April update: TBR challenge, bad books, inspirational people, and movie talk

The Triple Dog Dare TBR Challenge finished in March. Readers committing to the challenge are supposed to only read books from their own shelves for three months. Although I was perhaps not faithful to the letter of the rules, I do consider the challenge a success for me. My personal goal had been to keep the library books out of my house so I could focus on my own books, and more importantly, focus on the interesting but hefty history book I had borrowed from a friend. Hefty book is now 96% done (thanks Goodreads for the stat), so success! I did read a few of my own books as well – finally getting around to Into Thin Air, for example. I hope to be more moderate in my library borrowing this year, so I can read even more books from my own shelves.

Bad Books

The one exception to my hiatus from library books was to enable a joint reading experience with my friend/co-worker Kim. Inspired by The Millions post, “”Dumbest Thing Ever”: Scribbling in the Margins of Dan Brown’s Inferno”, we decided to take a similar approach to Becca Fitzpatrick’s YA paranormal book, Hush Hush. This book has an average 4-star rating on Goodreads, but has also been spectacularly panned by such bloggers as Raych at books i done read, who read it on a dare, and Ana at Book Smugglers. Since we borrowed our copies from the library, we couldn’t write on the pages like the author of the Millions post. So we armed ourselves with post-its and went to town.

Book text: [We] parked alongside the historic Topsham paper mill sitting on the bank of the Androscoggin River." Post-it: "Somebody was paging through the Maine Gazetteer." Scribbled above first post-it comment: "HA!"

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From book: "I went upstairs and pulled on a snug white cashmere sweater, dark jeans, and navy blue driving moccasins." First post-it: "What are driving moccasins??" Second post-it: "Schmidt on New Girl has had to put $ in the d-bag jar for wearing driving moccasins."

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From book: "I looked from the can to Patch. Just because my blood warmed at the thought of putting my mouth where his had been didn't mean I had to tell him." First post-it: "Who gets turned on by drinking from the same soda can? ew gross." Second post-it: "I have not been 16 in a few years, but I'm certain this is not a common blood warmer."

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Book text: "I was sixteen and could decide when and why I left the house." Post-it on book: "16!? Oh no she better don't!" - Rupaul

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Since we explicitly picked up the book to hate-read it, I’m not going to give it a real review. Judging from a few of the comments on The Millions post, not everyone understands the pleasure of being snarky with a bad book, but we had a great time with it. Our next book will actually be a sincere choice: Where’d You Go, Bernadette, but I would be totally game for a another future snarkfest, so feel free to throw any suggestions of suitable bad books in the comments.

Inspirational People

To get a little more serious, I had the pleasure of hearing two inspirational authors speak last week. The first, David Weinberger, is the author of the books Everything is Miscellaneous and Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room is the Room. I am in the middle of Too Big to Know, and it’s doing a good job of getting the wheels turning in my mind as far as professional implications.

The second author I heard speak last week was Matthew Vines, author of the upcoming book, God and the Gay Christian: The Biblical Case in Support of Same-Sex Relationships. Vines spoke at my church about his journey, and about the goal of his book and of The Reformation Project, the non-profit he founded in the last couple years. I had the privilege of participating in a study with one of the Reformation Project leaders last fall, so I was very excited to meet Vines. Only 24 years old, he impressed me with his vision and his compassionate heart for all people. Although I am not a LGBT person, much of what Vines said resonated with me, as I also grew up in a non-affirming evangelical church community. I also was struck by how careful he was with Biblical interpretation. For example, a teenager in the audience asked him if there were any pro-homosexual verses in the Bible, and Vines said no there wasn’t, and it would be a mistake to try to claim that it did. Rather, to put it very very simply, the Bible is silent on committed same-sex relationships because that concept and the concept of sexual orientation just didn’t exist at the time the Biblical texts were written. So we must take our response to same-sex relationships from the Biblical values of love and equality. I’m really looking forward to reading Vines’ book, which will be released by Random House on April 22nd.

Movie Talk

In other news, I went to the movies three times in March, which was unusual for me. I saw and loved the Veronica Mars movie (with my friend and fellow Kickstarter contributer, Darcy). I highly enjoyed and was touched by Wes Andersen’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. One of the narrating characters is an author, and the movie struck a note of familiarity, as if I’d previously read a book in the same genre as the central tale of the film. The other movie I saw was Divergent and it was better than I expected it would be (I was a so-so fan of the book.) I wasn’t surprised by Shailene Woodley’s ability to carry the film, as she was wonderful in the Descendants and The Spectacular Now. Poor Kate Winslet got the worst of the dialogue, all expository and no fun. The soundtrack was very heavy on Ellie Goulding, who I generally enjoy, though I find it jarring to have familiar songs scoring a future dystopia. That said, the filmmakers’ were savvy to use Woodkid’s “Run Boy Run,” one of the most naturally cinematic pop songs I’ve ever come across. Since I’m not among the book’s biggest fans, I had few bones to pick with the film adaptation. I will say, however, that I wondered at the movie’s downplaying the deadly nature of the Dauntless initiation. I’m pretty sure that in the book a kid died trying to make that jump from the train to the roof. Also someone in the book got stabbed in the eye during the training section of the story.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Hopefully April and May will see some more book reviews from me. Until then, happy reading!

 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “April update: TBR challenge, bad books, inspirational people, and movie talk

  1. Oh gosh Shailene Woodley was good in The Spectacular Now. She was nearly good enough to make me see Divergent, but I didn’t hear great things about it. (Like you I was only a so-so fan of the books.)

    • She was the main reason I had any hope whatsoever for it being watchable and that was true. I was entertained even if it was all quite forgettable in the end.

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