville.  You want literary science fiction?  Give “Perdido Street Station” a try and let me know when your pulverized brain makes it to the last of its 623 pages.  The city of New Crobuzon is neither a utopia nor a dystopia – it’s a city, a grungy, Dickens-in-Marrakesh city full of artists and criminals and politicians and cactus-people.  It touches on just about every theme it’s possible for a book to touch on, and it does so with refreshingly little exposition – what?  There’s cactus people?  No explanation given.  Deal with it.  Your disbelief has been suspended and you didn’t even realize it.

4. “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy.  The world has been ravaged by an unspecified disaster, and an unnamed man and his son struggle through a dead, gray, brutal wilderness towards the coast, for no other reason besides needing a destination and the tiny glimmer of hope it provides.  It’s exhausting and sometimes painful to read, but the characters in “The Road” never lose faith, and they don’t let us, either, in spite of everything.

5. “The War of the Worlds” by H.G. Wells.  Giant Martian tripods annihilate nineteenth-century England and all its Victorian sensibilities.  There’s no Will Smith with big guns or Doctor Who with a sonic screwdriver to help save the day – it’s just one ordinary dude, trying to stay alive and find his wife in a world gone utterly to hell.  I yearn for a steampunk-ian period film adaptation, although I did enjoy the surprisingly faithful Tom Cruise version – the death rays, an attack at a ferry crossing, and crazies who want to fight back are all from the book.

6. The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson.  Okay, I never managed to finish these books either, but that’s because I tried to read them when was twelve or thirteen and “Red Mars” was just too boring.  Maybe I’ll put them on my 2013 reading list…

7. “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley.  I found this easier to read than “1984” (another one I never finished – I suck!).  I think what drew me to it was its more morbidly compelling “positive” dystopia, where the people don’t even know they’re repressed, as opposed to a “negative” dystopia where people are aware of their forceful subjugation.  People in the world of “Brave New World” are genetically engineered and sorted into castes, then further controlled via drugs and orgies.  This was essentially the first dystopian novel and it addresses many of the concerns of the 1920s when Huxley was writing it, like increasing consumerism, loss of individuality in an industrialized world, and the international political uncertainty following WWI.

8. “Slaughterhouse Five” by Kurt Vonnegut.  An American POW is abducted by aliens later in life and spends the rest of the book time-traveling and/or going crazy.  If you’re literary-minded, you’ve probably read this anyway.

9. “Dune” by Frank Herbert.  Come on, it’s “Dune.”  It’s like the Star Wars of science fiction literature.  It’s a coming-of-age tale, a religious allegory, and a courtly intrigue all in one huge, imaginative package.

10. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. At first glace, you won’t even know this is science fiction.  Then the mysterious dystopia beautifully unfolds itself, Atwood-style, and you realize this near future has a horrible, tragic secret.

FBFF: Resolutions

Today’s FBFF asks about our resolutions for 2012.  I’m not a fan of resolutions because I usually don’t accomplish them, which just makes me feel like a failure and less interested in making them in the future.  But I figure a few general goals, along with my 101 in 1001, should keep my productivity up.

1. Continue to schedule time so I do more productive stuff and less Internet.  The holidays kind of usurped my free time, and even though I’d gotten in the habit of setting alarms on my phone to schedule my day, it got to a point where I had to ignore them because I was cleaning or running errands or whatever.  This year I’m going to buckle down, obey the schedule, maybe develop some will power, and possibly finish The Book.  I’m not sure which of those last two is more likely.

2. Read 25 books.  According to Goodreads, I read 18 this year.  If I manage my time right, and use some of that will power I’m finally going to cultivate to get through my to-read stack, I can do better in 2012.

3. Eat better. I know it’s a pretty generic resolution, but after reading this article I really want to make some changes: fewer foods from cans and boxes, more fresh fruits and vegetables, more organic meat and dairy.  It bugs me that the definitions of “free range” and “organic” and “cage-free” are still so loose and easily corrupted, but I’ll do what I can.  The basics at New Seasons Market aren’t that much more expensive than the non-organic options at Fred Meyer, so it shouldn’t be too hard to do.

Oh, speaking of resolutions, I need to follow up on my 2011 Resolve to Read list!  How did I do?

1. “My Antonia” – didn’t read, but on my list for next year

2. “North and South” – didn’t read because no Vancouver libraries have it! What?

3. “Jane Eyre” – READ

4. “Girl Who Played With Fire/Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” – didn’t read, third one STILL isn’t out in paperback

5. “Once and Future King” – attempted, thought it was really weird, quit

6. “Merrick” – didn’t read, lost interest

7. “The Windup Girl” – READ

8. “From The Dust Returned” – attempted, thought it was really weird, quit (sorry, Mr. Bradbury)

9. “One Hundred Years Of Solitude” – READ

10. “The Handmaid’s Tale” – READ (wow, was that really this year? It feels like ages ago)

11. “Never Let Me Go” – READ

I set some more reading goals for 2012 – check them out here!

Do you make resolutions?  Why or why not?  What are you hoping to accomplish this year?  What are you hoping to read this year?