Celebrate Banned Books Week. Read Something Dirty.

It's Banned Books Week, which has gotten me thinking about which books have been banned, where, when and most of all, why? I always used to imagine books that were banned were banned because they contained things that were completely shocking and anti-social at the time of publication. Things used to be different, and I get that.

But I've recently been hearing all sorts of shocking things about books being banned for no good reason - particularly those for young adults. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson has garnered a huge amount of backlash, but more recently Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell has been the topic of hot debate - and this one really blows my mind - I found the book smart, entertaining, innocent and real. I thought Rowell did a great job of creating a believable teen world that neither tries to sugar-coat or whitewash the experiences of the characters, nor get too graphic about them. And I worry - if this book is a cause for concern, which books aren't?

I came across a great add for gun control while looking into banned books:

I love this juxtaposition because not only does it point out that gun control is a major issue - and one that can endanger kids' lives - but also that over-policing the fictional worlds of books is absurd.

Here are some other books - both classic and more contemporary - that have been banned. Some of them might surprise you!

I can understand questioning what is and isn't appropriate for young readers - though, as you may know from my post on the subject, I tend to think they're capable of choosing their own books and should be able to do so. But what I don't get is banning books that have even a hint of questionable language or any reference to sex. I actually don't get banning these books, period. If you don't want your kid to read a book, talk to them about it. Explain why you're concerned. Help them find alternate reading material that you deem to be more appropriate. This is your right (and probably responsibility) as a parent. But don't go on a crusade to ban the book from being sold or carried in libraries. Don't go on a mission to stop the author talking about it. I don't think it's okay for anyone to remove access to a book for everyone. No one has the right to decide what I can and cannot read but me, thank you very much!

Oh, also? Banning a book is pretty much the best way to ensure that EVERYONE will want to read it. It's human nature. We like the forbidden. And on that note, I have a confession to make:

And I KNOW I'm not alone. Thoughts? Banned Books to recommend? Share in the comments! And if you'd like to learn more about Banned Books Week, go here.


Top Ten Tuesday: The Best Sequels Ever

This week's Top Ten Tuesday on The Broke and the Bookish is all about sequels. THE BEST SEQUELS EVER, to be precise. Now, this is gonna be tough. I don't read a lot of series, and when I do the books tend to blend together. If I make it to ten it'll eventually just be any sequel I've actually read. Look, I'm sorry, but I don't really do sequels!

1. I gotta go with pretty much the whole Harry Potter series, though I think 4, 5 and 6 were my favourites.

2. The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole by Sue Townsend. I read this whole series as a child, and I loved them all. Adrian is totally pathetic and messed up, but man are the books funny.

3. Going Solo by Roald Dahl. This was the sequel to Boy, and both books together are his memoirs. In Going Solo, obviously, he learns to fly a plane - solo. I don't really remember much else except I liked it.

4. The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies. I read all of these books and remember enjoying them all - I can barely remember what it was about though, much less which book was which. But I read all three, which would suggest that the second one was good or I wouldn't have made it through!

5. Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Okay, so this won't make my list of favourite books anytime soon, but the series worked pretty well as a series. So it's going on the list.

6. Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, obviously. Well, I mean, you just have to include it, don't you? Though honestly? I think The Hobbit was probably my favourite.

7. I enjoyed all of the James Herriot books that I read - I guess technically they're a series, though loosely so.

8. The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding. This one was the sequel to Bridget Jones' Diary, and I love both of them. Can't WAIT for Mad About the Boy to come out next month!

9. Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. I think this was the sequel to The Bean Trees - both brilliant.

10. Okay, I admit it, I'm out. So I guess you can fill in here any of the other series I read - Agent 21, Sookie Stackhouse, The Dark is Rising, Alan Garner, Tales of the City... and probably some more I can't remember!

MORE TALES OF THE CITY - Armistead Maupin

The tenants of 28 Barbary Lane have fled their cozy nest for adventures far afield. Mary Ann Singleton finds love at sea with a forgetful stranger, Mona Ramsey discovers her doppelgänger in a desert whorehouse, and Michael Tolliver bumps into his favorite gynecologist in a Mexican bar. Meanwhile, their venerable landlady takes the biggest journey of all—without ever leaving home. - Goodreads


You know those Will Ferrell memes that have been going around? Oh, right, you might need me to narrow it down a bit. Okay, these ones:

 Or, if you prefer (since you're a bookish crowd):

Well, the whole time I was reading this book, that's pretty much all I kept thinking. This review is going to have a bunch of spoilers (about both this and the previous book), because there's really no way to describe or assess this book without them. So, consider this your SPOILER WARNING. If you're planning to read this book, go and do it now and come back when you're done. I promise I won't go anywhere.

Nope? Okay, at your own risk, then...

We left the residents of 28 Barbary Lane abruptly. The rooftop creepy guy turned out to be even creepier than our wildest suspicions (and subsequently fell off a cliff). We knew Mrs. Madrigal had a secret, but not what it was. We discovered that D'Orothea isn't who she seems to be, and that she and Mona aren't going to continue living together. Michael and Brian finally learn to get along, though they're both pathetically single and Michael and Jon don't get any closure. Lots of story lines in need of an ending. 

Enter More Tales of the City. I expected more of the same - sweet, quirky, and lovably naive characters encountering dating drama, work drama and possibly some drama from the past. What I got? (And here's where the spoilers start...) Amnesia. Paralysis. A rich ladies' cult. A plot to beat up a pregnant lady. Death by fiery automobile accident. Everyone turning out to be related. A whorehouse in the desert. And cannibalism. Yes, CANNIBALISM. 

Oh wow, was I not prepared for any of that. 

On the plus side, we finally learn what's up with Mrs. Madrigal. So there's that.


Book Title: More Tales of the City
Author: Armistead Maupin
Edition: Paperback
Published by: HarperPerennial
Released: May 29th, 2007 (Re-issue, original January 1st, 1980)
Genre: Fiction, San Francisco, 1970s
Pages: 340
Date Read: September 18-23, 2013
Rating: 6/10


A-Z Bookish Survey

I saw this over on Care's Online Book Club blog and traced it back to the original source, Perpetual Page-Turner, so that I could join in! I love fill-in the blank type link-ups, I like that there are a bunch of questions that I can give short answers to and that will make me think about things to write about that I normally wouldn't have. This one is a book-themed A-Z list, with a question corresponding to each letter of the alphabet. It's long, so without further ado - let's get started!

Author you’ve read the most books from:

Wow. I really don't know! I read all the Harry Potter books, which I guess is 7 books by one author. I also read all the Tom Robbins books, which is 8 and I read the boxed set of the Sookie Stackhouse books which I believe is about 8 or 9. As a child I read at least that many books by Roald Dahl, so it's possible Dahl wins.

Best Sequel Ever:

Any of the Harry Potter books. Take your pick. Excellent series.

Currently Reading:

I have a tendency to read several books at a time and bounce back and forth between them - whatever I'm digging the most or in the mood for. I'll usually have a couple of non-fiction choices, a couple of fiction - often a more challenging book, a YA (or other "fun") book. Right now I'm reading Masters of Sex by Thomas Maier (because I'm loving the TV show), Blackwater by Jeremy Scahill, Under the Dome by Stephen King (also because of the TV show), The New Yorkers by Cathleen Schine, Looking for Alaska by John Green, The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) and More Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin.

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Like the original blogger, I'm gonna go with tea - if it's cooler weather. I'm not great with caffeine, so I tend to stick with rooibos-based, herbal or decaf. Just discovered a Harney & Sons one called Comoro, which is decaf black tea and vanilla. If I'm feeling in need of comfort I'll have hot chocolate. If it's summer I'll usually stick with a glass of water or ice-cold beer.

E-reader or Physical Book?

If I had to pick just based on preference, I'd say physical book. I see books as part of my home, my decor, my personal style and personality. I feel safe surrounded by them, as if they were my friends or family members. There are also some books that simply don't work as electronic books - anything with art or colourful pictures. And there's something about the smell of a new book and the feel of the pages.

That said, life isn't always just about preference. It's also about practicality and comfort. Since having back surgery a few years ago, I stopped reading as much because I literally couldn't carry the extra weight of a book around with me all day. For this, e-readers and the book app on my phone have been godsends and have helped revive my reading life. I am incredibly grateful, and will always say that if an e-reader will help you read more, go for it. They're also amazing for reading at night, reading a heavy book (I tried the physical Under the Dome and OMG sore hands) and traveling.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

I'm not one for literary crushes in general. I honestly can't remember most of the characters from books I've read more than a few months ago. So based on that, I'd say probably Augustus from The The Fault In Our Stars by John Green, Park from Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell or Simon from City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick. I nearly gave up several times because it was so similar to the movie and part of me felt like the movie was enough. But I'm really glad I stuck with it, because the book ending was so much better.

Hidden Gem Book:

84 Charing Cross Road
by Helen Hanff or I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, probably. Out of my more recent reads I'd probably say Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell or The Name of the Star by Maureen Jonson. Out of more out-of-the way/artsy books. I love Banksy's - his early bookettes (Cut It Out, Existencillism, Banging Your Head Against A Brick Wall) and more recently Wall and Piece. He's my favourite artist and has a witty, intelligent, critical take on the world that really appeals to me.

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

The original poster claimed that Goodreads was her moment because it led her to start reading again. I am similarly fond of the site - it helps me keep track of what I've read, what I want to read, gives me recommendations and lets me browse other people's reviews and reading lists. I've also started lists and online book clubs, and I like the feeling of accomplishment updating my status on books affords me.

Just Finished:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and Austenland by Shannon Hale.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

If someone recommends a book to me and makes it sound interesting, I'll usually give it a shot. But left to my own devices I usually won't go near romance novels (the Harlequin kind), westerns, most horror and most sci-fi/fantasy. Which isn't to say that I haven't read awesome books from some of these genres - but it's a bit harder for me to get into them and I have such a long reading list as it is that I usually don't put a lot of effort into trying.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

According to Goodreads, The Cider House Rules is 973 pages, though I don't remember it being that long. (I'm not counting omnibus editions of series or books I didn't finish).

Major book hangover because of:

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. OMG that book was difficult to let go of!

Number of Bookcases You Own:

Depends. If you mean honest-to-goodness, full sized shelves, then we have 4 in the house. But I've also annexed part of the DVD shelf, a smaller bookcase that I've tucked into my desk, some old shoe shelves, the shelves on my bedside table... and there are a few stashed on odd bits of desk or piles. Basically, there are books everywhere.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

I know there are a few I've re-read. I don't know if I've read any more than a couple of times. Ones that come to mind are the Harry Potter books, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins.

Preferred Place To Read:

Anywhere that is comfy and cosy enough to allow me to sink into the book and become unaware of my surroundings. A nice armchair, the couch or in bed if I can get the pillows right!

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

I don't tend to really collect quotes, I just appreciate passages as I read them. So the only one I can think of right now is one I used for the Goodreads book club I co-founded:

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. And then there are books like An Imperial Affliction, which you can’t tell people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.” - John Green (The Fault in Our Stars)

Reading Regret:
Again, I find myself agreeing with the original poster on this - not having grown up with the Harry Potter books. It's not a regret I could have done anything about, since they weren't even published until I was in my early 20s, but it's my biggest literary sadness nonetheless. I also regret the time I lost when I stopped reading regularly around the time that I graduated from University with major burnout and had back surgery. I lost so much time! And there are books I'll never get to read now because of it. So there's that.

Series You Started And Need To Finish(all books are out in series):

I recently went on a trip to San Francisco and subsequently started reading the Tales of the City books by Armistead Maupin. I've got all the books lined up and intend to read the original series plus spinoff books - Michael Tolliver Lives, Mary Anne in Autumn and the upcoming Days of Anna Madrigal.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates by Tom Robbins.

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. I absolutely love this book. I don't know if it'll be in my top five of all time, but it's definitely my top five of the year.

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding, though I'm also pretty stoked about Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland too!

Worst Bookish Habit:

I can't go into a book store without buying a book. I can't go a month without buying a few. I haven't read all the books in my house, so there's really no justification - but there's something about a new book that's just.... magic.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

Dispatches from the Edge by Anderson Cooper, on the bookcase closest to me at any rate!

Your latest book purchase:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - ordered and anxiously waiting for it to arrive!

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

Probably Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Such an easy book to get into, and things just keep happening! There's no down-time to stop reading. You just have to keep going and keep going and keep going until it's done!

So there you have it! My answers to the A-Z Bookish Survey. Wanna give it a go? Link up with the original post and  be sure to share your link in the comments so I can stop by and check it out!


Book Memes & Pics: You Left WHO In Charge?

Either of these would be awesome and also very dangerous for me. Though the books would probably be more so. Not only would I be unable to resist taking at least half of them home with me, but I'd probably get my nose stuck in one and not even notice people walking off with the other half!


Books on the Web: What You Didn't Know About Sherlock Holmes, The Worst Book You've Read, Chaos Walking... and More!

It's been a busy week for bookish articles and news on the web - so I already have another roundup for you guys!  
  • 'Blurred Lines' Model Emily Ratajkowski Cast As Ben Affleck's Mistress In 'Gone Girl'. For those of you anxiously awaiting casting news!
  • 10 Things You Didn't Know About Sherlock Holmes. In anticipation of the 3rd season of the British modern-day series based on the classic detective, this list was very interesting. For example, did you know that he never actually said the famous phrase, "Elementary, my dear Watson"? And the deer-stalker was an illustrator's addition.
  • Bookish Ramblings: Rights as a Reader/Reviewer. I found this fascinating. Like Jenn, I'm not an author. I'm not a literature professor, nor do I have any advanced training in creative writing outside of the few courses I took in college. And yet I feel as if I have the right to share my thoughts and opinions on the books I read. Why? Because I like reading other readers' reactions to books. I like to know what they enjoyed or didn't enjoy, what aspects of the book worked or disappointed them. Partly because there are so many books out there to choose from and this helps me narrow down my list, but also because it helps me interact with my reading and see other perspectives. If you're a book reviewer, what's your take on the issue?
  • Book Riot Poll: Who Is Your Favourite Literary Character? I still haven't been able to answer this one - there are too many! Dumbledore! Anne Shirley! Holden Caulfield! I don't think I can decide.
  • 12 Unpublished Novels We Wish We Could Read.My vote is definitely Hunter S. Thompson's unpublished early novel, Prince Jellyfish, would definitely top my list!
  • CHAOS WALKING….Into a Movie Theater Near You? The Knife of Never Letting Go has been on my to-read list for a few months - and it looks like the Chaos Walking Trilogy (of which it is the opening volume) is going to be turned into a movie!
  • Open thread: What's the worst book on your bookshelves? This one was just FUN! My answer was (of course) Fifty Shades of Grey, but I also included a few bonus answers - The Lovely Bones, Eat, Pray, Love and Less than Zero. What would your pick be?
  • Reading for fun improves children's brains, study confirms.We readers have long suspected that reading from an early age is at least one of the contributing factors to our overgrown craniums (we're so modest, too). But now a research study has set out to prove it.
  • Man Booker prize will open to US authors in 2014, reports say. The prize has currently considered works by writers from the UK, Ireland and Commonwealth countries. This new development has critics wondering if the move will rob the prize of its identity - Melvyn Bragg even went so far as to say, "It's rather like a British company being taken over by some worldwide conglomerate." What do you think?

Phew! It's like the world of books never sleeps or something!


AUSTENLAND - Shannon Hale

Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waisted gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own? - Goodreads Description


I guess I didn't expect much of this book. To be honest, I picked it up on a whim. But even so.... I was disappointed. I wouldn't say I'm a huge fan of Austen - more that I have fond memories of reading her books at a certain point in my development as a reader. And occasionally - often when the weather begins to turn - I find simple romantic novels appealing.

This one takes place not in Austen's world, but in a modern-day facsimile thereof. Jane Hayes, a Darcy-obsessed young professional, so far unlucky in love, can't seem to get past her romantic notions of love based on Austen novels (or, more accurately, the Colin Firth movie depiction). The book takes place in an odd play-acted vacation spot, where paid actors create Austen's world and characters for women like Jane (but usually much more wealthy) to step into. 

Already the premise is a tricky one to pull off. First of all, what's the point of play-acting falling in love with Darcy when you never know if it's real - or worse know that it isn't - and it can't ever go anywhere? It's false love that therefore defeats the whole fantasy. On top of which the lines between acting and reality are never well defined in the book. The reader isn't let in on whether what Jane is seeing in her fellow Austenland characters are part of the play or a glimpse of real emotion. I feel like this could have been written in such a way as to give an inkling, therefore making it more interesting.    

And then there's Jane, who quite frankly, I found a bit annoying. She bounces back and forth at whiplash pace between being overly cynical and "swearing off men entirely" and wanting to lose herself in the ultra-romance of the Austen world. It makes no sense. These are polar opposites. It's unclear what she hopes to get from the whole experience - or what the great-aunt who sent her to Austenland hoped to provide her with. Her very own Darcy? Or a cure to her hope of finding him? 

**SPOILER** Her dalliance with the gardener is likewise confusing. There doesn't seem to be much of a connection there, beyond the fact that he can procure modern-day enjoyments for her and happens to like basketball. He fills her need for something "real" - but I kept wondering, isn't the whole point of her vacation to avoid reality? And if she wants "real," why not simply leave?

It's obvious that Mr. Nobley is supposed to be the aloof gentleman who is resisting falling in love with her yet unable to do so. A character familiar from Austen's own writing - but not so convincingly portrayed or attractive here. I get what Hale was trying to do, but it really didn't draw me in. He may have won over Jane and countless other female guests, but not this reader.

And then we come to her enquiries by surreptitious email about the background of the actors playing the two men - and this further confuses the plot. Is Nobley the heartbroken man whose crazy wife betrayed him and broke his heart, or is that actor the one portraying Captain East? And does it even matter if all they're doing is acting? Why bother trying to find out this information at all? 

And the ending really didn't work for me. Seriously? You've got two paid actors who, after playing these roles for years suddenly both fall in love with a guest (who they've "known" for a couple of weeks) and then follow her to the airport and literally fight over her? And then one follows her onto the plane, apparently planning to move to a different continent for a girl who only just learned his real name? Come ON. **END SPOILER**

I had hoped for a bit of fluffy escapism, but what I found instead was a story that was easy to read, yes, but also muddled and a bit frustrating. I didn't much care about Jane, and none of the other female characters were sufficiently developed as to evoke any sympathy. The male characters were likewise ill-conceived and alternately menacing, frustrating and falsely charming. 

Perhaps had I been more of an Austen devotee I would have found the overall premise more appealing and had an easier time suspending my disbelief. Perhaps. But as it stands, I was glad this was such a short novel.  


Book Title: Austenland
Author: Shannon Hale
Edition: Paperback
Published by: Bloomsbury USA
Released: 2007 (Re-issued July 2nd, 2013)
Genre: Fiction, Jane Austen, 1800s, Romance
Pages: 208
Date Read: September 13-16, 2013
Rating: 3/10


Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Fall TBR List...

 This week's Top Ten Tuesday list on The Broke and the Bookish is a good 'un: Books on My Fall TBR List. Oh geez. This could be a very long post. So I'm sure a lot of these lists will be books coming out this fall, and I've got some of those. They're the ones at the top of the list. But I'm also going to include the books on my personal TBR list - some of which have been around for a very long time.

1. Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

2. The Beginning of Everything by Robin Schneider

3. Word. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland

4.Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schiene

5. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

6.Tales of the City series by Armistead Maupin

7. Joyland by Stephen King

8. The Cuckoo's Calling by JK Rowling (aka Robert Galbraith)

9. The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence

10. The Silence of Bonaventura Arrow by Rita Leganski

11. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

12. Billy Lynn's Long Haftime Walk by Ben Fountain

13. Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

14. Forgotten by Catherine McKenzie

15. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Is that enough??!!!??


Books on the Web: JK Rowling's Big News, Sympathetic Villains, What Your Books Would Tell You... and More!

I keep coming across awesome book-related images, posts and articles and I figure maybe I'll keep track of them and share them with you guys occasionally. Here are some of the things that caught my interest recently:

What bookish links are you digging? Share in the comments!



Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
- From Goodreads Description


I have had this book on my to-read list for over a year, ever since a few people raved about it to me. But being as I'm not a gamer and didn't really get to experience pop culture in the '80s, I wasn't sure if I'd get all of it. I worried that it would go right over my head, or worse, end up making me feel sad and left out.

But once I got into it, I realized that even if I hadn't gotten a single one of the references (which, thank goodness, wasn't the case), it would have still been a very enjoyable read. Cline does a great job of drawing on a huge variety of references so that pretty much anyone who hasn't lived under a rock for the past 30 years will find something they recognize. Usually something that will bring up a huge bout of nostalgia.

The story is that of a loner, but one who you immediately root for. His quest is noble, his search diligent and he's just pathetic enough to qualify as the underdog. I was drawn into this story nearly immediately, and found myself having trouble putting the book down - even to go to sleep. It doesn't take long for Wade to find the first key, and the story continues on at a quick pace from there.

He encounters a widely varied cast of characters - some of whom become virtual friends, others who become virtual and real life enemies. And, of course, there's a girl. A really awesome, kickass one called Art3mis who is as smart, knowledgable and talented as Wade - if not more so.

So here's my advice: Head to the bookstore on your way home from work, pick up Ready Player One, and clear your schedule for as long as it usually takes you to read a book from cover to cover. You won't regret it.


Book Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Edition: Paperback
Published by: Broadway Books
Released: 2011 (This issue June 2012)
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video Games, 1980s
Pages: 374
Date Read: September 7-13, 2013
Rating: 8/10


Book Memes & Pics: Too Many Books, Not Enough SHELVES!!!!

I recently caved and started double-stacking my books because there was literally nowhere left in the house to put them. After filling up my bookshelves, the DVD shelves, my bedside table, the shelves that were supposed to be for shoes, one of the kitchen shelves and the tops of bookcases, I'd started stacking them on the floor. Which I didn't mind, but my cat was using the corners to chew on and that shit just will not stand, yo.


TALES OF THE CITY: A NOVEL - Armistead Maupin

"San Francisco, 1976. A naïve young secretary, fresh out of Cleveland, tumbles headlong into a brave new world of laundromat Lotharios, pot-growing landladies, cut throat debutantes, and Jockey Shorts dance contests. The saga that ensues is manic, romantic, tawdry, touching, and outrageous - unmistakably the handiwork of Armistead Maupin." - Goodreads Description


I first encountered this book not in a bookshop, but on television. Years later I have now finally been to San Francisco, and the book seemed to call to me to finally get around to reading it. So I did. And I can tell you that you should too.

I wasn't around in the '70s, so I didn't get to enjoy the hippy youth culture first hand (instead, I got to witness aging hippies still acting like they were part of a hippy youth culture), but I have always imagined it looking and feeling a lot like this. Eccentric landladies who name their pot plants, neighbours wandering in and out of each others' lives and flats, sexual exploration right out in the open, terrible fashion choices and garish colours... it's all here.

Because it was originally written as a serial in a newspaper, it's more like a series of vignettes than a novel. Each chapter could, theoretically, be read alone, but it's much, much better when read as a whole. There are a few unlikeable characters (of course, for balance), but I really enjoyed getting to know most of them. Mrs. Anna Madrigal (the pot-growing landlady) and Michael Tolliver (the gay neighbour) are probably my favourites. Which is cool, because there's already a book called Michael Tolliver Lives later in the series, and soon-to-be published, a book about Mrs. Madrigal called The Days of Anna Madrigal. Clearly I'm not alone there, then.

The book is a quick read - very easy to get into, a relatively simple plot, and characters who seem to come to life on the page. Of course, my favourite part was the vivid backdrop of San Francisco - I got a real kick out of recognizing areas and places I'd seen only a couple of weeks before. My only regret is not taking it to read while I was there!

I can sense a new series addiction coming on, and I'm sure you'll be seeing follow-up reviews of the rest of the books in the series springing up on this blog over the next few months. (I would say weeks, but I'm going to try to make myself read slowly because I'm afraid I'll miss the characters once it's over!)

SPOILER ALERT I have to admit that the ending wasn't as good as I was expecting. While a lot of the plot lines are tied up by implication, some of it was a bit too vague, and a lot was left unresolved for me. I got to the end and was like, "Really? That's where you're going to end? Huh."

They never reveal the secret that is hinted at between Anna Madrigal and Edgar Halcyon. They don't tell what Mary Ann does about the Lexy situation once Norman is out of the picture, or what else he was up to. Jon and Michael don't meet again, which you expect after reading Jon's side of the story. They don't really show what Mona and D'Orothea are going to do with their relationship other than that Mona is moving back to Barbary Lane. And there's something between Anna Madrigal and Mona that is hinted at but also never revealed.

I got down to the last few chapters and was so drawn into the story that I didn't want to keep reading because I didn't want it to be over. But I wanted to know what happened to the characters so badly I couldn't help myself. So you can imagine my sense of disappointment when I reached the end - and didn't get my answers! I'm aware that this is quite a large series, however, so I'm assuming that it's intended to continue in the next book. It had better, or I'll consider this to be a terrible ending. Definitely get the impression this isn't meant to be read as a stand-alone novel. I'll report back on whether the next book resolves or continues any of these plot lines. END SPOILER

In summary, I think this is a magical cast of characters, many of whom I came to absolutely adore by the end of the book. I want more of them. And I want to know what happens to the plotlines in the following books. So you can bet your ass I'll be moving on to the next in the series as soon as I can get my eager little paws on it! If you're a fan of San Fran, the '70s free love lifestyle it embodies or just enjoy reading books that are heavy on loveable characters, this is the book for you.


Book Title: Tales of the City: A Novel
Author: Armistead Maupin
Edition: Paperback
Published by: HarperPerennial
Released: 2007 (Re-issue, original by Chronicle in 1978)
Genre: Fiction, San Francisco, 1970s
Pages: 371
Date Read: August 31-September 5, 2013
Rating: 7/10


Book Memes & Pics: Long-Awaited Reading

Happy Labor Day, bookworms! Who's using the extra day off to start a long-awaited book? I'm finally digging into Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City - prompted, I'll admit, by a recent trip to San Francisco! Which books have you been meaning to read for ages?

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