Friday, August 26, 2011

Glaring Omissions from my YA post

There are a couple books that I realized I should have included in my beloved YA books list so here they are.  Next time maybe I'll start in on the series books I loved.
Holes by Louis Sachar
One of the only books that I think the movie did a good job of interpreting the book- but the book is still better.  I was never a juvenile delinquent and never wanted to be- and I still didn't after reading this book, but it gives very interesting insight into the characters and backgrounds of those who do end up in places like Camp Green Lake.  And it is a western/eastern european-style fairy tale as well!  Try it now. Thank me later.

  Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
This book started my love of retold fairy tales.  And it is still, in my opinion, one of the best.  The fascinating nature of the curse that Ella is under and her freedom despite its restrictions is inspiring.  And the romance is handled very deftly.  Whatever you do, DON'T see the movie.  If you have seen it, forget it before you read the book- the book is so good and the movie so bad in comparison that, unlike Holes,  I am sorry they made the movie- hopefully it will be remade eventually with the love and respect it deserves.
Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
Anne is why I always wanted to be a redhead.  She was the character I always wanted as a best friend when I was in 4th and 5th grade.  Anne is adventurous and outspoken (unlike me) but loved books and imagination like I do.  I was (and still am) sure that we would be "kindred spirits" if we ever could meet. 
Anne of Windy Poplars by L. M. Montgomery
This is the only other Anne of Green Gables book that I read more than once.  I love the adventure and spirit of the first book and the subsequent books seemed to be more sedate.  Except this one.  Anne goes to be a teacher at a school away from Green Gables and has to hold her own against a number of colorful characters in a way that again captured the fire that I found in Anne of Green Gables.

P.S.  All of the YA books I have mentioned are in my house, so in case Hurricane Irene brings about the apocalypse a year early *heh* I will be fully prepared to share my wisdom with the new generation of rubble-dwellers.

Friday, August 19, 2011

What Do You Do With a BA in English?

I know I'm not the first to use this quote from Avenue Q as a title to a post, and probably not the last, but it sums up so well where my mind is right now.  I know the standard, optimistic answer to that question is "Anything you want! You know how to learn and adapt."  But what it feels like is "Anything you want if you want to go back to school for a few more years" or "Anything you want if the economy improves overnight" or "Anything you want if you know people who do what you want to do and can help you."

I've always loved reading and I found a love for theatre very early and I'm extremely stubborn so I guess it wasn't that surprising that I picked a double major in English and Theatre and stuck with it, and even the times when I think, "I'm a good enough student that I could have been a lawyer or something"  I think again and think "And I would have been awful because I would have been simultaneously bored and belligerent because I hate red tape and stupidity"  which covers most jobs that make lots of money.

Granted I wouldn't have actually made trouble- I hate confrontation- but I wouldn't have done good work.  Which is something I really want to do.  I want to make life better for people in some way.  I would love to do that by performing but the theatre world is, at the most basic, expensive and mean.  You have to either have enough money to be out of work a lot or work at crappy jobs that you don't care about just to be able to audition and you can't care about them because if something good comes along you have to take it.

And I want to do well even at crappy jobs because even though it's a crappy job for me, it means something to the owner or the customer.  That's the reason why I'm having a hard time deciding if I should get a job while I'm looking for a full time job.  If I get a part time job then a) I won't be spending all my time looking for a full time job and b) if I get a full time job shortly after I get the part time job, I would be leaving a job I would have promised to be available for right after I gave my availability.  And I doubt I would get a job if I said that I was hoping to leave at any time.

So what do I do with my BA in English?  Well if I'm not spontaneously discovered by a vacationing record producer who goes to my church, I'm going to keep trying to get into publishing.  I'll explain why next time.  And I'll try to be less boring!  I know how boring I am but it feels great to put my thoughts out there.  Allons-y!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Books I Have Loved

I was reading a post on Epbot where she reviews a few YA books that she has read recently and she gives The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley a rather lackluster review. I can understand her review because The Blue Sword is the one McKinley book that I don't really care for.   But I didn't want one book to keep her from reading any more McKinley, so I left a comment echoing the prevailing sentiment that she should give McKinley one more try.

Commenting on the post and professing my continuing, love for The Hero and the Crown and Rose Daughter, I started thinking about all the other books that I started reading in elementary and middle school that I continued to return to on the days when just any book wouldn't do.  The days when I needed to be more than a chubby little bookworm- I needed to fight a dragon, or become a sailor, or survive on my own in the wilderness.

So if you have a bookworm who needs some classics to return to again and again, here are some that worked for me:

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
The story of a girl who slays the dragon, but is wounded in the process and must struggle to heal not only her body, but her spirit.

Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley
A wonderfully unique take on the tale of Beauty and the Beast.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
A girl from the 19th century discovers that she has what it takes to be a sailor.  This book has a lot of rich characterization and detail about ships and sailing.

 Nothing but the Truth by Avi
I was never really a rebel of any sort, but this book gave me a taste of rebellion for a good cause and standing up for what you think is right.

The Giver by Lois Lowry
Probably my first taste of the science fiction idea of a flawed utopia.  I love the way that a world similar but vitally different from our own is introduced, especially because the main character has lived his whole life in that world and doesn't know anything different.

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen
This book combines an element of fantasy with a truthful look at the Holocaust.  Like the rest of the recommended books, the main character may not be perfect, but she learns and grows and makes the right choices even when things are darkest.

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
A wonderful book, almost a fairy tale, about a boy who appears and turns a neighborhood upside-down. He's allergic to pizza, he loves butterscotch krimpets and briefly lives in the zoo.  He meets a girl who carries a library with her in a suitcase- I always wanted one.  Fun and noble with warm fuzzies on the side.

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Another vibrant character from Jerry Spinelli.  Stargirl  I think really helped me realize that being different isn't the end of the world and can be the best thing about you.  It is also a sweet romance, real and innocent at the same time.

The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg
Not only are the characters quirky and fun and deep, but the whole book revolves around a trivia tournament.  And somehow the answers tie in to the lives of the characters.  Genius.  Did you know the word "tip" started as an acronym for To Insure Promptness?  Definitely a book that will stick with you.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle
I loved this book because it shows such a real family in such a perfect blend of fantasy and science fiction.  And this was a book that I loved the first time through but I definitely didn't understand all of it at first.  This was a book that I didn't reread just because I loved it, but because every time I reread it there was something I didn't notice before.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
It was kind of odd that I loved this book, because I did not enjoy being outside myself very much.  But I loved the courage and resourcefulness that the main character showed just trying to eat, something I always took for granted.

The Monument by Gary Paulsen
Now, believe me, I am a huge fan of science fiction and fantasy- some of that love came from some of these books, but I wish that some of the YA books coming out about wizards and vampires now had half as much heart and character depth that I cherished in this book. Harry Potter does, and a few others, but not nearly enough.  This book is probably the one on the list most firmly grounded in the real world, the others have, at the very least, a touch of "magical realism." But it doesn't feel the need to say, "Look how real I am! Aren't you impressed by how real I am?!?"  It simply is.  And that makes a huge difference.

Going through these books, I didn't realize that so many of them were Newbery award winners! Just so you know, I was not exactly a picky or discerning reader as a kid.  I read Babysitter's Club and Saddle Club and Sweet Valley Twins books like they were popcorn, but these were the books that I kept coming back to.  I hope this list inspires at least one person to give a book they haven't read a try, or to rediscover an old friend.

P.S. Ok, so not exactly short and sweet, but I hope you stuck with me :-)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Living in Limbo

When you're in elementary school, you think that high schoolers are the coolest of the cool, and so much older.  When you get to high school you realize that you were wrong (well, slightly mistaken, after all, you do know everything). No, college kids are so awesome and old and mature- surely they know what they are doing and what the future holds.  Then you graduate college and realize that you are only slightly less clueless about the "real world" than you were in elementary school.  And you deal.

So that's where I am right now.  Dealing.  Well, I've been dealing for three years, but it's very in-my-face right now.

And dealing isn't really the right word for everything I've been doing.  I worked at Disney World as a character attendant and had a wonderful time learning how to make magic.  I lived in Utah and got paid to be in a show for the first time.  And those things were So. Cool.

But now I'm back home and back to dealing.  Not that I didn't want this- I decided to come back to the east coast to be near my family.  The job I had in Utah wasn't my cup of tea and depressing as well.  Bah. Life has to be so complicated sometimes.  I want to be here but I want to move on.  I feel so between.

Between a child and an adult.  Between dependent and independent.  Between daughter and sister and friend.  Between past and future.  I want to arrive!

Well, it won't be forever.  I just need to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Unless I see something shiny...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Single Post

I've been debating for a while how to start, and I've decided to go with a classic.  Who am I and why do I want to start a blog?  Answer:  I am Elizabeth Brady, I am 24 years old, and I am currently unemployed.

This blog is not a way to say "I'm so awesome please hire me now" (because it's kind of silly to think that employers are just cruising Blogger looking for new writers when the economy is such that writers are falling over themselves to get in line for the good jobs) it's just a way for me to brush up on my writing skills which I have used, shall we say, "sparingly" in the time between graduation and now.

I will try to keep these posts short and sweet because I know the attention span of the average internet reader, heck, the average person nowadays, is kinda small.  So in case someone does happen to stumble across my blog, other than my mom (Hi, Mom!),  it won't take long for them to make up their mind whether they want to stick around or not.

Finally, these short posts will be on whatever I want, following the example of one of my favorite blogger/authors, John Scalzi.  So if a journey starts with a single step, this archive will start with a single post.  As the Doctor says: "Allons-y!"

P.S.- Dear Future self looking back on your first blog post,
         I hope you have all the things I haven't quite found yet.  Just little things like "a job," "a car," "money,"  "a great guy"... if it's far enough in the future, "a great husband," "kids..."  I hope you appreciate them as much as I want them.  And when you read this, make sure you find a way to show it. (Especially the hubby- give him a big kiss for me and then punch his arm for not showing up yet.  I mean now.  I mean my now. You know what I mean...)