Howl’s Moving Castle

May 29, 2012

As tends to happen in my life, my friend and I were talking about something completely unrelated, but this somehow led to a conversation about books and her realizing that I had never read Howl’s Moving Castle. This information was met with shock and horror. Clearly I’d led a deprived childhood (fun fact: when my friend told her sister, the response was “what’s wrong with your friends?”), so the next time we met up I borrowed her copy so I could start reading.

I have no idea how I missed this book during my childhood, but better late than never.

Sophie Hatter is the eldest of three sisters living in Market Chipping in the land of Ingary. While her younger sisters go off to seek their fortunes, Sophie stays behind to tend her father’s hat shop. This seems to be a fairly mundane fate until she incurs the wrath of the Witch of the Waste, sending her on an adventure in which she falls in with the Wizard Howl to tend his traveling castle and befriends a cast of far more interesting characters than the surface of Ingary would suggest.

Howl’s Moving Castle is an action-packed fantasy. I love it now and I would have been obsessed with it as a kid. I still can’t get over the fact that I never knew about it.

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Freedom has gotten great reviews from critics, but I have to say I was underwhelmed. There were parts of the story that I found interesting, but overall I found I just wasn’t particularly interested in the characters.

Through other reading experiences I’ve learned that I don’t necessarily have to like the characters in order to care about them or be interested in their stories, but the characters in Freedom held no appeal. It isn’t that they aren’t likeable. They’re flawed, but they have their moments, and Franzen did his part to make them feel like real people. Something just didn’t click for me, I guess.

I kind of feel bad when I don’t really like a book, but there isn’t a particular issue (i.e. bad writing, bad plot). I know that I don’t have to like every book I read, but somehow it just feels wrong…

Wandering in New York

May 26, 2012

The Strand’s tagline is “18 Miles of Books” and having wandered the shelves, I don’t think they were dabbling in hyperbole.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve never gone there with an overabundance of time (and money), but there is something about the Strand that is incredibly overwhelming, and let’s face it, I’m no novice in the face of large book collections. It might just be a case of wanting to go in so many directions at once that I get stuck in one place. I want to check out the fiction, the biographies, the cookbooks, and just wander around to see what gems I’ll happen upon, but I always end up in the same place: the classics.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my classics section. I will never not go to the classics section, but I always plan on looking through other parts of the store and instead spend all my time in that one area. I think I need to plan a trip to the Strand when I have nothing else going on and can spendas much time as I want roaming the entire store. This is my plan. Or my dream, anyway.

Anyway, I (mostly) controlled myself on this trip. I bought The Forsyte Saga, The Age of Innocence, andI, Claudius.

…and a(nother) tote bag.

Before I started wandering though, I applied for a job because really, wouldn’t that be awesome? In case you had to stop and think, the answer is a resounding YES. Hopefully they’ll call me. If they don’t, I’ll probably just go back every week until they realize it would just be easier to hire me.

The other highlight of my New York trip was visiting the Brooklyn Art Library, which houses the Sketchbook Project. It’s really kind of spectacular and if they’re hiring I would definitely want the job. Also, their mascot is an owl. His name is Oliver. I may have bought a Brooklyn Art Library tote bag with Oliver printed on it. Fun fact: I’m a book lady, but I’m also a bag lady.

My apartment search was much less fruitful, so I still have no idea when I’ll be moving. I really don’t like having this much uncertainty, but I guess I’ll just have to roll with the punches. For now I’ll continue doing everything from DC, but classes start in August so I really am running low on time.

And so we begin.

Let’s not kid ourselves and try to pin down a theme here. There will be book reviews and book talk because books are pretty much my life. There will also be reflections on trying to move to New York, actually moving to New York when the time comes, and, eventually, living in New York. There will be musings on library school. There may be attempts at creative writing and posts of my photography if I ever get the courage. There will probably be pictures of cats.

I realize that already I am living up to a stereotype, but hopefully as time goes on I will manage to debunk it somewhat. And if not, I’m awesome despite my stereotypical behavior, so too bad.

I am currently in New York visiting the school and looking for a place to live. It is hot and muggy and generally disgusting outside. We walked everywhere and I don’t own sensible shoes, so I think I have rubbed a few essential layers of skin off the bottom of my feet. In any case, my computer needs to recharge and so do I, so tales of the Strand later.