Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 20 - Favorite romance book

I don't really read romance books. And I could probably come up with a book that had a significant enough amount of romance that it would count, but that's boooring. Fuck tha police.

House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski

This had to be on here sooner or later. I'm not even gonna try to explain it because it's unexplainable (furthermore I've already tried here). I'm just gonna leave you with this quote from the author.

"I had one woman come up to me in a bookstore and say, 'You know, everyone told me it was a horror book, but when I finished it, I realized that it was a love story.' And she's absolutely right. In some ways, genre is a marketing tool." (source)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 19 - Favorite book turned into a movie

What an ambiguous question! The way it is worded it could easily mean it wants to know your favorite book that just also happened to be turned into a movie, but doesn't care about what you thought of said movie.

I am pretty sure that's not what it means. But a clearer way to phrase it would have been "favorite movie adapted from a book", guys. Clarity!

Although I will grant you that movie adaptations are complicated territory, and it might be more about a book that was dear to you and turned into a movie, and just your general thoughts on that. But in that case the word "favorite" becomes weird. In general this is a weird question.


The actual answer to this question is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which I think is the most successful adapation around, but I already cheated once with comics, so I'm gonna do a legit book this time. And in fact I'm gonna go with a book AND movie that I have already mentioned.

Maurice, by E. M. Forster, adapted by Ismail Merchant & James Ivory

Merchant-Ivory, as they are called, are pretty brilliant in general with their Forster adaptations, of which they did three. This one is easily the best one, and not because I suspect it is also the best book of the three (though I admit I have not read any other Forster yet). It loses some things, of course, but enhances others, and I think it was played with a great subtle honesty that captures the real essence of the book. This is an empowering movie for gay men, which is a rare bird indeed, and it is sexy as hell, and it was made in goddamn 1987 featuring a very young and smooth-faced Hugh Grant, and an unbelievably gorgeous tinykins Rupert Graves (pictured, left). Also James Wilby (pictured, right), but most people don't know who he is on account of his not appearing in A) every romantic comedy ever B) an outrageously popular BBC miniseries.

True story: I once read a review of this movie on Amazon dot com from a woman who said that before she saw this movie, she had a low opinion of homosexuals and had no idea that their love could be meaningful/real. She claimed with fairly heartfelt words that this movie legitimately changed her perspective. If that's not success I don't know what is.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 18 - A book that disappointed you

Well. My answer is probably going to seem unfortunate.

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

I'm sorry, guys, I know Neil is everyone's favorite and I love him too, but there is just no better book I can think of that truly fits this question. Being that Neil is great, I expect to love all his books, but sadly this is sometimes just not the case. I found this one to be ... well ... boring!

That's all I have to say about it, really...!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 17 - Favorite quote from your favorite book

Naturally this one comes when I'm on a day trip away from all my books that I could possibly use for reference. On top of that, I have a few. I think I really should have more than one anyway because I notice the last question of this meme is "favorite book ever" and wouldn't it kind of ruin the surprise if you just gave that away now? So, I have options and I don't have any of them on me. Bear with me, interwebs.

The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco

"Non in commotione, non in commotione Dominus."

I cannot give context for this quote and you simply must read the book. The translations vary. I have only just discovered that the "official" translation is quite different from the one I cobbled together from Latin translators online. And undoubtedly it is the "correct" one. I put these words in quotes because I really like my version. It means something totally different, but it made a huge impact on me and I thought it was so perfect for what was happening in the story. Given the nature of the thing, I feel as though an argument can be made for the validity of my unofficial translation, being that language is complex, words can mean many things, and subjectivity is crucial to appreciating a work. I don't know if my translation is at all grammatically viable, but I hope it is, because I like it.

Catch-22, by Joseph Heller

"Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?"

This is something that is, I believe, repeated a few times, though I primarily recall the first time. I love that it doesn't make any sense, not for the longest time, and I love that it is somehow beautiful and haunting just the same, despite the inherent silliness of the surrounding scene. This quote stuck in me like a pin for the duration of the book. It is iconic, and not without reason.

Also iconic, also beloved, also wonderful and silly at the same time:

It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain, he fell madly in love with him.

Finally, though I could quote the entire book if I had the means, I am also fond, for simpler reasons, of this bit:

"Yes, Yossarian. That's right. Yossarian. Yossarian? Is that his name? Yossarian? What the hell kind of name is Yossarian?"

Lieutenant Scheisskopf had the facts at his finger tips. "It's Yossarian's name, sir," he explained.

The Collected Works of Jorge Luis Borges

It is probably a good thing that I don't have this volume on me, because there are so many. Here are several, presented without comment:

Siento un poco de vértigo. / No estoy acostumbrado a la eternidad.
I feel a bit of vertigo. / I am not accustomed to eternity.
-The Cipher (a poem)

I come now to the ineffable center of my tale; it is here that a writer’s hopelessness begins. Every language is an alphabet of symbols the employment of which assumes a past shared by its interlocutors. How can one transmit to others the infinite Aleph, which my timorous memory can scarcely contain? [...] And besides, the central problem—the enumeration, even partial enumeration, of infinity—is irresolvable. In that unbounded moment, I saw millions of delightful and horrible acts; none amazed me so much as the fact that all occupied the same point, without superposition and without transparency. What my eyes saw was simultaneous; what I shall write is successive, because language is successive. Something of it, though, I will capture.
-The Aleph

And yet, and yet … Denying temporal succession, denying the self, denying the astronomical universe, are apparent desperations and secret consolations. Our destiny is not frightful by being unreal; it is frightful because it is irreversible and iron-clad. Time is the substance I am made of. Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire. The world, unfortunately, is real; I, unfortunately, am Borges.
-A New Refutation of Time (an essay)

What will my redeemer be like, I wonder? Will he be bull or man? Will he perhaps be a bull with the face of a man? Or will he be like me?
-The House of Asterion

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 16 - Favorite female character

Is a graphic novel cheating? If it is I don't care. Because it's this lady, without a doubt.

355, from Brian K. Vaughan's Y: The Last Man

355 is the baddest babe around. She is tough as nails and smart and sassy and she has a horrifying fucked up past and she isn't afraid of anything and she's sexy as HELL and I could give specifics but if you ain't read these comics it would be better to just read them, and if you have read them then you know what I'm talking about.

God I love her, I love her so much. She's cooler than anyone. She's my spirit guide.

And an honorable mention from a "real" book, because you can't have Will without her:

Lyra, from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy

Lyra is also a total badass and smart and sassy and not afraid of anything, except when she is, and she's capable of such wonderful tenderness also, and oh god how does Pullman get little girls so well, I just, I can't.

Lyra will always remind me deeply of my best friend, who is also blond and small and fierce and loves cats.

A mundane tragedy for the day.

Waiting at the bus stop after a particularly difficult therapy session, on the phone with my mom about going on meds, an older gentleman seated next to me suddenly interrupts my phone conversation to say "You're okay."

He said it again and again. I looked at him and said a polite "Thank you" a few times to sort of gauge how aware of himself he was. It seemed really important to him that he talk to me so I told my mom I had to go.

He said "I just wanted to tell you, ma'am, you're okay. I know it don't always feel that way, but you're okay. You are."

I stared at him. I said "Thank you" again, too quietly. He said "Helloo?" and I sort of nodded. My bus came. I got up and he kept looking at me. I thought about offering my hand but didn't. I thought about saying something but didn't. I didn't know what to say. I didn't want to cry in front of a stranger. I didn't want to miss my stupid bus. So I turned away and got on the bus.

I wish I hadn't. I regret it so much. I regretted it the moment I sat down.

I should have missed my bus. I should have asked him how he knew.

Should have, should have, didn't.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 15 - Favorite male character

Holy buckets this is hard. There are so many choices.

Okay, here's a tie. These characters are hella different, so... that's fair, right?

Yossarian, from Joseph Heller's Catch-22

Yossarian is the shit. Catch-22 really should have been my "Favorite Classic Book," but I guess I wasn't sure about its "classic" status in comparison with Catcher. But whatever. I read Catch-22 when I was sixteen/seventeen, just because I FELT LIKE IT. Which was pretty empowering, for someone who didn't read a whole lot outside of class! But I loved it so so so much. I remember sitting around in school and reading it constantly. It was so great. The humor of the writing mixed with the tragedy of the story, so great. And above all, the characters all so colorful and weird and wonderful/horrible. I haven't read the book since then, but I've always meant to reread, and I always think back fondly on it. Yossarian succeeds in being so human and so ridiculous at the same time. Somehow he is the ultimate hero even though he defies everything that makes a hero. I don't know, it's been a long time and it's hard to explain. But I love him. He will forever be the imaginary absurdist rebel hottie of my heart.

Also! Not about Yossarian per se, but this book taught me many important things. Like the word "subversive"! How to make absurdist circles of dialogue! And how to do a fucking soul-shattering reveal with just the right kind of buildup that it destroys you and drastically alters your understanding of everything leading up to it.

That scene.... that scene. Guh.


Will, from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy

These books, also, should have been on the list already. They could have been both the book(s) that makes me happy AND the book(s) that makes me sad. They could have been my favorite series. I don't know how I forgot them until now. Because I have a LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT THEM.

I didn't expect to like Will. I first read The Golden Compass in 2002 or so, and loved every minute of it, but for some reason when I started The Subtle Knife I didn't get past the first couple chapters. I was just like, man, who is this Will guy and why should I care about him?? More Lyra please! Which is understandable I guess, but WILL IS AMAZING OKAY. I finally finally read these books properly last year, and I just about died, and I couldn't deal with how much I loved Will. I am finding it difficult to talk about characters without just talking about the books. Hmmm.

Welp, SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS if you haven't read these books SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH:

I think what sealed the deal for me was Will losing his fingers. I am realizing that I have a HUGE literary kink for physical sacrifice/body transformation in the name of like... acquiring a new ability/maturing. That's such a weird and specific literary kink, and hard to explain, and hard to think of any other examples!! I guess a prime example would be mythology's Odin, trading an eye for knowledge. Fuck yes. And how Will dealt with the trauma of that experience, and his total badassery with the knife, and the evolution of his relationship with Lyra... oh god, those books were so perfect, and I can't go on or I'll start crying again.

Anyway, yes. If you haven't read either of these books, I highly highly recommend you seek them out.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 14 - Favorite book of your favorite writer

Collected Fictions

Borges didn't write books, as I mentioned. He only wrote stories.

Here are some of my favorites. Boldface are the ones that are super close to my heart.

The Circular Ruins (from Ficciones)
An Examination of the Works of Herbert Quain (from Ficciones)
The Library of Babel (from Ficciones)
The Garden of Forking Paths (from Ficciones)
Funes, the Memorious (from Ficciones)
The Shape of the Sword (from Ficciones)
Death and the Compass (from Ficciones)
The Secret Miracle (from Ficciones)
The House of Asterion (from The Aleph)
The Zahir (from The Aleph)
The Writing of God (from The Aleph)
The Aleph (from The Aleph)
Dreamtigers (from The Maker)
A Dialog About a Dialog (from The Maker)
The Yellow Rose (from The Maker)
Parable of the Palace (from The Maker)
Everything and Nothing (from The Maker)
Borges and I (from The Maker)
The Other (from The Book of Sand)
There Are More Things (from The Book of Sand)
The Book of Sand (from The Book of Sand)
August 25, 1983 (from Shakespeare's Memory)
Blue Tigers (from Shakespeare's Memory)
The Rose of Paracelsus (from Shakespeare's Memory)
Shakespeare's Memory (from Shakespeare's Memory)

Get on it, everybody.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 13 - Your favorite writer

Jorge Luis Borges

Borges basically founded the magical realism movement. Wikipedia says that the term was used for the very first time to describe one of his earliest works. So there you go.

Borges never wrote a novel. He wrote poetry, essays, and short stories. He wrote short stories about longer stories. He wrote critical assessments of fake novels so that he could get his kicks writing about how cool the concept was without having to write the novel (because he did not believe in himself enough to sit down at write one).

Borges started losing his eyesight in his fifties, and was almost completely blind by the end of his life. He had people read to him. He wrote some magnificent words about blindness. My favorite:

"Blindness is not darkness; it is a form of solitude."

I was introduced to Borges in a math class, of all places. At Sarah Lawrence, almost no one wanted to take math, so the faculty often had to come up with clever outside-the-box classes that would appeal to artistic types. The course was called Mathematics & Jorge Luis Borges, and I had never heard of him, but it seemed really interesting to me, so I took it. We read a ton of his stories and some poems and a few essays, and we talked about his use of mathematical concepts and related it to some seriously interesting theory. That class was formative as fuck. It was like I had found what I never knew I had been looking for, and I suddenly finally knew what I wanted to do with fiction.

Borges wrote about legends and myths and history and literary theory, and he wrote a detective story and stories about books. He utilized the concept of infinity in ways that I will never stop trying to imitate. If you've never read anything by Borges, go find yourself a copy of The Aleph, and read the title piece. Then read some others. Then find some other collections.

Anthony Kerrigan is generally regarded as the best translator. I have full collected works translated by Andrew Hurley, which is passable. I can't speak to the others. Mostly, reading Borges makes me wish I could read in Spanish, because if his work is so unbelievably beautiful in this decidedly unmusical language, I can't even imagine how amazing it must be in the original form.

This has been a public service announcement.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 12 - A book you used to love but don't anymore

This sorta feels like all kinds of blasphemy, but here goes:

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Ahhh, I know, right? But it's true. I read these books around the time the movies were coming out, and was just goddamn obsessed with the whole thing for ages and ages. And now a lot of time has passed and it has been a while and I realized that I am so unattached to my beautiful Alan Lee illustrated boxed set that I am strongly considering selling them for much-needed money. That's where we're at. I dunno what happened, really... I think once the thirteen/fourteen/fifteen-year old obsession faded and I stepped back a bit, I realized I didn't have any desire to reread them, and didn't retain the deep fondness I used to feel. Maybe I just grew out of high fantasy... so full of long, rambling descriptions and deep chunks of history and white dudes. Which is funny because that is all exactly what The Name of the Rose is filled with. But somehow it's different. I still like fantasy, but not as much as I used to, and not in the same way. Lord of the Rings was great for the time in my life that I loved it, but now I need my fantasy darker, grittier, more stimulating and more diverse of cast. Ahahaha good luck with that one, right? Well, that's why I write books.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 11 - A book you hated

The Angel's Game, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I read this book immediately after reading Zafón's better known work The Shadow of the Wind, which was quite good and somewhat Borgesian and made me want more. They are actually set in the same world and approximately the same timeline; this book is set several years earlier.

I had a singularly bizarre reading experience with this one. I read it almost entirely (or perhaps straight-up entirely) in one day. This is utterly unheard of for me. I just couldn't put it down. I was totally fascinated and it felt very appropriate for me at that time (it is about a struggling writer) and it was spooky and atmospheric and all that good stuff.

And then, suddenly and inobtrusively, it turned on me.

I think it started to go bad before I even realized it. Thinking back on it now, though it is largely a blur, there was some stuff happening that I was on board with at the time, before I started getting a bad feeling, which later became awful and frustrating as I realized none of it had made any sense, and that my trust in the author's willingness to tie it all together was in vain. This book scared me, and not in a way I enjoyed. It scared me in a way that kind of messed me up for a few days, and I would be really hard-pressed to explain why. It was dark, but no darker than some other stuff I've read. Something about it just really started to rub me the wrong way, until before I knew it I hated the protagonist, and the direction the story was going, and the way that every idea I had about the plot was turning out to be wrong, leaving me feeling disoriented and betrayed. All that may not be enough to ascribe so strong a word as hate, but that isn't the end.

Though I did my best to blot this book from my memory immediately after reading it, I do recall that the end of this book was a fucking nightmare. There's no way to explain without spoiling it, so, if you have any reason to believe you might read this and feel differently, skip over the next paragraph.

So as I recall, this totally batshit emotionally manipulative asshole of a protagonist (and none of that in a fun, exciting, relatable way, if you ask me) has this woman that he's just obsessed with, and when he loses her somehow he sinks into deep depression, which is all pretty interesting except she keeps coming back and like, she's in an asylum, and then she winds up DEAD SOMEHOW (???) but he still can't forget her (maybe it was me getting tired of reading about heterosexuals, but oh my god, I was so bored by this) and then after all this other weird shit goes down and the book crashes to a chaotic, upsetting halt, there's this incredibly strange epilogue type thing where... as an older, tired, regret-filled man, he comes into the care of a young girl, who he somehow knows to be his fucking beloved. So like, the book ends with him in his sixties taking care of an eleven year old version of his girlfriend. UMMMMMMM if that doesn't sound like some whacked out Twilight bullshit to you, then I can't help you. I for one was profoundly put off by this ending and it made me reevaluate everything that had happened and in general I felt like the whole thing had been a huge waste.

This book was weird. I know a lot of people have enjoyed it and I guess there are reasons to defend it. But of all the books I haven't enjoyed or have found boring or have failed to connect with, this is the only one that jumps to mind when I think of "hate." Yuck.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 10 - Favorite classic book

There sure are some good ones out there, but I think I gotta go with this one which I only read recently.

The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger

I somehow missed out on this book in school, which is probably a good thing because I probably would have hated it. I finally read it just last year, and man it was great. It is great for all the reasons you've heard. I don't know what else to say about it. It is what it is.

Day 09 - A book you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving

Oh dear I forgot to do this yesterday. Welp, just gonna have to post twice today.

The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

This book, like many of the books assigned through the school system, seemed like it was going to be a drag. But it was wonderful. I got to read it over the summer, so that may have helped some, but it was so absorbing and so heartbreaking and fascinating, and it struck several chords with me. In particular, though the circumstances were HELLA different, it reminded me a little of the year I spent living abroad in Estonia.

I remember that this was one of the first books I thought about adapting to a movie, not because I could (especially not at age 16) but because it was an interesting exercise trying to figure out how I'd do it. I remember I had a lot pretty innovative ideas, particularly for how to handle the varying POVs and also how to translate Adah's endless internal snarkmonologue into something that would work on screen. Well, not to mention everyone's internal monologues. I think I had a different technique for each one of them? All I remember is that one such technique was the thing Woody Allen does in Annie Hall, where he steps right out of the scene to editorialize at the camera. I remember seeing that around that time in my life and thinking holy shit that is awesome, and how it was one of the first times I realized you could really do some crazy creative shit in movies. For Adah I think I wanted subtitles corresponding to various facial expressions. It probably wouldn't have worked at all, but it was fun to think about.

Like many of these books, I gotta reread it sometime.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 08 - Most overrated book

Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen

*ducks tomatoes*

Sorry, Austen fans. I just do not enjoy her work and this book made me want to fall asleep in so many ways. And I'm sick of hearing about it, frankly! I recognize it's importance in the literary world, I guess, I just don't want to have to read it. Maybe if there were zombies, or something.


not even the zombies help

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 07 - Most underrated book

This is a tricky one! What does "underrated" mean? Underrated by whom? Because I don't really pay a huge amount of attention to what The People are saying, and I don't read book reviews... I only ever knew what my fellow students thought about books we read in class. And in class you hate almost everything you have to read.

So here's what I did. I googled "underrated books" and looked at the lists of books lacking in ratings on, which isn't really the same thing I guess, but whatever?? And I spotted one that was actually in my Day 2 post.

Maurice, by E. M. Forster

Yo, not only is this book great, it's an important cultural document. A novel about a young man coming to terms with his sexuality in a difficult time period, written from real life experience. Forster doubted it would ever be published due to its themes. But it was, eventually, and not enough people know about it.

I guess I don't have much more to say about it, except I need to read it again. Here's a promotional photo from the totally sexy Merchant-Ivory film adaptation:


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 06 - A book that makes you sad

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon

"Sad" is an understatement. This book did not make me sad so much as it tore me to pieces. It took me a very long time to read because there were periods where I just couldn't carry on. I had to set it aside. I remember when I got into the latter half, where shit gets messy, there was one day where I put it down and literally curled up on the floor for a while. I also remember going to see some light-hearted musical one evening after reading some tough shit and being unable to focus on the musical, because what I had read that day was still digging into my gut. This is one of the hardest books I've ever read. It was also, as you'll hear round and about, a very fine work.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 05 - A book that makes you happy

Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett

I am reading this book RIGHT NOW, but even whackier, would you believe this is my FIRST PRATCHETT EXPERIENCE? Well actually now that I've said that, I realize it's technically not, but this is definitely the first time I've set out to get into Discworld, as opposed to idly reading a book not knowing what the heck it was a part of. I'm really not very far in at all, but I already love it to bits and it fills me with smiles. Pratchett is so hilarious and clever and this book got me through a plane trip, which is saying something, as almost nothing can distract me from how much I hate being on planes.

I haven't been reading it lately, because I think my savoring method is to just... infinitely prolong the reading process? Which is silly. Fortuitously, my girlfriend just started reading it as well, so now we can climb through it together. Yay!

SPEAKING OF INFINITELY PROLONGED, it would be a crime if I got past both the series question and this question without giving an honorable mention to this baby, presented without comment:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 04 - Favorite book of your favorite series

Gah! Why didn't I pick a series I'd read more recently.... also I'm fairly certain that all members of the Griffin & Sabine mythos are equally amazing, so, would I know what to say even if I was up on them? Maybe?? I am failing this book meme, ahaha.

Well, okay. I'm gonna go rogue and do my favorite book of my favorite childhood series, which I also barely remember, except the lasting fondness.

Mossflower, by Brian Jacques

You bet your sweet bippy I was into Redwall, Redwall was the best. All that mousefood. So good. I read a ton of these books and I no longer remember almost anything about them or even which ones I read or what order I read them in (probably the wrong one -- definitely the wrong one, I'm pretty sure I started with Martin the Warrior for some reason), but I do remember that Mossflower kicked ass and I loved it because come on, prison breakouts! That is about all I remember from this book! Oh and what's his name, Gonff?? YES google tells me I am right, go me. "Gonff the Mousethief." Resident comic relief and major boss.

I still wouldn't say Redwall outweighs Griffin & Sabine for me because in terms of significant reading experiences, adventure stories about rodents were pretty formative, but postmodern mixed-media epistolary mindfuck was definitely way more formative. Anyone who knows me can probably attest.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 03 - Your favorite series

Griffin & Sabine, by Nick Bantock

I haven't read these books in a LONG time, and I'm not even sure I read all of them, but they stuck with me and I've been waiting and waiting to obtain all of them. The full story is actually two trilogies, The Griffin & Sabine Trilogy and The Morning Star Trilogy. They're epistolary picture book/novels that contain facsimiles of postcards and actual letters folded up inside envelopes and collages, and the art is oh so very beautiful, and it's a really incredible story besides. It's a correspondence between two people who've never met but nonetheless discover that they share a sort of supernatural connection. It's really really great and oh god I want to read them all now I gotta get my hands on the other books. Dang.

If you are not familiar with these, I highly recommend getting on that right now because they are amazing as hell.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 02 - A book that you've read more than 3 times

Golly gosh I dunno if I have one of these! I'm so bad about reading books even twice! I'm very much a "get it done and move on" kind of reader, which is lame and I really want to change it. I love it when people talk about books they read yearly, or books they love so much that they just read them again and again, and I want to experience that. I don't have that one book that is all battered and loved from years of rereading. Which makes me sad.

Here are some books I could imagine developing such a relationship with, some of which I'm sure you'll hear about later:

Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 01 - Best book you read last year

The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco

I read a ton of books last year, but without even thinking too hard about it, I know this to be the answer. It was just so so good, and it totally rocked my entire impression of myself as a reader, and I gotta say it is probably gonna show up more than once on this list. For those who are not familiar with Mr. Eco, he's an Italian professor of semiotics (file that link under "Definitely Gonna Explore That Later") who also randomly writes totally amazing novels. So far I have only read this one, but I know, I just know, that all of them are amazing. This book blew my mind. To describe it would be almost useless because it sounds HELLA boring (at least, if you're me) -- in this secluded monastery in the 1300s there are murders and these monks are keeping secrets from each other and one of them plays detective and it is all told by his novice assistant who is a big derp. That sort of sounds interesting, but it also sounds like it could potentially be snoozeville. It's very thoughtful and meandering and takes a long time to really get going and there are huge sections that are mostly concerned with medieval Catholic teachings and history. Those all sound like things to which I am enthusiasm-challenged. And I think there are still plenty of sorts who wouldn't get into it.

But give it a shot. Make sure you get a copy that has Eco's Postscript in the back, because those notes were exactly as earth-shattering for me as the book itself. There he relates that several friends to whom he showed the manuscript suggested he take out the whole beginning, some hundred pages, and he was like hell no. The reason being, that stuff is a rite of passage. It's like climbing the mountain to the abbey. You have to get through the gentle-paced, philosophy-laden atmosphere-setup before you can really appreciate the rest of the novel. I remember reading it and being amazed while reading it that I was enjoying it so much, and it's just because I got so sucked in. That world was so real and I loved it, and I was more satisfied by this book than I have been by a book in a looong time.

Also, William of Baskerville is the Sherlock Holmes of monks and he even has a totally credulous wide-eyed narrator pal who occasionally gives him great ideas and also has a lot of lady drama, and if that doesn't sound amazing to you then turn back now.

30 Days of Books

So I'm doing a 30 Days meme! Because why not. At least I'll be posting regularly, hopefully.

Here's the master list. I'll come back to add links.

Day 01 - Best book you read last year
Day 02 - A book that you've read more than 3 times
Day 03 - Your favorite series
Day 04 - Favorite book of your favorite series
Day 05 - A book that makes you happy
Day 06 - A book that makes you sad
Day 07 - Most underrated book
Day 08 - Most overrated book
Day 09 - A book you thought you wouldn't like but ended up loving
Day 10 - Favorite classic book
Day 11 - A book you hated
Day 12 - A book you used to love but don't anymore
Day 13 - Your favorite writer
Day 14 - Favorite book of your favorite writer
Day 15 - Favorite male character
Day 16 - Favorite female character
Day 17 - Favorite quote from your favorite book
Day 18 - A book that disappointed you
Day 19 - Favorite book turned into a movie
Day 20 - Favorite romance book
Day 21 - Favorite book from your childhood
Day 22 - Favorite book you own
Day 23 - A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven't
Day 24 - A book that you wish more people would've read
Day 25 - A character who you can relate to the most
Day 26 - A book that changed your opinion about something
Day 27 - The most surprising plot twist or ending
Day 28 - Favorite title
Day 29 - A book that everybody hated but you liked
Day 30 - Your favorite book of all time