Tag Archives: Book

The Two Book Rule

My friend is much wiser than me. He, you see, brings at least two books with him every place he goes.

I sometimes bring a book, or my kindle, but sometimes I forget and I’ll just leave the house with myself, my keys, my wallet, and my cellphone.

Sometimes I get really, really bored.

He, on the other hand, always has two books with him to read, so he’s generally always got something to do if conversation slows down or if there’s a wait somewhere or something of the like.

The other day I asked him, out of curiosity, “friend, why do you always have two books with you? Why not just bring one?”

He gave the simplest, most elegant answer I could imagine, “Well, what would I do if I finished the first book and didn’t have the second book? Not read?”

So now, personally, I’m implementing a new rule that I’d like to share. I call it the two book rule. The rule is as follows:

Where Has All The New Sci-Fi Gone?

With the upcoming release of the new Star Wars film, Episode VII – The Force Awakens, The Atlantic posted an article called When Science Fiction Stopped Caring About the Future.

This article tackles the idea that Science Fiction as a genre has given up on new ideas because the movie industry just keeps recycling old sci-fi franchises into new movies. To quote the article:

It’s not just Star Wars either. Science fiction is everywhere in popular culture, and it seems like it’s managed to be everywhere in the present by largely jettisoning the future. The massive, major franchises are all decades-old; the triumphal rhythmic successes of Star Wars and Star Trek and Dr. Who vie with sporadic reboots of Robocop or Planet of the Apes. Even newer stories, like The Hunger Games or Divergence feel less like fresh visions than like re-toolings of stagnant dystopias. Poor George Orwell wants his panopticon back.

While I agree that Hollywood has been rehashing old movies or YA dystopian fiction that is reminiscent of older sci-fi, this article got me wondering about sci-fi as a book genre. Is this too happening in the world of books or just in the realm of movies?

Lena Dunham’s “Not That Kind of Girl”: When A Writer’s Words Are Used Against Them

"Girls: Season 3" - UK Premiere - Red Carpet Arrivals

By now, most people have heard of Kevin D. Williamson’s accusation of “Lena Dunham’s sexual abuse, specifically, of her younger sister, Grace, the sort of thing that gets children taken away from non-millionaire families without Andover pedigrees and Manhattanite social connections.”

But in case you haven’t heard, Williamson is basing his accusation on passages Dunham wrote in her memoir Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”. Passages like:

One day, as I sat in our driveway in Long Island playing with blocks and buckets, my curiosity got the best of me. Grace was sitting up, babbling and smiling, and I leaned down between her legs and carefully spread open her vagina. She didn’t resist and when I saw what was inside I shrieked.
My mother came running. “Mama, Mama! Grace has something in there!”
My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did. She just got on her knees and looked for herself. It quickly became apparent that Grace had stuffed six or seven pebbles in there. My mother removed them patiently while Grace cackled, thrilled that her prank had been a success.

And this:

As she grew, I took to bribing her time and affection: one dollar in quarters if I could do her makeup like a “motorcycle chick.” Three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds. Whatever she wanted to watch on TV if she would just “relax on me.” Basically, anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl, I was trying.

In an exclusive statement to TIME, Dunham apologized to her fans, saying “If the situations described in my book have been painful or triggering for people to read, I am sorry, as that was never my intention. I am also aware that the comic use of the term ‘sexual predator’ was insensitive, and I’m sorry for that as well.”

Dunham is no stranger to controversy or criticism. On a recent appearance on The Daily Show, the actress and screenwriter admitted that “It can definitely be challenging. It’s not something when you’re writing in your room and dreaming of this career, you’re necessarily like, ‘I’m going to have a TV show and I’m going to write a book and everyone’s going to hate me on the Internet!'” But that, when criticism inevitably happens, she responds with a little bit of “class and sass.” (Below, one can only assume, is the sass.)


Why NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo has gained a plethora of participants. Hundreds of thousands, in fact. A quick look around Twitter, typing in keywords like #NaNoWriMo2014 or #amwriting will pull up a ton of tweets from writers updating their followers with their word counts, struggles, and achievements. But as with any event or cause, there will always be the naysayers.

In this case, the naysayers of NaNoWriMo believe that if you were a real writer, you wouldn’t need a month dedicated to writing to meet a word count. Or that it’s impossible to write something of quality—of substance—in thirty days.

Before I get too deep into my defense of NaNoWriMo, I think it’s fair to mention that what a writer actually is is a fuzzy distinction. “Real” writers get paid for their work; they get published. But if you’re still new to the craft, if you’re still aspiring and finding your voice, does that mean you’re not a “real” writer?

I think it’s also fair to mention that, in a way, the naysayers are partly correct. “Real” writers don’t need a month; at least, they shouldn’t. NaNoWriMo, however, is aimed at newer writers. Writers who still need proof that they can actually do it—that they can write a novel-length story, that they can meet a deadline, that they can fight through writer’s block.

To Keep The Ideas Flowing

The thing is, when a writer isn’t writing, things can get dark fast. We start having depressing thoughts about the meaning of our very own existence, or that we will never become the voice of our generation. Writing is a muscle. When we don’t stretch it, we lose the ability to use it effectively. The ideas don’t come as easily, and when we do finally find the time to write, we find the words don’t come easily either. Something I noticed during last year’s NaNoWriMo was that, as soon as I started writing, I couldn’t stop the ideas from coming. Sure, more often than not, these ideas had nothing to do with the project I was actually working on. But you write them down, you tuck them away, and then later, when you can, you come back to them.

Getting to Know Yourself

Believe it or not, not all writers are daunted by the task of completing 50,000 words. Some participants find that they need far less than thirty days (this one only needed nine). You wont know what you can achieve until you try. Participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge allows you to discover your quirks—your areas of strengths and weaknesses. If you’re like me, you might discover that, yes, writing 2,000 plus words each day is a piece of cake. That it can be done by sparing only a few hours of your day, but that it’s also much easier with the help of an outline. That diving into the unknown might work for the first 10,000 words, but then your mind starts drawing blanks.

NaNoWriMo also helps you develop your routine, because each of ours will be different. Maybe you can’t write on an empty stomach. Or without a candle. Or without Jurassic Park playing in the background (hey, we’re not judging). There’s nothing like a month of intense writing to help you get in touch with, well, yourself.


Four Literary Desserts You Can Sink Your Teeth Into

My significant other is a cook, and over the past few years, I’ve had the luxury of watching his talent grow—and my waistline when he’s on a roll. As a writer, I find the intersection of our two careers to be interesting. A good writer can describe food so well it will make your stomach grumble. And great food, like certain books or poems, stay with us. They fill us with nostalgia for our mother’s cooking and bring memories with them. Like how spaghetti makes me think of the time my father demanded I sit at the dining table all night and finish my bowl of pasta because there were children in Africa who didn’t have that luxury—but that’s another story.

The act of cooking can be meditative. I once read somewhere that our mind’s default mode is daydreaming, which is why you can drive from point A to point B without having any recollection of how you arrived there. And when you’re cooking or baking, I imagine the same thing happens. Your mind turns off while you chop, mix, and pour, and while it’s off, your imagination wanders. And it’s during these moments that inspiration can strike.

Besides writing poetry, baking inspired Emily Dickinson. She’d often send cakes and other sweets to friends along with her letters, or lower gingerbread down to the neighborhood children through her window with the help of a basket. She did this during a time in her life when she had become a complete recluse. But while baking, she would sometimes jot down a poem on the back of a recipe. She wrote “The Things that never can come back, are several” on the back of a coconut cake recipe (the original recipe can be found here).

However, the beautiful cake below was made by Cara Nicoletti, a writer, butcher, and former pastry chef living in Brooklyn, who created the blog Yummy Books. Little, Brown will be publishing a book about her love affair with reading and cooking next year.

Emily Dickinson Coconut Cake


Author Spotlight: Sandy Hall


Sandy Hall is a teen librarian from New Jersey where she was born and raised. She has a BA in Communication and a Master of Library and Information Science from Rutgers University. When she isn’t writing, or teen librarian-ing, she enjoys reading, slot machines, marathoning TV shows, and long scrolls through Tumblr. A Little Something Different is her first novel.

Buy the book here:

The Poetics Project: Describe your novel in ten words or less.

Sandy Hall: A girl meets boy story told from everyone else’s perspective.

TPP: What inspired you to write A Little Something Different?

SH: I was inspired by the Swoon Reads website. I’d been working on a completely different book, that had no romance in it. Then I saw an article about Swoon and I decided to try my hand at writing teen romance.

TPP: What was the most difficult aspect of writing your novel?

SH: Editing! Without a doubt. The writing comes easy, it’s the re-writing and editing that’s tough for me.


Charlie and The Chocolate Factory: The Problem with Photo-Based Book Covers

Flicking through my Instagram feed on Wednesday, I stopped and stared for a long while at a photo of the new Penguin Modern Classics version of the cover of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.


At first glance, the picture reminded me of the young girls on TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras. I was confused, wondering how something like that made its way into my feed, but then I noticed the large, grey lettering of the title, Roald Dahl’s name, the small, oval penguin logo in the bottom corner. I read the text Penguin included in the post, where they wrote “this design focuses on the children at the centre of the story and highlights the way Roald Dahl’s writing manages to embrace both the light and the dark aspects of life.”

And since then, I’ve read more articles deconstructing the book cover and talking about the negative reactions of the internet. Readers have frequently compared the new cover to being more in-line with Lolita (a novel about a twelve-year-old who becomes sexually involved with her stepfather, to put it shortly, for those of you who haven’t read the classic story). In these articles, the phrase “light and dark aspects” of the novel seems to be making rounds, but that first part, about the design focusing on the children in the story, has not.

At least not (to my knowledge) by anyone except for the BBC, that is:

A spokeswoman for Penguin stressed that the new edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was “intended for an adult audience,” adding that the cover image was not intended to represent either of [the] female children featured in the story.

So Penguin, let us wrap our heads around this one, the design focuses on the children at the center of the story, and yet, it is not intended to represent any of the female children in the story?


From Amora to Zatanna: July


Alight comic fans, let’s get right to it this month. Where DC’s “New 52” is just failing in the reboot comic department, “Marvel Now” is kicking ass and taking names. Here are just a few ways Marvel Now is progressing with the ideals mass and geek culture seem to be adopting for themselves:


1) Brian Wood’s and Olivier Coipel’s all-female team for X-Men:

When initially announced, many fans believed it to be a publicity stunt akin to Marvel Divas back in 2009. However, the tight storytelling of Wood and non-sexualized artistry of Coipel has given us a comic series featuring the badass X-(wo)men we have all come to love and admire. The content not only engages the once hidden female comic audience, but your basic male comic audience as well, proving that stories focused solely on women protagonists can be just as exciting as any other story featuring men. Plus, how can you not celebrate the return of Storm’s 80s mohawk?


2) Kamala Khan, the new Ms. Marvel:

Again, the initial announcement of this title was met with criticism. Many groups were thrown by the Muslim American heritage of the new protagonist, claiming the comic to be some type of propaganda. But it is this exact reaction that illustrates the necessity for this comic heroine! Not only is she a woman of color, who are severely underrepresented in most popular culture, but she is a Muslim American. This comic was intended to dispel many of the common misconceptions held by various groups in the US about Muslim Americans and confront them with the truth that they are just like any other American citizen.


Literary Paraphernalia: 10 Bookish Shoes For Your Wardrobe

If there’s one thing a girl can’t have too much of, it’s shoes. Or is it diamonds. Hm. Regardless, these literary kicks are an adorable way to show off your love of writing and books. And a few of them could even be made yourself, if you happen to be crafty and can work a paint brush and glue.

Where The Wild Things Are Van Shoes

The Hobbit Handpainted Shoes

Library Due Date Canvas Shoe

Spiderman Sneakers


20 (More) Book-Based Movies on Netflix

A few weeks ago, we wrote a list of 20 book-based movies currently on Netflix to check out this summer—or at least before they disappear from the online streaming site. While the list started out with a selection of films that Amanda, a fellow blogger, had been tracking, I have since extended it as many more movies have been added in the past months.

These movies are based on both contemporary and classic novels and, in once case, a comic book. Some of the films stick more closely to the original plot, while others deviate from it. At the end of the day, film is a very different medium from the written word, but love it or hate it, watching the film-version of books you’ve read can be exciting.

A few terms ago, I had a professor who was a former employee at Laika, helping them acquire movies like Coraline and Paranorman. Movies I’m sure I was more obsessed with than every kid in the audience. She told me that literary adaptations aren’t about recreating the book page-by-page on screen. Books aren’t scripts, and to treat them like so would lead to movies which far exceed an hour or two. In reality, directors search for books that inspire them. That they have a vision for. And I, for one, love to see the result of this inspiration.

Black Hawk Down


Bram Stoker’s Dracula