Monday, August 27, 2012

Top Ten Bookish Confessions

I am so excited about the theme for this week's Top Ten Tuesday that I had to post it early. It's Tuesday in England by now, and that's close enough for me. 

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish blog with a different top ten list theme (all related to books) every Tuesday (see the full list here).

My confessions! (I should tint the background of this post pink, because I'm blushing): 

10. I still dog ear my books if I'm desperate.

I know this is supposedly book abuse of the highest kind (except maybe for flattening a book's spine by leaving it open face-down - my gosh just writing that sounds like medieval torture!)  Fortunately I have discovered Post-It book tags. But sometimes I pick up a book without first grabbing my book tags. And if it's a really good book, sometimes I simply can't take the effort to pause and search for my book tags. And if I can't find a piece of paper/receipt/child's birth certificate to rip up and place in between my favorite pages so I can go back and read the deliciousness again, yes! I admit! I will dog-ear a page. Even if it's a library book. I hang my head in shame. 

(I flip the dog-ears back up though as soon as possible). 

The book that has received the most dog-ears from me (I mean book tags!): 21 tags to Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman. I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!! The most original dragon book since... well... ever. 

9. I love Amazon sample chapters.

I never buy a book without reading the first chapter. Since I'm a writer, I also love to download free first chapters and analyze them, see what makes them work - or not work. Today I read the free first chapter for Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, and it hooked me.  

A debut YA fantasy with a flavor of tsarist Russia; just released this June and already on the NYT bestseller list! I must have it this moment!!!!  (see #3). Alas... it's neither at the local library or bookstore. Deciding whether I want to pay the extra money to get two-day shipping from Amazon... ah, the hard decisions in life...

8. I'm a Goodreads junkie. 

Sometimes I re-read my reviews just for the fun of it. I love to add my favorite quotes from books to Goodreads Quotes. I love to browse and vote on Goodreads Lists. My Goodreads To-Read list is out of control. I try to beef up my Read list by obsessively listing every book I've ever read, short of college textbooks. Sadly, Goodreads reviews do frustrate me sometimes. I don't mind negative rants, but when reviewers go out of their way to mock a book (or worse, the author) and raise controversy JUST TO UP their "likes" and get comments (which results in their reviews getting listed higher) - that troubles me. But then again, even negative attention is good attention for books. 

7. I could not finish the Book Thief. 

I know!!!! Shame on me! Every time someone raves about this book, I cringe and promise myself someday when I'm more mature I'll give it another try.

6. I love Twilight and I re-read parts of it when I'm blue or bored. 

Okay, I realize that if you combine #6 and #7 most people will assume I am a real airhead reader. I quickly cry out that To Kill A Mockingbird is in my top ten all time favorites along with Lord of the Rings and some of my favorite authors include Madeleine L'Engle and Ursula LeGuin. I love books with substance! But, yes, I also apparently love dangerous vampire love. Forgive me. 

5. I get frustrated taking my kids to the library.

I have read hundreds of wonderful children's books and I am brimful of recommendations. Which they invariably ignore. They usually pick something that makes me roll my eyes, but then I tell myself, do NOT be a book snob. Sure, the back cover blurb is cringe-worthy, but it might be a great discovery. To be fair, my just-turned-11-year-old has found a few excellent books that I ended up reading after her (I discovered the wonderful Pam Munoz Ryan books from my daughter.)

4. I'm dismayed by book covers that don't appear to have anything to do with the story.

Or if I can't figure out what what their connection is to the story. The cover for The Help by Katheryn Stockett has three plain little birds sitting on a branch. They must  correspond to the three main characters, I'm sure, but I keep thinking there should be something more? 

3. I love it when the book I SIMPLY MUST HAVE THIS VERY MOMENT is ready waiting for me at the library. 

I live in a small town and therefore we have a small library (we also have a small bookstore). More often than not, the book I'm craving is not available. As a result, getting an email that my inter-library-loan request is ready to be picked up is almost as wonderful as getting a new book in the mail. And yes, I realize I can have instant gratification with e-books. I do resort to that on occasion. I like my e-reader and I think e-books are a wonderful thing but in general it's just not the same warm fuzzy as getting the exact book I want in MY HANDS right when I want it. This might be because it's just not as easy to sip your tea with an e-reader as it is with a real book.  Speaking of which....

2. My largest Pinterest board is the one called "Books and Tea"

I would dearly love to post some of those pictures here, but I'd rather be reading than checking copyrights. But I'll quote a few of my favorites: 

You could never get a cup of tea large enough or book long enough to suit me. - C.S. Lewis 
Book Hangover: inability to start a new book because you're still living in the last book's world. 
You still get upset thinking about the lost library of Alexandria.
Nerd Girl Confession #21. A new movie comes out that everyone loves and you think "Screw everyone! I read the book first!"
Comic of young girl questioning her teacher: "If reading books is so important, how come you never see people on television doing it?" 
And oh the book artwork! Bookshelves that make me drool. And laugh - like "The Bookworm" by Norman Rockwell, or a similar one by Carl Spitzweg. 

1.5  I may be a binge reader. 

Welcome to Book-aholics Anonymous. My name is Margo, and I am a binge reader. For more tongue-in-cheek details about this amusing but possibly serious disease, see Corrine Jackson's wonderful post, "Binge reading: an addiction"

1. My most favorite thing in the world (besides reading a good book) is talking about a good book.

If I'm in a coffee shop chatting with a friend about whatever, and I catch someone else's conversation about a book they just read, I want to switch places over to the book conversation (no offense to my friends. I realize you do have to talk about something other than books once in a while). One of my favorite opener questions with friends or even with strangers is "read any good books lately?" 

Please share your worst (or best) bookish confession! 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A book snob braves the library summer reading program

I brace myself for what's coming. I love going to the library, I really do.

But when I take my 5 year old twins to the library to pick books for their summer reading program, their book saavy (or lack of it) makes me cringe.

"Can I pick a book?" "Can I?"

"Of course you can." I mustn't dampen their excitement about books.

They get into the library and dash to the children's section. It's a race. They grab the first book they can reach and run back to me, brandishing it with glee.

"I want this one!" "This is my favorite!!!!"


It makes me shudder every time. They cannot read, I should forgive them. But they could at least look at the cover! 

I do not normally consider myself a book snob. I will give just about any book a one-chapter shot. But these books - random books about worms, or dirt-biking, or fire safety - I know my twins will ask me to read these to them EVERY NIGHT for the next week.  Why, oh why couldn't they pick a fairy tale? Or something with magical mythical beasties? Or at least a classic Margaret Wise Brown or Arnold Lobel book that reads like a kid lit slurpie, good stuff easy going down?

But this week Twinner (of the Twin and Twinner set, or sometimes we call them Peat and Repeat), picked a simply AWESOME book.  She made her usual mad dash for the first book she could get her hands on, but this time a sympathetic librarian foresaw my plight and placed this wonderful book front and center.

Fairytale - check. Mythical creatures - check. Fun to read - check. Snarky twist on the Sleeping Beauty legend? OH YEAH.

Snoring Beauty is about a princess that gets turned into a sleeping dragon. A very loud-snoring sleeping dragon. The poor prince who has to wake this monstrosity with a kiss!!!  (But don't you love her nails?)  The kids didn't have to beg me to read this to them every night, I was begging them! "Do you want to read Snoring Beauty one more time?"

End of Story.

So, I'm taking a blogging break for a while, summer vacation and all that. The plan is to get a lot of writing done, too. I had an idea "breakthrough" on a manuscript that I had to shelve last year because of major plot issues (YA historical fantasy: Handful of Scars). And moral  issues, too (it's a long story). But anyway, after months of marinating ideas, and working on another first draft in the meantime, the solution finally presented itself.

I took a stab at the first chapter rewrite, and it nearly paralyzed me. I hate first chapters! It's so complicated, getting all the required ingredients in there. I tried one opening that fell flat, and then I tried another.  I finally got something written and edited enough that I was happy with it.

Then I re-read it a couple days later and groaned. The rhythm is all off! The wording feels stiff. Everything feels rushed. The voice isn't original. GAH!!!!!  Why do I put myself through this torture????

I saw a writing quote a while ago, I couldn't remember it exactly, but it was something about how seeking perfection is the writer's worst enemy.  I tried googling it, didn't find the exact one I was looking for, but I did find some other great ones:

Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything. - Eugene Delacroix

Perfectionism is the enemy of creation. - John Updike

I'm off to get the second chapter re-written. And then the third. For now I will stop worrying about that paralyzing first chapter. Pushing on. Just keep writing. Just keep writing. 

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed to the point of paralysis?
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