This Girl's Bookshelf: July 2009 - Book reviews and bookish thoughts

Apes raised by people - collection of reviews

The guestblogger over at BoingBoing this week, Carrie McLaren, has written up a collection of mini-reviews of books about people raising chimpanzees, monkeys, and gorillas in their families. It's fascinating stuff, especially how different people go about it - treating them as pets or more or less like children.

Books by People who have raised Apes in their Homes

Included are Nim Chimpsky, a 'signing' chimp many linguistics students will be familiar with, and a slew of other apes and interesting anecdotes that make me want to give these books a look.

Viki picked up some of the Hayes' other habits, however. In the morning, she would run out to get the newspaper, sit on the couch and hold it as if scanning headlines, then turn pages one by one as if reading. After seeing "mom" Cathy trying to remove a clothing stain, she started dabbing a washcloth on some clothing herself.

Fascinating stuff!


My To-Read list - Nonfiction

I've got quite a large stack of books currently, mostly from BookMooch or through gifts. Most of the books on my list are novels, but there are quite a few non-fiction books as well. Here are just a few of the non-fiction books I'll be reading in the next few months.

Science: I'm not a 'scientific' person by any means, but there are a number of topics in the sciences that interest me. I don't like to read anything too dense, so science books aimed at the general population appeal to me.

Social topics: People fascinate me. The ways they live, the difficulties they face, the ways they interact, it's all very interesting to me.

Books about Iran: I've been studying the Persian language in school, which has ignited a fire in me for learning about Persian culture and politics, especially with the recent goings-on in Iran. Some books I've previously enjoyed about Iran are Persepolis, Reading Lolita in Tehran, and Translating the Garden.


New poll (movie books) and new layout

As you may have noticed, This Girl's Bookshelf now has a new layout. It is still highly experimental (read: I am not a web designer) so if anyone has any problems with the new layout let me know ASAP. Suggestions are welcome also. :)

The previous poll has closed. The question was, How long do you prefer books to be? There were 28 votes and here are the results:

Less than 150 pages14% (4)
150-250 pages14% (4)
250-350 pages39% (11)
350-450 pages14% (4)
450+ pages17% (5)

As expected, most of you prefer books somewhere in the middle - that is, 250-350 pages long. Not too long, not too short. However, a number of you like them very long too!

The next poll is about movies based on books. There are a number of big book movies coming out, such as the Twilight series, Harry Potter 6, The Time Traveler's Wife and The Lovely Bones, which I recently reviewed. What do you like to do with book movies? Do you read first or watch first? Or do one or the other? Vote in the poll and leave your comments here. :)


June Adgitize Advertising program Payment

I just received my monthly payment from Adgitize, a blog ad network that you can see on the sidebar and bottom of the page. I have been using Adgi for a few months now and it is really paying off! This month's payment was $21.28, which pays for my $14 advertising cost (I ran an ad for my knitting blog) and gives me $7 extra.

The Adgitize program is based on a points system, which then determines how much you earn. The maximum number of points you can earn per day is 500: 100 points for being an advertiser, 100 points for clicking ads, 100 points for page views on your website, 100 points for ad views on your website (you can have up to 10 ads on your page), and 100 points for publishing an article every day.

Adgetize your web site with the Adgitize Advertising Program for bloggers

I am very happy with the Adgitize program, and if you already use Entrecard then I can't recommend it enough. The two services work perfectly together, because many Adgitize blogs are also Entrecard blogs. At the same time you drop, you can also click the Adgitize ads. So basically, I am earning money for things I already do like drop Entrecards and post to my blogs. I am getting paid to advertise!

The Adgitize advertising program, besides earning me a few extra bucks each month for things I already do (visit blogs, write blog posts), has also brought me almost 2,000 visits in the last month. What blog couldn't use 2,000 extra monthly visits? I really, really, really can't recommend the Adgitize Advertising Program enough.


Book Review Blog Carnival at INFtDIRaB

Over at I'll Never Forget the Day I Read a Book! (what a great title!), the 21st Book Review Blog Carnival has been posted.

There's a huge variety of a ton of book reviews for you to go over and read, so check it out! If you have a book blog, you can also submit your reviews for the next edition or apply to host the carnival. The Book Review Blog Carnival is bi-weekly.


My favorite book source, BookMooch

So, I'm a college student. That means I don't have a lot of cash to spend on books, however voracious my appetite may be. The library is great, but the two libraries in my area don't always have what I'm looking for, and sometimes I really would like to own a book, to read it over and over or to pass it on to a friend.

That's when I turn to BookMooch. BookMooch is a book-swapping site - there are others out there, and I can't vouch for whether they're good or bad, but I've loved using BookMooch. It's easy to use, free, and the people there have been very nice.

Bookmooch website graphic alien person receiving a swapped book for free in the mail from Book Mooch

In addition, there are book moochers all around the world - It doesn't matter what country you're living in or what language you speak (or what language you want to read!), you can still use Bookmooch. Many people will ship internationally. You have the option whether you want to always accept international mooches, never accept them, or have the moocher ask you first if you'd be willing to send the book. I've mooched books from several countries, in a few different languages, and I've sent books to a few other countries myself. I usually can't send heavy hardcovers overseas, but I'm always willing to ship a small paperback. That's why I love the "ask me first" option.

You list your collection of books you're willing to part with - I had a TON, mostly children's books - and if someone wants your book, they "mooch" the book from you, giving you points. You send it to them (media mail is cheap), and you have points to spend towards a book that you want. Bookmooch organizes it all for you, so books are easy to list and find.

Listing a book gives you .1 points, so if you have 10 books you want to give away, you can mooch a book yourself right away. I find that my points build up pretty quickly - I send out more books than I mooch - and if you've got points that you don't want, you can give them to any of a number of charities that have partnered with BookMooch. Give some books to a new school, or a library in Kosovo. Makes you feel good, doesn't it?

I can't ever bear throwing books away, and I love that with Bookmooch, my books will go to people who will enjoy them as much as I did. It's a really great service that has kept me in summer reading for the past two years! So I recommend that you mooch a book today!

By the way, I'm not making any money off of this ;) I'm recommending it because I love this site and Bookmooch has kept me in books when money is tight. And the more people that use Bookmooch, the more books we can all share. Isn't that swell?


Review: The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold

Buy The Lovely Bones Lovley book novel cover Alice Sebold Seabold charm bracelet blue

Here's one of those books that I've always meant to read, but didn't get around to it until now. I'd seen the bright blue cover all over bookstores, with the enigmatic charm bracelet and clean text. Mysterious. And very, very popular. There is a sticker on my hardback copy: "Read this! Good Morning America." It's been a huge bestseller, gotten critical acclaim, there's a movie in the works to be released next year. So what's all this fuss about? What is The Lovely Bones anyway?

The Lovely Bones, is, in a nutshell, about a murdered girl. But it's also about so much more than that.

Fourteen-year-old Susie Salmon, our narrator, is murdered at the beginning of the story. An older neighbor lures her to his backyard, into a fort he dug in the ground, rapes her and kills her.

But this isn't a murder mystery, and it isn't a horror. It isn't a religious book, or anything like that. After describing the events surrounding her death, Susie spends the majority of the book sitting up in her heaven, watching her family and friends deal with life after loss.

That's all she can do, for the most part. It may be a comfort to some people to think that the dead miss us as much as we miss them. Susie longs to talk to her family, to help them fill in the hole she left, to live her life that had so much potential until it was cut short. But Susie does not dwell upon this, and overall I would not say it is a sad book - though there are certainly many sad parts.

But mainly the story is about learning to move on. The family are crippled by grief at first, and Susie watches as they come to terms and go on with their lives, some more slowly than others. Their desire for healing, for justice, and for happiness are explored.

Susie is in heaven - not the Heaven, but her heaven. It's a heaven tailor-made for her, with all the things she likes. Those that share these desires, share bits of her heaven with her. It's not a Judeo-Christian Heaven and there is no mention of Hell, or any gods or angels or any of that. Susie resides in her own heaven, full of simple childish pleasures until she, too, can learn to move on, and let go of her obsession with her life as her family lets go of their obsession with her death.

"Our heaven had an ice cream shop where, when you asked for peppermint stick ice cream, no one ever said 'It's seasonal'; it had a newspaper where our pictures appeared a lot and made us look important... I could not have what I wanted most: Mr. Harvey dead and me living. Heaven wasn't perfect. But I came to believe that if I watched closely, and desired, I might change the lives of those I loved on Earth."
Length: 4/10 (1 is Dick and Jane, 10 is War and Peace) You can breeze through this pretty quickly. There aren't many sections that I would say 'drag on'. It's substantial but quick to read.
Grade: 85% A worthwhile read, to be sure. Full of a wide range of emotions - sadness, grief, yearning, but also love, suspense, and sweetness - but never sappy. The writing is smooth and pleasant, and in places quite beautiful.


Now Entrecard-enabled

Welcome! There's a pretty good chance you've found this blog via Entrecard. This blog got accepted into the program a few days ago and I am now doing regular drops from here and my knitting blog Joyarna. Since this blog is still small, I will try to reciprocate drops for anyone who drops on me. :)

This Girl's Bookshelf is a book review blog. I'll post my thoughts, lists, and other stuff, but the main meat of the blog will be reviews -- which will be posted as fast as I can read. ;) Stay tuned tomorrow for my review of The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

Until then, take a look around, and vote in my poll. :) Drop me a comment if you like. I love comments and suggestions!