On Writing: A memoir of the craft

On Writing

Kim is the Young Adult Librarian at the library I work for when I am home. We have similar tastes in books and music, and would rather write books than shelf them.Kim badgered me to read On Writing: a memoir of the craft, by Stephen King, while I was home during the summer, but I never got around to it. Her goal was to finish writing a novel by the time she had children. Little Bobby is a adorable and I knew after he arrived that I should give On Writing my attention.

On Writing mixes life story with teaching. Biographies usually don’t have a goal, but King display how his life and writing are intertwined. His stories are twisted and graphic because, well, his life was very graphic and twisted. No idea for a story is truly original; they were all inspired by something. The point of it all is that stories are all “fossils” of reality. King’s approach to grammar is thus- “The road to hell is paved with adverbs”. A “he said” says the same action as a “he swiftly stated”. If you write well, you can say it how it is without over using adjectives and adverbs. The superfluous of his mother’s varicose leg veins still makes me cringe.

Stephen King is spared from my harsh opinion of proliferate writers. He definitely has a formula, but there just exist a humor in his writing that makes me want to give him more of a chance than Grisham, Grafton, Patterson and Macomber. Carrie is good and Under the Dome I am trudging my way through (still enjoyable). The first between is his first novel and his most recent novel are evident, but both are very King.

All in all, when your librarian tells you to read a book- read it.

Thumbs: 2 out of 2

The Girls from Ames

The Girls from Ames

Warning: This book should not be read if you lack childhood friendships. It will break your heart.

Jeffrey Zaslow did an amazing job of documenting the friendship of 11 women, from birth to adulthood. The introduction prepped the reader for a critical punch. It discussed how “common” life-long friendships are (debatable, but continuing…) so when reaching the dramatic highs the women have endured, I couldn’t help but feel for them. They hurt just as much as any other person. They were very much real women.

Don’t let the dust jacket deceive you – the women aren’t a whole 22-armed creature that lives symbiotically. They have their closer friends within the group, but it’s within the larger group. So mad depressing to read, because of my personal problems, but unforgettable.

Thumbs: 2 out of 2


Gingerbread - Old Gingerbread - New

Gingerbread, written by Rachel Cohn, is a book I found during middle school. When my friends and I would go to the mall, I would always have to hit up the book store. Gingerbread sat on my bookcase, virtually unread by me, for 5+ years. Coming home from break to a snowstorm yesterday motivated me to read though. For once, I picked it up and read it all the way through. It’s a shame I never read it sooner because, maybe it would have had more of an impact on me.

I believe that if I hadn’t stumbled upon Gingerbread when I was middle school, I would have never picked it up. That’s not saying the book is terrible, it hits the demographic age it is meant for but, it just does not transcend it like other YA literature I have read. Even Cohn’s co-authored book with David Levithan, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, sat better with me. The protagonist, Cyd Charissa, has gone through a major life decision as a teenager and I feel for her- but not that much. It’s probably the age difference between her and I. Which is weird since, I am not, by any means, Methuslia.

The plot had this strange way of wrapping up in the end that isn’t clear how things just suddenly got there. Perhaps I’ll re-reading the ending to hash it out for myself. Interestingly, since I picked up this book in middle school, Gingerbread has changed book covers (Left above – old cover, Right above – new cover. Alas, a testament to age again) and become a series. Shrimp and Cupcake follow the plot where Gingerbread left off. There’s hope of recovery for my feelings of triumph in reading this finally.

Thumbs: 1 out of 2



The Imposter’s Daughter

The Imposter's Daughter

Graphic novels are making a comeback. After Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi, debuted in 2000, there’s been a tremendous surge in graphic novels. Now, I wasn’t paying attention to the field in 2000 (yay puberty) but, Persepolis was adapted to film in 2007 and the spike in autobiographical graphic novels was epic. Graphic novels aren’t about guys running around in capes or even girls in capes- they’re about people.

The Impostor’s Daughter was addictive. I identified a lot with what Laurie Sandell’s lived through to become the author of the memoir. Sandell and I both have semi-destructive, though mine has never faked an ivy-league education (Come on, the title gave it away). In a way, this memoir assured me that everything in my life right now is going to be alright. The story was comforting (though, by no means, a lullaby) and the images were very unspectacular- the right tone for a graphic novel that is in fact a memoir in nature. No embellishments, just the straight picture.

Thumbs: 2 out of 2



Did you know that the Amish use celery as a wedding decoration?

I didn’t know that until I read this, and found that quite interesting (Definitely making me re-think flowers at a wedding). This was a savory bit on non-fiction to sink into over a weekend (I love sub-cultures) and enjoyed it at Avenue over a cup of coffee. Certainly a good read for those who are interested.

Thumbs: 2 out of 2

The Time Traveler’s Wife

The Time Traveler's Wife

All Summer, as the world was anticipating the release of the movie, every copy was on hold in every library. Thus, all Summer, I recommended The Lovely Bones to everyone who didn’t feel like waiting for this- I’m pretty happy that I made a spot-on recommendation. They read similarly but were interesting in their own right. The Time Traveler’s Wife’s is heavy on description/detail which I enjoy but drags things out quite a bit.

Everyone who saw me reading this week screeched that this was their favorite book ever (they were mostly women + 1 male); I won’t be counting it as one of mine. Not to give away the ending, I wasn’t particularly moved by it, but then again I’m mildly desensitized by somethings and am pretty good at figuring out the end of a book halfway through. All and all, good book for those who want to a romance with a twist.

Thumbs: 1 out of 2

Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska

First Friend. First Girl. Last words.

John Green is the King. Once, when I was working, I overheard a disgruntled parent whine that “the reason boys don’t like to read is, because there’s nothing out there for them to read”. She got that impression because SHE was looking for a book, instead of having her son do it. John Green could get anyone, even pubescent boys, to read. An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska are captivating. Green’s writing is smart, funny and well-researched. His protagonists are male (historically) but that basing a “good book” on the protagonist’s gender is no way at all to judge a book. For my under-read sister, it’s a contemporary-set Virgin Suicides (Jeffery Eugenides). By the end of my recent reading, I was compelled more by it than the first time I read it. There’s something to poetic and striking about it.

Looking For Alaska is, fortunately and unfortunately, being made into a movie. The unfortunate part is that, the title will be Famous Last Words instead. Meh. I find that cinematically-cliche for a book of this magnitude.

Thumbs: 2 out of 2

Crazy Love


Crazy Love

The memoir is about Leslie Morgan Steiner’s abusive relationship and marriage. The subject matter is grim but Steiner’s style is fluid, poetic and completely addictive (Started reading over the summer and went to lengths to find a copy in a PA library). It’s informative into why women stay with men who abuse them and why men may abuse.

If you or someone you know is being abused, speak out. Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline online or by phone at 1-800-799-7233.

Thumbs: 2 out of 2

Dear John


Dear John

A hard life lesson I have learned: Don’t put expectations on things. People, books, movies…anything- it is just better that you don’t. Thus, they don’t meet or miss any expectation, and you are surprised when you approve of it. Unfortunately, I got caught-up in expectations for reading Dear John, because of the film adaptation.

Nicholas Sparks, author of Dear John, draws you into the world he creates. John, a army man, and Savannah, a college student, meet while spending their Summer in coastal North Carolina. They get to know each other, and proceed to fall in love. At the end of the Summer, John has to return to his base abroad, and Savannah returns to college. They believe they only have one year to wait to be together (When John’s enlistment expires), until September 11th happens…

The story was well and good beach reading until that point, then it took a turn for the worst. Sparks zipped through what could have cashed out as a very interesting perspective and went straight back to the love  theme –  using September 11th as a device to manipulate the relationship of John and Savannah. It was not disrespectful at all, and fairly realistic to the situation, but it was fleeting for an event that had such tremendous consequences non-fictionally and fictionally.

As for the movie, Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried are some of my favorite actors (well, eye candy for the former and actor for the latter…), and I enjoyed the movie much more than novel – especially the changes made to the conclusion.

Thumbs: 1/2 out of 2

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life

This one took half the time it took to read Ghost World, and I enjoyed Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Life exponentially more. The movie version hits theaters in August, with Michael Cera in the title role, and few know that it’s a graphic novel series. How can it not be?! Everything about this story exudes graphic novel. Without a doubt, the selection of graphic novel does the story justice.

Bryan Lee O’Malley creates a world of action, love, and video games in a strange Canadian setting. Scott Pilgrim, in-between jobs 23-year-old, is looking for love and a change of pace. He finds what’s looking for in Ramona Flowers, a delivery girl with dimension-bending powers and seven evil ex-boyfriends. The only for way for Scott and Ramona to have a relationship is for Scott to defeat all of her ex-boyfriends- a task he is ready for.

Ah, the power of love. My biggest concern was Michael Cera playing Scott Pilgrim well. Scott Pilgrim is a confident slacker, and I foresaw Cera playing up the loser-side of Scott too much, but I was pleasantly surprised by Cera’s performance.

Thumbs: 2 out of 2