meme: ten books that have stayed with me

(I did this on my livejournal [yes I’m back on livejournal, stop laughing!!! THERE ARE STILL PEOPLE THERE!] and it got a good response so I thought I would post it here too)

List ten books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take but a few minutes and don’t think too hard — they don’t have to be the “right” or “great” works, just the ones that have touched you.

10books

1. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – One of the books I credit with getting me into reading for fun. I had all but given up on reading by middle school but Douglas Adams made me laugh too much.

2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – one of THE most beautiful books ever written. I don’t think I have ever been so emotionally involved in a story like I was with this one.

3. Jurassic Park by Michael CrichtonI obsessed over JP the summer of 6th grade – my mom said if I read the book I could see the movie (rated PG-13 ooooooh) and then my uncle got me the book on cassette (lol I r old) and I listened to that ALL SUMMER while paying Tetris so somewhere in the deep dark recess of my brain are huge chunks of text about Chaos theory and Dino DNA.

4. Shopgirl by Steve Martin – This book surprised me so much. I had been a fan of Steve Martin since I was a kid and I loved L.A. Story so when this book came out I had to read it. I don’t think I was prepared for how much it spoke to me. It’s a melancholy, bittersweet story but it’s so well written. I need to read it again to see if it still moves me as much.

5. The Stranger by Albert Camus – one of the few books I actually read in high school and liked and I always feel like a little bit of a bitch for actually ENJOYING this book since it is kinda messed up. I need to read more Camus.

6. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld – one of the first YA books I read as an adult and the series that sucked me into that section of the library. I’ve never looked back. Fantastic dystopian YA (before it was cool).

7. Y The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan – best comic book series. ever. the end. Just go read it. I’ll be here when you have feels.

8. Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King – Do you ever just pick up a book based on the cover or an author and know nothing else about it and then it just blows you away. That was this book. I was not ready for how amazing this book ended up being. I couldn’t read anything for months afterwards because nothing else stood up to the story or the message. (my book thoughts post here)

9. The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle – modern classic. So much there. I’ve gushed about Last Unicorn in another post so I will just link you there.

10. Blankets by Craig Thompson – a true graphic novel and one of the most TRUE love stories I have ever read. Not a “true love” story but a story that is completely honest about first love and young love and how that first love can change your life even if it’s only a part of your life for a short time. Craig Thompson may only put out books every now and then, but when he does, wow. (Habibi is also amazing and beautiful but Blankets just hit home for me so it gets to be on the list)

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Trophy opportunity missed!

Very disappointed that there was no trophy for hitting the pitcher in the balls.  #videogames #mlbtheshow

I can’t believe there isn’t a special Trophy (that’s Playstation speak for “Achievement”) in MLB13 The Show for hitting the pitcher in the balls. I mean that clearly took skill. There are trophies for bouncing the ball off of a scoreboard at Camden yards, but for this? Nothing.

At least I have this picture to laugh at over and over. Because dear god baseball is hella boring, even in a video game. I will play it with the boy though so he has to play Tomb Raider with me.

Usually I think zombie mods are stupid but I believe this game would be a lot better with random zombie attacks. And the occasional exploding pitch.

And, of course, Trophies for hitting players in particularly squishy body parts.

“goodreads for video games”

dpadd logo vs. grouvee logo

These are the things I search for on my days off. I have GoodReads to help me track my books, Letterboxd for tracking my movies – now I need a site for my video games!

After a perfunctory Google of “goodreads for video games” I came across two sites that launched in 2013:
Dpadd
Grouvee

Time to sign-up, compare and contrast, and let you know who comes out on top!

Dpadd is currently winning in the “sign-up and get going” realm. You fill out the form (or log-in using Facebook, Twitter or Steam account info) and you’re on that familiar screen with your info on the left and a feed in the middle. You can add what you are currently playing, played, want to play, or rate/review a game all from this page.

Grouvee tries to help you build a “game shelf” and has a list of the “most popular” games from several genres, which is has you rate and list as either Playing, Played, Wishlist, Backlog or creating a whole new shelf (I’m thinking my first shelf will be “abandoned” for those games too bad to finish).

Dpadd is definitely prettier. The dark gray background with light gray text, the blue border – someone took a aesthetics class along with their coding class.

Grouvee is a bit more sparse in design but WOW is there a lot of information on the game pages. Here is the page for Tomb Raider. It lists every platform it is available on, the publisher and developer information, box art, and user ratings and reviews.

In contrast, Dpadd just the basics – original release date, overall rating from other users, how many people are playing/want to play, what you have said about the game and a feed of recent activity about the game.

On your “Game Collection” page on Grouvee, you will find the release date for the game, when you added it to your list, and dates when you played the game (helpful for single-player campaign games). Dpadd doesn’t seem to have this feature at all, which kind of annoys me because I tend to use these sites to keep track of WHEN I did certain things.

Dpadd lets you link quickly to your Steam, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo, and Twitch.tv profiles. Grouvee only has a place to enter your Steam URL. Grouvee is also beta testing posting to Facebook for you, I don’t see anything like that on Dpadd (not sure if that is a pro or a con considering how I feel about Facebook right now LOL).

Both let you create “shelves” or “lists” that can be customized, so you could make a “favorites for Xbox” or “best games I ever played” shelf.

Neither site lets me pick which system I played the game on, which would be helpful since for some games there are additional levels based on which platform you chose.

Neither site has a way to embed your profile information into your blog or other social site, which makes it hard to spread the word and find your IRL friends.

Both sites are relatively new. I’m going to continue to play with both and see who wins my affections.

Have you used either of these sites? Which do you prefer?

book shelfie! My “humor” section

Book shelfies

Pictures are fun, aren’t they? And who doesn’t love a peek into someone else’s world? So here is one shelf of my bookcase: my humorous shelf.

It’s no secret that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the writings of Douglas Adams. He is one of two authors I credit with getting me into reading for pleasure (the other is Michael Crichton but he is on a different shelf). The story goes that my mom and I were working on a science fair project or some such and she kept telling me the answer was 42. I had no idea what she was talking about and then she said “It’s from Hitchhiker’s Guide!” and she gestured to the bookshelf behind the door of the computer room. I told her I had always thought that was some sort of astronomy book. She laughed and said I needed to read it.

I did. A lot. See that raggedy copy on the shelf there? That was the copy my parents had on their shelf and I read it over and over, forced it upon friends as a sort of litmus test to see if they “got it”. Over the years, I would gather donated copies from the library’s back room and then people started giving me copies as presents. I am pretty sure there are still copies floating around in my parent’s house. I’m also pretty sure there is a 7th grade story I had to write for English class that features me on and adventure with Ford Prefect…

When it comes to authors that can make me laugh out loud, the only other fiction favorite I have found is Christopher Moore. “A Dirty Job” is probably my favorite book by him. After that, I have my Sarah Vowell books, which are non-fiction. Some are just essay collection, though her last few have been examinations of specific subjects. Steve Martin slips in after that, though I would not consider “Shopgirl” a comedy by any means, it is one of my favorite books of all time and the librarian in me could not separate the other Steve Martin books out so…yeah, deal with it.

Then we have the Eddie Izzard autobiography I bought while visiting London with my parents. It’s actually a pretty great book if you love Eddie, which I do. Probably crazy out of date now since it was published around the release of “Dressed to Kill” which was so long ago…

And, of course, the Daily Show books and a collection of Smart Pop essay books because I love me some academic studies of my favorite TV shows.

Who are some of your favorite authors? Who got you turned on to reading? Post your bookshelfies and share your favorite books! 😀

book thoughts: Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

9781596439245_custom-c850444ef27fe186641710b62184d05e262b7e6a-s6-c30 I’ll be honest, before I read these graphic novels, I knew nothing about the Boxer Rebellion except that there was an event in history called The Boxer Rebellion. It’s sad but true. Luckily, Gene Luen Yang has helped dispel some of my ignorance with this beautiful set of books.

I’m trying to figure out the best way to talk about these two titles – do I talk about each individually and rate them on their ability to stand alone or talk about them as one “series” and how they work together? Hm.

I read “Boxers” first. Again, my knowledge of Chinese history was close to nothing so I wasn’t sure where it was all going. “Boxers” focuses on the life of Little Bao, a boy from a small country village in China. We trace his journey from a small, quiet boy to a man who helps start the Boxer rebellion by forming a group of fighters who go from town to town killing “foreign devils.” It’s a fascinating story and while Bao is not an innocent in all of this, you can see why he and the men and women who followed him felt compelled to fight back against the missionaries and their influence.

Oddly enough, very little of it has to do with religion even though they were attempting to wipe out anyone who was a Christian, but much of this hatred spawns from the abuse Bao and his friends suffered at the hands of missionaries and “secondary devils”, Chinese who claimed to have converted to Christianity.

By the end, I was very curious about the Rebellion, and found myself searching on Google, trying to get more historical facts on the events surrounding the start of the fighting. I hoped that “Saints”, being the companion story, would shed some light on the other side of the events.

“Saints” I read in a single evening. It’s about half the size of “Boxers” and, honestly, the story isn’t anywhere as compelling. “Saints” focuses on Four-Girl, a neglected fourth daughter of a Chinese family in a village probably not too far from where Bao grew up. In an act of defiance, she decides she is a devil (since her grandfather keeps calling her one) and she makes a creepy face anytime she is around people. Her family is disturbed and takes her to an acupuncturist. To avoid going back home, Four-Girl asks the doctor about the cross over his desk (which she assumes is an image of a patient) and soon he is telling her stories from the Bible (though she can hardly stay awake for them). She starts seeing visions of Joan of Arc, who gives her guidance in that vague way visions of saints do. Four-Girl ends up converting to Christianity and running off with the missionary and his group.

I was hoping the story in “Saints” would give me an idea of why so many Chinese were converting to Christianity, what the appeal was, in the same way “Boxers” gave me a general idea of why some people rose up against it all. Unfortunately, Four-Girl’s story felt far too specific, and she was a little too odd. I never felt that she truly believed in Christianity or even understood it. While Bao may have been naive, he was an intelligent young man. Four-Girl seems both naive and a bit slow.

The end of “Saints” gives us an “extended scene” from the end of “Boxers”, letting us know what happened to Bao after the final battle. It’s worth reading for that.

So, I would say “Boxers” get 5 stars, “Saints” gets 3 stars, so the set should get 4 stars. It is a great read and I think this could turn a lot of young adults and adults on to a part of Chinese history most of us are not taught about. You do need to read them in order and I would read them back to back so you don’t forget what happened in “Boxers” before getting to “Saints” finale.

did anyone else notice…

30 Rock
Season 1, episode 10 – The Rural Juror (2007)
Tracy: I’m gonna make you a mix tape. You like Phil Collins?
Jack: I have two ears and a heart, don’t I?

Community
Season 5, episode 2 – Basic Intergluteal Numismatics (2014)
Jeff: These are Dave lyrics!
Annie: Dave?
Jeff: Dave Matthews. Hardcore fans call him Dave.
Annie:**makes disapproving face**
Jeff: Oh, excuse me for being alive in the 90s and having two ears connected to a heart!

favorite movies: The Princess Bride (1987)

I saw The Princess Bride this afternoon in the theater. I think my family discovered this movie on HBO back in the late 80s as I have a vague memory of a BETA tape with a hand-written “Princess Bride” sticker on the side of it, so this was my first time seeing it on the big screen.

It’s still good. It is just a FUN movie, through and through. Yeah, these are not Oscar award winning performances or effects or anything but it’s just 100% FUN.

Oh, and did I mention quotable? My mom will refer to a love interest in a movie as the character’s “to blave” and who can resist saying “mae-widge” any time a wedding scene appears? It’s inconceivable! And you know you’re among fellow geeks when you can start Inigo’s rhyming game and have someone else in the room do Fezzik’s lines.

I remember that the torture scene freaked me out as a kid. When Humperdink pushed the lever up to 50, I would cover my ears and close my eyes. It was only for a moment, but something about that moment really bothered me.

This is also one of the few situations where the movie might be better than the book, or at least on par with, probably because William Goldman wrote both the novel and the script. It’s worth picking up the book though so you can understand all of Inigo’s and Fezzik’s lines.

And, like Last Unicorn, I feel like the story manages to find this happy balance of all the fairy tale stories you love as a child with the snark and cynicism of adulthood, which is why it is still so watchable almost 30 years later. We are both the Grandson, hanging on every word, wanting to know how the story will end, and the Grandfather, knowing how it must all end, how it might not be fair but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a happy ending. And that we all enjoy “kissing books” every now and then.

Do you have a favorite Princess Bride quote that you use all the time? Or a memory of seeing the movie for the first time (or the fifth)?