A Novel Idea

Today’s guest post is brought to you by @thewrongshoes. Feel free to leave comments for them below and we’ll make sure they see them!

I read. A lot. I try for a book a week, sometimes it’s more, and sometimes it’s less, but it works out to between 50 and 55 books a year. I read all kinds of books for all kinds of reasons– from a new release by my favourite author to liking the cover art. I’m not dedicated to any specific genre or type of book, but overwhelmingly, I tend to read what I think is somewhat obnoxiously labelled literary fiction.

I am, by education and employment, an anthropologist which I think is just a way to give street cred to the fact that I am super nosey by nature. I always want to know why people do the things they do and how those things they do relate to everyone else. Literary fiction, despite what the good people at Pulitzer have to say about it, is alive and well and harmlessly fills my need to eavesdrop on people and watch them live their lives.

Books that win prizes and have entered popular culture as classics can usually be classified as literary fiction. But what makes a book a classic? Greater minds than I have lead entire post graduate courses trying to answer that question. From what I gather it boils down to a sense of timelessness, clever and evocative language, and possessing a kind of universality that transcends time and place. For the most part the classics we study in school are overwhelmingly written by DWEMs (dead white European males) and were written 50 to 100 years ago (or more).

So, is there such a thing as a modern classic? Can that be a thing? I think so. And in my mind the following three novels do a pretty good job of staking a claim for a place on that list. They each possess, in wildly different ways, a timeless quality, lush prose, and even though the characters and places in each might not be our own, they allow the reader to inhabit their world and find a bit of themselves in the pages.

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Keymashing The Classics

“UGH, I hate that book!” is a phrase often uttered by people when you mention a classic title to them. Maybe it’s because you were 16 years old and forced to read it over the summer for school. Or perhaps you read it as an adult and it just wasn’t what you remembered. Or maybe, it’s just really a crappy book that simply defined the era in which it was written, but really doesn’t have much else to offer. Alternatively, how many times have you said, “What an amaaaazing book!” about one of the classic pieces in literature when in reality, you’ve only ever read the cliff notes (or wikipedia), when you got tired of reading the actual book. C’mon, fess up. We won’t judge…hard.

Fangirls Unite

 

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A few weeks ago, I attended the Fangirl book signing in Washington, DC, where Rainbow Rowell, author of AttachmentsEleanor & Park, and Landline (Spring, 2014) gave an inspired talk to a packed room. She spoke on her love of fandoms, her writing process, music and more. She spent an hour speaking and answering questions from the audience, and had I not been a fan of hers prior to this event, I would have walked out of the room with a bag full of newly purchased books.

It only took me a couple of days to read Fangirl. Why? Well, it’s mostly because this book was written for us. And, who do I mean by “us”?  I mean the girl (or boy) who was awkward in school, who didn’t know what label she fell into. It’s for the girl who spent her days reading inside, instead of spending time out in the sunshine. It’s for the girl who lost herself in a world of magic, wonder and imagination because sometimes that world, and those words, were the only friends she had. Simply put, Fangirl is a love letter to fandom.

“There are other people on the internet. It’s awesome. You get all the benefits of ‘other people’ without the body odor and the eye contact.” –Fangirl, page 147

In this book, we meet Cath, a college freshman, who is a fanfic BNA, (that’s “big name author” to you non-fandom folk), in the (fictional) Simon Snow fandom. She writes as an escape from her own life where she has terrible social anxiety, a not so great family life, doesn’t quite know how to make friends, and was recently told by her own twin sister that they need to spend more time apart while attending the same college. She has a roommate — with a charming, sometimes, maybe boyfriend — who’s her complete opposite, a campus that seems too large for her, a dad struggling to watch his girls leave the nest, and the pressure of being an 18-year-old girl. We watch her struggle and grow as she decides whether or not being a fangirl is holding her back, and if she can navigate college and, frankly, life, on her own.

Here at Keysmash, we are incredibly lucky that Rainbow Rowell took time out of her insanely busy schedule to answer a few questions for us about her book! Check out what she had to say:

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Turn the Page

I moved halfway across the country recently, and I couldn’t take all of my books with me. In fact, I had to reduced the number of books to one box (which left about, oh, 15 more boxes in storage *headdesk*). So, I had to make some serious choices, and only the most important ones came with me. Included among these are most of my Foucault books (of course), The Hobbit, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and my Chicago Manual of Style.

Until I manage to move the rest of my books, I am going to be perpetually thinking I have a book that is really in a box hundreds of miles away (and then buying a duplicate) or wishing I had brought others. So, in tribute to my missing books, for today’s post, I’m sharing a book survey I stole borrowed from Goodreads.

Halfway through the packing process...

Halfway through the packing process…

Leave me your answers in the comments! (Blank questions below.)

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You’ve Got It Bad

readinggifSubstitute M/M fiction/fanfiction and the above is me in a gif. No, really. If you have learned anything about me from this blog, it is more than likely that I love to read. The longer, the better; of course I am talking about the length of a fic/novel. I have recommended a book series or two on here, but truth is, I wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to talking about my favorite books. So, I thought until I’m able to narrow it down and make a post that actually makes sense rather than keysmash all over the place, I should share my Kindle library. Here is a little glimpse into my always growing bookshelf.

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There is no friend as loyal as a book.

laptopinhammock“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” — Joyce Carol Oates

My holiday weekend was spent doing exactly what I wanted to – reading. Reading is, without a doubt, my favorite thing to do. How else can I sit in my living room or on my porch yet escape to another world? I live through words on a page and the emotions those words inspire inside of me. Whether it is published fiction or fan fiction from writers who do not get enough appreciation for their work, I love to lose myself in between pages of a paperback or the pages on my Kindle.

Come away with me.

Play Me…

coda

Play Me is the tagline on the back of CODA, the new book by author, Emma Trevayne. This is not like any other YA book you’ll read. Set in what was once a thriving major city, that is no longer recognizable, we are introduce to the protagonist, Anthem, and a world where citizens are forced to “track” on music that is an addictive drug run by those who run the city, The Corp. Anthem finds his escape in his underground rock band, where music sounds free, and unencoded deep in an abandoned basement. When tragedy strikes someone close to Anthem, he realizes that defying The Corp, and playing unencoded music comes at a deadly price and the time has come for a revolution.

This book is by far, one of the best I’ve read in 2013, And because I love the book so much, I’m giving away a signed copy to a lucky keysmashblog reader. Details are at the bottom of this post!

Emma is a very good friend of mine, so let her tell you more about CODA in our interview below! Here’s what she had to say:

Life is like a box of chocolates

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Pop culture is something that has more of an impact than a trend, and can define a time period.

elle-50-x-50-aviWe all have those sayings that we use frequently in conversations with people. We also have those moments where we smile, nod, and quickly head to the ‘net for Google to figure out exactly what they were meaning. Surely I can’t be the only one who does that? There are some quotes I use without even knowing their origin before this post. Who knew ‘say hello to my little friend’ involved so much gunfire? From the Wizard of Oz to Sudden Impact to Legally Blonde, they all have some of the most common pop culture quotes in them.

These are a few of my favorite things – oh, excuse me, these are a few of my favorite quotes.

 

noplacelikehome

“There’s no place like home.” — The Wizard of Oz (1939)

 

maytheforce

 

“May the Force be with you.” — Star Wars (1977)

 

goaheadmakemyday

 

“Go ahead, make my day.” Sudden Impact (1983)

 

sayhello

 

“Say ‘hello’ to my little friend!” — Scarface (1983)

illbeback

 

“I’ll be back.” The Terminator (1984)

 

nobodyputsbaby

 

“Nobody puts ‘Baby’ in a corner.” — Dirty Dancing (1987)

 

illhave

 

“I’ll have what she’s having.” — When Harry Met Sally (1989)

 

itrubsthelotion

 

“It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again.” - The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

 

lifeislike

 

“Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” — Forrest Gump (1994)

 

kickyouinthecrotch

 

“Isn’t that just kick-you-in-the-crotch, spit-on-your-neck fantastic?”  Friends (1994-2004)

Special mention because I use it way too much.

Special mention because I use this quote way too much.

“They don’t know that we know that they know we know.” - Friends (1994-2004)

 

houstonwehaveaproblem

 

“Houston, we have a problem.” Apollo 13 (1995)

 

youreavirgin

 

“You’re a virgin who can’t drive.” - Clueless (1995)

 

youhadmeathello

 

“You had me at ‘hello’” — Jerry Maguire (1996)

 

kingoftheworld

 

“I’m the King of the world!” - Titanic (1997)

 

iseedeadpeople

 

“I see dead people.” The Sixth Sense (1999)

 

whatlikeitshard

 

“What, like it’s hard?” - Legally Blonde (2001)

 

ababyinabar

 

“You have a baby. In a bar.” - Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

 

butwhyistherumgone

 

“But why is the rum gone?” - Pirates of the Caribbean (2003)

Now this list is only a few of the more well known quotes I like to use. If we’re being honest, I could’ve made a whole post on Clueless or Mean Girls alone. Can you have a whole conversation in just quotes? Spoiler alert: I can and I have, many times. Now tell me, what are some of your favorite all time quotes you use often? What movie or TV show is your favorite to quote from?