Sunday, February 27, 2011

Top 20 Books to ABSOLUTELY NOT BUY for Someone Based on Clothes They Wear

1.      A wedding ring and stripper heelsà The Scarlet Letter
2.      A kippahà Mein Kampf
3.      A crucifixà Lamb
4.      Gap kids à A Clockwork Orange
5.      Walmart brandà Skinny Bitch (Because it’s a book about veganism, not because people who shop at Walmart are fat. Sheesh)
6.      PradaàThe Devil Wears Prada
7.      A bathrobe and a weak mustacheà Lolita
8.      A walkerà My Horizontal Life (Chelsea Handler)
9.      An expression of intense awesomenessà Twilight
10.  An army uniformàCatch-22
11.  A power-suità Alice in Wonderland
12.  An IVà The Inferno
13.  A bright yellow sundressà The Bell Jar
14.  A scarf, boxy glasses, tight pantsàRomeo and Juliet
15.  Sports clothesà A Nicolas Sparks novel
16.  A wool ponchoàGeorge Bush’s memoir
17.  Anything by the brand Limited Tooà Ulysses
18.  Concrete bootiesàThe Godfather
19.  Adult size xxxxxsmà A Prayer for Owen Meany (if you didn't know... he's a dwarf)
20.  Anything at allàthe book by Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt

Top 20 Books to Buy People Based On What They Wear:

1.      Anything by the brand Limited Tooà Twilight
2.      Tight jeans and an ironic t-shirt àanything by Vonnegut except Slaughterhouse 5 (Because (s)he’ll already have it)
3.      Power Suit à Freakonomics
4.      Vintage sundress and a romantic smileà Chocolat
5.      Neck gear àBoy: Eragon or Dune Girl: something by Tamora Pierce or Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
6.      Sports clothes à Fight Club
7.      Jeans and a graphic t-shirtà Lamb
8.      Mom jeans à My Sister’s Keeper
9.      A pacifierà Alice in Wonderland (it works on so many levels…)
10.  A Hawaiian t-shirt àThe Big Sleep
11.  Pradaà Chasing Harry Winston OR The Great Gatsby
12.  Indie band t-shirtàA Clockwork Orange
13.  High heels to classà Gossip Girl novels
14.  Cardigans àThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
15.  Wire-rimmed glassesà Life of Pi
16.  Victoria’s Secret brand/ a crapload of Forever 21à Nicolas Sparks novels
17.  A smoking jacketàa biography on Ronald Reagan
18.  A wedding ringà The Five Love Languages
19.  All blackà The Wasteland
20.  An expression of sheer awesomenessà David Sedaris books

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Which Celeb Personifies Each Focus?

Yesterday, I wrote a post about the different aspects of a novel you could focus on. I decided to make a list of celebrities that I think personify each type of focus.

Plot - Who else deserves this honor but the magnificent miss Lindsey Lohan? This girl's life is all about the storyline. You think she's a cute Disney kid, then BAM sex symbol. You accept that and then BAM coke addiction BAM arrest BAM rehab BAM sex tapes BAM lesbianism BAM manicured obsenities on her fingers. I think I'd like to see her next be a foray into religious zealotry. Or, you know,just more crazy.

Character- Gaga; the woman who makes the concept of a public persona into an art

Setting - Hugh Heffner. The Mansion is a world all to itself. A world where voluptuous blondes wander around like housecats and police officer costumes and french maid uniforms are standard attire. Regular activities include naked cupcake baking and trampoline pillowfights. There's a reason Heff fascinates people enough to have a successful reality show, and it isn't his business prowess.

Idea- Tom Cruise. In a feat of extraordinary bizarreness, Cruise has managed to undermine his legendary acting career and good looks in order to make his name synonymous with an obscure religion the believes in aliens. There you go.

Context- Why is Susan Boyle famous? She's talented, yes, and her story is nice... she went on a talent show and then got famous. But the real delight is that shes a middle-aged popstar with five cats and a unibrow.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Decide Your Focus- Where to Start Your Creative Writing

It being my nature to stalk famous authors' interviews in hopes of discovering some magical key to literary success (besides smoking opium... Coleridge), I've read copious amounts of writers' little tips and tricks. Most of them are so painfully obvious that I could have given them to them- like "try to make the characters realistic" and "brainstorm" and "edit edit edit!" And some of them are completely specific to the writer; "I always find it's helpful to write while drinking a pina colada and listening to Jewel." But one piece of advice that I come across pretty consistently, and that I consider to be pretty solid, is the advice to focus on one particular aspect of a book, and then shape your work around that point. Of course, every aspect should be developed, but by picking one to really focus on you can differentiate your stuff and really make it stand out. So, here are some examples of different focuses and books that use them:

Plot: Plot is probably the most common focus for novelists, and is probably the first thing people think about when they think about a story. We always ask, "What is it about?" The truth is, a book about a kidnapped princess and her magical flying horse might be more boring than a book about a man putting on his left shoe. That said, plot can be a powerful tool, and a truly dynamic plot can make a great book. Think about books like The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde with a big plot twist that completely throws the reader, or The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, with so many random little episodes and anecdotes that the reader feels like he or she is on some kind of literary amusement park ride. That's what you're aiming for; Vertical Velocity, short fiction edition.

Characters: Probably the second biggest focus you might think of, and rightly so. One of my favorite books, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil is the perfect example of a character-centric piece of literature: it's a depiction of the narrator's experience living in Savannah, GA and all the wildly unique characters he knew. There was an ultra-glamorous black drag queen, a practicing witch, and a Ferris Bueler-y man named Joe who did things like move into a house for two months while its proprietor was away and charm the people he was indebted to to the point where they would apologize to him. I loved every minute about it. Engaging characters are an amazing tool for establishing a good book; make them heroic, make them crazy, make them quirky, make them complex- just make them stand out.

Setting: Books that focus on setting obviously incorporate large amounts of plot and character development, too, but it's the "world" of the novel that makes them stand out. the Harry Potter books are awesome. And I will defend to the death their right to be as popular as they are. But I also think that they wouldn't be nearly as popular if they were just all about the story lines. What makes the world of Hogwarts and the wizarding world so appealing is just that: the world. JK Rowling created exotic stores, governments, languages, products, sports, and cultures. Its an entire alternate universe. We love reading about the way that Gringott's Bank works or the latest wizard candies or the difference between a hippogriff and a Pegasus. Why do you think Harry Potter world is so explosively popular? You can drink a butterbeer! You can meet a ghost!

Concept: Think about books that are written around the premise "What if..." What if animals could model a communist society (Orwell)? What if we could implant dreams Okay, Inception is a movie, not a book, but same idea). These books can be philosophical or politically pointed or just trippy. Having some abstract idea as the focus of a book seems to give the author a little bit more leeway than usual in terms of minimizing the other aspects. Its okay that the specific pigs in Animal Farm don't have much dimension, because that's not really the point. I think that concept novels are fairly ambitious, and can either be fascinating or just end up as massive fails. I also think, though, that even the massive fails earn some degree of respect just because it is such a challenging task to push a theory through and make it work. The ideas can be complex like in Inception, or hypothetical (what if Adam and Eve had never gotten kicked out of paradise?) or just allegorical for society, like The Lord of the Flies. The single most important thing is to make the central idea new, original, and interesting. Then, just try to pursue it as far and as clearly as possible.

Language: Some books are just all about the way that they are written; experimental styles, flowing diction, whatever. Some means are more mainstream now- like writing in an alternate format (diary entries, emails, etc.) Some are just distinguished by their style. Lolita reads like music. Not because of any trick, but because Nabokov is just a beautiful, beautiful purveyor of prose. This is another difficult one. If you want to focus on writing style, deeply, deeply acquaint yourself with words. Read dictionary lists. Play with flow, style. Which words sound good? How does word order change meaning? Etc. I'd start by doing writing exercises before even starting to write "the big one": Things like, describe an object using words that sound like the idea they are expressing (flinty- hard, succulent- juicy, etc). Or write using no grammar, or write complex concepts super simply or visa versa, making the simple complex (concert--> melodious cacophony of sound facilitated by instruments of music, compounded and elevated by microphones and projected in order to reverberate in the eardrums of a waiting audience). Just get ready to be actively engaged and thinking the whole time you are writing.

Context: This is kind of a harder one. Mostly, authors achieve context through perspective. This is kind of like concept, except that instead of being hypothetical it is based in reality. Basically, context books derive their meaning from the origin of their creation real or imagined. These books are significant not necessarily for what they expressly say or the way that they said it, but from where they are supposedly saying it from. The most famous example is The Diary of Anne Frank. Yes, she's a great writer, especially for her age, and yes her story is compelling, but we don't read this in grade schools across the country because of the diction or the fascinating relationship between Anne and her mother: we read it because it was written by a girl who was actually living as a Jew in Nazi Germany. A book written by a survivor of Darfur in Sudan might write a book about his childhood. Even if nothing dramatic happened to him, the work would be valuable because of who he is. As a writer, the only way you can really impact the force of your voice in terms of actual context- that is sort of the luck (or lack thereof) of the draw. What you can do it write a story from the point of view of a specific person- tracing the way that that person would think and making that the point of your story. You could write an account of Napoleon's rise from his wife's perspective, or you could write as an autistic child. These stories tend toward the political, and if yours does, be very careful in choosing the way that you portray people of  a specific gender/ race/ type of person. Choosing your subject is everything here: pick something you feel is powerful and important, and immerse yourself.

Pop Culture Equivelants to Famous Literary Characters

Can't you just see Shakespeare's Tybalt getting on his Gym Tan Laundry? Or Huckleberry Finn sending out another apologetic tweet for his latest offensive comment? Sometimes literary characters have such distinctive personalities, they almost seem real. Real, and with horribly, horribly stunted access to personal privacy. So it only makes sense that one might associate them with celebrities. Here's my list of which celebrities I think would act as the real life counterparts to the following famous characters:

1) Gatsby (The Great Gatsby): P. Diddy- All-white (clothing) parties in the Hamptons? Opulent wealth? An abundance of boozy floozies constantly at hand? And all with a vague undercurrent of deep dissatisfaction with the shallow glitz around him? Gatsby= Diddy. No contest. Plus, they both go by their last names.

2) Humbert Humbert (Lolita): John Mayer- I don't feel that this one calls for any justification.

3)Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice): Christian Bale- okay, I know that I am doing my dear Fitzwilliam a great disservice here, but it would be too boring for me to just put some random other random brooding beauty as his match. First of all, Darcy has to be respected (like Bale) and disliked (like Bale). He has some anger problems, and insults Elizabeth's family; Bale has some anger problems, and insults the lighting crew... via aggressive tirade. They're both insanely devoted- one to a woman, one to his roles. The only difference is that only one is also actually insane.

4)Atticus Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird): George Clooney- just because... I want to be them both.

5) Mrs. Haveshem (Great Expectations): Mrs. Haveshem sits in a dusty room in an ancient wedding dress, desperately trying to physically exist in the past, so naturally... Joan Rivers

6) The Wife of Bath (Canterbury Tales): Jessica Simpson- they're big bosomed, single-minded women who know what they want. They're sexualized beings and they use that to get what they want, not in a conniving, evil way, but in a simple, good ol' Texas straight-shooting kind of a way.

7)The Three Musketeers... and D'Artagnan (The Three Musketeers): Owen Wilson, Vince Vaugn, Will Ferrel.... and Ben Stiller- all for one and all that.


9) The Lady of Shallot (Tale of King Arthur): Jennifer Aniston- one died of a broken heart when he love fell for another... the other one, we just act like she did

10) Ford Prefect (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy): Russell Brand- Ford Prefect is an alien who routinely states wild and absurd ideas as if they were the epitome of logical sense, with the effect that everyone around him is either severely unsettled or strangely charmed. Russell Brand is about the same.

11) Tyler Durden (Fight Club): KISS- these guys just want to F$#% S*#% UP! Sheer anarchy.

12) Jekyll/ Hyde (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Tom Cruise- one day the movie star we all loved fired his publicist and suddenly....

13) Oliver Twist (Oliver Twist): Jon and Kate's Eight- Oh, you poor, poor children. The love and character nourishment that you so desperately crave will not be coming from your parents. Because they're either crazy or they're dead.

14)The Monster (Frankenstein): Heidi Montag- Both of these lovely creatures were assembled, full grown, with supplementary body parts.

15) All the kids from The Lord of the Flies: All the kids from the Jersey shore- I don't know if its about living with a big group, all of one nationality, or being by the sea, or having an affinity for pork, but all of these people are mesmerizingly savage

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Austen Conundrum: Why do "popular" and "esteemed" sometimes seem mutually exclusive?

Back in the day, Virginia Woolf had her novels all over the bestsellers list, and at no point in history has anyone (or anyone with a BRAIN, anyway) dared to suggest that her poetry/ prose was anything but revolutionary and inspired. But lately, people like her seem to be more and more of a rarity.
I'm not saying that popular books don't get good reviews, because, of course, they absolutely do; I'm saying that it sometimes seems as if those books are getting intellectuals' approval in spite of the fact that they are popular. As if the fact that many people want to read them makes them somehow less impressive.
The idea first occurred to me on a desperate late-night run for facial cleanser and popcorn. I was in line at my local grocery store and I noticed that the woman in front of me had a stack of novels on the conveyor belt in between her hummus and her frozen chicken. And immediately, I sneered. I sneered because to me, "the kinds of books they sell at the grocery store" are cheap. Groceries an airports trade in books that are cheap, shallow and sensationalist: a gratuitously sexual love story where the characters' names change midway through, "tell-all" exposes written by gucci-clad heiresses. At best they were flat, linear thrillers with conveniently handsome and brilliant protagonists. I glanced at the titles; Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility.  My  trickled down the back of my neck and turned into a tail, which I immediately curled between my legs. Those are three of my favorites.
Filled with the righteous indignation of the secretly humiliated, I wondered annoyedly why a Raley's would be selling Austen's masterpieces. The answer came almost instantly: Because people like them. Stores like this don't make stock decisions based on literary merit, they make them based on perceived demand. This same store sells aged Brie cheese as well as Cheez Doodles. It doesn't mean that they're comparable.
But it wasn't the first time that Austen's continuing popularity has thrown me for a loop. Whenever some one asks me to list my favorite writers, I hesitate to include her. Precisely because she IS so popular. Everybody likes her I think to myself expressing my own admiration will make me seem common.Far better to cite somebody like Anthony Burgess, who NOT everyone loves. I'm afraid that if I admire something that is also widely admired by everyone else, it will make me seem insipid. Jane Austen writes love stories. Yes. And Mr. Darcy is widely regarded as the penultimate romantic hero. But she was also a brilliant social satirist. Her witticisms and parodies of the different types of people and interactions that she experienced in her own life are clever, and ingenuitive. Are these things somehow cheapened by the fact that some girls like to swoon at the description of Darcy's brooding gaze? I don't think it's fair that Austen should have to overcompensate for the fact that something about her work appeals to the general public. I can't see how the stigma could possibly be relevant to the work's literary worth. Not everything that is popular is great, but that is only because the vast majority of work in general is not great. Popularity is not a fair basis for claiming the merit of a work, but nor is it fair to use popularity to discredit a book. Popularity, like the color of the binding or the number of pages a book has, is an arbitrary condition. That means that until we actually evaluate a book itself, we cannot draw conclusions only from the way it is received. Even if it has legions of teen fans. Even if Madonna records a song in response to it. Who knows, one day we might all be wearing t-shirts that say "Team Leopold" and "Team Blazes."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Writer Stories: Virginia Woolf Edition

Some of the most famous authors and poets in history have biographies just as interesting as their works. From Emily Dickinson's hermitage of a life to F. Scott Fitzgerald's outrageous partying, brilliant people never seem content to live ordinary lives. In this section, I'll focus on some of my favorite/ most interesting anecdotes from these crazy awesome people's lives.

Virginia Woolf, who was writing as a part of the Modernist movement of the early nineteen hundreds,  was part of an emerging intellectual society that was defined as much by their nonconformity as by their talent. It was thus that she got involved in what can only be described as the most epic prank of all time: and affair known as the Dreadnaught Hoax. (Feb. 7, 1910)
Essentially, what happened was this: Virginia and several of her friends dressed themselves up as Epiopian royalty; they wore bright gems and colorful silk robes and darkened their skin with make up. The men even put on false beards and mustaches (a bad move, since one of them would later lose half his mustache on a carriage ride... not to worry, though- he managed to keep his face obscured long enough to get it fixed.) The nerdy badasses then send a forged telegram to the local authorities from the "British Viceroy of India" informing them of the arrival of Ethiopian foriegn dignitaries, who planned to board the famous British ship, the Dreadnaught. He blamed the short notice on "problems with an interpreter."
When Virginia's little troup arrived, they were greeted not only by government officials, but also a full on marching band. They had their picture taken for the newspapers, and were issued royal-caliber carriages in which to parade through the streets, which they did with aplomb (and which was when the mustache problem arose).
They kept up the charade by saying things like "bunga, bunga" and mixing Swahili with quotes from Homer. Moderately offensive? Possibly. But hilarious because of its patent inauthenticity? Absolutely.
No one found out about the charade until a good five days later, when an anonymous tipster (possibly one of the costumers) tipped off the press, who, understandably had a field day. The government had had some misgivings, but dimissed them, as expressed by this statement from one of the admirals present.  "From the telegram I naturally concluded Sir Charles Hardinge had forgotten to send the [earlier] telegram & had then short-circuited the Admiralty . . . Willoughby now says he thinks the interpreter had a false beard. The Abyssinians were in native dress and appeared to be genuine..."
Ultimately, though, the only law that the troublemakers had broken was the forgery of the viceroy's signature. Wasting the government's time, resources, money, and dignity was technically all within their rights. They weren't charged with anything, however, and made off like bandits. And so the author of Mrs. Dalloway is, in conclusion, immeasurably cooler than Aston Kutcher will ever be.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Celebrity Favorite Books

I was bored this morning, so I decided to do a little "research" on the web (aka a google search) to find out what kinds of books celebrities [claim to] like. I stumbled upon this little list from the ABC news website, which struck me as a fairly creditable source: ABC list
The site has pictures of the books and short descriptions, but the basic gist is this:
Angelina Jolie (back in the good old days of vials of blood.... now it's probably something more along the lines of Heart of Darkness)- Vlad the Impaler: In Search of Dracula
Natalie Portman- The Diary of Anne Frank
Catherine Zeta Jones- The Great Gatsby
Nicole Kidman- The Chronicles of Narnia
Denzel Washington- Siddhartha
Kate Winslet- Therese Raquin
Alec Balduin- To Kill a Mockingbird
Russell Crowe- Anything by Studs Terkel
Will Smith- The Alchemist
Mel Gibson- Fahrenheit  451
Mira Sorvino- A Brief History of Time
Miley Cyrus- Don't Die, My Love

I think you can tell a lot about a person by his or her favorite book. I, for example, wouldn't give the time of day to anyone who didn't think David Sedaris was hilarious or Samuel Coleridge was brilliant. That said, in order to judge, it has to actually BE one's favorite book. I don't even honestly know who Mira Sorvino is, but I call BULLSHIT.  If I ever saw some celebutante reading Stephen Hawking I think my brain might implode (unless, of course it was one of my approximately 200 celeb crushes, in which case I would accept it without question.) I'm also not so sure about Portman's choice. I believe that she read Anne's Diary, and it without a doubt a great thing to read, but it doesn't really strike me as "favorite bok" material... it's too historical. Not that Anne wasn't a good writer, esspecially for her age, but I don't think that's really the point; the point is that its an authetic glimpse into the life of a German jew. Plus, Nat was starring in a movie adaptation, so this smacks a little bit of self-promotion. Balduin, Denzel, and Smith all get my hearty approval for timeless, excellent choices, and so does Catherine Zeta Jones, whose persona fits perfectly with that Gatsby-esque 20's glamour (Think Chicago). Kate Winslet, who I love anyway, gets extra points for selecting a slightly less well known classic that is also a great, great piece of literature. And then there's Miley Cyrus, whose choice sounds like a Nicholas Sparks novel on estrogen pills. I wouldn't have expected anything else.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Top Slang Switches to Make You Sound like a Cultured Person

Top Slang Switches to Make You Sound like a Cultured Person
Whether you’re in the workplace or meeting your soon-to-be mother in law, there are some times when you are going to want to impress, and “sweet ride!” is just not going to fly. For those times, I’ve compiled a list of the most common slang terms I can think of, along with my personal favorite substitutions. Enjoy!
1.       Hella (I grew up in NorCal… so sue me)à copious. Basically, this means that there are lots of x. Possibly too much. For example, This report is has copious amounts of evidence in support of its claims, or, Amy Winehouse smokes copious amounts of dope. Either way.
2.       Awesome (or cool, sick, tight,etc.) à impressive/ scintillating. Obviously scintillating is the more fun word here, but for a professional setting, I’d still recommend the ultra-practical “impressive.” It’s to the point, effective, and somehow empowering. If, on the other hand, you’re trying to impress your friends while describing a new movie you saw, by all means- scintillate it up.
3.       Shadyà Suspect. Not suspect like “I suspect you stole my valentine’s day chocolates” or “murder suspect.” This is using suspect as an adjective, as in “The man lingering behind the dumpster’s behavior was suspect.” This little bit of linguistic magic turns a word that’s a fairly common part of the everyday vernacular and transforms it into an impressive little description.
4.       Hotà Toothsome. First off, there are probably hundreds of alternatives for this word- from gorgeous to exquisite to handsome to dapper, we are all about finding words to express human physical beauty. Toothsome has always had a special place in my heart, though, because it’s just so darn adorable. It makes me think of a sweet tooth… like some one you’d just want to eat right up… which, to be honest, is usually what we’re saying when we’re calling somebody “hot” anyway.
5.       Sexyà Sensual. Fairly self explanatory. Just a little bit more sophisticated, and also a little less awkward to say when speaking to other adults whose opinions you actually care about.
6.       StupidàSophomoric, Inane, or Daft. I couldn’t pick just one. Sophomoric implies that the stupid thing/ person is juvenile, and doesn’t have much value. Inane is pretty much the same. Daft is just straight foolish. Again, I’d be cautious using any of these in a professional setting… calling anything your coworkers or customers produce any variation of “stupid” is pretty ballsy. But these words are perfect for describing those people later that night when you go out with your friends for gossip and sushi.
7.       Whateverà “I’m Ambivalent.” Express your lack of caring with class, thereby avoiding like sounding like a sad parody of a teen movie.

Upping your vocabulary is always a good idea, and if you’re a lit nerd like me, you’ll love being able to expand your personal arsenal. Even if you’re not crazy- enthused by the melody of words like “incandescence” (emitting light) and “sumptuous” (richly delightful), you’ll still undoubtedly need to make a good impression from time to time, and ditching the slang is a great way to do it. If you want even more linguistic deliciousness, then THIS is your new best friend.

Top 10 “Guy” Books Girls Like

An essential part of any relationship is being able to bond over shared interests, and both of you liking the Pad Thai from the restaurant down the street will only get you so far. Books, on the other hand stimulate your mind in all kinds of ways and people’s literary preferences tend to reveal a lot about their personality: what impresses them, what kind of people they like, what they value, etc. So here I’ve compiled a list of books that traditionally seem angled toward men, but that women will appreciate just as much. Because, let’s face it,  you may feel like you were Elizabeth Bennet in a past life, but the chances that he’ll be down to dote on the ending scenes of Pride and Prejudice with you are slimmer than Keira Knightly’s swan-like neck.
1)      Fight Club (Chuck Palahnuik) You’ve seen the movie… and was it not AWESOME? Well the book, by Chuck Palahniuk, is even better. It has all the mind-bending and darkly fascinating qualities that the film does, but with a lot more focus on the narrator’s voice. It’s funny in a completely dark and unsettling way. Palahniuk has a way with language that is totally fresh and fascinating. There are so many things to discuss- the characters, the plot, even human nature itself. Fight Club kicks ass… no pun intended.
2)      The Godfather (Mario Puzo) Another book that you might have seen in movie version, The Godfather may be the definitive “male” book. If he doesn’t like it, well then he must be missing a Y chromosome, because appreciating this book is practically man law. It also happens to be one of my personal favorites. This isn’t just a book about mobsters- it’s about people. And the characters and the world that they live in are what make The Godfather so captivating. These are real human beings, and like them or hate them, they’ll make you care.
3)      Catch-22  (Joseph Heller) Okay, it’s a war book, but don’t dismiss Catch-22 just yet; it’s also one of the most hilarious books you will ever read. Unlike other battle classics like All Quiet on the Western Front or The Red Badge of Courage, this book is not some grave portrayal about the realities of battle. Catch is a satire, through and through. The outrageous characters are hyperbolically illogical, and the entire military system comes across as wildly, delightfully absurd. There is, of course, a serious concept in the undertones of the novel about the futility of war, but the actual story is sheer parody.  Trust me; you will love this book.
4)      Shit My Dad Says (Justin Halpern) Speaking of hilarious, this little collection of quotes and vignettes from Justin Halpern, a writer for Esquire is a big hit right now and is almost too funny to be real. The book will take approximately one hour to read and at least ten years’ worth of hilarious one-liners to quote at each other regularly. If you’re time pressed or looking for something light, this is fun, sweet, and relatable enough to thrill you without being so accurate as to horrify you. Order up that Pad Thai and read this out loud together.
5)      A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving) Owen Meany is a dwarf who believes (correctly) that he is an instrument of God. He is horrified when he hits a foul ball at baseball practice and accidentally kills his friend’s mother. Basically, the story is hauntingly beautiful. It’s uplifting and interesting. The whole thing is written from Owen’s perspective, and his voice is totally unique. You can’t finish the book without genuinely loving him. It’s about as emotional a boy book as you will ever find.
6)      A Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess) Trippy, trippy, trippy. Usually, when you read a book with a narrator, you’re on the narrator’s “side;” he’s the hero, after all. Well, not so much with A Clockwork Orange- the narrator, Alex is a teenage gang member in a hypothetical future society. Like Fight Club, this is a super-dark, and super-fascinating glimpse into the creepiest parts of human nature. The whole thing is written in the slang of this make-believe world, so it looks a little daunting when you look at the pages, but once you get into the swing of it, you’ll find yourself wanting to reference “droogs” and “malchicks.” I think I love this book so much because it sounds so good. Reading it is a little like reading poetry… horrifyingly violent, evil poetry. Anytime I meet anyone who’s read this book I know we’ll have a lot to talk about.
7)      Let it Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic (Jim Derogatis) Ok, confession: I haven’t actually read this one… but it sounded so insanely interesting that I had to put it on the list. Lester Bangs was a rock critic whose wild, riotous work helped define the 1970’s. This is a rock-and-roll lifestyle story in its purest form, full of scandal and passion and deeply messed up individuals. The fact that it’s all true just makes it all the more awesome. Channel your inner Penny Lane and order copies for you and your guy. Seriously, who wouldn’t be interested in this?
8)      Loose Balls: The Short, Wild Life of the American Basketball Association (Terry Pluto) If the title doesn’t win you over, the subject will. This kooky book outlines the American Basketball Association (ABA), which was essentially an alternate version of the NBA. It was a haven for players that either 1) were not quiiite good enough for the NBA 2)were talented enough, but not yet recognized or, best of all 3) were good enough for the NBA but were just so bizarre and eccentric that they were either cast out or never got picked up. It is the interesting “story” side of sports that almost, but not quite, lets you see why he cares so much about whether his team makes that last basket.
9)      Sports Novels Loose Balls is a factual account, but if you’d rather hit up a sports novel, two of the most popular are Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch (which, fair warning, is absolutely nothing like the Drew Barrymore movie) and Friday Night Lights (which actually is pretty similar to the movie, but is still oh-so good). There are sports, there is drama, there’s yet more amazing characters. I dare you not to close Friday Night Lights without feeling like you have an intimate relationship with Odessa, Texas.
10)   One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Ken Kesey) This one’s a classic, and for a reason; the story is told by Chief Bromden, who has a brush with the law and ends up choosing to go to an insane asylum, rather than serve his time in jail. He works under the terrifying Nurse Ratched, who is in charge of the asylum. He interacts more and more with the patients of the asylum, who fascinate him throughout the novel. This has been traditionally considered masculine, I suppose because its lack of anything resembling romance, but it is still a story all about the human spirit and the concept of sanity. It will make you think. I bet you’ll end up appreciating even more than your boy toy does.
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Mission Statement

It's the first post, so I guess I'd better lay out what this blog is about; essentially I wanted to create a blog for people who like to mix their class with their trash, so to speak. It's a fun magazine-like women's blog with an emphasis on writing/ literature. I'll have modern book reviews, writing prompts, celebrity gossip, and lists. Lots and lots of lists. Euphoria: fulfilling yor need for both the New Yorker and Cosmo since... well, today. February 14, 2011. Enjoy!