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, June 30, 2010

I was wrong

Currently Reading: A Widow for One Year

I just finished it and am a bit sad. I loved the way it turned out, but I am sorry that I have to leave the lives of such amazing characters. I did something that I usually don't do, I read the author interview at the back. Much to my surprise, I found out that I was completely wrong about the whole characters driving the actions thing. Irving is a planner and has pretty much everything mapped out from the get go. In fact, he doesn't even start writing until after having spend years taking notes. I guess my misinterpretation was actually praise for his ability to create a believable and followable plot. It also speaks to the depths of his characters. They are so real and so empathetic that you can imagine them doing exactly what Irving has planned for them. I want to tell you all what happens with Ruth and Eddie and Marion, but I don't want to ruin the opportunity for you to discover their lives on your own. Please do. I am now going to embark upon a quest to read all of Irving's books this summer. I have six down, but many more amazing tales ahead of me.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wow...that's all I can say

Currently Reading: A Widow for One Year

I think that John Irving is one of my top five or so authors. This is by far my favorite of his works. I am so inspired by everything in it, but the most wonderful part of his writing is his ability to create real, human characters. They truly create the action and the plot of this story. There is no way the whole thing was planned out from word one. The main character is a woman, which is rare for Irving, but he does it so well and so believeable, that I'm surprised there haven't been more women as main characters in his books. They are always the most dynamic in the tales though. I will always love Owen Meany and Garp, but Ruth is amazing. I am having such a great time reading this book that I am actually happier and more productive. So I see that I am back in the serious literature genre. This novel does deal with several (and really random) deep topics, but everything works together and I am excited to see how things end up. I'm certain there won't be one of those endings where everything is peachy and all tied up, although it's not going to be a Hamlet thing either. I think his endings are also one of the things that I love about Irving's works. Anyways, the moral of this story...read this book!

The movie "The Door in the Floor" is based on this book and I had actually seen it several years ago. The funny thing is that the movie is based only on the first quarter of the book. The good stuff doesn't come until afterward. I wonder why they chose to only tell part of the tale? It does stand on its own quite well, but the mass public has been denied the awesomeness that is Ruth! How sad. I reiterate, read this book! Now!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Permission to Live

Currently Reading: This is Where I Leave You

Another Jonathan Tropper, but this one is turning out to be much better than the others that I have read before. I guess that explains why it is his most popular and I had to wait several months before it was available at the library. Man there was a long wait list. I will post more about this again because I had another thing I wanted to talk about here.

I haven't posted in a very long time. It was partly because I was terribly busy with school and work, but mostly because I was embarrassed. I had been reading fluff and nothing but. I didn't want to admit it to anyone and so wouldn't post since my list would have included John Grisham and Patricia Cornwell. For the longest time I have not allowed myself to read anything but substantial novels and the occational Star Wars book. I felt like I needed to be intellecual or something, but really I was just denying myself some pleasure. Not everything needs to be prefect or socially acceptable (or what we view to be socially acceptable). It was all about appearances. I find that I have been denying myself a lot of stuff to the point where I have denied myself to live. I denied myself food, entertainment, rest, friends, etc. I wasn't really living, but rather going through the motions so that I could live up to some unrealistic standard that I set for myself. And it really was set for and by myself. Millions of people read Grisham. Why did I think I couldn't? Who would I be disappointing? Only myself and in fact, I was disappointing myself by denying myself and creating these unrealistic standards. I know that much of what I have written makes no sense. I have become enlighten in many ways lately and part of my re-emergence into real life has been to start being more lenient with myself. I am allowing myself some enjoyment and pleasure and it has been wonderful. Yes, there is a point where you can become too lax, but really, I am harming no one and am a much happier person which makes me more fun to be around. So I am actually helping society as a whole. No one liked me before. I was testy and mean and selfish. Here I was spending all this time worrying about living up to (what I perceived to be) people's expectations, but all I was really doing was being a jerk. It is so freeing. I can read a crime novel here and there. That doesn't mean that I will only read them. I will still stimulate my brain with hearty literature, but I will take the time to satisfy my sweet tooth (in more ways than one). So expect some fluff here and there, but don't worry, there will always be some meatier listings as well. Sometimes your brain just needs a workout, same as your body. The thing I need to realize is that it is OK to take a break now and then. Life is to be lived and enjoyed. It doesn't last long enough to waste being miserable and we are all worth celebrating and deserve a bit of pleasure be it fiction fluff or marshmallow fluff.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Science is Awesome

Currently Reading: Allies

New Star Wars! I have to admit, I am a huge Star Wars junkie. It is just so awesome! I read all the books and have gotten to the point that these are pretty much the only books I will buy on the day they come out and in hardcover editions. I usually hate hardcovers anyways, but they are too expensive to justify buying for something you'll probably just sell again later. I did buy The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest in hardcover though, that was an exception. Now back to Star Wars. Mr. Lucas is a true visionary. He came up with a kernel or an idea that was so amazing that both he and others have been able to build upon it continuously to create a true epic. There are now stories about what happened before the movies and even afterward. The book I am reading takes place decades later. Luke is a papa and his son is a teenager. Han and Leia are grandparents (but very cool grandparents). Darth Vader's effects still live on but several governments have rose and toppled, not to mention the extra-galactic foes. I know this makes me a geek, but I just can't help myself. I wish I was a Jedi.

And now to close with a quote from the sci-fi book I read prior to this.

Pg 305: "There's no phenomenon in the universe that you can't describe mathematically. Everything's a calculation, Charlie, including you and me, we're just little sequestered calculations, water and minerals running million-year-old make-me instructions."

Too true. I try to tell this to my students, but mostly they don't believe me. The classic "When am I ever going to use this in real life?" is way too common. All I have to say is that without math, there would be no real life. Enough said.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Words

Currently Reading: A Thousand Acres

Very good, but really just filled with the typical family drama. Financial woes, affairs, sibling rivalry, incurable diseases and of course, incest. That is a common theme in way too many books. Does it really occur that frequently, or do we just like reading about it so much that authors feel the need to insert it in every other story? I'm sad if it's true. Parents are people you should be able to rely on and go to for care and comfort. All to often, parents do not provide the solace children need and then they seek other sources of comfort such as the destructive personalities mentioned in my previous blog. Sad.

What I was originally planning on writing about though, was words. I keep getting all mixed up because the characters are always eating dinner and then supper. It is not dinner! It is lunch! It's weird how words change meaning over time. Nowadays, at least in my environment, dinner refers to the evening meal if the word is even used at all. How does the meaning of certain words change over time? I suppose it is just common practice. Like how we keep coming up with new words to mean new things as they arrise. Not too long ago, blogging would never have been heard of and who could imagine that "google" would become a verb. (But apparently not a word as my spell check does not like it.) I think it's cool how languages change and adapt as people evolve. I guess they are really just tools we use to do a job, getting our thoughts and feelings out in the open and sharing with other people. Pretty neat if you think about it. How amazing us humans are!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Persuasive

Currently Reading: The Divide

It is alarming how we allow ourselves to be controlled and manipulated by the people in our lives. Yes, it is important to seek the advice and solace of those we love and trust, but there must be a limit. Or at least a filter through which we decide what is good for us and what is harmful. The main character in this book is easily swayed by a man she loves and he pushes her into uncontrollable situations and ultimately ends her life. She would be a much different person if she had been able to stand up for herself and not allow him to call all the shots. It is sad and I want to enter the story to offer her comfort and a safe place to stay. I feel that I am mostly in control of what I do, but I know that I all too often think about what others would do or say about my actions. It is crucial to a healthy relationship that there be give and take. Too often, some of the most wonderful people are demoted to a side position by more powerful personalities. Unfortunately, this shows in politics all the time. It's too bad that there isn't an alarm or something that would mark the "bad" influences in our lives allowing us to flee the situation before it is too late.

I certainly used the word "too" quite a bit. I guess this just speaks to how influential these powerful personalities really are. Speak up for yourself, but take the time to reflect upon your decisions and seek advice from those you trust and who you know care about your well-being. Those are the people who, at least not overtly, won't steer us wrong.

Monday, June 7, 2010

On the Edge of Your Seat

Currently Reading: The Divide

So I'm reading another book by an author who has a more famous one that I haven't read. This one is by the author of The Horse Whisperer. It is quite good and deals with a lot of family dynamics, but in a way that is not too over the top. It starts in the present and introduces this horrible thing, but then switches back to the past and explains the events leading to the horror. I kinda like this style because it creates suspense, always a nice thing with a book. It keeps you interested as you want to find out what caused the terrible event. The characters are likable, but still have flaws. They make you care about them and are not too over the top. They are very real with very real troubles and the conscious plays a big part in this story. What I love about them is that you can relate to their feelings and can empathize. Too often books are filled with unbelievable characters in remarkable situations that are just not something you see in real life. While this is great for an escape, it is more often nice to have something true. I still haven't gotten to the cataclysmic event, so look forward to more posts.

On another note, I am doing pretty well mentally and my issues are starting to lie on the back burner. This is fantastic and I hope it continues this way for a bit longer.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The truth can be hard to swallow (literally in my case)

Currently Reading: Falling Angels

But first, a quote from the Cornwell fluff I was reading earlier. Pg 374: "The body doesn't lie. No matter what you tell yourself, your energy level responds to what is actually true." This about sums it up. I have spent my entire life letting my mind control what I put in my body and what I do to it. I have never listened to what it has to say. Its needs and wants have basically been ignored in favor of my disordered thinking. I am working on this and feel I have made some progress, but it is very hard. Think about any habit you must break. First and foremost, you must want to break that habit, thus needing to consider mindfulness, when the desired result is actually mindlessness. Then you need to think about why it is that you have wanted this habit and continued it for so long. What are the consequences of breaking from this habit? Will you be better or worse off in the long run? Can you deal with the feelings of discomfort and unease? I never wanted to be beautiful or look like a model. I never wanted to wear cute little clothes or find a boyfriend or anything. For whom have I put myself through such sorrow and pain? Really. Why do I hate myself so much that I continue to abuse and condemn myself? I don't think that I hate myself. I like most things about who and what I am, and really, the only thing I hate is this disease and what it has done to my life. Will I ever be able to get over it and accept who I am? There is nothing wrong with being yourself be it smart or dumb, fat or skinny, funny or solemn. The most important thing should be truthfulness. Are you being honest with yourself and your feelings? I am tired of lying. I crave peace.

On a brighter note, Falling Angels is fantastic so far. I just started and so don't have too much to report. It is written by the author of The Girl with a Pearl Earring, which I haven't read. She tells each bit from a different character's perspective and so you get into the minds of people from all walks of life. The different thing about how she does this and how others have done it in the past, is that each bit is relatively short. This way, once you are getting bored with one way of thinking, she switches it up quickly and you have a whole new voice in your head. Cool. I need a voice besides my own in there if I ever want to get over this thing.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Finding Yourself

Currently Reading: Ladder of Years

Wouldn't it be nice if we could try out a new life for a bit? Maybe we'll like it and stick with something new, or maybe it won't work out and we'll go back to our old lives. The main character in this book gets to do just that. She makes a decision and goes with it. Delia leaves her family and friends behind and really finds herself. When you spend so much of your life being defined by your relationship to others, it is often hard to find who you are by yourself. What do you like? What are your contributions to the world? It is a question I keep coming back to, but really only because it is so important. This bok was fun because you got to experience the main character in a couple of different guises. We, as well as Delia, were able to see where she fit in the best and what her finest qualities were. Not to mention her faults. Highly recommended.

Also recommended, finding a video of Isabella Rosselini's commencement address from this past weekend's graduation ceremonies at SCAD. I had a great time and enjoyed it all, but her message really spoke to me. It also kinda ties into the message of this book. Do what you love and what you were meant to do. It is important to feel safe and satisfied be it saving lives as a doctor, or making the world a slightly more beautiful place as an artist or designer. She joked about not wanting to list "model" as her occupation. We should not be ashamed of who we are. We are all unique individuals with our own assets and faults. Embrace them all. Hee hee, it was a great speech and brought tears to my eyes. I actually feel the difference she has made in my life is just these past few days. See, a silly model can make a significant difference. Thank you Ms. Rosselini.