Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Breaking Dawn

Breaking Dawn

Stephenie Meyer


It seems when it comes to Twilight no one is impartial; you either love it or despise it, and many people despise it and make it the butt of their jokes without having even read it. So I'm here to take the middle ground.
Within the first chapter or two of the last book in the Twilight series I seriously considered not reading it after all. The Twilight books have a bad rep for a reason.

There's all together too much whispering in the book. And heartthrob Edward may be physical perfection, but it seems Meyer forgot to give him a personality. So bland. I won't even go into the sexism issue in the books.

Every time a character made a joke, I would be surprised to find myself laughing. Or if Meyer had a good metaphor, I'd be like Wow.

I stuck with the book, and about midway it switched from Bella's perspective to Jacob's. Jacob is a werewolf, and I am so down with the werewolves. Jacob has much more personality than Bella or Edward. Suddenly the book had me. I wanted to do nothing but read it. I realized I hadn't given Meyer enough credit. For all of her problems, she can spin a good plot. And she’s funny.

When it switched back to Bella's point of view, it bogged down again. Back into sappy teenage vampire romance. But after the first few pages of that, it picked up once more. I finished it feeling quite satisfied. I really enjoyed it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life (Review)

I was not abused, abandoned, or locked up as a child...I am not a misunderstood genius, a former child celebrity, or the child of a celebrity. I am not a drug addict, sex addict, food addict, or recovered anything... I have not survived against all odds. I have not lived to tell. I have not witnessed the extraordinary. This is my story.

So goes the Forward to Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. You could call the book an extra-long lyric essay, or an unconventional memoir. As is not difficult to assume from the title, it's a compilation of encyclopedia-like entries of Rosenthal's life, relating to the reader everything from her childhood memories to how she enjoys cleaning her ears with Q-tips. It's funny and endearing. It's easy to relate to and discusses some of the little moments in life people don't often talk about. It shows that the little idiosyncrasies of strangers can be interesting, and catalogs some of those odd serendipitous moments in life we all experience.
This book is like having a conversation with a friend, and Rosenthal encourages a feeling of community by asking for interactions from the readers. On page 101 Rosenthal says she dislikes fictional descriptions of moons, but invites the reader to send her good descriptions of moons, which she posts on her website. She mailed a homemade pie to the one hundredth reader to reply to such a prompt.
As I began reading the encyclopedia, I thought it was witty and brilliant. But it can be tedious; I sometimes felt impatient. Some sections lack a depth that I would appreciate. It being an encyclopedia of Rosenthal herself, it's quite self-involved. This can be annoying.

Conclusion: Worth reading, but best to consume in moderation, like candy.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Rainbows" from Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life

From Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life
Amy Krouse Rosenthal


If rainbows did not exist and someone said wouldn't it be cool to paint enormous stripes of color across the sky, you'd say yes, that would be very cool--impossible, but very cool. Children are totally tuned in to the miracle of rainbows--that's why they are forever drawing them. There's even something divine about spotting a tiny rainbow in a puddle of water or a splotch of gasoline. Oh, look! A rainbow! It would be nice to have some universal ritual connected with rainbows, along the lines of stray penny equals good luck, and car with one headlight equals, say, piddiddle/make a wish. Maybe: See a rainbow, eat a sugar cube. Or see a rainbow, put a dollar in a jar; then when you leave home at eighteen, your mother sends you off with your rainbow money. A friend once told me a story about how he was going through his five-year-old son's backpack and he found a picture of a little boy standing under a rainbow crying. His first thought was, Oh God, my son is having some serious problems. When he asked his son about the picture, he told him that he had been playing at school and he saw a rainbow and it was so beautiful that it made him cry.