Tally Monday, March 31

Books Checked Out
NONE!

Books Bought
None!

Books Read 

  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  2. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach
  3. Hector and the Secrets of Happiness by Francois Lelord

TBR 
27

 

Even though this makes for a really boring Tally Monday but an excellent reading week.  See, what we have here is a week where my stack got shorter.  It’s a rarity, mostly because I have a “system” that allows me to add a book almost every time I take one off.  Not this week.  Nope, not a single one of the books I read had any business being in my TBR stack and so they were not replaced.  Alright.  Maybe that’s not actually as awesome as I’m pretending.

My big project this week was the creation of a book jar which actually ended up being a book hat box.  I spent three days in my office, happily sorting through boxes and writing down every book I own that I haven’t read or want to read again.  Those days, including two mornings and evenings and one whole day when I had the zombie plague, were glorious.  I am honestly my happiness when I am in my office with my books and I really really want to get more shelves so all of my books can be out all of the time and an armchair so I can just sit in there and read.  I was so excited by the completion of my project that I allowed Hubby to select the first little folded slip of paper for me.  I got 13 Clues for Miss Marple by Agatha Christie and I am legitimately excited.  I’ve never read any Agatha Christie.  This book was a gift from someone I’m not friends with anymore and it’s short.  Intriguing.

Something embarrassing happened in my reading life this week that I want to share with you guys.  For Christmas I received a $25 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble.  I have carried it in my purse for months now but haven’t been anywhere near a B&N.  (I live in the sticks.  Seriously.)  Hubby planned a wonderful day for us on Saturday.  We went down to “the city”, where he grew up, and he took me to see the new Wes Anderson and drink craft beer and we made a stop at Barnes & Noble!!  I was so excited to buy a book.  Oh, man, I have been wanting to buy books like nobody’s business.  I walked into that store with actual glee.  I was in a book store.  With a gift certificate.  Holy shit.  But, guess what…  I couldn’t decide what to buy!!  It was horrible.  I actually got a little teary eyed when we were leaving.  Hubby asked what was wrong and I had to tell him that my whole life was a lie.

Now, get reading.

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Hector and the Secrets of Love by Francois Lelord

Have you ever read a Hector book?  The first one was Hector and the Meaning of Happiness and I would suggest that one over this.  It’s almost like being in a Wes Anderson film.

Hector is a psychiatrist from France.  At the beginning of the book, Hector is feeling a bit tired.  So many of his patients are coming to him with problems of love.  He has hung a picture of Chinese characters in his office and whenever a patient asks what it says, he tries to come up with a saying that best fits his/her case.  At home, he is also having problems with Clara.  He is invited by the large pharmaceutical company Clara works for to a weekend of important meetings on a tropical island. There, they discuss love and Hector is picked by Clara’s boss, Gunther, to go in search of his old friend, Professor Comorant, who has made off with the research for a new love drug.

At his first stop, the professor leaves a sample of his new drug for Hector and a pretty waitress, Vayla, to try.  Frustrated with his failing relationship, Hector agrees.  What follows is a word on finding, defining, and keeping love.  What is love?  Hector answers this with his seedlings.  What is heartache?  Hector breaks down the components of this as well.  He is a man confused, still in love with Clara and wondering if it is only the professor’s drug that has made him love Vayla.

The problem with love is that it is so powerful that everyone would like to be able to control it with a simple vial of liquid.  It soon becomes clear that Gunther is not the only person interested in the professor’s research.  Can Hector find the professor and the antidote to the drug?  Can he prevent it from ending up in the wrong hands?

This was a nice little read but not nearly as good as the first.  I think I will take a break before reading the next in the series.

Michigan’s Four Seasons

Here in Michigan w have four seasons.  The are:

  1. OMG!  It’s sooooo cold!  I hate snow!
  2. Mud and Flooding
  3. OMG!  It’s sooooo hot!  I can’t wait for snow.
  4. Apple Orhard

I really wish that I was exaggerating.  Every winter everyone complains about the cold and the snow and the ice.  They talk about how they can’t wait for spring.  When spring gets here, they complain about how muddy their driveways are.  This year we have been lucky.  Winter has kept us in a death grip and the snow (which didn’t melt all winter, odd in itself, and stood at least up to my waist in a lot of places) has melted in bursts.  There’s still snow on the ground but at least there isn’t ridiculous flooding, ala Grand Rapids last spring.  Anyway, in spring we talk about how we just want it to be hot and we want to wear flipflops and go to the beach and we can’t wait to camp and go for long drives along the shore.  When summer comes, we bitch ceaselessly about how hot it is or how sick we are of severe thunderstorms or that the AC is too high or too low.  We can’t wait for fall.  And, honestly, fall seems to be the only season we really enjoy in Michigan, except that we keep talking about winter being on its way.

You know you’re from Michigan when your Facebook feed is completely full of people complaining about the weather and/or photos of the temperature.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

I am going to admit that this was a little cheat to get my numbers up.  Hubby suggested it last year and I shrugged it off because I wasn’t really interested and then a couple of weeks ago I decided to read it and a mad search for the book ensued because it was buried in Hubby’s collapsed bookshelf.  Home sick today with very little to do and capable of doing very little, I finally found it and blasted through it.

Our conversation went like this:
H: I read it like a cute story about a seagull and ignored all of the existential bullshit.
M: I think that was my problem.  All I could think was that someone wrote a book about seagulls, which I hate because the poop all over my car.

Seriously, that’s about it.  Yes, I get the philosophy that’s going on here.  I understand that this is a Deep Book.  I just didn’t enjoy it.  The depth felt too heavy handed.  I hated the descriptions of speed and turns and technical points of flying.  It was distracting and really felt like a way to build up some word count.  There was really a time when this was A Book to Read?  Complete with the grainy “artsy” photos of seagulls?  Can seagulls smile?

Basically, Jonathan is more concerned with learning how to fly than with eating.  It even mentions that he goes back to his flock dizzy and hungry.  The flock ostracizes and he lives on his own by the far cliffs, learning to fly so well that he can dive into the water and catch his own food instead of scavenging.  Then one day two brilliant birds appear and take him to another plane of existence where he continues his search for knowledge.  Eventually he returns to teach seagulls in his home world everything he has learned.

I guess you should read it.  It will take less than an hour and maybe you’ll eek something from it.  I wish you better luck than I had.

Home- Finally Getting It

The funny thing about this month in my happiness project is that I purposely didn’t work on it.  That was kind of part of the challenge.  After I bought my house, I would spend all of this time trying to get things just right and after a while I didn’t even want to go home.  I would clock out at night and think, “When I get home I have to do this, this, and this.  I may as well just stay here.”  When I realized that this was becoming a pattern, I actually made rules for myself.  If I worked on the house when I got home, I stopped by 8.  That gave me enough time to finish up something that was bothering me before making myself relax.

Ever since the wedding I’ve had a really hard time dealing with the house stuff.  I have probably talked about this before but I had a lot of leftover habits ingrained in me.  I thought that the only way to be a “good wife” was to make sure that the house was clean, the fridge was full, and Hubby’s needs were anticipated.  The problem was that I was running myself ragged trying to do all of those things and if that weren’t enough I was growing increasingly bitter about it and Hubby wasn’t really appreciating it because it wasn’t what he wanted at all.  He didn’t care if I cleaned the toilet on my lunch break.  He didn’t care if I cleaned the toilet, period.

So this month I gave up.  I gave up on those expectations.  They were stupid and ridiculous.  The first half of the month I kind of just screwed off.  I mean, I picked up and did some dishes or whatever but basically I ended up letting things pile up until I spent an entire day trying to get it right.  That was just as stressful as spending every day trying to get things right.

This week I finally got it, though.  Sunday I took the time to actually clean the house, top to bottom.  I took my time.  I did the laundry.  I took frequent breaks to read and write.  When I finished cleaning, I folded the laundry and put it away and then looked around my house.  It was ready for a week.  That meant that I could spend my Monday trying to chip away at the To Do lists that I had let build up and by the time 8 rolled around I was caught up.  When I made my tea at night I did the dishes, no matter how many there were.  Every morning I’ve woken up to a dirty dish free world and every day I have worked on my big organization project and every day I have had time to sit down and relax, enjoy Hubby’s company and the cats.

Again we learn that it’s all about balance and I am doing my best to balance.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I want to begin this post by saying damn you, John Green.  Just.  Geez!  I mean, I expected a sad book, of course.  Did I expect a magical and witty sad book?  Well, I should have.  What I did not expect was to spend two days this week sitting on the couch with my husband and the cats, staring at him and thinking, “If you get cancer and die, I will kill you.”  I think he’s beginning to expect something.  I’ve been very huggy.

Hazel is exactly the girl that every single nerd girl wants to be, but with cancer.  She is smart and funny and quick and apparently beautiful, at least to the people that love her.  Kudos, here, in fact.  I don’t know that a description was ever given of Hazel except in comparison to someone she looks like and still I have this perfectly formed image of her in my head.  Hazel, aware that she is dying, spends most of her time in her room reading or watching junk TV.  It made me wonder what I would do if I knew that I was dying and I related to Hazel because it was the same thing.

Hazel goes to these support group meetings which are supposed to help but are pretty much just depressing.  At one of these meetings her acquaintance in annoyance, Isaac, brings his friend Augustus along.  Isaac has just learned that he will lose the only eye he has left.  Augustus has lost a leg to cancer.  Instantly there is a connection and the connection sizzles so much that the reader her/himself can’t help but feel downright giddy.

I love these characters and I loved following Hazel’s descent into love.  She doesn’t want to be a grenade, doesn’t want to hurt more people with her death than she already will, but Augustus proves irresistible and their love is one for the history books.

Damn I loved this.  Just Damn.

Tally Monday- March 24, 2014

Books Purchased

  1. Different Seasons by Stephen King
  2. Tome Jones by Henry Fielding
  3. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  4. The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

Books Checked Out

  1. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
  2. Hector and the Secrets of Love by Francois Lelord
  3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Books Read:

  1. Princess Ai: The Ultimate Edition by Courtney Love
  2. A Beginner’s Guide to Philosophy by Dominique Janicaud

TBR: 28

Two books a week is nothing to spit at if you think about it.  Not really.  I mean, I wish that I was pulling off a third book every week but quite frankly that would not be sustainable.  I can do it sometimes but the rest of the time I actually have to talk to my husband and go to work.  I am disappointed with my number this week simply because it should have been higher.  I should have only taken two days on the Love and at the end of the first day on the Janicaud I only have 10 pages left but couldn’t keep my eyes open to finish.  The next day I didn’t touch it at all.  When i did finish the Janicaud, I read a short story (“The Birthmark” by Hawthorne, pretty good) and then picked up my next book: The Fault in Our Stars.  I looked at it.  I really wanted to read it but then I realized that it was the last John Green book I had to read and that made me kind of sad.  That doesn’t mean that I didn’t plow through the first 100 pages yesterday while still managing to clean the whole damn house and do the laundry.

That takes us to our check outs for the week.  I didn’t want to count the Green because I had had it checked out the week before but had to return it because someone else had a hold on it.  The Lelord is a sequel to a book that I a couple of years ago (Hector and the Meaning of Happiness) and loved so much that I went out to buy a copy.  I recently remembered that there was a sequel and went on a mad hunt of libraries for it.  I accidentally ordered the third Hector book in audio at first and had to send it back.  I almost think that doesn’t count either.

Did you guys know that I listen to audio books?  I do.  I drive a lot for work and audio books actually help my focus.  For a while I would drive around and listen to music and think and we all know how dangerous thinking is.  I don’t count these books toward my total read for the year but I do take them off my TBR list.  I was pretty terrified when I put the first disc in this morning.  There’s this crazy intro about how all of the characters have names that have minor forms and that some of it is meant to be witty and how people who speak native Russian don’t even catch all of it.  I’m going to power through though and then I’ll go watch the movie.

I have a new reading project!  I just started it today and I am super psyched!  I have decided to make a book jar.  I am writing the titles, author, and location of each book I own that I haven’t read on little scraps of paper, folding them up, and putting them in a jar.  I like to add books I own into my usual rotation so I will use this jar to chose my next book.  This solves a big problem I have.  I have books that I think I’ll want to keep forever on my book shelves and some of the fluffier stuff in boxes in my closet and I can never decide where to pick my book from.  I have done the first bookcase so far today on my lunch.  Hubby says that I’m “going to need a 5 gallon bucket.”  He’s so cute.

Happy reading!