Forgotten Treasure: The Book You Should Be Reading

I don’t know exactly if I would call this forgotten treasure, because it is really quiet new, has only been out for a couple of weeks, but “The Report” by Jessica Francis Kane is a largely undiscovered (at least by book bloggers) treasure. It does seem to be getting great reviews in traditional media, but I haven’t seen (m)any reviews other than mine on book blogs.

“The Report” is the story of Britain’s worst civilian disaster during World War II, The Bethnal Green incident, and the subsequent government investigation and report. You may think that a government investigation and report sounds like a total snoozefest, and I would understand that, but I promise you, but it is not. Seriously, this is a fantastic and absolutely engaging work of very realistic historical fiction. It is actually fairly amazing how engaged Kane gets her reader, considering she has such a large cast of characters, but she does it.

“The Report” is published by Graywolf Press, a very cool small press. If you’ve thought about spending more time reading books by small presses, this is a good place to start. Or if you just like well-written fiction that is evocative of time and place, this is a must-read.

Book Blogger Interview Swap

For my BBAW Book Blogger interview, I was lucky enough to be paired with new-to-me blogger Amy L. Campbell of A Librarian’s Life in Books. She has a blog unique (as far as I have seen) among book blogs. Read farther and find out all about it! My questions are in bold italics so you can differentiate them from Amy’s answers.

On A Librarian’s Life in Books

You don’t have just the typical book review blog, tell me a little about how/why you started your blog.
Yeah, I’m an anomaly in the book blogging world because I don’t actually do reviews. There are certainly review aspects of my blog, and I recently started to link to reviews I agree with or have written for Goodreads.com.

The project is actually pretty simple in theory. I write short personal essays based on what I’m reading makes me think about.

For instance if I were to reread The Yearling, which was the first classic I ever read, I would probably be thinking a lot about what that first experience was like for, how it felt to hold that massive tome and lug it around in my book bag as a fourth grader.

Another post would probably be about losing a beloved pet, or knowing I had to make a decision about giving up something for the benefit of my family.

Do you typically post every day, about what struck you in that day’s reading?
The posts are usually delayed by a couple of days, I think the most I was ever ahead was about 4 days. But, yes, the blog does publish every day. And I keep a journal for ideas and quotes that I think I might want to write about. I usually try to finish the book before I post about it.

Do you post for the same number of days that it took you to read the book, or just for however many days for which you feel you have material?

I try to make two posts. Some books inspire me more than others so I write three, others inspire me much less and I only write one. I usually have many more ideas per book, but I figure three is a good limit. I don’t think people want to read more than four posts about the same book, and I don’t really want to write that many. The exception being for collections of short stories, which I use as kind of a stop gap when I don’t have guest posts lined up and I’m behind in reading.

What inspired you to start your blog?


Well, a lot of it had to do with me being unemployed and needing something positive to do with my time. I do volunteer work and I sometimes have odd jobs, but I wanted something in my life that I could look forward to and that made me feel like I was contributing to something

The idea of this particular project was kind of sitting in the back of my head. I missed being in college and having deep, thought provoking conversations about literature and philosophy articles and everything else. This was kind of a way to have a conversation with myself, and to invite people to add their comments and hopefully do some thinking of their own.

When you think about what to discuss for a certain book, do you concentrate more on what you want to discuss, or something that you hope your audience will get out of the discussion?

Honestly, it’s a little bit of both. There are quite a few common themes in books, so if I’ve talked about it before I try to come up with something new

On classics-monster mashups

I’m not above taking requests to cover certain issues or themes in books, in fact one of my guest bloggers and regular reader requested I post about Monster Mashups. “Little Women and Werewolves,” one of the best I’ve read so far, by the way.

Really? By that time I was so burned out on the entire idea I just refused to read them at all. The only one I actually read was Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and I just got really bored of the joke by about 1/3 of the way through, and DNF’d it. I still really want to read “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter,” though, I have that in my TBR.

I definitely think the boys went over the top on the Austen, but I rather liked the treatment Porter Grand gave the Little Women, she did a great job at blending rather than being completely ridiculous with it. “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” was a really enjoyable read, and probably easier to swallow, than “P&P&Z(and Ninjas).”

On Suzanne Collins’ “Mockingjay” (possible spoilers)

I saw your posts about Mockingjay, did you stay up late reading it?
I read it in two sittings, my room mate brought it home around 6, I think I started reading it at 8 and read it until almost 2am, and then picked back up at around noon. I needed to put it down quite a bit to think about certain parts, so it took me longer to read than expected.

I know your ‘Team’ preference and your thoughts on the use of media, but what did you think about Mockingjay overall?
I definitely don’t think it was a strong as the first two novels, but I think Collins really thought about what she wanted to do with this. I don’t think she just got tired of writing about Katniss, etc. and tried to cop out of situations by having her drugged, etc. I think she was really trying to present the chaos inherent in Katniss’s situation, as a teenager growing up and especially as a teenager growing up in a rebellion against a totalitarian state.

You have very strong feelings about the whole ‘team’ mentality, want to give the cliff notes version for those who missed your post?
Hah, my rage cannot be contained in cliff notes!

Okay, how about Reader’s Digest?
I’m mostly just very annoyed with the whole fad, I’m afraid that there is going to be a teenage girl who looks back on the “Team” BS and wishes she could get rid of the evidence as quickly as throwing away today’s equivalent of a Hanson CD, but there are people who get Twilight tattoos and take the fictional fandom of characters to a completely different level.

Also, it really needs to be about the characters making decisions for themselves, right or wrong. You don’t have to be happy with it, but no amount of cheering for Team X or Y is going to make Bella/Katniss/Whoever pick one side or the other. Just enjoy the ride and learn from the mistakes the characters make.

Yes, I have to admit I had my preference between the boys in The Hunger Games, but I did think the team thing went a little far, and that was even for the series I was more invested in, and for which the team thing didn’t go as far (as compared to Twilight).
It just makes me cringe a little. This isn’t a boy band, these women are in potentially dangerous situations, and instead the focus is on “OMG CHOOSE THAT ONE!!!1!!”

Actually, strike the potentially, they ARE dangerous situations. Although, Bella wouldn’t know danger if it bit her on her tender clumsy neck.

On favorite books and other personal things

Even though you don’t do reviews, which book that you’ve read since starting blogging would you most recommend?
That’s kind of a difficult question because it would honestly depend on the reader’s taste.

Aaaand I have to remind myself of what I’ve read…

Yes, I guess that’s a tough question to ask a librarian. Which one did you most enjoy?
I actually really liked “The Meaning of Wife” by Anne Kingston. It’s non-fiction about the meaning of being a feminist and marriage. It was fun for me to read that because it’s well written and covers some very interesting topics, and marriage is something that’s been on my mind a lot the last year since I got engaged in August 2009.

I’ll have to tell Rebecca from The Book Lady’s Blog about that book, it sounds right up her alley. Also, congratulations! Have you set a wedding date yet?
No, we’re waiting for at least one of us to have gainful employment first, it hasn’t been easy for us two recent graduates with Master’s degrees to find jobs of any sort.

Best of luck to you both in your job searches and your marriage!

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Bloggers I Treasure

Welcome to BBAW 2010!

Today we were asked to write about bloggers we have discovered in the past year since BBAW 2009. Actually, I believe we were asked to write about a blogger we have discovered, but I haven’t always been the best at following directions. To just pick on fantastic blogger is too hard. Actually, to just pick five fantastic bloggers would be very difficult, so I’m going to highlight to you the new-to-me this year bloggers who became my best bloggy buddies in 2010.

In no particular order:

Michelle – My Books. My Life
Oddly enough, Michelle and I originally bonded over the fact that in February I read 3 books set in Ann Arbor, Michigan back to back. I mentioned it on Twitter and she, former Ann Arborian (is that a word? I somehow doubt it) Ann Arborish (since she usually lived around, not in the city) that she is, was intrigued. Thus began a beautiful friendship, only cemented by our commiserating over our back pain around the same time.

Sandy – You’ve Gotta Read This
Sandy and I bonded through the pain and endurance of being on a team together for the Game On Diet. She is now one of my go-to people for audiobook recommendations (and she’s about to win best audiobook blog, check her out!)

Michelle – That’s What She Read
Um, I honestly can’t remember what Michelle and I bonded over (help me out, Michelle?). I guess we just chatted on Twitter and sort of clicked. You should all be glad for the direct message function on Twitter, because we like to use one another as sounding boards when we’re frustrated and, really, you don’t want to read all of that.

Allie – Hist Fic Chick
I had corresponded a little with Allie towards the beginning of 2010, but our friendship really took off at BEA, when we went out to dinner together twice. The second night I’m pretty sure we drove Lenore and Natasha crazy with our incessant historical fiction chatter.

Please check out my wonderful bloggy buddies!

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