Monthly Archives: December 2013

It Was the Best of Puns (It Was the Worst of Puns)

I was lucky enough to be able to fly home for Christmas this year. Although Halloween might be my favorite holiday, Christmas is the one I personally find hardest to spend without family. Especially considering that my sister will soon be heading to Italy for a semester, I wanted a chance to see her before her globetrotting adventure in fabulousness began. Even better, despite living in the age of Facebook and many of my friends and extended family members knowing I was heading home, I still managed to surprise my sister! And best of all, I got a chance to catch up with a friend from my own semester abroad in Istanbul.

A picture of my friend, Irene, and I, taken right before she had to leave.

A picture of my friend, Irene, and I, taken right before she had to leave.

Although I’ve read many lovely books lately, such as Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, I’m not feeling compelled to review any of them. Maybe I’ve read too many books lately to dedicate a full post to a single one. Instead, my visit home got me thinking on a smaller kind of story: the pun. After all, aside from a fondness for crossword puzzles and the need for multiple road tests, I’ve also inherited my dad’s weakness for puns. If we were Superman, puns would be our kryptonite; we can’t help but fall for any set-up, no matter how good, bad, or ugly.

So what? You might be asking yourself.* Who cares if you enjoy a second-rate form of humor? But I think the pun is a seriously underrated art form (or should I say punderrated?). To quote one of my favorite books of the year, Gayle Forman’s Just One Year, “I’ve since come to understand that the universe operates on the same general equilibrium theory as markets.It never gives you something without making you pay for it somehow.” Though I don’t necessarily agree with the quote on the whole, I think it can be applied to humor. There is no such thing as a buttless joke.

And of course, puns are no exception. People make puns using people’s names or incorporate slurs. But my favorite kind of puns make language itself the true butt of the joke. They function solely on homophones and assonance (and probably some other literary devices). And after all, what’s a butt without a little assonance?** I’m sure Cyndi Lauper would agree with me. Girls just wanna have puns, oh-oh girls just wanna have puns. Okay, I’ll stop now. Maybe.

Found this image here, though I’m not sure who originally came up with the idea. But if Libba Bray wrote it, would that make it A Great and Tearable Beauty?

And since you can take the girl out of the English program but you can’t take the English program out of the girl, I have to put this out there. I think puns are especially admirable for their dichotomous nature, the way it’s hard to tell whether a pun should be called good or bad, and which is a bigger compliment. When we give my dad a hard time for his puns, we don’t tell him they’re bad, we say they’re mediocre.*** Puns have a lot in common with being sore after a workout or getting up from the table following Thanksgiving dinner; they’re groan-inducing, inevitable, but still somehow immensely satisfying experiences.

Do you have a favorite pun? Leave it in the comments!

*Okay, so you might not actually be asking yourself this, but my hypothetical straw man is.
**I’m sorry. That was bad. I’ve had that pun in my system for days.
***But don’t worry, my family’s teasing is all in good pun.

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Indies First (and other assorted endeavors)

Hello, BookEnders! Sorry to leave you hanging for a month. I have many excuses, most of which revolve around the fact that suddenly and not entirely unexpectedly, my life’s been reduced to a flurry of classes, group projects, and dinner shifts at the retirement home. Lately I’ve barely had enough energy for Gossip Girl, my latest Netflix obsession.*

When I have read lately, the last thing I’ve felt like doing has been stringing together coherent thoughts about them. I will say that I was underwhelmed by Trish Doller’s Where the Stars Still Shine and overwhelmed by Hilary Smith’s Wild Awake. Both books revolve around mental illnesses of their characters, and reading them within the same week reinforced the emotional impact I personally felt was absent in Doller’s novel.

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Are we friends on Goodreads? If not, we should be.

Are we friends on Goodreads? If not, we should be.

Despite having limited free-time lately, I’ve still managed to reach my 2013 Goodreads goal this week, about a month ahead of schedule. I’ve been very good this year about the number of books that I’ve read, but less so about challenging myself to read books out of my comfort zone. I have read many more excellent books this year than I have in past years. However, I didn’t get through any of the classics I had hoped to read.

Lastly, today I had a bit of a book endeavor. The Saturday after American Thanksgiving is known as “Small Business Saturday,” a movement for supporting small businesses which emerged to counteract the chain-centric shopping that happens on Black Friday.** As part of Small Business Saturday, author Sherman Alexie suggested an event called Indies First, in which local authors would handsell and recommend books at nearby independent bookstores.

I had been looking forward to Indies First for about a month, and it finally arrived yesterday. Unfortunately, due the string of days I had off from class, I lost track of the days of the week. I totally forgot about until an hour before I had to leave for work. Luckily, I still had enough time to stop by Eliott Bay Book Company. There I browsed a bit before going over to talk to author Jennie Shortridge for a few minutes. She was very friendly, and had some good recommendations. Although I was sorely tempted by a beautiful collection of Louise Glück’s poetry,*** I settled on a few of Shortridge’s recommendations, both set in Seattle. The Glück will still be there next time I go.

The books I got from Eliott Bay Book Company (Where'd You Go, Bernadette and Hotel Angeline)

The books I got from Eliott Bay Book Company (Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Hotel Angeline)

And hopefully I will go again soon, or to one of the other numerous indie bookstores in the area. I’ve shifted to buying many of my books online, due to sheer convenience. I tend to get book cravings, where I remember a certain book and I want to read it immediately. But more often lately I’ve been getting both my e- and hard copy books from the public library. I won’t apologize for enjoying my e-books and frequenting my local library, but there is something to be said for going to the bookstore instead sometimes. Instead of pulling everything off the shelves that looks interesting, you have to pick out a single, perfectly promising book (or two or three). There’s definitely more at stake when you’re playing for keeps.

It was nice catching up… we should do it again sometime. This post was more of a combination platter than the whole enchilada****, so thank you for bearing with me. I’ll be on break from school in about a week, so hopefully I can end out the year with some quality posts. Until next time!

* I’ve been quite conflicted as I like to finish shows before starting new ones, but I still have two season of Gossip Girl left and I suddenly want to start The OC. But I eventually need to return to The West Wing and finish that up. Decisions, decisions.

** I’m not sure that that is the actual origin of Small Business Saturday, but that’s what seems to be generally inferred.

*** Any immediate family members who might be reading this may want to take note of my love for Louise Glück and the traditional exchange of gifts that coincides with the rapidly approaching Christmas holiday.

**** Yes, I am craving Mexican food; no, I probably won’t abandon my inclination toward mixed food metaphors any time soon.

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