Entries in books (4)

Books I Read in 2012

I read 12 books in 2012. That's the most I've read since, hm, high school probably. I'd like to read twice that number in 2013, but before I do I'd like to look back on my dozen with a mix of pride and confusion.

The Name of the Wind - It's about a guy who does magic. A case of the author loving his protagonist waaay too much. He's perfect. Knows everything. If not for the very interesting magical world he described, this book would have been worthless. I don't expect to read its sequel.

Fablehaven - It's about a sanctuary for magical creatures and some kids. I got fed up with the reliance on childish whimsy as a means of advancing the plot. Large chunks of the pace made no sense. As with the book above, I will not be reading its sequels.

World War Z - It's about zombies. This was awesome. Multiple narrators describing multiple vignettes, housed within the same world ravaged by zombies. Highly recommended.

I, Robot - It's about robots. I expected something much different and much darker. As it is, it's a fun read. Little stories about robots held together by a larger (if flimsy) narrative. Good, though. Robots are always good. Except when they go bad.

Foundation - It's about the triumph of math and psychology over barbarians. I loved it. So many smiles. 

Foundation and Empire - The sequel to the previous book. Things get more complex but just as good. 

Second Foundation - The last of the 3 main Foundation books (though there are plenty others), but I'd had my fill. Great story, great twists. I gasped once or twice. Loved them all. 

Shadow and Bone - This is about a girl who does magic. I liked the world more than I liked the actual characters. Does that happen a lot? I feel like I'm complaining a bit too much. Sorry. I'll probably read the sequel, but I fear I won't like it.

Pretty Monsters - This is a bunch of short stories about strange stuff. I loved it. I love short story collections, and these were all different and magical enough to be worthwhile. I want more. I want moar.

The Last Werewolf - This is about a werewolf. It was a pretty dumb book. I shouldn't have read it, but I liked the title. Get used to the phrase "Everything happened at once" when the author can't figure out how to make sense of the events taking place. Ugh. 

The Magicians - This is about some kids who do magic. I liked big chunks of it and disliked other bits. Overall pretty strong. I haven't read the sequel, but I don't know why. 

Ender's Game - This is about a little kid who's totally hardcore. Why can't all books be this amazing? It's dark and harrowing and probably has a message. I don't know. I thought it was great. I need to read other books in the series, but I haven't gotten around to it.

There you have it. Make fun of my choices all you like. I hope to have twice as many for you to belittle early next year. 

Quoted in a Book About Manners

On page 81 of Henry Alford's new book Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That?, you will find a quote from me about the unintentionally rude questions I sometimes get when I speak to college classes about social media. 

I've never been included in a book before, so it's a thrill. I just received a copy of it, and I look forward to actually reading it because it's about manners. My manners are admittedly slapdash, but I tip nicely when dining out.

Meeting Grammar Girl in Boulder

Last night, I attended a reading at the Boulder Book Store that I heard about on Twitter via their well-run @BoulderBooks account.

Mignon Fogarty, the creator and host of the Grammar Girl podcast, was promoting her second book, "The Grammar Devotional," with a book tour. Given my huge crush on both Fogarty and grammar, I was powerless to resist her visit to Boulder.

She talked about all the usual stuff - how she got started, writing and grammar, her future projects - but she truly came alive during Q&A. She fielded specific questions about grammar, as well as some behind-the-scenes stuff. Throughout, Mignon was a witty wonder and very obliging - even when my dumb self asked for a photo:

I asked her about the impact of social media on the quality of writing and grammar, since more people are writing (whether on Facebook, Twitter, blogs), but not everyone is pausing to proofread.

She replied with a thoughtful answer about how over time, such writing can make teens stronger writers, but with adults can be a mixed bag, given the less-is-more ethos behind the more dominant social platforms. While it's good to see so many people generating written content and sharing it with others, she is horrified to hear that LOL and emoticons are creeping into school essays.

I picked up her new book (which she gracefully signed) and highly recommend you do the same. Good grammar is better than good gravy.

Oh, and I finally met Michael Fraietta from one of my favorite local companies, Filtrbox. There were loads of people at the event - I'm kicking myself for not having met more fellow grammar goons.

Reading: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

As I've been trying to go out a bit less to save money, I've begun reading again. I used to read loads of books, but adulthood obliterated that habit with its obligations and responsibilities. Happily, I have been able to carve out a few hours each week for books.

I am presently reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It was written in 1999 and as much as I loathe using the expression, it's a coming-of-age book. I usually avoid these, as I found my early teenage years awkward enough without having to relive them in print.

However, Perks is pretty good. The narrator, Charlie, strikes me as autistic or maybe way too cerebral. At times, it's hard to identify with him because he tends to dissect meaningful events in his life, whereas when I went through similar situations I retained very little details about them.

Or it could be that I have the memory of a goldfish. I've been accused of such in the past.

I'm not done with the book yet, but I'm amused by some of the early '90s references I've found. (The book takes place between 1991 and 1992.) Kurt Cobain is mentioned. I haven't thought about him in a long time. I will be moving some Nirvana onto my iPhone shortly. Probably all of In Utero.