Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer reading

As I just typed the title of this post, I suddenly pictured summer reading programs from my childhood. Remember the fun of keeping track of everything you read, then getting to go to the library to pick out some silly little prize and get a certificate? Those were good times!

I'm hoping we can choose books for June and July soon. What are people interested in reading? More realistic stuff? Fantasy? Vampire books? Historical fiction? A classic? Total fluff? A grown up book that reads like YA? A graphic novel? Nonfiction? Is there anything new coming out that people are anticipating? Put your thinking caps on!

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks


Wow!  This was a good book, and it was totally not what I was expecting!  I was expecting way more of a boyfriend-drama book, not a really cool commentary on sexism, classism, power, identity, etc.  I'm actually thinking of rereading it, but just wanted to get some thoughts out there for now.

Am I the only person who wishes Lockhart had written a meeting-- or at least a sighting-- between Frankie and Alpha in the spring after she got in trouble and before he graduated?  Something beyond the email he wrote to her that she didn't answer?  Some moment of tension or recognition between them?  Besides Frankie herself, I thought Alpha was the most fascinating character in the book, and I have to say, the tension between them was incredible, even though they were hardly ever on-screen together.  Tension of every kind, including sexual.  Alpha was the only person who (finally) recognized her for what she was-- maybe the only person in the world who ever truly saw her, and saw that he'd mislabeled her.  And even though he was despicable in so many ways-- a cocky asshole, disrespectful to women, self-destructive, dishonest, aware that he was trapped in an empty social status structure but still fighting hard to stay at the top of that structure, I found him irresistible in the same way I found Frankie irresistible.  Frankie and Alpha both SAW what was happening, they never deluded themselves.  And they saw each other's genius and each other's flaws. Is there going to be a sequel that takes place when Frankie starts her freshman year at Harvard and she and Alpha pit themselves against each other?  :o)

Okay, yes, I just crushed on Alpha, who is a total asshole, for an entire paragraph, under the guise of analyzing the book.  I admit my guilt.

Here's why I thought this was a great book: The characterizations-- what interesting and complex and well-drawn characters.  Also, the commentary on how our societies are constructed-- fascinating!  And I loved seeing a female protagonist who is insistent on being seen, being heard, being herself, not smushing herself down (even if she can't stop others from smushing her down).  I loved seeing a girl determined to grab power and figure out what power even is, what it means.

In some ways, I would like to be more like Frankie.  Less worried about being perceived as "nice"-- more willing to assume power.

I'm writing this at the end of long day of revising, so my brain is spinning a little-- hope I've made sense.  I'd love to hear what other people thought!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Do I have your attention?


So, I'm asking for help.  (No, not sex help.  Sigh... this is already starting out calamitously....)  I am looking for passages in books, or even books in their entirety, in which a relationship is presented to the reader such that the reader can't tell for sure whether the relationship is sexual. You know the passages I mean-- the ones where you read it and you get this feeling something might be going on between the characters, you're pretty sure there's some hanky panky going on, but you can't be positive?  Because the author has does a really good job laying seeds but keeping it subtle.

I am struggling with writing a similar scene, and am desperate to see how other writers have done this...

Anyone have any suggestions of things for me to read?

Thanks in advance!  :)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

May book

We kicked around a few ideas for the May book, but didn't choose one yet. As May is nearly half over with, I thought I'd better jump in and pick one. Let's go with The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. I know some of us have already read it, and it's been out long enough to hopefully be available in many libraries, so it's probably our best choice for a quick read.

That said, any ideas for June?

Of interest

Seen on The Longstockings' site: Newsweek article on the boom of YA books. I have yet to read it, but maybe it will give us something to discuss!

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Curse Dark as Gold

I wanted to get the ball rolling on a discussion about our April book, since, you know, April is now over with. Wednesday afternoon I was curled up with the book, reading the last 75 pages or so while Callum napped. Matthew came in the room to tell me something and I said (or, rather, I'm pretty sure I snapped), "Please don't talk to me now." I was so engrossed in Bunce's book that the idea of anything pulling me out of the setting and back to reality was unacceptable. I thorougly enjoyed this book. Bunce's setting and characters drew me in and I felt like I was right there in their world. Sure, the middle seemed to drag on forever, and Charlotte's secrets and stubborness sometimes drove me nuts, but that didn't matter much. Usually I find myself sort of frustrated when there are a whole bunch of characters--like I often can't keep them separate, or find them so flat that they seem unnecessary--but Biddy Tom, Uncle Wheeler, Rosie, Randall, Harte, and the rest were so well-drawn and all contributed so much to the tale. This is another one of those titles that I only can gush about and don't really have anything specific to say beyond "it was great!" I think we're just good, as a book club, at picking really interesting, different titles, because I certainly don't generally love every single book I pick up. On a final note, I just want to say I love the cover. Even though I should know better, I definitely judge a book by its cover, all the time. Though this book was on my to-read list already, choosing it for the book club ensured I read it, whereas without the incentive to read it, I may never have gotten to it. I'm interested to know what others thought, especially people who tend to read more fairy tale retellings than I do.