Monday, November 29, 2010

BBC's Underestimation (Clarified)

According to a number of my peers, the BBC has decreed that a majority of us are terribly under-read. Of a list of 100 books, they state that most people have not read more than 6 books found on this list. Here's our chance to prove them wrong!

After doing a little research of my own...there's probably never been such a statement by the BBC. According to this site, this is a meme that has been going around Facebook and various other sites since early 2009. Recently it's made another run and moved on to book blogs (which is where I picked it up).

One commenter (and fellow skeptic) on that site shows his own research into the subject:

I started seeing the “BBC Top 100 Books” meme around Facebook over the last couple weeks, but the "BBC doesn't think you've read more than six of these" part didn't sit right with me.

There’s a BBC Big Read 100 List which was done in 2003. However, the list in the meme is quite different than the BBC Big Read list where some think it started. I thought there might be a list that was closer to the one in the meme. So, I did a little online sleuthing.

First I found this article that mentions a World Book Day survey in 2007 of "100 books Brits can’t live without." And then I found the complete list on The Guardian’s website -- Mystery solved -- it’s the same list as the one in the meme.

So, feel free to see how many of those hundred books you’ve read. As a reader, I always find it fun. However, know that the BBC isn’t judging you. The only thing you'll discover is if you’ve read the same books that a bunch of people in the UK couldn't live without.
So, sorry we thought the worst of you, BBC. But hey, at least you get a bit of free publicity out of this, right? And in return, we get a chance to fill our free-time and share our reading accomplishments.

•Copy this list.
•Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.
•Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.
•Tag other book nerds.
•Highlight the ones that you own but haven't read. They are probably in your TBR stack/on your shelf at the back because someone said you should read them.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen (required)
The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien (3 books)
Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
Harry Potter series – JK Rowling (7 books)
To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
The King James Bible
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
Nineteen Eighty Four (1984) – George Orwell
His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman (3 books)
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
Complete Works of Shakespeare
Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger (required)
The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
Middlemarch – George Eliot
Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis (7 books)
Emma - Jane Austen
Persuasion – Jane Austen
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne
Animal Farm – George Orwell
The DaVinci Code – Dan Brown
One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
Lord of the Flies – William Golding (required)
Atonement – Ian McEwan
Life of Pi – Yann Martel
Dune – Frank Herbert
Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck (required)
Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
The Secret History – Donna Tartt
The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
On The Road – Jack Kerouac
Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
Moby Dick – Herman Melville
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
Dracula – Bram Stoker (required)
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
Ulysses – James Joyce
The Inferno – Dante
Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
Germinal – Emile Zola
Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
Possession – AS Byatt
Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
The Color Purple – Alice Walker
The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad (required)
The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
Watership Down – Richard Adams
A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
Hamlet – William Shakespeare
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Read - 15 (technically 28 counting those in series)
Started - 5
Own But Haven't Yet Read - 13+ (we own a large collection of classics, but I don't recall all the titles)

In short, I'm not fully impressed by this list. Sure, there are a lot of books I've not read, and many of those I have no interest in reading, meanwhile some of the ones I read were forced upon me in school. But the list includes repeats (Narnia & Lion Witch and Wardrobe) and counts series as one entry (HP, His Dark Materials, LotR).

So, how many of these have you read/attempted/bought?

Friday, November 26, 2010

One Good Deed

Okay, call me crazy.

I stayed up all night (finally caught up on Sanctuary and Glee!) in order to go to a 4am opening.

Our family hasn't gone to Black Friday sales in years, and I decided I needed to remind myself how horrible it is. I was pleasantly surprised at how not-horrible it was.

Sure, I had to park in the parking lot of the store next door. Yes, I had a hard time finding what I went for. And okay, I spent most of my time waiting in line as the computers were overloaded... But everyone was very polite, there were no screams or pushing and shoving, and I was in and out in under 40 minutes with exactly what I went for.

I was even helped out by a courteous fellow customer (an older gentleman [perhaps late 30's/early 40's] wearing [yes] a Santa hat) who was browsing in the aisle next to me. I realized that I had forgotten to grab a SD camera card and was already in line and asked if he could pass me one. After a moment's confusion, he kindly picked one and passed it over. Thank you, kind, tall stranger in the Santa hat!

Now that my mood had lightened, I decided to try and pass along the good wishes by making friendly conversation with the cashiers. I asked jokingly if they were keeping tally. A confused look, then, "Um, of what?" Of the sales you've rung up! "Oh... No. Too busy for that." But he did smile all the same. And a minute later (as the computers were still having issues) he turned to those waiting in line and explained the situation, assuring them that he would get them through shortly. And I think he was still smiling.

Then, as I was walking back through the parking lot to my car, I noticed a shiny something on the ground. As I walked past, I realized it was an American Express card. About 10 steps later I turned and went back for it. Though I had no intention whatsoever of going into the store, I walked up to the greeter and handed them the card, saying I'd found it in the parking lot. "Oh, yes, I bet someone'll be looking for that." And while he was still examining the card, I went ahead and proceeded to my car.

So, it's Black Friday. Things can get crazy out there. That doesn't mean it's not worth showing a little civility, or even gratefulness. Thank your cashier, wish them a happy/sane rest of their day. If you see someone having trouble, trying to reach something, or find something you just saw, help them out. One good deed can brighten someone's day.

Now I just have to wait for the other stores to open so I can go out again... Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

In My Mailbox (8)

My sincerest apologies for the delay in posting, both reviews and general updates. I've got a few personal things to take care of, but I do hope to get these distractions out of the way and get back to reading/writing as normal. In the meantime, here's an IMM update.

In My Mailbox
In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren

In the past 2 weeks I've...

Magic BitesGood Omens
Magic Burns ~ Ilona Andrews
Good Omens ~ Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
From Goodwill

The Sorcerer's CompanionThe Magicians
The Sorcerer's Companion ~ Allan Zola Kronzek
The Magicians ~ Lev Grossman
And various other surprises.
From Jo of Fluidity of Time
Thanks Jo!

And Watched
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Part 1
(and LOVED it)

Monday, November 8, 2010

My Misadventures in NaNoWriMo

Week One didn't go so well for me. I spent the majority of Sunday and Monday in bed, then just felt drained for a couple days more. This gave me time to reflect on things...and I've decided I'm not going to follow through with NaNoWriMo.

I know what you're thinking,
"Don't give up!"
Or, as my region's liaison wrote,
"First, let's talk about if you're behind schedule. This is absolutely not a reason to give up! Why? Because even if you haven't written a single word, if you start today you will still hit 50K on the 30th if you write 2,083 words a day.
If you've already written some words you'll need even fewer every day to stay on track and win. I bet you'll find that your words-per-day to win are not as heavy a load as you were imagining."

Thing is, I have a few reasons why I'm dropping out:


In a rookie move, I decided to start literally from scratch on day one. No outline, no notes, no research. Creatively speaking, I should be fine, unfortunately I am too much of a nitpicker (left brain analyst) to let things flow freely. Which leads me to...


Because I've not prepared things to my own standards, my analytical side has red sirens blaring, telling me there's no way I'm gonna get things done. And if the voices in my head say no...well, I can't really argue with them. There's also the guilt factor of...

Prior Responsibilities

One of which is my blog. Not that I have a problem with leaving off for a month (as evidenced in September), but I've received a number of books that I've agreed to review, and I feel horrible pushing them off for as long as I have already.
Also, I have a job search to be doing and other family obligations that I cannot push aside for an entire month. And that seems to be the case with the schedule my muse has decided to set...

Muse Time Disagreements

For some reason, my muse is MIA during the daylight. I mean, I know I'm a night owl, but she doesn't show up at dusk, or even midnight. No, she decides to show up when I'm trying to fall asleep (3-5 AM) and keep me awake for 2-3 extra hours. Okay, I grant you she is a bit of a demon in nature, and I really shouldn't expect anything less, but it's really bugging me. Don't get me wrong, if that's when she wants to show up, I'm fully willing to submit to her time constraints. Just not when I'm supposed to be alive during the daylight hours.

So, that's where I stand at the moment. My official NaNoWriMo journey is over until further notice. Who knows, I might try to add a bit to my 270 words (after I re-write it because I totally got her voice wrong) and see if I can get my muse to comply to my wishes (she seems to love talking when I'm half-asleep). But I'm not really expecting much.

In better news, I HAVE committed to writing this story.
(I know, a bit of conflicting information, right? Stay with me here.)
I've gone ahead and created my book's cover, as well as a (rough) tagline:
Most people think being fired is the end of the world.
For Kali, it's only the beginning...
I know, I could've/should've spent the time making this actually writing the story, but I needed something tangible, something I could see. Now I just need to fill the insides with equally amazing words!

I just need to get things in order first. To help me, I've enlisted the help of some (what else) books that I've acquired over the years:
I've read pieces and parts of the first two for classes, and the third looks simply amazing, even though I'm not specifically writing "Fantasy".

To help me out a bit more, I purchased this book earlier this year:
I'd originally planned on using it through NaNoWriMo, but I think I might benefit from its services better at a slower pace.

I'm sorry that this month's plan (or lack of a plan) didn't pan out, but I'm still very excited. Kali's story will be written (else I might not ever sleep again) and she'll be unleashed upon the masses.

If there are any other NaNoWriMo's reading this, or other people who would enjoy a bit of inspiration, here's an amazing song/vid I discovered last week. Best wishes!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In My Mailbox (7)

In My Mailbox
In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren

In the past 4 weeks I've...

Bloodhound ~ Tamora Pierce
From My Library

Magic Lost, Trouble FoundArmed & MagicalThe Trouble with Demons
Magic Lost, Trouble Found ~ Lisa Shearin
Armed & Magical ~ Lisa Shearin
The Trouble With Demons ~ Lisa Shearin
From Goodwill

Received for Review
Zan-GahZan-Gah and the Beautiful CountryThe Strangers OutsideDrowned Sorrow
Zan-Gah: A Prehistoric Adventure ~ A.R. Shickman
Zan-Gah and the Beautiful Country ~ A.R. Shickman
From Bonnie Lenz of Earthshaker Books
The Strangers Outside (e-book) ~ Vanessa Morgan
Drowned Sorrow (e-book) ~ Vanessa Morgan
From Vanessa Morgan

And Won
Vampires: The Occult Truth
Vampires: The Occult Truth ~ Konstantinos
From Donna of Bites

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Book Blogger Hop (7)

Book Blogger Hop

This week's question actually came from... OMG Me!

What are your feelings on losing followers? Have you ever stopped following a blog?

Well, believe it or not, I have lost one or two followers in my 8 (Really?! Wow 8!) months of blogging. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

My first thought is usually along the lines of,
"Oh no! What did I do wrong?!"

Of course, this is mostly brought on by my self-esteem issues, and after
a firm talking down by the voices in my head
some reassurance from my cats
my confidence returns I usually experience a short stint of,
"Who was it?! I'll make them come back!"

Luckily (for me and for them), that line of thought passes quickly. Eventually, I just take a deep breath and go about my business as usual. After all, I can't control who likes what I write any more than they can control what I like to write.

As for stopping following blogs...

I posted a long time ago about my first Blog Hop experience
and the mistake I made in following EVERY SINGLE BLOG in the hop.

For me, following is an interactive experience. I follow my blogs daily through Google Reader and I feel committed to reading every blog I follow.

In following over 250 blogs, I've found there's definitely a fine line between having a large variety of blogs I enjoy and having an overwhelming wave of posts I'm obligated to.

I'm currently in the process of whittling down what blogs I follow. I wait until a blog builds up at least 15 posts, which seems to be a good sample-size, then I read through them and see if they catch my interest. Do I enjoy their writing style? Am I interested in the types of books they review? If I find it a chore to get through the 15 posts, or nothing grabs my interest, then I go ahead and unsubscribe.

It's really nothing against those blog owners, and I'm sorry if their heart falls a little when they see that lowered statistic. I just feel I'm not the right fit for that particular writer, and that I'm lying to them if I call myself a follower.

What about you?

Following Jennifer's answer, she issued this amazing challenge:
This challenge will take some dedication on your part this week. I want you to find ONE blog in the Hop list that you genuinely WANT to follow (try to find a new blog, if you can!) and make at least 5 comments on their blog this week on 5 different posts. Get to know this blogger and what they post about.

Next week, as part of your Hop post, I want you to post about your experience with this challenge. Just tell us what you thought of the challenge, who you found to follow and link to the posts that you commented on. I hope you will participate and help us all to build our community! Let's dig a little deeper and get to know each other! Remember, the point is to be genuine! Not to follow for the sake of following! Because, if you are genuine, you are much more likely to get people to follow you back. Trust me on this.

So? Are you up to it?

Feel free to post a link to your own blog in the comments,
and be sure to check out other blog-hoppers at Crazy-for-Books' blog!