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KAPOW! celebrating ten years at Powells.com
KAPOW! Decade of Reading essay contest
What was your most memorable reading experience of the last ten years?

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of Powells.com, we're asking readers worldwide to describe their most memorable reading experience of the past ten years. To get you started, a few well-known writers and Powell's employees have already taken the question for a spin. Here is one of their answers.
Summer in the Land of Skin (Red Dress Ink)

Summer in the Land of Skin (Red Dress Ink)
by Jody Gehrman

"Gehrman's debut skillfully draws the reader into the mind of 25-year-old... Her characters are confused, believable and utterly human, which is one of the main reasons the book strikes so many lonely, bewildered and true notes." Publishers Weekly
 
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Jody Gehrman Pairs Lolita and Bridget

A lot has been written about the whirlwind of books known affectionately and sometimes hatefully as "chick lit." Clever journalists wax on about the vapid career girls these books supposedly feature and their obsessions with the size of their butts. Nowadays, though, the term is used so loosely, it seems to encompass most females writing for a largely female audience; like "feminism" "Marxism" and "size six," no one has any idea what "chick lit" means anymore.

I spend an inordinate amount of time preoccupied with this topic, but my conclusion isn't terribly profound. I just think women are writing with verve, humor and confessional prowess, and other women are buying these books because they make them laugh and stay up deep into the night, gobbling chapters like Godiva chocolates. Publishers are clever enough to slap theses tales inside pastel-hued covers and dub them with a singsong moniker, but all it really means is, women are writing, and women are reading. Both of which are good things.

The two most memorable books I've devoured in recent years are Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita and Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones's Diary. This may seem like an odd pairing, but I realize now that the two have a key ingredient in common: they're both masterly crafted confessionals. They both sing with secrets. So one confessor happens to be a calorie-obsessed singleton and the other a hypnotic pedophile. For me, the thrill of their stories is much the same.

Having spent too many years in academia, it's not hard to figure out that loving Lolita means you're serious, and loving Bridget Jones means you're a Cosmo-girl. This dichotomy is painfully simplistic.

I'm putting Bridget and Lolita side by side on my bookshelf right now. I believe they'll get along just fine.

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