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  • Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick 3:15 pm on 2015/04/02 Permalink
    Tags: ,   

    10 Thoughts Book Lovers Have Already Had Today 

    There is no “type” when it comes to book lovers. We’re different shapes and sizes, ages, genders, nationalities, and sexual orientations. Some of us like science fiction, others like romance, and some of us refuse to read anything published post 1900. Our diversity is what makes being part of the book community so incredible, whether you’re a reader, a writer, or both (after all, what writer isn’t a diehard reader?). We learn from each other and expose each other to new books we would never pick up on our own.

    That isn’t to say, however, that we don’t have a lot of things in common. We may be thinking about different books specifically, but for the most part we all spend an absurd amount of time each day thinking about books and reading generally. I’ll be the first to admit I spend waaaay too much time thinking about the novel I’m reading when I should be thinking about work, friends, or remembering to let my dog back inside the house (sorry, Stitch!). Fellow readers, I dare you to tell me you don’t think one or more (or all!) of these thoughts over the course of a day. Here are 10 thoughts book lovers have had in the last 24 hours.

    “Morning already? Why did I stay up so late reading?”
    Without fail, I always swear I’m only going to read a couple of pages before going to bed. I’ll just finish up this chapter, I say. And the next thing I know, it’s past midnight and I’ve read half my book. Then I wake up and wonder why I’m exhausted.

    “I have to leave in exactly five minutes to avoid getting to work late. That’s enough time to read a few pages, right?”
    I’m constantly trying to figure out where I can squeeze in some reading time. This often includes, but is certainly not limited to, the few precious moments before leaving for work, killing time while waiting for a friend to get ready to go out, and while waiting to gas up my car.

    “God, I hope I remembered to bring my spare book to work today.”
    I live in constant fear of finishing my book during my commute, then being forced to possibly make eye contact with other people on the train the rest of the ride. This is my nightmare. So I always try to remember to pack a spare book just in case.

    “What’s that cute guy/girl reading in public? How can I not creepily tell them we’re soulmates?”
    There’s nothing better than hot people reading (in my personal opinion, anyway). Whenever I spot a cutie reading a book, ESPECIALLY if it’s a book I like, I always fall a little in love and fantasize about us talking books and eventually running off into the sunset together (creep alert).

    “I could socialize during lunch. Or I could read instead!”
    Of course I could talk to my lovely coworkers, whose presence I honestly do enjoy. Or I could hide in my cubicle/sit on a park bench and ignore everyone around me while I read my book. Guess which option I usually pick?

    “How overdue are my library books? Mental note: remember to return them today.”
    I love the library, but I’m also really forgetful, making me the library’s most enthusiastic but also most terrible supporter. I’m constantly forgetting when my books are due, and I’m terrible at remembering to take them back when I finish. Hence, this is a weekly conversation with myself.

    “Does this skirt/shirt/coat make me look like (insert literary character)?”
    Am I the only one who, when shopping, sometimes uses fictional characters for inspiration? Once I bought a pair of short overalls because I thought they were “very Huck Finn.” True story.

    “(Insert person’s name) is 2 minutes late. Is it weird to take out my book while I wait?”
    Personally, I think it’s totally acceptable to read at bars, restaurants, etc., while waiting for someone to meet you. But at what point in their lateness do you pull out your book? After five minutes? Ten minutes? Immediately upon arriving and not finding them? And when they do arrive, is it rude to ask them to keep quiet while you finish your chapter?

    “I have five books I still need to read. So logically, I should buy three more books.”
    Don’t tell me you aren’t guilty of this. It doesn’t matter how many books are waiting for me to read them. I’m like a book dragon: I constantly hoard more and more, regardless of how many I already have.

    “I’m so tired…but I should probably read 200 pages before I go to bed.”
    And so the vicious cycle continues.

  • Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick 4:55 pm on 2015/03/03 Permalink
    Tags: dark reboots   

    6 Gritty Reboots of Children’s Classics 

    The potential for horror and anarchy lurks behind every great children’s book. I’ve read many a seemingly sweet bedtime story with the sense of something more hidden beneath the surface, a gritty underbelly threatening to break through, causing everything to descend into madness. It’s up to those of us with particularly twisted minds to stare into this childish heart of darkness and embrace its chaos.

    To put it less dramatically: inspired in part by the recent dark Power Rangers reboot, I thought about how to turn some of my favorite kids’ books into tales of isolation, violence, and general debauchery. You will never look at Paddington Bear the same way again, and it’s all my fault.

    The Rainbow Fishby Marcus Pfister
    At the end of The Rainbow Fish, the title fish learns not to be selfish and shares his scales with all of his friends (spoiler alert). But what if Rainbow Fish said, “Screw you guys,” locking himself away to live alone with his beautiful, beautiful scales? I imagine he’d become paranoid and miserly, before ultimately being murdered for his scales. Think McTeague, but with a fish.

    The Berenstain Bearsby Stan and Jan Berenstain
    What if everyone’s favorite bear family had a nasty little secret? Instead of the innocent antics of the loving Berenstain clan we grew up with, let’s read about Papa Bear’s hidden gambling addiction, or Brother Bear’s dabbling in certain illegal berries. And doesn’t Sister Bear look suspiciously like that man bear Momma Bear always talks to at the market?

    The Very Hungry Caterpillarby Eric Carle
    A caterpillar is born with the insatiable need to feed. He starts out innocently enough, nibbling on leaves and fruits, but eventually these paltry offerings are not enough to quell his hunger. He begins looking for larger and larger prey, until finally only the taste of human flesh will appease him. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PROTECT THE CHILDREN!

    Harold and the Purple Crayonby Crockett Johnson
    Living with parents in the midst of a bitter divorce and an older brother who cruelly taunts him, Harold turns to his drawings as a way to escape reality. Is he actually going on these great adventures, aided by his trusty purple crayon, or are all of these delusions used as a coping mechanism for a lonely little boy? A psychological thriller!

    Paddington Bearby Michael Bond
    He comes from the deepest, darkest forests of Peru…and he’s out for vengeance. Paddington is put on a boat and sent away from his beloved Aunt Lucy with a set of instructions: Get revenge on the humans destroying our lands. Little Paddington, fueled with a desire to avenge his family, integrates himself into a London home and, after gaining the family’s trust, ruthlessly dispatches them before launching a full scale attack on the city. “For the bears!” he’ll cry as blood drips off his muzzle.

    Where the Wild Things Areby Maurice Sendak
    It’s not that I think this one needs to be remade as much as I think we all need to start respecting how absolutely terrifying this book is. After the film version was released, we all started believing Where the Wild Things Are was a delightful romp through a world populated by hip, big-hearted monsters who just loved Max to pieces. In reality, this was a book about a terrible child who finds himself on an island full of bloodthirsty beasts who worship him as a god and threaten to harm him if he tries to leave. Let’s forget the whimsical reboot and embrace this book in all of its original horror.

  • Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick 5:48 pm on 2014/12/19 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , merry christmas!, ,   

    Have a Merry Christmas with these Books and Stories Set on Christmas Day 

    GrinchAs soon as the holidays roll around, everyone starts talking about their favorite Christmas movies and songs. For the most part, I’m all about it. I mean, I love me some Jingle All the Way and “Baby It’s Cold Outside” as much as the next girl. But, as a book lover, I never understand why people don’t get equally excited about their favorite Christmas books. They might not get the attention of their TV and radio competitors, but there are a lot of fantastic Christmas stories for readers of all ages and interests. Like feeling all warm and fuzzy inside? I have a Christmas story for you. Like talking animals? I can recommend one of those, too. Like zombies, theft, and murder? I can give you everything you want in a book all wrapped up in a nice big bow. Just have a little faith in me, turn off the electronics for a couple hours this holiday season, and give some of these books a read. Only a real Scrooge wouldn’t get caught up in these stories’ Christmas magic.

    How the Grinch Stole Christmasby Dr. Seuss
    Anyone who doesn’t love How the Grinch Stole Christmas is, well, a Grinch. My heart grows three sizes every time the Whos gather around the Christmas tree to celebrate the real reason for the holiday. Plus, how cute is Max with his little reindeer horns?

    A Christmas Carolby Charles Dickens
    Probably THE Christmas classic, this book is equal parts sad, scary, and triumph-of-the-human-spirity. Follow Ebenezer Scrooge as he takes a supernatural journey through his own past, present, and future to discover the real spirit of Christmas and save himself from a dark end. I personally liked the Muppets’ version best, but Dickens is pretty good, too.

    The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobeby C.S. Lewis
    Imagine being trapped in a world where it’s always winter but never Christmas! Luckily, the Pevensie children are here to save the day, with the help of some talking animals and a pretty awesome lion. Maybe not technically a Christmas story, but Santa Claus is in it, so that’s good enough for me.

    Hercule Poirot’s Christmasby Agatha Christie
    Nothing says Christmas like a good old-fashioned parlor room murder. Detective Hercule Poirot must figure out who killed Simeon Lee, a multimillionaire who invites his family over for Christmas and then winds up dead. I guess someone must have been on the naughty list that year…

    The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terrorby Christopher Moore
    Christmas is great, but Christmas with zombies is better. When an angel tries to bring a dead man dressed as Santa back to life, all hell breaks loose as flesh eaters begin attacking the town. I just love the smell of brains roasting on an open fire, don’t you?

    The Gift of the Magi,” by O. Henry
    I’m pretty sure anyone who has ever attended school read this in their English class around the holidays. A young couple attempts to buy the perfect gift for each other, but they have to make a sacrifice to get it. The ending is sure to make you go “Awww!” and feel all gooey inside.

    The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle,” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    When a jewel is found inside the throat of a Christmas goose, Sherlock Holmes must figure out how exactly this bird laid such a valuable egg. Expect a jewel heist, fowl hijinks, and some brilliant deductions by our favorite detective.

    Letter from Father Christmasby J.R.R. Tolkien
    Did your parents ever leave you notes from Santa when you were a kid? Well, Tolkien used to entertain his children every year with letters from Mr. Claus, telling them all about the shenanigans going on in the North Pole. These letters were compiled into one heartwarming and magical Christmas collection. No hobbits, though, sorry.

    Visions of Sugarplumsby Janet Evanovich
    Stephanie Plum can’t even get a day off for Christmas. Between a toymaker who skipped bail, her crazy family, and the strange but sexy guy who showed up in her kitchen, Stephanie’s going to need a Christmas miracle to get through the holidays.

    Matchless: A Christmas Story,” by Gregory Maguire
    Gregory Maguire takes the sad tale of “The Little Match Girl” and gives us a slightly more upbeat version. While her fate doesn’t change, we’re introduced to a young boy named Frederik who unknowingly crosses her paths. The same strange magic that the Little Match Girl discovers helps save him, too, albeit in a very different way.

    What’s your favorite tale set on Christmas?

  • Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick 4:00 pm on 2014/12/15 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,   

    10 Bookish Gifts for Your Favorite College Kids 

    Moleskine Voyageur NotebookThe holiday season is here again, and while most of our friends are asking for new gadgets and designer gear, we college-aged book lovers are writing a slightly different Christmas list. Sure, we all love a new iPad, but when it comes down to it all we really want is something reading-related. This can make shopping for us a little bit tricky for our family and friends who aren’t literary fanatics, but never fear! I’m here to help make your book-themed Christmas list simple. Here are some awesome gift ideas for the collegiate book nerd, whether that’s you or someone you know. As someone who spent five years of her undergrad and graduate career pretty much exclusively reading and talking about books, I can say I would have been crazy excited to receive any of these (and still would be, in case anyone is looking for a last-minute present for me).

    Moleskine Voyageur Traveller’s Nutmeg Brown Hardcover Notebook
    The perfect gift for anyone getting ready to study abroad. It has spaces for tickets, maps, and itineraries (aka, the things most important to your trip and the things most likely to get lost), as well as pages for you to write. So if you’re sitting under the Eiffel Tower or looking out a train window at the Tuscan countryside and start to feel inspired, you have a place to jot down your thoughts. Plus, there’s just something about a Moleskine notebook that makes you feel like a real writer.

    Jeff Fisher Lincoln/Erasmus Quotes Tote
    When it comes to expressing your love of books while on the go, let your bag do your talking. This tote is perfect for hauling your stuff to and from class. Plus, it lets the world know exactly what type of person you’re interested in: the kind that will give you more books.

    Pen is Mightier Than the Sword Resin Pen Cup
    It’s no real contest between the two, is it? We know the pen wins every time! So keep your favorite battle gear sheathed in this awesome pen cup. Putting it on your desk sends a pretty clear message: don’t mess with me, because I have a pen and I know how to use it.

    Doctor Who Clip-on TARDIS Book Light with UV Pen
    Raise your hand it you’re not a Doctor Who fan. To the one person who raised their hand: you can show yourself out now. For all us normal people who are are dangerously obsessed with the Doctor, let’s talk about this beautiful marriage of two of the best things in the world: Doctor Who and reading. You’ll never have to worry about keeping your roommate up while you finish “just one last chapter” ever again. Instead, just use this adorable Tardis reading light and read for as long as you want!

    Scholar Composition Book Folio Case for iPad
    Technology is great and helpful and the internet is not just a passing fad, despite my father’s continued insistence. But sometimes you want to kick it old school (or, more specifically, middle school). Combine your bygone school-days method of writing notes in your black-and-white composition book with your new tech-savvy style of taking down information with this awesome iPad case.

    642 Things to Write About Journal
    Every aspiring novelist/poet knows the feeling: you want to write, but you don’t know what to write about. This journal is full of prompts to get your creative juices flowing and provide some much-needed inspiration. Who knows, these fun exercises might just turn into the seeds of the next great American novel!

    Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck
    One of the most important lessons you learn in college happens outside the classroom and inside the kitchen. Unless you’re living exclusively on dining hall meals and takeout (ew), you should probably learn a few go-to recipes. Thug Kitchen gives you easy ways to incorporate veggies into your diet and step up your cooking game. As they say, “Sh*t is about to get real.”

    Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist, by Tim Federle
    This one’s for the college student 21 and over, of course, so all you underage folks will have to wait a bit for this one. But for the legal crowd: are you a fan of cocktails but wish they could be more literary? Learn how to make such classics as the title’s “Tequila Mockingbird” or “The Pitcher of Dorian Grey Goose.” Because who doesn’t love alcohol and book puns?

    Yes, Please, by Amy Poehler
    Everyone tries to give you life advice when you’re in college, but Amy Poehler is one of the few people you might actually want to listen to. Combine her fabulous new book with copies of books by fellow funny ladies Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling for a real trifecta.

    Game of Thrones 5-Book Boxed Set (A Song of Ice and Fire series), by George R.R. Martin
    We know you have a ton of reading to do for school, but sometimes it’s nice to take a break and fit some pleasure reading into your busy schedule. Relax with a boxed set of your favorite new series, like the uber popular Song of Ice and Fire series. Nothing will take your mind off your upcoming paper faster than the saga of the Starks. If you were really good this year, maybe you’ll even get a couple seasons of the hit TV show to go with it.

    What are you giving to the college kid in your life?

  • Shaun Byron Fitzpatrick 5:00 pm on 2014/11/13 Permalink
    Tags: , lois duncan, , , , , spine chillers, , william peter blatty, wintry tales   

    7 Books to Scare You Silly This Winter 

    Lois Duncan's Daughters of EveEven though I’m a big scaredy cat, I love all things horror. I’m always up for creepy books and scary movies, even if it means I’ll be sleeping with my lights on for a while. It’s a weird, slightly masochistic love, but I don’t try to fight it. Some of us just like scaring ourselves silly, and what better time to do that than the early days of winter, as the days grow shorter and the nights (and the things that go bump in them) grow longer, and grow fangs? If you’re looking for a terrifying read that’ll send you straight under your comforter, pick up one of these awesomely scary novels and dig in.

    Coralineby Neil Gaiman
    Coraline might be a book for kids, but I still have nightmares about the Other Mother and her button eyes. I used to check under my bed and behind my dresser to make sure her hand wasn’t creeping around. And by “used to” I mean “still pretty often, even though I’m almost 24 and an adult.” Gaiman creates a world that’s creepy and twisted and so horrifying it’s almost beautiful, with the mission of scaring the pants off of his readers. Mission accomplished, Neil.

    Itby Stephen King
    Let’s all just agree clowns and spiders are the most terrifying things on the planet. Now imagine the horror of a clown TURNING INTO a giant spider. And also, you know, eating children. Throw in some bleeding sinks, a werewolf, and enough metaphysical talk to make your head spin and you basically have the scariest novel ever written. I have yet to read It and not have nightmares for at least two days afterward. Seriously, I still shudder every time I see a storm drain. Beep beep, Richie.

    Something Wicked This Way Comesby Ray Bradbury
    Carnivals, even normal ones, are kind of scary. They just are. So when a carnival is run by a man who tattoos his victim’s faces onto his skin, you know you’ve reached the next level of fear. Although the ultimate message of the book sounds kind of corny (love and happiness conquers all!), the novel features a lot of genuinely scary characters. The tattooed Mr. Dark is not someone you want to mess with, and I’d prefer not to meet the Dust Witch in a dark alley. Plus, it’s written by Bradbury, so you know it’s going to be wonderfully creepy and brilliant.

    The Exorcistby William Peter Blatty
    Does this one really need an explanation? An ancient demon possesses a 12-year-old girl and makes her do a lot of messed-up stuff. Tales of demonic possession have always turned me into a big scaredy cat, so obviously I cringe a little bit every time I think about The Exorcist. If you’ve been terrified by the movie, give the book a read. If you don’t mind having nightmares for a week, that is.

    Carrieby Stephen King
    Carrie isn’t scary because of the ending, since anyone born after the 1976 film version knows what’s going to happen: the prom, the pig’s blood, the ensuing massacre. And yet, even knowing the book ended in a bloodbath, I still spent the entire book terrified. I think knowing the ending somehow made the book even scarier—you’ll be constantly on edge, waiting for Carrie to finally snap. The buildup is so intense that it’s almost a relief when everything goes to hell—at least you can stop worrying about it.

    The Call of Cthulhuby H.P. Lovecraft
    All hail the great Cthulhu! If you aren’t familiar with this tentacled, slumbering god, you need to step up your Lovecraft game. Don’t let all the non-Euclidean geometry bog you down, this tale of a cult’s devotion to their apocalypse-bringing god is a horror classic for a reason. Plus, after reading it you’ll finally understand all the Cthulhu jokes the internet loves so much!

    Daughters of Eveby Lois Duncan
    This one is terrifying for the same reason Gone Girl kept me up at night: it’s a psychological mind melt that still leaves me uncomfortable. A new teacher unites her female students in a club called the Daughters of Eve, but their female solidarity soon turns violent toward those who dare question them. Are the girls fairly fighting the misogyny in their town, or is their new role model, Ms. Stark, completely mad? I still don’t know, and I still get the wigs thinking about it.

    What books give you the creeps?

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