A book I wanted to read, now I think I need to read. So it goes!
#GIRLBOSS sounds like something we all, at least secretly, dream of. As someone who loves writing, being creative but also super-over-disgustingly productive Sophia Amoruso could be my new spirit animal. Along with Amy Poehler, Kesha, and a strange array of other women who rock! I think I’ve silently been channeling this #girlboss energy for the past month or so, whipping myself into shape in all kinds of life aspects. As The Rocky Horror Picture Show should have taught us all, “don’t just dream it, be it!”
Books and comics are kind of the same. Right? Yes!
I’ve not read Sandman, although I didn’t get into comics until recently so that’s fair. It’s on the TBR list, along with several of Neil Gaiman’s novels I haven’t gotten a chance to read yet.
My first taste of Gaiman was American Gods. Junior year of college. A girl in a poetry class/workshop had written a poem about, or referencing, the book and then just spent about 20 minutes rave-explaining it to the class. Her description (“it’s basically about what happens to gods when people stop believing in them”) piqued my interest. This semester was almost host to my Nabokov class.
Instead of reading whatever Nabokov novel we were assigned,I laid on my couch reading American Gods instead. I can only hope the Nabokov assignment was Lolita, and having already read it, twice, missing out didn’t hurt me too badly.
I’ve seen talk of a program, that simulates MS Office applications or a desktop view that allows you to read at work, while still looking as if you’re doing work. It was one Buzzfeed, who found it here. Supposedly from New Zealand Book Council, I read both articles and thought, “Hey this sounds like a novel idea.” (Pun intended.)
Until I went to the Read at Work site. It looks, basically, like a blog where the first article is about poker. Not There is a post about reading at work in the broadest sense, but not this trickery of ‘reading that looks like working.’ I know I’d certainly like to be able to do that from time to time! It’s also not affiliated with the New Zealand Book Council sites, and a search of their site didn’t return any results for such a device.
Something is afoul, but I don’t disagree with Raul, at Read at Work’s, tips. You should definitely not let your reading, or desire to read, conflict with actual work duties or other work related tasks. His idea for testing books, is great! I often read the synopsis and introduction — or first chapter(s) — at bookstores and the library. Amazon will let you “look inside” many of their books now, too, for a little taste. It helps a ton to make sure you’re getting what you really want, particularly for cookbooks and the like.
I read at work, regularly. Mostly on the internet, but also actual books and/or ebooks. That’s what lunch is for! If you can set time aside during your lunch, or any other breaks throughout the day, for reading you can manage to get quite a bit in! If you’re a fast, or speed, reader you’ll fly through chapters with time to spare. I can’t read for the whole hour because once I’ve eaten, I head into food coma pretty quick and reading only makes the sleepiness worse. Instead, I give myself a maximum of 30 minutes of reading/writing time and the remaining is food time.
Many people feel they don’t have the time to read, which is understandable. After working a full-time job, you come home to have dinner to make, kids to care for, or some other household task to complete. You have relationships to maintain and Netflix to watch. It’s Tuesday and your favorite show is on or you signed up for that yoga class. By reading at work, you can give everything you love your full attention without feeling you’ve cut yourself short.
If you didn’t know, Buzzfeed now has a books section. While I’m not always into their picture heavy style, it’s nice when you just want something to breeze through but still be invested. Or take quizzes, it’s great for that!
Recently, I found their 19 Quintessential Books of the ’90s and thought the rundown was spot-on. Plus, it included more books I’d read than expected. My all-time, ultimate favorite The Perks of Being a Wallflower is listed at #3. I’m not sure the books are listed in any particular order, but I’m going to pretend they are so my favorite can be in the top 10.
Most of the books, I’ve heard of but never read. A lot of them, like The Virgin Suicides and Prozac Nation, are on my TBR list. I know, for shame. Please don’t hate me. Someday I will get to them all!!
’90s Books I’ve read: White Oleander Fight Club Girl, Interrupted
That’s right, only 4 out of 19! More are living on the bookshelf, but Trainspotting was sometimes hard to follow when I started it, and The Infinite Jest is infinitely intimidating me. I’ve got some serious reading catch-up to play!
I don’t have a ‘hump day, dump day’ book to write about, which may happen more often than not. At least, I’m beginning to think so. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about trashing books in some way.
Personally, I’m not a fan of — and try not to write — 100% negative book reviews. Yet, as any reader knows, sometimes you pick a book because it sounds good or intriguing only to find that it’s anything but good or intriguing. Maybe they aren’t so bad that we just throw in the towel, but sometimes we have no choice. That’s totally fine! I, myself, am slowly learning when to give up on a book I can’t get into, rather than forcing myself to finish what I started.
I don’t want Hump Day, Dump Day to be all about the negative review, per se. Some books are just straight-up bad. No questions about it, hands down, BAD. But, I think what happens more often is that a book isn’t particularly to my liking, your tastes, or whatever. All the lovely, wonderful subjectivity of writing. Bad writing is bad writing, but just because I don’t like the narration, voice, style, or plot doesn’t mean the book is dictionary-definition bad. There have been books that repeatedly teased me with the hope of getting better, only to fail. Yes, I have a specific book in mind. That book, has great reviews on Goodreads. Meaning what exactly? A ton of people loved a book that I hate! Simple as that.
That’s what Hump Day, Dump Day IS about. Books we don’t like. Maybe they aren’t bad books, through and through, but there was something that just didn’t do it for me. I’m willing to publicly share my disdain, without shame, in the hopes of saving another reader the same torment I endured. I wouldn’t say that’s a negative review, just a sharing of opinions.
On that note…here’s a bit of praise, or acceptance, from The New York Timesfor the negative book review. It has it’s place in the literary world. And to be honest, as a writer…we want criticism, not just unadulterated praise. It makes us better writers and, maybe, people. It’s not an industry or endeavor for the faint of heart or hypersensitive; you have to know how to separate yourself from your work, to a degree. It’s your baby, yes, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world thinks it’s cute.
More props for the negative book review can be found at The New Yorker, along with some winning examples of why positive only book reviews aren’t necessarily good (or fun to read).
Likes: Eleanor and Park, of course
Dislikes: I’m not even going to try to pretend that I hated anything.
Beginning of the school year. 1986. Bus. New girl enters. There aren’t any open seats. She’s dressed oddly, has bright red hair, and is just asking for “it.” Boy finally demands that she just sit down. They keep as much space between them as possible, they don’t talk, they don’t even look at one another. They have honor classes together. They silently, and weirdly, start to bond. They’re both self-conscious. They fall in love.
Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell, was summed up perfectly when John Green reviewed it.
“Eleanor & Park reminded me not just what it’s like to be young and in love with a girl, but also what it’s like to be young and in love with a book.”
Preach, John Green, preach! I’ve never been young and in love with a girl, but I have been young and in love with a boy and more frequently, in love with a book.
I’m a pretty voracious reader, generally speaking, but when I really like a book it becomes a whole new game. Never, and I mean never-ever-ever, have I been so absolutely enthralled with a book in my life. I’ve loved books. Dearly and deeply. I’ve cherished and coveted and praised them from the mountaintops. And honestly, this isn’t even one of those books, but it was still so incredibly fantastic that I tweeted at Rainbow Rowell about it. And she favorited my tweet, which was just icing on the happiness cake.
The hype that surrounded this, and others of Rowell’s books, turned me off. Yes, I’m that reader. If it’s getting all the hype in town and everyone and their mother is swooning over it, I put off reading it as long as humanly possible because—wait for and then immediately dismiss my pretentious ass—it can’t be that good.
Everyone in real life, knows this fact about me and take it into account when recommending books. Honestly, most people in my real life don’t recommend me books. Ever. If it’s an Oprah’s Book Club book, count me out. NYT Bestseller, meh. I didn’t read Harry Potter until Book 7 was released, and guess what…I fucking loved it! My pretentious attitude toward books has changed somewhat, but will likely never be fully abolished. So, I avoided Rainbow Rowell and Eleanor & Park until now…and I love it too.
Is anyone else sensing a trend here?
Regardless, the book had me feeling all of the 16 year-old girl feels in my adult body. I spent most of the book swooning, giggling, and saying “oh.my.god” over and over and over again. On the verge of tears of joy. I mean, seriously, read this shit:
“Then he slid the silk and his fingers into her open palm. And Eleanor disintegrated.”
She disintegrated. Fucking, disintegrated! How can you not just die?! I can’t even.
Was it predictable? Totally, but that shouldn’t shock anyone when the synopsis blatantly says “…this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.” You know the minute they’re both co-existing in that seat on the bus that they’re bound to fall for one another.
Here’s the thing though, Rainbow Rowell shows young love differently than I’ve ever seen it. It’s not a one-sided point of view, it’s not unrequited or any of that jazz. You see Eleanor AND Park both, gradually, fall into like and then into love. Their voices are amazing and their streams of consciousness are so spot on for high school romance. Is she mad at me…I hope she’s not mad at me…I don’t even know why she likes me? He doesn’t like, OMG he totally likes me…how could he like me? It’s a big ball of awkward, self-conscious, intoxicating joy.
She’s so heavy. Heavy, heavy, heavy.
Eleanor’s home life is anything but great, and Park feels like an outsider in his own way. Neither are capable of seeing the good and beautiful in themselves, but they can easily see it in each other. Eleanor is weird, but she’s smart and funny and totally herself. Park loves, and quietly hates, it but he can appreciate and admire it without a doubt. Park is beautiful, smart, strong, and can always make her laugh. Eleanor is a bit jealous of his “perfect” family, but she’s glad that it created him.
There are some hot-n-heavy makeout sessions that aren’t explicit or dirty, because “Nothing was ever dirty. With Park. Nothing could be shameful.” It will remind you of that first time you a let a boy kiss you, let alone touch you anywhere but your hands, and what it was like to be young, in love, and a little bit reckless. If you’ve never been love, this will give you all the reasons to be jealous of those who have.
Eleanor reminded me of 16 year-old me, honestly. When she told Park to stop looking at her all the time—I feel you girl, I feel you. Then, as someone who is not-so-old, still in love and—after a long hiatus—in a relationship with her high school sweetheart, Eleanor & Park made me remember all the firsts we shared together. All the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place, and the things from way back then that are still a large part of us being, well, us. We’re weird, we’re awkward, and he can definitely always make me smile…“Because Park was like the sun, and that was the only way Eleanor could think to explain it.”
And then there is end. Lord, have mercy! I don’t want to give it away, but for me, the possibilities are pretty endless. We may never know, but Park seemed to be satisfied. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is my ultimate, all-time favorite book. This is mot quite as dark or ambiguous, but Eleanor & Park is still a lot like it. Maybe, Rainbow Rowell with be the Stephen Chbosky for a new generation of readers. After reading Eleanor & Park, I’d say she’s definitely up to the task!