• The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
• Paperback: 216 pages
• Publisher: Pocket, 1991 (first published in 1979)
• ISBN: 0671746065
• Genre: Science Fiction/Humor/Classics
• Recommended For: Anyone who has even the slightest sense of silly humor.
Quick Review: Earns a 98 %, or 4.8 stars out of 5. Check out my rubric for my detailed assessment. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Rubric
This review might work for you, it might not. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and, assumedly, the rest of the books in the series) is a book you either get or you don’t. I got it, absolutely, 5-star-loved it, and it seems that the majority of other Goodreads readers got it and loved it as well. But, be warned, this is an insane, very silly book in the way of Monty Python. I highly recommend it.
How I Got Here: One of the first computer games that my dad ever bought me was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a text-based game with zero graphics. The content of the game came straight from the novel, and I absolutely loved it (although it was a really hard game for someone who had never read the book). I loved the zaniness, the humor, and the characters. I bought the book for my husband some years ago, he loved it, and for some reason, I still hadn’t read it until this year. 22 years later after playing the game! By the way, apparently the video game is now available online! Check it out here!
The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.
Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don’t forget to bring a towel!
My Analysis and Critique:
This review might be biased. Biased in the way that I LOVE silly humor, especially silly English humor, and this book is chock-full of it. I also love science fiction, so this book was a match made in heaven for me. With that said, if you don’t dig silly English humor, you might not like this book. Although, I still find that hard to believe.
I love the plot of the story, full of all of its twists and turns and lunacy. I love the characters, both major, but especially minor. The humorous tone is awesome and I rarely read without a smile or an out and out “HA!” exclamation. The science fiction in the novel is equally good, and there were moments when I read about devices thinking that’s just like an I-pod! or The Hitchhiker’s Guide is an E-Reader!. This is one of my favorite aspects of science fiction, the amazing ability of science fiction writers to imagine up the actual future. It happens in Bradbury and Orwell, and it turns out that Adams had the same uncanny ability.
Really, all there is to say, is that I loved this book. Instead of going on in my praise, I’ll just provide the opening lines of the book, which truly reflect the spirit and tone of the novel. If you are intrigued and amused by this excerpt, chances are you’ll love what the rest of the novel offers.
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
This planet has–or rather had–a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had gone wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.
Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, a terrible, stupid catastrophe occurred, and the idea was lost for ever.
This is not her story.
• Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
• Hardcover: 372 pages
• Publisher: Crown, 2011
• ISBN: 030788743X
• Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia
• Recommended For: Lovers of gaming, science fiction, pop culture, Dungeons and Dragons, ’80s music (but you don’t have to be fans of all to enjoy this book); particularly recommended for readers of the Generation X/Y variety.
Quick Review: Earns a 96 %, or 4.8 stars out of 5. Check out my rubric for my detailed assessment. Ready Player One Rubric
I am in love with this book! It was a blast to read and I read slowly so I could savor every single word of it! If you’re looking for a good time with a book, I highly recommend this one!
How I Got Here: It was recommended by my pal Amy at Insatiable Booksluts and it turns out many of my other reading buddies had read and loved it as well. Goes to show that I should always listen and pay attention to my friends’ book recommendations. They got this one right! I read it during my participation in Dewey’s Readathon.
The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis
It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
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.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved–that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt–among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life–and love–in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
My Analysis and Critique:
If any of you follow my tweets and were paying attention last Saturday when I was reading this book, you know how much I loved it. I was ga-ga in love. After the first 30 pages, when Wade, the protagonist and narrator, notes that he “would scan the lunchroom like a T-1000”, I finally tweeted “this book was written for ME!”. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thought so.
SJ of Snobbery responded “No, me. x-( ”
and Patrick Rothfuss, author of The Kingkiller Chronicle series, blurbed “Completely fricking awesome. This book pleased every geeky bone in my geeky body. I felt like it was written just for me,” (book jacket of Ready Player One).
Ready Player One felt like a good friend. The kind of friend with whom you walk around, snickering and making inside jokes. The kind of friend who wouldn’t mind your constant Seinfeld references and would want to play “name the band and song” game when you listen to the radio. A really fun friend who totally gets you.
So, enough with the emotional connection. Let me break down why this book was excellent.
Cline was a genius in writing this book. If he was trying to create a book that would incite instant love with the geeks of the world, he succeeded. He used an always fun and engaging premise for a book: a contest, a quest, to find the Easter Egg (much like a golden ticket) in an MMORPG called OASIS. He has created a world, a future that is definitely dystopian, and yet the geeks rule the world. A world that is obsessed with an online game. Everyone wants to find the Easter Egg when the contest is announced online–the winner will receive all of the wealth of OASIS’s deceased creator, the Willy Wonka of the story, James Halliday. Our narrator, Wade, is the Charlie Bucket of Ready Player One, the unlikely contestant in the game as he is so poor that he can’t afford to level up his avatar past level 10. He can’t travel to the various worlds in the game, so how is he going to be able to search for this egg?
So, he spends his time obsessing over all of the things that Halliday was obsessed with–movies, TV, music, books, and games of the ’80s. Wade even takes Latin in school because Halliday took Latin (which definitely pays off for him). In short, to win Halliday’s contest, he must become Halliday.
Then begins Wade’s adventures in his quest for the egg. He makes friends along the way with other “gunters” (hunters of the egg) and quickly finds himself embattled with the “big bad” of the contest: IOI, a huge corporation that wants to find the egg so that they may take over OASIS and begin charging for its use. OASIS is the only good thing in this future, and no one wants to see it become a corporate machine. So, not only do Wade and his gunter pals want to win for themselves, they want to win to make sure that OASIS doesn’t fall into IOI’s hands.
I found none of the plot to be flat. In fact, I was savoring every single line in the book, and was stoked every time Wade found another clue and had to crack the code. Once he did, the trials he had to ace were so much fun and engaging! Ready Player One worked like every great adventure game I have ever played: solve the puzzle so you can see what conflicts arise next.
Many people complain about the constant dropping of ’80s pop culture references. For example, at one time, Wade notes that he has bought a DeLorean (the infamous Marty McFly-mobile) for flying around the OASIS galaxy. Reviewers complain that this reference and others serve no purpose in the plot. In some parts, they are right. Instead, they serve a purpose with characterization. As noted above, the only reason that Wade does so well in Halliday’s contest is because he becomes Halliday, a person who was known to fire his employees if they didn’t know the subsequent line to any particular random movie line he would quote at work. Everything in Halliday’s life was “geek” and ’80s, and so it must be for Wade to survive in this game. That’s all Wade knows, and it serves him well.
In the end, I will concede that I am very biased towards this book, because I am part of a generation that loves nostalgia and all things self-referential. I love inside jokes. I remember nearly everything from the 1980s. I was an early gamer as a daughter of a computer geek. I took a class in BASIC programming when I was in elementary school. I love ’80s pop and rock music. Real Genius is one of my all-time favorite movies. And, I know what a kobold is and spent much time leveling up by slaying kobolds (and skinning them!). So, this book was obviously right up my alley.
But, I’d like to think that anyone could enjoy it. In fact, I’m going to stop my raving now, remove all of my post-its from the book, and pass it along to my friend Pat (who agrees with Wade and also thinks Howard Jones was a poet). I’ll also probably buy a copy for my Dad, who will probably love the Rush references (my least favorite part!).
Read this book!
It’s finally the weekend, and it couldn’t have come any slower. This was one of those weeks where it went by so slowly that I almost feel that it should be next week by now.
But, the week is over now, and I have a lot of bookish things on my radar that I wanted to share.
Currently, I am still reading The Waste Lands by Stephen King. While it’s hard to put down when I’m reading it, in the last couple of days, I haven’t been able to squeeze in time to read! So, I’m hoping that I can get some reading done this weekend, although it’s unlikely that it will happen because I’m gearing up for…
Mad Men! The two-hour season premiere airs tomorrow and I can’t wait! I will be writing about all things Mad Men tomorrow, and will probably re-watch most of season 4 on Netflix all day before the premiere. I am in love with this show–I consider it to be the most consistent, well-developed series on television to date. I can’t wait to see what’s going on with my favorite characters in this new season! How many of you are as excited as I am?!
Also, I mentioned it earlier this week, but now it’s official–Dewey’s Readathon is back! Sign-ups are here! I have officially signed up to read for 24 hours on April 21st, and I hope you will too. I know my buddy Kyle at A Reader’s Pensieve is doing it, but I’m urging the rest of you to set aside the day to do it as well! And, YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO FOR THE FULL 24 HOURS! (I’m looking at you SJ) Just sign up and read for however long you can go! It’s about all of us setting aside a bit of time to read as a community. We can update our reading progress on our blogs or over on Twitter and root each other on. I enjoyed reading alongside Jillian, of A Room of One’s Own, during the last readathon–we checked in with other through the wee hours, and at the witching hour of 3:00 a.m., when you’re reading a super-creepy book like The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, it’s really nice to know someone else is out there still reading as well. It’s just a very cozy feeling, knowing that you’re reading alongside (virtually) with the rest of your community. Just consider it, please?!
Another bookish event on my radar is Suvudu’s Cage Match 2012 event. Basically, characters from some of the best science fiction and fantasy titles are pitted against each other in a fight to the finish. Participants for this event have included Tyrion Lannister, Zaphod Beeblebrox, The Wicked Witch, Lady Jessica, Bast, and Mr. Wednesday (to name only a few). Check out the round 3 bracket here. The event is almost over (I found out about it on Wednesday, but it’s been going on all month!), but I’m enjoying reading the recaps of the past matches. So far, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Anomander Rake, Moiraine Damodred, Kelsier, Mr. Wednesday, Granny Weatherwax, Kylar Stern, and Erevis Cale are still in it. I’m only familiar with Zaphod and Wednesday, but the cool thing about this event is that it provides me with exposure to characters whom I might want to read about in their respective sci-fi and fantasy titles. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun for fans. I recommend you all check it out!
Finally, I signed up a few weeks ago, but the event has officially started, so I’ll announce now that I am going to take part in The Sarah Addison Allen Challenge hosted by Quirky Girls Read. For those of you who don’t know who Allen is, she writes lovely magical realism novels that always take place in North Carolina and always have something to do with delicious food. When I was in a reading rut last year, I picked up a copy of Allen’s Garden Spells simply for the lovely book cover, and I was surprised to find that I loved it. Her imagery and tone is like drinking an ice-cold Arnold Palmer on a hot summer day. So, for this challenge, I will read all four of Allen’s books in April, and, on the weekend, I will cook or bake something inspired by the story I read. For example, for The Girl Who Chased the Moon, I will bake Hummingbird Cake, as that’s one of the main character’s specialties. I believe that Allen even provides a recipe on her website. It’s gonna be delicious!
This will be my last week of teaching before a month-long Spring Break. So, if I’m not consistent in posting this week, just know that I’ll be a constant presence in April! I can’t wait!
• The History of English Literature by Perry Keenlyside; narrated by Derek Jacobi and Cast
• Audiobook: 0 pages
• Publisher: NAXOS Audiobooks, 2001
• ISBN: 9626342218
• Genre: Nonfiction–Literary History and Analysis
• Recommended For: Anyone looking for a quick overview of the entire history of English Literature, from Chaucer to Ishiguro, in an easy listening audiobook format.
Quick Review: Quick and easy listening to a very, very brief synopsis of the history of English literature. Highly recommended for its quick access to authors and tidbits of English history that one might have forgotten or overlooked. Is also brilliantly read by Jacobi and the rest of the cast, who read snippets from the classics expertly.
How I Got Here: I was returning a book to the library, and decided that I wanted an audiobook for the car. There wasn’t much of a selection, but then I spotted this title and decided it would be perfect for my driver’s short attention span.
The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis
The remarkable story of the world’s richest literary resource, the story telling, poetry, the growth of the novel and the greatest histories and essays, which have informed the language and the imagination wherever English is spoken.
My Analysis and Critique:
This audiobook was perfect for my quick drives to and from work each day! Each track focuses upon one writer from a certain time period, providing a bit of history of the author and the world around them, and then usually providing a reading of a snippet of one of their most notable works. So, usually, I could learn about three to five different authors and works on a one-way trip to my work, and not have to think/listen too hard.
Each disc is also separated into two to three different literary movements/time periods. Being a history, the text obviously moves chronologically. Thus, it is set up as thus:
1. The Age of Chaucer (Middle Ages: Chaucer, Gower’s Sir Gawain, The Bible, and Langland’s Piers Plowman)
2. The End of Chivalry (Mid 15th Century: John Lydgate, Mallory, and Skelton to Sir Thomas More’s Utopia and Le Morte D’Arthur to Wyatt’s love lyrics and Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer)
3. Triumphs of Oriana (Elizabethan Age: Spenser, Raleigh, and Sydney to the trio of Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Jonson, and the poetry and essays by Donne and Bacon)
4. Puritan’s Progress (Restoration: religious metaphysical poetry by Herbert and Vaughan; Cavalier poetry by Lovelace and Herrick; the epic works by Milton; Marvell; Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress; the first English novel in Defoe’s Moll Flanders; Dryden’s poetry; and finally, Congreve’s The Way of the World)
5. The Augustan Age (Age of Enlightenment: Pope’s poetry and essays; Swift’s satirical Gulliver’s Travels; Samuel Johnson’s criticism and Dictionary; the novels of Fielding, Richardson, Sterne, and Smallett; and Gray’s “Elegy on a Country Churchyard”)
6. Romantic Revolution (poetry by Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge; Shelley’s Gothic Frankenstein; Austen’s novels; and the poetry of Shelley, Byron, and Keats)
7. Faith and Doubt (The Victorian Age: Dickens; the rise of children’s literature and the detective novel; the Brontes; Arnold’s “Dover Beach”; the novels of George Eliot; poetry by Tennyson, Rosetti, and Browning; the works of Kipling)
8. The Age of Anxiety (Turn of the century/wartime: Hardy’s novels; Houseman’s poetry; the works of Henry James (?!); Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; Wells’ science fiction; controversial D.H. Lawrence; the war poetry of Wilfred Owen; the Irish writers Yeats, Shaw, Wilde, and Joyce; Woolf’s To The Lighthouse; the satire of Evelyn Waugh; Orwell and Huxley; and the poetry of Eliot and Auden)
9. Post-War, Post-Modern(Multitude of voices and styles, as genres mesh: Cecil Day Lewis; Keith Douglas; Dylan Thomas; Ivy Compton Burnett; Jean Rhys; Doris Lessing; Muriel Spark; Iris Murdoch; William Golding; Angus Wilson; Anthony Powell; Kingsley Amis; Philip Larkin; Ted Hughes; J.G. Ballard; Salman Rushdie; Kazuo Ishiguro; Carol Ann Duffy)
While obviously this text is just a brief skim, a tiny overview of the great expanse of British Literature, I appreciated it for its providing me with some authors and works that I need to check out in the future. I also appreciated that it flowed so nicely together that it sounded like a story–the story that is English literature.
I also relished the lessons learned on the evolution of the novel, as well as the information provided in the Post-War, Post-Modern section (I am shockingly poorly read in modern literature! This needs to be remedied!)
Overall, I highly recommend this to anyone interested in gaining some insight on the history of English literature and listening to some classics read expertly by various voices. I’m not sure how easy this audiobook is to come by, as I just happened upon it at my library, but if you can find it, I recommend it!
If you get a book cover tattooed on your body, you must really love the book. Or, at least, have some sort of connection to the book. Perhaps the art is just that awesome.
After reading Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut, my husband loved the book and the book cover so much that he got it tattooed on his arm. It looks like this:
While I have absolutely zero plans to get a tattoo, if I were, I wouldn’t doubt that it would be bookish. Here are some book covers that I would consider tattooing on my body. Each has some sort of reasoning behind it.
1. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
This would be such a “tuff” tattoo. I would feel super punk rock with a Clockwork Orange tatt.
2. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Marukami
I haven’t read this book, but I love the cover. It would make a lovely “girly” tattoo.
Maybe on my lower back instead of a fairy or dolphin.
3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I love this cover, but hate the book. Have read it twice. This tattoo could be a reminder to not
ever try it again!
4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
I have a good friend with an Alice tattoo. I love it. I have always loved this book,
and if I weren’t such a chicken, this would probably be my first choice for a tattoo.
5. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
I have always been attracted to the art of this classic. I think it would make a wonderful tattoo!
6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
This would be such an awesome tattoo. It represents so much to me,
as a fan of the book, a fan of the genre, and a fan of the themes. I could see this on my arm!
7. Matilda by Roald Dahl
Perfecto! I love the illustrations by Quentin Blake in this book, and Matilda is so wonderfully
bookish that I feel that this would be a very good, meaningful tattoo.
8. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I loved the book, and as a tattoo, Huckleberry Finn could also represent
my young life spent traveling across the states. He was a traveler, I was a traveler. Another great tattoo idea!
9. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
I would be proud to represent Dorothy Parker on my arm. She is (was) a
most awesome woman, and my tattoo could remind me of everything I wish to be as a woman.
10. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Such a wonderfully creepy book cover for one of my favorite horror classics.
This is a sister story, so this tattoo could also remind me of my close connection to my own sister.
I’ve been getting all serious and intense with my writings on Dickens, so I wanted to take a break and get all gushy. Which is good because it’s easy and my brain is mush. So, here’s my top ten list of hotties from the different books that I’ve read over the years…
I have to admit, I feel a little silly and school girl-ish writing this one. If my husband reads this, he is soooo going to make fun of me. If you don’t want to read my gushy-ness, tune in tomorrow, when I return to our regular programming. Well, I just had to make that disclaimer.
1. Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
A very long scene that reflects what I love about Rochester:
I stood face to face with him: it was Mr. Rochester.
‘How do you do?’ he asked.
‘I am very well, sir.’
‘Why did you not come and speak to me in the room?’
I thought I might have retorted the question on him who put it: but I would not take that freedom. I answered–
‘I did not wish to disturb you, as you seemed engaged, sir.’
‘What have you been doing in my absence?’
‘Nothing particular; teaching Adele as usual.’
‘And getting a good deal paler than you were– as I saw at first sight. What is the matter?’
‘Nothing at all, sir.’ […]
‘Return to the drawing-room: you are deserting too early.’
‘I am tired, sir.’
He looked at me for a minute.
‘And a little depressed,’ he said. ‘What about? Tell me.’
‘Nothing–nothing, sir, I am not depressed.’
‘But I affirm that you are: so much depressed that a few more words would bring tears to your eyes- indeed, they are there now, shining and swimming; and a bead has slipped from the lash and fallen on to the flag. If I had time, and was not in mortal dread of some prating prig of a servant passing, I would know what all this means. Well, to-night I excuse you; but understand that so long as my visitors stay, I expect you to appear in the drawing-room every evening; it is my wish; don’t neglect it. […] Good-night my–‘ He stopped, bit his lip and abruptly left me.
At this point in reading, I knew
A. Mr. Rochester had it bad for Jane,
B. I had it bad for Rochester, and
C. My #1 for 10 years, Mr. Darcy, had been bumped from the top of my book boyfriends!
2. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.
Oh Darcy. How I love your social awkwardness and your upfront ways. You had me at “she is tolerable.”
3. Julian from The Forbidden Game by L.J. Smith
Light to darkness, Jenny. Darkness to light. It’s always been this way.
My teen crush. He was the antagonist AND the love interest–it totally threw me for a loop that I was crushing on a bad guy. This one definitely influenced my love for Spike from Buffy.
4. Bill Denbrough from IT by Stephen King
Bill was here, and Bill would take care; Bill would not let things get out of control. He was the tallest of them, and surely the most handsome. […] Bill was also the strongest of them–and not just physically. There was a good deal more to it than that, but since Richie did not know either the word charisma or the full meaning of the word magnetism, he only felt that Bill’s strength ran deep and might manifest itself in many ways.
-Richie Tozier on Bill Denbrough
Before I liked bad boys, I liked the good boys. And Bill was the best. I was 11, he was 11, it was perfect. This was before I knew that the class clown was the way to go–Richie Tozier would have been my book boyfriend if I read IT a few years later.
5. Benedick from “Much Ado About Nothing” by William Shakespeare
Benedick, Act 1 Scene 1: it is certain I am lov’d of all ladies, only you excepted; and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart, for truly I love no one.
Bendedick, Act 1 Scene 1, later: In faith, hath not the world one man but he will wear his cap with suspicion? Shall I never see a bachelor of threescore again?
Benedick, Act 2 Scene 3: The say the lady is fair; ’tis a truth, I can bear them witness; and virtuous, ’tis so, I cannot reprove it; and wise, but for loving me; by my troth, it is no addition to her wit, nor no great argument of her folly, for I will be horribly in love with her. I may chance have some odd quirks and remnants of wit broken on me, because I have rail’d so long against marriage; but doth not the appetite alter? […] No, the world must be peopled.
Oh Benedick–you have no interest in love and marriage until you find out Beatrice loves you, and then you’re all lovey-dovey. Benedick and Beatrice are one of my all-time favorite couples, as they are both so witty and are one of the most well-matched and equal pairs in literature.
6. Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin
My mind is my weapon. My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer, and I have my mind […] and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.
The beauty of Martin’s writing is that his characters develop so much and slowly through the book, that you find yourself and your opinions of them developing without your even noticing it! This was the case with Tyrion, whom I was amused by at first, then admired, and then, come A Feast for Crows, Tyrion is no longer in the book, and I truly missed him. And no, that’s not a spoiler!
7. Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Nothing mattered much to me for a time there, after you told me you could never love me, Anne. There was nobody else–there never could be anybody else for me but you. I’ve loved you ever since that day you broke your slate over my head in school.
I think Gilbert might have been my first book boyfriend. Interesting how the very good guys get pushed aside for the rogues, scoundrels, and jerks as we grow up…I wonder what these book boyfriends say about me…
8. Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
‘Sir,’ she said, ‘you are no gentleman!’
‘An apt observation,’ he answered airily. ‘And, you, Miss, are no lady.’
This line runs through my head constantly, as I am truly not a lady either, and can hear Rhett in my head whenever I fall down stairs, curse, burp, punch, etc. I love Rhett’s honesty, and I love that he loves that Scarlett isn’t a lady. He’s the best kind of man–the kind who will let you be exactly who you want to be and are, and love you all the more for it. Plus, he’s witty and generous and experienced! Rhett is the best!
9. Four from Divergent by Veronica Roth
‘You think my first instinct is to protect you. Because you’re small, or a girl, or a Stiff. But you’re wrong.’
He leans his face close to mine and wraps his fingers around my chin. His hand smells like metal. When was the last time he held a gun, or a knife? My skin tingles at the point of contact, like he’s transmitting electricity through his skin.
‘My first instinct is to push you until you break, just to see how hard I have to press.’ he says, his fingers squeezing at the word break. My body tenses at the edge in his voice, so I am coiled as tight as a spring, and I forget to breathe.
His dark eyes lifting to mine, he adds, ‘But I resist it.’
‘Why…’ I swallow hard. ‘Why is that your first instinct?’
‘Fear doesn’t shut you down; it wakes you up. I’ve seen it. It’s fascinating.’ He releases me but doesn’t pull away, his hand grazing my jaw, my neck. ‘Sometimes I just want to see it again. Want to see you awake.’
I don’t know how, but Four made me feel fourteen all over again! He is the newest inductee into my book boyfriends, the latest since Rochester. This scene in particular made me want to write “I heart Four” on my notebook cover and squee! with my girlfriends.
And then there’s this poet who wrote the most beautiful poem that I’ve ever heard. I didn’t quite realize how beautiful it was until I heard it read aloud—and it was read aloud by Heath Ledger, so that really made me take notice. I recommend you listen to it! A big thanks to Amy at Lucy’s Football and GreenGeekGirl of Insatiable Booksluts for introducing me to this poem and Heath Ledger’s reading of it!
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
• Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey by Chuck Palahniuk
• Hardcover: 320 pages
• Publisher: Doubleday, 2007
• ISBN: 0385517874
• Genre: Science Fiction, Transgressive Fiction
• Recommended For: Not everybody. See my post which discusses Palahniuk’s transgressive writing style.
Quick Review: If you’re a Palahniuk fan, I recommend that you check out Rant. I don’t usually do ratings in my reviews, but if I did, I would give it 4 out of 5 spider bites. Or 4 out of 5 car crashes. Or 4 out of 5 maxi pads.
How I Got Here: I was first introduced to Chuck Palahniuk almost ten years ago, when I read Lullaby, and was impressed by his literary style and shocking plot. Since then, I have read only a few more novels, although I have almost the entire Palahniuk collection on my shelf. My husband read Rant in late December, and urged me to read it after him.
The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis
“Like most people I didn’t meet Rant Casey until after he was dead. That’s how it works for most celebrities: After they croak, their circle of friends just explodes.…”
Rant is the mind-bending new novel from Chuck Palahniuk, the literary provocateur responsible for such books as the generation-defining classic Fight Club and the pedal-to-the-metal horrorfest Haunted. It takes the form of an oral history of one Buster “Rant” Casey, who may or may not be the most efficient serial killer of our time.
“What ‘Typhoid Mary’ Mallon was to typhoid, what Gaetan Dugas was to AIDS, and Liu Jian-lun was to SARS, Buster Casey would become for rabies.”
A high school rebel who always wins (and a childhood murderer?), Rant Casey escapes from his small hometown of Middleton for the big city. He becomes the leader of an urban demolition derby called Party Crashing. On appointed nights participants recognize one another by such designated car markings as “Just Married” toothpaste graffiti and then stalk and crash into each other. Rant Casey will die a spectacular highway death, after which his friends gather testimony needed to build an oral history of his short, violent life. Their collected anecdotes explore the possibility that his saliva caused a silent urban plague of rabies and that he found a way to escape the prison house of linear time.…
“The future you have, tomorrow, won’t be the same future you had, yesterday.”
Expect hilarity, horror, and blazing insight into the desperate and surreal contemporary human condition as only Chuck Palahniuk can deliver it. He’s the postmillennial Jonathan Swift, the visionary to watch to learn what’s —uh-oh—coming next.
My Analysis and Critique:
It is very difficult to write a review on a Palahniuk novel for readers who aren’t familiar with his style. For that reason, I have written a corresponding profile on Palahniuk’s literary style, and if you haven’t read any Palahniuk, I recommend that you start there.
Rant is a typical Palahniuk novel as it uses completely atypical narrative techniques and characters. In Palahniuk fashion, I will stray from the norm in this review, and like in Rant, I will provide my information in snippets:
Palahniuk Staples, and How They Are Used in Rant:
– Characters find meaning via seemingly useless actions and events:
Rant and his friends engage in rather violent actions to understand themselves and the world around them. These include intentionally getting bitten by wild animals and poisonous snakes and spiders, as well as crashing their cars into each other for fun.
-Non-traditional narrative structure:
Palahniuk utilizes an oral history style of narrative as numerous characters discuss the deceased Rant Casey in a series of interview snippets. This style calls to question the trustworthiness of the details provided on Rant’s life, as there are so many perspectives.
-Recurrence of motifs and themes:
Here are some tags connected to Rant: animal/spider bites, poison, saliva, smell, honesty, taste, traffic, authentic experience, rubbernecking, grotesque, anthropology, motive, history, counterculture, mediocrity, sex, exploitation, time travel, and addiction.
– Excessive and seemingly meaningless details that all tie in nicely by story’s end to tell the true story (there is a purpose in the plot for all the “gross elements”!):
There is so much embedded meaning in Palahniuk’s writing. Everything matters in Rant. There isn’t a wasted word. You read his lines, notice the connectivity between each plot element, and you almost start to consider that the writers of Lost were lazy.
– In media res and “the hidden gun”
Palahniuk begins the novel somewhere in the middle, as readers immediately know that Rant is dead and is responsible for the mass spread of rabies. From there, his story is told via characters telling their version of his life story.
As with most of Palahniuk’s books, there is the “hidden gun” (Palahniuk-coined term), as there is always a major plot twist at the end that calls everything you thought you knew into question and ties together all the seemingly unimportant details. This is one of my favorite parts of reading Palahniuk.
Palahniuk, as always, has a lot to say about our society, and does so in his very unique way. Some of his commentary is very subtle, while other statements are rather bold. Two aspects of society that Palahniuk goes deep in discussing in Rant are society’s need to rubberneck when driving past an accident, and society’s dependence upon manufactured experience, as opposed to authentic lived experience.
A New Step in Rant
-Science Fiction: Rant is very much a science fiction novel, very similar to Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan (that could be a spoiler if you’re familiar with Vonnegut’s amazing novel). It’s also a dystopian novel. I can’t say more than that because it would ruin the “hidden gun” effect.
I really enjoyed my Palahniuk experience with Rant. It wasn’t my favorite novel by Palahniuk, as I didn’t feel that its resolution was as clean as my previous readings of Palahniuk. However, I truly read Palahniuk for his satire, and this novel provided all that I desired in typical Palahniuk (that almost feels like an oxymoron) fashion. If you’re a Palahniuk fan, I recommend that you check out Rant. If I did ratings in my reviews, I would give it 4 out of 5 spider bites. Or 4 out of 5 car crashes. Or 4 out of 5 maxi pads.