30 December 2014

Top Ten Goals and Resolutions for 2015



I cannot believe it's almost 2015!  This year has gone by in an absolute blur!  Or at least the second half of it has.  The first half had some fun stuff, such as meeting a Twitter friend in Oxford, Mississippi and seeing all of the William Faulkner amazingness, but was mostly unpleasant and monotonous.  The second half is when things really picked up and changed for the good.  So when I look back on 2014 and say that it was a rather good year, I really mean that the second half was good and am willing to pretend the first half didn't happen.

Anyway!  Now we're all thinking about 2015, making plans, goals, and resolutions in order to become better people.  And I think that this is admirable.  Growth is the whole point of living.  With that in mind, my goals and resolutions for 2015 are really pretty simple.

1.  Read more.  Sometimes I feel like I watch way too much TV.  I also don't feel like I make a very good transition from being awake to going to sleep.  These are some natural times to pick up a book and read.  When my family is watching something I don't care for, I can pick up a book and read instead of hate-watching.  I can also make an effort to read for just 20 minutes before shutting out the light at night--hell, sometimes that 20 minutes might wind up being more as I get really into a book.  Granted, there are some days that you just don't feel like reading and hate-watching is easier and some nights you just can't even prop your eyes open with toothpicks and that is all A-OK!  But more often than not, picking up a book is going to be the best idea.

2.  Abandon reading lists.  They make me feel trapped.  They make me feel resentful.  They make me choose to not read.  If I am going to try to read more (see above) and read better (see below), I need to make sure that I'm reading what I want to read and not forcing myself to read certain things just because I said I would or think I should.

3.  Read better.  I don't quite know what this means for me.  Sometimes it might mean reading with a pen in hand so I can underline and write comments or questions.  Sometimes this might mean just slowing down, savoring the language, instead of racing to the finish.  Though racing to the finish is a hallmark of me truly enjoying a book, some of it feels undigested.  I also think that when I do finish a book, I immediately jump into another, when I should probably do a bit of reflecting on what I just read.  I don't think that this necessarily applies so much to brain candy books, so maybe it will be a case by case thing.  Bottom line, I think I could be reading better.

4.  Finish what I start.  At least most of the time.  I've gotten so much in the habit of abandoning books whenever they start to lag, that I don't feel like I am making much progress on my TBR shelves.  I don't pretend that I've read books I haven't, but I really am starting to hate only being able to say, "Oh, yeah, I started that one and what I read was pretty good..."  There are some times that it just won't be worth it to force myself to finish a book, but most of the time it really is worth it to finish.  If nothing else, I'll feel like a better person and feel like I have truly earned the right to claim that I hate a certain book.  And maybe some books will surprise me.

5.  Write and post reviews more quickly.  I still have three books from June that I haven't written reviews of and one from September-ish.  I counted them on my classics list because I did read them.  But I haven't reviewed them and after so much time has passed, the brief notes I wrote shortly after finishing don't mean as much to me as they once did (this part probably partially falls under the "read better" resolution).  I've already said that I'm backing away from traditional reviews, but to not be able to post anything because so much time has passed?  Shameful!

6a.  Blog more frequently.  I love blogging.  I love writing.  I love interacting with fellow book bloggers.  Y'all are my people.  But I don't post as much as I would like to.  I think part of this is because I have some mental image of what a post should look like and if I don't feel like I can live up to that on any given day, I say nothing.  I want to fix this.  I want to make more time for the things that are important to me.

6b.  Participate in more Top Ten Tuesdays.  Top Ten Tuesdays and other memes are great ways to post more often and to interact with more people.  I can't always participate because some of the topics, like about series and some of the more pop culture-y stuff, just don't apply to my reading preferences or my way of thinking about books and reading.  And that's all right.  But the topics are posted well in advance, so I can totally prepare ahead of time and get the draft schedule.

7.  Finish my novella.  I started writing a novella in November for NaNoWriMo, but with my birthday, my uncle's birthday, my nephew's birthday, Thanksgiving, my papa's health, and other craziness, I didn't meet the 50,000 word mark by the end of the month.  I wrote on it from time to time in December.  I love my characters and my story and I really want to do something with it.  I just need to get in my chair more often.

8.  Write more frequently.  Speaking of getting in my chair more often, I have so much writing that I want to do!  One of the many fun things about starting that novella is all of the other writing projects that came to mind that I need and want to write next.  I just need to make time for it, the way I plan to make more time for reading.  This might mean waking up earlier to carve out 30-45 minutes of daily writing and this might mean transitioning to pen and paper writing at the hospital, then typing it up later.  I need to figure out what will work for me and do it.

And a couple not related to books or writing because this is my list.

9.  Complete yoga teacher training in the fall.  This is something I very clearly stated I wanted to do when I moved at the end of July.  At the time, I was going to yoga regularly, then I kind of fell off the wagon at a time when I probably should have been doing it more than ever.  That's OK--life happens.  However, yoga and teaching certification (even if I don't wind up teaching right away) is something that has stuck with me and continued calling me, so it's clearly something that I need to do.  A local studio is offering a teacher training this spring, but the class is already full.  I think this is perfect because I can build my own practice over spring and summer and truly be ready to commit in the fall.

10.  Start a running regimen.  I am going to do this.  I found a gym that is only $10 a month to use the machines, so I can run on a treadmill when it's too cold to do it outside.  Like the yoga, this is something that has really been calling me lately, so it's something I should pursue.  Fortunately I have a new friend who both runs and does yoga and she is beyond willing to support me in my pursuit of these activities.  I should use that resource.



What are some of your goals and resolutions for 2015?  Do you have any advice for how I can achieve my goals?

I hope you have a Happy New Year!  I have some really exciting plans for New Year's Eve and I can't wait to post about what happens!

23 December 2014

Top Ten Books/Bookish Things I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me



Ahhhh...Tuesday.  I always liked Tuesday.  It wasn't Monday.  Gilmore Girls was on.  Now NCIS is on.  Not a bad day, in my opinion.  Not just Tuesday, but the day before Christmas Eve.  Tuesday, of course, also means Top Ten Tuesday over at The Broke and the Bookish.  This week we're focusing on things we wouldn't mind Santa bringing us.

1.  Time to write.  This is the absolute top of my list.  I would love to have some time to work on that novella I started writing back in November that I really haven't had time to work on because the past two months have been insane with work and various get togethers.  But I really want time to write.  It may sound crazy, but I am actually kind of missing my characters and their stories.  Plus I formed a writers group with a good friend and part of the deal is that I need to be writing so I have something to share when we talk.

2.  Best of 2014 Book Riot Box.  I really, really, really want this.  So bad.  But some members of my family kind of already think I have a book-buying problem, so I didn't ask for it.  And I couldn't justify spending that much of my own money at this point.  The suspense to know what is in the box is just killing me!

3.  More bookshelves.  I need a couple more bookshelves.  I would like for them to be somewhat uniform in appearance.  Then again, I kind of like my eclectic collection of shelves.  At any rate, more space for books would be wonderful.

4.  I'm with the Band by Pamela Des Barres.  This book looks really interesting.  Kind of a real life version of Almost Famous, even though those ladies were band aids, not groupies.  But I think it would be interesting to get a firsthand account of what it was like to travel with bands during the heyday of music (though I will always be more attracted to the Rat Pack).

5.  More time to read.  This is probably more along the lines of a bookish resolution because a lot of the struggle to read is making the time to do it.  But sometimes I would honestly just rather have a few totally free hours in which to sit and read without any interruptions or distractions.  No work.  No phone.  No computer.  No TV.  No hospital.  No family.  Just quiet, me, a book, and a beverage in a nice comfy chair.

6.  A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.  I've read this one before.  I borrowed it from a guy I wanted to impress as an undergrad who loved the book.  Then, to be perverse, I think I kind of made up my mind ahead of time to not like it so we could have some sort of tense, sexy argument about the book's merits.  I'm older now and a little bit wiser, so I think I should probably give this one another shot.

7.  The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe.  I read and loved The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test as an undergrad.  I've started I Am Charlotte Simmons.  I love Wolfe's style and ability to perfectly mimic cultures.  This novel, his debut, which is set in 1980s New York, sounds extremely interesting and pretty apt for what's been going on lately.  I think once I finish Charlotte Simmons, I need to get this one and devour it.

8.  The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis.  I don't know why I've been so into satires lately.  Apparently, a lot of my latent cynicism is bubbling to the surface.  Not that I ever really did a very good job of hiding it, according to my dad.  But whatever.  This one is about a boy on his way to Oxford who decides to seduce a girl named Rachel, then he falls in love with her, which messes with his cynicism.

9.  American Gods Shirt.  I really like this shirt.  A lot.  But I also feel duty-bound to read the book before wearing the shirt, so I need a copy of the book as well.

10.  The Great Gatsby Shirt.  It's hard to decide whether I like the red or the gray shirt better.  Regardless, I love, love, love how the Y is a martini glass.  Absolutely perfect!  This is one of my favorite novels, so I think I need the shirt.  Right?



So what's on your Christmas wishlist?

29 November 2014

Official 2015 TBR Pile Challenge



Adam over at Roofbeam Reader hosts the yearly TBR Challenge.  Rules and more information can be found over here.  I signed up for it this year and epically failed.  I think I abandoned all hope of finishing in, like, February.  I want to try to do it again.  I think I was a bit too ambitious when I created my list.  This year I want to break it up a bit--four classics, four non-fiction, and four funner fiction books.  My two alternates will be one classic and one funner fiction.  Maybe this will give me a better chance of finishing?  Goodness knows that a lot can happen in a year, so we'll see how this goes.

Some of the books are reflective of where I feel like I am at the moment, but hopefully enough of them will be able to grow with me throughout the year that I stay engaged.

1.  Emma by Jane Austen  I have always been reluctant to read this one because Emma seems like kind of an annoying busybody, but I keep hearing a lot of good things about this novel and I think it will be good for my patience.

2.  Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray  This one has always been such a turnoff because Becky seems kind of like a bitch, but I have to admire how she makes her way in the world (not necessarily her methods, but the fact that she makes her own way).  I think this one will be a good personal challenge.

3.  Light in August by William Faulkner  Honestly, I own almost all of Faulkner's books, yet I've only read two of them.  This one is often talked about as a masterpiece, so I'm gonna go for it!

4.  Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters & Seymour:  An Introduction by J.D. Salinger  It's been a while since I read Salinger.  At the point that I'm compiling this list, I'm reading Hornby's Ten Years in the Tub and he's talked about Salinger, particularly this one, so I'm convinced to read it.

5.  Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan  I chose this one because the back description spoke a lot to where I feel like I am in life--"all the opportunities in the world, but no clear idea about what to choose."

6.  The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse  This one sounds like a lot of fun and somewhat ridiculous, which makes it a good choice for the challenge.

7.  Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie  I've never read anything by Christie, so I randomly selected the title from my shelves.  But I chose Christie because I think this will be some good brain candy for the summer.

8.  Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende  This one sounded interesting.  Particularly the setting--California Gold Rush.

9.  John Adams by David McCullough  I've heard so many good things about McCullough and think it's a good time to finally pick up this meaty biography.

10.  The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath edited by Karen V. Kukil  She's my soul-sister and I need to read these journals.  I plan on spacing this one out over the course of as much time as it takes because I've tried reading this one before and it's really easy to get bogged down in someone else's thoughts.

11.  Reading Lolita in Tehran by Agar Nafisi  I really admire what these women did.  I think that the ability to read what I want when I want is something that I take for granted.

12.  Catherine the Great:  Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie  I don't know really anything about Catherine, but she pops up quite a bit in conversations about strong women.

Alternates:
1.  The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky  I've never read Dostoevsky.  This seemed like as good a place as any to start.

2.  Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett  An ex bought this for me.  We broke up.  I got rid of the novel.  I recently decided I wanted to read it.



The main challenge now is to wait until January 1 to start reading these!  Hopefully my project of reading War and Peace in December and the other novels I'm reading (if you must know, Damned by Chuck Palahnuik and I Am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe) will keep me busy and keep my mind off of it.

Hopefully this will be a good enough mix that I can actually finish the challenge this year.  :)

27 November 2014

Gratitude

So I know that I just wrote a post about how my life is going great whereas the things swirling around me aren't so great and that I've been super whiney on Twitter about Thanksgiving, but I really am grateful for a lot of things.  Even in the middle of the crap, I still try to find that one ray of funny or maybe even happy.  The silver lining, if you will.  Naturally, today I am feeling more gratitude than non-gratitude--it is Thanksgiving, after all!  And I really am trying to start my day off on a good foot with coffee, a blog post, some yoga, and some reading before the Parade, so that hopefully I can remain in a good mood the rest of the day.

What am I thankful for?

1.  The Parade.  I love watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade every year.  Or at least most of the Parade.  I usually miss the last while because we're en route to my grandparents' house.  I got to see the whole thing last year and I think I'll get to this year as well.  Yay!


2.  Coffee.  My relationship with coffee began when I was in the seventh grade, when I became hooked on lattes during a visit to my aunt's house in Texas.  My relationship continued and strengthened until the day I began drinking black coffee.  Honestly, I want to go back in time to the day in college when I decided to drink black coffee and give myself the biggest hug ever.  I also want to give myself big hugs on the days that I decided to purchase a French press and when I decided to use Starbucks Italian roast.  I owe coffee a lot.  It is part of who I am.

3.  Two magazines--The Yoga Journal and The New Yorker.  I don't know what I would do without them.  Flipping through their pages is the highlight of my month or week, as the case may be.  One feeds my body and the other feeds my mind.  I have a hard time recycling issues of either magazine because what if I need something from it?  What if I missed something?  Eventually, I'll need to stop being a wiener about it and just stop the hoarding.

4.  Socks.  I've recently discovered that I can't do much of anything if my feet are cold!  I'm just really, distractedly uncomfortable.  But if I throw on a pair of socks--bam!  I'm ready to write or read or sleep or whatever.  One can never have too many pairs of fuzzy socks.  I kind of feel bad for guys because they don't really get to wear fuzzy socks.



5.  Yoga Mat.  I just got a great new yoga mat for my birthday.  My older one was simply disintegrating.  I felt bad about leaving pink foam behind whenever I went to practice.  My new mat has a layer of jute on the top, which is pretty durable.  I just need to find the time to practice more!  Yoga has been a great blessing to me this year.  I started going twice a week to a lunch class before I moved and I can't even begin to tell you how fantastic it was for my mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.  I would love to get back into that kind of practice.  (OK--I'll do it!)

6.  Bubble baths.  I have gotten into quite a bubble bath phase.  It just melts away all of the bullshit that goes on!  Sylvia Plath once said "there must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them."  So true.  Even her directions about getting the water as hot as you can stand it and then slipping in are just perfect and on point.  I love reading in the bath.  I love getting warm in the bath (hello--it's gotten cold! [that is, it stays below 60 degrees] so I need to warm up somehow).  I love just slipping up to my shoulders, looking at the ceiling, and thinking.  Just perfect.

I loved this image from Google.  Just fun!

7.  Sylvia Plath.  I had to look up the bubble bath quote and came across this list of 49 Absolutely Stunning Sylvia Plath Quotes.  It's been so long since I've read anything by her that I had forgotten how much I love her.  I once started reading her journals.  I can't tell you how many times I wound up saying either aloud or to myself "You said it, sister!"  I really should pick up her journals again.  It was so nice to read about someone who had the same concerns and fears about life that I did.  I know she didn't have the best ending, but I think she's definitely someone to look up to.

8.  Music.  I've never really been super into music.  I have singers that I really like, but I've never delved deeply into it.  But I'm really starting to appreciate music.  I don't think I could write without it in the background.  It has the power to change your mood or to help you indulge in your mood.  The place I work has already started playing Christmas music every few songs and the cheeriness is kind of infectious.  Or I'll be kind of blue and flip on Lana Del Rey and burn.  Or I'll hear Katy Perry or "All About that Bass" and just feel kind of sexy and empowered.  So I'm grateful for the way that music can either deepen or change your mood, depending on what's going on.

Literally my favorite, music-wise.

9.  Books.  This goes without saying.  I don't know what I would do if I weren't a reader.  I don't know what I would talk about if I weren't a reader.  I don't know what I would spend my money on if I weren't a reader.  As always, I am thankful for the printed word, for parents who didn't monitor what I read (which gave me the chance to read books I probably wasn't ready for), and an extended family who always supported this habit.  I think my love of books was written in the stars.

10.  My family and friends.  Of course.  I couldn't make a list without including them, but I also wanted to explore some of the smaller things in my life that I am grateful for.  Be a little silly.  Not be so serious.  I have a wonderful family, even if their decisions do drive me a bit crazy sometimes.  I am so blessed for the opportunity to reconnect with some old friends now that I've moved back home.  I am so blessed to be able to keep my friends that I moved away from.  I also have a wonderful assortment of online friends who are just fantastic.



Those are some of the things I'm thankful for this year.  Most of them are small and silly, but I think that those are the best things to appreciate and acknowledge because they are so often taken for granted.  Then again so are some of the bigger things, like people.  Hm.  OK, well, I'll just say that it doesn't hurt to be grateful and to say that you're grateful.  Things can go from good to bad to worse very quickly and I think that the ability to find even that one tiny thing in the middle of the dark is an important and defining characteristic that not everyone has.  So, lastly, I am grateful that I do have the ability.  I've known people who don't have that and they easily get buried when even the tiniest bad thing happens.

I know that not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving, but I'd love to know what you're grateful for!

I cannot believe that the next time I post it will be full-fledged time for Christmas music!

This is the part I basically never get to see!

Have a lovely day!

26 November 2014

What I'm Loving Right Now...

My life has taken a turn for the ridiculous lately.  To be more specific, it's not my life; it's the things going on around my life.  Me, myself, and I, in an isolated bubble, we're doing fantastically (my mom recently said that this is a year we'd all like to have back and I realized that for me this has been a fantastic year with nothing but improvements).  But around me things have gotten utterly absurd, in ways that are sometimes scary, sometimes cringeworthy, and sometimes ways that you just have to laugh to keep from crying--rarely are things just simply funny (though, thank Heavens when they are).  And that's OK.  That's life.  I've realized that life is really just a series of absurd events and situations and that part of being an adult is finding a way to cope.

My way to cope is to try to make things lighter.  Sometimes that is as simple as finding the positive spin for the situation and sometimes that's finding a joke by waving a magic wand and saying the magic words.



Crazy to say, but it's actually helped keep me sane.

I think that this is why I've gravitated so easily towards the idea of lightening up my reading, my writing, and my thinking about reading.

And I think that that's why I loved Judging a Book by Its Lover so much.  I already talked a bit about the book and how it's helped changed my thinking about books by comparing book selection to dietary choices--and I must say that that is a PERFECT way of thinking about books--but it also changed the way I want to talk about books.  Some books and authors just take themselves too seriously.  And some readers clearly take books too seriously.  Leto created a huge list of authors and succinctly summed up what your self-proclaimed favorite author it.  Some of them are really funny, but also kind of true when you think about the literature the author created and the type of person who generally goes for that kind of book.  Not to say that people don't defy classification--they totally do!  Moving on...I also loved the chapter where Leto walks you quickly through how to pretend you've read certain authors.  She gives a few facts about the author, brief summaries of their most famous 3-4 books, and talking points.  For me, these summaries created some reading pathways for authors that I'm not super familiar with.  Bottom line, this book was a blast.

I woke up this morning and realized that I wanted to reading something humorous, but that also had some heft to it, a nice satire.  Several options went through my mind--The Code of the Woosters, David Sedaris, to name a couple--and then I hit on the perfect option:

A photo posted by LLindsey217 (@llindsey217) on

The back cover described is as a "dark, hilarious, and brilliant satire."  Perfect.  It's not super long.  I think it will be humorous, but I think it also has a point other than just being a good story (I am assuming that it has a good story).

So now I ask--do you have any other suggestions for books along these lines?  Dark humor and intelligent--yay!

25 November 2014

Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR List

Oh, how I loves these seasonal lists!  They give me a lot to aspire to, though I have pretty much never really finished anything from them.  But, hey, hope springs eternal!  Right?  Anyway, here's what I'm thinking I'll be reading this winter...


Yay Google for having all the images!


1.  War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy--If I read one book this winter, I want this to be it.  I'd love to read this over the course of December.  We shall see how that goes.  This has been on my to read list for a long time.  Winter seems like a good time to curl up and attack this behemoth.  I really enjoyed Anna Karenina and I've heard that this is more perfect than that.

2.  The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides--This one is up next on my TBR list, so I may well finish before winter officially starts in December.  But that's OK.  Due to the cold, I pretty much call everything after my mid-November birthday "winter."  So, this book.  I've been hearing some good things about the author and about this book.  I am really intrigued by the description on the back.  So I'm going to go for it.  I actually read the first paragraph this morning and I'm excited to give it a shot.  I just hope I'll have time to read today, but I don't think I will.

3.  Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris--I think it's about to become mandatory for me to read this book every holiday season.  In recent years, they've become more excruciating.  Example?  We vow to cut down on the sides for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  We decide to split up the work so that no one has to do everything.  And yet for the past two years, despite these very detailed and lengthy conversations (which occurred more than once), the same relative has hijacked the event and bought shitty stuffing.  And this is with the side of the family that I actually like!  Now, I could be angry about this, but I'd rather disappear in this snarky book and hopefully get to drink a bit of booze.  To kill the pain of living.  I'm buying a copy for one of my good friends for Christmas.  Sedaris just tells it like it is and I can totally relate.

4.  Bohemians, Bootleggers, Flappers, and Swells compiled by Vanity Fair--I was so excited about this book when I impulse bought it a couple of weeks ago.  It's a collection of articles from the golden age of Vanity Fair magazine.  I totally want to devour this book.  The topics are pretty wide-ranging and there are pieces by Dorothy Parker and Evelyn Waugh and a whole bunch of amazing authors that I love.

5.  American Pastoral by Phillip Roth--Hmmmm....a couple of the books already on this list have been about the cracks in the American dream, so why not continue cracking it?  I guess.  I have not read anything by Roth.  I saw somewhere (hell, it may have been the back of the book) that this one was his masterpiece.  I have no problem starting with the best.

6.  Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh--I've been reading a bit about this book lately.  It sounds nice and snarky.  I love the interwar period.  It feels like one of the high points of literature.  OK.  It's totally a high point in literature and I will fight anyone who argues.  It sounds like a fun read.  I've read Brideshead Revisited before and really enjoyed it, so I'm hoping for more good things for this book.

7.  The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James--This is another one that has been on my radar lately.  I've heard that James is totally verbose, but I've also heard a lot of good things about this novel.  I read most of it for a class in college and I want to go back and really do it justice.  I love the idea of defying conventions and expectations.  I feel like I've been doing that a bit with my own family lately, so I want to read about it.

8.  John Adams by David McCullough--I keep starting this book.  Winter seems like a really good time to curl up with this massive biography.  I've heard that it is extremely well-written.  Adams was alive in a period of American history that I am not super, super familiar with, though I did take a couple of classes over the period.  (Only period in American history I've never studied as a stand alone course? Civil War...and I'm actually quite OK with this)  I don't know a whole lot about Adams other than he disagreed with my favorite Founding Father on...what...just about everything, right?

9.  You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz--I started this book and read almost 200 pages of it in just a couple of days, then I inexplicably set it aside.  I think this was because NaNo was right around the corner and I wanted to read other things for research...which I didn't wind up reading.  I find myself really liking thrillers like this and I want to finish.  It's at the point where it's getting good!  If I actually sit down with it, I should be able to finish in just a couple of days (if that).

10.  Salinger by David Shields and Shane Salerno--I've been thinking about Franny and Zooey quite a bit lately and may actually reread it, but I want to read a book about Salinger.  This is the latest biography on him to come out.  I've heard good things about it.  I bought a copy.  I want to read it.  And, as I already said, winter is a good time for curling up with a good biography.




I think I've picked a pretty good mix of fun books and meaty books, and fiction and non-fiction.  Then again, I'm always excited about my list of books and feel like I chose wisely.  :)

What's on your winter TBR list?

24 November 2014

Why So Serious?

Thank you, Google!


I couldn't help it.  Every time I hear that phrase, I think of that line in the movie.

This is a question I've been asking myself fairly continually over the past day.  It all started when I happened to pick up Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto.  The book has been on my shelves for a while.  I think because when I read the back cover, I didn't exactly understand what the book was about and the title and its subtitle didn't really clear things up for me.  For whatever reason, I decided to dive in last night.  And I read about half of the book right there.  I am so glad I did.  I haven't finished yet.  But I needed to write up some thoughts about the book.

Somewhere along the line of my reading career, I started taking it seriously.  Very seriously.  Too seriously.  My reading life became about all of these books that I "needed" to read in order to...something.  Be a good English major?  Be a well-rounded person?  Be an intelligent person?  I don't know what I was wanting.  In the end, it really doesn't matter.  Sometime after I started taking reading too seriously, it stopped being as much fun.  I mean, occasionally, I was able to lose myself in a book and have a purely blissful experience.  But there were long droughts in between where I pressured myself into picking a book because of the message it sent to whomever I thought I was sending a message to.

Then I finally started reading Leto's book.  She was a serious reader too.  Yet she found a way to have fun with her reading.  She feeds her mind a steady diet of fun books and serious books and thrives.  The way she writes about books and the book industry is just fun.  She doesn't take it too seriously.  And I love that.

We still have over a month left in the year, but I'd say that my New Year's resolution is to start having more fun with my reading and writing about reading.  I don't need to put so much pressure on myself to read this or that or think this or that way about the book.  I can sit back and have fun with it.  I should sit back and have fun with it.  And that's exactly what I am going to do.

I'm not going to become a total jerkoff with my reading.  I don't think I could just read fluff.  Like Leto points out early on--it all begins to run together at a point and your mind becomes lazy.  Still, I don't want to act as though I have sand in my readerly lady parts about it either.  There is no need to be so sensitive and uptight about something that is supposed to be fun.  Sometimes you need that weekend off from responsibility to cut loose.  No one likes being around the jerkoff and no one likes being around the way too sensitive person.  (Coincidentally, literally no one likes to be around the overly sensitive jerkoff--I know from experience)

Back to books...I still want to read the classics because I think that they are interesting studies of humanity, history, and culture.  Also I own a ton of them already and would like to actually read them.  However, there are a lot of recent releases that are worth exploring as well.  Some of them may be destined to make the literary canon and others may just sort of fall by the wayside.  Nothing wrong with reading both kinds of fiction.  That doesn't even mention all of the really good non-fiction out there.

I also want to tweak my writing about books.  I really hate writing formal reviews.  There are four books I've finished since this summer that I keep putting off reviewing because I just don't want to write a formal review.  I have no problems with the idea of writing about the books--why have a book-related blog if I did--but formal reviews feel kind of stuffy.  I'll probably do mini reviews of the four books at some point and then work out a different style for writing about books in the future.  I love talking about books.  I don't feel like I get to do that enough in my real life.  There will be tweaking in the near future--fair warning.

I am so beyond ready to not be serious about my reading.  I've had so much more fun in every aspect of my life since things stopped being so serious.  There is so much more enjoyment and appreciate in life when you're just out to have fun and not prove a point or maintain some kind of composure.

20 October 2014

An Experiment

During the Readathon I just couldn't truly get into a book.  I started a few.  I liked what I read.  But nothing stuck.  It wasn't that I didn't want to read the books I started--because I still want to finish them--I just wasn't able to commit.  I have been having that issue ever since the Readathon and quite honestly it happens every time I'm between books.  I flit around from book to book before one just grabs me and won't let me go until it's finished.  I've written about this before.  It's not a new thing.  Except after reading this article on BookRiot, I don't feel as bad about it.  It's not just me!  (The older I get, the more clearly I realize that very few situations in life are ever just me)

I'm going to do what the author of the article did--go to random.org and use the random number generator to decide what book I'm going to read next.  But I'll also probably pull a Gilmore Girls and make it a 1, 2, 3 he's yours kind of deal, like so...



Then I will stick with that book until I finish.  I'll probably replace it with another on the list because I really like my list of books.

Here's a shot of my list of books.  I wound up with 13.  I am a little bit scared because that means it's probably going to be scary.



I was going to make it just 10 books, but I really didn't want to cut Gellhorn and The Receptionist, so I added them back and War and Peace was sitting there on my desk with the other books piled on top of it all "Hey, man, what about me?"  And I didn't want him to feel excluded.

Also we're going to pretend that Secrets of the Flesh is number 14 on the list.  For reasons.

Anyway, without further ado, here's the first roll from the random number generator:



The Good Soldier.  I will go with it!  For the record, I went ahead and generated the next two to play out the game and the results were Gellhorn and Breakfast of Champions.  Once I saw this, I almost went ahead and went for Breakfast of Champions, but I didn't screenshot the result for Gellhorn and there was no way you'd believe me if I just told you without any proof.

It's kind of funny.  I bought The Good Solider when I was a junior in college and that's when my book buying and lack of reading got out of control.  Literally right after I bought this book.  So maybe if I finish this then maybe the evil spell will be broken and I'll get my reading shit together.  A girl can dream.

So I'm off to start The Good Soldier.  Fortunately, Monday is a night that there are no shows that interest me on, so I won't be tempted to watch instead of read.  I may even take a bubble bath.

19 October 2014

L'art pour l'art

Yesterday's readathon wound up being a total bust for me!  Like I noted, I basically doodled around all morning and didn't really get any reading done.  Then I had to go in to work.  I was scheduled to leave at 6...then someone called in sick and my manager asked if I wanted the hours.  I accepted.  By the time I got home and showered, it was going on 11:00.  I'm usually in bed on my way to sleep by that time, but I tried to give The Picture of Dorian Gray a shot.  Really I did.  I loved the book, but my eyes kept growing heavier and heavier, so I decided to just throw in the towel and get a good night's sleep.



I am glad I did because I woke up feeling rather refreshed today.  I had a nice coffee in bed and read Dorian Gray.  I think Oscar Wilde might be my spirit animal.  Seriously.  I absolutely fell in love with the preface to the novel.  It says so much that I agree with about art and books.  In case you aren't familiar, here is a great portion of the preface.  You can find the whole thing here.

Preface
The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim.
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.
The artist can express everything. Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art.
Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art.
All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.
All art is quite useless.
-- OSCAR WILDE

I love it!  I love the l'art pour l'art sentiment of the preface.  Some things exist only to be pretty and not to instruct.  Some things just exist.  Sometimes a blue door is just a blue door, that sort of thing.

My hope and dream for my day off is to read a good chunk of Dorian Gray.  Wilde fascinates me.  He is credited with so many fabulous sayings about art, beauty, and life.  I cannot wait to learn more about him through his work, through his letters, and through biographies.

18 October 2014

Hour 4 Update



We just finished four hours of readathoning.  I haven't done much actual reading.  I don't know.  Nervous excitement or something, I guess.  Or I just haven't found the right book.  I have, however, posted some great pictures on Instagram!  And I've been commenting on several blogs.  And chatting a lot with Andi.

I've been keeping a log of what's been going on.

7:00--My official start time.  I climb out of bed about three minutes 'til and do about ten minutes of yoga.  Then I make coffee.  Then I write my intro post.  Take a few pictures.  Read a few blog posts and leave some comments.  I'll get to reading once I've woken up.




8:17--Thus it is 8:21 and I've read three pages from two different books, and I am creating this log for the day.  The deep rumblings in my stomach tell me it's time to eat soon.  I wish fervently that I had some of Andi's breakfast casserole.  No such luck.  Dorothy Parker and I will venture downstairs to scout out the breakfast situation.




9:13--I finished breakfast (ham and cheddar omelette, grape juice, and a banana [for good measure]) and am ready to finally start reading.  Up first--The Portable Dorothy Parker.  At least the introduction to it...



10:24--I finished reading the intro.  Then I took a short power nap until 10:00.  I ventured downstairs to eat some cookie dough (thanks mom!).  Then I doodled a bit online.  People are tweeting about the readathon faster than I can keep up!  I shall attempt to read "Big Blonde" by Parker, then I really want to sink my teeth into something rather grand and sweeping, which probably means Dickens though he wasn't on my grab list.  I should probably put away all the books I've pulled...
Then I read...



10:46--More doodling about online.  I tried "Big Blonde," but I am just not feeling it.  I'll set aside Dorothy for a while.  Really I am just kind of dreading calling my boss at 11:00 to see if I need to come in because I just don't feel ready to work the floor.  I haven't really been trained!

11:00--I am going in.  At 1:00.  Trial by fire.  I called and my boss asked me if I wanted to come in, which means you need to come in or look like not a team player.  Honestly, he'd probably be OK if I had said no, but I'm really trying to do everything that is asked of me so that I look good.  (Plus if I keep working over 32 hours a week on average, I'll get insurance, which I would love)  I warned him that I'm really not familiar with the products yet.  He said he didn't care (in a nice way).  So maybe I'll just wind up observing and learning at first, then I'll take a couple of customers by myself.  Hopefully.  Now it's 11:38 and I need to eat lunch at some point, get dressed, and maybe do a bit of reading (so I'll probably totally get wrapped up in a book literally minutes before I have to put it down to go in!).  If nothing else, hopefully I'll come back from work ready to read!

Happy reading, y'all!  See you this evening!

Readathon Opening Meme



Opening Meme: 

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?  I am reading in Tulsa, Oklahoma today. 

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?   Tough one!  I am reading from a few books that I have in progress, so obviously I'm looking forward to those.  But I also like to mix it up a bit and read a perfectly readathon book (in my opinion, this is one that is a quick read and isn't terribly difficult--that doesn't necessarily mean that I finish it that day).

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?  I didn't really plan on doing the readathon until late yesterday, so I don't exactly have any snacks.  I may make a grocery store run.  I am already thinking of garlic hummus and Triscuts (sp?).  But some people are posting about crockpot chicken tacos, which is making me think of the lovely Chipotle down the way from my parents' house.  Then again, I am really trying to start eating better.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!  I'm Lori.  I'm not in school for the first time since I started going to preschool.  I love coffee.  A lot.  Italian Roast from Starbucks, fixed in a French press.  Or a homemade cafe au lait with Cafe du Monde grounds.  I primarily read the classics, but I am trying to branch out a bit to contemporary fiction (if you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!).  I love typing parenthetical thoughts (obviously).  I don't know...if you have questions, ask!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?  Last readathon was really successful for me, so I don't think I'll change much!  Maybe a bit less gratuitous eating.  And maybe some physical exercise throughout so that I don't get too blah.  I also want to do more commenting on blogs.

I can't wait to get to know everyone!  Please comment below so I can make sure to come visit you!

Happy reading!

17 October 2014

Readathoning

Thank you, Kanaye, for this lovely button!

It's time for another Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon.  I can generally be counted upon to attempt to do the thon.  This year is no different.  I am still working to get a handle on the whole work-life balance, namely how to not be a total zombie on my days off or after work, but I appreciate y'all bearing with me.  I honestly wasn't sure that I would be able to participate this year.  I am scheduled for the flex shift at work, which means I have to call in two hours before my shift is supposed to start to find out whether I need to come in or not.  After talking to my boss today, it didn't look too likely, but there is always that chance.  So I'll participate as much as I can.

I cannot recall how many of these I have attempted to participate in.  But I always have a great time.  I start out strong.  I get distracted.  I get sleepy.  I take a nap (maybe).  Then I come back for a bit before going to bed for good.  I think 1:00am was my record--which is hour 18 of the thon.  By the way, I'm probably going to start a little late.  I'm scheduled to start at 7:00, but that doesn't give me much time to wake up, have coffee, and do some yoga before settling in to read, you know?

I love the amount of interaction through Twitter and blogs.  I always find so many new people to follow and new blogs to read, which is great.  I don't have a lot of people in real life to talk about books with, so I need my online people!  :)

Due to the spur of the moment nature of my decision to participate, I don't have any special snacks prepared.  That's OK.  I really need to work on getting a better handle on my eating because I've felt pretty blah lately (but not as blah as i was feeling about my eating earlier this summer).

Book-wise...I want to make a good bit of progress on Secrets of the Flesh by Judith Thurman, Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe, The Portable Dorothy Parker (which I thought I had lost), Walden by Henry David Thoreau, and Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham for sure.




I also have a good-sized stack of possibilities in case I need a break from the above.





In reality, any book in my possession is fair game to be read during the thon.

I am not sure how I'll do my updates for tomorrow.  Maybe separate posts.  Maybe one long post.  We shall see.  I'd like to try to post an update and do some commenting every four hours, but we'll see how that works out.

I can't wait to see what everyone else is reading!

23 September 2014

Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List



Oh, fall.  I am really not ready for it to actually be fall yet.  Mostly because that means that the rest of the year has completely gotten away from me.  How can it almost be October?!  A lot has happened this year.  All in all, it's been a great year.  Dealing with family health issues has been the only true dark spot on the map.  Fall and spring, the two transition seasons, hold a lot of anticipation for me.  Spring is pretty obvious because everything is green and new.  Fall is more contemplative in my opinion.  It's a great time to reassess and make changes.  I am anxiously waiting to see what those changes are.

Anyway, as with the beginning of every season, The Broke and the Bookish is covering Top Ten Books on the Season's TBR List.  I contributed to today's post on the blog, but I wanted to come up with a full list for over here.  (For the record, I DID finish The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert yesterday; review coming)

1.  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy  I started rereading this one after finishing SOAT yesterday.  It became one of my favorites when I first finished it my junior year of college, so I felt it was time for a reread.  I love so much about this book.  The characters overall and the sense of urgency that Tolstoy creates in Anna are two of my favorite things.  For me, it's a cozy yet sweeping read.  I can't wait to see what I discover this time.

2.  Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe  I already wrote a post about wanting to finish this one this fall.  While my overall reading plan for fall has changed, due to a lack of time to read, I still want to read this one.  I think it's the right time to read it.  I feel a real closeness with the characters, particularly the protagonist (which I am sure is why he is the protagonist, duh), whenever I pick this one up, which spurs me to keep going.

3.  The Unwitting by Ellen Feldman  For some reason this Cold War tale jumped very quickly to mind as I was coming up with this list.  I started reading this earlier this year and kind of stalled because it felt kind of slow.  I think I might be able and willing to push through that now.  Plus it's set in literary New York in the 1950s and 1960s and it's always a good time to read books about that!

4.  Secrets of the Flesh:  A Life of Colette by Judith Thurman  I am going to be reading this with an online friend.  It's mentioned in one of my favorite story arcs of Gilmore Girls--where Lorelai decides she just can't get married, so she and Rory go on a roadtrip.  This is the book she wants to take with her.  Why?  What about Colette made her want to take this?  That's what I hope to figure out.  Plus Colette's work has always intrigued me, but I just haven't really read much by her.  Hopefully this gets me to read more.

5.  Dracula by Bram Stoker  Every year for the past few years I've wanted to read a spooky classic in October in honor of Halloween.  I made tremendous progress on this one two or three years ago, but didn't finish.  I really like how it's told through a variety of letters, newspaper articles, diary entries, and other narrative techniques.  For me that made it read a lot more quickly.  We shall see how this works out.  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is another possibility.



I'll be honest--I kind of stalled after picking out the first five books.  But I like to complete things, so I grabbed five other books that looked rather appealing when I gave my shelves a closer look, searching for additions to round out my list.  I don't know if I'll actually pick up any of these, but at least at this moment, these five also look good.


6.  Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes  Like I said earlier, fall is a contemplative time for me, so I thought that Mayes's memoir might be a good selection for fall.

7.  Moby-Dick by Herman Melville  Whenever I sit down to read this book, I find myself flying through it.  So I'd say that it's realistic that I could finish it this fall.

8.  Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion  This collection of pieces was on a list I saw last night.  I can't remember what the list was, but this title stuck with me.  I've read a couple of the pieces in here and really enjoyed them.  Maybe it's time for more.

9.  Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen  I saw this on the bargain table the last time I was in Barnes and Noble.  Because I'm really getting into essays, I thought I'd pick this one up.  Why not?

10.  This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett  Finishing this collection of essays would make me very happy.  Initially I bought this one on my Kindle, but I had to buy a hardcopy so that I can underline and annotate (I know I can do that with eBooks, but it's just not the same to me).

12 September 2014

Friday Thoughts and Musings



It appears that fall has come early around here.  Yesterday I left the house wearing leggings, closed toed shoes, and a jacket.  Today I am wearing a sweater and jeans.  The weatherman said we have most likely had our last day of 90+ weather for the year.  I'm really not too happy about this.  I feel like I was gypped out of a summer.  I missed those hot sultry evenings and those hot, sticky mornings.  I missed going to baseball games.  I missed sitting outside and getting some sun.

But, secretly, I am a little excited about the clothes and the changing leaves.  I love wearing sweaters, scarves, and boots.  I love curling up in the den and reading away the afternoon and evening.  I love spending Saturdays lounging around while my parents watch college football, myself occasionally tuning in.  I made myself a nice mug of hot chocolate to sip on this morning while I was reading.  It was pretty nice, I must admit.

Now I am just hanging out, waiting for my dad to get home so we can go to a Monet exhibit.  I've been wanting to go to this exhibit ever since I found out it was in town.  Upon moving back home, I realized that the likelihood of getting a friend to go with me was pretty much slim to none, so I invited my dad.  To my happy surprise, he agreed to go with me.  Yay!  Monet is one of my favorites.  We went to an Impressionist exhibit a few years back in Dallas and I was super giddy to see Monet and Van Gogh (then some Picassos and Warhols, but they were in a different part of the museum).

Unsurprisingly, my reading plans have changed.  I haven't entirely abandoned hope of getting through the three books I named in my last post, but I'm just not sure that I am up to the task yet.  I had a long talk with a good friend yesterday about a reading dilemma I have been going through lately.  He faced a similar situation when he moved a few years ago.  You go from being around like-minded people who constantly feed and discuss your love of literature to being around people who don't quite share that love.  The transition back to reading solely for personal pleasure and not for discussion is kind of difficult.  Granted, this is the way we both were before going to college and becoming lit majors, but things are a bit different when you are taking lit classes.  So I'm working on getting back to reading solely for my personal pleasure.

My friend recommended rereading a few old favorites to get that spark going again.  I'm giving a recent release that I really want to read and enjoy another shot.  Then I'll probably start delving into my past for material.  Fortunately, I have a good feeling about this new release this go around, so hopefully I will be able to finish.  I know that Anna Karenina, which I am thinking about quite a bit at the moment, will be there waiting for me to reread when I am finished.

Speaking of old books, I have been purging books like crazy.  I have a rather impressive mountain of books to donate or sell.  Honestly, I kind of want to sell them to make some money because most of these books are unread.  Once I got all of my books under one roof, I was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of books.  Even more so by the amount of un-read books.  They just kind of made me feel bad, which is completely not the point of having books to begin with!  Some of them are pretty cool...but are not ones I think I would ever read in this lifetime even if I lived to be two hundred years old.  So it is time we part ways.  But it totally works because it means that I now have shelf space for books I want to keep and read, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

The nice thing about purging is how it really kind of feeds on itself.  The more you get rid of, the more you want to get rid of.  Or at least, that's how it is for me.  I am jonesing to recycle all of the articles that I printed, but never read for two years worth of library school.  That will free up quite a bit of space.  There are old magazines that I'm not going to go back and read.  There are clothes I am never going to wear again.  There are all of those stupid little gadgets that people get you that you never asked for and most certainly will never use that are just wasting space until you finally crack and toss them all.  Stuff like that.  I can finally breathe again and that is a good thing.

In closing, I found this really awesome list of 15 Books to Fuel Your Inner Femme Fatale.  I don't know why this character has been on my mind lately, but I have been wanting to reread the books from this awesome crime fiction class I took as an undergrad.  Have fun!

Mille tendresse!

08 September 2014

Reading This Fall

In a couple of weeks, The Broke and the Bookish will be doing their seasonal "Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR List."  I will totally be participating in that and will come up with a list of ten books that I really want to finish this fall.  However, I am writing a post today about three books that I am making it a personal mission to finish this fall.  Two of the three are books I have owned and wanted to read for AGES and the third is more recent on my radar, but it equally pressing in importance to me.

I have great nostalgia for a few nights during the fall of my junior year of college when I holed up in my room and just read.  I read hundreds of pages in the evening and nighttime.  I finished a few wonderful books in that period.  I don't know if it was the weather or that the stars aligned, but I really want to pull off something like that again.  I'm not saying I'll knock these three out in a few nights of reading, but I want to spend some long nights reading and avoiding the world.

Swann's Way by Marcel Proust  This was the first book that came to mind.  A couple of weeks ago, I determined that I was going to read this book this fall if I took me three months to do it.  I don't know what it is about this book, but I have wanted to read it for years.  I can probably blame it on that scene from the first season of Gilmore Girls when Max loaned Lorelai his copy.  I've always thought that him giving her a book to read was really sexy, probably because I find reading or other intellectual pursuits to be really attractive in a man.  I don't know a whole lot about the novel or maybe there isn't a whole lot to know.  I know that you go on these long, meandering trips down French garden paths and that there isn't a tremendous amount of plot.  Either way, I am determined to read this.  Fall seems like a good time to be reflective, which is what a lot of this book is about (from what I gather).  I love the design of the cover--yes, I judge books by their covers--and I think it has perfect fall coloring.  I would love, love, love to be able to get through this one on my own, but I have a guide just in case (though the guide covers the entirety of In Search of Lost Time).

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville  I don't know when finishing this book became my own personal white whale, but it has.  I have to finish.  I've picked it up a number of times over the past couple of years and have been reading it on and off since this summer.  I'm finally aboard the Pequod!  I have met Starbuck.  And that's about it.  I really like how Melville uses a bunch of really short chapters.  That has made it possible for me to read while visiting at the hospital or just when I have snippets of time.  I would love to be able to sink in for a few hours and just go.  I wrote on wanting to be anywhere but here the other day at The Broke and the Bookish and this book has really helped with that desire.  Melville does a really good job of bringing you right in the middle of things by describing everything and everyone so vividly.  I laugh while reading this one and can fully picture what is going on and that has been really great lately.  Still, it doesn't help a whole lot to do those things if you never actually finish reading the novel.  I am going to finish this novel this fall so that I can wear my shirt!  Finally!

Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe  It's only been in the past year or two that I have really heard about this book, much less wanted to read it.  Like Moby-Dick, I've been reading it on and off for the past month or so.  I really like how minutely Wolfe describes his characters and his setting.  I feel fully submerged in the characters' hopes and desires and feelings.  I picked this one up recently because the main character goes on this huge journey to find what he is looking for.  I feel like I have been at a real crossroads in my life the past couple of months and haven't quite figured out where I want to go or what I want to do.  OK...maybe I do know what I want, I just haven't had the opportunity to connect all of the dots to get there.  Anyway...big path to self-discovery and self-fulfillment--I've been there; I am there; I want to read about another character going there.  While I haven't exactly wanted to slay this book, I have really been wanting to finish, so I added it to the list.

It dawned on me last night that my big problem with reading all of these years has been my attention span.  Somehow, gradually, it shortened so that when I see something flashy--the TV, my cell phone, another book--I immediately start thinking about it instead of the book at hand, then I switch to that other book (and getting an iPhone a couple of years ago really hasn't helped because the whole of the internet is within my reach at all times).  So I am going to start working on this.  I am taking today, minus a few devoirs, to just read one of these novels.  I haven't decided yet which one, but I plan to do nothing but read for the vast majority of the day (with a forecasted high of 91, I think it's too warm to read Proust today).  I don't think that this will immediately cure me of a short attention span--it's only one day--but I think it will be a great way to relax and get further into a book that I have been meaning to read for quite some time.


31 August 2014

Literary Tag

I found this game on a friend's Facebook and decided that I wanted to play along...

The Rules:  Randomly list any twelve literary characters, and then answer the following questions. Make SURE that you list the characters BEFORE reading the questions! Or else you'll miss the Mad Libs fun!
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My twelve are:

1) Anna Karenina
2) Rhett Butler
3) Yossarian
4) Holly Golightly
5) Atticus Finch
6) Jay Gatsby
7) Daisy Fay
8) Scarlett O'Hara
9) Mr. Darcy
10) Elizabeth Bennet
11) Lee
12) Auntie Mame
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The questions:

1. Who would make a better college prof, 6 (Jay Gatsby) or 11 (Lee)?

Lee, being the more philosophical of the two, would probably be better.  Though Gatsby would be an interesting lit professor because of his experiences (both real and fabricated).

2. Do you think that 2 (Rhett Butler) would win the “Cutest Guy of 2009"?

Rhett Butler is "Sexiest Man of All Time."

3. 12 (Auntie Mame) sends 8 (Scarlett O'Hara) out on a mission. What is it? Does it succeed?

Auntie Mame needs Scarlett to distract Mr. Babcock so that he won't discover the mischief she and Patrick have gotten up to.  Of course it succeeds!  Scarlett winds up getting Mr. Babcock talking about her lumber mill, which allows Mame and Patrick to escape.

4. What is or would be 9 (Mr. Darcy)'s favourite book?

I think he would definitely read the Romantics.  For some reason, I think he would have enjoyed Hemingway as well...but I think this of almost everyone who didn't get to read Hemingway...

5. Would it make more sense for 2 (Rhett Butler) to swear fealty to 6 (Jay Gatsby), or the other way around?

I think the other way around.  Rhett would have been Gatsby's mentor, teaching him the ways of the world, men's fashion, and romancing the ladies.

6. 5 (Atticus Finch) is looking for a roommate. Should (s)he share a studio apartment with 9 (Mr. Darcy) or 10 (Elizabeth Bennet)?

It would have to be Mr. Darcy because Atticus would never have a lady for a roommate, nor would Elizabeth have a man for a roommate.

7. 2 (Rhett Butler), 7 (Daisy Fay), and 12 (Auntie Mame) have dinner together. Where do they go, and what do they discuss?

They'd sit in a corner table at some ritzy New York nightclub and would discuss their love problems.  Hopefully Daisy and Mame would convince Rhett to go back to Scarlett.

8. 3 (Yossarian) challenges 10 (Elizabeth Bennet) to a duel. What happens?

A fabulous flashback to something else that happened on the base.

9. If 1 (Anna Karenina) stole 8 (Scarlett O'Hara)'s most precious possession, how would she/he get it back? 

This one is kind of fun to think about because Vivian Leigh played both characters!  I think in this case, the most precious possession would be Rhett, so it would be a battle of seduction to see who would ultimately get him back.  SPOILER ALERT!  Though I think Scarlett would get him in the end because she keeps her head on her shoulders and would not dive under a train.

10. Suggest a title for a story in which 7 (Daisy Fay) and 12 (Auntie Mame) both attain what they most desire.

They both desire to be young and beautiful and rich forever...So...something about The Fountain of Youth.

11. What kind of plot device would you use if you wanted 4 (Holly Golightly) and 1 (Anna Karenina) to work together?

Anna Karenina would hire Holly to seduce Vronsky to see if he were faithful to her.

12. If 7 (Daisy Fay) visited you for the weekend, how would you get along?

I think we would have a pretty good time for the weekend--going out, drinking, having fun until the wee hours--but ultimately we are rather different and I think I would probably get bored of her and her limited conversational skills.

13. If you could command 3 (Yossarian) to perform any one task or service for you, what would it be?

I would want Yossarian to help me find the Snowdens of yesteryear.

14. If 2 (Rhett Butler) had to choose sides between 4 (Holly Golightly) and 5 (Atticus Finch), which would it be?

I think he would probably choose Holly because Atticus is too straightforward, whereas Holly is willing to go to whatever lengths she needs in order to get what she needs and wants.

15. What might 10 (Elizabeth Bennet) shout while charging into battle?

"The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters."  That's not really a thing to shout, but I think it would sum up her sentiments.

16. If you chose a song to represent 8 (Scarlett O'Hara), which song would you choose?

"My Way" by Frank Sinatra.  She did what she needed to do.  "Regrets, I've had a few/Then again, too few to mention/I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption."  And "Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew/When I bit off more than I could chew/But through it all, when there was doubt/I ate it up and spit it out" You know.  Stuff like that...

17. 1 (Anna Karenina), 6 (Jay Gatsby), and 12 (Auntie Mame) are having dim sum at a Chinese restaurant. There is only one scallion pancake left, and they all reach for it at the same time. Who gets to eat it?

Auntie Mame totally would have eaten it!  Anna and Jay were probably both too depressed about their love lives, so Mame would have gotten the food.

18. What might be a good pick-up line for 2 (Rhett Butler) to use on 10 (Elizabeth Bennet)?

"Don't give yourself airs, Elizabeth."

19. What would 5 (Atticus Finch) most likely be arrested for?

He's honor and truth and justice.  What could he be arrested for?

20. What is 6 (Jay Gatsby)'s secret?

Aside from the obvious?  Well...I think his secret is that he hates parties and large crowds.

21. If 11 (Lee) and 9 (Mr. Darcy) were racing to a destination, who would get there first?

Lee.  Either because he lived after automobiles existed or because Darcy was too proud to admit that Lee could possibly win.

22. If you had to walk home through a bad neighbourhood late at night, would you feel safer in the company of 7 (Daisy Fay) or 8 (Scarlett O'Hara)?

Scarlett.  She's killed a man.  And she can shoot straight if she doesn't have to shoot too far.  We'd be fine.

23. 1 (Anna Karenina) and 9 (Mr. Darcy) reluctantly team up to save the world from the threat posed by 4 (Holly Golightly)'s sinister secret organization. 11 (Lee) volunteers to help them, but it is later discovered that s/he is actually a spy for 4 (Holly Golightly). Meanwhile, 4 (Holly Golightly) has kidnapped 12 (Auntie Mame) in an attempt to force their surrender. Following the wise advice of 5 (Atticus Finch), they seek out 3 (Yossarian), who gives them what they need to complete their quest. What title would you give this fiction?

"Dinner at Sing Sing."  I mean, if Holly Golightly is the bad guy, then obviously this is the only correct title.

11 August 2014

Austen in August



I am super late in signing up for this!  But better late than never, right?

Because I hardly know what is going on from one day to the next, I won't be super active in this.  I am setting the bar low for myself--read one Jane Austen novel.  That was my goal for last year and I was able to meet it.

This year I plan on reading Sense and Sensibility.  It seems to be a favorite of a lot of people.  I hear a lot of comparisons between it and Pride and Prejudice, which is the only other Austen novel I've read.  I am going to try to not let this get in the way of my reading experience.  I think that preconceived notions have gotten in the way of a lot of my experiences with reading the classics.

I am excited about reading this novel.  I want to enjoy it.  I want to find out why so many people like this novel.  I want to be transported to a simpler time and be swept away by the romance and passion that Austen writes about.

Last year I positively flew through Pride and Prejudice.  I hope to have similar success.  Though I have not read the first half of Sense and Sensibility 84,000 times, so I probably won't read it quite as quickly.

Anyway, wish me luck!

10 August 2014

Right Now I Am... (8/10/14)

It's been a month since I last posted.  A whole lot has happened in that time, but seemingly nothing has happened--a strange paradox.  I wrapped up my time in Stillwater.  I had a great lunch reconnecting with an old friend.  Then I immediately went up to my grandparents' house, where I have been almost exclusively since.  I did spend one night in Tulsa last weekend, but that was mostly to resupply.  I will be up here for the foreseeable future, with short jaunts to Tulsa or Stillwater as needed.

Anyway, I decided I needed to get a post out and I love when Trish does these, so I stole the idea from her.

Image stolen from Trish at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity


Listening To:  A lot of TV in the background.  Right now it's an old Carole Lombard movie with Cary Grant.  It's kind of fabulous and I may need to buy a copy.

Eating:  Whatever is quick and easy!  When I am lucky, this means something from home, like salami, fruit, and some chips.  However, this usually means grabbing something on the way home from the hospital or something we can take up to the hospital.  I have been making a concerted effort to get two meals at home each day because I feel really icky otherwise and I cannot understand how I used to eat hardly anything but fast food.

Watching:  A lot of the History Channel!  My grandparents love Pawn Stars and American Pickers.  I am 100% a Pawn Stars girl, but Pickers is growing on me.  I love learning more about the history of objects.

Reading:  I have been reading bits and pieces of all the books, but not making a whole lot of progress.  It largely depends on my feeling for the day, which usually depends on how much good sleep I got the night before.  My purse is also a deciding factor.  I accidentally left my iPad charger behind the last time my mom and I ran to Tulsa, so I haven't been able to use it for reading.  So I switch amongst Moby-Dick, Slouching Towards Bethlehem, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold (which I've only read a few pages of, but should probably just dedicate myself to and knock out because it's less than 100 pages).  I would like to be reading more Sense and Sensibility, but for some reason I keep wanting to read Wuthering Heights instead.  I still haven't read hardly at all since the beginning of July.  I'd really like to remedy this, but I just don't know how other than to keep slogging.

Planning:  I'm trying to figure out a new normal for myself.  Temporarily moving to Bartlesville was not what I had planned when I left Stillwater.  I know that I need to work out a new normal (that includes yoga, coffee and breakfast, and looking for jobs, then getting ready and spending time with my family) for myself for this period of time, but I just haven't had the energy to do the first bit.  I've also been thinking a lot about blogging and writing in general.  I really want to do both.  I just have to start making time for the things I want to do and then making myself follow through.

Feeling:  Honestly, I haven't really been thinking about this.  I get through the day.  

Loving:  My family.  They are absolutely crazy and beautiful.

Wanting:  I am wanting for things to calm down.  Or maybe I am wanting myself to find a routine in all of the madness.  Either way...

Thinking:  About all of the things I need to remember to bring back with me the next time I resupply--namely, nail polish remover, my iPad charger, some different books to try, my black notepad, clothes and purses I want to bring.  That sort of thing.  The essentials...

Looking Forward To:  Seeing my friends next weekend!  I've been looking forward to next weekend since before I left Stillwater.  It will be so good to see everyone again and to relax and hang out.