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My 100% nerdy boyfriend [livejournal.com profile] hologram_golem just posted a meme on 15 Book Tidbits About You. He's doing installments, but I'll try to do all fifteen.

1. My all-time favorite book for years growing up was The Princess Bride. I read and re-read it to tatters. I think there's actually an updated version with a new ending that I'd like to check out at some point. I adore the movie, but if they could have managed to keep the Zoo of Death instead of changing it to the Pit of Despair, it would have been that much better. Actually, I take that back, because the creepiness of the Zoo of Death is something that can only be visualized in your mind.

2. I still love childrens books. Sometimes I wonder why I'm so vehemently anti-having kids (for me, not for others!) when I love kids books and toys and cartoons so much. I guess I just don't want to share. Here are some of my favorites:

3. I don't think I can fully translate my absolute love for the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace enough. These are books that are a very loving tribute to the author's childhood and adolescence growing up in Minnesota in the early 1900's. Mankato, Minnesota to be specific, under the altar ego name of Deep Valley. The books start when Betsy and her best friend Tacy are five and end at about age 20 when they get married (to others, not each other). What makes them so awesome? Beautiful illustrations, incredibly smart and imagninative girls, pop culture references circa 1908, and a feminist subtext so subtle you barely notice it's there. Betsy is a writer and her older sister Julia wants to be an opera singer, and at no point does anyone discourage them to do this, despite this being a time when all girls were supposed to be wives and mothers. The one and only time their father says he's hoping Julia will find a husband at college and stop wanting a singing career, he immediately goes back on it and offers to pull her out of school so she can study opera abroad. The fact that this was all autobiographical makes it even cooler.

4. Winnie the Pooh! I don't think I had more than Disney books growing up, but I have the complete hardcover and read it about once a year. Those who have read the Tao of Pooh know that Pooh is more than a Bear Of Little Brain...he's a zen philosopher.

5. Peter Pan. While I love the Peter Pan and Wendy book, there's actually a very short book that predates it called Peter Pan In Kensington Gardens. In that one a small girl stays overnight at Kensington Gardens and hangs out with Peter and all the other fairies. Completely unlike the maternal Wendy, this character is adventurous and bold. Worth looking up.

6. L.M. Montgomery. I think I read everything she ever wrote when I was younger. I adored Anne of Green Gables, but I really loved the Emily books, a trilogy about a girl who wants to be a writer. Even gets a little spooky at times because Emily has "the second sight" and will at times go into trances and solve mysteries about the whereabouts of missing children and how people died long ago.

7. Onto more adult books. I read a lot of classics when I was in high school. Jane Austen and Willa Cather and Dickens and the Bronte sisters. It blew my teachers minds that this fourteen year old girl was reading Don Quixote for fun (keep in mind, this was Elmwood Park), but it just solidified my weirdness with the other students.

8. My favorite magazine in high school was Sassy. I couldn't even pick up a 'Teen of YM after I discovered Sassy. For a girl who didn't even have any rebel girls at school to idolize, Sassy was like a cool big sister telling me about cool bands and counter culture fashion and feminist politics. I still have all of them. The magazine Jane was headed by Sassy's old editor, Jane Pratt, but it was such a disappointment. Like when your cool rebel girl sister graduates college, gets a job in New York doing PR and suddenly starts schmoozing celebrities and wearing $300 shoes.

9. Another favorite book of mine is What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges (writer/director of Pieces of April). I loved this book so much, I even tried to make myself like the movie, but failed. The movie is extremely good, but a downer compared to the bright and funny prose of the book. Remember Juliette Lewis's character as the love interest? She was incredibly watered down...in the book she was probably one of the most badass characters ever written. I appreciate male writers who actually do a good job writing female characters. I met Peter Hedges when he toured for his second book, An Ocean In Iowa. He was an absolute sweetheart and I was completely star struck and got my picture taken with him. He wrote in my book, "To Jessica who writes...write on! 'Anything worth doing well will take you 20 years to learn.' -Sanford Meisher."

10. I was about 16 when I finally started branching out from classics to contemporary fiction. Senior year for Xmas I requested Generation X by Douglas Coupland, the Griffon and Sabine series, and Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block. Books like these broke me out of my 18th century trance and slammed me into an upside down fairy tale present.

11. I am a huge Lynda Barry fan. I can't even tell how many times I've read "My Perfect Life." I met her when she toured for her book "Cruddy" and got to tell her that I own all her books, even her CD "The Lynda Barry Experience." She laughed and said that CD must have been hard to find, and I said I actually found it at Best Buy, which made her happy. I brought Josh into my Lynda Barry obsession, and we'd quote it back and forth to each other. "Right on! Wow!"

12. Josh in turn brought me into his Dame Darcy obsession. Her comic book Meat Cake is full of willowy girls in diaphonous gowns and stripey stockings. It's like a Victorian novel gone to hell.

13. Speaking of which, if you can't tell by now, I love fucked up fairy tales. Dame Darcy, Weetzie Bat, Wicked, Kissing the Witch. I'm currently reading "Mirror, Mirror" by Gregory Macguire, which is pretty awesome.

14. As Shawn stated, our tiny apartment is filled to the brim with books. Maybe the reason why we don't want kids is because we can't sacrifice extra room that could be used as library space. For birthdays and Xmas, giving one or both of us a book is much appreciated, but an extra bookshelf would probably be appreciated even more. Not that we'd have anywhere to put it, but we could try!

15. My newest obsession has been knitting books, which feeds into my newest obsession of knitting. Stitch n Bitch, Weekend Knitting, Loop d Loop and others have been filling my already-filled-to-capacity bookshelves. For Xmas my friend Jackie just gave me "Bizarre Bazaar," a book on punk rock crafts such as naughty cross stitch, vinyl change purses and personal shrines. He said, "It was pink and there was a skull on it, so I knew it had to be for Jess."

Whew! I made it! Now I think I'll go read.
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Okay, so was I the only nerd obsessed with the Sweet Valley High books when I was a kid? I read them obsessively from ages 10-14. I desperately wished I had a twin. At ten and eleven, I figured that's how high school would be...I'd outgrow being so shy and awkward by then, and I'd spend my days hanging out at the local soda shop with my friends, writing a column for the school newspaper, dating someone Handsome with a Mysterious Past, and spending a semester in Paris. By ages 12 and 13 it became increasingly apparent that this is not what the future had in store for me, and the storylines became more and more ridiculous. I stopped reading them completely in high school, and took them all off my bookshelf, hiding them in a box somewhere. I let my parents throw them out at some point when we moved. Now I kind of wish I still had them (not that I need anymore books, let alone, like, eighty of them!) A testament to the Most Atrocious Writing Ever.

There was an interview with Francine Pascal in a BUST issue awhile back. This might be something only I know about, but Francine wrote some books before Sweet Valley about a girl named Victoria. I discovered them in my library when I was twelve (there were three of them but I only remember the title "Hanging Out With CiCi"). Victoria was way cooler than the Wakefield twins. She was written in the first person. She wasn't the most beautiful girl in school. She got in trouble for smoking pot at parties. She messed around with boys (anyone who read the Sweet Valley books knows the twins never went farther than "a long, lingering kiss"). She was sassy and smart mouthed and actually funny. And I couldn't understand how someone who could create a realistic teenage character like Victoria could go and create the most unrealistic twins in the world. But in the interview Francine Pascal was actually really funny and seemed pretty cool. (She called Todd boring. Awesome!) I guess I can't blame her too much that young girls would rather read about rich, popular, dazzlingly beautiful 16 yr olds instead of one who complained about how knobby her knees were and talked back to her mom.

memory lane

Aug. 8th, 2005 10:21 am
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First of all, let me start by saying that I'm much better than last week when I wrote that silly, whiny post. I usually don't do that, but I think I was just overtired and it made me depressed. I really needed to see my chiropractor that day, but the a/c in my car is broken and the idea of driving to the burbs in a hot car was more than I could stand. My chiro is still out where I used to live in Elk Grove, but I don't want to switch to someone closer because she's really good. Then yesterday I threw my head forward to put gel in my hair (I have curly hair...it looks better when styled upside down) and pulled something in my neck. One of the massage therapists worked on it a little yesterday at work, but I really just need an adjustment.

memory )

No real point to any of this. It's just funny.
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Last week I got together with an old friend from high school. We had dinner and talked about old times, and even talked about this intense dramatic period circa '94/95. I haven't even thought about it in years so I grabbed my old journal and read about it. Have you ever read old notes during a high drama period from your teens before? It can be eye-rolling embarrassing, but also kind of funny. I used to have this core group of girls I hung out with, and from that I only talk to Diane now. I guess it can be kind of a friendship evolution...the people who in the end aren't really that good for you get weeded out.

oh the madness )

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