The Sunday Salon: 2010 in Review

It’s the last Sunday in 2010, so you know what that means—it’s time for my annual top ten list, taken from the books I’ve read this year, not books only published this year. (I don’t think I’ve even read ten books that were published in 2010.) Here’s last year’s, if you’re so inclined. I have to admit, having an entire year to pull from (as opposed to last year, when I had about four months’ worth of sparser reviews to pick through) made things a bit difficult; there some books I wanted to include, but ultimately ended up deciding against. If you’re interested in what I left off the list, feel free to rifle through the 5 and 4.5 Stars subcategories under Ratings. That said, let’s dig in.
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The Sunday Salon: Burnout

As I mentioned in my last challenge post for Narnia Week, I am burnt out on fantasy. I don’t know if it’s because it’s finals for me (two exams, three papers–one of which is three times the size as the others) or if it’s because I ignored the Cardinal Rule, reading the same genre twice in a row–or eight times in a row, if you’re counting The Chronicles of Narnia individually. It feels… weird.

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Booking Through Thursday: Good or Bad

I’ve seen many bloggers say that what draws them to certain books or authors is good writing, and what causes them to stop reading a certain book or author is bad writing. What constitutes good writing and bad writing to you?

Wow, that’s quite a broad topic! Let’s see if I can’t boil it down in a few minutes…

The first thing that leaps to mind when I think about good writing is the eye for detail that Michael Chabon exemplifies–but there’s also things like plot structure, banter, and character development. When I think about bad writing, I think about authors who fail at those things–splitting a whole plot in half for no reason, tinny banter, and caricatured characters. Obviously, they’re different sides of the same coin. Good writing serves the story, which isn’t to say it serves the plot–according to Stephen King, the two are different (although I don’t agree with his dourness on the subject of plots). Bad writing detracts from the story.

Review: Manhood for Amateurs

Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon

As I continually mention, I will read anything Michael Chabon publishes, and someday, I’ll get around to doing just that. (But you know how life is; so many books, so little time…) As I settled back into town for school, I picked up Manhood for Amateurs, as I’ve heard only good things about it, especially about Chabon’s self-identification as a fan (as in fandom). That, I feel, is massively important. There’s a specific slant to the way a fan sees the world, the way we reference and frame things in context of the stories we love. To watch Chabon, and his mastery of language, do that? Sign me up.

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The Sunday Salon: Dragon*Con 2010 – “The Art of The Way of Kings”

Dragon*Con is, like all good things in life, fulfilling, fun, and exhausting. While I could go on and on about several awesome things that happened last weekend, such as the magnificent “Images of Love” panel which greatly helped my Twilight paper or Sean Astin being one of the nicest celebrities I’ve ever met, I thought, as this is my bookish outlet and not my fannish outlet, I would focus on the panel entitled “The Art of The Way of Kings” with Brandon Sanderson, Ben McSweeney, and Isaac Stewart. While it was the only panel that dealt with The Way of Kings (Sanderson spent most of his time on The Wheel of Time track), it looked mainly at the art from the book and its evolution, especially in how it works with the narrative.

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The Literary Horizon: A Moveable Feast, Manhood for Amateurs

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really go in for memoirs. Unless I’m interested in the person beforehand or they have an interesting life story, I’m rarely interested. I’ve also never read Hemingway; he simply never appealed to me. But here we are today looking at two memoirs written by men–Hemingway, a writer I’ve little experience with, and Michael Chabon, a writer whom I adore.

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The Sunday Salon: Imprints

While perusing the fabulous T. J.’s new digs at Dreams and Speculation, I noticed that her tags included something else beyond the usual rating system and authors–the publishers were tagged as well. Editing and publishing is what I want to do with my life, but I never paid much attention to who published the things I love before I decided on that fact. This week, I took it upon myself to clean up my tags, so I decided adding the publishers couldn’t hurt. (Fun, irrelevant fact: WordPress doesn’t do spaces between periods for tags, which is why poor Professor Tolkien’s tag looks so squished to your right.) Anyway, I wanted to see–who publishes what I like?

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Review: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union was actually the first Michael Chabon novel I ever heard of, although I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay first. The alternate history hook in something that was not especially considered speculative fiction interested me, as well as the fairly glowing reviews I saw. After adoring The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, I just had to read more of his work.

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The Sunday Salon: Nontraditional Book Blogs

Book blogs are, basically, all simple variations on a theme–a person (or persons) reads a book, reviews it, and posts that review on the Internet, all in the name of fun, discussion, and sharing our love of books. Sure, we spice things up with fun memes like Teaser Tuesday and The Sunday Salon, but at the basic level, there’s a template.

However, I’ve recently come across book blogs that ditch our base template, and today I’m going to share them with you.

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Booking Through Thursday: Earth Day

It’s Earth Day … what are you reading? Are your reading habits changing for the sake of the environment? What are you doing for the sake of the planet today?

I’m still reading Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, but since I finished The Return of the King yesterday while sitting for a friend’s lighting project, it’ll go a lot quicker now.

As far as “reading green”, the only things I really do are rely on public libraries and read a lot of used books. Not only are these options free and cheap, respectively, but it also keeps new books from being published. But I feel “reading green” is sort of a misnomer–whether you save paper by using a digital reader or purchase used, it’s still very, very easy to recycle books, magazines, and newspapers.

Other things I do to save the environment is to turn off lights when I’m not in the room or there’s plenty of natural light. It’s become such a habit that I turn off the fans when I leave the fitness center on campus as well as the lights. I don’t know if you can consider a laptop green, but since it’s not always plugged in (seeing as that damages your laptop battery!), I feel that’s at least something positive. My school is very committed to recycling and composting, so it’s slowly seeping into my head.

Happy Earth Day, everyone! (And happy Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing release day to everyone who plays–bring me back some Keith stories.)