Don't Panic - Megan's BookLikes

I really like books. Some favorites: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (duh), Pride & Prejudice, The Martian Chronicles, True Grit, The Idiot, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and so on. I tend to be pretty eclectic in my reading habits. I definitely favor sci-fi & fantasy, classic literature, YA fiction, memoirs, and non-fiction (usually art-, craft-, or history- related). I might have a book hoarding problem, but that's okay. I don't mind.

The Ten, Make That Nine, Habits of Very Organized People. Make That Ten.: The Tweets of Steve Martin - Steve Martin, Serge Block This was an oh-crap-I'm-super-behind-on-my-reading-challenge-so-I-better-find-a-bunch-of-tiny-books-to-fly-through book. I wasn't expecting much since it's about the twitter (and yes, I say "the twitter" like an 87-yr-old lady), but I was expecting at least a couple laughs since it's Steve Martin. Nope, all I got was two smiles, and that was only when a picture of Martin as "Creepy Guy" popped up twice amidst a bunch of stupid tweets. Disappointing.
I Was Told There'd Be Cake - Sloane Crosley Hmm. I don't really have anything great or terrible to say about this book. It was just an okay one for me which passed the time pleasantly enough and did actually make me laugh a few times. The author did rub me the wrong way a bit. (Side note: if I pick another memoir that endlessly touts the amazing and unique awesomeness of NYC, I'm going to scream.) She seemed to be trying too hard at times, attempting to wrap everything up with a neat, thought-provoking bow at the end of each essay. There were parts of it that didn't flow naturally or seem genuine but other parts (usually about her childhood or strange things happening to her, like finding a small turd on her bathroom floor after hosting a dinner party) sounded like a friend telling a great story. I'd probably read something else by her but I won't be waiting with anticipation for her next publication or anything. It'd be a good book for a plane ride or the beach.
This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike. - Augusten Burroughs A kick in the pants.
A slap in the face.
Or as the kids say, "real talk."

These are the best ways I can think of to describe this book. If you're looking for a pat on the back or to be told that everything's going to be okay and it will get better, look elsewhere. Burroughs is trying to help you, sure, but you need to be ready for a big ole plate of truth. Because he isn't going to sugar-coat it for you; that only makes it hurt more in the long run. When I picked this randomly at the library, I was looking for some funny personal essays. I figured this would be kind of a mock self-help book with funny anecdotes about how Burroughs learned some important life lessons. Instead, it really does read like a self-help book or pamphlet with chapters on a range of topics, like How to Be Fat, How to Feel Sorry for Yourself, How to Be Confident, How to End Your Life, How to Make Yourself Uncomfortable (And Why You Should), How to Lose Someone You Love, etc. I don't know if this will actually help anyone with their issues, but it will definitely get you thinking. The thing that stuck most with me is that you need to live and think in the present, right here and now, and quit worrying about the future or what could happen. I'm definitely a worrier and I'm stressing out constantly about what people think of me or how I should act and what I should say, so if I could just start focusing on what's happening in the moment, maybe I'd be a lot less anxious around people. So that was my take-away and that's what I'll try to work on. Definitely an interesting read, but not your typical humorous Burroughs book. Thanks, Uncle Augusten, for teaching me the ways of the world!
The Girl in the Flammable Skirt - Aimee Bender This is the first book in a while which I've actually felt some hatred towards. I began to cringe every time I picked it up, but I hate to not finish a book (especially one this small; surely I can power through it I kept telling myself). So thank god that's done. Several of the stories had pretty much the exact same type of female protagonist - vain, superficial, vapid, and horny. It started to bother me that I was essentially reading about the same stupid bitch in completely different plot lines. I couldn't escape her. When the stories weren't about these stupid whores they were just rambling random stories centering on one weird occurrence and just ending up nowhere. There was no plot or point to any of these stories. The only saving grace, and the only reason I gave it 2 stars instead of 1, is because occasionally the author would write some pretty cool descriptions. But a few pretty sentences are not worth it. Now I'm not sure if I should even try [book: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake] since this one was so disappointing. Boo.
Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut Reviewing a classic, especially one as popular as this, is quite intimidating and difficult. Vonnegut's writing style is hard to describe - it seems so casual, so careless, and then there's a sentence that's pure genius and you're astounded that you haven't been taking him seriously this whole time. I was thrown by Billy Pilgrim's spinelessness and idiocy, just stumbling around slack-jawed and smiling at everyone while there's a war going on, and my anger at him made me miss the importance of what he was representing and what Vonnegut was trying to say about war and genocide and death (so it goes). I wish I had to read this in high school so that I could've had a structured discussion of it and learned more about it. As it is though, I guess I'll just have to revisit it sometime later and perhaps read some SparkNotes along with it so I don't miss any of the metaphors and allusions. I feel like this is a 5-star book if I could only have understood more of it, so I'll give it another go sometime in the future. Very impressive book, definitely a must-read and an eye-opener to the atrocities of war, specifically the Dresden bombings. I'd like to research that further and read more about it, so maybe a war book will be next on my to-read list. Best line ever:

"Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt."

I love that.
When You Are Engulfed in Flames - David Sedaris Goodreads tells me I already read this sometime in 2010 but I didn't write a review and I couldn't for the life of me remember anything about it, so I figured I'd read this again (or perhaps for the first time - who knows). David Sedaris came to the Little Rock Barnes & Noble in May and was the first author reading I've ever attended. It was pretty cool but I'll definitely have to get there earlier next time to get my book signed. Lesson learned. But anyway, it got me in the mood for some humorous nonfiction. While reading this collection of essays, some of them seemed vaguely familiar (so maybe I did read it before) but even so, I was snorting and laughing out loud throughout the entire book. This is probably one of my favorites of his work, and I'm looking forward to reading [b:Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls|15790837|Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls|David Sedaris||21512389]. I love Sedaris' voice and how neurotic and weird he can be. He's very relatable and seems like a genuine, nice fellow. Hopefully he'll come back to the sticks sometime soon so I can actually meet him and get an autograph.
High Fidelity - Nick Hornby This is definitely one of those books that you have to be at a certain point in your life in order to savor it and feel like it was written for you. I think the best time to read it would be in your late 20s/early 30s or at any point in your life when you're freaking out about how little you've got your shit together and you're worried about how old you're becoming at a scarily rapid speed. I've got some of my shit together (steady job, marriage, etc.) so it didn't totally click into a huge a-ha or eureka moment for me, but I could relate on the becoming older stuff and Hornby describes growing up (or in Rob's case, refusing to for as long as he can) eloquently and accurately. All of the characters felt very real and I could picture them all perfectly in my head - they're grungy and raw and genuinely fragile. It's rare to read a book in which all the characters actually feel like they could be real people instead of just cardboard cutouts. I'm going to have to watch the movie now and see how it compares.
Raven Girl - Audrey Niffenegger This was a weird one. I ordered it from the library because I liked Audrey Niffenegger's past novels and the creepy art on the cover was quite intriguing (btw all the etchings in the book including the one on the cover were done by Audrey, which makes her way more awesome). I just wish I had known going into it that this book was written to serve as the inspiration for the choreography of a ballet. It would've made a bit more sense and the abruptness of the transitions would have been more logical since it seems like in ballets there's usually a long build-up and then a quick exciting climax and then an ending. This book had such a rapid-fire ending that made very little sense (actually, the whole book doesn't make much sense, what with the whole premise of a postman impregnating a raven), but since it's supposed to be a modern twist on fairy tales I guess I can let it go. I really liked the etchings though and the ballet looks like it'd be really good. Here's a link to a behind the scenes session at the Royal Opera House. Skip to 8:15 if you want to get past the choreographer's corrections and interruptions and go straight to an excerpt of the ballet set to music. I wish I could see it all!
Here There Be Dragons - John Peel I bought this for my husband because he really likes Middle Ages type stuff and this was a mash-up of medieval times and Star Trek sci-fi goodness so I thought it'd be perfect for him. I ended up stealing it away for myself to read on breaks at work though and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was like reading an extra Star Trek TNG episode, which my husband and I have been watching a lot of lately (because we're nerds like that). The writing wasn't great (I thought a few situations and instances of dialogue were strange and out of character) but the exciting plot makes up for that. Dragons, phasers, knights, spaceships, murder, and intrigue - what more do you need?
Life with Mr. Dangerous - Paul Hornschemeier I read this because I really enjoyed [book: Mother Come Home] and wanted to see if this author/artist's other works were just as good. Although I didn't like this one as much as the previously mentioned sobfest, I was quite impressed with how poignant and dead-on accurate this dude is about young women. This graphic novel reminded me of the HBO show Girls, and if you're a 20-something chick with premium cable channels, you've probably watched it and thought holy crap, Lena Dunham kinda gets me. Chances are you can relate to at least one of the characters on the show and remember something from your younger years that you're not so proud of or that you wish you could forget. This Paul guy gets girls. His protagonist, Amy, just turned 27, a scary and kind of depressing age which I will be turning in July. Amy works a crappy retail job, has a strained relationship with her mom, a string of deadbeat boyfriends, and she talks to her cat a lot. At this point in life, you figure you would've had all your shit together and be a happy, productive adult (or so you thought as a naive sappy little kid), so it's pretty depressing when you find out that actually life kind of sucks. It's not all depressing though and there are happy parts, but you have to work for them and really appreciate them as opportunities while you can, which Amy eventually learns. This book offers some lovely yet at times graphic life lessons for young (late-teens/early-20s) girls and gives them with brutal honesty.
The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to Thin - 'Bob Harper',  'Greg Critser' I actually finished reading this like a month ago but forgot it was on my "currently-reading" shelf. My bad. Plus I've gotten really behind on my reading. Trying to become less of a fat-ass is like having a second job, for real. Plus it's slashing my reading time significantly (because I'm not coordinated enough to read a book whilst on a cardio machine), which sucks, but I guess the benefits my body is gaining outweigh my brain's current degeneration. Okay I'm rambling. I found this book to be quite helpful and motivational for what you should do for weight loss and getting healthy and leading a healthier lifestyle overall. I've had a difficult time sticking with rules #1 and #7 (7 is a total bitch). But yeah, here are the rules for future reference...





















Mother, Come Home - Paul Hornschemeier Wow. That was probably the most emotional and moving graphic novel I've ever read. I didn't cry (although that's the whole reason I picked this one to read) but I did get a lump in my throat and had tears welling up a couple of times. This author has some amazing story-telling skills and a really unique and innovative way of illustrating his stories. I loved it and I'm definitely going to check out more of his work.
Delphine - Richard Sala Wtf just happened? That's all I could think after I read this. I picked this up from the library after skimming through some goodreads reviews that said it was like a dark, twisted Snow White story in graphic novel form. That sounded awesome. Sadly, this story had no resemblance to me to Snow White aside from a few symbolic images like a poisoned apple, an evil stepmother, and a beautiful girl who needs rescuing. I didn't really get the ending - it was very abrupt and weird and just bizarre. I did really like the artwork in this though, so that's why I gave it 3 stars instead of 2. The author also did a great job of creating a super creepy, ominous atmosphere with terrifying characters (the townspeople look more like monsters than humans and there are witches, so some shape-shifting and other supernatural stuff keeps things interesting). The overall story was just slow-going for me though and I couldn't connect with any of the characters. The main guy and girl were kind of boring and annoying. It's a super quick read though because there's barely any text. It's mostly just awesome creepy drawings, so it's good for a quick read when you're in a dark and broody mood and want to look at some disturbing pictures.
The Silver Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick I've really been wanting to see this movie but I haven't been able to convince my husband to go see it with me yet. I already made him sit through Les Miserables, for which I owe him big time, so I can't really push the issue too much, but I think if the movie follows the book then it's aimed more towards guys than gals (aside from all the simmering deep-down emotions and issues, of course, which guys decidedly do not like to discuss). But I think I'll just tell the ole hubs that it's actually not a rom-com like I previously thought; instead, it's about football (FOOTBALL, babe! your fave!) and this slightly crazy dude who meets this slightly crazy chick and they're weird together and do all kinds of running and fitness stuff together (omg, football AND working out? this movie was made for you) and there is no romance at all. Well, just a tiny tiny bit at the end. But it's funny. And you'll love it. So let's go. And hopefully that'll work because I really liked this book and now I need to see this movie. Fingers crossed!
Winter's Bone - Daniel Woodrell I always, always slip back into a deep Southern drawl whenever I visit my family in southern Arkansas. I’ve worked hard over the years to neutralize my accent and hopefully talk like a “normal” person. So at first it’s really frustrating when I revert back to it, but after a while it feels natural and comforting and like home. That’s kind of how I felt while I was reading this book, and I think that’s one of the lessons that you’re supposed to take away from it– you can never forget who you are and where you came from, no matter how hard you try. Your family and your hometown will always be a part of you (whether you want them to or not) and you can either let that break you or you can use it as a springboard to make yourself better and stronger. Ree chooses the latter.

I had a little difficulty getting into this book, and was confused by the mythical/religious parts, but it ended up being pretty amazing. It took me a while to become accustomed to Daniel Woodrell’s poetic writing style (this is the first of his books that I’ve read), and in the beginning I thought I wouldn’t like it:

”The carcasses hung pale of flesh with a fatty gleam from low limbs of saplings in the side yards. Three halt haggard houses formed a kneeling rank on the far creekside and each had two or more skinned torsos dangling by rope from sagged limbs, venison left to the weather for two nights and three days so the early blossoming of decay might round the flavor, sweeten that meat to the bone.”

Woodrell’s writing style seemed strange and a bit pretentious (like it was trying to be a poem rather than a novel), but then once you read through it a couple more times and get used to it, it sounds appropriate and kind of beautiful. I found that happening throughout the entire book. Every time I thought I knew everything about a character or their motives or even the Ozark landscape, it would surprise me. This novel proves over and over again that people are deep, multi-faceted, unpredictable things wrapped in countless layers that can be quite deceiving. The book reads a bit like a mystery in that way, since you never know what the townspeople are going to do next and you’re going along with Ree in search of her father, who may or may not be dead. The twists and turns were exciting and devastating at the same time, and watching Ree grow up so quickly and in such hard circumstances was heart-breaking and moving. She was an amazing, honest, and intricate character – exactly what I hope for in the books I read.
Doctor Who II Volume 2: When Worlds Collide - Tony Lee, Mark Buckingham, Matthew  Dow Smith I liked this one quite a bit better than [b:Doctor Who The Ripper Eleventh Doctor Comics 1|10977745|Doctor Who The Ripper (Eleventh Doctor Comics, #1)|Tony Lee||15895990]. It felt much more like I was watching an episode. It was exciting and the characters felt more alive and like their actor counterparts. Plus it mostly took place in space, which I think I usually prefer over the episodes where they're on Earth, because it's more unexpected and atypical. It takes place on a vacation planet in which you can choose whatever reality you'd like, whatever time and place you've always dreamed of visiting, and then you get to take a holiday there. It's a pretty cool concept, and it allowed the plot to range from the viking age to dinosaurs and (not much to Rory's surprise) the Romans. It was a lot of fun and I thought the artwork was better in this second installment, so that was nice. Overall, a great comic book series, and I'm looking forward to the next one!

Currently reading

Eight Girls Taking Pictures
Whitney Otto
Post Office
Charles Bukowski
The October Country
Ray Bradbury