Amy Brown Won’t Read Anything That’s Been Made into a Juli...

Oh, Fierce and Nerdy!  How I’ve missed you.  Thanks for letting me visit you again — this missive comes to you from the west coast now, where I am fiercely anticipating the start of a new job in Los Angeles.  As a reader I tend not to delay my gratification (actually, that’s pretty much...

Book Simple: Cold Comfort Farm and Planned Parenthood Feb22

Book Simple: Cold Comfort Farm and Planned Parenthood

The animals are discomfortingly close at the Washington zoo.  The cheetah, with a running start, seemed like it could easily clear that mere wall of holly surrounding its realm.  The sign which warns not to touch the prairie dogs due to their propensity to bite appeared, well, much more...

Book Simple: The Best Book to Read Before a Dinner Party Feb08

Book Simple: The Best Book to Read Before a Dinner Party

I’m planning a dinner party, so of course I’m reading Mrs. Dalloway.  There has never been a better dinner party book, not in the history of literature.  It so perfectly captures that dreamy sense of excitement the afternoon before a party as you shop for ingredients and choose your dress. ...

Hello Friday: FaN Notes [Week 4 of 2011]

Wondering how long it will take me to stop writing 2010 and then having to delete and correct with 2011. So far I’ve made this mistake four weeks and counting. Sad. How are you all doing with this? Other than that, let’s get into my notes re this week at Fierce and Nerdy. 1....

Book Simple: The Last Book That Made Me Weep Jan25

Book Simple: The Last Book That Made Me Weep

I should have known when my aunt recommended it; she always appreciates books as literature rather than some sort of a terrible looking glass and can tolerate much more emotional turmoil in her reading than I can manage.  I should have known better than to read it on a work night, I thought,...

Book Simple: In Avoidance of Classics [Last Night A Murder Mystery Saved My Life] Jan11

Book Simple: In Avoidance of Classics [Last Night A Murder Mystery Sav...

Despite my general dislike of new year’s resolutions – winters are hard enough without February being riddled with disappointment and moralistic shame along with seasonal affective disorder – I have made one every year since I graduated from college.  It is: finish the Guardian’s 100 Best...

Resolved: 2011 [The Very Best of FaN]

Ernessa says: Yay! Well, New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday and my favorite holiday activity is making my New Year’s Resolutions. But in order to do that, it’s good to review how you did the year before. So out of the 11 bulletpoint resolution list that I made last year,...

Worst of 2010: TV… [FaN Boos]

Ernessa says: My big complaint of the year is that there were really too many bad TV shows to choose from in 2010. I seriously had a hard time narrowing down my choices. Note to TV Execs: Next year you’ve just got to do better. That said, I’m going to have to go with THE WALKING...

Best of 2010: TV! [FaN Cheers]

Ernessa says: Well, guys for the first time in the entire history of me being moi, I find myself ending the year with no favorite new show. None of last winter’s mid-season replacements, the summer series, or the new fall series are deserving of high praise in my opin. As every...

Best of 2010: The Songs! [FaN Cheers]

Ernessa says: SO many great songs this year. Standouts for me included ROLLING IN THE DEEP by Adele, KEEP THE LIGHTS ON by Wave Machines, DIFFICULT by Uffie, BURIAL by Miike Snow, and XXXO by MIA — which was a surprising “grow on me,” since I claimed to meh it back in August...

The Best of Times/The Worst of Times: 2010 [FaN Remembrances]

Ernessa Says: Least Favorite Moment(s) of the Year: I’m still trying to process our dog, Tulip’s unexpected death. Also, one of my heroes, my Aunt Almeda also passed. As for my favorite moment of the year, I’ve been thinking hard about this, and while I enjoyed every single...

Worst of 2010: The Movies… [FaN Boos]

Ernessa says: This was a hard one. Part of me wants to say SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD b/c the females were so poorly rendered in this film and I had such high expectations. But I think I’ll have to go with MEGAMIND, because it was such a boys club, and pretty much everything...

Best of 2010: The Movies! [FaN Cheers]

Ernessa says: I thought for a long time I would choose INCEPTION, because it’s truly a spectacular feat of writing and directing that audiences would come out of that movie saying, “It was so different and confusing” when in actuality we had been spoon-fed the plot and the...

Worst of 2010: The Books… [FaN Boos]

Ernessa says: The nice thing about being a published author is that it’s considered bad form to talk ish about other writers in a public forum. Because of this, if I found myself not enjoying a book during my 52 Books in 52 Weeks project, I put it down and went on to the next book on my...

Best of 2010: The Books! [FaN Cheers]

Yay, we’ve come down to my favorite time of the year, when chins hit chests and we spend a week pr two firmly gazing at our navels. Over the course of the next two weeks on FaN, we’ll be weighing in on our favorite books, movies, music, TV shows, and moments of the soon-to-be...

Book Simple: Hungry for The Hunger Games [One More Time] Dec14

Book Simple: Hungry for The Hunger Games [One More Time]

This Sunday I couldn’t stop reading The Hunger Games trilogy.  Gudrun made it sound so good last week that the books rocketed right up to the top of my Kindle wish list.  I started the first novel meaning to compare dystopian futurescapes with Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, but to be...

Book Simple: An Empire State of Art [BOOK WEEK 2!]

In economics, we believe that consumers are rational agents who consume subject to the constraints they are given.  People would buy and buy and buy – buy until the store shelves were empty – if they didn’t have the nagging knowledge of their bank accounts dwindling with every purchase....

Book Simple: The Perfect Book For A Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving Nov23

Book Simple: The Perfect Book For A Dysfunctional Family Thanksgiving

If you’re worrying about traveling home this holiday week, afraid of the salt-in-old-wounds feeling familial criticism can generate, be thankful at least for this: you’re not Frank Mackay.  Frank is the narrator of Tana French’s new novel Faithful Place. He ran away from his family at...

Book Simple: A Revisit of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS Nov09

Book Simple: A Revisit of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS

It seems like a strange thing, a children’s book chronicling the rise of a totalitarian regime, but when I reread Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, there it was.  The comes out November 19; Stephen Fry claims it’s the “best one yet,” and I wanted to be properly prepared. I’d read the...

Book Simple: A Symptom of Broken Relationships [Heathcliff...] Nov02

Book Simple: A Symptom of Broken Relationships [Heathcliff...]

“No one’s gonna love you the way that I do.”  From Cease to Begin, the 2007 album by Band of Horses, I heard the song “No One’s Gonna Love You” first on NBC’s Chuck.  I loved the song, but I’d heard the refrain before.  One of the few constants I’ve found in relationships is that when “things...

Book Simple: How the World Will Change Oct19

Book Simple: How the World Will Change

Nostalgia is dangerous.  Our memories burnish the sunshine of ages past into fool’s gold.  It struck me, coming across a Wall Street Journal article discussing the unusual sales of costume wigs to Tea Party aficionados, how especially ridiculous is this apparent yearning for a historical time...

Book Simple: The Best Kind of Wedding, THE WORST INTENTIONS Oct12

Book Simple: The Best Kind of Wedding, THE WORST INTENTIONS

I attended a wedding this weekend.  It was the best kind of wedding, blissfully happy, held in a sunlit field in western Massachusetts, full of good friends from childhood who have grown up even better.  The wedding bore no resemblance to anything that happens in The Worst Intentions, by...

Book Simple: EASY A vs THE SCARLETT LETTER Oct05

Book Simple: EASY A vs THE SCARLETT LETTER

Growing up in Marblehead, Massachusetts, next door to infamous Salem, meant that our high school English teachers were contractually obligated to cram a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel down our throats every September, followed up with a yearly breeze through The Crucible.  Once I’d escaped that...

Book Simple: The Great Ape Book Sep28

Book Simple: The Great Ape Book

The start of the new fall television season is the perfect time to read Ape House, Sara Gruen’s recent novel following a group of Bonobo apes kidnapped by a porn magnate and plopped into a “Big Brother”-style television program.  The apes are certainly more interesting than the cast of Jersey...

Book Simple: THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE Sep21

Book Simple: THE WIND-UP BIRD CHRONICLE

The phone rings, and the woman on the line asks Toru Okada for “Ten minutes, please.  That’s all we need to understand each other.” This phrase caught my eye; whenever you move to a new city, your days are full of meeting new people, learning what role each of them will play in your new...

Book Simple: The Doddering and the Greatness of Nikola Tesla Sep07

Book Simple: The Doddering and the Greatness of Nikola Tesla

I made the mistake of recommending a book to my Dad that I hadn’t read.  This, you’d think, is rather a beginner’s error; surely there are enough old adages to keep someone with a reader’s reputation leery of speaking before reading.  So this weekend, with an extra bit of time on my hands, I...

Book Simple: The Accidental Denizens of Los Angeles [FaN Favorites]

. a favorite blogumn by Amy Brown Amy Says: I’m missing Los Angeles like crazy.  Here are my two favorites LA reads in rerun. From February 2, 2010 One of my favorite things to do in Los Angeles is to watch the sun set from the bar at the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica. I’ve lived here...

Book Simple: The Encyclopedia Brown of Sweden [FaN Favorites]

. a favorite blogumn by Amy Brown Amy Says: Sweden cast the most perfect actors in their movie version of the trilogy, out this summer.  Go see them before Hollywood ruins Blomkvist by casting Brad Pitt. From November 24, 2009 Vacations in my house have always involved cleaning and mystery...

Book Simple: Under the Tuscan Sun Revisited Aug17

Book Simple: Under the Tuscan Sun Revisited

. a blogumn by Amy Brown I’ve been invited to a book club.  To preface, I’m desperately eager to meet new people in this new city of mine; Washington, D.C. seems endlessly foreign to me since I’ve moved, a city with free parking unassociated with shopping malls, with subways, a city where...

Book Simple: Chelsea Clinton and THE AMERICAN WIFE Aug10

Book Simple: Chelsea Clinton and THE AMERICAN WIFE

. a life in books by Amy Brown Watching the recent hullabaloo surrounding the wedding of Chelsea Clinton, it occurred to me that I had not yet read Curtis Sittenfeld’s novelization of the life of another political bride, American Wife.  I’d been looking forward to the book for ages; on a...

Book Simple: Better than Fiction Non-Fiction Jul27

Book Simple: Better than Fiction Non-Fiction

. a life-in-books by Amy Brown When I was little, I thought my Dad knew everything about the world.  There was never a single question I could think to ask that he didn’t have the answer for, from why the sky is blue to how the human eye functions to why the sound of a siren would change as...

Book Simple: The Agent of Nemesis Jul20

Book Simple: The Agent of Nemesis

. a life-in-books by Amy Brown I am the queen of plans that go awry.  If I need to drive two-hundred miles for a business trip, inevitably that will be the time my car air conditioning will go on the fritz.  Given the choice of freeway exit A or B, I will choose the wrong one, every time, and...

Book Simple: A Classic Reinvention [Pt.1] Jul13

Book Simple: A Classic Reinvention [Pt.1]

. a blogumn by Amy Brown From the Girl Scouts’ logo to the countless starlets trying to be the next Madonna, it might seem that reinvention is a current national obsession.  Having just experienced a rather significant personal rebranding, this week I started to read an epic saga on that...

Book Simple: Almost Created Jul06

Book Simple: Almost Created

. a life-in-books by Amy Brown Having moved across the country in a dizzy week, I find myself cast ashore in sweaty northern Virginia.  The capital beltway maintains the traffic but none of the charm of southern California.  My desperate hatred of both the current humidity and temperature...

Book Simple: Fishing Out THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA Jun22

Book Simple: Fishing Out THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA

. a life-in-books by Amy Brown Santiago’s luck is bad.  The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway’s 1952 novella, opens after the fisherman’s apprentice has left him: “after forty days without a fish the boy’s parents had told him that the old man was definitely and finally salao, which is the worst...

Book Simple: Memoirs of a Homeless Amy

. a life-in-books by Amy Brown I’m homeless, at least temporarily. Despite my adoration of the west coast and general desperation to remain here, an exhaustive eight month job search convinced me that my sole option for employment is located in Washington, D.C. As graduation approached, I...

Book Simple: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake Jun08

Book Simple: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

. a blogumn by Amy Brown My mother made me the best birthday cake when I was little.  It was tiered, pink-frosted and decorated with gummy candies; it looked like a sugar palace and is still the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever eaten.  I thought of Mom’s cake as I read the opening of The...

Book Simple: A Brood on Drood May25

Book Simple: A Brood on Drood

. a life-in-books by Amy Brown Does anyone watch CASTLE besides me?  In the television show, the eponymous hero, a ridiculously famous and charismatic novelist portrayed by Nathan Fillion, plays a weekly poker game with his literary rivals, James Patterson, Michael Connelly and Stephen J....

Book Simple: Economists Aren’t Nearly As Funny As Wodehouse May18

Book Simple: Economists Aren’t Nearly As Funny As Wodehouse

. a life-in-books by Amy Brown This weekend I had to do something I didn’t want to do.  Every year, the UCLA Economics Department puts on a skit party in an effort to emulate other, higher ranked academic departments.  Why don’t I like to go?  Take a look at the following.  This is what...

Book Simple: Grieving in Italian May11

Book Simple: Grieving in Italian

. a life-in-books by Amy Brown When I went to Bologna, in the summer of 2001, I didn’t know that Italy has a history of political terrorism.  All I knew about Italy was contained in two semesters of Italian classes and a videotape that my father recorded of our family’s Italian vacation when...

Book Simple: Beauty and the Beast (of a Dissertation) Apr13

Book Simple: Beauty and the Beast (of a Dissertation)

. a life-in-books by Amy Brown My boyfriend won’t stop playing the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack.  You know, the musical created from the rather alarmingly anthropomorphic 1991 Disney movie?  That I listened to every nerdy afternoon of my exceedingly nerdy adolescence?  You’ve never heard...

Book Simple: Global Warming, Marital Infidelities, and Weight Gain Apr06

Book Simple: Global Warming, Marital Infidelities, and Weight Gain

. a life-in-books by Amy Brown When he was little, my Dad would worry about the sun going supernova, instantly killing all of the Earth’s inhabitants.  From that worried little boy, Dad grew up to be a physicist, because he wanted to understand the world around him, to discover and preserve...

Book Simple: The Mysteries of The Real World Mar30

Book Simple: The Mysteries of The Real World

. a life-in-books by Amy Brown On my spring break in Mexico this past week, I’ve been gorging myself.  On piña coladas, guacamole and arrachera, yes, but also on Sherlock Holmes.  Vacations are the perfect time for re-reading, I’ve found.  With no pressure to accomplish anything, I feel no...

Book Simple: The Custom of L.A. Mar23

Book Simple: The Custom of L.A.

. a life-in-books by Amy Brown People on the west coast don’t wear cocktail dresses.  This is a lesson I learned early in my tenure in Los Angeles, walking into Bar Nineteen 12 at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  My Pasadena-raised friend Tracy was with me, dressed immaculately as ever in skinny...

Book Simple: Prince Charles and Lady Di Finally Fall in Love Mar16

Book Simple: Prince Charles and Lady Di Finally Fall in Love

. a blogumn by Amy Brown There are quests you embark on because of the desire for adventure, for personal growth, to gain a kingdom.  Then there are quests you start because some dude shows up out of the blue and shoves you out of an airplane.  In the case of Freddy Finney, Prince of Wales,...

Book Simple: The Stories of House Exchanges Mar02

Book Simple: The Stories of House Exchanges

. a life-in-review-through-books by Amy Brown When I was just about to go into the tenth grade, my mother; our mother-daughter friends, Betty and Katie; and I went to Paris on a house swap.  After our transatlantic flight, the beginning of our trip appears blurred with jet lag in my memory. ...

Book Simple: Los Angeles Has Sharp Teeth Indeed Feb23

Book Simple: Los Angeles Has Sharp Teeth Indeed

. a life-in-books by Amy Brown Through a series of coincidences, I ended up waiting for The Wolfman to start this Sunday with a copy of Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow, in my paws.  In this age of the Twilight series, it is expected that once one has written about vampires, one must immediately...

Book Simple: The Only Thing Sexier Than Vampires Is Research [Yeah Right] Feb16

Book Simple: The Only Thing Sexier Than Vampires Is Research [Yeah Rig...

. a life-in-books by Amy Brown For all that my degree requires quite a lot of research, I spend a fairly minimal amount of time in the UCLA libraries.  It’s especially unfortunate given how much I love libraries.  UCLA has quite a lovely one in Powell Library, despite the contingent of...

Book Simple: My Literary Valentine Feb09

Book Simple: My Literary Valentine

. a blogumn by Amy Brown I thought I’d write this Valentine’s Day week about the first man I fell in love with.  He appears in a novel; such heroes often do.  Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre represents to me the end of my childhood and beginning of my adolescence.  The last book my father read...

Book Simple: The Accidental Denizens of Los Angeles Feb02

Book Simple: The Accidental Denizens of Los Angeles

. a blogumn by Amy Brown One of my favorite things to do in Los Angeles is to watch the sun set from the bar at the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica.  I’ve lived here for five years now and still feel a tremendous sense of awe looking out over the curve of the shoreline stretching up to Malibu. ...

Book Simple: An Agatha Christie Sort of Food Poisoning Jan26

Book Simple: An Agatha Christie Sort of Food Poisoning

. a blogumn by Amy Brown Trust none of the dishes at dinner: Those pies are steaming-black with the poison Mummy put there. Whatever she offers you, make sure another person Tries it out first. . . . What I can’t stand is the calculating woman Who plans her crimes in cold blood....

Book Simple: Lucky Amy Jan19

Book Simple: Lucky Amy

. a blogumn by Amy Brown The worst part of my ongoing academic job search is an odd one.  I don’t mind the interminable sameness of the questions asked by interviewers and job postings alike, each one just different enough that the last application effort doesn’t quite fit.  Constructing...

Book Simple: Magic for Grown-Ups Jan12

Book Simple: Magic for Grown-Ups

. a blogumn by Amy Brown In my experience, there is no one in high school who isn’t a wad of wretchedness.  My college roommate tells a story about a classmate in her chemistry class whose pencil fell off her desk and who subsequently burst into tears.  So when I met Quentin in The Magicians,...

Book Simple: The New-New Sherlock Holmes Dec22

Book Simple: The New-New Sherlock Holmes

. a blogumn by Amy Brown Perhaps it is a tad ironic that during this season of all-encompassing love and blind commercialism Hollywood turns to “the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen,” but Sherlock Holmes is too exciting a property to leave undeveloped for...

Book Simple: The Ravelstein in All of Us

. a blogumn by Amy Brown I’m deep in the world of academia this week, reading Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein.  Bellow’s roman à clef outlines the final years of Abe Ravelstein, a professor of philosophy with a “need for Armani suits or Vuitton luggage, for Cuban cigars, … for the Dunhill...

Book Simple: Heart of (Reunion) Darkness Dec08

Book Simple: Heart of (Reunion) Darkness

. a blogumn by Amy Brown Last week, my high school class gathered to celebrate ten years since our graduation.  Ideally, in preparation for these things, one goes to the gym, practices the stump speech, drags along the significant other.  I read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.  Travelling...

Book Simple: The Encyclopedia Brown of Sweden Nov24

Book Simple: The Encyclopedia Brown of Sweden

. a blogumn by Amy Brown Vacations in my house have always involved cleaning and mystery novels.  This Thanksgiving has proven to be no different.  My mother has embarked on a massive construction project in my childhood home.  In order to maneuver, we are required to reorganize all our...

Book Simple: A Book for Dog Lovers As Reviewed By a Cat Lover Nov17

Book Simple: A Book for Dog Lovers As Reviewed By a Cat Lover

. a blogumn by Amy Brown I live in a studio apartment.  Four walls that could nicely serve as a squash court make up my entire (rented) domain.  Needless to say, I don’t have a pet.  But I do believe the world can be separated into two groups: those who involuntarily purr at the appearance of...

Book Simple: Bilbo’s Adventure Ends at Pea Soup Anderson’s Nov10

Book Simple: Bilbo’s Adventure Ends at Pea Soup Anderson’s

. a blogumn by Amy Brown When I left off reading The Hobbit last week, Bilbo Baggins had stumbled across a ring belonging to Gollum, a slimy little creature, hidden in a dark cavern of the Misty Mountains.  Discovering Bilbo has a knife, Gollum “became quite polite.  ‘Praps ye sits here and...

Book Simple: The Hobbit Attends a Wedding and Misses Out on Pea Soup Anderson’s Nov03

Book Simple: The Hobbit Attends a Wedding and Misses Out on Pea Soup A...

. a blogumn by Amy Brown In general, when confronted with a long car trip, I tend to react much like Bilbo Baggins at the beginning of The Hobbit.  “‘Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things!  Make you late for dinner!  I can’t think what anybody sees in them,’ said our Mr. Baggins” to his...

Book Simple: Swine Flu Camus Oct27

Book Simple: Swine Flu Camus

. a blogumn by Amy Brown NPR has been waking me the past few weeks with dire warnings about the swine flu.  Their reportage (and a discussion on – the shame of it, readers – the conservative talk station KFI AM 640 by Bryan Suits regarding Los Angeles’s free H1N1 vaccine) made me think of...

Book Simple: Jason and Medea Plus 2 Oct20

Book Simple: Jason and Medea Plus 2

. a blogumn by Amy Brown This week, in anticipation of a night out at the theater, I picked up the Dover Thrift Edition of Euripides’ Medea.  It’s difficult to form expectations of a piece first produced in 431 BC.  I’d kind of imagined that Euripides would have created an early version of a...

Hello Friday: The Fiercest Nerds on the Block [October 9-15]

Wowzers! I’m not saying that I should have gotten my act together and blogged about Interracial Relationships a long time ago, but we did have our best week since I liveblogged my labor and delivery back in June. Go here to check out this week’s topic in our Month of Minefields...

Book Simple: Books About Serial Killers That My BF Recommended Oct13

Book Simple: Books About Serial Killers That My BF Recommended

. a blogumn by Amy Brown It’s been serial killer book week, chez Brown.  I started the week off finishing Mindhunter, an early courtship gift from my boyfriend.  John Douglas and Mark Olshaker’s book summarizes Douglas’s really interesting FBI career spent profiling serial killers, rapists...

Book Simple: The Perfect Short Story for Office Drones

. a new blogumn by Amy Brown I don’t really like short stories.  After years of struggling through the New Yorker’s weekly fiction, I finally gathered up the courage to admit I couldn’t glean anything from it.  Beyond the fact that the spare prose and in medias res storytelling make each week...