A very small sample from this year...
Well, 2011 was an interesting year. I got an iPad, with all that that implies, I started writing again, I completed NaNoWriMo, work got a bit more difficult and challenging, and DC Comics rebooted their universe again. All of that had an impact on how I read and what I read, and not all of it was good.
In this year in review podcast, I’ll talk about what went well in 2011 and what could have gone better. What I enjoyed and what I struggled with, just like everyone else in the world. On balance, I think 2011 went well for me – I hope it did well for you too. And if it didn’t, well… there’s always 2012.
At least, assuming the Mayans were wrong.
Happy New Year!
(Technorati claim – T3BBTZPCZ37P )
This is my pen - THE CREATOR OF WORLDS.
As you may know, I’m doing National Novel Writing Month
this year – though it’s nearly over by now. The goal of this activity is to write 50,000 words in the thirty days of November. It’s not easy, and sometimes it’s downright frustrating, but it reveals a lot about being a writer that can help you on your way to joining the ranks of authors that you love to read. The main thing you learn is that being a writer means doing actual work. It’s not backbreaking (unless you have a crappy office chair), but it can be just as frustrating and difficult, or as fulfilling and exciting as any other kind of work out there. Chances are that you’ll go from one to the other from day to day.
In this episode, I talk about what I’ve learned from writing every day for six months, and how it really has helped me appreciate what the professionals had to go through in order to become pros. Whether I will one day be a professional or not isn’t really something I’m thinking about right now, but it’s certainly been fun finding out….
A lot of the books I really love have something to do with the end of the world. Whether it’s the great plague of The Stand or nuclear holocaust in Swan Song, zombies like in World War Z or flesh-eating plants like in Day of the Triffids, or even irreverent humor like in Good Omens, I love to see the world come to an end, if only to see what comes next.
But what is it about these books that makes them so interesting? And not just books, either – there have been plenty of movies and TV shows that use the end of the world as a plot point, and they’re hugely popular.
What does the End of the World tell us about ourselves and our society? What is it about the end of the world that we find so appealing?
Maybe they have something to say about our relationship with the Eternal and out faith in a God that may one day decide He’s had enough. Perhaps it’s a desire to just start over from scratch and make a new world without making the mistakes of the old. Maybe we feel special, like the rules don’t apply to us. Or maybe we just want to see the world burn.
Whatever the reason, these stories will remain popular for a good long time. Let me know what you think!
The adventures of Huckleberry Finn
A Diary of a Young Girl
To Kill a Mockingbird
Catcher in the Rye
Lord of the Rings
These are just a few books that the American Library Association has reported as being banned or challenged in American libraries, and the list grows longer every year. Sometimes it’s because it offends someone’s religious sensibilities – like Harry Potter – and other times because it offends their moral sensibilities – And Tango Makes Three for example. And then there are those that make you think banning books isn’t so bad after all – Twilight is on the list – before you shake it off and think about how it does no good for anyone.
Ban a book and its sales will surely rise in the resulting media firestorm. Tell kids that a certain book is forbidden, and the first thing they’ll do is go get it. And even if you somehow manage to keep them cloistered from all the Bad Books out there, sooner or later they’ll find out what you were trying to hold back from them. When that happens, they will not think fondly of you.
Last week was Banned Books Week – but really it should be every week. Give the episode a listen and come join the conversation!
The American Library Association’s Banned Books Week page
Everybody has a guilty pleasure book. It might be one author or a specific series or even a whole genre – that book you don’t want to be seen reading. The book you know your high school English teacher would scold you for wasting your time with. The book you feel stupid talking about at parties because you know they’re going to say, “Really? That’s an interesting choice. I enjoy reading James Joyce in my free time and have first editions of the collected works of Gabriel Garcia-Marquez in every room of my home,” after which they all laugh at you until you run out of the party in shame and swear never to read another word of anything fun as long as you live. For example.
You didn't know about Twain's little-known short story, "A Connecticut Yankee in a 30th Century Court?" It's fascinating, really....
But should it really be that way? Why do we let the bestseller lists and “Best Books of ALL TIME” lists or some knucklehead with a podcast tell us what we should read and what we should like? In this edition of Lost in the Stacks, we explore the idea of Guilty Pleasure Reading and whether or not the concept should even exist. Share your guilty pleasures with us and stand up for your tastes in reading!
Obama’s Book Club
NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy
The Guardian’s Best Books
Time Magazine’s Top 100 Novels
The Telegraph: Top 100 Books
New York Times Bestseller List
The Comics Code Authority on Wikipedia
Filed under classics, comic books, criticism, culture, fantasy, fiction, Lost in the Stacks, reading, reviewing, science fiction, society
Welcome to the 21st century, all. Electronic books, whether you love them or hate them, are here to stay, and as with any change in medium this drastic, we have to figure out which one is better. In the immortal words of… an immortal, “THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!”
This inconsistency in format bothers me more than you will ever know....
Well, no, not really. But readers still have to figure out what our relationship is with these newfangled electronic things. What are their benefits? What are their drawbacks? How can I relate to them? What do they tell the world about me, and what do they tell me about myself? There’s a lot more involved in this discussion than simple cost-benefit analysis. There are feelings and memories and senses, which can cause us to make decisions about the medium that aren’t necessarily rational.
Today we’re going to pick it apart, look at the two sides and come to a conclusion. Or my conclusion, at least. Your mileage may vary.
How do you feel about the issue? Are you a dead-tree traditionalist, or are you a post-modern experimenter? How do you make your decisions on which format to buy? Leave your opinion in the comments, and let’s continue the discussion!
You know who else sacrificed himself saving the world? And then rose again?
Everyone needs role models growing up, and in a time of crisis everyone needs to turn to someone who is better than themselves. Some folks turn to religion, others turn to fiction.  As much as we use the real people in our lives – our parents, teachers, community leaders, I’ve found that fictional characters have imparted great lessons to me which have shaped the kind of person I’ve become.
How do fictional characters shape us, and why? What makes them so different from real people in terms of being a role model? Listen along with me and find out!
And of course, I’d be interested to hear from you – what fictional characters have made you who you are? What lessons did you learn from books, from TV or movies that have helped you become the person you want to be? Leave your story in the comments and join the conversation.
 Assuming, of course, that there’s a difference.
Scott Adams says some really dickish things, but the Pointy-Haired Boss is still funny to laugh at.
Mel Gibson shows his anti-Semitic side, but Lethal Weapon is still one of the best buddy cop movies of all time.
Dave Sim writes a compelling political drama in his comic book series Cerebus, but then shows himself to be a homophobic misogynist of the highest order.
Once you’ve learned something about your favorite writer or artist, it may poison your view of the art you used to love. How can you reconcile these feelings and still be able to look at yourself in the mirror? The answer  is in this month’s edition of Lost in the Stacks: Art versus the Artist! We look at whether art can be considered separately from the person who made it, and what it means to deal with a moral problem that has plagued us since art began. Take a listen and join in the conversation in the comments!
 Disclaimer: answer may not actually be an “answer”
With the debut of HBO’s “A Game of Thrones” miniseries and a new article in The New Yorker, the strange story of George R. R. Martin and his fans has been on my mind. So, in this episode of Lost in the Stacks, we examine the weird, often dangerously codependent relationship between the Writer and the Readers.
What does the writer owe to his or her readers, if anything? What can the readers honestly expect of their writer? What promises, implicit or explicit, have been made, and what happens when they’re broken?
Join me for an interesting conversation, and let me know what you think!
George R. R. Martin’s homepage
Finish the Book, George
Is Winter Coming?
This week, Scott Adams handed the internet a firebomb and then complained when it went off. In a blog post (deleted from his blog, but kindly reprinted here), he compared women asking for equal pay to children asking for candy. It roused the ire of the ‘net’s feminist population – rightly so – but his reaction of, “You’re just not smart enough to get it” was the icing on the cake.
But some good did come out of it – I started thinking about female characters in fiction
. What difficulties do writers have in creating female characters, and why? How can we go about making sure that more writers do a better job at writing women?
It was an interesting topic to talk about, and I’m sure I made some mistakes or omitted some important details somewhere. After all, from my testiculated point of view, I’m bound to overlook something, so give the show a listen, drop me a comment and let me know!
Some links of interest:
Comics Alliance – ‘Dilbert’ Creator Scott Adams Compares Women Asking for Equal Pay to Children Demanding Candy
Feministe – Scott Adams’ alleged response to criticism
OverthinkingIt.com – The Female Character Flowchart
OverthinkingIt.com – Why Strong Female Characters are Bad for Women
Feminist Frequency – The Bechdel Test for Women in Movies
The Bechdel Test Movie List