Rec Thursday: Movies

This Thursday I’m recommending some recent movies I’ve watched since the beginning of the year. There have only been three so I’m just going to slap all of them down here. I enjoyed each for different reasons and think that others will appreciate them as well!!

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The Heat – I know, I know. You’ve all seen this before. But I’m just now getting around to it so oh well. Sandra Bullock is my girl from the way back. Throughout the nineties, she was my favorite actress, hands down. Comedy is my least favorite film genre so I’m picky. Loved seeing a buddy cop movie that stars two women!

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Drinking Buddies – I recommend this one with hesitation. People HATE the ending. But it was so realistic. Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick played very well here as ordinary girls dating ordinary boys. Neither was overly made up or felt like glamorous movie stars. A great look at what dating after college can be like, and Jake Johnson is a sweetheart. Plus, the actors improvised their dialogue!!

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Her – Go see this now, oh my goodness. If only for the beautiful color palette, cinematography, and music. The story is sweet, haunting, and I felt the writing down to my bones. I’ve literally said some of the lines in this movie out loud in my own real everyday life. But Spike Jonze still left me with so much to ponder and yearn for. Joaquin Phoenix is brilliant. Amy Adams, despite having a small role, was utter perfection. I saw a lot of myself in her character. If Drinking Buddies was a look at adult dating, then Her is a lovely and brutal discussion of marriage/love in the 21st Century. Watching Her felt like reading a T.S. Eliot poem.

Have you seen any good films lately?

Atlanta’s Book Shops

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Sunday afternoon I got a hankering to do some book shopping. Not necessarily buying the books but just the act of browsing the shelves of local indie stores. I’m not someone who hates Barnes and Noble or Amazon, but from time to time I do enjoy patronizing neighborhood establishments. And I got to drag Jimmy along with me and watch his eyes glaze over. Good times.

We started our adventure at Atlanta Vintage Books right near PDK airport. It’s shameful that I live about 5 miles away and had never visited. The store is run by an older couple who had a dream of owning a book shop. The store is filled with shelves and shelves of books everywhere – in every nook and cranny. Also, cats. Lots of cats. (See above – lovingly borrowed from AVB’s website.) Nothing is new – not the books, furniture, or shelving. It smells wonderful, intoxicating. You could spend hours in this store perusing the thousands of deliciously aged pages. Some fantastic first editions – signed Ian Flemings, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Gone With the Wind – are also available.

Downstairs they have cheap paperbacks. And loads more books. I will continue to frequent the store looking for hardback copies of some of my favorite novels of years gone by. The only downside I really found was that the prices were a bit high. The same collection of John Steinbeck shorts that I recently bought at Goodwill for $2.50 was $18. I think a book that is 60 years old should be less than $18. But maybe that’s just me.

Our second stop I consider a favorite – Eagle Eye Books in Decatur. They host amazing authors all year long (Neil Gaiman!). Eagle Eye is mostly used books with a front corner dedicated to new releases. Their used collection is huge, but sometimes I find the selection limited. Like yesterday. Nothing really jumped out at me which was a shame because they were having their red dot sale. Every book with a red dot was an additional 50% off. Normal used paperbacks are about $5-6. They are also in very good condition. The store has a great rewards program, plus you can sell your books to them for store credit.

Amazingly, this little adventure only led to new-ish book purchases. I bought two first edition hardcover Harry Potters (books 3 & 4) since I’ve been meaning to collect them for some time. My paperbacks are falling apart. At $7 a book, I couldn’t resist. It made me wonder who doesn’t keep such beautiful HPs? Weird.

How about you? What are your favorite bookstores where you live?

Top 10 Books Read in 2012

What a fantastic reading year! I managed to complete 83 books which was a record for me and beat my 2011 total of 69 books by 14! Of course, these numbers are significantly skewed due to my lack of employment in 2012, but I’ll take it! My goals for 2013 are going to be less (52 books) since I’m a working lady again, but I still hope to leave those goals in the dust. Shooting for the moon and all.

On with the show! Picking my 10 favs wasn’t particularly difficult. In fact, I managed to choose exactly 10 the first time through my reading list. As with previous years, this list is classics heavy and doesn’t contain that many newer releases. I guess that’s why the classics are still hanging around all these years later, huh? Love them.

And now, in no particular order:

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Emma by Jane Austen: Is anyone surprised? Not only will this book always be a forever favorite, it’s also my favorite Austen novel. If you haven’t read it, shame on you.

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: Adored in all the ways one can adore a book. So much fun and filled with addicting adventure and the most wonderful pop culture references. A book I’ll be rereading for the rest of my life.

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The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach: The characters are top notch in this debut novel and my entire book club adored this read. Lovely writing and superb development.

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Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns: Now this is southern story telling at its best!

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The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: Perhaps my childhood nostalgia pushed this story over the top for me, but I adored every minute spent in that damn garden.

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Jane Austen: A Life by Carol Shields: I feel like anything related to Austen will always make this list, but this biography was really fantastic. I found myself grinning like a maniac many times throughout my reading.

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My Antonia by Willa Cather: I highlighted this book more than any other this year. Cather’s talent amazes me.

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The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht: Such a gorgeous story told creatively. I’m amazed at how young Obreht is and can’t wait to watch her grow as a writer.

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Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen: Another book club winner (at least in my own opinion!) and the imagery was the clear winner here. Africa comes alive.

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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell: I haven’t seen the movie, but this novel swept me away. I found it challenging in the best of ways and utterly mind-blowing.

I’m going to be lazy and not post links to my individual reviews, but you can find them all on the 2012 books read page located at the top of the blog. They are all pretty much just gush-fests.

What were your favorites? Have any recommendations for me based on the above selections? How many books did you read in 2012? Let me know!!

Recommendations: I Need Them!!

Hey guys and gals, fellow readers, and amazing bloggy friends – I need some recommendations!  I’ve been craving some great political non-fiction that is engaging, tackles multiple issues from multiple sides, and can help fill the void of astute political debate I’ve enjoyed participating in these past few months leading up to the election.  I am a political junky – so no topic is off limits!  Just point me in the direction of something you’ve enjoyed or someone you know and trust has enjoyed!  And mucho thanks in advance!!

I do also have one minor additional request – if you recommend something very left-leaning or very right-leaning, do you know of something similar on the other side to balance out the argument?  I am a total Independent and can truly listen to dozens of arguments about the same issue.  It makes me happy and then I feel much better informed.  THANK YOU!

Some topics I’m particularly interested in:

Global Warming (Darn you, Flight Behavior!  Something other than Al Gore!)

Race/Class Warfare/Social Issues

Religion

Political Theory especially as pertains to our two-party structure

HISTORY – I love reading about all the Prezzies!

Foreign Policy (Particularly the Middle East)

Education

The South

Gone With The Wind: A Fuller Perspective

As many know, August is GWTW month for the Litwits.  We’re watching the movie and reading the book.  GWTW is a novel that has staunch supporters and avid haters.  Most of this division occurs over the obvious and rampant racism depicted by the Southern aristocracy of the Civil War South.  But I’m not here today to argue one way or the other.  I’m here to offer some suggestions of further reading to help all readers of GWTW gain a fuller perspective.  Below are some novels I’ve read during my life from the perspective of slaves or former slaves before, during, and after the Civil War.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs:  This autobiographical account by a former slave is one of the few extant narratives written by a woman. Written and published in 1861, it delivers a powerful portrayal of the brutality of slave life. Jacobs speaks frankly of her master’s abuse and her eventual escape, in a tale of dauntless spirit and faith (from Goodreads).

I read this beautifully written novel in college (in fact, I read all of these novels in college) and couldn’t give it a higher recommendation.  The Norton Critical edition is superb and this is a book that can only enhance your life, both in and out of books.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe:  The narrative drive of Stowe’s classic novel is often overlooked in the heat of the controversies surrounding its anti-slavery sentiments. In fact, it is a compelling adventure story with richly drawn characters and has earned a place in both literary and American history (from Goodreads).

Not at all what I expected!  A real plot-drive, page-turning novel that entertains and educations simultaneously.  Has definitely earned its classic status in American literature.

The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall: In this daring and provocative literary parody which has captured the interest and imagination of a nation, Alice Randall explores the world created in GONE WITH THE WIND, a work that more than any other has defined our image of the antebellum South. Taking sharp aim at the romanticized, whitewashed mythology perpetrated by this southern classic, Randall has ingeniously conceived a multilayered, emotionally complex tale of her own – that of Cynara, the mulatto half-sister, who, beautiful and brown and born into slavery, manages to break away from the damaging world of the Old South to emerge into full life as a daughter, a lover, a mother, a victor. THE WIND DONE GONE is a passionate love story, a wrenching portrait of a tangled mother-daughter relationship, and a book that “celebrates a people’s emancipation not only from bondage but also from history and myth, custom and stereotype” (San Antonio Express-News).

A fairly controversial novel and a parody in the traditional sense of the word as it’s far from humorous.  Randall has received a lot of criticism for her depiction of GWTW‘s characters and many believe her novel poorly written.  But my class in college thoroughly enjoyed this very different perspective of the South depicted by GWTW.  It’s told in diary form and I’d sort of compare it to a more radical version of something like Lost in Austen without the humor.

While obviously not an exhaustive list, these books offer a good place to start and an alternative to the purely white perspective of Gone With the Wind.  I love the idea of books working with each other, not against!

Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments!