I guess this post can be a mash-up of today’s assignment and an assignment from a few weeks ago that I didn’t get to: Be Inspired by the Community.
Today’s Daily Prompt—The Great Divide: When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or nonfiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?—made me immediately think of a quote from a recent post over at The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say Shh! The quote explains how a person’s personality influences her preference for either science fiction or fantasy:
“Fans of science fiction (and dystopia) want to explore ways to change our existing world. Fans of fantasy want to explore ways to escape the limitations of this world.”
I begin with this because when I read for fun, I always gravitate towards fiction and the type of fiction I tend to choose is fantasy. Even when I decide to take a break from fiction and choose a nonfiction book, I still tend to pick up compendiums of essays that discuss fiction or mythology.
The quote above helps to explain why these are my choices. I do seek ways to escape the limitations of this world, even in my simple everyday tasks. While walking down the road, I may see a structure or doorway that tickles my imagination into wondering if it’s a portal to a world that operates on a different time (faster or slower than ours), and that’s filled with magical creatures and odd experiences waiting to happen. Sometimes I walk through such imagined portals, excited at the prospect of what could happen to me: Would I immediately exit through the other side, or would I first live a separate life before exiting to continue my present one? Sometimes I think C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has left too strong an impression on my imagination. (My friends and family probably think this too.)
This may come as no surprise to a few of you who read Bec Crew’s blog post on Scientific American’s website a few weeks ago but there is such a thing as book scorpions. Yes, you’ve read correctly: book scorpions. They are real, unfortunately.
I discovered their existence this morning while catching up on emails. I’m way behind. I’ve subscribed to one too many newsletters. I think it was while reading a newsletter from Shelf Awareness that I found a link directing me to Crew’s blog post. My morning was going great until then. One of my biggest book peeves is bugs that eat books and while I should love book scorpions since they feed on such pests, their appearance is not one I would be glad to see.
According to Crew, book scorpions, properly known as pseudoscorpions, are tiny insects that hunt booklice and dust mites that feed on the starch-based glue used to bind books. Like a scorpion, they have long, pincer-like claws protruding from their sides called pedipalps that are twice as long as their legs (I wonder if they ever get tired carrying those around). The one thing I found cool about these bugs is that their respiratory organs are called book lungs because they “look just like the warped pages of an old book.” They’re more bookish than me.
Book scorpions grow to about 4mm in length. They look a bit like bed bugs to me. When not hunting and feeding, book scorpions can be found engaging in a mating dance, prepping to create the next batch eewy-looking bugs. Crew provides a quick run-down of this mating exercise. Though helpful, I do not want to see these bugs scuttling about my bookshelves. As with the silverfish, I will war against them. And since I’m a bit paranoid after reading this article, I shall now proceed to cleaning my bookshelf and reinforcing it with book spray. (A link to Bec Crew’s article is below.)
I’ve decided to deviate from the assignment a bit since I already have a name and tagline for my blog that I’m pleased with. Plus, I did a post on my blog name last year when I decided to change it from Zezee’s Link to Zezee with Books since I mostly discuss books on here. This time, I’ll discuss why I chose to call myself Zezee.
Frankly, I do not know why. My real name isn’t Zezee. It’s Anais, which I think is a wonderful name. I could have used my real name, but I decided to go with a made up one instead. Why? I guess it’s because I am shy. Using Zezee is a bit like putting on a mask, a persona, through which I interact with those who choose to visit my blog. It’s not that I’m not being myself by using this persona, but that it’s easier for me to open up and share a bit of myself. I’m otherwise a private person and the web is a public place.
Zezee is also a barrier. When I started my blog, I didn’t know what to name it and I went with the first thing that popped in my head, Zezee’s Link. Naturally, whenever someone comments on one my posts, the person refers to me as Zezee, assuming that is the blogger’s name. The first time this occurred, I considered telling the commenter that my name is actually Anais but it seemed simpler to just let everyone assume my name is Zezee. Plus, if my blog sucked, no one would know that it was Anais’ blog that sucked. So Zezee it remained.
Now I’ve grown to like to the name Zezee and I doubt I’ll change it even as I become more confident and proud of my blog and my growth as a blogger. Blogging is relatively new to me since I recently began to blog more often and commit myself to it. My tagline—“random as my thoughts go”—will remain because that sums up the persona behind the blog and gives the blog freedom from the limits of its name. So I’ll mostly discuss books but a visitor can also expect posts on other things (art, TV shows, etc.). It all depends on what catches my attention and propels me write.
Each time we revisit a text, we approach it with a new perspective because we’re always changing. While some may see rereading as a waste of time, I enjoy revisiting texts to observe how much my views and enjoyment of it has changed. It’s highly unlikely that my reaction to the reread is the same as my initial read. My enjoyment of the text shifts either because I can better understand and appreciate the author’s craft and message; or because I am able to spot the faults in the story, which curdles my enjoyment. Sometimes my reaction to the text is altered by experiences that have changed my outlook on certain issues. Other times my involvement with people and other media influence me toward certain opinions that may affect how I interpret a story.
Since I reread A Game of Thrones a while back, I decided to reread Eragon as well. Actually, it was under the duress of being late for work that caused me to grab this book from my shelf. I did not have time to mull over a decision so I grabbed the first thing I thought would be pleasing. I enjoyed reading Eragon the first time so I’ll enjoy it as much this time, I thought.
A fifteen-year-old boy name Eragon discovers a mysterious blue stone on one of his hunting trips into the forbidding mountains of the Spine. He carries it home to the farm where he lives with his uncle and cousin on the outskirts of a village, and tries to determine what type of stone it is. Stumped, he shows it to his uncle who determines that the stone must be of great value because of its peculiarity and decides they should trade it. However, because of the harsh conditions in the country (called Alagaesia) caused by urgal attacks, it’s impossible to trade the stone, which no one knows the value of.
…because I have a strong feeling that I would enjoy reading Dickens’ tomes. I’ve often seen his name mentioned in reviews of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books and I think that she listed him as one of her literary influences. I’ve also read that, like Rowling, his characters are whimsical, which is highly appealing to me. I can’t wait to try one of his books but whenever I visit the bookstore, I always think his books “Too big to buy right now.”
If on a winter’s night a traveler… by Italo Calvino
…because I’ve heard that it’s a book about reading a book of the same title and I find that mind-boggling. But for the life of me, I always forget Calvino’s name when I visit the bookstore and though I remember the book’s title, I always think that it’s a sentence in book and that it’s too ambiguous a clue for the bookseller to search by.
Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling
…because I want to know if I’ll love her books no matter what. I’ve read some very bad reviews on this novel and it makes me wonder if my reading experience will be similar to those I’ve read. Would I also think Rowling dropped the ball with this novel? That she’s better suited for children’s books only? Only reading will tell. I bought this book shortly after it was published but it’s sitting on my bookshelf collecting dust. You see, it’s a hardback copy and it’s quite a nuisance to haul a big-ass hardback novel everywhere you go and I tend to travel with the books I’m currently reading so for now it sits on shelf with a smattering of dust for company.
Anything by Nalo Hopkinson
…because I’ve realized that I’ve hardly read any fantasy novels by someone of African descent much less from the Caribbean or even the country I’m from. Actually, the only fantasy/sci-fi novel I’ve read by a person of color is Kindred by Octavia Butler…and I didn’t like it :/. Well, I read it in college and I really, really hated the cover of the book. (It’s the one of the girl in white on the cover. I thought it was eerie. Yea, I know that makes no sense but it’s how I felt). Also, I tend to dislike stories that incorporate time travel. (Yes, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as well. It’s one of my least liked books in the series.) Anyways, somehow I discovered Hopkinson and after learning that she’s from the Jamaica and that her fantasy novels tend to include Caribbean culture, I immediately wanted to read her books. But I always forget this want when I visit the bookstore and so forget to search for her. I guess I’ll have to place the purchase online.
The Odyssey by Homer
…because Homer is the dude! Everyone has heard or read some sort of reference to The Odyssey and numerous authors refer to the text in their writing so I believe I must experience it for myself. Plus, I enjoy reading anything that references Greek mythology. I did read bits of The Odyssey in high school and in college but now I’d like to read the entire text. I always consider purchasing it when I visit the bookstore but somehow I always walk out without it. I probably had the same thought as when I see Dickens’ tomes: “Too big to buy right now.”
I forgot both the title and the author’s name but it’s an account of Roman emperors’ lives. The book is quite scandalous.
…because I’m nosy. Whenever this book is mentioned, I’m always curious to read it to find out more. But, as you can tell, I can’t remember the title or the author’s name so I have yet to purchase it. If somehow you know what book I’m talking about, please share the title and author’s name.
One Thousand and One Nights and The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
…because they are all classic texts from cultures other than Western Europe and if I read The Odyssey, I must read these too. I always visit their shelves whenever I go to a bookstore but they seem quite big so in the store they remain for now.
Paradise Lost by John Milton
…because I am curious to know what it’s about. I’ve heard that it’s on Satan’s fall from Heaven and I would like to see how Milton details that. I guess I’ll have to read my Bible before I start on this so it’s easier for me to note how closely or how far he strays from the Bible’s recount of the event (it’s highly likely I won’t do this but thinking I will makes me feel great). I did attempt to read this back in college…probably freshman year. I gave up after a few sentences. I do have the book (since freshman year) and I have yet to crack it open again. To be revisited.
The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
…because I read Linden Hills by Gloria Naylor. Linden Hills is one of my favorite novels and the neighborhood that serves as the setting of the story symbolizes the different levels of hell Dante describes. Another reason why I want to read The Divine Comedy is because it’s often referenced in other texts and I like knowing where the references are from otherwise I feel left out (as if the author is sharing an inside joke). I have the book on my bookshelf. I tried reading it once but didn’t have the patience (that was in college as well). To be revisited.
Donald Writes No More by Eddie Stone
…because I’ve read Donald Goines’ books and I know that the stories are a bit autobiographical. I always wanted to learn a bit more about Goines. His stories display the harsh reality of life on the streets. He doesn’t soften the blow of that reality but presents it as it is. I’ve searched in stores but have never found this book. I guess I’ll have to order it from Amazon.
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley
…because I must. I wanted to read this book before I even knew what it was about just because I liked its cover. It was years later that I discovered what it was about and that heightened my want to read it. Usually, whenever I visit the bookstore I’d go over to the sci-fi/fantasy section and gaze at the cover wondering what the lady on it is up to with that big-ass sword but now I have a copy that I bought second-hand at Second Story Books in Dupont Circle at one of its sidewalk sales. To be started.
The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson
…because it’s intriguing. I forgot where it was that I first heard of this book maybe it was the title that caught me. But since discovering it, I’ve always wanted to read it but have never gotten around to purchasing it. I pick it up every time I visit the bookstore and leaf through its pages but when it’s time to decide what stays and what goes, The Psychopath Test always goes. I tell myself, “Next time I’ll get it.”
Bulfinch’s Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch
…because it’s on mythology. I like to think of myself as a mythology enthusiast so of course I want to read this one too. This is another book I visit every time I go to a bookstore and I never buy it. I always tell myself “It’s not time yet.”
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
…because it’s always recommended to me and it has received great reviews. Plus, I’ve read that Coelho’s parents tried to turn him from becoming a writer by committing him to a mental institution three times. That made me want to know more about him and his work. Like The Psychopath Test, I pick it up every time I visit the bookstore but always leave it behind. “Next time I’ll get it.”
I am happy for Jamaica Kincaid. I must admit, I first read her book Lucy in high school only because her first name is Jamaica and I thought that was where she’s from. Silly me. Kincaid is actually Antiguan. It took a while to work up and interest in Lucy but it was an okay read. I think this honor is well deserved. Congrats, Jamaica Kincaid!
Author Jamaica Kincaid and film critic Armond White are among the winners of the 35th annual American Book Awards, which celebrate multiculturalism and free expression, the Associated Press reports.
The Before Columbus Foundation announced Tuesday that Kincaid was cited for the novel “See Now Then.” White received an “Anti-Censorship Award” because of his being “unfairly removed” from the New York Film Critics Circle. In January, he was expelled after allegedly heckling “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen at the group’s annual awards banquet. White, known for his contrarian views, has called the allegations a “barrage of lies.”
Other winners include Andrew Bacevich’s nonfiction “Breach of Trust” and Alex Espinoza’s novel “The Five Acts of Diego Leon.” The awards will be presented Oct. 26 in San Francisco.
The Before Columbus Foundation is a nonprofit founded by author-playwright Ishmael Reed.
Watching the movie before reading the book seems the best way to go. I first tested this theory with Beautiful Creatures. I enjoyed the movie so much that I forced myself through the first pages of the story to discover a book I enjoyed. Again, the theory proves true for Vampire Academy. The movie was entertaining and Zoey Deutch, who played Rose, was funny (after reading the book, I realized that she did a great job of capturing the character).
Rosemarie “Rose” Hathaway and the princess, Vasilisa “Lissa” Dragomir, are best friends connected by a one-sided psychic bond that allows Rose to access Lissa’s thoughts, emotions, and experiences. They attend St. Vladimir’s Academy, a boarding school for vampires (moroi, the good vampires) and their guardians (dhampir, half-vampires that protect the moroi from strigoi, evil vampires). When the novel begins, Rose and Lissa have been on the run for two years. St. Vladimir’s is no longer a safe place for the princess so Rose, who proclaims herself Lissa’s guardian, hatched a plan to ditch school and seek protection in the wide, unknown world.