Tally Monday- February 29, 2016

Checked Out

None!

Bought

None!

Read

  1. We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  2. “Princess Prettypants” by Meg Cabot

TBR: 14

Once in a while I get into this strange mood.  The only way that I can describe it is “wishy-washy.”  I spent a lot of time this last week avoiding reading.  I was in the middle of Ender’s Game and I wanted nothing to do with it.  I couldn’t dedicate myself to reading it or setting it aside so I read a page or five here and then found myself staring at my phone.  I counted on a Thursday morning read, similar to how I finished The Rest of Us Just Live Here, but a snowstorm made me leave for work early and give up most of my morning time.  Finally, I put it aside on Saturday.  I just couldn’t.  I felt bad because it was a book club book but I also wrote an explanation of why I didn’t like it which I think can sometimes be as valuable as why I did like a book.

Wishy-washy is how I am all around right now.  I’m loving my new job but I still wake up 50% of my mornings with that pit in my stomach, that knowledge that I am not doing what I really and truly want to do.  This morning I am feeling like my life is rushing by and soon it will be too late.  I want things.  I want a family and I want to write books and I want to feel better physically and emotionally but I never do a damn thing about it.  I can’t even make myself read these past couple of weeks.  My brain feels fuzzy and panicked.  I know that I need to do something but I don’t know what.

We finished watching How I Met Your Mother yesterday and one of the characters receives some really great advice.  She says that she is lost and the guy she is talking to asks her what she wants to do.  She answers him, the ever noble end poverty, and the guy tells her that from here on out every decision she makes has to be to service that goal.  How simple.  How brilliant.  And on a Monday morning how impossible it all seems.

This week I need to spend some time working my head around things, I think.  I’m not sure what that means for my reading.  Does it mean that I will read less because I will be busy DOING or that I will read more because that is one of the ways I care for myself?  I can’t be sure.  There’s that wishy-washy again.

May you read exactly what you need this week.  Lovies!

On Why We Read What We Read

I have been full of the Thinks all day, you guys.  I’m not sure what did it.  Was it plowing through a short book this afternoon?  Was it some strange discussion I only half remember having last night?  Maybe it’s the 15 inches of snow on the ground after a magically warm weekend.  Perhaps it’s just hormones.  Or maybe I ate something I shouldn’t have.

Last week, I had a conversation with someone about my giant TBR list.  I told her, this fellow reader, that I wanted to focus on reading more on my list but the second book on it was Anna Karenina, long and Russian.  “You don’t HAVE to read anything,” she said and, yes, I knew that she meant well and, yes, I knew that was true but I really almost snapped.  I want to read Anna Karenina.  I’ve heard so many people rave about it and I want to know for myself whether or not it is any good.  I bemoaned the fact that I want to read all of the books!  (This is a near constant bemoaning in my life, so much so that once, when I was bemoaning, my mother turned to my husband and said, “You have to live with that??”)

So, why is it that we read what we read?  There are a lot of factors that go into what I choose to read.  Sometimes I want to read something because it’s a classic.  There’s no shame in that just like there is no shame in NOT wanting to read the classics.  I’m sitting on an English degree and part of the reason that I decided on that degree is, frankly, because I read The Age of Innocence and The Sun Also Rises and those books meant something to me and sent me down a road of finding more books that would mean something to me.  But classics aren’t the only things I read.  I choose other books because I keep hearing about them or they sound interesting or funny.  I choose them because the cover grabbed my attention or even just the title.  I choose them because some outside force encouraged me to, either by mentioning the book in something else or putting it in my path over and over until I could not ignore it anymore.

We all choose different books and we all choose them differently.  What matters is that you not ruin your reading life by filling it with Stuff You Don’t Care About simply because someone else thinks that you should.  I don’t mean the classic.  I don’t mean fluff.  I don’t mean romances.  I don’t even mean whatever the NOW book it.  I mean any book that you just don’t want to read.  (Confession:  Forcing my way through Ender’s Game because book club.  Book club will be the only time I ever do this.)  Read what you want to read when you want to read it.  If you put too much pressure on yourself, you won’t enjoy yourself.  Challenge yourself if you enjoy it, don’t if you don’t.  By all means, try new things but don’t beat yourself over the head with them.

And that’s something else, isn’t it?  The trying something new.  After listening to so many people rave about romance and how it’s so great if you just give it a chance, I gave it a chance.  A few chances.  Varied chances.  I just couldn’t do it.  I put romance aside but I wasn’t done trying new things.  Next I tried Westerns and found that they were great listening for hot summer days and decided that I wanted to try more.  Now I am delving into some science fiction and fantasy with my book club because they are both genres I never really tried.

Listening to the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris has probably been my favorite book experience so far this year.  A couple of years ago I put aside the series because it was “too fluffy” for me.  At the time it probably was but right now it is exactly what I need to get through winter driving north of Detroit, where traffic is thicker than I’m used too and way more “head in sphincter.”  What are these books?  If they are romance, they go against my other experiences with romance.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t listening to the books because I miss the show.  Does it matter how I got there?  Or does it matter more that I feel less like murdering someone while I drive?

Then there are recommendations.  I never know how to treat them because I have so many books that I want to read on my own.  I also don’t have a very good track record with them.  An ex suggested that I read American Psycho because it was his favorite book and I hated it.  He suggested I try Watchmen to break into comics but it wasn’t what led me to comics at all.  Hubby suggested Jonathan Livingston Seagull which was about the lamest thing I ever read on a late day.  A coworker suggested her favorite book and it was completely tainted by the death of my car.  (I swear, a main character was dying the moment I spotted my deceased cat.  Can’t make that shit up.)

What I am long windedly saying is this:  Your reading life is your reading life.  You can make it anything that you want it to be.  You can make it the energy bar you eat on the treadmill or the wine you drink after a hard day.  Whatever you do, make it yours.  Haters gonna hate.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

For such a very small book, actually a personal essay, this sure did give me a lot to think and feel about.  I’m actually not sure how to review it on a personal level now that I’ve done it for work.  Because it gave me a big case of the thinks.

There is nothing that Adichie is saying here that hasn’t been said before.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  That is the joy of the personal essay as a form.  Taking known things and tying them into your own life.  Adichie has a wonderful voice and reading this little book was like having a proper conversation about feminism over a cup of coffee with a smart woman.

I walked away questioning things about myself.  Do I like men’s clothing because it makes me feel more powerful?  (I don’t think so.  I think I like it because it is comfortable and hides my chunk but then also why isn’t women’s clothing comfortable and why do I need to hide my chunk?)  Why is it that I work and do so much of the housework?  (I think maybe because I am a bit particular and restless, a combination well suited to housework.)  Am I afraid to say that I am successful because I don’t want to hurt a man’s ego?  What if I was given the freedom to be who I am without gender pressures?

All in all, this was great little read and totally worth the 15  to 20 minutes that I put into it.

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

This is my second time with this book as I randomly decided to give the series a second chance and that I would start back at book one.  I was in the mood for something fluffy to listen to on my drive to work and I cannot tell you how well this did the trick.  Since switching jobs, I’ve been a bit on edge: nervous and worried and unsettled by my change of schedule.  Last week, though, while I listened to this, my tension just melted away.  I didn’t have a nervous drive.  I didn’t get caught in a loop of worry.  I just listened and let myself get sucked into the book, and made jokes out loud to myself.  It’s hard not to have fun when you’re yelling out, “Sookie!” like Bill Compton on the Trueblood show.  It’s hard not to laugh when you mock Jason’s “Vampire Bill.”  And it’s a great time when you know the ending and can yell out the murderer’s name a couple of times.

Sometimes I didn’t like the reader.  I have a hard time with people trying to do the voice of the opposite sex.  I think this is my own hang up though because the voices just didn’t align with how I hear the characters which is heavily influenced by the show.

A note:  While listening to this, I caught where Harris says who Bubba is, which I missed when I read it.  Hubby was in the car with me when he showed up and he DID miss it so I don’t feel so bad about the first time.

**Previously Reviewed- 5/6/2012**

In the past couple of weeks, Sookie Stackhouse has become pretty common around my house. We started watching the TrueBlood show and quickly became obsessed enough to decide that the books may be worth a shot. I ordered in the first one and started reading it right away because I figured it would be a quick easy read. It would have been quick too, except that I’ve spent most of my time watching the show instead of reading the book. It’s made for an interesting experience. Sometimes it gets a little confusing.

That, actually, would be my one complaint about Harris’s writing. Sometimes I just don’t understand what is going on. The example that sticks out the most is Bubba. I had to Google to figure out who Bubba was. Why couldn’t this have been spelled out a little better for the reader? It appeared to be a pretty common question about the series.

In general, I must confess that I like to show better. There is more going on. It makes me laugh more often. I like the characters that don’t appear in the book or are just barely mentioned. However, I love READING what Sookie hears in other people’s heads and I actually like Sookie better altogether.

If you don’t know the story, Sookie lives in a little town called Bon Temps. This is our world but vampires have “come out of the coffin,” as the book puts it. Science has led to the invention of synthetic blood which the vampires can drink for nourishment instead of using humans as a food source. That doesn’t mean they do. Sookie meets her first vampire, Bill, and falls head over heels for him. In the meantime, women who have slept with vampires, or fang bangers, have been showing up strangled. A killer is on the lose and Sookie is sure to be on his list because of her relationship with Bill. This is one time where hearing other peoples thoughts doesn’t seem to be helping. Sookie is sucked into a game of trying to figure out who the killer is, attempting to find her way through vampire society, and protecting the people who mean the most to her.

This was a fun read and I have already ordered the next book in the series. I can’t promise that I’ll make it through the whole set, though.

Tally Monday- February 22, 2016

Checked Out

  1. Irish poems
  2. Living Dead in Dallas- Charlaine Harris (audio)
  3. Dragonflight- Anne McCaffrey
  4. And Sometimes Why- Rebecca Johnson

Bought

  1. Dragons of Autumn Twilight- Margaret Weis
  2. Guilty Pleasures- Laurell K. Hamilton
  3. Blood and Chocolate- Annette Curtis Klause
  4. The Unfinished Clue- Georgette Heyer
  5. Empire Falls- Richard Russo
  6. The Name of the Rose- Umberto Eco
  7. The Happiness Project- Gretchen Rubin
  8. Keeping the House- Ellen Baker

Read

  1. The Rest of Us Just Live Here- Patrick Ness

TBR: about 16?

First, unfinished business.  I DID end up removing the Oz books from my Kindle last week.  I just could not anymore and I knew that if I left them on there with that little meter showing that I was just over half way through that I would feel obliged to finish.  I just couldn’t.  So, gone.  And I feel better.

Second, I took that crazy rotation order out and restacked my TBR pile.  I have a couple of things to get out of the way really fast and then I’ll be in rotation central.  I’m pretty damn excited.  There are books in that stack that I’ve been meaning to read since September that keep getting pushed aside.

Next, you may notice that my buying shot way up this week.  On Saturday I took some of my going away money from my last job and binged.  It felt glorious.  I may have even been glowing when I was done.  In the end it only amounted to $35!  I was shocked.  I was so shocked that I offered to give Hubby some money because he spent a lot more on records.  After that we took our tax return and went to a nice, expensive, delicious restaurant and ordered all of the courses.  Great way to spend a Saturday.

My only problem right now is that I haven’t been reading.  There are a number of reasons why.  First, I don’t WANT to read Ender’s Game but I’m reading it for my book club and since I started that damn thing I have to read it.  So far it’s pretty good but the effort involved to make myself read it is draining.  I also feel like maybe I should be doing something more constructive just now like cleaning or writing.  Then there’s How I Met Your Mother which we are like 20 episodes away from finishing.  Finally!  I can’t guarantee that I will get much reading done this week and that’s a problem because I’m supposed to be discussing the book right now.

How do you politely decline suggestions?  It’s a problem that I’ve been having lately as one of my new coworkers always has tons of books that she wants me to read.  I’d love to be able to read them all but I can’t and she always seems a little uncomfortable when I say that I’ll add something to my list or I’ll read it in a couple of weeks.  In two months at my new job I have read two of her suggestions and they’ve been good.  It’s just that there is so much that I want to read that I can’t take ALL of her suggestions.  I’ve never been good at saying no.

Snowstorm for us this week.  Wednesday into Thursday, they’re predicting 9-15 inches!  That would be perfect weather to stay home and read in bed.  Lo, that is not an option for me.  No vacation time yet and no “work from home” option like Hubby has.  (However, my director did just move from 6 blocks away from work to about 20 minutes away so who knows how this will shake out.)  If it must be snowy and gross where you are, I hope you have a nice red wine and a good book.

Lovies!

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Suggested by a coworker,  I later found this book on my TBR list THREE times.  THREE.  Apparently I thought that the premise sounded hilarious and, you know, it did.  The YA world is full of stories about Chosen Ones and kids who are Just So Different and Original.  It’s easy to forget that for every Harry Potter there thousands of Hannah Abbots.

Mikey’s family life is rough.  His mother is a politician constantly striving for more and worrying about her public image.  His father is an alcoholic who was caught stealing money from his employer who also happened to be his brother in law.  His sister, Mel, is recovering from an eating disorder that put her back a year at school and killed her for a few minutes.  Mikey has OCD issues.  His younger sister, Meredith, if their only hope for normalcy.  At least Mikey has a tight knit group of friends: Mel, Jared (a quarter cat god), and Henna (who Mikey is in love with).

Then Nathan shows up.  Then weird things start happening.

What is the blue light that keeps appearing right before another indie kid disappears or dies?   What is with the blue lights in the cops’ eyes and, even stranger, in the zombie deer’s eyes?  Will the school make it to graduation before blowing up like it did eight years ago after the soul-eating ghosts?  Is this another vampire romance invasion?

Strange things are always happening in Mikey’s little town but never TO him and his friends.  Their problems are more normal, like how to tell your friend that you’re in love with her and how to get your little sister to the concert of her lifetime.  Indie kids always forget that what they do effects everybody else but it does in some surprising and funny ways.

This gets a 10 out of 10 on the Tongue in Cheek scale but sometimes there was just a little too mush for me.  It took me a while to get into it, too, but once I did I flew right through it, curious to see the ending.

Tally Monday- February 15, 2015

Checked Out

  1. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (audio)
  2. Zombies vs. Unicorns
  3. What It Is by Lynda Barry
  4. Lumberjanes vol. 2 by Noelle Stevenson

Bought

  1. Lightning by Dean Koontz

Read

  1. A Cup of Sake Beneath the Cherry Trees by Kenko
  2. The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  3. Lumberjanes vol. 2 by Noelle Stevenson

TBR 17

Boy, if I had had it my way, that bought list would be humongous.  Last week the bug hit me hard.  I went shopping on Saturday and Sunday and both days I tucked the $100 left from my going away gift from my last job into a little zipping compartment in my purse.  I told myself that it was just in case.  Just in case I managed to get someone to go out of the way to my favorite used book store where I would load the eff up on whatever tickled my fancy.  But I never made it there.  I bought one book last week and it was at an antique mart.  Kootz isn’t antique, I don’t think.  But whatever.

Trust me, I spent a lot of money elsewhere.  Just not my “retirement fund,” as I call it.

A weird week.  After the previous amazing explosion of reading, I have been reading Patrick Ness’s The Rest of Us Just Live Here.  I like it but I’m having a hard time getting into it.  I kind of want to be sucked into a book, you know?  It’s a good read but I’m not hooked right into a big meaty story.  Not yet, at least.  Looking at some of the Goodreads reviews, I can see that a lot of people are disappointed by it.  I think it’s a good book, just not really what I am in the mood for.  Or maybe I’m distracted.  Squirrels.

I can’t decide about the Oz books.  You know, I feel like I’ve invested a lot of time into reading them but I never really know if I like them or not.  Sometimes I hate them.  Sometimes I enjoy them.  Mostly I am indifferent.  Why don’t I give up?  I’ll tell you why: That stupid percent read bar on my Kindle.  I am 53% done with the whole series.  And I just don’t know if I want to waste my time anymore.  Worse, I have that anxious feeling about making the decision.  Like, if I give up on it will I regret it forever? Will I be relieved?  How silly that is!  I can always put the books back on my Kindle.  I can always get my hands on them again.  I think I’ll do it.  I think I’ll just delete it.

Finally, on a whim last week I ordered in the first book in the Southern Vampire series on audio.  I’ve already read the book a couple of years ago but I wanted to try to finish the series and couldn’t really remember much about it.  Because these books became HBO’s True Blood, which I freaking devoured, I have a harder time keeping straight what happened in the show versus what happened in the first three books.  I have been vastly enjoying this.  I spend a lot of time while I’m listening shouting what I already know (like who the killer is) and making mocking little jokes to myself.  Like, whenever Bill’s name is mentioned I put on a bad accent and say “Vampire Bill” like Jason or whenever Bill say’s Sookie’s name I have to say it like he does in the show.  Ha ha ha.  Seriously fun.

I mentioned last week that I am having a hard time with all of my reading stuff.  I want to be better.  I want to feel better about it.  This week is about getting my head on right, getting some stuff done, and feeling good about myself.  That means my reading life too.

 

Lovies!