Posts Tagged ‘i am a geek’

25th January
2012
written by Steph
So, I've been dragging my feet something fierce when it comes to finally wrapping up 2011 with charts and graphs and whatnot. Not to get all spoiler-y on you, but as we will see, the end of 2011 was marked by a dramatic plummet in my reading–I think the technical term for it is "reading slump"–which also accompanied a blogging slump. Alas, a new calendar year has not managed to allay my reading burnout (I've only read two books thus far, and those were both in an official reviewing capacity. If not for that, I would probably have nothing really read by now.), so perhaps that's why I've been in no rush to write this post. Once it's done, I got nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Bupkus. A few years back, a friend of mine was finishing up her dissertation and she would often lament about how the whole process sapped her of all her reading mojo and pretty much the only thing she could read for months was Middlemarch. No, that isn't a typo, and no I don't understand it. Slowly but surely I am dragging myself to the finish line of my own doctorate degree so who knows what bemoth will be my salvation through this all. Moby Dick? A Suitable Boy? Shataram? I suppose only time will tell... Tony is actually out of town the next few days so perhaps without my favorite distraction close at hand I'll finally remember what it is to look at words on a page again. Fingers crossed. Anyway, let us finally tour the wreckage that was my reading in 2011, shall we? (more…)
23rd August
2011
written by Tony

For some people it’s hard to imagine how something so ubiquitous and generally unnoticed as typefaces (or, more colloquially, fonts) could be interesting enough to write a book about. Of course, the design community spends a great deal of time and effort considering, analyzing, using, staring at and generally obsessing over typography and fonts, but it is rare that a book like this would be aimed at the non-design affiliated. This is a shame, because, as Garfield amply and ably demonstrates in his book, type is fascinating. Its origins and tradition closely associated with the people, and the era, that gave birth to it. Most people will open their font menu and choose a font without ever considering why that it exists, why it looks the way it does or even what its name means. Baskerville, Garamond, Goudy — fonts yes — but also people. People who invested significant time and fortune into crafting a something that was intensely personal, men who knew that, if successful, their lives and work would never be noticed by the very people they were invested in: readers. (more…)
16th May
2011
written by Steph

It is official: I have a new girl crush. Most of the objects of my Sapphic affection tend to be these really brilliant brainy ladies (who have kick-ass senses of humor), so it should come as no surprise that I am now inducting Scarlett Thomas into my club of “Women I Would Go Gay For”. She is just so very smart! What can I say? Most men tend to appreciate either boobs or legs, but me, I’m all about your cerebral cortex. I read my first Scarlett Thomas book, Our Tragic Universe, last year, and found it immensely provocative. I didn’t think it was a perfect novel, but so few are, and I found the ideas that Thomas explored there so irresistible and vital that I knew I would need to read more things by her. Since her books are thinking novels, I found that my appreciation for OTU grew as my distance to it increased; I found I couldn’t stop thinking about the quandaries Thomas had posed and I had increasingly strong desires to reread it. So when I saw a copy of The End of Mr. Y on my friend Trisha’s bookshelf, I immediately asked to borrow it so I could continue my exploration of Thomas’s oeuvre and all the wacky ideas she poses. (more…)
13th May
2011
written by Steph
Yesterday, I stumbled across this hilarious post over at Vol 1. Brooklyn, which analyzes what your book bag says about you. For those interested, my preferred book bag is a Strand book tote... In my defense, it's not the same model as the standard beige bag/red logo version as showcased on Vol 1. Brooklyn, but I doubt that matters. *Gulp* Also, it doesn't mean I didn't get a good chuckle from the list! Have a happy Friday and enjoy!
31st December
2010
written by Steph
Now with more charts and graphs! Yeah! 😀 I have been eagerly awaiting writing up this post because I love making charts and graphs and looking at stats. I definitely put the nerd in "Book Nerd"! I was going to start writing this up while we were in Minnesota, I decided I would wait until the very last day of the year so that this post would be as official as it gets. And I'm glad I did because we managed to sneak one more book onto the list, as I read the final book in the Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay, aloud on the way home in the car (verdict: Unsatisfying and infuriating, especially as there were glimmers of the possibility for it to be rather good. So, pretty much on par with the rest of the series, though perhaps slightly less annoying than the other two). So my procrastination paid off, and clearly the lesson here is this is why one should not write up year-end recaps before the year is out! Anyway, enough with the waffling... let's get to the numbers and pictures! (more…)
18th September
2010
written by Steph

A new obsession...

When it comes to marking my place in books, I'm all over the map. I've no problem with using a scrap piece of paper, leaving my book face down (spine damage be damned!), or even just making a mental note of the page number before heading on my merry way. I routinely pick up fistfuls of complimentary, paper bookmarks whenever I'm out at bookstores, but while I'm pretty good at keeping track of these while a book is in progress, once it's done, it's as though whatever bookmark I used must also disappear to mark the finish of the book. For this reason, I haven't made it a priority to collect beautiful bookmarks, as I've always assumed the pleasure of them would be fleeting.

It's a pun! Get it?

[Tony on the other hand is very fastidious with his bookmarks, which is why when we found this hilarious one in a used book, he got to keep it and use it as his own, because I would never forgive myself for losing such a gem.] My ambivalence towards bookmarks changed when at Christmas my friend Taryn gave me a whimsical set of "Rock, Paper, Scissors" bookmarks. Not only did I love their sturdy construction and quirky bent, I really enjoyed how they "clipped" onto pages (meaning I can attach them to a back cover when I'm reading so that they don't go wandering) and are rather conspicuous, so at the conclusion of  a book, they're easy to spot

En garde!

when set aside (rather than nestling down in the pages of the book only to be forgotten until some future read). These fun bookmarks are ones I really enjoy using, and the materials used are flexible and forgiving so that using them with hardcovers is a breeze and there's no fear of ripping or snagging the pages in a book. When I saw these bird bookmarks online at Our Workshop (a U.K. based store), I knew I had to have them. They were so pretty

Hello!

and delicate, and in case you haven't noticed from our header image, Tony and I have a bit of a fondness for avian depictions. So enamored was I that I happily ignored the intimidating £ signs next to the prices and placed an order for one gold and one silver bird bookmark. Despite their overseas excursion, I'm happy to report that these new additions to our collection made their way to us very speedily (just over a week!) and were actually not all that expensive ($20 for the two, including shipping).  They are even more beautiful in person than I imagined; pictures really can't do justice to how dainty and intricate they are, and we are truly delighted by them. I think these bookmarks shall have clipped wings as I'd hate to lose them, and will likely only use them for books I read at home as I can't bear the thought of slinging them haphazardly into a bag. Added bonus! The bird bookmarks came with the following hilarious warning placard:

Do most bookmarks come with warnings?

I fear this may be the start of a new book-related obsession for me. Any other bookmark aficionados out there? Which of the three showcased here is your favorite? Are there any bookmarks out there that you have been coveting?
13th May
2010
written by Steph

I’ve written before about how I’m kind of obsessed with books set in academia.  You might think that since I spend most of my life in an ivory tower that I’d be kind of sick of the whole scene and fiction would be the last place I’d like to revisit it all, but you’d be wrong.  I love books that are set on university campuses, and those that deal with departmental politics.  I’ve seen enough through my own eyes to be somewhat disenfranchised, and yet, there’s still something about higher education that gives me a distinct thrill.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been a student for – gulp – 24 years, so places of learning are what I know best.  Or maybe it’s just that I’m a huge nerd. (I suspect those two options are somewhat interrelated, in that one tends not to study for nearly 90% of one’s life without being rather nerdy. And the fact that I just did math to figure out how much of my life I’ve spent as a student… well, I think you have your answer to the nerd question.) (more…)
3rd January
2010
written by Steph
By now I’m sure everyone has read more than their fair share of recaps of 2009 reading across the book blogosphere; apologies for being late to the party, but the holiday time in Toronto left little time for perusing the internet (and even less for reading or composing my own posts).  I admit, it was nice taking a mini-break from blogging, and the time away readily filled itself with great meals, movies, shopping, sight seeing, and best of all, time spent with family and friends.  I won’t get all contemplative on all of you here, but prior to my trip home I was rather fraught with ennui – missing home, but worrying that I’d get off the plane in Toronto and fail to feel things click back into place.  Spending two years away from the place you grew up is really hard, and I don’t think I realized how much a part of me was missing until I did get home, and suddenly all the tension and stress and malaise I’ve been carrying evaporated.  That’s not to say I returned to Toronto with unchanged eyes – the city has changed (heck, my family’s home has changed… my parents now sleep in what was my bedroom!) and so have I – but no matter how much it changes, no matter how long I’m away, whenever I hit Canadian soil, I really do feel like I’m coming home. As ironic and paradoxical as it may seem, it’s this prolonged absence away from home that has helped me to better appreciate and understand the place that I’m from and how integral and important Canada as a country is to who I am as a person and how I conceive of my identity.  I mean, I may be able to hear everyone else’s Canadian accent now, and it sure is weird when I hear my own, but I can’t get rid of it, no matter how hard I try.  Canada is truly a part of me. But, this post isn’t really meant to be a reflection or musing on national identity or my time spent at home (there will be another post on the latter, at the very least… and that one will include pictures!).  No, this is supposed to be about books!  Well, you’ll note that in terms of the various activities I mentioned engaging in whilst in Toronto, one of the things that did not feature (along with blogging) was reading.  Despite the best of my intentions, I probably only did about an hour’s worth of reading while out of the country, so although I had hoped to finish Northanger Abbey before ringing in 2010, it didn’t happen.  However, I’m not going to spend my time lamenting the lack of Austen in my 2009 reading, because as you’ll see from the graph and my rundown after the jump, there was still plenty to celebrate (and really, kicking off 2010 with Jane?  Not a bad way to start the year, am I right?)… (more…)
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.
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