Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

I don’t like country music, but I do like reading – and so does Dolly Parton, apparently. Now, this information is pretty old (like sixteen years old), but I’m just finding out about it so it’s new to me: Dolly Parton has a foundation set up so that kids in her home county of East Tennessee can receive an age-appropriate book every month from birth until their fifth birthday. How fucking cool is that?! Here kids, have these free books given to you by Dolly Fucking Parton.

I love when famous people do things like stock libraries or donate books to underprivileged kids; it makes me think that they’re not all a bunch of vapid, self-obsessed fame-mongers. Well, most of them are, but not Dolly Fucking Parton. She may not be able to sleep on her stomach, but dat bitch loves books, and that’s fantastic.


The Book Snob

First, I’m going to apologise for not posting lately – I’ve been completely swamped with school and work. Not that my two(ish) readers seem to care.

Moving along.

I was in class the other day, my copy of A Clash of Kings (by the author who looks like a tugboat capatin, George RR Martin) sitting on the desk before me. This guy – let’s call him ‘Dave’ – sits down next to me, reaches over, picks up the books, snorts, and puts it back down.

Now, before I get into the story, let’s tell you about ‘Dave’: he’s a bit of a book snob. He regards anything written after 1930 to be ‘popular tripe’, he talks like Fraiser Crane, and nobody ever wants to do group work with him because all he does is use big words to try to impress everybody. He is, in short, a bit of a pompous turd.

“What’s your deal?” I asked.

“Oh. It’s…the size of the book, that’s all.”

“The size..?”

“I don’t tend to trust books of that…size. It’s a quality thing. Books of that size tend to be too…shallow. Popular, if you will, and not very good.”

Well colour me baffled. For like, three seconds. Then it hit me: my little 7x4x2 copy of some of Mr. Martin’s finest was being lumped in with the likes of Nora Roberts (who, it seems, writes a book every time she takes a shit). I got a little steamed.

“A quality thing? Dave, this is some of the most resplendent shit I’ve ever read. This is like Tolkien started doing coke and fought off a bear in the woods and won and then decided to write Lord of the Rings, only this has direwolves and war and incest and dragons. Get your shit checked, Dave, you fucking asshole.”

Okay, so the ‘fucking asshole’ part isn’t true, but the rest of it is. I seriously hope boat captain Martin doesn’t kick it before he finishes the series.

Books Are Getting Too Effing Expensive

I used to buy books all the time. I also used to live rent-free, spend my Friday nights at the mall, and not have to shave my armpits. And then I became a functioning member of society, and all that changed. Well, I do occasionally forget to shave my armpits, but it doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as it did when I was thirteen and basically hairless, and it also makes me a bit embarrassed in the summer.


I was at the mall today (shut up, it’s Wednesday), and I happened to pass through Chapters-Indigo on my way out to the parking lot. Thinking maybe I’d pick up Wonder Boys, a fantastic (yet unowned by me)  book by Michael Chabon, I wandered around until I found it. And – surprise surprise – the book was twenty-seven motherfucking dollars. I know I shouldn’t have been surprised, but seriously: when the fuck did books get that expensive? So, I ambled around the store some more, and found a nice hardcover copy of The Canterbury Tales in the clearance section, but even there the damn thing was still twenty bucks.

What happened? Were books always this pricey and I never thought/cared about it? Or is it just culture (wallet?) shock because I usually only go to used book stores?

Judging Books By Their Covers

I would not read this book:

It looks stupid. That said, it’s probably not a bad book. I mean, I’m hoping it’s not a bad book, even though I’m pretty sure it most likely is. I mean, there’s a floating baby head in space. It looks like one of those awkward family portraits that has the dad’s head just floating behind the entire family: creepy and weird!

So I admit fully to judging books by their covers. Or titles. Example: the only reason I started reading Sloane Crosley is because the title of her book was, “I Was Told There’d Be Cake.” And I love cake.

So what about you? Have you judged books by their covers, and either read or avoided them because of it?


To the Dismay of Dyslexics and Slow Readers Alike: A Book With Fading Ink That Requires Quick Reading

If you ask nicely, a book will wait forever for you to read it. It will sit quietly and unobtrusively on a shelf, or under a couch, until such a time comes that you can settle in to read it. Occasionally, books are forgotten and will remain so until the furniture’s moved, or someone at a party spills an entire glass of red wine on your bookshelves (thanks, random dude from college party).

That’s where this crazy new technology comes in. Basically, it’s a book printed with disappearing ink. And you have to read it fast, or else it disappears forever, and there’s nothing worse than wasted money. Actually, what would be worse would be reading the book, having to stop, and the thing disappearing completely before you had a chance to get back to it. Talk about a cliffhanger.

The books are printed and sealed in airtight bags, so they only start to fade once you open them. Still, though, you’ve got to be really set on reading the whole thing in just a few short weeks. The concept is cool: it’s done so that people will read new and up-and-coming authors’ books in their entirety. And then you’ve got a neat diary once the ink completely fades, I guess. Anyway, here’s a video:

What’s Your Favourite Book?

I was sitting on the front porch one night last summer when a guy stumbled by and vomited on the tree in my front yard. He apologised to the tree and continued weaving down the street. The next morning I went out with the hose to un-decorate the tree, and I saw a copy of Catcher in the Rye laying on the ground about ten yards away. Picking it up, I noticed that it was old. Like, old old: well-thumbed, dog-eared, with various scribbles and notes in the margins on many of the pages. And as I stood there in my pyjamas examining this book, a guy walked up to me.

He explained that he must have dropped the book the previous night, and that he was worried he’d lost it forever. I nodded politely and handed the book over, to which he said, “I don’t know what I’d do without it. I carry this thing everywhere with me.” I responded with a noncomittal, “Oh, okay,” and started back towards the house. The guy called out a thank-you to me for picking the book up, and I responded with a quick wave, immediately locking myself in the house.

Now, I realise that how I responded could be interpreted as being a bit rude, and that not only murderers read Catcher in the Rye. But at the time, all I could think about was John Lennon getting shot, and that Mark David Chapman had been found holding a copy of that book. The mind makes strange connections when confronted with the unusual, doesn’t it?

Which got me thinking.

Nearly everyone has a favourite book. That one book we’d be lost without. That one book we have multiple copies of, that one book we toss into our suitcases without a second thought when we go on vacation, the book we always pick up when we “have nothing else to read”. For me, it’s Tales of the Bounty Hunters, a book of short stories written from the perspectives of the bounty hunters as they briefly appeared in the first Star Wars films. I’m not one of those dicks who carries around a copy of War and Peace or The Brothers Karamazov so that I can look down my nose at people and feign literary superiority; I firmly believe that if your favourite book is Hop on Pop, you should have no problem letting people know. 

The Catcher in the Rye guy is almost definitely not a murderer; he is probably just another nerd like me who obsessively re-reads the same things over and over, perhaps hoping to glean new details or perspectives on the book, even though he’s read it a hundred times. He also probably regularly vomits on trees.

So what’s your go-to book? What’s the one you re-read multiple times a year? The one you can quote entire paragraphs from? Best answer gets… well, nothing. Sorry.

Fun With IWriteLike

It’s been a slow day the past couple days. I’ve been waiting to hear back from a woman I’m designing a website for, so my free time is through the roof, currently. After switching back and forth between the sixth Harry Potter book and Game of Thrones, I decided to do a bit of writing of my own (which I haven’t done in months). Today, one of my friends mentioned a site I thought I’d forgotten about: IWriteLike. The gist of it is: you paste a paragraph or two of your writing in it and it “analyses” it and tells you which famous author your writing style is similar to.

My first try got me this:

And while it’s nice to be compared to Stephen King, I think our writing styles are more than just a tiny bit different. Now fully convinced that this was sheer ridiculousness, I tried a different tactic:

Okay, so it picks out words that are commonly used by these authors, apparently. Let’s try another:

My test seemed to work. Better give it another try, just to make sure I’m right:


Six Times Hollywood Didn’t Completely Screw the Pooch

A little while back I wrote something angry about how much the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film adaptation sucked. And while I stand staunchly by that, I have to concede a little bit that Hollywood doesn’t always fuck it up. At least, not to the point of H2G2. 

1. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy

Walking. So much walking. And talking about lineage. Which sounds boring, but if you’ve read the books, you’ll know it’s not. Not at all. There’s also cave trolls and creepy giant squid things and mountains and armies and fighting and lava and big fiery eyes and wizards and Gollum and hobbits. And dwarves! I learned so much about dwarves in those books. And then Peter Jackson came along and said, “Hey, let’s do some films based on these books, but we’re going to leave out Tom Bombadil, just to piss off Veronica.” But besides the fact that he left one of my favourite fringe characters out of the first film, Jackson did a superb job bringing three of the best books ever written to the silver screen. The casting was perfect, the decision to film in New Zealand was perfect, the post-production was great, the music gives me chills -still- every time I hear it. Anyway, enough of this; onto the next!

2. Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island

The film itself came and went without much fanfare (“Oh look, Scorsese’s using DiCaprio again.”), although it did make a pretty respectable amount of money. But I believe it’s one of the most fantastic adaptations ever done: right down to the dialogue, how the characters act around each other, the look and feel of the 1950s, the creepiness, and the dream sequences. I make a point of reading Shutter Island whenever I remember to; it’s genuinely a brilliant, well-written book, and Scorsese wields the plot twists like a frigging ninja wields a pair of nunchucks. If you haven’t seen this film, go watch it now, but be prepared to have some weird dreams. Not that it’s scary; it just…fucks with your head a little bit.

3. Chuck Pahlaniuk’s Fight Club

A big fat “DUH” right here, folks. And really, if you haven’t read Fight Club, you haven’t really lived. I remember the first time I read it, I put it down when I was finished and actually said, “Holy balls,” to my empty room. The film is perfect, ’nuff said. One of my all-time favourites. Seriously though, read the damn book. Everyone needs to read at least one incredibly violent, fucked-up novel in their life, and if it’s not Battle Royale, it had damn well better be Fight Club. Don’t talk about it, though.

4.  Koshun Takami’s Battle Royale

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, Battle Royale is possibly the most insanely fucked-up, unbelievably violent pieces of film to ever go global. It’s like The Hunger Games, only it’s Japanese, so it’s automatically way better. Basically, the government kidnaps a whole class of ninth-graders, gasses them, brings them to an island and makes them fight to the death. They’re each given a survival pack that has some supplies and one weapon in it, which can be anything from a gun to a frying pan. There’s this one crazy chick with a crossbow… yeah. It’s nuts. The only kid in the film you’d probably recognize (unless you’re into Japanese cinema) is Chiaki Kuriyama, who played Gogo in Kill Bill vol. 1. And true to form, she plays one of the more, uh, unbalanced characters. Anyway, everything ends in bloodshed in this film; I don’t even want to think of how much cornstarch and food colouring they went through to achieve the effects. Although, it’s Japan, so something tells me it’s probably like, baboon blood or something. For, y’know, authenticity. Anyway, the book is gratuitously violent and so is the film, so get it out of your system and read/watch immediately.

5. Ian Fleming’s Dr. No

So you’ve got your spy novel (which was, incidentally, a script for a television show before it was a James Bond book), and you read it and go, “Hm, that’s pretty good, this might make a decent film!” Well, apparently that’s what Terence Young thought when he decided to direct it (well, not so much ‘decided’ as he did ‘agree to do it because Cubby Broccoli wanted a Brit’). And for the first ever James Bond film, it was fantastic, although I’m a huuuuuuge Bond fan, so I may be slightly biased. Along with Connery, we’re introduced to Swiss actress Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder (whose lengthy Wikipedia page describes her as a ‘sex symbol’), and Quebec-born actor Joseph Wiseman as Dr. Julius No (whose Wikipedia page is considerably shorter and lacks a picture). This film is a milestone: it marks the beginning of the longest-running (and one of the most popular) film series in history. It stuck to the book pretty spot-on. And it was my first Bond film, which is probably why it’s my favourite. AND, I swear I’m not putting this one on my list because I have a crush on young Sean Connery. I swear. 

6. Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange

Here we go again with a bit of the old ultraviolent, this time with the surprisingly short, yet no less shocking A Clockwork Orange. The film, starring Malcolm McDowell, sparked controversy and outrage with its 1971 release, very much along the same lines as Battle Royale. The highly described acts of sociopathic behaviour in the book are lifted almost verbatim and plopped into the film, which is part of what makes the film so good. Plus, it’s directed by Stanley Kubrick, so you just know it’s going to be chock full of violence and mind-fuckery (thanks mum, by the way, for letting me watch this as a child, along with The Shining and Full Metal Jacket; I’m surprised I’m not a damn serial killer). The way that beating up an old homeless man is described in the book and the way Kubrick brings that horrifying act to life on screen is such a spine-tingling, unsettling thing that it makes you think Kubrick may be ever so slightly unbalanced. Hell, it makes me think I’m a bit unbalanced for genuinely liking the film. And that’s what makes it great: Alex’s tyranny, and then his utter helplessness as he’s brainwashed and eventually nearly killed by the same group of people he used to hang around with, is one of the most honestly-told fictional stories I’ve ever read.

What Does A Girl Have To Do To Get A Mars Landing Site Named After Her These Days?

Iconic author Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles) passed away a few months ago, and book nerds everywhere wept. But have no fear! NASA’s Curiosity team has commemorated him in the absolute coolest way possible by naming their Mars landing site after him. Curiosity tweeted on August 22nd:

In tribute, I dedicate my landing spot on Mars to you, Ray Bradbury. Greetings from Bradbury Landing!  


Which is funny, because ROBOTS CAN’T TWEET (thought you could fool me, eh, NASA?). But whatever, the geek responsible for that has sent NASA’s cool points meter rocketing off the charts (pun intended).

So you might be reading this and wondering, “Why the fuck would they name a Mars landing site after some author?” And if you’re wondering, then get out. Get out now, because you know diddly-squat about books and shouldn’t be here in the first place. E!’s website is thataway ->

Sixty-two(ish) years ago, Ray Bradbury wrote a book called The Martian Chronicles, which told of a future where humans had colonized Mars, and the ensuing troubles they faced. In Bradbury’s own distinctive voice, he tells of the issues that caused humans to evacuate the devastated Earth (caused by – surprise – humans and bombs), as well as the conflicts with the Martians, through a collection of short stories.

I always love reading old sci-fi books to see who predicted what (Bradbury actually predicted Facebook, saying in Fahrenheit 451 that people of the future would communicate digitally via a ‘wall’. Didn’t see timeline coming, though, didja Ray? DIDJA?!). Fortunately, his predictions of an atomically devastated Earth seem to have not come true yet…although there are still a few more years before it’s scheduled to happen. Better start ironing your radiation suits now, folks.

Little Free Libraries: Trade Books, Expand Your Knowledge

I came across a Little Free Library in Quebec a few years ago when I was on vacation. It was a nondescript thing: looked like a fancy mailbox by the side of the road in a small town.

Photo courtesy of

As I got closer, I noticed there was a window on the front and a small collection of books inside, with the words “Little Free Library” painted on a sign on top of the box. My curiosity got the better of me and I ended up standing there for nearly twenty minutes, thumbing through books.

Photo courtesy of

Eventually, I had to get going, but not before taking part. I took a copy of Naked Lunch out of my purse and stuck it in the box, and taking a copy of The Manticore by Robertson Davies with me when I left.

Photo courtesy of Mark Harrison/Seattle Times

You know, I’ve never seen one of these where I live. I’m always on the lookout for them, but I have yet to see a Little Free Library anywhere in the vicinity of my city. You can buy a Little Free Library from this website, but they do cost a bit. I’m thinking of just building my own; after all, it won’t really cost me any money to make, and it would be nice to have in a city that’s almost completely devoid of anything cool.

Photo courtesy of

The give-and-take of knowledge is a powerful thing, and getting people to freely share books could encourage more people to read, which may eventually lead to (gasp!) people choosing to read, perhaps over watching television or, I dunno, killing other people. Well, maybe it won’t discourage murder, but a girl can dream.