Little Black Apron

Do you remember  that post in which I wrote about cookbooks? I do. I never bought any of them, though. I haven’t even purchased a cook book until today.  Borders was having a huge sale, with boxes upon boxes of books for 3.99. Sounds like my kind of deal, I  thought. I picked up a few new reads, along with  The Little Black Apron.

At first I was basking in all its Little Black glory, because it is a cookbook aimed at single young nothings who don’t know how to boil eggs. Thank you, powers that be! You’ve been watching! I am a bit hesitant to admit that I don’t know how to do much if it doesn’t require a microwave, but this book was written because I’m obviously not the only one. Oh, sure, I watch The Food Network and watch all the wonderful things that are made, but I don’t even know where to begin making them on my own! The closest I get is my brave little toaster.

I got it home, and opened it. (Why didn’t I think of this before I bought it?!) There they were, those terrifying eighteen-word titles. If you’ve ever looked at a cook book, you know what I mean. I was seeing things like “carrot and tortise shell flambe with garlic potatoes and glazed, grilled tofu”. What about the basics? What about boiling eggs? Where is that cookbook? Even after reading the first two chapters, I felt bad. No, I don’t know how to broil, and I vaguely remember my Home Ec teacher mentioning that there are two different measuring systems for wet and dry ingredients but… that can’t be important, can it? Around page 14 the book compared cooking to sex, and I liked the book a little more.

Before I continue, I feel that I should mention that fear has not stopped me from playing in the kitchen! I make fantastic (edible!) banana bread… then I lost the recipie.  There was the failed cupcakes in 8th grade, the failed Nestle Tollhouse cookies my Sophmore year, my delicious caramelized banana’s  something or other (great over ice cream), my failed break-and-bake cookies (3 attemps), and the Great Failcake of 09. So I’m no good at baking. Or keeping track of recipies. Please don’t think less of me for it.

After perusing the pages for an hour or so, I have realized that these recipes are practical! I can do this! All it takes is a timer, a little virgin olive oil, and no fear. I can’t wait to use this book. I am so inspired by this I’m going to try a little something tonight. To whet your appetites, dear reader, here is a simple little recipe pulled right off of the website.

Try serving it with roasted asparagus (toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for 12 minutes) and whole wheat cous cous.

Seared Sea Bass with Creamy Lemon-Herb Sauce
serves 4

1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1/4 cup low-fat mayo
1 small shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
juice of 1/4 lemon
1/2 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons basil, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons tarragon, roughly chopped
salt and pepper
extra light extra virgin olive oil
4 sea bass filets, about 4-6 ounces each

1. To make the dressing: combine sour cream, mayo, shallot, lemon juice, parsley, basil chives, tarragon, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend until herbs are very finely chopped. It will be thick at this point so add about a tablespoon or so of water and blend. It should be thin enough to drizzle but not too watery.

2. Remove the fish from the fridge about 20 minutes before cooking it.

3. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat and add oil. While the pan heats up, season the fish on both sides with salt and pepper. When the oil begins to smoke add the fish to the pan. Let it sear about 4 minutes, then flip and continue cooking another 4-5 minutes. The fish should be flakey but not dried out.

4. Serve fish with a dollop of sauce on top.

Published in: on May 4, 2009 at 6:10 am  Leave a Comment  

Losing Steam

Steam (56/365), originally uploaded by Brian Gudas Photography.

My most recent trip to the library yielded a double-digit late fee – which makes me believe I’m a repeat offender on their Most Wanted List – and a new stack of books. Almost a dozen, actually. That night I took from the top of the stack and began Not Tonight Honey, Wait ’til I’m a Size Six by Susan Reinhardt which was hailed as “the southern belle’s answer to Dave Sedaris” (Karin Gillespie). I don’t know why that enticed me, since I don’t much like Dave Sedaris, but we’ll get to him later…

So, I was excited for this book. After reading a few pages I got even more anxious to devour the text. I knew it would be great since I found this gem of wisdom on page two: “Beautiful women are a dime a dozen, you’ve got to be much more than that.” I got my hopes up and read a hundred pages.

Readers, I went to bed sorely disappointed. Yes, Susan Reinhardt is a true southern belle, and Not Tonight Honey is a book of cute short stories involving her mother, her family and a colorful cast of characters… but  she writes about things I know nothing about; overbearing mothers, running a household, Georgia, and old people. I just don’t get it, and I’m not sorry for that. It isn’t where my life is right now and I don’t think I “get” southern humor anyway.

I put the cover quote up to a challenge and, with a bot abhorrence, picked up that Dave Sedaris novel Dress Your Family in Courderoy and Denim. I was not disappointed. By that I mean I was disappointed. To reiterate, I didn’t have a high opinion of Mr. Sedaris before I picked up his book, and I still don’t. They both write from worlds that I have never encountered, and they write poorly at that.

Okay, maybe I’m being a snob.  But I’m a snob with better books to read. Besides, I don’t consider it a complete waste of my time: I got a good quote out of it.

Published in: on April 26, 2009 at 3:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

False Starts and Misappropriation

Elevator Love Letter, originally uploaded by Atomic Citrocity.

Dear Blog;

The only way I can think to start this is by saying I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you. I have no excuses. I really don’t. The thing is, things have been really rough lately, and I’ve been unfair to you. You’ve always been there for me, and i feel like I’ve re payed you by walking away. I know I’ve said that we can work this out and I just need time, nothing is wrong, its just a funk… all that stuff. But its more than that. It’s a lot more. I’ve always had a lot of fun with you, and you’ve taken me to places I’ve never been, but…

Books just don’t do it for me anymore.
It’s not normal, and it’s not me. We both know that. I don’t know whats going on. I pick one up, I read eight pages and I’m bored. I’m not tired, I’m not relaxed and I can’t wait to get out of that chair. Reading isn’t fun anymore, but not reading feels bad, too. I guess what I’m saying is that I want to work this out, and I need your help.

Maybe I haven’t found the right one. I’ve been fooling around with a lot of graphic novels, knitting books and online articles that don’t need my full attention, then trying to sit down and get into heavy political or spiritual texts. Maybe I’m going about this all wrong. I really want to work on this, because I think we have something great going for us. I’ll start making an effort, because this is something I need to fix. I know this. I’m going to start making you a priority. You have my word as a bookworm.

yours, NovelDame

Published in: on April 11, 2009 at 2:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

No Harm Done

I was recently informed that my dearest friend, let’s call her Miss Sousa, as in a sousaphone, has never visited Pages Turned. Truth is, this bothers me not in the least. That’s the funny thing about being close with other book lovers – books are never mentioned. I am reminded of a piece in a previous piece in which it is said that a best friend shouldn’t ever tell a girl that she hates the other’s favorite novel. It is an unspoken rule, and to ignore it is to put your very life in danger. That being said, I am thankful that Miss Sousa and I have read only a dozen of the same books. We rarely discussed them or their authors or anything of the sort. Neither of us avoid it, but (and I hope she agrees with me on this) I don’t feel the need to educate her on the joys of reading or anything of the sort, unlike other company I’ve kept. The closest we get to such discussions are short little wisps of conversation. “Have you read this?” she asks. Why yes, I say with a smile, or, no, should I? I ask, making a mental note. Then I file it away in my endless mental book list, to let the idea get dusty and maybe be remembered, maybe. It’s a rare occasion when I actually pick up something after it has been mentioned, and I’m mostly sorry for this (but my budget isn’t).

She brings out the fidgety old bat in me…ah, well. Does it wound my pride that the only other person in my life who could possibly understand my lust for Atticus Fitch has not read a single word I write? Not one bit, dear reader. Miss Sousa is better off not having to put up with my rants more than she has to. We share very little actually, be it fashions, ideas or genres. She is what balances me.

During nights like this when my mind flits about, collecting thoughts to paste on this page, I think ridiculous things that I believe wholeheartedly – until the sun comes up. Perhaps friendship is the real marriage, and the friend a real soul mate. Maybe this husband and wife thing is just a necessary companionship a step above a personal secretary so we all have someone else to complain to about the love of our lives, our best friend. And this bunkmate with a ring is there to feign interest, if that… there to meet our needs, fills our time until Tuesday coffee when we can be our true self with someone who will buy cheesecake for our birthday and “help” us weed out the needless bits in our book collection. That’s love.

Published in: on February 22, 2009 at 5:40 pm  Comments (2)  


Last night was full of surprises for me. Not only did I discover that it would be in my best interest to invest in a fourthbookshelf (go figure), but I had a wonderful discussion with my father:

“Dad, help me.”
“With what?”
“I need an accurate list of previous addresses for my records.”

We sat and went through all the places I have lived for the last ten years. On average, my father and I have lived in a single residence for a year. Meaning once every 11 months we pack up everything we own, move, and unpack again. Needless to say, moving is a science to me and I use it as a platform for my spring cleaning.

That being said, I have seen many things come and go, but not once have either of us (my father and I) questioned why we pack boxes, trunks and dresser drawers full of hundreds of books and haul them across town again and again like clockwork. Never have we paused to say “I have never read this” or such silly things like “this is very outdated”  or question why we have several volumes of haphazard Shakespeare compilations.

In the eyes of foreigners (those not accustomed to our ways) this might seem absurd. They might see the eighteen bibles and the six F. Scott Fitzgerald novels and three copies of The Taming of the Shrew and not understand our ways of being. Perhaps these novels will never be touched. Perhaps they will be passed down or well loved or damanged in a flood.  Their fate matters not.

What really matters here, friends, is that of all the furniture, clothes, hobbies, and knick-knacks to pass through our Gypsy Lives, the books have remained. Most of them are dusty, worn, HEAVY and generally not easy on the eyes, but they’re almost a currency… a measure of value. Yes, our couch is hideous, but we have every classic novel you can dream of.  No, the carpet doesn’t always get vacuumed, but my dictionary is well-thumbed.  See? pencil marks in the margins. Scraps of colored paper mark long-forgotten crusades and note cards call out to mysterious root words. Ignore the family photos, these are the real treasures.

Come one, come all! My family history is in these books, somewhere. Can you not taste it in the air? I do. With every glance at the embossed titles, every snap of a turned page, I am reminded of my past, my future. Like these books, life may not look too neat to start with. I may come out of this dirty, worse for wear, maybe even dog-eared, but boy will I have a story to tell.

Published in: on February 7, 2009 at 5:33 pm  Comments (2)  

Do As You’re Told

early summer road, originally uploaded by straightfinder.

My Fairy Godmother is at it again this week, keeping me on track. The only thing holding me back is the fact that 2009 is not off to a good start, as far as reading goes. I think that, according to my reading log, I have finished one book.

In five weeks, I have finished one book. Oy vey. And as expected, the To-Read Shelf has bore fruit and started a To-Read Colony in the shelf below. Oh dear… Did I mention I hit the library yesterday?

Sometimes I really think there is no hope for me, and then I am reminded of why I go to the library: its my version of Retail Therapy. Some women get a rush from picking up a new sweater (don’t get me started on my knitting problems) or a dozen pairs of shoes. Me, I go to the local library and fill my bag, and my arms, and consider “just one more” knowing full well I will never open half of them, and the other half will become overdue in two weeks. Then I check out and leave with twenty books I have never read  before and am thrilled by all the adventures that I hold in my hands, and the prospect of finding another character to love.

I love reading.  I genuinely love it. Sometimes I forget that. Especially when I’m looking at that same stack of books three days later thinking such terrible things as “why did I pick this up?”  “There is no way I can read all these.” and, my favorite  “I don’t remember leaving with this many.”

Meanwhile, the shopaholic down the street is sweating this month’s credit card bill, and I’m pondering why the Library would give people a 99-book limit if they don’t recommend getting beyond ten. Imagine getting 99 books from the library. Just imagine.

Where would they go? How would you get them out of there? What does this say about one’s sanity?

This is what I do when I should be reading. Au Revoir, dearest. Down the road I go.

Published in: on February 6, 2009 at 2:34 pm  Comments (1)  

They Remain in the Shadows


Mohawk, originally uploaded by lib-lab.

Since I got to take a glance at my reading list, I present you with a list from the list.

Honorable Mentions of 2008:

Colleges That Change Lives, Loren Pope
I adore this book simply because it was such a great reference. It is well organized, informative and brutally honest. You really get to figure out if a college is right for you or not. Note: Pick this up when you’re a junior, because EVERYONE will be trying to get into these colleges.

Sexing the Cherry, Jeanette Winterson
          I got the chance to read this right before I graduated, and it is the weirdest book I’ve ever read, and one of the most memorable. If you really want to get out of your head and just dive into a book, This is for you. Then spend weeks reading interpretations on it, and find all the allusions… its deep. And pay attention to the pictures in it, they say a lot.

The Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul, Douglas Adams
          Its Douglas Adams, people. There’s Norse Gods, and a Holistic Detective, and british humor. I recommend reading it right after Sexing the Cherry.

The Private Albert Einstein, Peter S. Bucky
          This really sheds a lot of light on Einstein’s actual life, rather than what he’s memorable for. It goes beyond hours of equations and into his hobbies, letters he wrote, his habits, even his laugh. It paint Einstein to be the kind of guy you want as your Grandfather or your best friend. My favorite fact: He loved sailing for most of his life but couldn’t swim a stroke.

Candy Girl, Diablo Cody
          This threw me off in a big way. Its written by the gal who write Juno, and she becomes a stripper. A) to see if the can, B) because she’s bored with her day job. Honestly. Its a really interesting book, but she holds nothing back. Its not presented in a trashy way, its just truth. A good read, but only for those with a brave stomach. She meets some really strange folks…

Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
I’m a knitter, too. I’m a Reader, and I’m a knitter. This is the most amazing book I’ve ever come across. Its funny, if you’re a knitter. If you’re not, don’t bother; you just won’t get it. Its not to exclude you or anything, you just have to be a certain breed of batty to get jokes about wool.




          That’s it. That’s All, folks. Thats really it… the rest weren’t that great, or are getting an entry all their own. Ok, you’re done.            That means go home.   now.

Published in: on October 4, 2008 at 4:12 pm  Comments (2)  

“Some” Is Not Enough


The best days are not planned, originally uploaded by Marcus Hansson.

I’m not looking forward to going home after work today, because I know I have a grim job ahead.

          I have a sad, sorry tale to tell, dear readers. My wonderful father and I have just moved into a wonderful little house, and it has been my job to turn it into a wonderful little home. So far, so good. But I encountered a problem last night: I had filled the bookshelves, and still had stacks of books left on the floor. Well, obviously, there’s not enough bookshelf. I called my father over to observe this phenomenon.

          “Lets make room,” he parrots. My first thought was  lets get rid of his books then. Logical, yes? I’m afraid I don’t like his books nearly as much as I like mine. We managed to weed out two dozen, but fifteen of those were from stacks that were still on the floor (We are bad at this). Then I brought up that we can take them to the used book store, get credit, and come home with some that we’ve been meaning to get. he liked that idea (we are very bad at this). The grim job ahead is the act of getting rid of books, and I can’t getrid of books. No. We will not have that in my house.  So I thought that I’d be sneaky, and do the NovelDame version of sending the children away for the weekend: I decided to send some of my favorites away with a trusted book lover (trusted, because she brings them back). So I sat and pondered. What has she read? What do I think she would enjoy? I came away with three books. Three rather skinny, measly, willowy books. Not because I didn’t fond any she would enjoy but because the majority of MY books on the shelves were. . . unread. (See The Infamous To-Read Shelf from March)

          Well, at this point I had to figure out why that was. I took inventory: I had started precisely THIRTY of the books without committing to finishing, knowing full well that they really are worth finishing. That can’t be right… here I am, looking at my reading log for 2008, and out of the 45 books I’ve read this year, six have been my own personal novels. Six. Suddenly, that To-Read BOOKSHELF is looking very logical.

          Be warned, ye hearty readers: The perils of To-Read thinking are treacherous! It goes from a stack (2-3 books) to a pile (4-9) to taking up a whole shelf (10-30) to a whole bookcase. That still astounds me! A whole bookcase of books I haven’t read.

                                                                                               oh my.

Published in: on October 4, 2008 at 3:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Don’t Give A…


“Snow doesn’t give a soft white damn who it touches”
– E. E. Cummings

it isn’t snowing today, but I fully embrace the attitude. You’ve heard my take on the Men’s side of things. I think its time for some girl power.


First off, we’ll start with what I think is the Anti-MANual. Any girl who has gotten desperate, curious or both has picked up The Rules. Even the title makes women shiver without knowing why. I loathe this book with every fiber of my being. I cannot stress that enough. Simply put, a bunch of Old Bats sat down and wrote a book on how to lure a man into marrying you. It includes such “time-tested miracle rules” like Don’t Accept a Date after Wednesday.  The whole book is depressingly pre-feminist and comes from a time when men and women were practically at war with eachother. It preaches playing hard to get and aiming to be arm candy. It advises women to play sports that make them look attractive “such as tennis and golf”, not ones that make them look sweaty or mannish. And if it makes them more attractive, they should invest in “getting their noses and such fixed”. This book really pushed my buttons. I think it teaches manipulation and is frankly degrading. I wouldn’t let anyone talk to me in the same tone this book narrates.

          The funny thing is that Susan Gilman took them to heart and turned them around – to use them as business tips in her book Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule The World as a Smartmouth Goddess:

Play hard-to-get. Don’t accept the very first offer. Test the waters instead. After an employer names the salary, say ‘well, I was actually hoping for more.’ If They refuse to budge on the money, my friend Sarah (another career diva) suggests negotiating benefits, vacation days, profit sharing, and stock options.”

          Brilliant. I enojy this book because it builds women up instead of tearing them down. it tells you what to start doing right. It preaches being strong, witty, creative, logical, and above all things, honest. Really, how many women are honest with themselves nowadays?

          In any case, I don’t think it really matters what you read, exactly. Just take pleasure in the fact that you are willing and able to read, and find a gem a truth somewhere in there. If you can do that, then all is well.

Published in: on October 4, 2008 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Men Can’t Claim the World Anymore


Volcanic Clouds, originally uploaded by HaMeD!caL.

I’ve been following a very strange path lately that has been leading me to women’s books written by men. Sort of a Book of Secrets from the other side of the line. Really though, they should all be praised individually but they share too many similarities to be ignored.

    It started with The MANualby Steve Santagati. I got a hold of it thanks to my sister about a year ago. Good God, was that a learning experience. It confirmed two things: Men are really very simple, and Women love to complicate everything! At the time I thought it wise to discuss my findings with my father and he gave me the Duhlook. Then he gave me a lovely lesson on Blondes, Brunettes and Cookies. That really is a story for another day, so I’ll save it. Basically, this book teaches you a lot of things you didn’t know you should know. Its a nice start.

          From there, I just hadto know more, so I hit the local library immidiately. That is where I found my next adventure;  Cad: Confessions of a Toxic Bachelor. Whaaaaat?  Exactly. I read the title and iimmidiately thought to myself that I have dated this man. If not this man, then one just like him. I read the book, cover to cover. Every word. It was exhausting. It was educational. It was very, very discouraging. he gave away every one of his moves,the tactics he used to hook a girl. Woman after woman, actually. He had a game plan. He had a system that had been perfected and the only thing that ever messed it up is when he actually got involved. Emotionally, mentally, physically… it doesn’t matter. It still ruined everything for him. The worst part is, he knew exactly what he was doing. Part of me still wants to believe that he really is a nice guy inside, he’s just… Bloody hell. I don’t know. He really did act like a Cad. This book confirmed that  I really have dated guys just like him! And now I see how they managed to hook me, too.

          Now I was just angry at men… so I gave the “confessional genre” a break for a bit and only recently rediscovered it when I haphazardly came across What Men Don’t Tell Women About Business. I tell you this: if you do nothing else with your life, buy this book. Buy it now. It is the single greatest investment you could ever make (aside from that commemorative Wizard of Oz porcelain doll set you just blew your retirement fund on). Really. It doesn’t just explain men in business, it explains men’s behavior period! Again, men are very simple. This book explains how they do business with eachother, what signs they look for in behavior and dress and why you aren’t (or are) getting what you deserve from them.

          The reason I grouped these three books together is for the simple fact that they aim to give power back to women. Females can (and have) spent all of their lives trying to find the secrets held in these books. There really is valuble information in here, including ideas you can put to use immidiately. Whether you’re looking to improve your dating pool, get a promotion or just get along with your co-workers, you can’t find a good excuse to put this off for any longer.

          Alright, one last try… if you’ve ever read He’s Just Not That Into You and had an epiphany about multiple relationships, you NEED these books. Its never too late to fix… well, you tell me.

Published in: on October 4, 2008 at 1:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Movie Mad(ness)


The Matrix has you., originally uploaded by mechanics.

I’ve been looking at my Book Log for 2008 trying to figure out which books I didn’t get around to writing about (so I can do so now) and I’ve noticed a trend. Its a trend that I don’t like.

     It began when I picked up the graphic novel V for Vendetta. It really was up there in terms of quality. I was very impressed. The images weren’t cartoony or action-figure poses and the colors were natural. The story line was detailed, quick-paced, and well thought out and V made a wonderful Anti-hero. While the little boys down the block wanted to be like Batman and Superman, I wanted to be like V (part of me still does).  It is a graphic novel that is definitely worth buying . . . then the movie came out. Personally, I have never seen the movie. I don’t think I ever will. The truth is that from what I’ve been told, the movie only loosely resembles the Graphic Novel, which is very disappointing, because I can’t name a thing that could have been improved upon.

     Then, come last March, I picked up Nick and Norah’s infinite Playlist. Again, I thought it was fantastic! It was funny, mature, intriguing, and even a bit dark. Its not exactly something you take to your book club, but for High Schoolers and 20-Somethings its a real treat, like a slice of cheesecake after a long week. Then the movie came out. . . again, I haven’t gone to see it. Really, I don’t want to. I’ve discussed it with people who went and saw the film, and again I’m disappointed. First off, they left out some of the funniest scenes in the whole novel just to make the flick PG-13. They’re not lewd scenes by any means, and the dialogue that goes on is fantastic. But NOOOO… they got cut.

THEN…. there’s this Twilight thing. I didn’t like the book, so I probably will loathe the movie, so we’ll let this one slide.

The truth is that the only Movie-Based-On-The-Book that I really genuinely enjoy is the live-action version of Peter Pan. It was outstandingly true to the text, the special effects were amusing and the actors were surprisingly good. When I’m in a reminiscent mood I pair that up with Hook, which is a sequel of sorts.

 This whole Based-On-The-Book thing is really letting me down in the long run. This really disheartens me since I was so looking forward to seeing Brendan Fraiser in inkheart, which is another favorite… ahh well.

Published in: on October 4, 2008 at 11:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Just Another Welcome Back


It’s been too long, old friend. I have no reasonable excuse, except for the fact that academics come first. I’ve had to drop roughly 5 books due to the chaos that is Life After High School. In any case, I was offered a challenge by a close friend. She adores a current NY Times Bestseller which seems to be at its peak of hysteria, and all year she has been trying to get me to pick this up. (Its Fiction, of course, and I have a nonfiction agenda.) So, during my peak of hysteria, she offers me this: Read Twilight before Thanksgiving. I won’t bother to put the rest in print, for I love her enough to save her the embarassment. Just know it was good enough to make me check out Twilight the next day.

I have less than a third left, and its… ugh. its Chick Lit, okay? Its cute, predictable, with a plot line much like steel wool. Its pretty, easy on the mind, rough in some spots, and keeps things clean. I admit the characters are mostly admirable even though Bella is not quite believable, and Edward stepped out of a Jane Austen novel. Its a book. I respect that. But… I strive for better. Better characters, better plot, better quality.

Okay, I’ll be nice. Right now, its the perfect book for me. It holds my attention easily, its long enough to need effort, and it keeps me distracted but doesn’t need to be pondered once I shut it. That being said, I’m off to go finish up the dozen tasks I started and then open it again.

Published in: on October 4, 2008 at 11:09 am  Leave a Comment  

A Different Way of Doing Things


§, originally uploaded by François D. §.

Oh my. I just went through the business of looking at how many books I’ve read that none of you have heard about. I repeat: oh my.
This will prove to be a challenge. So, dear readers, I’m going to tackle this in the most nonsensical way I can: without a plan.
Why? I can’t honestly answer that because I don’t really know. It just… sounded like an effective plan of action. Besides, why should I explain my books in a more organized manner than I choose them? (It usually involves closed eyes.)

Wish me luck. My ramblings will soon be open to the public, so to speak.

Published in: on June 28, 2008 at 11:19 am  Leave a Comment  

When to Say “When”


House of books, originally uploaded by CláudiaM.

I have a situation.

I’m not entirely sure what kind of situation it is yet, but I know I have one. The problem is this: Whenever I leave the house, I come home with more books than I left with.

I know what many of you are thinking; “I wish I had that problem!” No. No you don’t. You see, I leave the house every day. Its not even that I’m stuck with these books. About a third are library books, so they eventually go back… but thats hardly the point, now is it?

My situation is this: I have no room. All bookshelves are at capacity, even beyond. The dreaded “To Read” Top shelf is layered. It started out neatly enough, arranged by size, brought forward to the edge of the shelf (as my dear Librarians taught me). Come May there were two or three paperbacks on top of the row. Now… we’re halfway through June. I have pushed back the first row and begun a second in front of it.

(Wistfully) And they’re wonderful books! Dostoyevsky, Anna Karenina, War and Peace, Persuasion, A Hearbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, J.M. Barrie, J.D. Salinger, other people who use initials, and my two favorite Random-Fact Books: The Know-It-All and A Brief History of Nearly Everything. (neither of which I’ve finished – yet) The trouble is that there’s still books I want. You know, the books everyone should own, the ones you pass on to your kids. I saw this gorgeous old-style, gold-lettered hardcover of Robin Hood that would be lovely to read this winter (with a blanket and hot cocoa) not to mention the recent Naria craze, which only fuels the nagging feeling that I should have bought the series when I was 7 (like I wanted to, because then I wouldnt be in this predicament). My most recent tangent has been Peter Pan. It has been mildly amusing between the book, short stories and movies galore. (I think all these childrens books, particularly that last one, is my subconscious making a grand effort to avoid “growing up”. Ahh, the innocence and ego of childhood…)

needless to say, I do believe I am surrounded. My “To Read” Shelf occupancy has tripled, plus the seperate stack of library books (over 10 present at any given time) And the average of… three… that I carry on me at all times. Another problem: Once I remove themfrom my “To Read” Shelf, there’s nowhere to move them to. Again, shelves are at capacity. What to do, what to do…

I’m 10 books away from resorting to By any means necessary mode, (which is one step away from Crazy Cat Lady)  and fitting them into drawers, crates, stacked on tables… Its reminiscent of Elinor Loredan in inkheart (excellent book-lovers book!). In any case, I’m curious as to how the book-house was managed, because it might be the solution to my problems.

Published in: on June 14, 2008 at 9:50 am  Comments (3)  

Back in the Saddle Again


Saddle in Storage, originally uploaded by donegone.

Thats right, ladies and gents, I am ready to produce literary word-vomit once again. I admit that I’m rather terrible at time management, so I had to make the executive decision of not denying myself a couple hours of sleep every time I finished a novel… but I’ve kept records of what i’ve managed to finish, so you’re in store for quite a tirade!

Its good to be back. You didn’t think I’d stay away forever, did you?

Published in: on June 14, 2008 at 9:13 am  Comments (2)  

Waiting for War


statue, originally uploaded by createsimona.

I stepped out of my literary comfort zone yet again this Spring Break. I’ve never been into that whole Knights-of-the-Round-Table-Damsels-in-Distress genre, but I came across a paperback that was rather intriguing. The back of The Book of Mordred simply stated:

 In the tradition of Arthurian legend, Mordred has been characterized as a buffoon, a false knight, and a bloodthirsty traitor. The Book of Mordred reveals a mysterious man through the eyes of three women who love him.

How can you not be enthralled by something like that? Adventure, a soiled name, a love story…

It was better than I expected. I’m considering reading Vivian Vande Velde’s other works to see if theyre just as pleasant. Not that the storyline was pleasant – far from it. If anything, it was juicy. Soaked in the darker aspects of life like despair and betrayal. What I enjoyed the most is the portrayal of our hero, Mordred. He is an imperfect knight which made him all the more likeable in my eyes. Come time for the end, I cried. I admit it. I got as attached to Mordred as the lovely ladies who told their tales did.

Herein lies the problem: I enjoyed this novel immensely! And I fear that I will neglect my top shelf even further in favor of dazzling tales about Arthur and Sir Gawain… Will my books have to wage war for my attention? I see books gnashing their blindings, shredded pages cast away.

No, no. Sir Gawain can wait, I suppose.  (sigh)

Published in: on April 5, 2008 at 2:58 pm  Comments (4)  

Another Step Forward

(Like the picture? There was no way I’d use this otherwise, and I really enjoy it.)

Thank Newsweek for this Idea. While doing a large amount of research, I came across one of their weekly blurbs and decided I really didn’t know what my own answers would be. So, putting myself on the spot, I present you with nothing but honesty, dear readers…


  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. The autobiography of a horse as he grows from foal to workhorse to retirement, with the short chapters giving lessons in cruelty, kindness and sympathy. I loved this book when I was very young and read it maybe four times (which was quite a feat for not having met the challenges of fifth grade yet). I remember having nothing but love for Black Beauty and the way in which he spoke to me.
  • 1984 by George Orwell. Winston Smith lives a life in dictatorship. It its a cautionary tale against totalitarian mentalities and invasive surveillance. I didn’t get to this book until freshman year, and it chilled me for months. It stayed with me long enough to encourage the devouring of more Orwellian works and taught me that, until then, I was foolishly unaware of my world. If I wasn’t careful, I too would become subject to Big Brother.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Charlie begins high school in the 70’s and learns that there is much to be gained by experiencing life instead of watching from the sidelines. It deals with the issues of gays, premarital sex, drugs, abortions, molestation, young love and growing up. Of course this is on here. The last four years of my life are found in these pages, I kid you not. There are notes in red pen, passages underlined. More than anything, I know what its like to feel infinite and I hold onto those moments tighter than ever, because they never last long enough. Charlie knew from the start what I had to learn.
  • Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. A man responds to an ad in the paper; “TEACHER seeks pupil. Must have an earnest desire to save the world. Must apply in person.” The cover claims ‘an adventure of mind and spirit’ and it tells no lies. If you want to save the world, there is nothing that can prepare to for what you’re about to learn. Yes, learn not read. You cannot finish this book and go back to who you were before, I promise. I was changed, and I hold this book close to my heart.
  • Postsecret by Frank Warren. PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail
    in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.
    This spot was hard to fill, believe it or not. I chose this because it has become a hobby, a therapy and an obsession for me. I review the website once or twice a week (usually Sundays) and I own all the books. I enjoy reading – seeing – other people’s secrets because they usually say what I cannot. It makes me feel a little less crazy, a little less alone.


  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day –Judith Viorst. I have days like this, too, and it’s okay Alexander.
  • The Bible. I should. I know. But for now, I’m ok with browsing. Maybe I’ll get to it after War and Peace.
  • Anna Karenina – Leo Tolsoy. Hey! Its on my top shelf! I’ll get there…
Published in: on April 4, 2008 at 8:36 pm  Comments (1)  

Back in the Day

No pressure … {}, originally uploaded by dotlyc.
I came across something rather amusing today: My original book lists from Freshman Year. This was the jump start to my “return to reading” career, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It seems odd, but I began reading again because I genuinely had nothing better to do during the summer between 9th and 10th grade. I challenged myself and managed 55 books that year, 30-something that summer alone. I haven’t counted my totals since, but I’m still rather proud of that 55. I’ve marked the good ones.
Summer List: (I don’t remember half of these)
VOX, The Chronicles of Narnia 1-7, Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs, Harry Potter 4, ttyl, I’m Just Not That Into You, The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, Can You Keep a Secret?, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Leslie’s Journal, Cut, Crashing, Adam ZigZag, Contents Under Pressure, Read in a Different Light, A Charmed Life, Pledged: The secret life of sororities, The Stranger, The book of Dead Days, Skin Game, What my Mother Doesn’t Know, The Girl in a Box, Faerie Wars, Harry Potter 6, 1984, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, She Said Yes, Rundown, Walking Naked, The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
School Year List:
Speak, the Giver, The World of Normal Boys, Lovely Bones, Thwonk!, Animal Farm, Lost Souls, Keeping You a Secret, One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies, Interview with a Vampire, Big Mouth and Ugly Girl, Cannibals and Cult Killers, Freaky Green Eyes, Franny and Zooey, Kerosene, The Wish List, I was a non-blonde Cheerleader, Artemis Fowl

I won’t bother to review ” the good ones”, just trust me for once… We all have a history, and it is nice to see how my reading has evolved in two years. I hope you all dig out your old reading lists, too.


Published in: on March 21, 2008 at 11:46 pm  Leave a Comment  

hello old friend.

15/365 – Good Morning Flickr – Welcome to my day!,
originally uploaded by classic perfection.
        I’ve missed you. Forgive me for my absence, I haven’t quite known what to do with myself with the recent lack of chaos surrounding me. I understand this is not a normal complaint, especially from one as young as I am. Please, let me explain. I found myself in an odd place not too long ago; I had nothing left to say. It wasn’t that I had run out of opinions, oh goodness no. But its as if I forgot how to speak at all since I no longer needed to shout above the masses. It was a truly curious feeling. So I read, I drew, I thought (anything to avoid writing). And now I’m ready to sit and chat. I’m armed with my book list, sticky notes galore, and a mile-a-minute mind.
        In any case, please don’t think I’ve given up on NovelDame – I can’t. She’s like an old friend, a trusted adviser. I’m back, ladies and gents, and I’ve got quite a show for you!
(cue circus music)
Expect thrills! Chills!         Death-defying conclusions!
    There will be books, blogs, and rants galore!
    I suggest a hot cup of tea. Enjoy your evening.


Published in: on March 21, 2008 at 8:32 pm  Comments (3)  

Don’t look at me that way…

loki on the mirror, originally uploaded by skaukatt.

Dearest readers, I have a confession: I have never read anything written by David Sedaris. A cardinal sin, perhaps?

 Before you condemn me, read this! I’ve never read any of his books, but I do have a Dave Eggers book on my shelf!  (which I have also never read.)

 Sad day. Don’t hate me. I’m off to read non-fiction. (GASP!)


To quote today’s favorite book:  DONT PANIC.

Published in: on February 28, 2008 at 1:39 pm  Comments (1)  

Beyond My Reach

Montreal Flickr Meet. Jan. 21, 2006 — My Vision
Originally uploaded by Sol Lang

I finished Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger, and when I left you, dear reader, I had read only read four of the nine, and was still split on whether I liked J.D. Salinger as a writer, or whether I just enjoyed some of his stories.

“Down at the Dinghy” – a cute story. Plenty of sentimental value, very little action. I could take it or leave it, personally.

“For Esme – with Love and Squalor” – I adored this! It was lengthy, true, but it alludes to childhood and adulthood, and that odd transition phase in between. It deals with the dirty side of war, how it feels to have your memory of someone being the only thing keeping you sane (and never telling that person). It is about a gentleman in the army, a young girl who is impeccibly wise, and the things that stay with you when the person leaves. I admire Salinger for making the Army gent a real person by not giving him a name. After all, what is in a name? I shall fondly carry memories of Seargent X and Esme with me, with this now being my favorite short story.

 “Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes” – I didn’t much care for this story. It is a phone conversation between two lawyers, and I found it neither quotable or admirable.

“De Daumier-Smith’s Blue Period” – I am very, very torn on this one. It was terribly, noticibly lengthy for starters. Simply put, an art teacher (and possible alcoholic, hired under false pretenses) expresses his unease with his higher up and his frustration with his talentless students and their mediocre work. He does evetually fall in love with a watercolor done by a faceless nun, and he wonders if he has fallen in love with her as well. You could cut this story right in half and only gain value.

 Oy vey…. I just did a tally, and I’m still split right down the middle on this! It is up to Teddy…

“Teddy” – a ten-year-old genius discusses his philosophy on life, the universe and everything with a fellow stranger, a grad student. The story ends harshly, abruptly, memorably. Its the kind of story you finish and can quote exactly how you felt when you read that last word, even twenty years later. This is the kind of story I love.


it is official, dear readers: with a majority rule, I have come to the conclusion that I enjoy J.D. Salinger as a writer and not just some of his work. I feel much better now, which is quite unnerving: it means I got myself all worked up over such a decision. I suppose I can sleep soundly tonight, dear readers.

Published in: on February 23, 2008 at 11:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Almost too nice…

Originally uploaded by Sunira

It has been too long since I’ve been able to write! Expect a few posts today…


First up: Freak the Mighty.

It was originally introduced to me as a movie, and my father loved it, so I took it upon myself to pick up the book. It is a short read in typical middle school fashion; big phont, short chapters, simple dialogue. The hero, “Freak” is a young boy with a degenerative disease who is stuck in fantasy lands of the past and future, finding comfort in the lands of knights or robots (depending on which serves his purpose at the time). The narrator, Max, is a gentle giant, stuck in the shadow of his father – a murderer. The two misfits team up to create the unstoppable team of Freak the Mighty, mixing brains with brawn. The duo turn streets into collapsing bridges, ponds into deadly moats, old ladies into Damsels in Distress. They find adventure in everything, learn timeless lessons through the bonds of friendship, and turn out a pretty good Lifetime Movie.

 It is a cute book, recommended for children between the ages of 8 and 13.

Published in: on February 23, 2008 at 11:18 am  Comments (1)  



I’ll keep this short. Again, I have managed to put my entire book list on hold for another highly valued recommendation.I have picked up The third book by Daniel Quinn, My Ishmael and it is. . . astounding. Which is why I’m keeping this short until I finish it, which makes absolutely no sense unless you’ve read it.

I have plenty of Students2.0 posts to write now, and plenty of thoughts to think. Please excuse my previous absense, dearest readers. Wish me luck.

Published in: on February 15, 2008 at 12:59 pm  Comments (4)  

Something is Missing

broken statue 1
Originally uploaded by tabascoshot

I’m torn. I have read both Franny and Zooey and The Catcher in the Rye and I am still unable to decide whether or not I adore J.D. Salinger, or just his books. Because of this, I have again broken my “To-Read Shelf Only” rule and picked up Nine Stories. I fell in love with Zooey, wanted to murder Holden, and I’m still in the same predicament with each of the nine stories!

This whole decision process was brought on by the frequent references to Nine Stories in an old read,  Hard Love. Here’s what it breaks down to: I wasn’t impressed with “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”, a dark part of me that I’d rather ignore was touched by “Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut”, I adored “Just Before the War with the Eskimos” and “The Laughing Man”, and that is as far as I’ve gotten… based on the 4 I’ve read, I’m still split right down the middle…

Oh Drat. Maybe my problem is that I just don’t “get” Salinger like other people. . . no, according to Wikipedia, I get it well enough.

I’ll let you know what the final tally is, if you really care.

Published in: on February 9, 2008 at 11:32 am  Comments (1)  

Looking Back

Reflections in a Mirror
Originally uploaded by rainy city

I find myself thinking about the last four months and everything it has brought me. I went into this whole thing – the blog, the tech fair – expecting to come out of it a little more tech-savvy, much more well-read, with a whole new appreciation for. . . something. I had no preference, just something. Really, I didn’t know what to expect. Like so many things this year, I went into it blindly. Even now, I can see how much I’ve grown. This experience has been absolutely amazing!

I see things differently. I have changed as a person, evolved even. To sit and explain my goal to passersby at the 2008 Tech Fair gave me a chance to explain all this to myself. To have people come up to me and tell me they’ve been following the blog for some time, and to hear that I’ve done a great job is flattering. I still believe that I’ve done nothing out of the ordinary. I say what is on my mind, and I try to do it with honesty and integrity.

Maybe that is why they listen; I don’t speak to get praise, I speak for myself. I speak to put ideas into the world. I speak so knowledge isn’t lost. That is why I still do this, folks. It wasn’t until I sat and talked with my father about this chapter in my life that it occured to me  that people listen to what I have to say. The odd part is that I can’t focus on that idea for too long, otherwise I lose my voice. I get virtual stage fright.

My dearest father and my beloved Fairy Godmothers have all but printed posters listing my accomplishments (which I have achieved despite my tendancy to procrastinate), and they don’t understand why I don’t shout it from mountaintops as well. I don’t do that because I’ve said it all before. This isn’t about me. I don’t want this to be about me. I want this to be about community, ideas, knowledge, history, and (most of all) books.

I have a vision of something bigger, and I’m just trying to get from point A to point B. Every new reader is a new helping hand, so thank you, everyone.

Published in: on February 7, 2008 at 1:14 pm  Comments (4)