Welcome to my bookshelf


I am a voracious reader who is constantly found with her nose in a good (although sometimes not so good) book. I felt the need to share my experiences and suggestions, so here it is. Recommendations and comments are most definitely desired.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mothers and Daughters

Currently Reading: One True Thing

It is the classic relationship. Written about time and time again. There is the doting mother, the neglectful mother, the absentee, the insane, the homemaker. It is funny to see how no matter what each person brings to the table, there is always some underlying need of the daughter to receive her mother's approval. Even if the mother is not all with it. I have been trying to build a better relationship with my mom and have explored the reasons behind our conflicts as well as our similarities. It seems that sometimes these similarities are what cause the conflicts. I love my mom and am ever so grateful that she has been such a stalwart presence in my life. I know that in the past I have not shown this respect and gratitude very well and find myself trying to catch up for lost time. In this book, the daughter has returned to care for her dying mother. They had a good relationship, but there are still regrets. It is sad that the most poignant moments in their relationship have to come at such a sad and tumultuous time. I hope to never have to experience the same thing. We should never save our feelings until the end. Be responsible and share as you love and feel. It is hard, but all too important.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

People

Currently Reading: The Sign

Yes it is just a bunch of fluff, but it is TAKS week and I am busy so that's my excuse.

Back to the Mulvaney's, it was such a downer, but very interesting. People are such unique beasts. I have been people watching quite a bit lately. It is so cool how everyone is so different and no one is truly "perfect". This is helping me with my issues as I am learning to embrace myself and love who I am, not who I thing I should be. It is sort of liberating. We need to make sure that we are content in ourselves before we can really care for and influence those around us. It is hypocritical to discourage and judge others when you should be focusing on how you can make things better about yourself. I know that I will never play ball like King James or write like John Irving, but I can do several things well and am really a pretty not too bad person. Like I wrote before, we each play a certain role in life. It is important for us to figure out what that role is and to carry out our mission in the best way possible. What is important is positively affecting the world, not being self absorbed and worried about superficiality. Of course, this is easier said than done.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dynamics

Currently Reading: We Were the Mulvaneys

So this one is all about a family. I'm not too far in, so can't say much more, but it seems to focus on one stalwart family in a rural town in New England. It is interesting how each family tends to have its own dynamics. Each person has a certain role to play. The healer, the pleaser, the mother hen, the protector, the quite one, the responsible one, I could go on and on. I'm not sure what my place is in my family. It seems it is easier to decide what roles others play, rather than your own. I suppose that you don't feel the effects of what you do for or to others, but their actions are clear and the results are obvious to you. The narrator of this story is the youngest child in the family and sort of finds himself without a definite role. It is told as a memory of sorts. He is writing it in his 30s and is clearly telling a tale, rather than experiencing it. This type of novel is interesting because the character grows as he reminisces about previous happenings. Sometimes he comes to new revelations about what things mean or laments over having misinterpreted something. I like the idea although sometimes it can get tedious. The action is sometimes delayed and you find yourself wanted to move on before the narrator does. Not at all like an action paced story written as the plot moves. Still, I'm liking it so far. Oates always manages to bring in some thought provoking topics. I haven't read much of hers and am looking forward to experiencing more.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hmm...so that's what she meant

Currently Reading: Let the Great World Spin

Another goodie. This was a gem of a book that really allowed readers to get into the minds and hearts of its characters. I liked getting to see the same events from different perspectives. IT was neat because You read about what one character was doing from another character's point of view and then again when you were reading from the first person's perspective. That way you get the whole picture, but in serperate pieces. I found I could really relate to a lot of the topics covered, even if I hadn't experienced the exact same situation. And again, the seventies locale was a cool environment in which to set the stories. While it's not totally modern, it still is something we can relate to. Being a child of the 80s and 90s, we aren't often exposed to this decade in time. We hear all about the 50s and 60s, then we actually experienced the later decades, but the 70s are overlooked or often lumped together with the 60s. It really was an interesting era. The political and social scenes were one of a kind. War, money, and political drama. Man that Nixon knew how to through a wrench in things.

I need to investigate this tight rope walker a bit more though. My mom said that there is a movie about this called "Man on Wire" or something like that. I'm not usually a movie person, but it may be worth a look.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sharing

Currently reading: Let the Great World Spin

Thanks to my mom for lending this one to me. It's very cool in that it has one overarching event that all the characters share, but is really a series of short stories delving into each character's individual life. I am enjoying the writing style and like switching viewpoints. It is fun to get into so many different heads as opposed to just sticking with the same couple of characters, as it is in many traditionally organized books. I also am enjoying the time period. We don't often get to experience the 1970's in currently written books. Each character comes from a different class or part of society so you can see how various people are affected by this overall theme. By the way, the constant is the man who tight roped between the Twin Towers. His story is interspersed throughout the book as well. How cool to be so passionate about something. He made a goal and carried out the necessary preparations in order to achieve that plan. What an amazing feat.

On another note, I made some changes to my blog design. Like the new colors? Any comments, positive or negative, would be welcome. I plan on customizing more, but can't seem to come up with anything right now. Maybe some pictures or something.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Trials and tribulations

Currently Reading: Finding Faith

SO it is about being cool with blind faith and accepting the unexplainable. Whatever. It is still a good book and I can appreciate the need of some people to have faith and have something to hold on to, a reason to live and be a good person. To each his own is what I believe. I just don't like it when someone is telling me what to believe. I'd rather come to that decision on my own. Just because it was written in some book, by some regular guy I might add, doesn't mean it is the be all end all truth. I am at a place right now where ai need to be accountable for myself.

Now enough with the bitter diatribe, back to the book itself. Jodi Picoult tends to set half of all her books in a courtroom and it makes me wonder if there is some legal stuff in her background. Does she come from a family of lawyers or did she have a traumatic experience in court herself? I like the lawyer parts and it is neat to see the trial from everyone's unique perspective. It is funny how we settle all these important matters in court because they are supposedly upholders of a standard or law, but each person and experience brings it's own set of issues to the trial and nothing is truly black and white. I do hope that I never have to be a part of any litigation. It would probably be too much for me. There are so many specific rules to follow and I would want to interrupt constantly. It's hard to be forced to listen to someone else, especially if they are saying something you totally disagree with. It is sad though that all these family and personal issues have to be played out in a public setting. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could solve our differences ourselves without having to bring all powerful strangers into the fray?

Oh and on a happy note, this is being written on my brand new iMac. It is fantastic! Everyone needs to go out an buy one. Now.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Do you believe?

Currently Reading: Keeping Faith

Pg 26: "Sure, lots of people believe in God. Lots of people used to believe the world was flat, too."
Hee hee. I love it when I find a new quote to add to my repertoire. I find myself in a minority, especially as a teacher in Texas, when it comes to religious beliefs. I find it amazing that so many people still believe. There is no proof! I need proof for things. I know, I know, it's about having faith, but really, do we really need to have a higher power. I just don't see the purpose. It's about having someone to tell us what to do and to be accountable. Most religions have become a social society. A place to belong and hang out with people like you. Can't you go to the gym or something? How about joining a book club?

Pg 52: "The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."
This is a quote of a quote. Many will recognize Milton's voice from Paradise Lost. For a blind man, he could certainly "see" quite a bit that is true about life. My mind is currently focused on making a hell for me at the moment. It sucks. Too bad I can't just wait for that "higher power" to fix things for me. It seems I have to do the legwork.

I just finished a new Star Wars book. You can't beat a tale filled with Jedi and rancors. I love it. My students all giggle at my geekiness, but Star Wars is a timeless tale everyone can relate to. It also transports us into another universe, or galaxy actually, in which we can experience things unfathomable in our physical world. Escape is necessary at times. (As evidenced by the above quote). I am now onto another Jodi Picoult. So back to sadness and real life. Although it is starting with all these fantastic quotes, I have a feeling it is going to be about finding and coming to terms with one's faith. But here I am jumping to conclusions again. There will definitely be more posts coming. I know you are all now on the edge of your seat.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ahh...the satisfaction of a beautiful book

Currently Reading: The Shadow of the Wind

Since I haven't posted in quite some time, I have several quotes.

Pg 177: "...a stranger sees us the way we are, not as he wishes to think we are."
Too true. With all the preconcieved notions we carry around about ourselves and others, it is easy to make snap judgments and expect certain things from certain people. Sometimes it is nice to be in a fresh place where you can redefine who and what you are. It's pleasant to be seen through clear eyes.

Pg 209: "Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you."
Again, another quote I could relate to. I find myself taking away from books, things that are personal to me. It also explains why people find different themes and meanings from the same story. No need for the ever popular...and the moral of the story is.

Pg 356: "Sometimes we think people are like lottery tickets, that they're there to make our most absurd dreams come true."
Why can't you solve all my problems? You are good at this so you must be able to fix that. Again with the preconceptions. We expect our leaders, clergymen, teachers, parents, etc. to solve all our problems and make our lives better without doing any of the legwork ourselves. Unfortunately, we are often the only ones who can solve our own individual issues.

So this was a fantastic book and I am glad that I stumbled upon it at the library. It is a book about a boy's obsession with a book. Something that has been done before, but not in this same way. He finds a book by an obscure writer and it touches him in such a way that he tries to find more publications by the same author. Throughout his search, much history is uncapped and various characters exposed. All I can say is read it. It is worth a look.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Help

Currently Reading: I Am The Messenger

Wow. Just finished it and loved it. There was a strong message for the reader. You are in charge of your life, but sometimes it takes an outside force to get you to act and make changes. I found myself really relating to the final theme. Sometimes it is hard to see the trees through the forest or however that saying goes. Now if only we could all have the same push that Ed gets. Someone needs to send me on a quest. I know that things are not so great in my life right now, but I am spending all my time focusing on fixing or helping others and not thinking about what I need to do for me. It is hard to let go and make some changes. It is far easier to just accept the status quo. Sigh...now I am sad. I feel bad and sort of know what to do to fix things, but can't bring myself to act. Help me please!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hmm...

Currently Reading: I am the Messenger

Pg 22: "Personally, I think sex should be like math."
Awesome?

This is my second book by Zusak and I totally recommend him. Even though the books are labeled "young adult", they deal with very grown up topics and I don't feel like I'm reading a children's book. He just used a super cool literary technique in that his character actually addressed the reader. It was funny because you are sitting there reading the story and then all of a sudden, he's talking to you. I had to sort of stop like there was someone else in the room. He asks a question and I found myself wanting to answer. You have to reemerge into the real world and take a step back. Too cool.

The main character is having to carry out some tasks given to him by an unknown entity. He is "the messenger" and forced to become an amateur superhero. I like it. There will definitely be more posts as the story unfolds.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Copy Cats

Currently Reading: The First Apostle

I am currently blazing through several fluff detective books, and found this one to be another Da Vinci Code. Exposing religious secrets from the time of Jesus. Oh no! It was a lie! It gets a little old after awhile. Just because it worked for one guy, doesn't mean everyone can use it too. I'm glad this was a library book and not something I actually paid for. Not worth the $7.99. Maybe this is a hint that I should get back to the substantial stuff.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sex

Currently Reading: The Red Tent

Ah back to religion, but not really. This post is all about sex. How free these people are when talking about it and engaging in it. It is funny that these pillars from which so many religions have stemmed are so open about sex, while the current participants are so close-lipped about it. It is taboo now a days and unfortunately our children (yes those products of sex) are the ones who suffer. As a high school teacher, I know all too well that it is a part of their everyday lives and we need to be teaching kids how to be responsible, not encourageing secrecy. It's when you have to hide it, that it becomes dangerous. Be safe and all will be well, but when the only "safe" option given is to abstain, often times our lusts can get the better of us and then we find ourselves in sticky predicaments (ie: The Pact). The characters are so open about it in this book that we get to hear all about the sheep! Ewe...pun totally intended.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Simple Pleasures

Currently Reading: Exclusive

Sandra Brown is certainly not a member of the literary elite, but I find myself drawn towards fluffy stuff lately. I have a big stack of great books to read, but I just can't get into them. I think I have too much school stuff coursing through my brain and I need a break when I read. I even went to the library today to get more fluff. So don't expect much enlightenment for a bit. I will say that it is fun to go to the library and fill my arms with books. I used to do this at Half Price Books, but why waste money on the unsubstantial stuff. I feel better about the vapid books when I don't pay for them. I don't know why I'm hard on myself about this stuff. Any reading is good reading, right? At least they don't have pictures!