Friday, December 31, 2010

Next Up...

So 2010 has almost come to a close. It's been a fairly interesting year, I think, but I have even higher hopes for 2011.

Of course I'm currently at home watching a Dr. Who marathon with my dog, so what does that say?

Either way, I'm waiting on tenterhooks fro 2011 to roll around so I can start the 2011 book challenge for one of my groups on Goodreads. Basically, you pick 12 books (and 2 alternates in case you can't get a copy of a book or find it unreadable or whatever) and then cross them off as you go along. It's just something fun to do.

My list for the 2011 book challenge:

Catching Fire
Slaughterhouse Five
Franny and Zooey
Love in the Time of Cholera
The Bell Jar
Northanger Abbey
The Master and Margarita
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Infinite Jest
The Giver

And my alternates:

Mrs. Dalloway
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

I've been waiting quite impatiently to start reading the books on my list, so midnight really couldn't come fast enough. 1 hour and 52 minutes to go...

Monday, December 27, 2010


I finally broke down and read Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games. For the longest time I wasn't particularly interested in reading this book, but I kept seeing rave reviews, so in the end I caved. I'm really glad that I did.

Hunger Games is an interesting dystopian/futuristic YA novel. Katniss Everdeen, the protagonist, is a strong and dynamic character, and it is interesting to see things through her point of view.

I'd definitely recommend this book to others. Of course now I'm completely hooked and need to read the other books in the trilogy. Once I finish the other two, maybe I'll review the whole trilogy.

I also just finished Stealing Athena by Karen Essex. It took me about six months to read, but that isn't really the book's fault. I had to keep stopping to focus on school and editing and other things of that nature. Anyway, it wasn't really what I expected, but was somewhat interesting at times. It's under historical fiction, but it often feels like romance, so I think I wasn't into it at first because I was caught off guard. I started liking it a bit more once I got furhter into it, but overall it wasn't my absolute favorite book. It did, however, make me more curious about the real historical events upon which it is based. Maybe I'll look into it, but I just decided to participate in one of the 2011 Book Challenges on, so now I have to prepare. I also have to do thesis research. Oh joy. Gah. I'll be in touch...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Banging my head against the wall

At times it boggles the mind how many horrible books get published. Not only the horrible books that become popular and sell well (coughTWILIGHTSAGAcough), but also the books that publishers just decide to take on. Sure, there's self-publishing, so given the right information and enough money anyone can publish anything, but some of these things are published by well-known and respected publishers.

I'm not saying that every book published now has to be another Pride & Prejudice or Great Expectations but I feel like they should have some sort of substance. I just think books should be worth something. Not necessarily monetary worth, but some sort of worth.

This is one of the things that worries me about entering the publishing industry as I've planned. If I think a book is really horribly written, or just really horrible, I'm not sure I'd feel able to publish it, even if others thought it might turn a profit. I think I care more about books than money (which might explain both my dwindling bank account balance and shelf space), and that might not be a great trait in someone in the publishing industry. I guess I'll just have to keep my book love (or snobbery...) in check while on the job.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Things I learned the hard way

So I had this long, lovely, coherent post about A.S. Byatt's Possession and the film adaptation of the story, but then Word decided to freeze on me multiple times and I lost the whole thing because I'm an idiot and I didn't save it. I've been learning a lot about backing up my info these past few weeks. My phone also died recently, and if you know me, you know my phone is my life. I always swore I wouldn't be one of those people tethered to technology, but the crackberry won out and without the damn thing I'm entirely lost and can barely function. My phone tells me where to be and when to be there. Without it I'm hopeless. ANYWAY... I have a new phone now and am back to my dependent ways.

Back to Possession. The book was great. I still think I prefer The Children's Book, but I really enjoyed Possession, and it was truly a literary feat. Byatt essentially wrote two narratives, diary entries, letters, literary criticism, and a boatload of poetry. I'm not saying the poetry is the best thing I've ever read, but there's a lot of it and it must have been a huge undertaking.

But the movie. The movie was terrible. Filmmakers made absolutely ludicrous choices that completely messed up the entire plot. Since they destroyed the main conflict of the story, they majorly played up the romance between Maud and Roland. That relationship, as well as the relationship between LaMotte and Ash, was just uncomfortable. I found myself alternately cringing and wanting to stab things as I watched the movie. I planned on writing about adaptation with Possession in mind, but the notes I took were so riddled with obscenities and question marks that there was no real way to write an academic paper.

I have a migraine and a possible allergic reaction (to peanut butter nonetheless. I'm truly distraught), so that's all I'm writing for now. I've managed to actually finish my semester on time for the first time in a year, so now I'm on break and somewhat free. That means that I should be writing more. Well, that's the hope anyway. Off I go for now.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Languishing in Library Land

So I am sitting here at the desk in the library, working two more hours than expected because one of my coworkers got sick and needed someone to sub and I am a GOOD PERSON.

You'd think I would be somehow cosmically rewarded for such good deeds. And you'd be wrong. I am a bit past my third hour in a row (seventh today) and I have run out of things to read.

OK, that's not entirely true. I finished Possession (review to come) for my class today and the only other book I have is The Drowned and the Saved. Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing againts Primo Levi. He's a fantastic writer. But I can only read so much about the Holocaust before I need a break.

So here I am. Essentially book-less. What is a poor bibliophile to do? Read other book blogs, of course.

Now, maybe it's just me and my never-ending need to be entertained, but I much prefer the blogs that have some sort of personality or character to them. When the blog is nothing but reviews, I get bored. It's not that those blogs don't have merit, it's just that while I am reading your blog for more information about books and the like, I'm also reading to be entertained. Some book reviews are funny. Some are not. There's nothing wrong with a straightfoward book review, but sometimes I just wanna laugh.

Is that so wrong? I thought not.

And now I return to wasting time on the internet.

Note: I just realized how ridiculous it is that I'm book-less in a library. Also, most of these books are architecture or art history related. Not my usual reading material.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

So I had an action-packed evening tonight. The student activities office at my school was having a shoe decorating party. They had pure white converse all-stars (for $15) and a bunch of high-quality paint markers and we all went to town.

As you may know, I am not the most artistic person alive, so while I was excited and enthusiastic about this opportunity, I also had my doubts. I actually ended up with something that I really like.

You may not know this, but I am also a big fan of polka dots. It's actually kind of ridiculous. I went through a phase where the only clothing (and most accessories) that I bought were polka dotted. The obsession has eased up a bit, but I'm still drawn to them every time that I enter a store. 

I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned my obsession with owls. I am, as previously mentioned, completely artistically-challenged. My friend, however, is not and she drew this adorable owl on the back of each one of my shoes!

After I finished decorating my shoes, I headed across campus for my friend's event. I won't go into details, but I will say that there was a sexpert (Juicy Justine), questions, cupcakes, and a raffle (and yes, I did win something). All the money went to a great cause — the Afghan Women's Health Initiative. A good time was had by all. Between these two events I missed out on margaritas at the fiesta themed senior cocktails, but I'll make the next one. Also, I'm not overly fond of tequila. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Well hello again dear readers. Now that the cult activities have slowed down, I just have the regular school insanity to deal with. I am sick and therefore behind on everything ever, but once things are squared away I shall recommence my book reviewing.

In other news, I made a terrible choice. I started looking at graduate programs in publishing. I thought I'd decided on waiting a bit before grad school. Now I'm not so sure. The applications for some of the programs don't seem that time consuming, but if I decide to go to grad school in the fall, that means I need to take the GRE... yes, imagine me with a look of sheer terror on my face. Ugh.

I've decided I'm not thinking about that right now. I have a paper due tomorrow, books to read, and a thesis to continue doing research for. Also, there are at least 3 things going on on campus tonight that I'm interested in, but of course they're all at the same time. Doesn't it just figure? Alas.

Seriously though, I promise book reviews or at least a post not whining about my life in the very near future.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Don't worry, we don't have any Kool-aid

Last Sunday was Lantern Night. "What is Lantern Night?" you ask... Well, it is undeniable proof that Bryn Mawr is actually a cult masquerading as an educational institution.

You think I'm exaggerating.

Each Bryn Mawr student has a lantern, the panes of which are the student's class color (go green lanterns!). Lantern Night is when the freshman class receives theirs. In and of itself, not so creepy.

Did I mention that the freshman are led into the cloisters in pitch darkness? That we're all wearing giant black "bat robes?" That we sing in ancient greek?

Sounding a little bit more bizarre now, isn't it?

And after this ceremony we move outside for the traditional step sing — we sit on the steps, freeze our asses off while singing ridiculous songs, and (some of us) drink copious amounts of alcohol.

It's just icing on the cake that this time it fell on Halloween.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Life lessons compliments of a much longer than necessary car ride

So your college years/your 20s are the times for experiences and making lots of life choices. Some of those choices will inevitably be bad. My friend and I made a bad life choice today.

Driving back from fall break in DC we hit massive traffic and felt a powerful need to not be in a car, so we decided to stop for food. Long story short: we ended up having to choose between a shady looking Pizza Hut and a Denny’s. We chose Denny’s. Now I feel kind of sick. And there you have it: today’s bad life choice. 

The moral of the story: when traffic lets up, KEEP GOING. 
Do not decide that you need to stretch or eat or anything. You are not hungry. There will be food at your destination. You don’t have to pee. You do? You can hold it; it’s only 40 more minutes. Do. Not. Stop. (Especially at a Denny’s somewhere in Delaware where they ask you if you’d like to start with some nachos or pancake puppies). 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In other news...

My friend Misha over at My Love Affair with Books is hosting a giveaway in honor of her birthday. Besides her awesome giveaway, she also writes some great (often more coherent/complete) reviews. 
Go check her out!

Catching up

So as promised, here are some long-awaited reviews. I'm not posting as many as I expected, but here are 2 of them...

Choke by Chuck Palahniuk

I read a short excerpt from Choke in my creative writing class back in high school, and I’d been meaning to read it ever since. I finally got around to it this summer, and let’s just say it was not at all what I expected. It’s not so much that I didn’t like it – it just made me kind of uncomfortable sometimes. Of course, it occurs to me that “kind of uncomfortable” might be just what Palahniuk was going for. Strip it down and look beyond the sex-addicted, less-than-morally gleaming main character’s exterior, and you’re left with an examination of human nature – when it comes down to it, we all just want to be needed.

I definitely don’t agree with the methods, but the message is clear, and once I take a step back  and examine my life and the world around me, I have to agree. Being wanted, being loved, doing something you love and feel is important – they’re the parts of life that people always identify as what they want or feel is important to them, but I think we all feel a need to be needed as well. It may have taken reading this book for me to realize it, but hey, every experience is a learning experience, right?

But that’s a separate issue.

Back to the book. Throughout pretty much the entire time I was reading it, Choke made me at least a little bit uncomfortable. That being said, I….something-ed it. “Enjoy” definitely wouldn’t be the right word, but it left an impression, and it was a good book.  It’s not for everyone, but I think I’d generally recommend it. I might just give a bit of a disclaimer.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

I don’t have much to say about this book other than it was amazing and Kundera might just be a literary genius. His use of language is almost depressing in its brilliance. Basically, I will never be able to write like this, so why even bother trying?
All the same, this book is somehow inspiring.
In conclusion: read it. 

The craft show the other day was kind of iffy. There was a lot of stuff, but not as much really amazing stuff as I was expecting. In any case, there was some amazing jewelry that I took some pictures of, so once I find my camera cord, I might share that with you guys. 

Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the rest of my fall break by not doing anything useful with my life, but I need to get some work done, so I'm going to get on that.... eventually....

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'm going to a craft fair today!

...that's pretty much it.

Well, dear reader, you may not have known this, but in addition to being a book dork and a theatre dork, I am also a craft dork. Yes, my dorkdom is indeed well-rounded.

Anyway, I'm excited. My mom, two aunts, and I are going to the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival. It should be a fun day of pretty things I could never make or afford to buy. If I'm allowed, I'll take pictures and post pretty things. If not, then you'll just have to use your imagination.

Friday, October 8, 2010


It is Fall Break and I am back with the family (and the pets!) and away from school for a whole week. It's not a real break, I still have tons of reading and I need to study Chinese so I don't continue my streak of failing spectacularly. 

Even though I still have work, it is a break and I will post a real post with real reviews at some point. Seriously. I promise. It will happen. 

Now I must return to watching wedding shows...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Note...

I don’t know how I’ve managed to not mention this yet, because it’s actually a really exciting opportunity, but I’m now being sent books to review! ....or at least I will be in the near future. 

An agency found my blog (via another blog, I think), and contacted me about adding my information to a database of reviewers to receive press releases about new books. If I’m interested in reviewing it, I reply and they send me a copy of the book. How cool is that?

In any case, I haven’t received/reviewed any yet, but I’ve requested a few, and I guess we’ll see what happens there. I don’t know if this will end up opening any doors or anything like that, but it’s cool to think that someone, somewhere, read my blog and thought ‘we should get her to read our books’.

Also, free books. You know me. Books are my favorite things and free is my favorite number. It is an excellent combination if I do say so myself. And I do. So there you go. 

Reviews from the books I finished pre- and during the beginning of school insanity are coming. Eventually. I promise. Also on the back-burner: a riveting piece on acceptable clothing choices (because I am oh-so-qualified to comment on fashion...). I know, you await my next post with bated breath. You are on tenterhooks. Every time you try to pull away I drag you back with promises of reviews and rants about horrible clothing. I am cruel. And this is why you love me. 

...You do love me, don't you?

Anyway, back to Don Quixote (for a class. I've already read it on my own, so there may or may not be a review. We'll see). Every time I pick up this book, Man of LaMancha starts playing in my head. It's really quite distracting. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Today in the life

Today was a good day, and while nothing of great consequence happened, I thought I’d share.

Class in the morning, drove hall-mate to hospital to get blood work done, had lunch, etc.

After whiling away a good half an hour doing who-knows-what, I had my individual conference with my Chinese professor in which we basically sit in a room for 10 minutes and he sees that I still can’t speak Chinese. He said that he thinks my listening and speaking skills have improved, and since I’ve been feeling like a complete dunce when it comes to my beloved Zhongwen, that was a nice little boost to make me feel like maybe I’m not sucking quite as much as I’d originally thought.

I spent a little bit of time in Carpenter working on my editing project that I really need to finish in the near future (why don’t people give me deadlines? I can’t work open-ended like this….) and then headed to the Alumnae Association’s Careers in Writing in an Era of Media Turbulence panel discussion. I haven’t attended many of these panels in the past, but I really wanted to go to this one – so badly, in fact, that I got someone to cover my 4-6 shift at the library so that I could attend (and if you know how broke I currently am, then you know how significant giving up a shift is). The talk was really interesting and all of the panelists had a lot of great information. I also hounded them afterwards and asked a ridiculous number of questions and shamelessly gave out my information, but that, I have learned, is what I should be doing. The talk also opened my eyes to the fact that there are a lot more resources within the BMC community than I originally realized, so now there are a few professors who, given enough time, will groan at the sound of my name or the sight of yet another email from me asking when I can stop by their office for a little chat…

It really was great though. Even if it doesn’t lead anywhere ‘networking’-wise, I still learned a bit more about the publishing industry and what I really need to do if I want to be a part of it.

I realized that this blog is a huge thing for me. I started off scared out of my mind. Everything about a blog was foreign and bizarre and so Not. My. Thing. And then something just took over and blogging was great. Everything around me could suddenly be turned into a blog post – into a chance to write about what I see and experience, but not in a pretentious look-at-me-and-my-interesting (not)- life kind of way.

One thing that everyone on the panel said was that you just need to keep writing. No matter what. I scold myself for not writing in my journal more, but when I stop and think, I realize I’ve been writing all summer. Sure, I’m not writing as much fiction and poetry as I’d maybe like to, but I have not abandoned words. I still try to keep them flowing through me in some way, shape, or form.

Now I know I just have to take a few more steps. I need to put myself out there more. I need to get more involved. As a senior taking 5 classes, working, and trying to stay healthy, all while maintaining some semblance of a social life, that’s easier said than done, but I think I can make it work.

Sooo… I got a bit off-topic. The talk was awesome. I think I pretty much covered that. After the aforementioned talk I met up with the roomie (we lived together sophomore year, she graduated last year and is now living and working in Philly, but she’ll always be my roomie [and Puddles] to me) and we met another friend for dinner at a nearby restaurant that is able to accommodate my friend-with-many-allergies. After dinner, roomie and I headed back to campus and ended up hanging with 2 of my hall-mates (the other in our group is gone for the weekend).  We ended up kind of just chilling in my room/the hallway outside my room with one other person from the hall, drinking red wine and making fun of the ridiculous stuff that we all say. It was a good time.

After dropping roomie off at the train station, one of my hall-mates and I just sort of hung out outside and talked for a bit. It was sort of a serious discussion and sort of a share-time, but we had our lighthearted moments and it was a nice bit of bonding.

So yes, many good things happened today:

  • I don’t suck quite as much at Chinese as I thought I did
  • I got to learn more about an industry devoted to my first and never-ending love (coughBOOKScough)
  • I got to see roomie!
  • I got to hang out with some really amazing people while either eating good food, or drinking decent wine
  • I got to get to know one of my hall-mates a little better

I still have lots to do and think about (and write about – the reviews are coming, I swear!), and since I didn’t really get much reading done today it means that I actually have to be productive this weekend, but I feel good. Mildly overwhelmed, but good. I know that there are some steps I need to take, there are some things I need to write, and there are some changes I need to make. There are also lists I need to make, but the lists reflect the above-mentioned ‘musts’, so everything is all intertwined.

I feel good right now. Let’s see how I feel tomorrow when I have to get up to do Saturday paging…

Monday, August 30, 2010

Back to school, back to procrastination

School has started up again and so what am I doing? Anything other than what I'm supposed to be doing, of course!

I'm slowly slogging my way through my Chinese homework. This is probably the easiest homework I will have all semester. I am literally just copying the dialogue out of the book. Yes. That is the homework. That's it. And yet it still somehow requires more stamina than I can muster.

In addition, I spent a ridiculous amount of time looking at classes online and managed to find one that I really want to take. It will take me up to five classes this semester which is something that I may or may not (hint: the former) have promised not to do again. Ooops? It looks really interesting though, and it's only one day a week and it might help me finagle my way into a minor. Also, it's something artistic, which I feel I need in my life right now. Also, I just really want to take it.

But of course, this is me and things are never really that easy, so I decided that I'll shop the class tomorrow. This meant that I had to find someone to switch shifts with me at the library. Luckily I shot out an email and the girl working the shift before me was able and willing to switch, so that was pretty painless.

Then I had the agonizing argument with myself about whether or not I should actually do this since it's taking on another class and yadda yadda yadda. I am, as we know, incapable of making a decision myself, so I called my mother. She convinced me to at least go tomorrow and that I probably won't die if I decide to take it, so that's out of the way.

Then I had to figure out where the hell this building is because I may be a senior, but I still get lost on H-ford's campus all the time. It's embarrassing and truly ridiculous, but I am just that directionally challenged. I have printed out, highlighted, and examined a map. That, combined with the fact that the blue bus is going to drop me off 40 minutes before my class actually starts makes me think that I might have a chance of getting to this class in one piece. But we shall see.

And did I mention that if I do take this class, it will conflict with what was originally my first shift choice at the library? Well, it will. So then I had to sit down and re-order my prioritized shift list since I won't be there for the scheduling meeting and need a proxy to pick my shifts for me.

So there's all the drama of the night for you. Drama centered on a Chinese Calligraphy course that distracted me from doing my Chinese homework. Kind of poetic in a way...

In other news, I have finished reading some books and reviews will happen in the near future. Probably at some other point when I'm trying to avoid doing something that I really need to do.

One more unfortunate thing I learned in college: blogging is a really great procrastination tool.

Alas, back to the grind.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I feel special...

I signed on to write about my moving-in escapades today and happened to look over to the side of the page and realized that I have TEN followers. I realize that in the greater blogging sphere, that is pretty damn pathetic, but since I started off with 3, all from the class, I'll celebrate all I want thankyouverymuch.

It's cool to see that other people are reading what I'm writing. Cool and frightening. Are you judging me? You are, aren't you? Well, too bad, it's my blog.

One really cool thing about blogging about books is that if enough people start to read your blog, publishers will send you free (yes FREE) copies of books to review. Since that is a combination of my two favorite things (books and anything free), I'd love to get to that level.

An even cooler level - when publishers not only send you books, but when you get to interview authors and are even able to give away books on your blog. Speaking of giveaways, there's almost always one going on here. Right now I want to win this giveaway, so if you go up against me, I may have to take you down. Just saying.

I have now completely strayed from the topic about which I was going to write when I opened this window, but I think that's OK. Maybe tomorrow I'll be all motivated and get my room straightened out. Then I could even post pictures, and wouldn't that be something? The answer is 'yes, yes it would'. I am going to decorate this year if it kills me. Someone hold me to that please. I can't live with blank walls for another year. Also, this year my room is cute. Still kind of small and somewhat oddly shaped, but cute and cozy and there should be plenty of room for my books!

OK, the end for now. (PS- just started using google chrome. It fills me with a child-like glee. Just sayin').

Friday, August 27, 2010

Today's the day...

I return to the Mawr. Originally (or at least according to my father's delusions) we were going to leave at 7. I predicted 9:30. We're getting stuff out and into the cars slowly, but surely.

I'm excited to go back to school. So not looking forward to unpacking though...

Well, back to loading up the cars.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mental Feng Shui

 My father sent this to me and insisted that I send it along to everyone else ever. Since I don't really like sending out chain emails, even if they are well-intentioned, I decided to share it. I do think there is something to some of the stuff it mentions. So here we go...
 Lotus Touts: You have 6 minutes. Do not keep this message. I don't know why we're not allowed to keep this message. Does posting it on a blog where I can look at it later count as keeping it?

The Lotus Touts must leave your hands in 6 MINUTES. Otherwise you will get a very unpleasant surprise. This is true, even if you are not superstitious, agnostic, or otherwise faith impaired. Hehe. I like the term "faith impaired". I may have to work that into my everyday vocabulary.

ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, t heir conversational skills will be as important as any other.

THREE. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

FOUR. When you say, 'I love you,' mean it.

FIVE. When you say, 'I'm sorry,' look the person in the eye.

SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.

SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight.

EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.

NINE. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.

TEN. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling..

ELEVEN. Don't judge people by their relatives.

TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly.

THIRTEEN. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, 'Why do you want to know?'

FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

FIFTEEN. Say 'bless you' 'or be strong' when you hear someone sneeze. Never heard "be strong" as an alternative. I'm not sure I get it...

SIXTEEN. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.

EIGHTEEN. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

NINETEEN. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

TWENTY- ONE. Spend some time alone.

Since I've already broken the rules with this format, this part probably doesn't matter, but I figured I'd keep it in case you wanted to see or decided to send this as an email or something. 
Now, here's the FUN part!

Send this to at least 5 people and your life will improve. 1-4 people: Your life will improve slightly.
5-9 people: Your life will improve to your liking.
 9-14 people: You will have at least 5 surprises in the next 3 weeks                              
15 and above: Your life will improve drastically and everything you ever dreamed of will begin to take shape.

A true friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart. Do not keep this message. Again with the "Do not keep this message" stuff. What if I want to keep the message? What if I want to keep these rules as reminders? Hmmm? In any case, I do like the sentiment that comes before. It's a bit hokey, but does pretty much ring true.

So there you have it. I have sort of done what my dad wanted me to do. I think that wins me some good daughter points. Right?

TV! Food! Who says my life is all about books?

So when I'm not reading (or, to be perfectly honest, quite often while I'm reading) I watch a lot of TV. Much of it is complete trash and you would judge me if I told you what I watched, but I do, on occassion, watch good television as well.

Whenever I'm home, the TV spends a lot of time tuned to the Food Network. As a wannabe foodie, I usually just watch the shows and rarely try out the recipes I see. This is mainly because of my bizarre cooking anxiety, but also has to do with the fact that Food Network cooks don't make that many vegetarian dishes. In any case, the other day my family and I were watching the premiere of Aarti Party (the new show starring Aarti Sequeira, winner of The Next Food Network Star) and she was making "Massaged Kale Salad". It looked really good, so we decided to make it.

I have to admit, I did not make it this time, but I am confident that I could re-create it. In fact, I think I will at some point. It was delicious!

So yes, you could just go to the Food Network site and look up the recipe yourself, but I'm feeling generous today, so I thought I would not only post the link, but also the recipe itself, thereby saving you oodles of time so you can go straight to massaging. I'm just so good to you, my lovely readers.

And so, Massaged Kale Salad:

Prep Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Serves: 4 servings


    * 1 bunch kale (black kale is especially good), stalks removed and discarded, leaves thinly sliced
    * 1 lemon, juiced
    * 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
    * Kosher salt
    * 2 teaspoons honey
    * Freshly ground black pepper
    * 1 mango, diced small (about 1 cup)
    * Small handful toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), about 2 rounded tablespoons


In large serving bowl, add the kale, half of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a little kosher salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside while you make the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the honey and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stream in the 1/4 cup of oil while whisking until a dressing forms, and you like how it tastes.

Pour the dressing over the kale, and add the mango and pepitas. Toss and serve.
Recipe courtesy Aarti Sequeira, 2010

There you have it. Eat up!

One more review

I finished John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas last night. Let me tell you, that book pretty much broke me. It was sooo good. So good, but the ending turned me into a wreck. In hindsight, I totally should have seen it coming, but I was so wrapped up in it all that it didn’t really hit me until I was in way too deep.

Despite the wreckage I feel after reading this book, I want everyone to read it. It is a YA novel, so it was a quick read for me. Even so, Boyne’s style in this book is genius. He presents the monstrosity of the Holocaust from the perspective of such naïveté that the story is both so much more and so much less than other Holocaust narratives.

I find a lot of Holocaust-era narratives from a non-Jewish perspective very interesting. I loved Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi (really great, definitely recommend it), but this was just so much different. The innocence of the children and unwillingness of the adults to fully explain what is going on makes the story that much more overwhelmingly inspiring. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is about the Holocaust, but really, it isn’t. It’s about two lonely little boys who form a friendship, innocent and unrestrained by the larger political picture.

Seriously though, this book was amazing and it is so inspiring. I think sometimes we need the naïveté and innocence of a child’s voice to bring us back to what is truly important. I have a feeling that I’ll end up rereading this book on multiple occasions, even if it did wreck me.

So many books, not nearly enough time

I'm heading back to the Mawr on Friday (excited!), but I still have so many books checked out from the library that I haven't read yet! It occurs to me that many of these books aren't actually due back until the middle of September and I'll be home next week before I go to my cousin's wedding, so I could bring some of them to school and finish them there. Knowing my luck and my previous experience with Ol' Murphy though, I'll forget them, or they'll be eaten by geese, or some other ridiculous and possibly unforseen misfortune will befall them (and that's when the library ninjas will attack). I guess I'll just keep reading up a storm and see how many I can get through. In any case, here are the latest results of my ongoing spree:

I didn’t enjoy Geraldine Brooks’s Year of Wonders as much as People of the Book (which I *raved* about here), but it was still a good read. Brooks’s writing style is like nothing else. It creates an experience.

The story, which is based on a plague-ridden year in a real town in 1666, is beyond inspiring. Brooks brings the characters to life as she displays their strength, courage, and faith in the face of such tragedy and terror. I didn’t always like the story, but it never lagged. When I put it down, I always wanted to pick it up again.

The ending was a bit off. It was unexpected, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the way in which it was unexpected – the direction in which Brooks takes it – felt a bit…. wrong, almost.  I don’t know, I can’t explain it. In any case, that’s only the very end, and it’s still a good read, it just feels somewhat disconnected from the rest of the book.

I still love Brooks. I think she’s an amazing storyteller and an amazing writer, and yes, they are two different things.

Perfect example:

I also finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Sometimes this book was well-written, but the storytelling lagged, and other times the story was truly intriguing, but the writing just wasn’t there. The writing issues might, however, be a result of the translation and not a flaw in the actual writing. …OK, so maybe it’s not the best example.

Anyway, I enjoyed The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I had been warned ahead of time that it takes a while to get into and sometimes lags, so I knew to persevere. Had I not had that insider info, I might have developed different feelings toward the book.

At this point, I’m kind of ambivalent toward it. It was a good enough read, but I’m not sure it stands up to all the hype. In any case, I’m completely invested in the series. I’ve heard that the second book is better, and I’d like to see what else the characters get up to. Sometimes they were annoying, but they were endearing enough to keep me interested. I guess we’ll see…

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Random ramblings on cooking and my general insanity

As you may recall, one of my goals (though, to be honest I haven’t really actively pursued it or anything) is to get better at cooking. There are many things involved in cooking that cause me a great deal of anxiety, but there are a lot of things that I like as well. When I’m making something I’m comfortable with, it’s a lot of fun. I also kind of like all the prep work – the mincing and chopping and whatnot. A lot of people find prep work really dull and tedious, but I like it (except when the onions make me cry like a baby on an airplane). All that being said, I HATE peeling potatoes. Hate it. With a fiery passion. I don’t generally like peeling in general, but potatoes are the worst. They always look dirty, even after you wash them, and they’re slippery little buggers. And then there’s the fact that almost every time I inevitably almost peel off a finger or two. But no big deal, right? I don’t really need all 10 fingers…  

 My other cooking issue is that I like it a lot more when I’m not alone. Cooking with friends is a lot of fun. I guess there can sometimes be a problem of literally too many cooks in the kitchen, but I don’t like being alone while I’m cooking. Then I have to talk to myself or the pets and that just bumps me up a little more on the crazy scale.

When I got up this morning I made waffles and a kickass omelet. OK, I put the frozen waffles in the toaster, but I did pull out all the stops for the omelet, and let me tell you, it was good. So yea, when I know what I’m doing I am a master in the kitchen. Go me.

In other news, I saw The Kids are All Right with my aunt yesterday. It was a really good movie, but I was not prepared for the awkwardness of it all. I am, after all, awkward incarnate and so I’m really sensitive to awkward situations. Just watching them makes me squirm. Considering the plot of the movie, I guess I should have figured it would have its share of awkward moments, but it just never occurred to me to prepare myself for it.

But yea, it was a fun movie (even if parts of it were really awkward). I’d recommend it.  

The date of my return to school is quickly approaching and I still have much to do. Must finish editing, must finish reading all the books I've checked out of the library, must organize my life...

All I really want to do is read all the books. I feel like I'm pulled in so many literary directions right now because I want to be reading them all. I finally got The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, so I'm working my way through that in addition to everything else I was reading before. So far it's a bit slow-going, but I was warned in advance of that and I shall persevere.

OK. I'll edit (because that's the one thing on the list where I get paid) and then take breaks to read. Yes. Good plan. Getting to work. Now. Seriously. *sigh*

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Another review and some random observations...

I finished Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle earlier today. I don’t really know what to say about this book. The characters were interesting, as was the general concept, but the book was still somehow disappointing. I really wanted to like it. I thought I would. When I was actually reading it, I was interested enough, but once I put it down I didn’t really feel like picking it up again.

Basically, at this point all I can say about Talk Talk is that it was OK. Just OK. I think I would still call myself a T.C. Boyle fan (I really liked The Inner Circle), but Talk Talk was a miss for me.

In other news, we have gained further evidence of my complete lack of self-control. I went to the library to return a few books and pick up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (for which I've been on the waiting list since the beginning of the summer). While there I may have picked up another 2 books as well. I just couldn't help it! That brings me to 18 books checked out from the library and 8 days until I go back to school... Something tells me that I may be returning some of these books unread. The idea makes me sad, but I guess I'll get over it. My school library has a better selection anyway...

In other other news, while driving around today I passed a house with a purple port-a-potty out front. Generally port-a-potties in the front yard make me cringe, but they are an unfortunate reality in home-imporvement, so I don't judge. All this being said, I think if they have to be there, they might as well be purple. Bring some interest and class to it all, right?

Alas, I have books to read, a manuscript to edit, and a math exam for which to study. I don't mind the first two so much, but the third is the most pressing issue right now and that's just plain depressing. At least the final exam means the end of math...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: Let The Great World Spin

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann is yet another in a long string of books that I’ve read which I really enjoyed, but cannot adequately express why.  McCann introduces characters and stories engrossing in and of themselves, but as the novel comes together, connections emerge, revealing new perspectives within the new information.

McCann’s writing style brings every character to life. While the writing effortlessly urges the reader on, the dynamics between the characters allow for deeper understanding of the characters and the times.

So yea, I really liked the book, I just can't really explain why.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I'm on a review roll!

Today I finished The Funeral Party by Ludmila Ulitskaya. It’s a short little book that chronicles the last days of a Russian émigré artist’s life and the complex relationships of the people surrounding him. It was a good, quick read that gave some insight into a community not often examined.

I also finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I originally resisted reading this book, though I can’t recall exactly why. It seemed like there was a lot of hype, but hearing about it didn’t thrill me. In any case, I continued to hear about it on goodreads, then I saw it at the library and in a fever of ohmygodlookatallthebooks!!! grabbed it and that was the end of that.

The story pulled me in pretty quickly. It took me a little while to get used to the writing style, but once I got used to that I became completely immersed in the story. The characters were lively and dynamic and while they were sometimes kind of frustrating, that just made them feel all the more real.

The Help is a great story, and it’s actually well-written, so that’s hard to beat. It gets my stamp of approval (or would, if I had one) and I definitely recommend it.

Now I shall leave you with one passage from the book that really amuses me:

I give in and light another cigarette even though last night the surgeon general came on the television set and shook his finger at everybody, trying to convince us that smoking will kill us. But Mother once told me tongue kissing would turn me blind and I’m starting to think it’s all just a big plot between the surgeon general and Mother to make sure no one ever has any fun. 
The Help p. 148

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another review for you

See how I made that rhyme? Yea, I'm just too cool for words. Aaaaanyway....

Just finished The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt. This book was epic, not in the over-used, annoying sense of the word, but in the sense that it was truly remarkable. I’m not sure I can really give an adequate explanation of what it is about or really even write a satisfying review of it.

Seriously though, it was great. It took me a little longer to get through than I originally expected, but I didn’t mind. Byatt brings together the story, the time period, and the characters flawlessly. I really enjoyed most of the aspects of the book. I didn’t always like the characters, but they were dynamic and interesting.

Sorry I’m failing at writing useful or informative reviews, but The Children’s Book was great and you should read it, even if I can’t exactly explain why.


Now there truly is a dating site for everyone, including book lovers. Go figure.

So now I present 25 pickup lines to use on new bookworm dating site Alikewise...

Eat, Pray, Love - Movie vs. Book

I saw Eat, Pray, Love yesterday evening. I often get really annoyed when I watch movies based on books that I enjoyed reading, but that wasn’t really the case this time around. Yes, the movie was different, but it wasn’t wrong like many of the “based on the best-selling novel” movies that come out nowadays. It was somewhat condensed and cut out some things, but the filmmakers didn’t make unnecessary changes. In fact, they didn't outright change anything, and I commend them for that. I suppose adapting a movie from a piece of non-fiction might automatically make drifting from the original story more difficult and just plain inadvisable.

I will say that while I enjoyed the movie, I did feel like it was lacking if you look at it compared to the book. In the book things feel so much more personal and inspiring. In both cases, the story is about self discovery and love and inspiration, but I think that the book got the message across much better than the movie.

I liked the movie. I would watch it again (though I don’t know if I’d spend another $11. That’s some valuable book money…), and would probably enjoy watching it again. I also liked the music that they used and the cinematography was great.

It says a lot that I not only sat through an entire movie based on a book that I really liked and didn’t spend the entire time muttering “wrong wrong wrong” under my breath, but also that I enjoyed watching it and allowed myself to really just watch and only have the book in the back of my mind. So yes, I would recommend seeing the movie, but I would almost insist that you also read the book (preferably before seeing the movie, but to each his or her own, I suppose).

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Reviews galore!

I have been neglecting my reviewing duties (mainly because I just kept starting new books and hadn't finished anything in a while), so now you get 3 in one giant post. And heeeeeere we go....

The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has been on my list for quite some time and I just recently got it from the library and finished it the other night. The book was really great. I’m not sure I can say that I enjoyed reading it given the subject matter, but the story was engrossing and Atwood kept me reading.

The style is simple and that lets the story come through that much more clearly. This was one of those books that I wanted there to be more of. Atwood chose to leave the narrative there for a reason, and that sense of the unknown almost adds to the strength of the whole story. Not knowing how everything turns out is frustrating, but seems to be par for the course in this genre. Either way, I think leaving the reader wanting more is generally a marker of a pretty good book.

Breakfast at Tiffany's

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is one of the few exceptions to my book-before-movie rule, mainly because I saw the movie a long time ago and didn’t realize that it was based on Truman Capote’s book.

Reading it now has made me realize that I should probably watch the movie again. I know, of course, (as does anyone who has made the unfortunate mistake of watching a movie ‘based on a the best selling book’ with me) that movies don’t always adhere to the story and details in the book, but there was a lot of stuff that I didn't remember. Some things were just plain surprising.

As I read the book and Holly Golightly came into life, I realized how big of a deal it was that Audrey Hepburn took on this role. There’s actually a book that just came out (Fifth Avenue, 5 AM - it's also on my list and donations to the buy-Bluestocking-books-fund are always appreciated *wink wink*) that talks about the making of the movie and the Hollywood politics concerning Hepburn playing a part so different from characters she’d played in the past.

I think I’d like to watch this movie again and then revisit my discussion of the story. It’s hard to really grasp and then articulate my feelings about this book when the story is so clouded in my mind because of my possibly flawed memory of the movie.

So yes, Breakfast at Tiffany’s…. to be continued….

The Historian

I just finished The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. People have pretty much raved about this book, and now I know why. I absolutely devoured it. The story completely drew me in and now I suddenly have this overwhelming desire to become a historian and travel all over the world on some sort of historic/folk legend crazy goose-chase. I’d like to avoid the many terrifying and near-death experiences though…  

Yea, so maybe I don’t want my life to be quite as exciting as the lives of the characters in The Historian, but I’d like to keep reading about lives that exciting and interesting and full of history and legend and all that cool stuff. In some ways it’s making me start to consider what I want to write my thesis on (which is something I’m not sure if I should be considering right now, but the thought occasionally crops up and makes me want to curl myself into a tiny Bluestocking ball and hide in a hole somewhere surrounded by books that I won’t have to analyze in order to validate my 4 years of horribly overpriced education). I’ve been interested in myths and legends and folk tales and all that cool stuff around the world for a while and have touched on it as a topic about which I'd like to learn more, and this story kind of fanned those flames. That’s a completely different issue though, so I think I’ll try to put that out of my mind for the few remaining weeks of summer and cross that bridge when I come to it.

As usual, I have become distracted. The moral of the story, or post, I suppose is this: read The Historian. It’s pretty damn awesome.

Actually, I guess the moral of the post is read. Period. The end. As you were.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Shall we celebrate?

Well, dear reader, I have reaced a new milestone in the insanity.

My book list has officially broken 1000 books. My last bout of "oooh! that looks interesting!" click-throughs on goodreads has brought me to 1021 on my never-ending list. In addition, I finished one book today and started two more.

I have 20 books checked out of the library right now (and 5 on hold) and I'd like to finish them all before I go back to school. Then there are also all those books that I own, but haven't gotten around to reading yet...

It'll work. Really. I hope.

Getting all this reading done would be a lot easier if I didn't have to sleep or go to math class or, really, do anything else. Alas.

Friday, August 6, 2010

A day in the life

Or at least today in the life...

After beginning my day with an oh-so-lovely math exam (what a horrid subject. whose idea was that?), I returned home to a slightly more literary day. After skimming through various reading materials and taking a nap, I finished The Infinities by John Banville...

The story sounded so interesting - a mortal family's trials and tribulations combined with adventures of the immortals as they pop in and out of the family's consciousness.
It sounded great, but it was kind of just OK...
Banville's story-telling is great, and though I didn't necessarily like the characters, they were pretty well-formed and kept me interested.  

The Infinities was not what I was expecting, so maybe that's why I found it kind of disappointing, but it was a good read and I would still recommend it to most people. 

So that's one more book to check off the list, but I'm still reading a lot more. I'm not sure I can even count anymore. Also, I have books to pick up at the library...

After finishing The Infinities and eating dinner (I don't think I will ever get sick of black bean burgers. so yummy!), my mom, aunt, and I watched Cats & Dogs. It was hilarious in a really awful way and now I know I'll be wating until Revenge of Kitty Galore comes out on DVD to watch it because I will not be spending $10 on that particular film. 

Anyway, now I'm thinking of doing a little bit more editing in between reading more of A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book and T.C. Boyle's Talk Talk. Then there are the books upstairs by my bed.... 

But I digress. Editing. I should do more of that. It is *technically* a job after all... Yea, tonight or tomorrow. We'll see.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Intervention time?

I lack any semblance of self-control. I went to the library today (not my usual day, but that's a separate issue) and may have gone a little insane.

I took out 13 books. Now that in and of itself is a bit ridiculous. So when you take into account the fact that I already had around 6 books checked out, I think it's time to come up with a new adjective.

So yea....

I do have a theory though. You know how they say you shouldn't go to the grocery store when you're hungry? I think maybe there's something similar at work with me at the library. I went there right after spending a while online looking at books and reading about books, and then off I went to the library and immediately saw like 5 books that I had been thinking about. 

I have so many books and I'm kind of ridiculously excited. I should probably get some other stuff done before I get lost in my new finds though... *sigh* my life is so difficult.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The internet is my enabler

It also convinces me that I'm not the only crazy person out there.

Someone on goodreads posted this and after reading it I just had to share it: 75 Signs You're a Bibliophile.

I don't necessarily agree with all of them, but it's amusing nonetheless.

Number 27 is particularly hilarious to me since last semester I shared my room with a large, black cockroach who I immediately christened Gregor. People made fun of me, so it's kind of reassuring that I'm not actually the only one.

On another note, I finished Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It was amusing, but that's really all I can say. I acknowledge that not everyone loves Jane Austen and not every Austen fan loves Pride and Prejudice, but I do love it and P&P&Zombies was just... weird. So that wasn't a real review. Sorry.

I also finished The Time Traveler's Wife. In the beginning it was not at all what I was expecting, but I kept reading (like I had a choice. everyone knows about my must-finish-book-compulsion, right?) and I'm really glad that I did. Once I got into it, the book just kept drawing me further and further into the story. I really cared, which is always a good thing in a book. The Time Traveler's Wife was interesting and touching and heartbreaking and inspiring and a bunch of other adjectives commonly used to describe really good books. I'd definitely recommend it.

Among everything under the sun, right now I'm reading Sense & Sensibility, Lunar Park, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, and probably a few other books whose names currently escape me. I also went to the library yesterday and picked up another 5 books. Yes, I know I have a problem....

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Proof that I'm a Crazy Person (among other things)

I just saw a commercial for Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore and cackled like… well, like a crazy person, for about 5 minutes. I’m still not sure what was actually so funny, but I was laughing for quite some time and I couldn’t stop.

In other news, I’ve finished some books since last we met.

A few days ago I finished Bret Easton Ellis’s first book, Less Than Zero. This is the book he wrote while he was still in college. It was published when he was 20. Perhaps it’s the manifestation of bitterness due to the fact that he was published by 20 and I’ve done nothing with my life and have no plans for my future (this is the main subject of my bi-weekly freak-out), but I found something… lacking. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good book and I’d encourage others to read it, but it did feel a little bit like he was trying too hard to be laid back. In Less Than Zero Clay is sort of like a modern-day (or 80’s day?) Holden Caufield. Or maybe Less Than Zero is like a modern/80’s-day Catcher in the Rye. Something like that. It is what it is. I guess that’s all I can say for now. I just started reading Lunar Park, which is another book by Bret Easton Ellis, but from a later period in his career (The Informers, which I read first is actually a sort of collection of short stories, many of which he wrote before Less Than Zero). I’m barely into it, so I guess I’ll let you know once I have a better grasp on what I think.

Oh dear lord, it happened again. I need to stop watching channels where they advertise for the same movies over and over again. Where was I…?

Catching up on books. Right.

Earlier this month I read The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I really enjoyed reading this book. It was great; filled with intrigue and interesting characters and all that good stuff. I would definitely recommend it. That being said, be prepared for some frustration. Throughout the book the reader accumulates a great deal of questions and not all of them get answered. Honestly, I think I ended up more confused after finishing the book than at any other time while reading. The confusion I experienced didn’t detract from my personal reading experience, but I can see how it would for some people, so I guess I recommend it for most people, but keep the lack of answers in mind?

I’ve been more into non-fiction recently than in the past and in my blogging hiatus I also finished A History of Celibacy by Elizabeth Abbott. Don’t give me that look, I was intrigued. Abbott examines celibacy throughout history and across the globe. It’s really interesting how people have chosen celibacy for such a wide variety of reasons, and yet there are many common threads through history and in many different cultures and religions. It was well-written and I found it interesting. I guess I recommend it if you’re into that kind of thing.

Yesterday I finished The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman. This book has been on my list forever, so I was glad to finally get to it. It wasn’t really what I expected, but I enjoyed reading it. Well, ‘enjoyed’ might not be exactly the right word since the book is about the Holocaust, but I think you know what I mean. Spiegelman shares his father’s story, but he intertwines it with scenes from his own life as he tries to compile his father’s memories while dealing with his wandering attention and constant complaints. The combination of his father’s story with the more current interpersonal struggles between family members is something that I didn’t initially expect, but kind of made it stand apart from other Holocaust accounts in a way that its classification as a graphic novel doesn’t. The Complete Maus shows the horrors of what millions went through during the Holocaust, but it also shows the after-effects. Many of his father’s characteristics that Spiegelman find so frustrating seem to result from the horrors he experienced during the Third Reich. The Complete Maus is not just a survivor’s account of the horrors of the past, it is also an account of present (and possibly future?) pain associated with surviving and, to some degree, not having to survive.

OK, that’s all for now. I’m off to read some more and then sleep so I can get up bright and early to go to my math class… bleh.

Friday, July 9, 2010


So the part of me that is on top of everything remembered that today was the last day to submit my "visiting student' application for the summer math class that I need to take to fulfill my quantitative requirement.

Too bad the part of me that's a complete mess forgo that the class starts this Monday. Now I need to wait for them to confirm everything so that I can register. I also need to work out some sort of payment plan and possibly take out a loan because the class is more expensive than I thought and I am broke. Did I mention that it's going to take 24 business hours? Yea. I'm reeeeeeal good at this.

I guess I'll just go to the class on Monday and say that I did my stuff on Friday, so it probably just hasn't shown up yet.

Ugh. Stupid math requirements.

In other news, my life might be substantially easier next semester/year than originally anticipated, but more on that later.

Back to reading/watching Say Yes to the Dress (don't judge me).

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I feel as though I'm neglecting the blog.

It's a new and exciting form of guilt.

Anyway, I'm reading a bunch of stuff and you'll get reviews/ramblings sooner or later. Tomorrow is Friday, which means I have nothing that I am required to do. And so I shall sleep and read. Ideally I would attempt to organize my room and my books, but I've decided to be realistic and acknowledge that if I even get dressed tomorrow, I'll probably only leave the house for food or, possibly, to go to the library to get even more books (yes, I know I have a problem and no, I don't intend to do anything about it).

So there you go. That's my update. As you were...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Save New Moon (no, this has nothing to do with Twilight)!

I was just stalking the other blogs I read and it looks like New Moon needs help. It's a magazine that helps empower young girls and all that. I read it as a pre-teen and really liked it. So buy a membership for the pre-teen girls in your life or donate or whatever, or just help get the word out. For a decent part of my adolescence, I eagerly awaited each new copy of New Moon. It's a great magazine with a great ideal and message. Let's keep it going. Save New Moon!

Guess what, I read another book!

I finished People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks earlier today when I got up at the ass-crack of the middle of the morning to watch the Argentina vs. Germany game that started at 10:30 and not 9:30 like the other games and holy crap 4-0!

Sorry. Got distracted.

So. People of the Book. I really enjoyed this one. First of all, it’s basically a book about people who love books. My kind of people, my kind of book. The overarching story is that of the Sarajevo Haggadah and Brooks weaves an intricate web of stories throughout the history of this book and the people with whom it came in contact. People of the Book is a little bit mystery, a little bit historical fiction, and a lot bit something else that I can’t exactly place.

There was so much I wanted to say about this book because I really enjoyed it, but now I don’t know how to say it in a manner that is even mildly coherent. The bottom line is: this book was great. I loved the characters and the different stories. The mystery of the anomalies and the personal stories of all the characters that came in contact with the Haggadah as it changed hands and traveled around the world pulled me in. I devoured People of the Book and now all I want to do is read more books like it. So yea, needless to say, I highly recommend it. Read it. Now.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My latest read and my next brilliant idea

I’m reading (among other things) The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Easton Ellis and though I wanted to start with his first book (public library’s copy was checked out), I’m enjoying this one so far.

His style is not really what I expected, and neither is the book. So far it’s very much it’s-the-80s-in-LA-and-we’re-all-fucked-up, and that can sometimes be really tedious, but it works here.

The story is told by a whole cast of characters, but the reader doesn’t get any real introduction to any of them. Easton Ellis just sort of thrusts you right into the middle of it. He dives right in. This is life, so hold on tight. It can be confusing at times, but it certainly keeps you on your toes and that provides for a good enough reading experience. 

In other news, my mom and aunt went to Costco today. Without me. I may have gotten to sleep later, which is always nice, but I am still mildly distraught. I love Costco. Shopping there is so much more entertaining than it really should be. They have everything. In absurdly large quantities. They also have books, though I guess not in absurdly large quantities.

But can you imagine… Oh man. It’s the next big thing. Selling books in bulk. Books grouped by author or genre or some other category. I can see it now. Seriously. I’m writing a letter to Costco tomorrow.

Review time!

The other day I finished Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I’d heard a lot of great things about this book, but before I started reading I didn’t really know anything about it other than that it was about Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell. When I first began reading, I had a little bit of difficulty getting into it and identifying who, exactly, was telling the story. It was interesting enough to keep me reading though, and I’m really glad that I did because once I got into it, I really got into it. I pretty much stopped reading all the other books I was in the middle of and only read Wolf Hall until I was finished.

The book is really phenomenal. The story of Henry VIII and the withdrawal of England from the Pope and the Catholic Church isn’t exactly obscure, but Mantel tells it like a new story. The characters come alive in completely new and engaging ways. 

Most of my previous reading about Henry VIII and that general period in history comes from history books and TV specials and reading A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt. In Bolt’s play, Thomas More is the protagonist and Cromwell is the base, evil villain. Mantel’s Cromwell isn’t perfect, and though she portrays More as a flawed man, he by no means epitomizes evil in the way a novel with Cromwell as protagonist might be expected to. Getting over the ideas of Cromwell as ambitious and backstabbing (and just plain evil) and More as devout and honorable (if not a bit stubborn) that I had in my head from previous reading did not take nearly as long as I expected it to. I was quickly drawn into the story and the lives of the various characters as Mantel portrayed them.

As a side note, Wolf Hall is the first book I read from the public library since I went back. Still no sign of devious library ninjas…

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Following some sort of road

This summer is supposed to be all about my health. Physical and mental. And with me, it turns out, the two are incredibly and irrevocably linked. So along with what feels like constant monitoring from my doctor (and entire family, but they nag because they love – or at least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself), attempts at healthier eating, and attempts at exercise, I am working hard to relax and learn to control my anxiety and stress.

So life makes me terribly, terribly anxious and stressed out. In this day and age that hardly makes me unique, and that’s kind of where I’m heading with this post. There are entire industries that take advantage of people like me.

I see a therapist every week now that I’m home and I think it’s helping me identify certain aspects of my thinking/behavior that need to change for me to be healthier mentally (and therefore physically). Even if I don’t see the connection between every question she asks me, or everything she asks me to think about during the week, I am willing to believe that as a therapist and, possibly, just as an outside observer, she can identify things that I cannot. One thing we’ve been talking about a lot is positive thinking. And this brings me to the actual point of this post (and the tie-in with the general theme of my blog although I maintain my it’s-my-blog-and-I’ll-write-what-I-want-thankyouverymuch mentality):

I’m reading a self-help book: The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer.

It’s odd. For some reason I’m much more embarrassed about reading a self-help book than admitting that I see a therapist, even though it seems like there’s more of a stigma connected with therapy [insert Scrubs quote here: “my father says therapy is for people with more money than problems.”] than self-help books. That stigma against therapy may quickly be falling to pieces in today’s society, but my feelings of shame at owning (and reading) a self-help book still seem a bit bizarre or misplaced given the situation.

I acknowledge that these books really do help people. Or help people help themselves. Or whatever. But I just can’t help but roll my eyes at the idea of following the advice of someone who makes their living telling people how to change their lives for the better. When these people put out book after book year after year, doesn’t it make people wonder if maybe they’re rationing their wisdom or something? At least part of that, I think, is based upon the fact that I don’t think someone can give advice on how to live an individual life without knowing the details of said individual life. Yes, some things are basic. Some of the advice he offers can be applied universally. Some. Not all. Life is complicated, and it feels like self-help books don’t realize it.

Once I get past all the stuff that makes my eyes roll so much they might just fall out of my head, I do see what Dyer is getting at in The Power of Intention. So much of how he writes and what he writes bothers me, but at the core of everything, I do see what he means. I’m barely 50 pages in, so I can’t offer too much of a review right now, but given the title of the book and what I’ve read so far, it seems like Dyer is trying to get his readers to see that the way we think about our actions and the way we approach situations both have a lot to do with how we actually act in these given situations and, therefore, their results.

In the book, ‘Intention’ is some sort of overarching semi-spiritual power. I find this approach mildly off-putting (spirituality is often a huge part of the self-help industry, and that might be part of my issue with it. I’m not anti-spirituality, just anti-your-life-will-only-be-better-if-you-follow-my-spiritual-path-…ity), but if I distance myself from the actual words and the literal, intellectual part of it and just focus on the bigger picture, I see that Dyer might have a point.

Given my compulsive need to finish every book I read, I do intend to finish The Power of Intention. That being said, it may take me a while and you probably won’t see a full review of it. I’m going to read it. I’m going to take what I will from it. And then I’m going to move on.

I don’t see my feelings on self-help books changing radically after finishing this book, but you never know. I think there’s a good chance that something about self-help books will always rub me the wrong way, but I won’t condemn them completely, especially if they do offer guidance to those who need it and are unable or unwilling to seek it elsewhere.

Buddha said that “peace comes from within,” but sometimes we might just need a little bit of help or guidance to find it. 

Friday, June 25, 2010

I just finished Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was really great and I absolutely devoured it (no pun intended…. OK, pun kind of intended, but it was just begging me to go there). Not only was it a quick read, but I kind of just didn’t want to put it down.

This book was phenomenal. It was endearing and inspiring without being preach-y. Gilbert doesn’t hold anything back. She shows the reader her best and her worst and everything in between. Even better, she does it with a sense of humor, knowing that, in retrospect, some things were bad ideas, some things that seemed horrible are hilarious now, and some things were great experiences – learning, spiritual, or otherwise. She shares her story and her talks about her developing beliefs, but I never felt particularly uncomfortable reading from a non-believing standpoint.

Actually, it made me curious about the various spiritual beliefs she mentions throughout the book. Who knows? Soon you may be reading reviews of all sorts of Zen Buddhist writings. I’m up for the pursuit of knowledge, and if I attain some sort of personal peace along the way, I certainly won’t complain.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In which I remain a free woman, but a slave to my addiction

Today I went to the library. The public library. Yep, that’s right. I sauntered right on up to the circulation desk and handed over my driver’s license and asked for a library card. And I got one. No masked library ninjas of doom appeared to cart me off to library jail where I would rot for all eternity, pining for books, or anything. It was quite anticlimactic, actually.

The library’s selection was also mildly disappointing, but maybe I just have bad timing or something. There are some books on my list that I don’t really want to buy, so I was excited by the prospect of grabbing them at the library and having the extra motivation of a due date to encourage me to read it in a timely manner. But alas, many of the books that fall into that category were missing from the shelves. I don’t know if the library didn’t have those books or if all the copies were checked out, or what. I should probably figure out how to use their catalog for future reference. Meanwhile, I managed to find some other books on my list to check out, so that brings the number of books I’m currently reading up to a new level of ridiculous and uncountable.

Of course, before I went to the library, I went to Borders. I only meant to buy 2 things. I came back with 3 books and a glittery gold Buddha. There is an explanation/story behind this, but I think I’ll leave it at that for now.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nothing like contradictions

I went to yoga again today. It was good and I was able to do a lot more this time around than last time. I don't know if it's because we did easier poses or if my body was more used to it, or what, but I'm calling it progress and leaving it at that.

And now I'm eating ice cream. So I started the day off with healthy exercise and am ending it with chocolate-y goodness. And I'm OK with that.

Tomorrow I'm off to tea with the women of the family. It should be fun.

I really meant to go to the library today, but that didn't happen and I'm not particularly sanguine that it'll happen tomorrow. Maybe Monday? We shall see...

In any case, I'm continuing with my reading everything ever, so I should theoretically have some book-related posts in the near future. But again, we shall see.

Friday, June 18, 2010

And there shall be much rejoicing

for I have found my book list!

Huzzah! you were.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Not so anonymous after all

So I’m coming out and admitting it: I have a problem. That’s the first step, right? Admitting you have a problem? Of course, I think that’s the first step to recovery and I’m not sure I really want to recover from this particular addiction. I, dear friends, am addicted to books. [Insert not-so-shocked exclamations here]. It’s seriously getting out of control though. I’ve fallen back into my habit of breaks in that I’m currently reading upwards of four books at any given time. In my defense, they’re (usually) different kinds of books. But yea, it is a little ridiculous and my family makes fun of me.

I’m also rereading books right now, which is kind of different for me. There are a few books that I frequently reread, but those are usually comfort reads/ books from my childhood that don’t take much time to read. So far this break I’ve reread Wicked, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, Persuasion and Invisible Man and I’m now rereading Winter’s Tale, The Count of Monte Cristo, and The Tao of Pooh. I’m also thinking of rereading The Emigrants, Fahrenheit 451 and One Hundred Years of Solitude. And I feel like I’m in the mood to reread Pride and Prejudice and maybe Ella Minnow Pea. I realize I’m mentioning all these books now without really talking about them, but I actually do intend to write more about the books I’m reading. Eventually. I promise.

Have I mentioned that I also have an ever-growing stack of books that I have yet to read next to my bed? Actually, there are now multiple stacks. They’re almost level with my mattress. Yet another indication that I may be going a bit overboard.

I’m also supposed to be doing some theoretical reading to prepare for comp lit thesising. I should probably do that…

So yea, there’s a lot of reading going on this summer. I’m OK with that though. I still can’t find my book list and it’s driving me crazy. Between my general insanity and goodreads, I have a lot of updates to make, but I can’t make them until I find the blasted list. It’s probably somewhere really stupid, but I haven’t managed to convince myself to go through the giant college bins of doom yet. I’ll probably break down and do it in the next week or so. Or I’ll give up and just re-do the list. I do have an electronic copy, but I like having a hard copy too so that I can carry it around to bookstores and the like with me (yes, I know I’m crazy. You should too by now).

I really want to pick up some books at the library. There are a lot of books that I want to read but don’t necessarily want to commit to buying because, well, I’m poor and remained unemployed. This won’t necessarily help with the reading-multiple-books-at-the-same-time conundrum, but I figure go big or go home, right? Well… something like that. Maybe this weekend I’ll get over my fear that the public library will take one look at me and throw me in library jail and then all will be right and book-filled in the world.

Poetry Break

Along with what feels like every other book in my house, I'm reading Nine Horses, a collection of poems by Billy Collins. I really like his style and so far I've come across a few poems that I really like, so I thought I'd share.

So here's my little disclaimer: I own nothing. All of the following poems were written by Billy Collins. Not me. I'm not so talented. There you go...


In the club car that morning I had my notebook
open on my lap and my pen uncapped,
looking every inch the writer
right down to the little writer's frown on my face,

but there was nothing to write about
except life and death
and the low warning sound of the train whistle.

I did not want to write about the scenery
that was flashing past, cows spread over a pasture,
hay rolled up meticulously --
things you see once and will never see again.

But I kept my pen moving by drawing
over and over again
the face of a motorcyclist in profile --

for no reason I can think of --
a biker with sunglasses and a weak chin,
leaning forward, helmetless,
his long thin hair trailing behind him in the wind.

I also drew many lines to indicate speed,
to show the air becoming visible
as it broke over the biker's face

the way it was breaking over the face
of the locomotive that was pulling me
toward Omaha and whatever lay beyond Omaha
for me and all the other stops to make

before the time would arrive to stop for good.
We must always look at things
from the point of view of eternity,

the college theologians used to insist,
from which, I imagine, we would all
appear to have speed lines trailing behind us
as we rush along the road of the world,

as we rush down the long tunnel of time --
the biker, of course, drunk on the wind,
but also the man reading by a fire,

speed lines coming off his shoulders and his book,
and the woman standing on  a beach
studying the curve of horizon,
even the child asleep on a summer night,

speed lines flying from the posters of her bed,
from the white tips of the pillowcases,
and from the edges of her perfectly motionless body.

"More Than a Woman"

Ever since I woke up today,
a song has been playing uncontrollably
in my head -- a tape looping

over the spools of the brain,
a rosary in the hands of a frenetic nun,
mad fan belt of a tune.

It must have escaped from the radio
last night on the drive home
and tunneled while I slept

from my ears to the center of my cortex.
It is a song so cloying and vapid
I won't even bother mentioning the title,

but on it plays as if I were a turntable
covered with dancing children and their spooky pantomimes,

as if everything I had ever learned
was being slowly replaced
by its slinky chords and the puffballs of its lyrics.

It played while I watered the plant
and continued when I brought the mail
and fanned out the letters on a table.

It repeated itself when I took a walk
and watched from a bridge
brown leaves floating in the channels of a current.

In the late afternoon it seemed to fade,
but I heard it again at the restaurant
when I peered in at the lobsters

lying on the bottom of an illuminated
tank which was filled to the brim
with their copious tears.

And now at this dark window
in the middle of the night
I am beginning to think

I coudl be listening to music of the spheres,
the sound no one ever hears
because it has been playing forever,

only the spheres are colored pool balls,
and the music is oozing from a jukebox
whose lights I can just make out through the clouds.


If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary's cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

So that was my poetry sharing break. I hope you enjoyed it. I've been thinking about posting some of my own stuff if/when I ever start writing again. We shall see. But I do like sharing the stuff I'm reading and poetry is something that I can easily put up here for you guys to read.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Done is...


I have just sent in my last final from last semester. Sending it was a pain because it had scans and therefore the file was too big to actually email. I figured it all out though...I hope.

In any case, done is GOOD and now I can focus on other things, like my continued lack of a job.
Well, now I'll have more time to avoid doing my Chinese homework. That'll be exciting.

Speaking of Chinese, I have class tonight. I don't actually mind the class or anything, but traveling to the class and just motivating myself to actually move is becoming a struggle. I shall endure, however. I shall endure.

I should probably finish my homework...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A short review as study break

I'm working on finishing up my last paper (for AWLW - go figure), but I need a bit of a study break or I may go crazy. And so my procrastination is your reading recommendation (sort of. I just wanted it to rhyme). 

I just finished Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. Considering it’s a 500-page book, it’s a pretty quick read.

The story is interesting, but the writing didn’t thrill me. At times it was kind of aggravating and I found myself losing interest.  The book definitely shed some light on some parts of geisha-dom (is that a word?) that we don’t necessarily understand as westerners, but sometimes I just didn’t buy it.

The most interesting part of this book for me was probably the characters and their interactions. I didn’t always like them. In fact, I often found them insufferable, but the dynamics between them kept me interested. I wanted to see how things would play out. My one complaint with the characters is that sometimes I felt like there was something missing – like there was a disconnect between the last thing we saw with the character and whatever was being introduced next.

So yea, basically Memoirs of a Geisha = a good read, but nothing extremely special. I don’t think it’s genius or anything, but I enjoyed reading it and would probably recommend it if I thought it was the kind of book that someone was looking for.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mind. Blown.


memslice:vega-ofthe-lyre | machinery- | mrtumnus | thedecisivemoment | empair:

my mind is blown

AT FIRST I DIDN’T GET THIS because my brain was all “well duh he’s an egg, of course he is an egg,” and then i recited the poem to myself AND THEN I WAS LIKE “HOLY SHIT HE MIGHT NOT BE AN EGG”
then i ran down the hall to share with my friend and she didn’t think it was quite as amazing or earth-shattering as i did. BUT HE MIGHT NOT BE AN EGG, GUYS. HE MIGHT NOT BE AN EGG

my mind is blown
AT FIRST I DIDN’T GET THIS because my brain was all “well duh he’s an egg, of course he is an egg,” and then i recited the poem to myself AND THEN I WAS LIKE “HOLY SHIT HE MIGHT NOT BE AN EGG”
then i ran down the hall to share with my friend and she didn’t think it was quite as amazing or earth-shattering as i did. BUT HE MIGHT NOT BE AN EGG, GUYS. HE MIGHT NOT BE AN EGG

So I saw this on my friend's tumblr (, but I don't have one,  so I can't reblog it. In any case, this blew my mind as well and I thought I needed to share it. I'm not at school anymore, so there was no running down the hall to share this earth-shattering news with a friend, but I did share it with my mom. She was not as amazed as I was. Oh well. 

In other news, I'm currently watching Extreme Poodles on TLC. These people pick themes and then dye/groom their poodles according to the theme. Then there's some sort of performance type thing like at a pageant or something I think. I'm not 100% sure, we're not all the way through yet. It's crazy, but part of me is starting to stare at the dog and decide what color we should dye her...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Not really about books, but too bad

So today I went to a free yoga class. I’ve been meaning start yoga again since it’s some sort of exercise and it’s relaxing, and this particular class was my favorite price – free. Generally speaking, the class probably wasn’t that hard, but my meds make my body hate me, so I had to stop for a while and just sit and breathe. They have these free classes every week though, so I figure if I stick at it, things will get easier. Even though I just sat there for quite a bit of the class, I still came out of it feeling good (if not incredibly sweaty) and relaxed and whatnot. I’ll probably be sore beyond all reason tomorrow, but I’ll deal with that later.

The rest of the day I’ve mostly spent working on my last paper. Oh medical extensions – truly a double-edged sword if ever there was one. I’m thankful that I got the extension because I was not in any position to finish it in time for the original due date. That being said, now it’s summer and I’m starting to feel better and I just don’t feel like doing schoolwork. But, alas, I must. And so here I sit. Procrastinating. By writing my blog. Which was once homework and therefore not really procrastinating. Too bad that isn’t the case now…

I have a lot of ideas for things to write about or tackle for this blog, but I haven’t gotten around to actually working on them yet. Hopefully once this paper is out of the way. Hopefully. We’ll see.