If it wasn’t already obvious (it totally is), I’m taking a partial break from the blog. I plan on being back around after New Year’s. Until then, I hope you all have a beautiful holiday season!
Favorit(ish) book (you can never actually choose): The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Favorit(ish) wine (you can never actually choose): J. Lohr Pinot Noir
I wanted that front and center, because before we begin, there are favorite books and favorite wines, but they’re always favoritish. (It’s a new word. Don’t knock it.) Sometimes you’re in the mood for a deep broody book or wine, and sometimes you’re in the mood for something more fun and a bit flirty. These tend to change with the seasons, but also with what’s going on, what you’re doing, how much you’re working, etc.
Right now, even though the weather has only dipped below 80 and the days are still long, I’m longing for some of that broody. Right now, I’m calling The Secret History and a damn fine Pinot Noir my favoritishes.
This was actually my third reread of The Secret History, in anticipation of The Goldfinch coming out last month. (Yes, a review will be up next week. Yes, it will be soaked in booze, like the book, though not drugs.)
With really great books like this, every reread actually feels different. There are different parts to tease out and different lines of tension and foreshadowing that you didn’t notice. It also gives you more time to soak in the language which, for The Secret History, is crucial.
I’m not even going to tell you a synopsis for the book because it’s honestly a bit off-putting, or was for me at least. Instead the feelings: ice cold winter days, long discussions steeped in Greek history and language, conspiracies, the egotism of youth, the way one moment can change a life, the way one decision can change a town. The book itself is a marvel of characterization, suspense, and writing that is more poetry than prose.
“Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.”
“It is easy to see things in retrospect. But I was ignorant then of everything but my own happiness, and I don’t know what else to say except that life itself seemed very magical in those days: a web of symbol, coincidence, premonition, omen. Everything, somehow, fit together; some sly and benevolent Providence was revealing itself by degrees and I felt myself trembling on the brink of a fabulous discovery, as though any morning it was all going to come together–my future, my past, the whole of my life–and I was going to sit up in bed like a thunderbolt and say oh! oh! oh!”
Now for the wine. It must be extremely drinkable, for those moments when you lounge in between the spaces of the words. It must be broody though as well. A chardonnay would fairly ruin the whole thing.
And so, I turn to an old favorite–Pinot Noir–but with a fine, balanced example of the variety with J. Lohr’s. It’s got a bit of fruit, but also a deeper earthiness with soft tannins and a taste of herbs on the finish.
If you’re not a fan of reds, you could also go with a fantastically dry Greek white wine, like those from Santorini which taste lightly of minerals from the volcanic soil. Very fitting indeed.
Have you read The Secret History? What’s your favorite wine for a deep broody book?
I’m going to visit my very dear dear friend in Seattle this weekend. I’m stoked for two reasons–very dear friend of course and, well, travel and fog and food and Pike’s Market and and and. Basically, I’m just all around stoked.
The trip was kind of planned last minute, so I wasn’t able to squeeze in the reading I do before trips about books set in the places I’m traveling. I did jump on a quick list and the only book that caught my eye was Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple that I’ve been meaning to read for a while.
The only other one I noticed was 50 Shades… well, you know it’s not neon pink.. but even if I may be able to read it real quick before, I’m not terribly inclined to.
With that in mind, are there any other Seattle-soaked books that I’m missing? Any that I should read during or after the trip to help me solidify the city in place and time?
Let me know in the comments and, as always, tell me about what you’re reading out there!
Hooray November! Hooray Thanksgiving! Hooray general writing bad-assery with NaNoWriMo! (That’s (Na)tional (No)vel (Wri)ting (Mo)nth if you’re not in the know.)
Some years ago (quite a few actually), some zany people thought it would be a great idea to make November the month that you write your novel. Since, of course, it is only a month, that novel will likely be shite. (Unless you’re the King, but I sincerely doubt the King is hanging around in these parts.)
For the rest of us, NaNoWriMo is a time for us to get into the habit of writing.
1,667 words a day.
50,000 in the month.
It’s about the length of a shortish novel, but a novel nonetheless. It’s supposed to be pure dreck at the end of it, but that’s kind of the fun–letting yourself free just to put words on the page and deal with the consequences later.
Many of us (certainly not all of us) do this perhaps with a certain end goal in mind. The elusive NaWriEvMoMoFo, a creation as old as the written word, but only penned recently by Mr. Wendig: National Write Every Month, Motherfucker.
Which is just about as clean and real about it as you can get.
And it’s actually possible! The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was started in NaNoWriMo 2004. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen turned into a best-seller and movie. We’ve also got Wool by Hugh Howey and Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Cool, huh?
I’m participating in NaNoWriMo in a more editing capacity this year, but certainly still funzies all around. If you’re looking for your own inspiration, you can also check out Amanda and I’s motivation creation over on Pinterest. (Told you I was in love with that side.)
And, so it’s a proper pairing, I’m going with the only natural one: heavy drinking. 50,000 words folks! You’ll need a case of something strong to give you the cojones to attempt it and something even stronger to make it through each 1,667 word day.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Have a certain pairing for it that helps you keep on writing?
Shall we just jump right into the best ofs?
Jessica over at Quirky Bookworm had her adorable baby (yay! cue the fireworks!) and I helped her out on maternity blogger leave with a quick pairing of Bill Willingham’s Fables and Once Upon a Time. (Perfect duo!)
We drank beer with Veronica Roth’s Divergent. (As if you needed an excuse.)
We dished on books that were all around just a bit meh. Books that we wanted to love but they just fell flat. (You all chimed in with Talulla Rising, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Great House, The Tin Drum, and Supernaturally.)
Then, oh then friends, we got into the idea juices and rolled around in some TED videos, or something like that, with Steven Johnson’s Where Good Ideas Come From.
Finally, I geeked out about Pinterest, because yes, I really loves it so.
I finished three books this month and am working through another two (though I can’t claim them yet!). I finished Insurgent by Veronica Roth (ultimate meh), The Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya Von Bremzen (fascinating!), and The Secret History by Donna Tartt.
Though let’s not leave Tartt at the end of a list. For The Tartt deserves a bit more recognition. It’s my third re-read of that insanely magnificent book and I loved re-reading it again just for the ability to follow those lines of tension that cut through the book like a noose. Yes. Expect a pairing soon. It’s one of my favorites.
I read it this time because Tartt’s newest book, The Goldfinch, just came out and I am slowly making my way through that book, which is at once so different from her other ones, but still deep, moody, and rich.
I’m also reading Extra Virginity by Tom Mueller that promises to expose the corruption of the olive oil industry. *cue dramatic music* I’m obviously hooked.
Oh and I had a Night Circus themed party that I’ll be posting up details about soon. It was magnificent. Magical even.
Around the Web
On Food Riot, I talked about why everybody needs a kitchen chalkboard, why I love fall gardens, and how I’m tackling 20 f-in pounds of chickpeas. (Okay, eating, not tackling. Though the bag of them could have made a good tackling prop.) I also got a bit Scroogey about Halloween because, um, I don’t do grape eyeballs.
On the businessy blog, I talked about blog events for this month’s #blogbiz chat. I dished on Amanda Shofner’s book of the same (seriously, check it out…) and talked about two business blog event case studies. I also talked about finding that work life (or life work) balance.
This month I’m proud to announce that #blogbiz is tackling SEO in Choose Your Own SEO Adventure November. But we’re making SEO accessible this time, maybe even getting you on friendly terms with it.
All through the month of November we’ll be posting our own easy tips and tricks for using SEO in your blog.
What did you read and do in October? Tell me all about it in the comments!
I love Pinterest.
My love for it normally goes in waves–was super keen on it while I was planning my wedding, was then in a bit of a slump, and now have hit it hardcore again. There’s just something about how visual it is and how good it is at showcasing information that keeps me coming back.
Moreso, if you’re in business, I recently read Pinterest Power by Jason Miles and Karen Lacey on how to market your business and build your brand on Pinterest. My full review of the book is on my business blog, but suffice it to say, there is some amazing stuff you can be doing on Pinterest right now.
And not just retail businesses, but also service businesses and nonprofits and community organizations. If you’re at all interested in becoming more of a power user, definitely check that book out.
As for me, I use Pinterest for the normal things: decorating, recipes (main courses/desserts/breakfasts/etc), and workout motivation. But I also use it for some other really cool things, such as:
- Keeping track of all the random gift ideas I have for friends and family throughout the year, rather than trying to remember all of them in December
- Marketing for the dog rescue I volunteer with (where I also run an adorable “Puppy Fridays” board)
- Putting together ideas for a very exciting Night Circus party I’m hosting this weekend
- Using it as a vision board with pictures of what keeps me happy and sane and inspired
- Creating a board with ideas for a novel I’m writing complete with mood and scenes from it
- Showcasing my absolute love of books and book geekery
Basically, lots of stuff. I adore it and keep thinking of more things to use it for as I use it more often.
Do you use Pinterest? How do you use it? Where can we find you on it?
According to Steven Johnson, the absolute best ideas are not based around that spark of genius, that moment of aha! Instead, Johnson argues in his book Where Good Ideas Come From that great ideas follow a certain pattern that we can see in most stories of invention, but also coral reefs and cities.
Johnson suggests that ideas have a certain building and blending pattern that are unique to them. He turns the dynamic from a genius hatching an idea to one that is cultivated slowly, distilling and building over time until the idea itself actually takes a final shape.
Rather than long hours spent in the lab, Johnson finds over and over again that the best ideas were developed during conversations, over long walks with colleagues, and in writing ideas down over a long period of time. He also talks about the combustible nature of ideas–how places where ideas are allowed to develop and grow help create new ideas. Think of the coffee shop culture in 19th century Europe, or more modern mixing places, like TED Talks.
Of the general pattern for better developing your own ideas, Johnson writes:
“The patterns are simple, but followed together, they make for a whole that is wiser than the sum of its parts. Go for a walk; cultivate hunches; write everything down, but keep your folders messy; embrace serendipity; make generative mistakes; take on multiple hobbies; frequent coffeehouses and other liquid networks; follow the links; let others build on your ideas; borrow, recycle, re-invent.”
In that line of thought, besides frequenting your own local coffee shop more and writing down more of your ideas, find some more of your own thinking juice with this list of my favorite TED videos.
Have your own favorite TED videos? Shout ‘em out in the comments!
No chemistry. No spark.
Kind of like a really bad first date.
I’ve had a few books like that. Storm Front by Jim Butcher. The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier. The King Must Die by Mary Renault. Insurgent by Veronica Roth.
I wanted to love all of them–looked forward to them so much and then they fell flat.
Has this ever happened to you? What book was it?
Yes, lovelies. A perfect pairing atmosphere.
I read Divergent by Veronica Roth. It’s a dystopic YA novel where society is divided into five factions–the Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite.
Beatrice Prior is our protagonist and the day she chooses her faction, she changes from the selfless, political Abnegation to the badass and brave Dauntless faction.
We follow Beatrice through her initiation in the Dauntless faction, where she learns to jump off of trains, shoot a gun, fight in hand to hand combat, and get through other intense psychological tests. And there’s a bit of flirting, of course.
Divergent is a damn fun ride, with just a bit of romance and political intrigue to get it going. The world-building itself was probably my favorite part, mostly because I’m a sucker for dystopic societies, but also because it was different and interesting from other dystopic ideas of society.
While some characters were fantastic (see: Four), some ended up feeling just a bit too one-dimensional and hollow. With a society made of up of five different factions, it can be easy to see a character end up that way–but not the main character.
Beatrice was fun at first, but ended up grating on me. Much like teenage girls normally do. I actually started reading the second in Roth’s series, but couldn’t keep my attention long enough to finish it. And that normally doesn’t happen to me.
So, Divergent is a fantastic, fun book. It’s filled with some really amazing scenes, some intense world-building, and a great look at initiation fueled fighting. But, for me, it was a one time read. Enjoyed but not loved. I would recommend to the right person, but not everybody.
Oh hunny. It’s a mouthful in more ways than one.
This is a roasted, chocolatey porter with just a touch of pumpkin. It’s also blended with five spices and vanilla beans for more richness. Its dark color reminds me of the Dauntless swinging off of trains or holed up together in their underground cavern. It also reminds me of fall. Of delicious beautiful things.
Have you read Divergent? What’s your favorite pumpkin porter?
Jessica at the Quirky Bookworm (one of my faves) is fast approaching arrival of baby #2. She asked a few of us to step in to help out with her blogging maternity leave and has had some great guest posts from other bloggers.
My guest post is queued up today and I’m talking fairy tales. Specifically, that Fables comic I read (and loved) and my pairing for it. Head on over to the Quirkiest of Bookworms blog now to find out the other side of that pairing and to share your favorite fairy tale adaptations!