Book Haul #2: Commas, a Circus, the Hound, and Others

I did a bit of traveling in Pennsylvania during the last week of March to Pittsburgh, for work, and to Philadelphia, a belated birthday gift to myself. Apart from the time away from home and the fun I had, what’s awesome about these two trips is that I GOT NEW BOOKS!! Here they are:

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris
Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris

First up is Mary Norris’ Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, which I acquired at the annual American Copy Editors Society conference that was held in Pittsburgh. I’ve wanted this book ever since I first read of it and, being the book lover that I am, I annoyed everyone around me by constantly talking about it.

I was elated when I saw on the conference’s program that Norris was a speaker for one of the sessions, and I became even more excited when we were told that 40 early release copies would be signed and available for purchase after the session (this was in late March and the book was published on April 6). You bet I was one of the first ones in line to get a copy. I was so overjoyed, I didn’t know what to say to Norris when I met her other than that I’ve enjoyed reading her articles. As is characteristic of her, she signed my book with a pencil. I didn’t see what type it was but I bet it was a No. 1 pencil.

Continue reading “Book Haul #2: Commas, a Circus, the Hound, and Others”

Wishes for My TBR Pile: 5 Books for Thoughts and Motivation

I began getting antsy about my Barnes & Noble coupons a few days ago since I hadn’t gotten any since the year began. But last Thursday I came home to a wonderful surprise—coupons for books! I was elated though my joy quickly soured some when I recalled that part of my Lent commitment is to not purchase any books (or shoes).

This might be an easy feat for some but for those like me who LOVE to purchase books (and shoes), it’s torture. I’ve been tempted many times since the beginning of Lent to purchase a book and barely resisted doing so. Especially since this is my birthday month, which makes it easy for me to punch loopholes into my commitment: “Obviously I should be able to purchase presents for myself despite Lent,” I’ve often thought followed by, “Why am I even doing this? I’m not even Catholic.” Luckily the coupons will expire after the Lent period so I’ll have ample time to purchase a few books. So in April when Lent is over, I’ll treat myself to one of these as a birthday gift:

Comma Queen

Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris (April 6, 2015)

Mary Norris has spent more than three decades in the New Yorker’s copy department, maintaining its celebrated high standards. Now she brings her vast experience, good cheer, and finely sharpened pencils to help the rest of us in a boisterous language book as full of life as it is of practical advice.

Between You & Me features Norris’s laugh-out-loud descriptions of some of the most common and vexing problems in spelling, punctuation, and usage….and her clear explanations of how to handle them. Down-to-earth and always open-minded, she draws on examples from Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, Henry James, and the Lord’s Prayer, as well as from The Honeymooners, The Simpsons, David Foster Wallace, and Gillian Flynn. 

I can’t recall where I first read about this book—it must have been in a Shelf Awareness newsletter—but I immediately added it to my TBR list. I enjoy reading books on writing and Norris’ book promises to be a thrill. Also, it comes out just in time for the end of Lent and my coupon’s expiration date.

Another reason why I’m getting this book is because I would like to work as a copy editor. I just began training as one and it has improved my writing, though I still make mistakes. I’ve found that it’s easier to edit the works of others than my own, though it helps if I return to what I’ve written after some time has passed to edit. But I’m usually too impatient to wait.

Related articles:

A short feature on Shelf Awareness

And an entertaining article by Norris in the New Yorker (If the book is like this, I will definitely enjoy it.)

Speaking of books on writing and grammar that aren’t a bore, see Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams.

Continue reading “Wishes for My TBR Pile: 5 Books for Thoughts and Motivation”

Wishes for My TBR Pile: 6 Books Added

Ahh…books. I can’t help my attraction to books, especially new titles with tantalizing covers. So far my new year is going well but financially, it’s a bit shaky so there’s no telling if I’ll be able to afford those listed here when they’re released. Of course, I could just go to the library but I’m a horrible library patron. I tend to highlight passages and forget to return what I borrow; or I’ll borrow a book and forget to read it. For me, it’s best I purchase my own reads since my library fee will probably be the same amount. So here are the books I’ll simply add to my Goodreads TBR list:

In Search of Lost Dragons

In Search of Lost Dragons by illustrators Elian Black’Mor and Carine-M (Dynamite Entertainment, February 2, 2015)

“On the trail of dragons forgotten, an intrepid illustrator and reporter journeys from Europe through the Middle East and finally to Saigon in search of the dark caverns and mountaintop perches where the elusive winged serpents dwell. With the gift of seeing the invisible, our explorer friend records each encounter in a journal of gorgeous, fully painted artwork, capturing every majestic and fearsome visual detail of the scaly behemoths, and accompanies his findings with snippets of local lore as evidence that these hidden beasts continue to shape the world in ways we may never expect!”

Okay, so this one I have to purchase somehow because—dragons! That’s all that was needed to draw me to this book but the trailer sold me. It’s awesome! I considered preordering a copy but whenever I preorder a book, my copy doesn’t arrive at the store until the day (or couple days) after the release. 😦 So I decided to wait instead. Two days to go!

Related YouTube video:

Continue reading “Wishes for My TBR Pile: 6 Books Added”

Reflecting on 2014: Reading

2014 Goodreads Reading Challenge
2014 Goodreads Reading Challenge

As stated in my Reflection on 2014: Life post, 2014 was about progress. Although I did not post as much in 2014 compared to 2013, my blog has greatly improved. From the annual report that WordPress has graciously put together, I’ve learned that I’ve gotten more visitors this year. My followers have also increased, which I’m glad for. This is all due to my effort to both post more and seek activities that will help me improve my blog, such as the Blogging 101 workshop and partaking in a few Daily Post activities. I was also more social, visiting and commenting on other blogs. Overall, 2014 was a great blogging year. I’m proud of myself and I’m thankful for all the support, advice, comments, and follows. 😀

Now this post is actually about books and reading (so it will be long). And despite my intention to progress in all aspects of my life, I regressed in my reading. Actually, it depends on how you look at it. According to my Goodreads Reading Challenge, I didn’t reach my goal of reading 35 books in 2014. I only made it as far as 22 books. This much is true novel-wise. However, if you were watching over my shoulder throughout much of 2014, you would have realized that I met and surpassed my reading goal with magazines.

Continue reading “Reflecting on 2014: Reading”

14 Books I Want to Read but Never Remember to

Read booksThese are listed in the order I remember them.

  1. Anything by Charles Dickens
    • …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.”
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.”
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.”
  13. 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.”
  14. 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.”

More Lists from Zezee:

Books on writing

Books on books or reading

Reading Challenge: 60 Classics in 5 Years

Quick Find: All books discussed on this blog

“Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere” by Lauren Leto

Judging a Book by Its Lover
Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

Here’s another hilarious book on books.

I came across this one on Goodreads.com. It was up for grabs on the Giveaways section. I liked the title so I entered the drawing but, as fortune would have it, I did not win the free book. Upset, I decided to forget about about reading it but while snooping around Barnes & Noble for a copy of the Steve Jobs autobiography, I stumbled upon Judging a Book by Its Lover and decided to buy it.

I enjoyed reading this book. Leto is funny. I read it while on the plane, which was a bit distracting since I’m always staring out the window at the clouds, almost blinding myself by the sun. This was a quick read and by the time the plane landed, I was a few pages from its end. The flight was about 4 hours long.

Judging a Book by Its Lover is a book of essays on books and book-lovers and types of book-lovers. My favorite chapters were “What Your Child Will Grow Up to Be if You Read Them…” and “How to Fake It.” I might just use some of the tips listed in “How to Fake It” for fun. Many readers have faked reading a book, though they might never admit to it. I faked reading the Lord of the Rings series for quite sometime before I knuckled down and began reading it. Back then, if I found myself in a conversation about the books, I would just use my knowledge of the movies to carry me through.

The references to books and authors will keep you giggling throughout. Sometimes it will wear you down, though, as sections drag on. But if you stick with it, you are sure to enjoy the book.

Quote from book: “People aren’t fully formed yet in middle school, they’re just globs of hormones and wandering personality traits gained through osmosis from pop culture, with senses of humor consisting entirely of canned lines from funny movies.”

“One for the Books” by Joe Queenan

One for the Books
Available on Amazon and at your local bookstore.

I totally enjoyed reading this one. Queenan is hilarious and very sarcastic. I chuckled so much while reading this book on the train that quite a few times a fellow passenger would inquire of what I was reading. This book is like a tribute to books. Queenan discusses his weird, bookish quirks and all the places that books have brought him and that he has brought them.

This is one for book-lovers. A wealth of bookish topics are discussed as Queenan recounts his experiences with books, such as how to read books, whether or not to write in them, e-readers, organizing books, and book clubs (the section on book clubs is one of the funniest parts).

I hope to re-read this book in the future when, I hope, I can understand all the literary references stated in it. Being quite young, I haven’t read as much as Queenan who has thus far read about 6,128 books in his lifetime. I do wonder if he really has read that many books or if he’s just throwing out a random number. Anyways, I have no idea of how many books I’ve read thus far in my life. I know it’s quite a lot since I have never went without a book or stopped reading them since the day I discovered books, which was pretty early in life since my mother was an English teacher, but I do hope to top that number.

I discovered this book on the Wall Street Journals website where I read an excerpt of it. I love reading books on books and since it was hilarious, I dashed to Barnes & Noble to get a copy. Check out the excerpt here.

Quote from book: “A reading life, a friend once told me, is an adventure without maps where you meet unexpected soulmates along the way.”