Tag Archives: books

Sequins: New Favorite Book

Meet “Lace”. She’s one of my best friends. I know her through Monsieur, and she knows Monsieur through her fiance. Her fiance and Monsieur are pretty close.
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Sequins: February & March Reading List

Monsieur and I are hosting our first event in our apartment–February Whiskey Day! We’re excited to have people over, watch True Grit (the 2010 version, which he hasn’t seen yet), play some games, and of course, indulge in some amazingly tasty Bourbon Chocolate Shakes. In fact, I’m sipping on one right now as I type this out for you all, and let me tell ya–it’s amazing. In the meantime, though, here’s my reading list for this month (and March)

Only Revolutions, Mark Z. Danielewski

This is from the same author as House of Leaves, and if you’ve ever read either, you’ll know his books are interactive experiences rather than just a direct exchange of words on paper into your brain. Only Revolutions is pretty amazing so far, and I feel like every part of it has this lyrical, poetic rhythm. I want to read the entire thing out loud, and I often to do Monsieur. I started reading it when him and I were driving back from the big city late at night, and this book is hand’s down perfect for roadtrips.

The Influence of Sea Power Upon History 1600 – 1783, A. T Mahan

This is my total nerd book, but it’s fascinating. It was written at the end of the 1800s and it’s still very relevant today. Mahan explores the naval battles in the time period specified to show, well, the influence that sea power has had upon history. It’s a recommended read for anyone interested in geopolitics, and it offers really great insight to how Stratfor examines word events. It’s a little dry, but I’m really enjoying it.

A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan (rereading)

I recommended this book to my old high school English professor and my high school best friend when we were getting coffee last month. They both want to read it, so I’m rereading it for our next coffee get together in March. Egan’s works are so amazing to me–I’m a really big fan. Her novels cover a variety of subjects and themes, but she writes with such intentional precision that it makes you think she’s spend her entire life thinking about the one topic mentioned in the book you’re currently engaged in. This one has a really fascinating and realistic look at the future–like how the generation of Monsieur and I’s kids are going to turn out, and what technology will look like, as well as how that influences culture and society. She pulls off the whole novel without delving into the science fiction realm, which is impressive (not that there’s anything wrong with science fiction. Rather, she maintains current relevancy the entire time).

Sequins: Poetry Reader

When I was in college, I tentatively toyed with being an English major. It’s no secret that I love reading, and I thought fewer things sounded more ideal than spending college indulging in my passion for literature. However, for a lot of reasons, I went in the Poli Sci/Econ field instead, and I really have no regrets.

For a couple of quarters, though, I took some really outstanding English classes. The exposure to books I may not have initially picked up, as well as some great professors guiding me and pushing me to read more intentionally, was a great experience. I know a lot of people (read: family members and close friends) have expressed a hesitancy to reading poetry. There’s kind of an angsty stigma about reading poetry, like it makes you too emo or something, as well as a mystery about how to read it “correctly”. I feel like poetry enthusiasts often sound like wine enthusiasts–they take a lot of pleasure out of over-complicating the process and alienating anyone who doesn’t speak their secret language. There’s really no need, though, and I had a professor share these really great five steps with which you can approach poetry without feeling overwhelmed.

Source: Pinterest

Step One: Pick a Book, and a Poem.
Unless you’re already familiar with a poet, or know what type you like, I’d suggest an anthology to start. Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems is one of my favorite go-to poetry books. I’ve had it for years and love flipping through it. There’s a wide enough variety that you can eventually land on a style that resonates with you, and then go from there!

Step Two: Read the Poem
I promise, my tip is better than it sounds. Trust me on this, though. Just read it, like you would read anything else. Don’t worry about counting cadences or match up rhyming or decoding the metaphors. Just read it for the words, and don’t start “translating” it just yet. Please.

Step Three: Read it Out Loud
This is the most important step, and it’s really the key. Read the poem out loud! The first reading was really just so you don’t stumble when you do this part. Read it out loud, and enjoy the sounds.

Step Four: Walk Away from the Poem.
Just leave it alone for like ten, fifteen, twenty minutes. Go do the dishes, get a refill on your coffee, scroll through NPR’s headlines. Then, of course, sit back down with the poem.

Step Five: Read It Again
Go ahead and read it again, after you’ve had a little bit of a brain break. When you’re reading it this time, read it slowly and think about the impressions it’s making. Does it make you think of a color? An emotion? A long lost memory of your childhood you thought you had buried deep down? Go with it! Write a little note next to a line that makes you think of the color chartreuse, even if there’s really no logic behind why. Because here’s my last, top-secret tip: There are no wrong answers. Sure, the poet probably had a metaphor in mind. But maybe he didn’t! In the end, you’re the one reading the poem, and you’re the one who gets to experience it. So pay attention to your experience without getting bogged down in the “correct” experience!

So, readers, your homework for the night? Carve out some “you” time, read a poem, and let me know what you thought! I’d love to hear if this was even remotely helpful for you (because I know it was for me, when my professor walked me through it!)

Bonus: Some of my favorites

Sequins: The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt

In the past couple of months, I’ve gotten two free books! One was from a work seminar, about boosting your email marketing efforts, but the other was hand’s down way more exciting–I won The Scrabook of Frankie Pratt, by Caroline Preston, through the Modcloth blog! Yay! It was this post, to be exact.

Anyway, while Monsieur was taking pictures of me in honor of Whiskey Day, he noted a small little package next to my front door.

It’s so beautiful! I’d have to put it in the top five most beautiful books I have on my shelf (competitors include The Fountain and most of my Flight books). I started reading it in the car, and I just love the layout. This book instantly makes me want a typewriter more than I already did. I also have the sudden urge to go to my local antique shop and look for old photos to faux-scrapbook with….

I’m sure I’ll have more of an update when I finish reading the book! I’ll keep you all posted.

**Disclaimer: I don’t think this post needs one, but yes–the book was given to me from Modcloth. It was through a giveaway, though, and I’m under no obligation to write this post. Just felt like it, was all!

Sequins: What I’m Reading, Early January

In our ever-constant evolution of how Stripes and I are defining this space, I figured I’d share with you all what I’m. Particularly because one of them was inspired by one of my fasion-blogging-favorites, What Would A Nerd Wear.

I always tend to juggle two to four books at a time. It will vary, but I’ve found that what works for me is one nonfiction, one fiction, and sometimes one more fiction, but only if it’s “fluffy”.

The Siege of Krishnapur, J.G. Farrell

I picked this one up on this recommendation last time I was in Powell’s during my Portland trip with Monsieur (yes, I know she actually recommended a different one, but I had some logic for why I picked this one up first. I think I read a different recommendation for it along side her’s… But it is super weird for me to read a trilogy out of order). I had to finish a few others on my list, but once the New Year’s holiday celebrating was over, I managed to sit down and start it.

I’m totally digging it! I know I tend to get bogged down in my reading list, so sometimes to just pick up a book at random without a whole lot of background info and set up can be a relief. The book is super snarky and witty, with some pretty dark undertones. I’m about a third of the way through it and while it works well as a stand-alone, I’m pretty convinced I’ll read Troubles and probably Singapore Grip as well.

The Next 100 Years, George Friedman

One of my brother-in-laws and I’s shared hobbies is nerding out over geopolitics. We’re constantly sharing Stratfor articles back and forth, and comparing books I’ve read about the middle east with his experience from two tours in Iraq. If you haven’t heard of Stratfor, and have an interest in geopolitics, I’d really recommend checking it out. The website is down right now (ed: nope, it’s finally back up! Check it out here), but it’s worth a Google search, I promise (and if you disagree, I’d love to hear why–disagreement and debates are excellent, yeah?).

Friedman is the founder of Stratfor as well as the author of my non-fiction pick for the month, The Next 100 Years. It’s a bit of a popcorn politics books, but I’m still really enjoying it. While it’s easy to blow parts of it off as too out there, or overreaching his ability to predict, I respect that he lays a solid foundation for his argument. This doesn’t make it foolproof, but rather, it gives you the fodder to pick away at his arguments and allow you to determine for yourself whether or not you agree with what he posits. I’m halfway through this one, which is a bit of a bummer–it’s going a smidge faster than I’d like. I need it to last me until they have their website up and running again!

How about you?

I’d love to hear what our readers are reading, aside from our blog! My favorite way to expand my reading list is hearing what others are passionate about–so you should feel free to delurk! And share!

Sequins: Cliche Year-End Summary Of… Books?

I know, I know, this is supposed to be a fashion and crafts blog. Although if we want to play semantics, it’s supposed to be a moose blog. Really, it’s Sequins & Stripes’ blog, and while I won’t speak for Stripes, I will say that I’ve never considered myself anywhere near the realm of potential fashion blogger.

No no, what I am is a nerd. I gravitate towards that term seamlessly. I’m a book nerd, a clothes nerd, a crafts nerd, a comics nerd, and occasionally a gaming nerd. Mostly, though, above all else, I’m a book nerd. Thus this post.

Back story: I graduated from college during the “off season”–that is, during the end of fall, and not during spring. This meant that the budding of my post-grad life aligned itself perfectly with the dawn of a new calendar year. I knew I would spend the first half of 2011 working part time, before it evolved into a full-time position in July. I’ve always been one for grand, elaborate schemes, and the large stacks of books I received as Christmas presents inspired me to outline my “life goal” of 2011.

I would read. A lot.

Feel free to pause and take a moment to snicker, or perhaps roll your eyes at the lack of any shock in that goal. I already do read. A lot. It’s kind of my thing. yet I wanted to take it further, so I decided to log every book I read, including start date, finish date, and a brief summary of my thoughts. It worked amazingly well, and I’ve noticed a consistent depth to my reading, as well as promptness in finishing books (whereas in previous years I tend to be a bit lazy with books I find uninspiring).

Total books read for 2011: 50

So in honor of cliche year-end blogging lists everywhere, I made a list of my top picks. The criteria for each book listed is twofold: 1) I read it in 2011 and 2) I liked it more than others I read in 2011. *Note: this means that a lot of these books didn’t come out in 2011. So don’t be shocked. They also aren’t listed in any order of preference–they were all amazing reads!

1Q84, Haruki Murakami
This is one of the few books I read that actually came out in the year I was reading it. I’m a really big fan of Murakami, but I always find that his weakness in writing is that he forgets he has readers–that is, sometimes he forgets to explain, in however rudimentary and simple of way, his leaps in his fantastical logic. This book was an excellent sample of his writing, though, and I think it is his best to-date. He manages to maintain that crazy fantasy of alternate realities and creative remixing of worlds while still letting the reader follow him along in the story, instead of chasing after his train of thought.

Master & Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
I’m a big fan of Russian authors, so when a friend of mine recommended this novel I jumped on it. And I’ve seriously been jumping on it ever since–I friggin’ loved it. It’s one of the more modern Russian novels I’ve read (not that it’s modern–it was published in the 1930s), and it’s just proven that I need to continue with this fan-girl approach to Russian writers. This novel is hilarious, snarky, and impressive, considering it was written during the height of Russian censorship, and manages to mock that very censorship. The writing of the book is an example of the power of the human spirit, and the book itself is just this fabulous middle-finger to the politics that Bulgakov was experiencing.

Al Jazeera, Hugh Miles
I like to balance my fiction love with the occasional non-fiction. You know, continuing to work on my poli-sci interests and all. This book should be required reading for anyone who has ever participating in American-centric media. It gives an alternate viewpoint that is absolutely essential to developing critical thinking towards the media. The author is clearly an Al Jazeera fan boy, but that in no way takes away from the marvelously concise and informative piece he wrote on them. Required reading!

Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
I’ve been waiting for the Pevear-Volokhonsky translation of Doctor Zhivago to come out, and I wasn’t disappointed. They have a mastery of translating Russians into English that manages to capture the original essence of the authors, and it allows you to fully appreciate the talent that the original authors displayed in their writing. Doctor Zhivago isn’t stuffy or boring–it’s poetic, and lyrical, and the translation did full justice to it. I have a personal rule of not writing anything too in-depth about an author I’ve only read once, so I’m really looking forward to sitting down with Doctor Zhivago again and absorbing Pasternak’s piece more fully in the upcoming year.

Footnotes in Gaza, Joe Sacco
Westerners, specifically Americans, so often lose perspective, and don’t have the opportunity to hear from the “other” side in the conflicts our countries have managed to engage in. Joe Sacco’s piece was a very hard read, but it’s a topic I’m pretty passionate about. Sacco is very unapologetic about presenting accurately the viewpoints of Palestinians living in Gaza–and yet he does it in a full and complete way, so it’s easier to empathize when they express anti-American and militaristic sentiments. The graphic novel form that this book was written in makes the story that much more intense, and he weaves history in with the modern in a very impressive way. This should be required reading for anyone living in “the West”, just to have some idea of how other people live and experience the world.