Posts Tagged ‘help!’

23rd February
2011
written by Steph

Just say no?

We all know by now that I fell in love with Deborah Harkness's magical reading sensation A Discovery of Witches when I read it a few months back. After finishing that book, I was struck with curiosity regarding another series I have long known existed but was never really had any interest in. That series is the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon. To me these books seemed like big romance novels not really meant for serious readers, but after legitimately enjoying the romance between the two leads in Witches, I got to thinking, what's so bad about having a little romance in the books that I read? I don't want to make a steady diet of romance-heavy books, but I have nothing against them in principle. So you'd think that I'd just dive into Outlander and see what all the fuss is about. I even went so far as to borrow an ebook version of it from my local library. But I'm hesitating and here's why: from what I've read, I know that this book will have scenes involving gratuitous sex. And I'm not a prude, I've experience plenty of people getting it on in the pages of books I've read, though we all remember that I was less than impressed by the so-called sexiness of the Sookie Stackhouse books whose primary m.o. is to titillate. But reading people rubbing their bits on each other isn't really what's holding me back. No, instead I'm worried because I know that these books will involve not just sex, but graphic depictions of rape. And I don't need to tell you (but I will) that the idea of rape is as far from sexy as I can get. Again, I've read books (and seen movies) that involve rape scenes, but it's always been clear in those scenes that these are a violation of the body and spirit. I am concerned that the way rape is depicted in Outlander may not be quite so clear-cut, but that perhaps we are meant to find it a bit of a turn on. I know there are some women who have rape fantasies, and I don't want to judge, but I am clearly not one of them. I don't think there's anything sexy or exciting about non-consensual physical relations or mixing sex with abuse or degradation. My understanding is that there may be both male and female rape scenes in the first book, and my concern is largely with the latter, though I admit that the former is certainly troubling in its own right. So I guess what I'm asking is for those of you have read these books to chime in and let me know what you thought when reading them. I am ok with them being escapist romps, but I truly feel anxious about the idea of getting invested in a story (I mean, Outlander is like 700 pages or something) that goes to a scary psychological place where forced sexual encounters are condoned or even considered arousing. I could of course venture forth myself and make my own proclamations, but I am feeling reluctant and want to gather some more opinions. So, if you have any thoughts on this series at all, please share them!
17th December
2009
written by Steph
Yesterday, my good friend Abby sent me a copy of an interview conducted with Jasper Fforde over at Shelf Awareness (and note that because she is such a good friend, she entitled the email “Your BF”, and I immediately knew who she meant… despite having a husband… 😉 ).  The interview is quite short (and can be read here), and focuses on what Fforde is reading and who his literary influences are and all that delightful stuff that gives us fans a peak into the mind of this marvelous man. Now, largely I marveled at how similar my tastes in authors are to those of Mr. Fforde (clearly indicating that we are destined), but one thing jarred me.  I’m all for authors mentioning favorite books or authors that I’ve never heard of (I love the constant realization that there are far too many books in the world for me to ever keep track of them all… and it’s always nice to think that maybe one of these books or writers will become a new favorite), but it throws me for a loop when they list someone as a literary BFF who I do have some experience with and who I just… don’t really care for.  In this interview, Fforde lists Alexander McCall Smith as one of his Top Five Authors, which is no small deal in my book.  Everyone else on his list (Wodehouse, Bryson, Twain, & Vonnegut) are all writers I can get behind (and I’ve sung at least three of their praises on this here blog), but the McCall Smith mention stopped me dead in my tracks.  I tried several times (at least thrice) to read the first book in his Ladies’ Detective Series, and I just COULD NOT DO IT.  I was bored and just didn't get what all the hoopla was about, and I eventually wrote McCall Smith off as one of those writers that I assumed I just wasn’t going to get. And now because of Jasper Fforde, I have myself second-guessing myself and wondering if I have been too hasty in my dismissal.  Perhaps Jasper is referring to McCall’s non-Ladies’ Detective Series books?  To anyone who is well-versed in the ways of McCall Smith, would I be better served in trying some of his other series instead to see what I’m missing?  If I were to only read one McCall Smith book what would you suggest? I also found myself wondering if the rest of you book lovers are as impressionable as I am.  Are there any authors out there who would cause you to do a 180 and give an otherwise neglected–by-you writer another shot?  Or perhaps you have someone else in your life who you find gives unerringly good book advice and if they say to read it, said book automatically goes to the top of your list?  I have to say, with the exception of Jennifer Johnson is Sick of Being Single, on which we have agreed to disagree, Abby has pretty much never steered me wrong when it comes to book choices (which is good since she ultimately decides which books I’ll review for BookPage, and it would stink if she was always sticking me with stuff that was not my thing… and even when she does stick me with something that’s not my usual quirky "Steph" read, she is aware she’s doing it... which counts for something, right?  And that doesn't happen all that often anyway...).  And even if I do have a massive crush on Jasper Fforde (but in a totally professional/respectable and not at all creepy way, I assure you), my darling husband has a pretty good read (ha!  See what I did there?) on whether a book will be to my liking, and it’s rare that we disagree on anything, never mind books, all that often.  After all, Tony is the one who has me convinced that I have to give my literary nemesis, Charles Dickens, another go.  Because of him, I will eventually conquer Great Expectations!  True love will out!  And then of course, there are all of you book bloggers, who add at least three or four books to my teetering and tottering mammoth of a TBR pile... No wonder I never make any progress with that thing!
3rd July
2009
written by Steph
As many of you dear readers know, a few months back, Tony & I got engaged.  What some of you may not know is that we're getting married ONE WEEK from today.  Crazy, but true!  If you've been wondering at the relatively sporadic stream of updates over the past month or two, I think we can probably blame frantic wedding planning... But this post is not about weddings.  Not really.  It's a call to arms, where I ask fellow readers to help me plan my reading pile that I'll drag along with us for our week-long honeymoon.  We'll be driving Pip down to Charleston, SC, where we'll spend five days, and then we'll be spending 3 days in Savannah, GA.  And yes, pictures will follow!  On my last pseudo-vacation back in May, I tried bringing one loooooong book with me, figuring that would cut back on my needing to haul many tomes with me.  Only that didn't pan out so well, because about 350 pages into the looooong book, I started to get bored, and consequently didn't do much reading.  So for our honeymoon, I don't want to be caught emptyhanded and plan to bring several books with me just to keep all my bases covered. I have two categories of books I'm specifically looking for, so hopefully everyone will get to play!  If you know of any books that fall into either category (or both!), please let me know so that my honeymoon (and the rest of this summer) can be a reading success! 1.  Southern Fiction I know that Maggie over at Maggie Reads has been hosting a Southern Reading Challenge, so hopefully some of y'all can help me out with my specific request.  I'm particularly looking for any literature set in Charleston or Savannah to accompany me on my trip.  I'm already planning to bring John Berendt's Midnight In The Garden of Good And Evil with me (is there a more "Savannah" novel than that?) and Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind (perhaps not strictly a Savannah read, but we're going to see plantations, so close enough).  So maybe I have Savannah covered (but don't let that stop you if you know of some other great reads that are set there or even just pass on through), but so far Charleston's been a complete bust.  Everything set there (or in the vicinity) looks to be trashy romance novels or just general pulpy stuff I've no interest in reading.  Anyone know of anything good set or written there?  I may wind up bringing our little collection of Edgar Allen Poe, since he was a fan of the region (particularly Sullivan's Island, I believe), even if he does seem a bit macabre for a honeymoon.  As an extension, I'm happy to accept suggestions set in the Carolinas or Georgia, even if you can't get them square in those particular cities. 2.  "Summer-y" Classics I want to read more classics, but so many of them just don't "feel" like summer reading.  As much as I want to tackle Great Expectations, it just doesn't seem like the kind of book to read on the beach or by the pool (more like the kind of book to read curled up on your couch with a mug of tea in hand and puppies warming your feet).  So can any of you suggest some great summer reads that would also be construed as classics?  I've already done Forster's Room With A View last summer, and I do have a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo I need to get back to at some point (but recall me not wanting to haul a huge 1000+ book with me on vacation), so no need to suggest those.  Also, Jane Austen's a given and goes without saying (so, you know, don't say her!).  But what else should I try?  I realize I'm not giving much direction here, but surely some of you know what I mean when I say certain classics feel summer-y and others don't, right?  Like: Vanity Fair by Thackeray, yes;  Wuthering Heights, no;  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, yes;  Dracula, no; All The King's Men by Warren, yes; Bleak House, hell no!  It's totally arbitrary, I know, and yet I unerringly feel like most classics fall into Autumn & Winter reading...  So help me, please!  What classics have you successfully read and enjoyed in the summer months? Hopefully I'll wind up with more requests than I can reasonably handle over our honeymoon, but that's not a bad problem to have!  I'll look forward to reading things even once I return back to Nashville.