“No Plot? No Problem!” novel-writing kit by Chris Baty

The kit’s contents are snarky and fun if you need a pick-me-up, but you shouldn’t expect any life-changing advice. Baty attempts to prepare you for a month-long writing endeavor with equal parts humor and advice, but the whole thing feels corny. Stick to November, or get a crowd of friends to write with you some other month, and leave this kit on the shelf.

Still Reading, and Still Thankful

Saturday, November 27, 2010 3:00 p.m. I was planning on making some progress on my books this morning, but I ended up playing outside instead. I’m now on page 130 of The Lotus Eaters, and I’m hoping to get to the halfway point by tonight. Wish me luck!

“Zeitoun” by Dave Eggers

Zeitoun is an eye-opening account of the devastating effects of two very different disasters in the United States: As Hurricane Katrina wreaks havoc on neighborhoods and lives in New Orleans, religious intolerance toward Muslims becomes more pointed this post-9/11 world. The Zeitouns’ fascinating story of survival in the face of loss and discrimination makes both catastrophes undeniably real to the reader.

“Room” by Emma Donoghue

This is by far the best book I’ve read all year. The book is original, thrilling, captivating, and heartwrenching. At the same time, it is unexpectedly fresh and optimistic, filled with life and hope and wonder.

“Washington’s U Street” by Blair A. Ruble

Washington’s U Street area is a “contact zone”—a place where cultures and peoples exist side by side. Whether black or white, southern or northern, professional or scholarly, residents in the neighborhood have interacted with each other with very few clashes decades. U Street has bred activists, politicians, scholars, educators, athletes, musicians, dancers, calling such famous figures as Duke Ellington and Ralph Bunche sons.

November is NaNoWriMo!

As of yesterday, NaNoWriMo has begun. In 2009, more than 165,000 participants took on the challenge, and even higher numbers are expected this year. In honor of those who undertake this vast but fulfilling project, this month I will be posting reviews of writing-related books.

“The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book was truly a delight to read, and I appreciated Gaiman’s intelligent handling of complex issues without losing sight of his inventive narrative. I would recommend this book to almost anyone for its fully formed characters, excellent prose, and engaging plot.

“Macbeth” by William Shakespeare

While it was fun to read and act out a play together, perhaps Jack and I chose the wrong work; neither of us particularly liked this one. The entire play seemed very disjointed, like there was a scene or even an act missing.

“Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë

Such a powerful story of love and loss ages well, and the unconventional use of an unreliable narrator had an interesting effect upon my view of the characters and story. The supernatural elements throughout the novel only serve to add to the dark, intense feelings between the two lovers.

Halloween Reading

I’ve signed up for the Halloween Readathon hosted by Young Adult Books Reviewed this weekend… that’s right, I’m ready for some more readathon action! It’ll be a spook-tacular weekend!