Yearly Archives: 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Mystery or Love Story?

I have no idea what happened to the last two week. I was on a roll keeping up with my memes, and then work got unusually busy right before the annual winter break slowdown. I have plenty to blog about; I just haven’t had any time to write it out. Perhaps this means the last few weeks of 2011 will help bump up my post count for the year considerably.

All things being equal, which would you prefer: a mystery or a love story?

I had repunctuate that one. I was just thinking about my relationship with mysteries and love stories recently. Since I posted for Austin Catholic New Media last week, this is my off week to read a book I want to instead of one that’s appropriate for an ACNM review. I’m working on another Alice book. Someone asked what I was reading, and I started to say it was “trashy book” time, but then I rephrased since it’s not as though I’m reading Harlequin bodice-rippers. I don’t read romance novels. I got partway through one once before I realized it was a silly romance disguised as Romeo and Juliet-updated YA, and I felt so betrayed.

I have also been working my way through a Sherlock Holmes book, which is delightful. I read it on my iPhone, so I don’t have to cart around another whole paper book if I just need to be constructively occupied for a few minutes, and the stories are short enough that I can recap previous events very quickly when necessary. I’ve even been able to figure out (part of) one of the mysteries! I like mysteries, but I don’t want to commit long enough for a full book. I’m more of an NCIS-length mystery kind of girl.

These days, love stories make me wonder when my own will begin, so I’d choose a mystery.

Presbyterian Lies and Literary Truths (Review: “The Wednesday Wars”)

As a happy Catholic who is involved in media, I try to keep my ears open for positive portrayals of religion in any setting: movies, television, and especially books. Religion in literature tends to be more honest than movies or TV. It’s very easy to toss a cross around a character’s neck or pan past some Hasidic Jews, making a comment and saying nothing at the same time. Books have to be more straightforward. I decided to get back to my beloved YA roots with this review, and I found an honest depiction of religion woven into a coming-of-age story well deserving of its many accolades.

The premise of The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt, drew me in (along with an enthusiastic review from a fellow YA addict who’s more A than Y). Holling Hoodhood, in addition to being saddled with a ridiculous name, also suffers the agony of Presbyterianism. In his 1960s junior high school on Long Island, half the class goes to Temple Beth-El for Hebrew school every Wednesday afternoon, and the other half (even Mai Thi, a Vietnamese refugee sponsored by CRS) goes to St. Adelbert‘s Parish. Left alone with his teacher, Holling reads and discusses Shakespeare. True to YA, he learns a lot about life at the same time.

Read the rest at Austin Catholic New Media.

Friday Five: Zobmondo

I feel like I’ve heard the word “zobmondo” somewhere before, but I can’t quite remember where. I am familiar with forced-choice exercises, though. We learned to do those as icebreakers back when I taught my freshman Honors seminar.

These are “choice” questions. The rules of Zobmondo are that you have to choose one answer – you can’t say “neither.” You must also take the question as it is – no changing the questions!

  1. Would you rather have to suck all the ink out of a ballpoint pen or paint your tongue with Wite-Out? I’m going to go with the ink, because there’s nothing saying I can’t suck out a little bit at a time, spit the ink out, and wipe off my tongue. Going back at it again and again would be tough, but I managed to drink banana-flavored barium once. (I hate bananas.) The painting would be too much to put up with long enough to get it all done!
  2. Would you rather drink a gallon of used hot dog water or a shot glass of someone else’s foot sweat? I’d drink the hot dog water. It’d be gross, but maybe I could eat a hot dog beforehand to get the awkward taste going.
  3. Would you rather always wear shoes that are a half size too small or always have your underwear creeping up your butt? I’ve had some awkward wedgies I couldn’t do anything about for a long time before. I think I could get used to that if I had to. My feet couldn’t stand being squished.
  4. Would you rather always be nauseated or always have a headache? I’ve fought through headaches before. If it wasn’t a really bad one, I feel like I could get used to it. Always being nauseated (vocab points for knowing it shouldn’t be “nauseous”!) would make it really hard to eat, so I probably die much faster that way.
  5. Would you rather have to always eat standing up or always enter your car from the passenger door? I think I could eat standing up, but it would make restaurants difficult. I’d probably go for getting in through the passenger door. That would be annoying, but it would only be problematic during the few times I’ve moved between cities in my car and needed that space to put stuff in it.

That was actually a really great question set. It was almost worth waiting two weeks!

The Friday Five

Booking Through Thursday: Mood Reading

The school year is beginning to wind down (classes ended on Friday), so work will slow down soon as well. Hopefully, this will mean more blogging. As it is, this is post #939, so I’ve already done better on this year than I ever have before.

Do you find that your mood affects the things you read? Like, if you’re in a bad mood, do you tend to indulge in reading that will support it or do you try to read things that will cheer you up? Do you pick different types of books on dreary, rainy days than you do on bright sunny ones?

For that matter, does your mood color what you’re reading, so that a funny book isn’t so funny or a serious one not so deep?

I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book to help support or change a mood, but I will admit to having made a Loud and Angry Music playlist once when I was particularly miffed. Exhaustion can make a funny book or scene not affect me as much, but I don’t know if “tired” is really a mood. I have definitely started disliking books that I thought were lame because they’d put me in a bad mood, though. I think that’s the author’s fault. If the book didn’t start being so bad, I wouldn’t be in such a bad mood to have to keep reading it. (I hate leaving books unfinished.)

I tend to turn to movies when I want to dwell in a certain mood. They last a significant enough period of time that I can be satisfied without needing to commit to an entire book.

The Long View (Review: “A Canticle for Leibowitz”)

photo by Svadilfari

I’ll admit it: I like sci-fi. My mom and I used to tease my dad endlessly about how much he liked to watch Star Trek. I finally sat down to watch an episode with him one day, though, and I was hooked. It’s not just the scientific aspects that draw me in, though, it’s the stories. Sure, the characters talk to their computers and use ultra-thin portable document readers, but they’re still ordinary people underneath. There’s still love and war and learning in space. The same is true for police procedurals, medical dramas, and sitcoms.

With that openness in mind, I decided to tackle A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter Miller. Other online reviewers described it as being almost sci-fi. I chose it primarily for its Catholic aspects. It’s also historical fiction, and it’s a dystopia to boot. There’s so much going on in this book I could barely believe it, but Miller handles it astoundingly well.

A Fairly Bad Introduction (Review: “Catholicism: A Very Short Introduction”)

I initially chose this book as a candidate for my book review column at Austin Catholic New Media. I wound up reviewing Catholicism for Dummies instead and was delighted to find that I’d posted it right in time for the new second edition of that title. Having now finished Catholicism: A Very Short Introduction, I am very glad I decided not to review it for ACNM, because I didn’t like it.

O’Collins self-admittedly writes as “an insider,” but he fails to make Catholicism accessible to most newcomers. His organization of topics begins with two chapters of Church history. If you’re trying to reach people who just want the basic of Catholicism, laying out literally two thousand years of history is a very poor way to start. He continues on through chapters on theology, sacraments, and morality before concluding with predictions about the future of the Church.

In the final chapter, I was downright offended by his use of the term “Eucharistic ministers” (which is always wrong; they are “extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist” or of Holy Communion) and his suggestion that the Church must allow more* married men to be ordained in order to survive. That last suggestion is offered with no theological or Scriptural support. Apparently a little bit of social commentary is enough to justify changing a centuries-old practice.

I wanted this to be a shorter intro book in comparison to Catholicism for Dummies, because not everyone is willing to even flip through 400 pages. I was sorely disappointed.

*This is one of the biggest misconceptions of Catholicism. Priests can be married, but never after they’re ordained. That’s just currently the exception and not the norm.

Booking Through Thursday: Thankful

What book or author are you most thankful to have discovered? Have you read everything they’ve written? Reread them? Why do you appreciate them so much?

The obvious answer would be J.K. Rowling. I’ve read everything except some random forewords I know she’s written and whatever’s up next on Pottermore. I appreciate her the most for making reading cool again. I never would have thought that’d be possible, and I didn’t really care, but I’m so glad it happened. Harry Potter is fun and educational. What’s not to love?

On a less predictable note, I’m glad to have discovered Jason Evert. Reading If You Really Loved Me changed my life at a time I desperately needed it. He’s getting more mature and broad-focused as he ages and spends more time being a father, and I appreciate that. It’s making him a better speaker and writer.

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