Armchair BEA, Blog Post, Events

Books from A to Z (#ArmchairBEA)

For today’s “Anything Goes” Topic, I decided to have a little fun by completing this “A to Z Survey.”  It’s hosted by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner. Hope you enjoy!

AtoZsurvey-1017x1024

 

Author you’ve read the most books from:

William Burroughs, Dennis Cooper, William Shakespeare, and Kurt Vonnegut.

 

Best Sequel Prequel Ever:

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (actually a prequel to Bronte’s Jane Eyre). Also, Jack Maggs by Peter Carey, which is a prequel to Dickens’s Great Expectations.

 

Currently Reading:

Imre: A Memorandum by Edward Prime-Stevenson and Insurgent by Veronica Roth.

 

Drink of Choice While Reading:

I’m usually drinking coffee or tea – but that’s always, not just when reading. 🙂

 

E-reader or Physical Book?

Physical book, always. I only use e-readers when I absolutely have to (for instance, sometimes I teach courses where the text is only available online).

 

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

Well, I actually didn’t date in high school, but if I could return to high school age and date a fictional character from literature, hm, I’d probably fall for the Percy Jackson type, although I’d like to think I’d fall for a character like Joey from Andrew Smith’s Winger.

 

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I put it off for such a long time, but I finally read it just a week or so ago, and it was so good! Interesting, creepy, dark, and rich with history.

 

Hidden Gem Book:

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Important Moment in your Reading Life:

Creating my very first book blog. At the time, it was really an “all purpose” kind of blog.  I was in graduate school and desperately needed a place to keep my thoughts on all the reading I was doing (massive amounts) but also a place to use as a creative and emotional outlet. It was such a huge help.

 

Just Finished:

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Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

“Won’t” is a dangerous word. I don’t necessarily refuse to read anything. Okay, that’s not true. So far, I’ve refused to read the Twilight series. I also don’t read things like Christian fiction, romance (lower-case “r”), and such. I think these are all more like books/genres that I “don’t” read, though. I might, someday…. if all other books are destroyed?  Nah, I’d just write my own. Nevermind.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

47173The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism (2,624 pages).  As far as fiction goes, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1,463 pages) and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1,424 pages). Other books I’ve read that are more than 1,000 pages include, Atlas Shrugged, The Stand, and Gone with the Wind. I’ve adored every single one of these books, with the exception of Atlas Shrugged, which is the book I most hate of any, ever.

Major book hangover because of:

The Harry Potter series!

Number of Bookcases You Own:

I own six bookcases, four of which are full-size and two of which are half-size. Most of my books are in storage, though. No room for all of them. 😦

 

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

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Preferred Place To Read:

I usually read in my den/study, in a recliner my parents bought me for Christmas a few years back.  Sometimes I’ll read on the living couch, though.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

“Make your own Bible. Select and collect all the words and sentences that in all your readings have been to you like the blast of a trumpet.”     -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Reading Regret:

I’m not sure I have any reading regrets. If I did, most of them have been corrected (not pushing myself to finish Pride and Prejudice the first time, for instance, because I thought it was going to be too “girly.”  I’ve read it three times, since, and it’s one of the best – if not the best- novels of all-time.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

darkboxI’ve only read the first book in this series, but I really do want to finish it. Same goes for Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Orlando by Virginia Woolf, and Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Unapologetic Fanboy For:

Andrew Smith, Kurt Vonnegut, Mark Twain, Jane Austen, Willa Cather, and J.K. Rowling!

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

18705209I’m also looking forward to Hillary Clinton’s new book, Hard Choices.

Worst Bookish Habit:

I have a terrible habit of creating an “up next” pile and then never going to that pile when I finish a book.  To be honest, I currently have SIX “up next” piles stacked on the tops of my bookshelves, but I’ve been choosing my reads from elsewhere.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

430788

Your latest book purchase:

I recently bought the Penguin Classics Deluxe edition of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick.

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

19063I couldn’t put it down! One of the best I’ve read.

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Armchair BEA, Blog Post, Events

Authors & Beyond Words (#ArmchairBEA)

Hello, Everyone!

It’s Day 2 of Armchair BEA and I for one am having a blast. I think it’s serendipitous that the event falls on one of the few times of the year when I actually have a bit of a break, so I’m doing my best to really interact.  I joined last night’s Twitter party, which was super fun, and I’ve been visiting new and old blogs alike, commenting like a madman and getting to know some gnarly people.  What a community we have!

Anywhat, onto today’s themes:

Author Interaction 
Let’s talk interacting with authors IRL (in real life) or online.

8130308As someone who has been doing this for quite a few years, now, I’m not ashamed to admit that I still go “fanboy” over author interactions, especially when it involves some of my favorites.  I’ve had the opportunity to chat with and work with some incredible writers who are also incredible people.  These include Andrew Smith (author of Grasshopper Jungle and The Marbury Lens), Catherine Ryan Hyde (author of Jumpstart the World and Pay It Forward) and Kathe Koja (author of Under the Poppy and The Mercury Waltz).  

jumpstartWhat thrills me most about reading their books, now, is that I feel I know a bit about the minds and souls that created them.  These writers’ talent cannot be denied –it’s something that reading their books alone will testify to– but their kindness, thoughtfulness,  generosity, and general grooviness, well, that’s something you can’t get straight from the books, and I feel lucky to have “met” each of them (among many others) through blogging and interactions on Twitter/Facebook.


More Than Just Words 
On this day, we will be talking about those books and formats that move beyond just the words and use other ways to experience a story. Which books stand out to you in these different formats?

8621462To be honest, I read primarily classics and literary fiction, both of which are all about, well, words. I haven’t read many graphic novels (although Blankets by Craig Thompson is fantastic) and while I could look back on my time as a reading teacher to discuss picture books, like King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub and Where the Wild Things Are, etc., I’m not sure that’s what this question is after.  I also do not really listen to audiobooks (except poetry), so that doesn’t work…

image.phpThere are probably plenty of books that I’ve read in the last few years which do use images, and if I scroll back through my log I might find more to add to this discussion, but the one book I can think of now, off the top of my head, is one that has stayed with me for a long time: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd. The story itself is brilliant and touching, but the drawings add so much depth and emotion. It’s a piece of work I think most people will appreciate – beyond beautiful, and very difficult to describe. Go experience it for yourself, yeah?

everyyoueverymeI also really enjoyed the book Every You, Every Me by David Levithan. This one incorporates photographs into the story, in a kind of mysterious way.  It’s a great book with a great story, an the use of photographs to advance the plot and add layers of mystery and intrigue (and emotion) was very clever.

Thanks for visiting!

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Armchair BEA, Events

Introductions & Literature (#ArmchairBEA)

book heart armchairbeaHappy First Day of Armchair BEA 2014!

Today is all about Introductions and about “Literature” in general.  This should be interesting! I’m also a Cheerleader, this year, for the first time… and I’m planning to participate as usual (my third or fourth year?).

Introduction:

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from? 

Okay, well, for those who don’t know me already: My name is Adam. I teach college unnamedliterature and composition and I am the Classic Literature Expert for About.com. I’m about to begin my third year of doctoral studies (Ph.D. English with emphases in American Literature, Literary Theory & Criticism, and LGBT Studies).

I’ve been blogging here at Roof Beam Reader for 5 years (as of June 1st – and there’s a big celebration to come on that day, so maybe stick around?). But, I’ve been book blogging, and blogging in general, for much longer than that. I believe I started blogging when I was 19, and I’m currently 31, so there’s some math for you all to do! I started blogging as a creative and emotional outlet – mostly journaling, creative writing, etc. I still do that (elsewhere and in private) but in 2006 I started graduate studies in English & American Literature, and I realized that I needed a place to keep my thoughts on all of the reading I was doing. Thus, the book blog was born.

 Currently, I live in a western suburb outside of Chicago, in a little river town that is conveniently located about halfway between the city of Chicago and the University where I teach and study.

Describe your blog in just one sentence. Then, list your social details — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. — so we can connect more online. 

 My blog is my virtual baby – no joke; I don’t have (and don’t plan to have) kids of my RBR-Buttonown, but I love to read and to write. I buy and read only physical books, because real books are true treasures to me. After all, what will happen when this digital age fails us, eh dystopia fans?

 My blog is where I get to express this love for my little ones, as people do when they share pictures of their cats and kids on Facebook and such. Sound silly? Oh well! And that was more than a sentence, sorry (not sorry). I would love to connect with you all on the social media. Twitter & Facebook are my primary modes:

Facebook: Roof Beam Reader

Twitter: Roof Beam Reader

Instagram: Roof Beam Reader

Tumblr: Roof Beam Reader

What genre do you read the most? I love to read because ___________________ . 

What I read most often, and what I most enjoy, are the classics. I can’t specify a genre inde3xbecause classic literature transcends genres (I love Sherlock Holmes, does that mean I love detective novels? I love Thomas Hardy, does that mean I love semi-gothic pastorals?) But in terms of contemporary fiction, I suppose I enjoy almost everything: science-fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, etc. I like dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction and gay fiction, too. I’m not a fan of romance or anything too saccharine (Christian fiction, morality fiction, Nicholas Sparks type stuff, etc.).

I do have eclectic taste, and I love to read because I love to get to know the world. All of it, across all time. Literature (hey, there’s that word!) teaches us so much, but most importantly, it teaches us how to empathize with others and how to understand a little bit of what we don’t know or cannot experience. This is a great thing.

What was your favorite book read last year? What’s your favorite book so far this year? 

Oh, boy. What a question. I think if you visit my wrap-up post for 2013 you’ll find a list 46133of my favorites for the year. I don’t usually ever pick one “favorite” book for any list, but for YA readers, I really loved Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan and Winger by Andrew Smith. For adult/classics readers, I enjoyed A Room of One’s Own and Orlando, both by Virginia Woolf.

So far this year, some of my favorites have been The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (yes, I’ve just finally gotten to it!) and Ulysses by James Joyce.

What does your favorite/ideal reading space look like? 

Just someplace quiet, comfortable, and private. I’m pretty easy. I like to read alone, though, so you probably won’t catch me with a book at Starbucks or whatnot (unless I’m on a deadline and trying desperately to multi-task!)

What is your favorite blogging resource? 

Twitter? I’m not sure I have any blogging resources, other than Twitter. If I have questions/issues, etc., I just chat with the folks I’ve friended on Twitter who also have been at this a long time. They’re a wealth of knowledge.

Spread the love by naming your favorite blogs/bloggers (doesn’t necessarily have to be book blogs/bloggers). 

I usually give a few names of favorites, but this year I just want to send out mad props to my team at The Classics Club (which I co-moderate) and to the members of the club in general. It’s such an awesome group and it has faced its challenges, butclassicsclub we continue to go strong. If you love reading the classics or would like a friendly group to help you get into them for the first time, I highly recommend you check us out!

The Classics Club Blog

 The Classics Club Twitter

The Classics Club on Facebook

 Share your favorite book or reading related quote. 

 “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! – When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” -Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice)

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 books would you bring? Why? What 3 non-book items would you bring? Why? 

 Book: 1. The Harry Potter series (yes I’m counting the whole thing as one!) Because it imagesalways keeps me entertained and comforted.

Book 2: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. To remind me who I am, where I came from, and why I fell in love with reading, friendships, life, and all that – particularly helpful when stranded alone, I think!

Book 3: Something to revisit again and again and find something new in it – and to remind me of the beauty of language. Maybe Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice or Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I’m not sure, I’d have to think about this last one.

Other things: An e-reader with permanently charged battery and all the books I could ever want loaded onto it (Haha! Yeah, I’m a cheater). Notebooks & pens to write with. And as for the third thing, hm, I don’t know. Maybe some kind of survival guide?

 What book would you love to see as a movie? 

I think A.S. King’s Reality Boy would make a pretty rad movie.

 On Literature:

Today’s question is “What do you think of when you think of Literature?”

Well, as the Classic Literature Expert for About.com, I know only enough to say this: I cannot define literature. And I don’t think anyone else can, either (if they say they can, they’re liars!). The only way to go about this would be to define it in terms of opposition (what is not literature?) Are Archie Comics? Is the phone book? I’ve spent entire semesters of graduate school trying to answer this question, and the only answer is – well, it is whatever you think it is. Just be prepared to defend your definition.

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Armchair BEA, Blog Post, Events

Armchair BEA: Young Readers and Final Thoughts

None

Armchair BEA is coming to a close this year, and I would be remiss if I did not comment on yesterday’s topic and also provide some final thoughts.  Yesterday, we kicked off a reading event here at Roof Beam Reader: The Beats of Summer.  So, I chose to delay the BEA topic post in order to avoid overwhelming readers with multiple posts in the same day.

Yesterday, there were two topics at Armchair BEA: “Keeping it Real, Fresh, and Fun” and “Genre: From Picture Books to Young Adult.”

Keeping it Real, Fresh, and Fun:

Today, we’re interested in knowing how you address that question, especially if you’ve been doing this for a while. If you have been around for years, how do you keep your material fresh? How do you continue to keep blogging fun? How do you not only grow an audience, but how do you keep them coming back for more?

New projects, redesigns, collaboratives–what do you do to keep blogging fresh for you?

As I mentioned in one of the early posts this week, I have been blogging for a long time – about 10 years.  But, I have been blogging specifically about books for about 4 years.  I keep my material fresh by joining new events each year and offering up new events of my own.  Last year, we had The Literary Others.  The year before, I offered up Magical March.  This year, it’s about The Beats of Summer (and likely another yet-to-be-announced event this fall).

I also keep it real by reviewing each book fairly and without bias.  I developed my own reviewing criteria (which took a couple of years) for this purpose.  This, I think, helps my readers trust what I have to say about books and know that I care about what I do and that I never engage in anything that would influence my opinion of a book (such as taking payment, trade-offs, etc.).

literarybloghopjuneI keep it fun by hosting regular, popular events, such as Austen in August and The Classics Club, and by participating in group giveaways, such as The Literary Blog Hop.  I have also been hosting a yearly TBR Pile Challenge for the past four years, which comes with monthly check-ins, random giveaways, and a big giveaway at the end of each year.  Usually, a few times per year, I also have contests and giveaways that are just for my blog readers – it’s a way of, yes, having some fun, but also of saying “thank you” to those who subscribe and who stick with me through the long haul.

My readership has grown slowly over the years, and I am hopeful that this mix of honest reviews, great events, and fun giveaways has encouraged people not only to subscribe, but also to stick around!


Day 5 Genre Topic: From Picture Books to Young Adult

This is going to be short and sweet, because I just don’t know very much about picture books or children’s books.  I do have a few favorites in each category, though, so let me just list a few books that I love:

Picture Books

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Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by John Scieszka

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Beginning Reader

henry

Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel

The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

Middle Grade

hatchet

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

The Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan

Young Adult:

10355662

Stick by Andrew Smith

I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky


Final Thoughts / What Was Missed?:  

Today, we were asked to think of which genres might have been missed.  Well, there are so many genres, I think it would be impossible to catch them all in a week-long event, unless there were multiple prompts each day.  As a Literary Fiction and Classics blogger, I was thrilled to see those two topics as genre prompts this year.  I think one idea for future years might be to have an “Eclectic Reader” or “You Call It!” kind of day – where each blogger talks about their own favorite genre, favorite books in multiple genres, etc.  I think this would give everyone the opportunity to share what they love and also allow for one day where those of us hopping around to various blogs might truly discover something new to us.

I want to thank the organizers of Armchair BEA for, once again, doing a fantastic job this year.  I have had a great time bouncing around to other blogs, some new and some that I have been connected with for a while, reading others’ thoughts on daily topics and book blogger-related issues.  I can’t wait for next year!


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Armchair BEA, Blog Post, Events, Non-Fiction

Armchair BEA Day 4: Non-Fiction!

Today is Day # 4 of Armchair BEA and our Genre of Choice is: Non-Fiction!

I will be honest and say that I do not read very much non-fiction.  At least, I haven’t before this last year.  Since September of 2012, though, I have been reading an enormous amount of non-fiction, at least compared to what I usually read.  This is because I started my Ph.D. in English program and, despite what people think, it’s not just reading novels!  That’s probably the least of it, actually.

In addition, I have also been making a concerted effort to read more books on writing and to read more biographies/autobiographies/memoirs of people who I find interesting.  I also recently purchased a pile of books on the French Revolution because I’ve been fascinated by it, lately.  Most of those books remain unread, but still! 

So, while a year ago I may not have known where to go with this category and what to suggest, today I feel pretty confident that I can recommend some good ones.  I’ve listed a few below, with a short description and a reason why I recommend the book.  If you have any great suggestions for me, please let me know!

On Writing:

12543Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott:  I’m actually in the process of reading this one right now, so I can’t give to many details about it.  What I can say, though, is that as a reader and a writer, I responded to it right away.  The struggles, the confusion, the way real life seeps into our writing and into our writing process, it is all there in a well-told voice that is lovely to follow along with.  I can’t wait to finish this one.

Willa Cather On Writing by Willa Cather: Willa Cather is one of my favorite writers.  I read this collection of essays and letters (or at least parts of it) a long time ago and have it on-shelf for a re-read sometime soon.  Cather talks about her own writing and process, as well as that of other notable writers, such as Katherine Mansfield and Stephen Crane.  She focuses on how writing is an art form that is deeply personal, regardless of what one is writing.  Cather is easy to read and her thoughts are inspiring.  

On History:

182826Vive la Revolution: A Stand-Up History of the French Revolution by Mark Steel:  This book is a very concise, amusing look at the French Revolution.  It is written by a comedian, but which makes it fun to read, but it is also well-researched and well-written.  You get the basic facts of who, what, where, why, and when.  It’s not the most insightful or detailed book in the world, but it’s a great overview and introduction, for newbies. I enjoyed it.

Colonialism and Homosexuality by Robert Aldrich:  This book is a comprehensive overview of same-sex relationships in the European Colonies (Africa, Asia, South America) during the 18th and 19th centuries (there are some discussions of earlier and later periods).  It really opens up the discussion about homosexuality, homosocial relationships, same-sex desire versus identity, and, most importantly, the power-relationship between Colonists and the Colonized, and how same-sex sexual relationships were bred from this dynamic. Fascinating.

On Literary Theory:

16939Literary Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Jonathan Culler:  I almost always like the “Very Short Introduction” books that I read.  They are put out by Oxford University Press and cover a wide-range of topics.  They are, as their titles indicate, short – which means they are compact, sometimes lacking detail, but great resources for beginners or those who want to brush up on a topic without spending too much time on it. This was the first of the series that I read, and the first book on literary theory that I ever read.  It was definitely a good introduction, it pointed to a lot of the major schools, movements, and theorists, and, most importantly, it had a great bibliography for further reading.

Literary Theory: An Introduction by Terry Eagleton: This book (and After Theory, also by Eagleton) is an incredible resource for literary theorists, new or experienced.  The 25th Anniversary edition is a must, as Eagleton revised the original to include material on feminist and cultural theory.  This text covers all of the major schools, goes more in-depth than the “Short Intro” books and, most importantly, is written in a way that is not a burden to read. Eagleton’s narrative voice is engaging and relaxed, which is helpful when the information being discussed is so complex and sometimes dry.  

On Philosophy:

340793Five Dialogues by Plato: A collection of essays which recount the days leading up to Socrates’ trial for “corrupting the youths of Athens”, as well as Socrates’ defense (apologia) to the jury, and his final conversation with his closest friends before his induced suicide by hemlock. The essays are an exploration of the man and his methods, as well as an historical account by Plato of the time period and its dangers (during the transition from oligarchy to democracy there was a tension between the government and its people – the government being always weary of its own weaknesses).   For anyone interested in history, philosophy, rhetoric, or law, this is a must-read.   

A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf:  Some call this book a work of feminism, others an instruction on writing.  It is, indeed, a collection of lectures given by a feminist woman to a group of university writers and while I do believe it checks-off those boxes, I found this book to be more than just a “feminist writer’s piece” or a “woman’s piece,” despite its most famous quote about what a woman needs.  Woolf tells a story in order to get her point across about telling a story – it is metanarrative and humanist philosophy in one.  She’s commenting on gender dynamics, power struggles, individual liberties, and personal fulfillment.  This is one of the most powerful, and empowering, books that I have read in the past decade – and I am a dude, so it’s clearly not just for women.

Biographies/Memoirs:

1120516The Beautiful Room is Empty by Edmund White: The Beautiful Room is Empty is the second memoir n an autobiographical trilogy. It discusses not just the growth of boy-into-man, but also gives a historical account of the period. The 1950s and 1960s – the rise and fall of the Beatniks. The advent of hipsters. The strain for one man to understand what being homosexual means, and for one nation – one culture – to begin approaching a similar question. What is “gay?” White seamlessly weaves individual struggle with populous turmoil. There is the question in general, and the answers as approached through different lenses: class, education, region. How do the Midwestern intellectuals, mundane and suburban, treat homosexual? What about the artsy, edgy New York City high-rollers? The rich? The destitute? What’s the difference between a “trick,” his “john,” and day-life versus night-life? This novel attempts to answer these questions, and more. Really, though, it’s a novel of questions. It’s a memoir of life, as lead by the author – someone still obviously affected by the pain, the struggles, the joys, and the many, many questions of his youth. I also highly recommend the prequel, A Boy’s Own Story.

The Autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain: One of the benefits of reading an autobiography, and their primary appeal for most, is that they allow readers an opportunity to learn more about a historical figure’s life and work – things that could only be guessed at or inferred by reading their fiction, watching their movies, examining their politics, etc.  Twain’s autobiography fulfills this promise, in that it reinforces what one might learn about him through his fiction, but also reveals so much more about his private life, his personal ambitions, and his deep, deep pains.  I found Twain’s Autobiography to be wonderful and painful.  Anyone who is already a fan of Twain’s writing will certainly enjoy this text; however, conversely, those who do not enjoy his books may have difficulty with this, because his style and approach in narrative and essay form are similar (also some credit must be given to the editor, Charles Neider, who put some structure and organization into this edition of the work – Twain had dictated the entire thing, so its original form was far from fluid or cohesive).  It was incredibly rewarding not just to learn more about the man and his private life, but also about his writing process, his relationships with other prominent writers and figures of the time.


Ultimately, I am still a fiction reader, most of the time.  I do enjoy non-fiction, though – much more than I used to.  I think what helped me most was exploring topics that I was really interested in.  Biographies of favorite writers, for instance, or well-reviewed books about time periods, events, or issues that I am passionate about. 

What are your thoughts on non-fiction?  Do you read much of it?  Do you struggle with it?  Any recommendations?

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Armchair BEA, Blog Post, Events

Armchair BEA Day 3: Literary Fiction!

Hello, Again, Armchair BEA folks & Readers, All!

Somehow, I have been blessed this year with two early topics that just happen to be completely in line with what this blog is mainly about: Classics and Literary Fiction!  You can find my post about The Classics here.  Today, it’s all about Literary Fiction.

So, what is Literary Fiction?  Well, in my opinion, literary fiction is similar to classic literature in that it tends to have a timelessness of theme and a wideness of reach.  What I mean is, regardless of where or when one reads a great work of literary fiction, it is likely to speak to that reader on some level.  This means, of course, that the greatest pieces of modern and contemporary literary fiction have the very real possibility of becoming classics in their own right, someday.

Another similarity that Literary Fiction has to The Classics is that it tends not to be restricted by genre.  So, I thought I would give a few suggestions, by genre, of books that I love and which I consider to be Literary Fiction.  These books, I feel, are well on their way to become future classics:

General Fiction:77699

White Noise by Don DeLillo

Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt

Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler

Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion

Sci-Fi/Fantasy:82192

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

The Crystal Cave (Arthurian Saga #1)  by Mary Stewart

Historical:

Lust for Life by Irving Stone79834

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

LGBT/Gender:

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides10306358

We the Animals by Justin Torres

These Things Happen by Richard Kramer

 Magical Realism/Dystopia:

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood78887

Tracks by Louise Erdrich

Ethnic American:

Memory Mambo by Achy Obejas

Rain God by Arturo Islas

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan452382

So, there are some suggestions of great (in my opinion) literary fiction, by genre, which are destined to be around for a long time.  I could have gone on and on with these lists and suggestions, but for the sake of time (yours and mine), I limited myself.

Do you recognize any favorites, here?  What are your thoughts on Literary Fiction, and which books do you think could be added to this list?

Giveaway:  I will be offering one winner one copy of the above listed books, provided it is available at The Book Depository and is priced at $20USD or less.

To enter, please leave a comment on this post telling me which book from those listed above you would like (please do be sure to check that The Book Depository has the book and that it ships to your location).   Also, be sure to leave a way to contact you, in case you win {e.g.: roofbeamreader(at)gmail(dot)com}.

The giveaway will close at 10pm CST on the last day of Armchair BEA.  Good luck!

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Armchair BEA, Blog Post, Events

Armchair BEA Day 2: Blog Development & Genre Fiction

Becoming a Better Blogger: Discussing Development

untitledToday’s Armchair BEA topic is all about developing one’s blog.  “Developing” and “becoming better” can carry different meanings, depending on who is asking and who is answering.  It might mean reaching a wider audience or becoming an expert in a chosen field.  It could also mean learning more about technology and building one’s skills to enhance the look, feel, and functionality of one’s own blog (which would likely come with the added benefits of ease-of-reading, which might naturally grow one’s readership).

I have written two posts in the past which, I think, explain what book blogging means to me and also how I charge myself with being an empathetic reader and an effective reviewer

But, in answer to the specific question of my approach to blogging and how I have tried to develop, personally and professionally, I have just a few thoughts:

1)      Honesty.  My book blog is more about me than it is about any book, author, genre, etc.  I read because I love it.  I engage with this community because I love it.  It would be doing myself and this community a great disservice, then, to be dishonest in my reviews.  Whether I have received a book from a publisher, picked it out on my own, won it in a contest, or been gifted it by a friend, I follow the same standard criteria when reviewing and am honest, though, hopefully, comprehensive and fair, in my posts.  I believe if I stay committed to fairness and quality and that if my readers can continue to trust that I will do this, then I am succeeding.

2)      Community.  I really do enjoy the book blogging community, and I respect it and the people involved.  For this reason, I do my best to engage on Twitter and Facebook (and sometimes Tumblr), to visit other blogs and leave comments so writers know that I’m reading, and also to reply to comments here on my blog.  I am a full-time doctoral student, an academic advisor, and a college English instructor, so I don’t have a whole lot of free time – but I do my best!

3)      Income and Events.  These two go hand-in-hand with the above topics.  I never accept payment for reviewsAustenAugustButton because I believe that, however honest and diligent I am, when money is involved, expectations change.  I do, however, certainly partner with publishers, authors, publicists, and other bloggers in joining and creating events that will spotlight new books (or classics to be rediscovered).  I do this because it is a fun way to engage with others who have similar interests and it also adds some spice and variety to my blog.  I love to give my readers options, such as my annual Austen in August event and the upcoming Beats of Summer event.  I’ve also hosted events for Andrew Smith, had authors interviewed and guest posting, and have helped to publicize new audiobook collections of Hemingway and others.   

On Genre Fiction

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (my favorite book of all-time).

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is my favorite non-series book of all-time.

Although I read primarily literary fiction and the Classics (thanks for yesterday’s topic!), I do also read plenty of genre fiction.  I’m an eclectic reader, I guess, though I do tend to veer towards timeless works.

Some of my favorite genres include Fantasy, LGBT fiction, and Young Adult (particularly dystopian).  I’m very picky about my YA books (I tend to enjoy YA that also appeals to older readers, such as the works of John Green, Andrew Smith, and David Levithan tend to do).    I do also read some horror, on occasion (I love Stephen King) and intellectual thrillers/puzzlers (Yes, I’m a fan of Dan Brown – it’s a guilty pleasure!). 

Out of all genre fiction, though, and, to be honest, of all books, my favorite all time reads are the books in the Harry Potter series.  I know, I know – that’s the most incredibly unique opinion, right?  But, seriously – the books are fantastic.  The world J.K. Rowling created, the history (factual and mythological) that she put into it, and the themes she explores, are all incredible.   Not only do the themes from book to book become deeper, darker, more complex and adult, but so does the narrative.  The difficulty level of the prose, the intricacy of the subplots, and the characters’ growth and development all allow the reader to grow along with the series.  It’s brilliant and, in my opinion, unmatched.   

Here are some of my favorite works of genre fiction, by category:

LGBT:

 Young Adult:

 Horror/Mystery/Thriller:             

Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Dystopia:

 Magical Realism/Other

So, there you have it!  My thoughts on developing and a blogger and on genre fiction.  Now, I’m off to explore other blogs and other thoughts!

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