Friday, January 02, 2009

Tough & Cool Inner Bookworm

Hello Book Bloggers:

Well, Bybee's at it again...or NOT at it, as the case may be. More precisely, she's fallen asleep with a fresh copy of Middlemarch across her face. Trust me -- you don't know her like I do -- it could just as easily be a copy of People magazine that she's polluting with her slumber breath.

Shudder. What do I care? Bybee's newest exhibition of sloth gives me a chance to get at this keyboard and give you the skinny on what this girl decidedly did not accomplish this year. Call me a Tough & Cool Inner BookSNOB, will you? I have impeccable taste and a an ironclad sense of literary purpose! Plus, sleeping and eating don't always have to be be so firmly on the front burner, now do they?

Let's look at Bybee's challenges for 2008: She somehow muscled her way to 100 books. She did well on her Pulitzer reading, but she's hobbling through the Canadian challenge, and someone did not eat her Wheaties for the Orbis Terrarum and In Their Shoes Challenges. And the Graphic Novels Challenge? Please. It was like she slept her way through that whole affair.

I'm seriously wondering if Miz B is really just a pretender to the shelves. Here's a choice bit of gossip: She forgot (she says) to admit to yet another DNF: She was reading What Maisie Knew by Henry James at Project Gutenberg, and got bogged down and quit right about the time Maisie's father and her former governess got hitched. She said defensively that the combination of reading James and reading him online was too much -- it gave her the headache from Hell. I probably shouldn't tell you this, but after Poor Widdle Susan DNF'd Mr. James, she hid out in the bathroom with a Taylor Caldwell novel for a while. Not tough! Not cool! Wussy!

Bybee also made some resolutions last year. Let us re-examine some of her rash statements as she rounded the bend into a New Book Year all those months ago:

"I want to complete all my challenges and if I don't, then I want to do a conspicuous amount of heavy lifting on them." I've probably already said enough, but entre nous, I didn't see any major eyestrain or sweat stains going on this past year.

"This is the year I'd like to get serious about building up my Don Robertson collection." She did buy The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread, but nothing else by the great Mr. Robertson. To be 100% fair, her credit card company went belly-up a couple of months ago, which put a severe crimp in her Internet shopping, but, I sat down and wept.

"Read more books from other countries." You can take the bookworm out of her native country, but you can't take the native country out of the bookworm. I beseeched Bybee to read Balzac, to read Things Fall Apart, to crack open that Murakami novel she was supposed to read for book group, but she just turned up Abba's Greatest Hits even louder and buried herself in her damn Pulitzers. Yes, I realize that Abba's Swedish, but don't think I didn't notice what she was really doing.

"Read more Korean literature." I'm not a complete Bookbitch. Good on Bybee for spotting that article in The Korea Herald about Park Kyung-ni, who, Bybee subsequently discovered, wrote The Great Korean Novel -- Toji. I'll admit that copies of this book are expensive, but think of the bragging rights! Think of being able to strut your cultural sensitivity towards those who might style her (us) as unrefined, unwashed waegooks (foreigners). Talya offered to lend Bybee volume one of this work, but Bybee's been less than aggressive about taking Talya up on her offer. If I were running this sorry show, I'd be camped on Talya's damn doorstep till I had Toji in my hot little hands.

"Delve into more books written before the 20th century, or at least try to go back 100 years to 1908." Would you be so good to pass me that bottle of witch hazel? I find that if I dab it on my temples, the pain recedes slightly. Three books! Only three! I saw what was happening all year -- there was good old Bybee, blithely kicking up her slightly meaty heels in the 21st century, then she tried to mollify me last fall with back-to-back readings of Great Expectations and Persuasion! Then she threw me some weak-assed shit at the very end of December with The Oregon Trail! Who's sorry now? January 1st found Bybee skulking into Kyobo bookstore, buying the only available copy of Middlemarch for our tenth-anniversary reread, then over to Youngpyoong bookstore, where she found a copy of The Octopus (1901) by Frank Norris. How long will this show of repentance last? I'd like to drop the Bronte canon on her pointy little head while she's asleep.

"Keep chipping away at the Pulitzer fiction list." Bybee read 8 of these in 2008, which is respectable. She's a quirky bookworm; she likes what she likes. I just wish she were both quirky and lofty. Maybe with a little push she can be.


Anonymous said...


Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours said...

Oh my dear TCIB, please don't be too hard on Bybee! She really DOES try, you know. And besides, I'm usually on YOUR side in these things (I'm all about reading "smartish" things myself) but I have to admit, most ashamedly, that I spent the last few days of 2008 and the entire first day of 2009 immersed in the Twilights books, barely coming up for air. My own inner bookworm wants to beat me about the head with the Anthony Troloppe book I put aside and is telling me to crawl under a rock and die. So I ask you, please be kind to Bybee ... we all fall short from time to time. And if you give her too much guilt, she might end up in a reading rut and that would NEVER do.

I hope you'll tell Bybee Happy New Year from me. :)

Stacy said...

I always enjoy reading your posts and this one is no exception.

P.S. Bybee is totally cool.

Eva said...


TCIB, I hate to break it to you, but you totally are a 'complete bookbitch'. I mean, who could possibly read Henry James on a computer?!?! No one, that's who. Obviously, you've been depriving yourself of pleasure reads for way too long, and it's beginning to show. My prescription? Some lighthearted, short, but still powerful YA might do the trick.

Anonymous said...

If you get too pissed off at Bybee then you can come for a visit but I would strongly suggest that you first try beguiling her with a bit of Baroness Orczy, a few more Austens and some excerpted Boswell before you give up on her. You catch more flies with honey...

Literary Feline said...

What a great post! I think Bybee made a valiant effort this past year.

Bybee said...

Bybee's not speaking to me right now, but I'm so pleased that you were delighted at the revisit of her feeble efforts.

I'm pleased that you are on my side, but your inner bookworm needs to take you firmly in hand as well and get you settled in with Mr. Trollope again.

BookPsmith, just don't know what I endure on a daily basis from the stumbling bookworm.

Excuse me...I resemble that remark..thank you for the YA suggestion. If this sort of reading turns out to be less-than-stellar, I'll be over to your blog to sneer.

Boswell sounds good, the Baroness sounds perfect and I'm thinking about getting her to change her name to Bybi. If I weren't yoked to this pathetic creature, I'd be your T&CIB 4ever. <3

Literary Feline,
Anything you see as valiant is all because of me and my Herculean efforts, so thank you very much!

jenclair said...

I actually read The Ambassadors by James, the entire, deadly thing. Not by choice, however.

Have you read Literary Feline's post about the "'I Suck at Challenge' Challenge"? I think it includes self-challenges as well, but then I interpret everything in whatever manner I choose.

You've done a great job this year! You've made me laugh and recommended some excellent titles!

hopeinbrazil said...

Middlemarch was my favorite discovery in 2008. Hope you can not only finish it, but enjoy it too. =)

Bookfool said...

You're a nut, Bybee! I love it! Now, just take that copy of Middlemarch and do your exercises with it. That sucker is thick.

Jenifer@SkookumsLog said...

You are very funny. I'm looking forward to hearing your comments on "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver. I just ordered it from my local library this morning along with Michael Pollen's "The Omnivore's Dilemna." Have you read "The Poisonwood Bible" by Barbara Kingsolver? It was so fantastic I've also placed a hold on "The Bean Trees."

Bybee said...

The Ambassadors was when Bybee and I first met. She needed me in her life, the slacker!

Middlemarch is one of Bybee's few shining moments as a bookworm. I'm proud of her for deciding to reread it every ten years: 1999, 2009, 2019, ...?

Bybee is a wimpy bookworm. She says Middlemarch is "too heavy to cart around." Sigh. I need more aspirin...

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is wonderful, but she does cover a lot of the same ground as the Pollan book does. It's ground worth covering many times, of course. I was blown away but The Bean Trees. These days, I prefer Kingsolver's nonfiction -- her essays are so educational and entertaining.

Susan said...

LOL and you said MY Cool Inner Literary bookworm was a snob! Well done, tuffti (tuffi?)!!! I like Susan skulking into the bookstore already this year in an effort to please you. You're training her well. Since I'm half-way through Middlemarch, and LIKING it, are you speaking to me again? Even if I hate Virginia Woolf? signed, Susan aka Your Book-Twin's Cool Inner Literary Bookworm
PS Maybe Susan needs some poetry now? I recommend Birthday Letters and maybe Seamus Heaney's Beowulf? Or is it time for some Keats?

Bybee said...

Sigh...I can see that your Inner Book Snob knows how to keep you in line. I just wish I could manage Bybee as well. She's working on Middlemarch now like the sterling bookworm I long for her to be, but if I turn away for even one moment, she'll be running wild like a billy goat, chopping at privet hedges and reading *gasp* bestseller fiction from the 1970s!