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Posts Tagged ‘reading’

Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Yes, it’s yet another blog post about a book I’ve recently read. This one I enjoyed thoroughly, mainly because the main character was such a nut.

Goodnight, Steve McQueen by Louise Wener is a novel about trying too hard, or in some cases, not enough. It all begins with England native Steve McQueen, who likes to be called Danny. He lives in an apartment with his girlfriend Alison and things don’t seem to be going so well for their relationship. Then she gets a temporary job hours away…and decides that he needs to grow up or get out.

See, Danny is 29 years old, jobless, and has been living in the daydream that he’ll somehow strike it big with his band. Alison pays for everything. Things start to look up for Danny when his band is allowed to go on tour with a well-known rock group. But he also suspects Alison might be cheating on him.

This book is a bit like High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, but way better. Especially because I wasn’t thinking about John Cusak while I was reading it. I REALLY liked Danny — his idiosyncracies make him loveable, even though sometimes you want to see him get pushed under a bus. He’s nervous, he’s anxious, he’s worried, he always says and does the wrong things, but he’s enjoyable. It’s interesting that this was written by a woman. The male point of view is excellent here.

The story is also filled with other great characters like Kostas, the owner of the video shop Danny works at. And also Sheila, an old lady with an obsession for bloody kung fu movies. Even the other members of Danny’s band are all great in their own ways.

It’s a nice easy read if you don’t want anything too complex. Just kick back and enjoy this “brit lit.”

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Yesterday, I just so happened to finish a book that, I have to admit, really let me down. While combing the shelves for something interesting, I came across known author Ian McEwan. I’ve heard a lot about his works, and have read some of his short stories in various literature classes. Well, let’s give On Chesil Beach a go, then.

My very thought upon finishing the book: glad that’s over! It must be that McEwan tries to think up a new and hip kind of writing. It’s definitely a “different” kind of book. Let me give you the run down…

A couple that has just been married is eating dinner on their wedding night. They are about to consummate their marriage and the point of view skips from one to the other. The woman is insanely nervous because she absolutely abhors any act of intimacy and doesn’t think she’ll be able to have sex with her new husband. The man is excited and ready to finally, after all these years, take his woman into his arms and make love to her.

The time comes…she describes how turned off she is by any thought of sex (again) and he tries to charm her. Really, he ends up “arriving too soon” as they say (and all over her—and before he’s even inside her). She freaks out and runs out of the hotel into the night.

When he approaches her down by the beach afterwards, he is angry that she doesn’t want to make love to  him. She suggests that in order to make their marriage work, that he have relations with other women on the side to fulfill his sexual needs. She says that sex just isn’t something she wants or can handle. He is disgusted. They leave each other. 

Sooooo the baffling part about all this is why Ian McEwan needed 200 pages to tell that story. I mean, I just told it in a few paragraphs. I don’t think I’ve ever read something so long that has said so little before. Sure, some of his writing is a bit lovely, but on the whole, I wasn’t impressed. After reading reviews of this book by other people, I just don’t get it. They love it, they cry, they laugh, it’s incredible!

I will be staying far away from Chesil Beach.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Perks of Being a Wallflower was banned for homosexuality. Photo from amazon.com.

Perks of Being a Wallflower was banned for homosexuality. Photo from amazon.com.

There’s nothing better than getting completely, lose-yourself  immersed in a good book. Avid readers alike will agree. Add a little controversy to that and you’ve got yourself a Banned Book Week.

Yesterday, September 26, marked the first day of the voracious reader’s favorite week. It is a celebration of our freedom of speech and our freedom to read what we want.

According to the American Library Association (ALA), “the books featured during Banned Book Week have been targets of attempted bannings.  Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections.”

As far as Banned Book Week 2009 is concerned, here is a select list of controversial books that were chosen:

  • And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell.   
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  • His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
  • American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis  
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  • The Koran

These are just a few titles. If you wanted to do a comprehensive search on the internet of all books that have ever been banned or attempted to ban, you’d find thousands.

Banned Book Week finishes up on October 3rd. Make sure you get out there and grab yourself one of those forbidden books before then!

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

For those of you who know me, you know that I’m a general book buyer for a small, independently run University bookstore. To lead into my next post, I would like to prelude with the following information: Last week, I bought three copies of I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max and the first day I put them out on the shelf, they all sold within five hours.

Of course, we’re selling to a college audience here, so naturally I was pretty sure they would sell…but that fast?

This is the man to hold responsible. Photo from ihopetheyservebeerinhell.com.

This is the man to hold responsible. Photo from ihopetheyservebeerinhell.com.

Last night, the movie version of the book was released in theaters. Judging from the trailer, it looks to be a real winner (note: sarcasm detected), and not to mention a dumbed down version of The Hangover. From those who have read the book and have seen the movie, the review seems to be, “the movie did not give the book justice.” But isn’t that how it usually goes with books-turned-movies?

Regardless, it’s interesting that one of the main selling points of this movie is that it is offensive. The film’s website even includes I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell facts. As of right now, it says: “Fact #3: Fat girls are not real people” then gives web surfers the option to tweet that message on Twitter. As much as it’s really f-ed up, offensive things usually sell. Just look at the success of Borat. Any publicity is good publicity.

Along the same vein, it seems that the movie creators are also really enthused that critics have called the film “a worthless piece of crap.” They are quite proud of the fact that their movie has sparked controversy after only having been released a day now.

If you want to check out that website, it could be fun. Go ahead and feed your curiosity. I think I’ll put this movie in the good ‘ol Netflix queue and wait for it to come to disc.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

When it comes to reading books online, I am totally unenthused. It seems that when people read their books over the internet, they are no longer really reading a book. Merely just a webpage.

When amazon.com released the first Kindle reader, my sentiments remained the same. Sure, it may hold up to 1,500 books in a tiny little machine, but it still doesn’t feel the same as reading an actual book.

Reading something on a small little screen, like the Kindle’s, will surely wear down your eyes after a period of time. The same can be said for reading a lot of text online. Many people that work in front of computer screens for hours at a time are known to get frequent headaches, blurred vision, and an eventual increase in glasses prescription.

I can understand if you’re stuck in an office all day and have no choice but to stare a computer screen, but why would you want to do that in your free time?

The latest thing that’s really got my goat is that California governator Arnold Swartzenegger has recently banned books in schools. (Read about the travesty at the Times website.) These kids aren’t even given a choice about whether or not they want a real live book in front of them. This extraneous technology is being thrown at them whether they like it or not.

“Sorry, Timmy. Looks like you’ll have to bring that real copy of Moby Dick home. In this classroom, we use our Kindles.”

By doing this, are we teaching children literature or technology?

I don’t know about you, but for me there’s nothing like the feeling of curling up in a cozy place with a great book in your hands. The characters seem more alive, and seem to transfix the reader more than a machine or the internet ever could.

Somehow, I just don’t think curling up with a Kindle could ever be quite so appealing.

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