Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Books I’d Give A Theme Song To

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme.

This was a difficult post to write.  I don’t naturally assign songs to books as much I like both music and books.  So none of these were slam dunks for me.  I tend to go more with how the song makes me feel regardless of the lyrics.  If the emotion I get from the song matches the emotions evoked from the book that’s what I chose (for the most part).

  Book Song
1. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell Drive-by by Train
The lyrics aren’t perfect, but the song feels like Lincoln to me.
2. Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger Crazy B*tch by Buckcherry
The title of the song just encapsulates Miranda Priestly.
3. Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer Defying Gravity – GLEE version
I LOVE the song Defying Gravity.  It’s hard to explain why these go together in my head so well.  When I was reading the Twilight series I was obsessed – read them all thru twice before I ever stopped to really think about them.  It wasn’t until I stopped reading that I went back and they started to drive me a little crazy.  I was equally obsessed with this song at first.  If the name of the song was “Defying Sanity” it would perfectly describe Breaking Dawn.
4. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins Set Fire to the Rain by Adele
I know Adele is singing about a breakup but the emotion and urgency of this song (plus the fire reference) reminds me of The Hunger Games
5. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson Listen by Beyonce (Dreamgirls soundtrack)
Another one where I’m going by the feel of the music over lyrical content.  In Speak, Melinda’s silence felt like she was screaming to be heard and there’s an intensity to the song the has that same feeling to me.
6. Wicked Prey by John Sandford Rip Tide by Sick Puppies
There are 20+ Prey novels from John Sandford usually all from Lucas Davenport (badass cop protaganist) and the criminals viewpoint.  In this book Sandford switches it up and includes portions of the book from Lucas’s teenage adopted daughter’s POV.  Lexi has had a hard life and doesn’t care what anyone else thinks of her and this song works.
7. The Summer I turned Pretty by Jenny Han We’re Young and Beautiful by Carrie Underwood
This novel (it’s a trilogy) is fairly stereotypical YA romance with a love triangle.  Every character is beautiful and young.  The song just fits.
8. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy My Favorite Things by John Coltrane
My brief thoughts on Anna Karenina – good underlying story buried in 400 spare pages about politics and farming.  So when I was thinking of a song to go with it my first thought was Jazz.  I don’t get jazz – it is interminable for me.  Anyway I picked a story I would like except it’s to long and unwieldy and paired it with a song I like in most versions but that in this version I think is way too long and unwieldy.  Seriously I really don’t get Jazz.
9. Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophia Kinsella Let’s talk about ME by Toby Keith
I really like this book, but really by the end of it the guy should have been saying “Let’s talk about ME”.  The main female character talked A LOT.
10. Tell Me Something True by Leila Cobo Bring Me to Life by Evanescence
This Evanescence song feels like falling in love but with a dark side and that works with this book.  An affluent girl from California falls for a drug kingpin’s son in Columbia.  The son is not involved in the drugs, but their relationship never feels free of that baggage.
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The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti

Title – The Purity Myth
Author – Jessica Valenti
Publisher – Seal Press, 2009, 272 pgs
Purchased (Kindle)

Book Summary (from Amazon)

The United States is obsessed with virginity — from the media to schools to government agencies.  In The Purity Myth, Jessica Valenti argues that the country’s intense focus on chastity is damaging to young women.  Through in-depth cultural and social analysis, Valenti reveals that powerful messaging on both extremes — ranging from abstinence-only curriculum to “Girls Gone Wild” infomercials — place a young woman’s worth entirely on her sexuality.  Morals are therefore linked purely to sexual behavior, rather than values like honesty, kindness, and altruism.  Valenti sheds light on the value — and hypocrisy — around the notion that girls remain virgins until they’re married by putting into context the historical question of purity, modern abstinence-only education, pornography, and public punishments for those who dare to have sex.  The Purity Myth presents a revolutionary argument that girls and women are overly valued for their sexuality, as well as solutions for a future without a damaging emphasis on virginity.

My Thoughts

I think the above summary is pretty good.  Over the last few years I’ve really started to question how much of a woman’s value is based on her sexuality, but this book brought it all home for me.  What is virginity really?  Why is it so much of a focus for women (but not for men)?  Why are girls defined as good or bad based on whether they’ve had sex rather than how they treat others and what they accomplish?

 Valenti lays out how the abstinence only education/purity movement and the porn industry are really just 2 sides of the same coin.  Both assign value to women based on their sexuality.  She also ties this into our culture/media’s tendency to blame the victim in rapes cases.  The way the book is structured makes it read quickly (except for the parts where I was so mad/grossed out I wanted to throw the book across the room – not a good idea on Kindle).   Here are two such sections:

And, of course, there are purity balls – the federally funded father/daughter dances where girls as young as age six pledge their virginity to their dads, who in turn pledge to hang on to said virginity until an appropriate husband comes along, to whom the fathers can transfer ownership of their daughters.

I personally don’t think six years olds should be making any sexual decisions.

Take Cassandra Hernandez, a female Air Force air person who was raped by three of her colleagues at a party – where, yes, she was drinking.  After she went to the hospital and filed a report, the Air Force treated her to a harsh interrogation – so harsh, in fact, that Hernandez decided not to testify against her attackers.  Instead of giving her the treatment she deserved, the Air Force charged Hernandez with underage drinking and “indecent acts”.  To make matters worse, Hernandez’s three attackers were offered immunity from sexual assault if they testified against her on the indecent-acts charge.  So, in effect, she was charged with her own rape.

This was when I almost threw my Kindle. 

I had two issues as I read the book.  I love numbers.  Don’t just generally tell me something is the fastest-growing form of plastic surgery in the US.  Tell me how many happened five years ago and how many happened last year.   Also, as I was reading Valenti did such a good job of convincing me that abstinence only education and the chastity movement were such a problem that I wanted to know what I could do to fix it.    The second concern was completely resolved at the end of the book.  An entire chapter is dedicated to steps the reader can take to affect change.  The numbers concern wasn’t entirely resolved, but did improve as the book went on. 

 The Purity Myth reads very quickly for non-fiction.  If one of my biggest concerns is that I want to know what to do to fix the problem the author has obviously accomplished what she set out to.

Rating

8 out of 10 stars

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Title – The Road
Author – Cormac McCarthy
Publisher – Vintage Books, 2007, 287 pgs
Purchased Used

Book Summary (from Amazon)
A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind.  It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray.  The sky is dark.  Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there.  They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food-—and each other.  The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey.  It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love.  Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

My Summary
The man and the boy are cold. Hungry. Cold. Tired. Hungry. Walking in ash. Fearing cannibals. Hungry. Tired. Cold. Hiding from Cannibals. Hungry. Cold. Repeat ad nauseum.

I did not enjoy this book at all. Part of the problem could be that it wasn’t what I was expecting – The Passage was frequently compared to The Road in reviews – but I don’t think a different mindset would have made it more entertaining for me.

I need a plot. Or character development. Essentially I need something in the book to change/happen between page ten and page 280. The Road is a quick read – at 287 pages it isn’t a monster and there are frequently large spaces between paragraphs – but also an extremely tedious read. Boredom ensued for the three to four hours I read The Road.

McCarthy uses short sentences or fragments frequently to drive home the desolation of the landscape, but for me this just destroyed any chance of developing a reading flow. As a consequence, I never connected emotionally with the characters so I didn’t care what happened to them.  In addition, the only punctuation used are periods – no quotation marks for conversations, few commas and intermittent use of apostrophes.  None of the characters have names and in several paragraphs two separate people are referred to as “he” so it’s hard to determine what is happening.

Since reading it I have read several other reviews – 99% of them glowing.  The Road is described as a “Masterpiece” and “Profound”.  The worst adjective used to describe The Road is depressing.  I wish I had found The Road depressing. That’s at least an emotion.  I was just bored.   I do think it would make a decent short story.  My advice – read the first 20 pages and the last 20 pages.  You won’t be missing anything. 

Rating

3 out of 10 stars (1st star is default, 2nd star is cause I finished it, 3rd star is because the ending is thought provoking.)

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Books Brandyn Would Quickly Save If Her House Was Going To Be Abducted By Aliens (or any other natural disaster…you get the drift. )

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme.

  1. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay – Tied with #2 for my favorite book of all time.  This book is powerful and uplifting and every time I read it I’m inspired to stand up for others.  This is also the only book that survived the mandatory High School reading curse for me.
  2. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – I read this for the first time in middle school and it’s an annual read for me now.  All of the characters are so vivid and I find myself learning new things about all of them with each rereading.   I think I dislike Ashley more with each reading.
  3. Tandia by Bryce Courtenay – This is the sequel to The Power of One.  I think I would actually save it first because it’s out of print in the US and just finding this copy was a challenge.  Its darker than the first book, but still immensely powerful.
  4. The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins – OK so this is sort of cheating (3 books as 1) but I have the box set so I’m going with it.   I identify so much with Katniss’s protectiveness of her younger sister (I’m that way with my brother).  I think every single book made me cry.
  5. The Passage by Justin Cronin – Just finished this one on Sunday night and it is incredible.  Its 700+ pages long and plot is packed into every single word.  I’ll definitely have to reread it before The Twelve comes out and it wasn’t as easy to find as it should have been (Seriously Barnes and Noble?).
  6. One Child by Torey Hayden – I think I read this for the first time in high school but it was not required reading.  It’s the true story of a violent 5 year old girl who turns out to be very neglected and a genius and her teacher’s efforts to reach her.  This book has stayed with me for over a decade.  It’s been reread so many times pages had to be taped back in.  I covered the entire emotional gamut reading this book (and it’s not that long).
  7. The Help by Kathryn Stockett – Wonderfully written book with true characters and depth.  All of the characters have flaws but that makes them more loveable not less.  I loved how not all of the women with “help” were portrayed badly.
  8. East of Eden by John Steinbeck – One of my friends recommended this to me post high school.  I think it’s the first time I truly “got” symbolism without it being forced on me in school.
  9. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson – I love them all but I haven’t read this one yet and I need to find out what happens (although I’m not ready for it to be over yet).
  10. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer– Krakauer is the most amazing non-fiction writer – he weaves history into the narrative effortlessly making non-fiction a page turner.  This is my favorite of his books.

 A lot of my favorite authors did not make this list because my parents have duplicate copies so I have a backup – John Sandford, Harlan Coben, Claire Lazebnik, Rainbow Rowell, John Grisham, etc.

Introduction and Blog Goals

After stumbling accross several book blogs recently I decided to start my own.  I definitely won’t be as prolific as other bloggers, but here’s what I’m planning.

1 – Review at least one book a month.  I probably read about 4 per month so my plan is to review the one I have the most to say about positive or negative. 

2 – Maintain a list of all books read for the year.  If people actual begin to read my blog I will take suggestions on the monthly book review.

3 – Write 1-2 posts per week.  I’m planning to do the Tuesday top 10 lists from The Broke and The Bookish.  I may throw in a random movie review (new or old), stories about my dog, or other random thoughts because it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want to!

Brandyn