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.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Why Ben Joe? Why?

Currently Reading: Sea Glass

...but I just finished If Morning Ever Comes so I'll talk about that first. This poor boy is the main character. His name is Ben Joe, his first unfortunate feature. He has many, many sisters and his mother is a widow. Even though he attends school in New York, he cannot help but be worried about his family and runs home at the first inkling of bad news. He spends all his time being so worried about caring for everyone else that he forgets his own happiness and puts all his efforts towards making this good for everyone else. It is sad. Especially after the book in my last post where the big idea was how to find your own happiness. I guess that for some people, they have to find their happiness by ensuring that of others. There are many people like that. Many of the martyrs. I feel that this is not a characteristic I have. In fact I am so self-absorbed that I mainly contribute to the unhappiness of others. I don't know how Ben Joe can live the way he does and my heart goes out to him. In the end, he makes a mistaken decision but cannot bring himself to reverse it. I can only see sadness in his future and for his future bride. He thinks he is making her happy by sacrificing his own feelings, but in the end, I am sure that she will be unhappy as well. Man, I am all bummed out now.

Onto Sea Glass. I literally just started this so don't have much to say except that I am excited. It is written in the form that I absolutely love. Each chapter is from a different point of view. So far all the characters seem so separate and so I am excited to see how their stories intertwine. This is the first Anita Shrive book that I have undertaken. If it proves to be good, I will have a wealth of other books to peruse. I still need to get on my John Irving task as well. Oh so many books and so little time!! And school starts up again. Farewell to my summer reading. Sniff...

Monday, July 26, 2010


Currently Reading: Open House

Pg 88: "I know I embarrass you, I've always know that. But I have to get through life in my own way. It pleases me to be happy."

So even though this wasn't a "National Book Award" finalist, it is proving to be better than the previous novel., which was one. See, those critics don't always know what they are talking about. And really, it is about what you want to read and like the quote says, what makes you happy. The main character, Sam (short for Samantha), is recently divorced. She was not the instigator of this separation and is completely lost. She tries to find herself through various activities, shopping, finding a roommate, emulating Martha Stewart, etc. but nothing seems to be working for her. It is hard when you have spent your whole life defining yourself for someone else. When you do not have their support or approval, you become lost. It is important to discover your sense of self early on in life and to promote yourself to your best ability. In the end, the only person we need to please is ourselves. We cannot rely on others to give us what we need. This is something I need to work on. It seems I am constantly finding things to work on. I may never be completed. Although maybe this is the point of life. Constantly working on yourself and discovering what works for you. I don't know that anyone is ever really "finished". It's like a novel or painting. Sometimes you just need to be satisfied and walk away or you may find yourself tweaking for forever. I know those two things totally contradict each other. I guess I don't really have an answer yet. So who are you? What are you? What do you want? Poor Sam is having a hard time answering these questions. This is part of what is making this such a good book. She is someone we can relate to and going through the same stuff the rest of us are. I wish her well and hope I can gain some insight or at least a tip or two as I follow her along on her journey. I'll be sure to let you know what I discover.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Big Dud

Currently Reading: Big If

Pg 291: " Not everything in your life has to do with you. It's easier once you realize that."

What? You mean the world does not revolve around me me me? Who'd have thunk? I like this quote even though it has little to do with the actual content of the book. I am so busy putting thoughts and ideas about myself into the minds of others, that I often forget that I am but a drop in a very large large pond.

So now onto the book. I am always excited when I get books that are award winners or finalists for some prize or something. That means it has to be good, right? Well, this is not always the case as evidenced in Big If. I like the premise and all. Two stories being told simultaneously, but there has to be a meaningful thread sort of tying them together. This is about a secret service agent who protects the VP, and the life of her brother, a video game programmer. The main tie is that they are related and much of the story takes place in the same town, however, I just couldn't get a connection between the two viewpoints. They did not need each other at all. Plus, the characters were not well developed and I didn't care about them at all. I love stories about everyday Joe's. You can usually relate to them or sympathize with their issues. In this book, I really couldn't connect with anyone. The other type of character you see in books is the epic hero, who of course you can't relate to, but champion all the same. So not the case here. Bummer. I love character stories.

In addition to lacking substance in the character department, the who plot dragged and there was very little action, suspense, meaning, or development. It was a story that did not need to be told. And yet it was a National Book Award finalist and Jonathan Franzen (someone who writes stories that ought to be told and develops characters like nobody's business) gave it props. Ugg. I hate it when that happens. So all in all, I do not recommend wasting your time on this one. Pick up some fluff instead. It would be a better usage of your limited time here on planet Earth.

On a side note, apologies for the lack of posting. I have a wicked grad school class taking up 110% of my time and was up in Minnesota over the past week and a half (unfortunately doing grad school stuff the entire time). But of course, I realize that your world's do not revolve around me and so I am sure that all managed to survive. Hopefully the posts will not be so few and far between in the future.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Caged In

Currently Reading: The Amateur Marriage

I am taking a wee little break from all my schoolwork to write a bit about my current reading. It is sad when someone wastes their entire life in an unhappy circumstance. The main characters in this book impulsively married, and stayed married for quite some time. Partly they remained static for the kids, but the real reason was that staying together was just how things were. You stuck with your decision and didn't complain. When Pauline, the wife, tells her husband, Michael, to just leave, he does. She regrets her decision later, even though she was the unhappier party, but Michael will not come back. Not because he is being stubborn, but because he felt so free when he realized that he could leave. They raised their grandson together and eventually got on with their lives, but still, the divorce always haunted all their actions. People talked about it and Pauline still relied on Michael for certain things like shoveling the driveway. He was happier to do this now because it was a choice, not a requirement. Why do we have to stay with one person until death? People change and thus their relationships will change. Just because something is more socially acceptable or is common practice, we do not need to be bound by rules that stifle our individuality. No you shouldn't just run out an commit murder or something, but if making yourself happy doesn't cause mortal harm to another, I say go for it. I am discovering that life is too short to be unhappy. Yes, I know I am not totally practicing what I preach, but I am trying. Some days go better than others and some days are harder than others, but I will stick with it. Sometimes once you've found yourself, the right person will find you too.