Thursday, November 29, 2012

So, um, yeah. I got a scanner.

Which means I will be boring you with all kinds of old photos as time goes by. :)

Here are two:

This is my friend, Katie, and I after our prom in 1994. As you can see, we took off our shoes first thing!

This was taken in 2004 (??...I think??). I am in the middle. We were getting ready to run in the Mercedes Marathon and Half Marathon. I had trained for the full, but due to illness I had to run the half. It was a great race, but the starting temperature was 22 degrees (F). Too cold!

Together at last...

Here I am with the handsome William Augustus Bowles...the two of us in the same room. Well, yes, I realize it is just his picture, but I will take it. :)

Anyway, this is me giving a presentation at the Sylacauga Public Library. It was a great time, and everyone was so nice! When I get to talk about my history crush on Bowles,  I have a good day.

Getting in the holiday mood!

We took group photos this morning for our holiday mailing. Sara and I were the only ones wearing red, so we decided to take a shot together! December is right around the corner...  :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Authors I am Thankful for in this World!

As usual, the ideas for this listing are brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish. Check out their site and add a link to your own list!

Top Ten Authors I am Thankful for in this World!

1. Harper Lee. As a fellow Alabamian, she makes me proud. She might have published only one novel, but look at what that novel did for the world. Amazing.

2. J. K. Rowling. I am grateful for the whole experience of reading the Harry Potter novels, for having been involved in the fandom (and still am), and for the knowledge that books still bring people together in ways that (oddly enough) defy language. Most of all, I thank Rowling for Snape. :)

3. Ann M. Martin. I am grateful to her for so many wonderful books that helped make me such a voracious reader as a child. BSC forever!

4. Charles Dickens. I am grateful to Dickens because, even in his darkest plots, he manages to give his heroes dignity, humanity, and purpose. XO, Little Jo.


6. Augusta Webster. For "Medea" and "Circe." For "The Snow Waste" and "Jean d'Arc." For leaving behind poems so brutal that they still draw blood.

7. Shakespeare. Genius acknowledged, but I love you for finally getting it right in Antony and Cleopatra, even if most people don't know it.

8. Augusta Evans Wilson. I don't always love your novels, but reading and writing about your work has given me so many opportunities.

9. Donna Tartt. For making me do something I have never done with any other book: read one page at a time just to draw out my reading experience of The Secret History.

10. Anne Rice. For making me think and for writing Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. I'm often not happy with what people do with and to religion most of the time, but that novel is pure and gorgeous. It expresses what is beautiful: faith, love, and the power for good.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My thoughts on Stone Barrington

Stuart Woods's "Stone Barrington" series was recommended to me years ago, when I lived in Florida. Since then, I have heard many women talk about how wonderful Stone is--even that he is their dream man. I am reading the third Stone Barrington novel, Dead in the Water, and I have to say that I am totally confused as to why any woman would want to be involved with this man. I like the books so far, but I have to say that unless something drastic happens...well, I am not a fan of the male lead. He is likable in most aspects of the story, but his relationships with women are ridiculous. Each woman proclaims him (in some manner) to be her best lover, he cheats on his girlfriends, and, yet, he is totally ignorant about women. I don't care if he maintains a relationship with a female character or not, but his lack of depth is astounding. As a writer, Woods could turn a womanizer into a character of tremendous depth, but he chooses not to do so. Just when I think that I have identified Stone's code of ethics, he violates it--either by will or by stupidity. Keep in mind that this man is supposed to be middle-aged, yet he is wishy-washy in so many ways and is starting to look like a caricature rather than a hero. Ugh.

On the more positive side, I am at least interested enough to keep reading for a while longer. I just need my literary heroes to be a bit more. So, I am holding out hope that things change and get better.

And, as a side note: These books provide yet another example of why the general reading public should not put down romance novels because they think that they are full of illicit material. The "Stone Barrington" novels have more of that than most romance novels...and romance novels take a lot longer to work up to it. Anyway, just a thought. I always laugh when someone says that women read romance because it is full of such scenes. Such a false representation of the genre!

Okay. Rant over.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Alabama Letters: A Blog about Alabama Books and Authors

I've started yet another blogging project! To keep myself motivated and to expand readership of Alabama authors and books, I have started my Alabama Letters blog. The first review is already up! Join!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Reading Challenge for 2013: Read Your State (Or Region or country...)

Over the last few years (that is when I started to notice this trend, at least), many bloggers have decided to embark upon various "Reading Challenges." I joined the most basic of them last year when I committed to read 50 books (of any kind) in 2012. I haven't quite met my goal, nor do I know if I will, but considering everything that I have had to do over the last year, I feel good about being over half-way through it.

I recently joined the "Classics Club," but that is a reading list of 50 classics that you must read over a five year period. (Note: You can find my reviews at my Victorian book blog titled "One Word More.")

Anyway, I have decided upon my reading challenge for 2013. It is one of my own making. So, if anyone wants to join me, I am committing to read at least 12 books (one per month) written by Alabama authors. You, of course, would choose authors from your own state...unless you just want to be cool like me and read those from Alabama. :)

In any case, that is it! I will be reading other things, of course, but I want to become more familiar with the books from my home state. So, cheers and happy reading!

Thoughts about post-dissertation reading...

I have been curious for quite some time about what my reading life would be like after I finished the dissertation. My reading patterns while working on the diss for the last 2 1/2 years, and during the last 10 years that I have been in graduate school (not just for the PhD), have been typical of my personality. I would read and work like mad on course or dissertation related materials. Then, my mind would rebel, and I would indulge in a few weeks of reading YA or romance novels. I always came back to my studies, but reading the fun books was a type of relaxation and recharging for me. I am a big believer in this if you are a graduate student. Reading something completely fantastical or unrealistic or romantic always recharged me. I went back to my dissertation ready to explore new ideas and full of energy. I would often dream of the day when I didn't have to worry about the dissertation...when I wouldn't be obligated to read 800-page Victorian novels. So, I just knew that after the diss was complete that I would indulge in the biggest pleasure reading fest EVER.

And what happened? Well, the month of October was quite busy for me at work--lots of travel and work deadlines. So, I managed to squeeze in a Stuart Woods novel (and I have begun another). I read two YA books. But what was the first book I turned to? A classic. Yep. That is right. I became obsessed with Brideshead Revisited. Then, while I was in Mobile a couple of weeks ago, I realized that I had left my book at home (frantic packing), so I managed to find a bookstore and bought Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White (something I read partially a long time ago...but I have wanted to really read it for a long time). I am puzzled as to why I chose these two, but I have been thinking about it, and this is what I have come up with:

I chose Brideshead Revisited for two reasons:
1. I saw the movie and became more interested. Plus, I love to watch footage and read novels about Oxford.
2. After watching the movie, I loved the differences I saw between its (and the novel's) orphan character (who is post-Victorian) and those I had studied. It was something different, and I needed that in my life.

Then, in Mobile, I was placed in an environment where I needed to feel something familiar. The exhaustion of the defense and dissertation had worn off, and I was at a history conference surrounded by historians. I should explain that some historians think that literature scholars are ridiculous and that our field is not justifiable. "You just make things up," is something I have heard more than once...and even once at the conference when someone heard that I just defended my lit dissertation. Anyway, I just laugh it off, but I don't understand how people can think this way. I love history and it is so important. And literature is equally important to history studies, because books tell us the non-factual but equally important human emotional side to history. Anyway, suffice it to say that I felt a little trapped, so I think that is what caused me to buy the Collins book. It is like a comfort food.

So, why spend an entire blog post on this? Well, I think that what we read is not only important in terms of defining us intellectually or personally. I think that books have a very real power to feed us and comfort us in very important ways. What we connect with is important, and I can't believe that anyone would discount how that fits in with human history. It goes beyond popular culture. It is just human culture. The fact that books written over 100 years ago still have the power to move us implies that there is something excruciatingly human about these stories--something that facts can't relay in full. Anyway, that is my little exploration of this topic for now, rambling though it may be. I will keep you posted.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

And the month of craziness comes to a close...sort of...

Well, my ultra busy month has finally come to an end. My boss, coworker, and I had a great time at the conference (see photo below), but I am exhausted. I thought this would be the end of travel and craziness for a while, but I just found out that I will need to be out of town on Friday, too. Oh, well. At least I am with people I like!

PS: VOTE!!!!