The Virgin Suicides :: Week One

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Good morning! This is the first check-in for The Virgin Suicides. Remember that this is not going to be as structured as Read-a-Longs have been in the past, so if you haven’t read to the end of this week’s reading, that’s ok but beware that there may be spoilers in the comments section.

This week our goal was to make it to page 63 at the paragraph that begins, “We spoke to them in snatches, each of us adding a sentence to a communal conversation.” Did you make it there?

What are you thinking so far? I’ve read a few of Eugenides books and this one is by far my favorite. In fact, I make myself slow down to really enjoy his writing because it is SO GOOD. The story is interesting, of course, but I also really find myself in awe of how he is telling the story.

Feel free to weigh in below in the comments… if you’ve gone past this week’s reading, please be mindful not to mention any spoilers. Thanks!

The Virgin Suicides :: Sign Ups & Starting Post

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Here is an attempt at a manageable Read-a-Long for summer. I know that some of you miss the Read-a-Longs and I am hoping to find a way to do them without feeling overwhelmed (or like I am only reading books I am having to/supposed to read). So, I’ve found a group of books that I’ve been wanting to read… each would take only a month to finish. I’ll try this out in July, and see how it goes – if well, I’ll continue on, if not, I can still give you reading schedules so that if you’d like to read them you can have the reading broken down for you!

Here is how this will work: If you’d like to be part of the Read-a-Long, go ahead and sign up below. I’m posting the reading schedule (which will only be to help you get through the novel, not for discussions), and we’ll chat about it at the end in a big discussion post.

A few things… the weekly discussion post is too much for me at the moment, but I’m happy to put up a post each Monday checking in just so that people can discuss if they want, and have a place where they are checking in for accountability sake. OR I can just do the discussion post at the end and assume you are still reading. Either way is fine with me… which would you rather? Also, either way there WILL be a discussion post at the end of the month (on the last Monday, which is July 28th).

For June, I’ve chosen The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. (Note: the link contains spoilers towards the end of the page.)

The reading break down is different than usual, since the chapters are wonky-long (there are only five), I’ve had to do my best to find break points. I have the Picador edition, so am using those page numbers, but am also putting the first sentence of the stopping paragraph (meaning, when you get to this paragraph STOP, do not keep reading, you are finished for the week). That way, you can find the right page-ish, and hopefully find the stopping paragraph from there. Oh Jeffrey… he isn’t making it easy for us this time.

This book is 243 pages, which means we’ll read 60 pages per week/ 9 pages per day.

Week One: Stop on page 63 at the paragraph that begins, “We spoke to them in snatches, each of us adding a sentence to a communal conversation.”

Week Two: Stop on page 121 at the paragraph that begins, “The girls were smiling as they entered the gymnasium amid the glowing pumpkins and scarecrows dressed in school colors.”

Week Three: Stop at page 180 at the paragraph that begins, “Though we felt for the Lisbon girls, and continued to think about them, they were slipping away from us.”

Week Four: Read till the end.

Any questions? Feel free to ask below. Here is the tentative schedule for the rest of the year if this month goes well and I can keep up!

 

I’m Back! (And I bring and offering of mini-reviews…)

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Heeellllooooo! Long time no see, eh?

Happy summer… I hope you are all enjoying yours so far. I’ve been getting a lot of reading done lately. So, I’ll do mini-reivews for the books I’ve read in the past few weeks (but can’t even remember all of the books I’ve read since I’ve last posted… note to self: good reason for keeping the blog in the first place).

Mini-Reviews:

Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes: Light and fluffy and light and fluffy… with a little boring here and there, but ultimately an easy breezy literary equivalent of a reality TV show.

Debutant Divorcée by Plum Sykes: Stupid, but I did finish it (kind of, I actually skimmed this one because I already had it from the library and, why not?).

The Widow’s Guide to Sex and Dating by Carole Radziwill: I can’t decide on this one. I actually had a couple of cross country flights recently where I watched the episodes of The Real Housewives of New York City that Carole Radziwill is in, and I was having a bit of deja-vu (but not as much as after I read her memoir… am glad I read this first)… she uses a lot of the same lines. Entertaining, but less so than I’d hoped for.

What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love by Carole Radziwill: After reading this, it was obvious to me how much of Widow’s Guide was autobiographical. Now, let’s set that aside. This is my favorite read of the summer so far. It helps that I am interested in her (and the Kennedys). I finished this quickly. I recommend finding a copy of this one – it’s worth the read, but have a tissue on hand for the end.

Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer (out in September): Got an early copy of this in New York at BEA, and got to meet Wolitzer as well (which is fun, I’m a fan). I’ll write more about this closer to the publication date – no use getting you amped until you can buy it. But it’s YA, and it’s pretty good. I was hooked almost all of the way through, but I’ll explain more later.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell (out July 8th): Just as people are starting to think of Rowell as a YA writer, she brings it back with another adult novel (Attachements, her first novel, was for adults). A study of a marriage in pure fast-paced, Gilmore Girls-esque writing. Including a magic phone that calls the past and helps the protagonist be a little more introspective about herself and her marriage. On the surface this is light and fun, but you’ll find yourself thinking more deeply than you anticipated. It took me almost a hundred pages to get into it (I admit) but after that I gobbled it up in only one or two more sittings. More on this one soon too.

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What have you been reading?

Book Riot’s Awesome, Amazing Giveaway!

Book Riot book giveaway

Another amazing giveaway that you should know about (did you see the first one, that is still going on?). Every first Monday of the month, Book Riot is giving away 10 books to people anywhere in the world! So, head on over and enter yourself for this amazing giveaway. Good luck!

It’s really easy to enter, and you can do that (and find out more information) here.

 

Oyster: why you’ll want this app.

Oyster Books

I’m not an early adopter, but I’m also not Amish. I like to hear about how something goes for other people before I try it out, but then I jump on board guns blazing. I’d say I’m usually in the second round of bandwagoners. I’m so glad that Jeff and Rebecca from Book Riot tried out Oyster first and talked about it a bit on the podcast so I could get used to the idea of it before spending my own money. And, in truth, I haven’t even spent money yet – I’m still in the trial period.

Oyster has been called the Netflix for books. Basically, you sign up for about $10 a month and can borrow any book you want from their collection. All books are available immediately and you can keep them as long as you like; which basically is how it differs from your local library’s e-book lending system. (If you don’t utilize that yet, you should. Here’s how.)

I have had an e-reader for a long time… again, not the first wave but basically right after Oprah. I’ve had a Kindle, a Nook, and iPad (more on that later and which one is best). However, e-books have somewhat felt like a waste of money to me. Once you are done with the book, you forever have an e-copy that is un-tradeable, un-sellable, and (for the most part) un-lendable. Oyster, however, feels doable. Even though I am paying $10 a month to borrow books, I am doing the same thing to borrow movies on Netflix streaming. Also, I pay the amount that one ebook is per month to borrow as many books as I want and to get them immediately without a return date.

Basically, I’m enjoying this app so much that I wanted to share it with you. It’s particularly good for those of you who do a lot of eReading, and is also good for travelers. You don’t have to feel guilty about downloading a book that you end up not liking. Download ten (twenty, thirty, etc!) before a flight and try them all, hate them all, love them all, whatever! You have the freedom to try as many books as you want and not finish them because, hey, no extra money out of your pocket.

Only cons so far: You have to remember to close out of the app on your devices in order for it to sync properly on all of your devices, and their library is still lacking in the newly released books (but is extensive otherwise).

You can sign up for your free Oyster trial here. If you’ve tried it, let me know what you think!

OMG! All the Books Giveaway! (Starts Today!)

OMG All the Books Giveaway In case you haven’t already heard about this amazing (AMAZING) giveaway, I wanted to make sure that you knew about it. These are all books that are the buzzed about books of the season, the books that everyone is waiting for to be released, and you can win them! These are the books you can win (AND, and, and, and, you can actually win them ALL… read below to find out more):

April 7: Emma Straub, The Vacationers
April 8: Maggie Shipstead, Astonish Me
April 9: Ted Thompson, The Land of Steady Habits
April 10: Jean Kwok, Mambo in Chinatown
April 11: Caeli Wolfson Widger, Real Happy Family
April 14: Mira Jacob, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing
April 15: Cristina Henriquez, The Book of Unknown Americans
April 16: Alexi Zentner, The Lobster Kings
April 17: Courtney Elizabeth Mauk, Orion’s Daughters
April 18: Scott Cheshire, High As The Horses’ Bridles 
April 21: Megan Abbott, The Fever
April 22: Edan Lepucki, California
April 23: Joanna Rakoff, My Salinger Year
April 24: Marie-Helene Bertino, 2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas
April 25: Kevin Clouther, We Were Flying to Chicago
April 28: Roxane Gay, An Untamed State
April 29: Porochista Khakpour, The Last Illusion
April 30: Brian Gresko, When I First Held You
May 1: Courtney Maum, I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You
May 2: Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You
May 5: Robin Black, Life Drawing
May 6: Nicole C. Kear, Now I See You
May 7: Julia Fierro, Cutting Teeth
May 8: Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, Bittersweet
May 9: GRAND PRIZE WINNER ANNOUNCED


Want to know more???


From Miranda Beverly Whittemore’s website:


By entering into a daily giveaway, you’ll also qualify for the BIG GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY – ONE COPY OF EACH OF THESE BOOKS! Signed! By the author, even! That’s right, the grand prize winner will receive 24 signed first editions; each of the books listed above.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS GIVEAWAY HERE!

It starts today, so go visit her website now so you don’t miss out! Good luck!

Keep or Giveaway: My Hollywood by Mona Simpson

Round two of keep or giveaway. If you’re interested in knowing if I kept the other book, I’ve updated the post with the result.

I’d love your help to decide if I should keep this book or give it away. If I decide to give it away then I will donate it to my local coffee shop (where there is a leave one, take one system) or my local library. If you are very interested in a book and would be willing to pay the $2-4 for Media Mail shipping, let me know in the comments and I can contact you to get your mailing address.

So, onto the book…

My Hollywood by Mona Simpson

My Hollywood by Mona SimpsonA wonderfully provocative and appealing novel, from the much-loved author of Anywhere But Here and A Regular Guy, her first in ten years. It tells the story of two women whose lives entwine and unfold behind the glittery surface of Hollywood.

Claire, a composer and a new mother, comes to LA so her husband can follow his passion for writing television comedy. Suddenly the marriage—once a genuine 50/50 arrangement—changes, with Paul working long hours and Claire left at home with a baby, William, whom she adores but has no idea how to care for.

Lola, a fifty-two-year-old mother of five who is working in America to pay for her own children’s higher education back in the Philippines, becomes their nanny. Lola stabilizes the rocky household and soon other parents try to lure her away. What she sacrifices to stay with Claire and “Williamo” remains her own closely guarded secret.

In a novel at turns satirical and heartbreaking, where mothers’ modern ideas are given practical overhauls by nannies, we meet Lola’s vast network of fellow caregivers, each with her own story to tell. We see the upstairs competition for the best nanny and the downstairs competition for the best deal, and are forced to ask whether it is possible to buy love for our children and what that transaction costs us all.

We look into two contemporary marriages—one in America and one in the Philippines—and witness their endangerment, despite the best of intentions.

My Hollywood
 is a tender, witty, and resonant novel that provides the profound pleasures readers have come to expect from Mona Simpson, here writing at the height of her powers. (Description from cover flap.)

*****

 Keep or Giveaway?

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

 

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

I read this over the weekend and oh. my. god. so much fun to read. I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in months. Page turning, creepy, can’t-stop-reading goodness. Luckily I had a house full of people while reading because I’m not sure how brave I would have been otherwise (I’m a MAJOR scaredy-cat, though, so take my timidness with a grain of salt).

Really recommend this book if you want something to kill a chunk of time OR if you have the time to read and to not be interrupted (because you’re not going to want to pull yourself away from this one)!

Find the book description here.

Food for Thought: Which Three Books Define You?

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Today, over at Book Riot, Kim Ukura posted about how this week NPR asked what three books summarize you. What an interesting question! I know it’s probably impossible to decide, but if you HAD to would you be able to choose three books that summarize who you are? Kim posted some of her favorite responses, which you can see here

I keep trying but can’t come up with anything. I can come up with books that described me at certain points in my life (early college, Wuthering Heights… somewhat dramatic and utterly in love). But I’m struggling with present day. I think I would have an easier time coming up with books that describe others. 

How about you? Can you come up with three (or even one)?

Happy Birthday, Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem

When I was in college I had a horrible habit of bringing books to classes that I found boring. The reason I say the habit is horrible is because it tends to make one fail the course, which means re-taking it (or a similar version), therefore prolonging your boredom. The books, of course, were not horrible.

I became so close to failing two of these classes that I cannot even remember if I actually passed them or not. One in particular was a statistics class in which mid-semester I started bringing Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions to class. I got so into this book (by Gloria Steinem) that I missed a large section of the teaching and fell very, very far behind. I can’t remember how it turned out. If I didn’t fail, I came way too close to doing so. If I did fail, I didn’t care. To my knowledge, I’ve never used a thing that I would have learned in that class; however I know that reading that book helped shape who I am still.

Yesterday was Gloria Steinem’s 80th birthday. This past Sunday The New York Times came out with a piece called This is What 80 Looks Like, which didn’t have to remind us that Steinem is still relevant (because she is and actively so), but did. I’d love to re-read Outrageous Acts, and even more so I want to read Revolution from Within… I think it sounds fascinating… but even that one article made me excited all over again about what she’s done with her life.

So, here’s to Gloria Steinem who has made more of a difference in this world than many of us are old enough to understand. I’m incredibly thankful that I’m from a generation of women in this country that even if we try, even if we still haven’t broken the glass ceiling completely, has no idea what it was like to live in the world that Gloria and our mothers and grandmothers were born into.