08 June 2007

Summer reading and the giggles.

My first post for the Summer Reading Challenge is up. One down, fourteen to go...

Tonight I went to see Jen Lancaster, of Jennsylvania, read from her new book BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG ASS. The book is hilarious on the page, but it was really neat to hear those words come to life in Lancaster's particular presentation. She said during the Q & A that she was lucky to come from a very funny family but claims no comedy background for herself. Still, a story like a terror-inducing trip to the "girl doctor" is even funnier in person. She had me at "Hee."

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG ASS took me completely out of my head at a time when I really needed something to laugh at. Lancaster's headed back to Chicago, but you should pick up this book if you need to laugh really, really hard.

04 June 2007

I've got a golden broomstick.

In celebration of her ability to take the rest of her life off, J.K. Rowling is doing a midnight reading and signing in the U.K. for 500 lucky Harry Potter fans on July 21, the release of HARRY POTTER AND THE GREATEST BOOK OF OUR TIME. Ticket holders get a free book, too -- but if you're enough of a superfan to get into this, you probably have already reserved yours somewhere else (plus a back-up in case the bookstore of your choice runs out). Only seven seats for seven lucky U.S. readers, so ask your Grandpa Joe to buy you a... er, enter the sweepstakes.

Via About Literature.

01 June 2007

Summer reading inspiration?

One of my fellow participants in the Summer Reading Challenge is tackling WAR AND PEACE this year. What a slog! I read it about four years ago and, unfortunately, retain very little except the Major Spoiler-y Events (as pretentious as it sounds, I liked ANNA KARENINA much better). Anyway, it turns out that Daniel Handler (of LEMONY SNICKET fame) is also a fan of the Big Summer Book, as he reveals in an interview with The Onion A.V. Club in the San Francisco edition (and posted on editor Tasha Robinson's blog):
I always read a big book every summer — I’m going to read The Aeneid this summer, so I’m excited about that. I don’t know why I chose it. Last year was War And Peace and the year before that was The New Testament, and the year before that was Don Quixote. It’s a nice, sort of braggy thing to carry with you all over the summer. My wife prefers short books, but I like one big book because I’ve always found the idea of summer reading to be kind of wacky, that when summertime comes there are all these articles that suggest really lightweight books for the summertime. It implies that for the rest of the year you’re reading all this super-intense stuff, which I just don’t think is really that common. I don’t think there are a lot of people who are like, “Thank God summer’s here. I’ve been reading Henry James all year long, and now I’m ready for a thriller.” Summer reading should be more challenging. And I think if you read a long book, then you begin to feel that your summer is mimicking that long book, and that’s pretty powerful. If you have a Moby Dick summer, that’s great. And The Aeneid is sort of an Odyssey-like story, so I hope that will shape my summer. Last summer I read War And Peace, and my summer was definitely full of high points and low points, so that was good.
Why save the fluff reading for summer, eh?

I've never read any of the Lemony Snicket series (although their new cover design, as seen above, rocks my socks) but I do recommend Handler's novel for adults THE BASIC EIGHT. It's not a big book, but if you like murder mysteries, books based around diary entries and high school intrigue amongst girls, you will like it.