Category Archives: Internet

John Green, John Green

The reasons why I love John Green could fill many a blog post. He’s a talented writer who chooses to work in the young adult genre. His books are highly intelligent and full of literary and historical references — no talking down to teenagers here. He clearly loves and respects his wife. In college he was an English and religion double-major, and as scholars of Courtney lore know, religion is the one major that briefly tempted me to abandon English.

But I admire him most for the way he uses technology to connect with fans. As previously mentioned, he does a series of video blogs with his brother Hank. However, the brothers don’t just use the videos as a way to promote their respective careers. The videos have served as a rallying point for young people who share John and Hank’s passion for books, the environment, and general nerdiness. He proves that a novelist can do so much more than just, you know, write novels for publication. They can be a catalyst for positive change in the world! And isn’t that an exciting possibility?

 

I read my first John Green novel, An Abundance of Katherines, this fall. Naturally his other two books were on my Christmas list. Because I’m rather neurotic about such things, some planning had to take place before I could dive into my small stack of new books. I wanted to spread out the John Green love, maybe read one of the books and then a different author in between to cleanse my palette. After all, I wanted to give each book a fair shake.

Then I completely caved. I started with Looking for Alaska because it was John’s first novel, and then read Paper Towns immediately afterward. Winter break turned into an utter John Green binge. I don’t think either book suffered too harshly from the close proximity to each other. Any author has common threads that run through his or her body of work. To me that has the potential make reading more, not less exciting.

For instance, John Green is interested in a common problem of personhood: accepting that other people are as real and complex as you. His main character tends to put someone, usually a girl, on a pedestal, imagining her as an adventure or a mystery or an answer. It shouldn’t be too big of a spoiler when I tell you that she is invariably human. But since this is a universal and complex problem, he could easily spend his entire career grappling with it and still have more to say.

My friend Gabe once told me that first novels are the most autobiographical. I have no other source to cite on that, but it seemed reasonable to me. It certainly seemed to be the case for John Green. As he himself will tell you, Looking for Alaska is about a boy from Florida who goes to a boarding school in Alabama and is obsessed with the last words of famous people. Word for word, this could also describe the life of young John Green. Paper Towns and An Abundance of Katherines are less obvious in their autobiographical points, but any Vlogbrothers aficionado (that would be me) can recognize places where art is imitating life. And at least for me, as an English major and writer, that kind of insider knowledge is fascinating.

I should mention that John Green’s latest novel was released last Tuesday. It’s called The Fault in Our Stars, and my need to possess it grows ever stronger. I’m not just being a fangirl here, although admittedly that’s part of it. John Green is currently my favorite example of what being a young adult novelist can mean. Naturally I have to know what comes next!

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Hipsters Through the Lens

When I was searching for an image to use in my last post, I stumbled upon something cool. It’s a photography project called Minneapolis Affair, which consists of photos of real people encountered on the streets of Minneapolis. There are also some photos taken in other cities, but documenting Minneapolis is the main goal of the project. Each entry includes the person’s name and the street on which they were photographed. Since a lot of the photos are in my new neighborhood, I find it rather fascinating.

If you peruse the photos, you may notice that their subjects tend to be of the hipster persuasion. Minneapolis is known to be a hipster-friendly city, and my area is particularly rife with them. Having spent the last four years at a liberal arts college, this doesn’t feel particularly out of the ordinary. Perhaps more men in tight Bermuda shorts than usual, but nothing to be alarmed about. There’s a vintage clothing store a few blocks from my apartment. I have a hankering to stop in there one of these days.

The next time you see me, I may be wearing retro glasses and elaborately patterned tights. Okay, probably not. But I admire their moxie, not to mention the stellar photography by Wynona and Reed Grey.

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Free Never Looked So Good

Over winter break of senior year, I had to replace my digital camera. It was a bittersweet moment because this camera was my first step into the digital realm. Still, the little Nikon left me no choice by literally ceasing to function. Since I lacked the funding for a digital SLR, which is my ultimate camera goal, I found a more sophisticated point-and-shoot to use in the interim. The camera itself has been a satisfactory upgrade, and it came with a bonus offer.

When I bought the camera, I also got an offer for a free 8×8 photo book from Shutterfly. If you don’t know Shutterfly, it’s a very user-friendly photo-processing website. I’ve ordered prints from them a few times and been happy with the results. (And as my mom would tell you, I can be quite picky about photo quality.) However, I wanted to save the free photo book for an event that was worthy of such fancy documentation. My friend Amy suggested our college graduation, and that seemed like the perfect plan.

After spending several post-graduation hours selecting background colors and page layouts, I placed the order for my first photo book. The finished product arrived less than a week later. Shutterfly orders arrive in orange packaging that causes mailbox excitement similar to red Netflix envelopes. But this was more important than regular old prints.

Hello, my pretty.

I decided to use a Senior Week photo for the cover. It would have been difficult to choose between the numerous cap-and-gown pictures, but mostly I just thought this one was way cooler than anything else.

Added bonus of posting these pictures:¬† you get a nice, long look at our living room carpet (and also my thumb if you’re into that).

There was space for a photo on the back cover, so I decided to get extra cutesy.

Overall I love how the book turned out. The only changes I would make come from my own inexperience in putting it together, not an issue on Shutterfly’s end. I can even see ordering another book in the future. Of course, I’ll have to pay for more than the shipping and handling next time.

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Courtney, What Blogs Do YOU Read?

I’m glad you asked, Hypothetical Reader! There are many blogs that I read on a regular basis. In fact, my admiration for these bloggers was part of the inspiration for Courtney Coherent. Here are my top 5 favorites.

Sarah Dessen’s Blog

Sarah Dessen is my favorite young adult author, and I have been reading her blog since middle school. After years on a very simple LiveJournal, she recently transitioned to a snazzier blog on her website. She also happens to be the person whose career I would replicate if such things were possible. Although she won’t discuss books as she’s writing them, there are often interesting tidbits about the rest of the publishing processing. Plus she loves pop culture almost as much as I do. You can see why I consider her a kindred spirit.

Cathy Zielske’s Blog

Some people have baking blogs, and I have scrapbooking blogs. There are several that I follow, but Cathy’s is the only one that I check daily. She was my favorite contributor to Simple Scrapbooks, by far the best scrapbooking magazine on the market, which stopped publication in 2009. (Stupid economy.) Luckily I was able to keep up with many of its contributors in the blogosphere. Cathy is a character, for sure, and I admire that almost as much as I admire her streamlined scrapbook style.

Tara Whitney’s Blog

Tara is another find from the Simple Scrapbooks era, but her specialty is photography. She posts less frequently than Sarah or Cathy. Then she posts photo sessions with clients or her family, and the wait is totally worth it. The woman works magic with light and color. A Tara Whitney photo session with someone special would be a dream-come-true moment for me.

Tegan and Sara’s Official Site

This doesn’t count as a blog, you say? Sure, it serves the functions of an official musician’s website, announcing new tour dates and merchandise. But look a little closer, and you will see that all the posts are written by Tegan or (more frequently) Sara. For that reason, the site doubles as a place for them to relate a weird experience or (more often) tease each other. As any fan will tell you, the bickering is an essential part of the T&S experience.

The Hairpin

I’ve told many of you about this site already, perhaps several times. Still, I couldn’t end this list without mentioning my favorite feminist humor blog. Although many people contribute to the site, it’s the baby of one Edith Zimmerman, who describes herself as “a grave young woman who spends all her time on the internet.” I will admit that one motivator for starting my own blog was an intense desire to become best internet friends with Edith. Or perhaps insinuate myself into The Hairpin’s inner circle.

So if you’re feeling bored, Non-hypothetical Readers, click on one of these links. Or all of them! Don’t read them too often though, or you will steal all my small talk material.

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