Category Archives: Lists

Books I Read in 2009

This is probably not a comprehensive list but in the spirit of moving into a new year I tried to remember all of the books I read over the past year.   Titles in bold are those I read for the first time this year that I recommend most highly.

In no particular order, books I read in 2009:

  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowing*
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling*
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling*
  • Harry Potter’s Bookshelf by John Granger
  • Harry Potter & Imagination by Travis Prinzi
  • The Divine Comedy by Dante
  • Carrie by Stephen King
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • The Name of This Book is  Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch (the author’s “real” identity, like the book, is secret)
  • Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
  • Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty
  • Charmed Thirds by Megan McCafferty
  • Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty
  • Mexican High by Liza Monroy
  • The White Rose by Arthur R. Schulz
  • Faust by Goethe
  • The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht
  • Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis*
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger*
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  • The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
  • The Mysteries of Udulpho by Ann Radcliffe
  • Dangerous Liaisons by Francois de Laclos
  • Pamela by Samuel Richardson
  • Moll Flanders by Daniel DeFoe
  • The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  • The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs
  • The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs*
  • The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs*
  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green*
  • Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle*
  • The Donkey Gospel by Tony Hoagland
  • The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard
  • America’s Prophet by Bruce Feiler
  • The Rover by Aphra Behn
  • A History of the Church in the United States & Canada by Robert Handy
  • The Female Brain by Louanne Brizandine
  • Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge
  • Waking the Dead by  John Elderedge
  • How to Be Good by Nick Hornby
  • About a Boy by Nick Hornby*
  • Paper Towns by John Green*
  • Churched by Matthew Paul Turner
  • The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder*
  • An Excellent Marriage
  • Geektastic (various authors)
  • Fear & Trembling by Kierkegaard
  • Dante in Love by Harriet Rubin
  • The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose
  • Counterfeiter by Moritz Nachstern
  • The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare*
  • Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare*
  • As You Like It by William Shakespeare
  • Macbeth by William Shakespeare
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare*
  • Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare
  • Henry IV part I by William Shakespeare
  • Henry IV part 2 by William Shakespeare
  • Henry V by William Shakespeare
  • The Tempest by good ol’ Billy Shakes
  • Letters to a Young Evangelical by Tony Campolo
  • Crunchy Cons by Rod Dreher
  • Angry Conversations with God by Susan Isaacs
  • Paul was Not a Christian by Pamela Eisenbaum
  • A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller
  • A Seat at the Table by Joshua Halberstam
  • What Would God’s Pottery Do? by Gideon Lamb and Jeremiah Smalchild
  • The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit*
  • Wet Magic by E. Nesbit
  • The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
  • The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker by Leeanna Renee Hieber
  • Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

This includes most of the titles I read for various courses which is why there’s so much Shakespeare and 18th Century/Restoration literature. I’ve had a lovely start to my “reading year” with about a chapter of Ulysses tackled along with the new Eldredge book Love & War and the first half of Megan McCafferty’s Perfect Fifths, the final book in her beloved Jessica Darling series. It’s hard to concentrate on one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century when you just want to find out whether Marcus Flutie and Jessica Darling finally get back together, let me tell you. It’s sort of embarrassing, but what can you do? Sorry, James Joyce. I’m trying.

What were your favorite reads this year?


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Return to Blogging

I decided to forget that I have a blog for a few months. That was productive. I also apparently decided to forget that I have friends. Less productive. Actually, it’s really bad. If you are my friend and we haven’t spoken or spent time together at all this fall, I apologize. I could give everyone a lot of excuses, but there’s no excuse for not making time to catch up with the greatest people ever. So like, let’s hang out on skype and wear funny hats or go out for coffee or something, deal?

A few updates from October, November and December:

–I turned 20. Graham gave me the second-best birthday present ever when he cleaned the entire apartment while I was gone and took me out to my favorite restaurant. (First-best present was when he proposed last year.)

–We left the church we’d been attending for most of the year. God wants us somewhere else, He just hasn’t been very clear on where that *somewhere* is. We’re still looking for a church home. It’s annoying.

–I went to a lot of auditions, none of which resulted in jobs, but some of which were successful in their own right.

–We bought a coffee press. I drank a lot of coffee.

–I did a lot of writing. That’s part of the reason I failed to blog. You might get to see some of this writing soon. If you’re GOOD.

–I discovered that I won’t be able to graduate a year early like I expected; Graham began applying for colleges. We still need to figure out how and if we can both be in college at the same time.

–I started taking class at a new studio I really love.

–Yesterday, I completed my fifth semester of college. I only embarrassed myself a little bit in the freshman science class I had to take.

I mostly write this blog for friends, but I’d like your feedback. What kind of posts do you like? Boring life updates, topical/subject-oriented posts, creative writing?

And Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Prosperous New Year and all that!

Prayers Requested

I feel like I need to blog right now. I came home from saying goodbye to a friend who’s leaving New York this weekend at the conclusion of her summer internship and began the overwhelming process of packing for the next week. After about five minutes of cramming a third of the contents of my closet into my tiny blue suitcase, I realized that haphazardly throwing clothes into a bag probably wasn’t the best approach and resolved to start over in a more organized fashion. As I made myself a cup of tea and sat down in front of my word processor to type out a concise list of everything I would need in the days leading up to my wedding, I was struck with the suddent momentousness of the occasion. Granted, I like to over-exaggerate the momentousness of measurements of time in my head, but still. This is my last night in New York as a single person, my last night of lying wide awake on the large air mattress that serves as my temporary bed trying to ignore the creepy sounds my creaky apartment building makes at 3am. I felt the sudden desire to record this moment for posterity, imagining tonight as some Great Turning Point in the unconsequential story of my existence.

I’m elated and excited and feel so unbelievably blessed. In spite of my stress and worry about trivial concerns, I’m confident that our wedding–and marriage– will emerge victorious and successful. That said, I present this very special list:

Events, Situations and Other Miscellaneous Thingybobs Which Need Prayer

1. Graham’s photo ID situation. Due to an array of unpleasant circumstances out of his control, Graham no longer has a photo ID. As you may know, you need a photo ID to be a functioning adult in the world today. As such, he has to take a bus part of the way to Ohio and be driven by amazing, selfless, caring, devoted friends the other part of the way rather than fly. Once in Ohio, he should be able to secure a new ID. If he doesn’t, we can’t  get a marriage license. Please pray things go smoothly.

2. The transportation of items and people situation. Figuring out who is going to take items to the venue and when should be fun to figure out. Figuring out how to transport myself, my bridal party and my myrian of out-of-town guests who don’t have vehicles should also be fun. Pray things go smoothly.

3. The weather situation. I may not have fantasized about THE perfect wedding my entire life, but I have always wanted an outdoor wedding. The outdoor venue with which I was blessed for the ceremony is literally my idea of a perfect, picturesque wedding setting, but some meteorologists predict heavy rain for the day of the wedding. There is a back up plan that involves having the ceremony in the same converted barn as the reception and while this wouldn’t be THE END OF THE WORLD,  it would make my heart a little bit melancholy. Pray for clear skies.

There are loads more individual situations that need prayer, but threes plenty for this entry. If I have time this week, I’ll try and update at least once more before the wedding itself, but I can’t promise anything. Graham and I arrive in Ohio (separately) late Saturday night and early Sunday morning we’re kicking off the week at the Medieval Faire with some friends. After this day of reenacting a depressing, unsanitary period of human history, things get nuts. My mom and sister arrive, we glue small beads on various decorative objects, meet the DJ and florist IRL for the first time and have our final couple of pre-marital counseling sessions. (In which, among other things we get to talk about sex with our Pastor, every prude young Christian’s dream.)

Thanks for the prayers and the well-wishes. See you in Ohio.

A Blogiversary, Excuses and Other Tales

A year ago this month, the earth trembled, seas parted and angels sang as a new baby blog came gasping into the world. Actually, there was no trembling, gasping or singing, but I am sure  the metaphorical waters of the internet  rippled a little bit. By “a little bit” I mean, not really at all, but it’s cool to think about. In celebration of this (not so) monumentous occasion, I’ve compiled a list:

THINGS YOU CAN DO INSTEAD OF UPDATING YOUR BLOG

1. Read everyone else’s blog. This month is “Blog Every Day April” (BEDA) which means that a bunch of exponentially awesome people overload the internet with a new blog entry every day.  For the most part these blogs emanate as much awesome and wonderful as their authors, but “ya get weirdos in every breed” as Hagrid would say. Since I read the mediocre blogs in addition to the WONDERFUL blogs, I spend at least two hours every day JUST READING BLOGS. Think about all the WORLD CHANGING Words Can Keeler posts I could write during those two hours! I blame BEDA for KEEPING ME FROM BLOGGING. Irony?

2. Spend your “writing time” working on fiction and non-fiction projects for your Creative Writing class. I’m finally in an actual, formal creative writing course this semester and I’m kind of nerdily obsessed with it. (What? Me? Obsess? Shocker, I know.) I’m finally learning how to, you know, really write. When I’m not working on my own pieces for the class, I’m usually reading and giving feedback on other people’s pieces or else worrying about what everyone will say about my pieces during workshop. When I handed my  first short story to the class, I almost literally “cried out in anguish” like people do in Dickens novels and the Bible. Also, using a brightly colored pen to write “suggestions” on other people’s work IS SO MUCH FUN. Nothing is more satisfying than circling awkwardly worded phrases or crossing out chunks of unnecessary dialogue.Try it, you’ll see. You could even do it to this post if you want.

3.You start rehearsing for your first real show, in a real theater in New York. It’s not a huge show and it doesn’t pay anything and I’m only in one number, but it FEELS SO GOOD. (I needed a capslocked phrase for continuity’s sake.)

4. You decide to get married in four months and have to start thinking about things like cake servers and tulle and registries. Did you know there are THOUSANDS of different kinds of blenders in the world? THOUSANDS! There are even more kinds of cake servers.

I feel like it is wrong to end a list at “4” but it’s also wrong to not update your blog for two months, unless you are J.K. Rowling in which case you can do no wrong.

I hereby vow to stop pretending I am J.K. Rowling and start blogging again more often. Not so much for you as for my ego. I feel more important if I have loads of uninteresting sentences published on the internet at regular intervals.

Is there anything you’d like me to blog about on Words Can Keeler? What kind of blogs do you like me to write? Don’t you hate this awkward use of second-person?

Things I Am Supposed to Enjoy, But Don’t

    You know how there are things you are just supposed to enjoy as a human being? I half expect to check the definition of “human being” in the Oxford English Dictionary and read something like, “n. A member of the human species as distinguished from animals. Enjoys food, beverage and playing Monopoly on Sunday evenings.”

     But what if you hate monopoly? Are you a little bit less human because of it? Is it right to assume that because 80% of people enjoy a board game, that everyone should enjoy a board game? There are a great number of things I’m supposed to like as a homosapien residing in the Western hemisphere that I just . . . don’t.  Though I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out why I don’t like these things, I recently realized that maybe it’s just because I don’t like them. I mean, it could also mean that I’m an alien child from a different solar system adopted by human beings and forced to assimilate into earthly society as part of a massive social experiment conducted by the Canadian government, but I’m not really that cool. 

Things I should like, but don’t:

  • Monopoly
  • Arcades
  • Video Games (Including arcade games, guitar hero, mario, anything.)
  • Miniature golf
  • Board games involving fake money or real estate or warfare
  • The majority of movies with spectacular special effects
  • Thrillers (The movie kind. I like some thriller novels.
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • Star Wars
  • Cheese
  • Television Dramas
  • Graphic novels/comic books
  • Riding a bike
  • Alcohol 
  • Fantasy novels with characters whose names contain no vowels. 
  • Rich and flaky pastries 
  • Animated disney movies made after 1995 (Disney-Pixar excluded)
  • Soda

 

   This is a slightly condensed list. Am I less of a human being for not liking any of these things? Does this reveal something terrible about my childhood? Should I just jump of a bridge right now? If so, should  I put you in my will? Discuss.

On Writing

Because my spring semester at college does not begin for another few weeks and my part-time job has become extremely part-time, I find myself with a lot of free time these days. Mostly when I have free time I  reread Harry Potter and watch Boy Meets World episodes on the internet take dance classes and work on Swingnacht.

When I mentioned the Swingnacht part to an acquaintance (of course I called it “my work-in-progress Novel” instead of “Swingnacht” because apart from being a German word, “swingnacht” is also a mostly made-up German word) he immediately asked “what’s your writing process like?” which sort of surprised me. I mean, he hardly knows me and here he is asking me this very personal, intimate question?!?! As if I would tell him, the nosy scoundrel.

Okay, so the truth is, I don’t really know if I have a writing process. Jo Rowling used to push her daughter around in the pram for a bit and then mosey over to the nearest cafe and write brilliant best-selling books about good and evil and wizard school and socks. Ernest Hemingway used to . . . well, I’m not really sure what Hemingway used to do whle writing except probably “breathe” (Google just failed me) but I’m sure he had a process. So what’s mine? This is my best guess:

1.Return from dance studio/gym/wherever all sweaty and exhausted and sore. Throw bags and coat on bedroom floor and put the kettle on.

2. Turn on laptop with intention of turning Swingnacht into brilliant, groundbreaking masterpiece.

3. Get momentarily distracted from plans of creating great art by Facebook, Skype, Twitter and YouTube.

4. A half-hour later, find myself googling “civil war conspiracy theories” for  absolutely no reason whatsoever.

5. Remember that I forgot about the water I just boiled. Boil more water, finish making tea.

6. Lose my stolen wireless signal and after a series of failed attempts to reconnect, decide to open a Swingnacht word document.

7. Spend five-minutes reading a chapter I rewrote for the fourth time last week.

8. Bash head against key-board a few times at how horrible the writing is.

9. Decide to take a shower. People get good ideas in the shower. I will surely emerge from the shower as the greatest writer of the twenty-first century.

10. Shower. Become discouraged when shower does not turn me into James Joyce or Markus Zusak. Delete a few sentences furiously while still wearing bathrobe, then spend another ten minutes trying to figure out a way to rewrite entire chapter so it doesn’t sound so stupid.

11. Repeat step ’10’ several times.

11. Finally write a few paragraphs I like a little bit. Move on to a new chapter and repeat.

There you have it. 11 surefire steps for writing a novel you will finish one day and then spend an entire year editing and rewriting.

Lately these 11 steps have been performed in the comfort of my own home, but usually I like to “write” (delete, bash etc.) in a cafe somewhere because it prevents me from yelling at myself too much. There is one west village cafe that I’m pretty sure knows me as the “girl who hits ‘delete’ a lot and drinks coffee faster than can possibly be healthy.” But I’ve blogged about that before.


Graham once commented that I hit the delete key more than the space bar when I write, which actually is probably true.

Do you have a writing process? Do you have 11counter-productive steps like me or a specific place you like to write? Care to share?

EDIT: Thanks to a kind commenter, you can read about Ernest Hemingway’s writing process here Awesome!

Reasons Leah is Awesome, Kinda

I’m spending the weekend at my friend Leah’s house in lieu of wandering the streets on Thanksgiving like the displaced vagrant I am. Okay, really it’s not that dramatic. I have a home and a family and stuff, but when your family is far away (“far away” as in Texas, not far away as in Jupiter or the North Pole or Poland, although that would be pretty cool) and sitting at home eating pie and watching Mircacle on 34th Street alone doesn’t sound appealing anymore, you run away to your friend’s houses, I guess.

So far the following things have occured:

1. Leah’s family has been far too nice to me. Like, my own family doesn’t treat me this well. (Just kidding, Mom and Dad.)

2. Leah’s dad asked me a lot of things about Texas and I simultaneously felt like I was a) the cool new kid in school and b) from a different planet altogether which- let’s face it- I sort of am. Texas actually took pluto’s place as the ninth planet in the solar system.

3. I ate way too much food and am afraid I will actually, literally not fit through the train compartment doors and have to be rolled back into New York on Sunday.

4. I slept for thirteen hours on spiderman sheets.

5. Leah and I watched Sesame Street together. We sang along to the catchy Abby Cadaby word fairy song and got excited when Tellymonster won the triangle toss. Also, I think Sesame Street is way more advanced than it used to be. The number of the day was “16” which is, like, a double-digit number. I don’t remember getting to the double-digits in Sesame Street land when I was a wee one. The Elmo’s World segment is sort of frightening. I mean, all of his furniture is animate and he has a bathing duck behind one of the myserious doors in his house.

6. We also hugged each other whenever there was a cute baby on the screen. I’m not really sure why this is our first reaction when we see something adorable, but it’s infinitely better and more satisfying than hugging yourself. Try it. You’ll see.

6. Leah suggested I write a blog about all of the reasons she’s awesome. I was going to do it, but I got overwhelmed so I wrote this instead. You wish you had a friend as awesome as Leah. You WISH you were cool enough to spend an hours laughing about the name “Klyphard”, the phrase “Am I good enough, Mr. Reagan?”, and robot-laser-arms. You wish.