Starting Over

Starting Over

Once again, I find myself on the cusp of a new year full of excitement, vigor, and ambition. Oh the ambition! How many resolutions should I set (and likely fail at because let’s be honest here, I don’t have the best track record with these) for this year? Should I attempt another book challenge? Run a marathon? Bake my way through the Bread Baker’s Apprentice¬†and eat all the deliciousness?

While all of the above sound oh-so-tempting, I am going to try and minimize my focus this year. Next Monday starts another term of graduate school and with several more terms on the horizon, this is probably not the best time to challenge myself to read the complete works of Shakespeare (yes, I did seriously consider this) or take up a time-heavy exercise regime. However, I am challenging myself to bring focus to areas of my life the have either been neglected these past few months or that are important to stay on the priority list. While exercise and school are staying on the top of the list, I am also going to try really, really hard to plan in time for book blogging.

While on break from both school and work (yay!) between Christmas and New Year’s, I admit that I read books like a man dying of thirst. I was aided in this by t a new Kindle Voyage as a Xmas gift from my wonderful husband, who had decided it was too painful watching me read books on my tiny iphone 5. ūüôā ¬†I signed back up for Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited so between that and my local library, I enjoyed an endless stream of new books. This past week at work, I was asked by a co-worker to name which book had been the most interesting, a near-impossible task for a book lover such as myself! However, I did eventually settle on the Psychopath¬†Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson. I was inspired to read this non-fiction book after listening to the author’s Ted Talk¬†which was a quick overview of the book’s plot. Highly entertaining to both watch and read. Some of you may recognize the name or at least might as Jon Ronson wrote the book “The Men Who Stare at Goats” which the Geroge Clooney movie of the same title was based on.

All in all, I think my total book count for the 10-day break was roughly 7 books. If you are curious, I have listed the titles below. I often take for granted the speed at which I read, so I tried to be modest and not overly-embarrassed in admitting this number and hearing gasps of surprise¬†from people. I really think my motto for 2017 needs to be something along the lines of “That’s what I do- I drink and I know things…cause I read a lot” to steal and modify a Tyrion Lannister quote. Side note: I would love to have this coffee mug, but I think my work establishment might frown on it or think I’m a lush who needs an intervention since I tend to mention beer, wine, scotch etc, being a means to make meetings more pleasant… Continue reading “Starting Over”

2016 Book Challenge

OK, maybe this is¬† bit of bandwagon joining and post- New Years resolution setting¬†but after talking with a friend¬†about book challenges and her desire to try and organize/track the massive list of books she wants to read, I realized that I have never participated in a book challenge.¬†¬†Well, not since I was a wee one participating in the county library summer reading challenges, which I totally rocked for the record! “How is that possible?” inquiring minds probably aren’t asking but oddly enough, it hasn’t crossed my mind previously to attempt a guided reading journey, so why not this year? Life is already predicted to be crazy¬†moving forward (grad school?)¬†and I am trying to challenge myself to expand my literary horizons. The book club I formed with¬†two friends last year has done wonder in this area (still recovering¬† from Carsick by John Waters although he was incredibly entertaining at the Christmas concert we saw about a month ago) and I look forward to the many reading adventures yet to come but along the way, why not throw some additional challenges into the mix and also help prevent this blog consisting of many novels of similar genre and scope?

A quick search on my beloved Pinterest resulted in a few different challenge “lists” floating around the interweb. While I didn’t find one that perfectly fit what I was looking for (which if I thought more about it, finding a list that perfectly suited my desires and literary likes would be defeating the purpose), I did come across the below list from PopSugar which looks like it has been recycled for a few years but hey! still relevant for this year.

Now, it looks like some people assign crazy rules to their challenges: read a book every week for the entire year until finished or don’t pick books that you have already read and re-read them, only physical¬†books, no audio or kindle versions¬†etc. I am going to take a much looser interpretation of this list and say that my goal is just to¬†read a book in every category, in whatever order/format that may take¬†before the end of the year and (hopefully) blog about a fair number of them for your entertainment. Head over to the 2016 book challenge page to see what I will be reading for each category (listed below) and also keep an eye on the 2016¬†Book Count¬†page as I can only imagine that I will be reading other novels that don’t fall into one of the 40 below categories.

If you are interested in joining this challenge, please comment often and let me know what you are reading for each section and how you are progressing overall. The more, the merrier in the book world!

~Erica

2016 Reading Challenge as posted on PopSugar.com

  • A book based on a fairy tale
  • A National Book Award winner
  • A YA bestseller
  • A book you haven’t read since high school
  • A book set in your home state
  • A book translated to English
  • A romance set in the future
  • A book set in Europe
  • A book that’s under 150 pages
  • A New York Times bestseller
  • A book that’s becoming a movie this year
  • A book recommended by someone you just met
  • A self-improvement book
  • A book you can finish in a day
  • A book written by a celebrity
  • A political memoir
  • A book at least 100 years older than you
  • A book that’s more than 600 pages
  • A book from Oprah’s Book Club
  • A science-fiction novel
  • A book recommended by a family member
  • A graphic novel
  • A book that is published in 2016
  • A book with a protagonist who has your occupation
  • A book that takes place during Summer (why summer?)
  • A book and it’s prequel
  • A murder mystery
  • A book written by a comedian
  • A dystopian novel
  • A book with a blue cover (why blue?)
  • A book of poetry
  • The first book you see in a bookstore
  • A classic from the 20th century
  • A book from the library
  • An autobiography
  • A book about a road trip
  • A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with
  • A satirical book
  • A book that takes place on an island
  • A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy

Kicking Off Another Year

Hard to believe that 2015 is almost over. So many books still left to read, so little time! I have been remiss in blogging recently and as I reflect on what the 2015 year has been and what I am hoping for 2016, developing a discipline and schedule for posting is high on my list. I am also venturing out of my comfort zone (being a self-proclaimed introvert prone to long spells of book escapism) in 2016 and will be actively sharing my blog post to social media. Ekk! I tremble a bit at the thought but see it as a pathway for personal growth. I love reading, am enjoying the freedom to review what I read and hope to grow this blog into a forum for other book lovers to be entertained or even discover a new book/author/genre.

I hope you enjoy exploring my blog and watching it’s growth over the next year!

 

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How every evening should be spent….

Ship of Theseus or more commonly known as “What the heck did I just read?”

Ekk! Where did a month go? The black hole of work-minded routine sucked me in once again along with feeble attempts to enjoy the last blistering days of an uncommonly hot Oregon summer. Why did I think this would be a good time to start half-marathon training again?? Jury is still out…

But in more blog-relevant news, a co-worker gave me a book that she felt was a must-read for an obsessive, intelligent, literary-minded soul such as myself. I admit to confusion as she handed me what looked to be a library book complete with slip cover. As I pulled the book out of the innocent protection case, a postcard fell out. Thinking it was hers, I started to hand it back only to be stopped by the knowing grin on her face.

“It’s part of the book. Story within a story kind of thing.”

Intrigued, I flipped through a few pages and noticed the margin writings and other extras slipped here and there between the pages. What did she just give me?

I admit I let this book sit on the small table behind the couch for a few days. I was intimidated to start such a book but also felt a magnetic pull to dive into the stor(ies) within. I could see myself being sucked in and yet, ill-afford many late night reading escapades. Not as young as I once was! Obviously, I eventually cracked open the front cover and started reading. And know what? The first few pages sucked to read! How in the world was I suppose to¬†process the actually story plot plus the margin “story” and keep it all straight? In addition to that, the book kicks off with an intro that had me even more confused about the nature of the paper journey I was about to embark on. Eventually, I figured out a strategy that kept me sane for the 500 pages SoT encompasses and found myself swept away more by the margin story (hopeless romantic syndrome inserted here)¬†than the actually novel plot which turned out to be climatic way too early in the plot and prose-riddled unto the end.

Given the complexity of this story within a story with various conspiracy theory sub-plots and speculations, and still processing my feelings as I finished the book a mere hour ago, I feel ill-equipped in my (very) young, amateur blogging life to attempt a review of this book and give it the justice and depth it deserves. If you are interested in exploring the inter-workings for Ship of Theseus more, please click the below link for a review I feel appropriately (albeit with a little profanity) summarizes not only the plot but also the mental states and questions you will experience along the reading of this book.

This book is a fresh challenge in the best kind of way and while not the most epic thing I have ever read (not even sure what I would put on that list but may give that more thought for a future post), it was refreshing and captivating because it was different and aren’t we all looking for something to break up the literary mundaneness once in a while?

http://pantheonmag.com/s-by-j-j-abrams-doug-dorst/

2 for 1 book plots

Over my long 5-day holiday weekend, I unabashedly indulged in two of my favorite activities: napping and reading. I think I made it through 4 or 5 books and as many hours curled up on the couch or bed napping. Ahh…glorious staycation.

I had an interesting observation with two of the books I picked up over the weekend and that was the plots seemed to be combination of at least¬†two plots from other books/movies. For instance, Twisted by Andrew Kaufman seemed to be a blend of “Silence of the Lambs” and “Shutter Island.” Take one psychologist working with a serial killer in the wing of a asylum reserved for the top level crazies (the description of some of the other patients instantly reminded me of SotL; the scene where Clarice first meets Dr. Lector….walking down a long hallway because of course the person of interest is located at the end…having to pass by the other “crazies” including the sex fiend jacking off…that chilling first look at the patient/inmate in the cell…key camera zoom in), said psychologist starts to have strange things happening to him at work and at home, starts to believe that the patient/co-workers are plotting against him, goes on destruction mode to prevent patient from accomplishing sinister plot and final twist of the book is the psychologist wakes up in a mental hospital to realize his mind had created an entire fantasy world for a year to avoid dealing with the death of his son and the crazy serial killer in his fantasy was a twisted projection of his own psychologist who was pushing him to come out of his shell and thus became the fantasy villain. AKA- Shutter Island- detective and his partner investigate a missing person on an island that houses a mental asylum, detective suspects there is some crazy, sinister plot afoot between the doctors at the hospital, that they are out to get him so he can’t expose the truth of what happens at the hospital, goes on the, you guessed it, destructive rampage, only for the plot twist to also be that he is a patient of the hospital, his partner is his therapist letting him act out the investigation in an attempt to help him come to terms with killing his wife who had drowned their children. (Side note- at the end of the move, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character ends up being lobotomized.)

I hate to use the word clich√© as I feel that has some negative connotation to it but I also think it is fitting. Twisted was an enjoyable read and I wasn’t sure where exactly the storyline was going to go but overall, I was glad that it was one of the $3.99 or less deals for Kindle. Somewhat re-worked plot aside, I would be curious to give one of the author’s other novels a try. My biggest beef with Twisted was at the end when the main character wakes up out of the fantasy and is ready to start living in the real world again, his wife basically says ‘oh honey, it’s ok that you retreated into yourself for an entire year, leaving me alone to deal with my own grief and reality but I don’t have a single iota of resentment against you so now we can just go back to our puppies and sunshine life again.” Ugh. Now before anyone starts posting comments that I’m being insensitive to the effects grief can have a person and that people don’t necessarily consciously choose to retreat from life in such a fashion, I’m more irritated that the author wrote an entire novel dealing with some very serious, deep issues and then tied the book up with a pretty, pink bow at the end in about 3 pages. I’m an absolute hopeless romantic and, generally speaking, love a happy ending but something about this one just bothered me. Anyone else read this story and feel the same?

The other novel, the Einstein Prophecy, well, I think you could argue that it’s a mish-mash of several similar plots- Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Mummy, and Monument Men. If you have seen all three movies, then you can essentially weave together the plot of this book. If you haven’t, honestly, watching each movie will be more entertaining and feel more original than reading this book. Again…thank you Amazon¬†for the $1.99 pre-lease kindle deals. I might have cried if I had paid more

 

Giving this another go….

For some reason, I didn’t think that I had started this over 2.5 years ago. Crazy how fast time flies.

However, wandering thoughts down old paths aside, I find myself once again with a desire to share out to the¬†vast, expansive network of the internet my¬†commentary (both sarcastic and sincere) on the various books that I read/devour/attempt. Hell, I’m finally in a book club so there is the possibility for alcohol-induced and linguistically entertaining post in the near future if that keeps you coming back for more.

The book chosen for this month is “Fingersmith” which is portrayed as a dark,¬†Victorian tale of Dicken-ish themes (orphans, thieves, smelly London, plot twist)…and I just found out the damn book was also made into a BBC mini-series which could have saved me slogging through 582 pages of, well, best to leave the “official” review for after the book club meeting in 2 weeks.

On a different subject altogether, it’s going to be over 100 degrees by Saturday in my neck of the woods. ūüė¶ While this is way outside my temperature comfort range, it will provide a lovely excuse to stay holed up in the house next to an AC vent.

Stay tuned….