Tally Monday- January 30, 2017

Checked Out

  1. Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas

Bought

  1. Alfred Hitchcock Presents Stories for Late at Night

Read

  1. Lady Killer by Joelle Jones
  2. “In the Neighborhood” by Jess Refalko
  3. Ramona and Beezus by Beverly Cleary

TBR 19

I am a master at filling my time.  I have five million little things that I think need to be done every day and I will work myself until I am too tired to see straight.  I don’t know when I got to be this way but I have a suspicion that it is the direct result of a pretty damn toxic relationship I had years ago.  There was a time when I could never do enough and now I catch myself feeling that way too.

This has a lot to do with my reading because I also tend to use reading as a reward.  “If I get all of this done, I can read my book,” I tell myself.  Then it’s 9PM and I’m super tired and the TV is on and I don’t even think that my eyes could stand reading.  Or I’m super slammed at work and have a pile of stuff to catch up on and I just come up with more and more to do as the day goes by and never get a chance to do me “preview reading” at my off desk.

Last week I started reading Alive by Chandler Baker, a book that I checked out a long time ago because is made the Teen Top Ten List on YALSA, the young adult subsect of the American Library Association.  When I looked at the list  I noticed that there were only about three that we didn’t own.  One of them I ordered right away because I knew it was going to be big (and it has been, ha!) but I wanted to give this one a shot before ordering it.  If I’m being honest, I wanted to read all of the book son the list and make sure that I was actually in the loop about at least ten books.  Now that seems like ancient history.

And I even thought that maybe I wouldn’t bother with this book, just return it and get on with my life, get on to reading the things I actually wanted to read.  I’m glad that I didn’t though.  I am about half way through this book and it is good.  I’m not sure what is going on.  I keep suspecting things but they don’t make sense.  I’ve read the inside flap over a few times to get hints, even.  It’s been pretty good reading!

It’s just one of those things lately, kind of like working out.  Every day I have to fight with myself to get myself to work out but when I do I feel really good and I really enjoy it.  It’s the same with reading.  It feels like a chore lately but once I get myself to actually do it I remember why I love it so much.  And I am going to keep on keeping on until I get through my library books.

I am home from work today, exhausted and ragged and needing some time to take care of myself before I run myself into the ground.  It makes for some good reading time.  I hope you find some this week too.

Lady Killer by Joelle Jones

I probably am not going to have much to say about this book, because I am not the best at reviewing comics, but I will lead off right away by saying that it was awesome.  It reminded me of King’s American Vampire I little bit- the art and the gore and the throw back to another time.  It was like the combination of those elements was perfect.

I have a little bit of an idealistic crush on the 50’s.  Don’t get me wrong, I am so proud of all of the advancements women have made and I am a feminist but there is still a part of me that wants to put on a shirt dress and wash the sheets every day.  I ended up in an interesting place in that while I was reading this, I was listening to the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary on audio.  My 50’s nostalgia was at a peak and it was doused in blood and carried a knife.

On the surface, Josie is the perfect 50’s housewife.  Her mother-in-law lives with her and suspects something is going on though, perhaps an affair.  Josie often leaves her daughters with her while she goes “to the store” or “runs a bake sale.”  What Josie is really doing is double duty as hit woman and in her boss’s mind her family is starting to get in the way of her killing.  Of course, Josie has principles.  She won’t use a gun.  She won’t kill a child she is sent to take out.  And those are things that get her into trouble.  When her boss puts a hit out on her, Josie decides to take things into her own hands in order to save the other part of her life.

I was under the impression that the second volume of this collection was out and now I cannot wait until May.  I loved it and it made me want to be a bad ass with perfectly coiffed hair.

Listy #46- Things I’ve Been Thinking About Reading

Wow.  We’ve been at it for 46 weeks so far!  Only six weeks of lists left!  I know that I missed a couple of weeks but we kept right on trucking and now here we are.  Where are we?

Last week I talked a little bit about the things I stock piled to keep my sanity during maternity leave.  One of my biggest annoyances during the pregnancy has been the number of people who like to say things like, “Hon, you’re just not going to have time to read.  You’re going to have a baby to take care of!”  Yeah.  I get it.  I know that they are work and I am going to be tired and I’m going to have mom brain.  Then I get to go back to work!  But, seriously, reading is such a huge part of who I am that I know it won’t go away completely.  And I’ve spent some time thinking about things that I would like to read while I am on maternity leave.

Books I’ve Thought About Reading

  1. Obviously, I have an a abundance of books to read at home.  I buy books.  Because I like them and they make happy and one of my favorite things is sitting in front of my book shelf and just looking at my glorious books.  I also have a book jar.  Okay, it’s a book hat box because I have so many books that I would need a very large jar.  In my earliest, purest phase of planning I intended to just pull random books from my book box and explore my vast collection unburdened by a TBR stack.
  2. And then I thought that maybe light reading would be a better idea and I toyed with the idea of possibly buying the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books.  They are short and funny and fast and I thought they might be perfect.
  3. Of course, there is a big, big part of me that really wanted to use that time to reread The Dark Tower series because I just always want to reread it.  This is the complete opposite of easy.  The books are big and deep and can make for some rough reading.  I just really want to reread them.
  4. Then that led to reminding me that The Stand is my next Stephen King book and I really want to read all of the Stephen King books.  Really.
  5. I also thought that maybe short stories were a good idea and I have been fighting an impulse to buy all of the Alice Munro collections I haven’t read yet.

Who knows where the future will lead me.  Who knows what my capacity to read will be.  But I can tell you this much:  Tonight I am making a wish list on Amazon, just for me.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I first read this book probably a decade ago in a Women and Literature class.  I know that we read some great stuff in that class but this was the book that stuck with me.  It was one of those things where even years later I would catch myself thinking about it a couple of times a week.  Then, as the election got closer it started popping up more and more.  I thought about it every day.  I already owned the paperback but I downloaded the audio and then I bought the ebook and I started a reread.

What I find surprising is how much of the book didn’t stick with me.  There were things that I remembered, like the wall, and then there was the whole main plot that I forgot.  I remembered the memories and for got where the story was leading and what exactly happened at the end.  My most vivid memory, playing Scrabble, came later than I expected.  I was surprised by the slow build.

Because that is exactly what Atwood gives us here, a slow build.  By the time I was nearing the end of the book I still had no idea where it was heading but I had this intense feeling of dread every time I picked up the book.  It actually gave me nightmares, an experience I didn’t have last time.  It was, in short, an intense reading.

Atwood shows us a dystopian society where women have been stripped of their rights.  We only know our protagonist by the name that has been given to her, Offred.  She is Fred’s handmaid and is thus “of Fred.”  Her position in society is both honored and looked down on.  As a woman who is of child baring age and who has had a child previously, she is highly valued in a society where birth rates are declining and birth defects are rising.  She is given good food and exercise to keep her healthy and every month takes part in a ritual in which Fred attempts to impregnate her.  In an ultra-Christian society, this is also a reason to look down on Offred.  It is not uncommon for handmaids to commit suicide and they only have so many chances before they are sent to the colonies.

But Offred remembers the time before, because it wasn’t so long ago.  She remembers having a husband, a child, a job, her own place.  She remembers the strong women she was surrounded by and she remembers when things began to change.  Through her memories, we see the changes occurring and just like her we are powerless to stop it.

This is seriously a book that I think everyone should read, man or woman.

Tally Monday- January 23, 2017

Checked Out

  1. Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
  2. Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary

Bought

  1. The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole

Read

  1. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
  2. The handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

TBR 20

I did it!  I finished reading all of my Battle of the Books books by Monday night!  I was prepared to do my book talks and I earned myself the reward of playing Trivial Pursuit.  Of course, I haven’t been in the mood to play since then and we got an ice storm Monday night and I didn’t have to do my book talks.  They’re rescheduled for tomorrow.  But I DID IT and that is something!  Besides which, it gave me a real reading kick in the ass.  I tore through most of a book on management last week too, though I’ll admit to a DNF because I felt the book was a bit sexist.

Hey, by the way, men are not the only people who are uncomfortable with crying.  Like, if you cry in front of me there is a damn good chance that I am going to excuse myself to the bathroom.  Like, if you’re my close friend it’s a little easier.  Just a little. lol.

I made myself the goal of reading two books a week for a while.  A vague goal, yes?  I’m not sure how long I want to aim for that but it will be enough to clear my library books with time to spare.  What I did not expect this week was to finish The Handmaid’s Tale.  On Friday I was at 90% but this was one of those surprise ebooks that ends at 93%.

The Handmaid’s Tale was a reread for me and Hubby is listening to it on audio.  It’s been fun.  I was ahead of him because I started it a month or two ago and read little bits at a time in bed.  Once in awhile he’ll come to me with a prediction and that was cool because I honestly could not remember how it ended.  I read it for a class about a decade ago and even though it really stuck with me there were a lot of things that I forgot.  One thing I love about Hubby though is how much he seems to get feminism lately.  He may have been “sick of hearing about it” in October, but November flipped a switch for him.  One of the most insightful things he had to say about Atwood’s book was in reply to a friend who suggested on FB that “every woman” read it.  Hubby’s thought was that EVERYBODY should read it because even though it’s told from the woman’s point of view, imagine how shitty it was for some men too.  He gets it.  What effects women effects men too.  I adore him.

Moving forward, here’s where I stand:  I have 9 books checked out from the library, one DVD set (Eureka Season 4!), and two audiobooks.  I’m currently listening to Beezus and Ramona, which is fun and funny and fast.  I’m currently reading this month’s One Story and then I’ll be tackling Lady Killer, a comic book about a housewife who doubles as a hit-woman.  On the Kindle I’ve started The Castle of Otranto, which I read about on book riot last week and downloaded for free.  Instead of reading the oldest thing on my Kindle, I’ve decided just to grab the next one in line.  I am LOVING my Kindle App on my phone something fierce right now because I can read while I eat.  I have currently put my Little Black Classics on hold for a while, but will finish them this year, dammit.

Okay you guys!  That’s it for me on this Monday morning.  I’m going to work my ass off and read my eyes out. May you do the same!

Listy #45: Things I Want for Maternity Leave

Hey, you guys… Did you notice that I forgot to write last week?  There is, of course, no excuse.  However, I was super busy with work last week, and still am this week, and spent Thursday frantically trying to get things done.  I ended the night completely burned out.  By the time I realized that I hadn’t done a list, I was lucky that I wasn’t drooling all over myself at my desk.  I figured I’d do it Friday and then THAT was a crazy day too!  It’s been insane.

Basically, I’ve hit my third trimester and gone mostly brain dead.  It’s incredibly frustrating.  I do stupid things constantly.  There’s a lot of other stuff about the third trimester.  Like, I’m really tired this week.  No idea why.  And I keep waiting for the nesting to kick in because my house is a mess and I haven’t had the energy to do much more than pick up and shuffle the junk.  Plus, I’m getting kind of impatient for Ian to come.  Sometimes it hits me really hard and I just want him to be here.  Also, I’m fucking terrified.

As the time gets closer, I find myself simultaneously looking forward to and being worried about my maternity leave.  I have worked since I was 16, half of my life, and I have never had more than two weeks in a row off and that was only once because my dad died.  I cannot even imagine what that time is going to be like.  I know that I am going to be exhausted and at my wits end and busy and blah, blah, blah.  But this woman needs some stimulation and she needs it without pressure so here is a list of things I have and/or want for my maternity leave.

Making Mom Happy- The List

  1. All of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books because they are fast and funny.
  2. A selection of short stories for quick reading.
  3. Kindle books, lots.
  4. Audiobooks, lots.  These are ways I’m trying to preserve my identity and sanity.
  5. A nest, preferable made of blankets and pillows and occupying my side of the couch.
  6. Lots of things to watch for when my brain can’t read.
  7. Healthy snacks.  I don’t want to have to go to the store.
  8. A little help.  Because I might want to plant a garden or take a shower or some shit.
  9. Some sunny days.  April and May are getting nice enough for me to go outside and take a walk around the neighborhood with Ian in his stroller maybe.  Or home with grandma.
  10. An abundance of coloring.  I have this already too.
  11. Faith and courage.  I need those big times.
  12. A gigantic bean bag.  Like this.

 

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

My final Battle book!  I saved this one for last because it was the shortest, which ended up being good because I had to read it much faster than I read the other books.  Still, it was a little hard to get into because it just wasn’t my thing.  I caught myself moaning that “pottery is boring” and had to remind myself that I read a 700 page book on logging last summer and thus my argument was invalid.

A Single Shard is the story of Tree-ear, an orphan boy named after a mushroom who lives under a bridge with his friend, Crane-man.  Tree-ear lives in a potters’ village in Korea in the Thirteenth century and he likes to watch the potters work.  Mostly he is interested in Min, a man who works much slower than they other potters but also has much finer work.  When Tree-ear sneaks a closer look at Min’s work and accidentally drops a piece, he offers to work for Min as a form of repayment.  Min accepts, and Tree-ear is excited to learn the trade.  Only, Min has other ideas and Tree-ear begins the arduous work of what I like to call “support tasks.”  He collects wood.  He collects clay.  He mixes and drains clay.

Then Tree-ear sees another potter working on a new technique that could bring fame to Min.  When an emissary for the emperor asks Min to replicate this work, Tree-ear is able to tell him how and even offers to make the journey to the capital with the resulting pieces even though he hasn’t left the village since he was brought there as a baby.

Honestly, this was a book that screamed “assigned reading.”  I cannot imagine a kid ever picking it up just for fun.  That being said, it wasn’t terrible, just a little slow and dull.  It did make me cry, but I can’t tell you if it was actually the book or the hormones that did it.