other

Is There a Wrong Way to Read?

So the other day my friend was gracious enough to lend me Eleanor and Park and as she was leaving, she told me that her policy on her books she lent out was nonexistent. As in, I could dog ear it, I could do whatever to it, etc.

Years ago, I had borrowed a friend’s copy of Wicked by Gregory Maguire and ended up pretty much destroying the front cover because I had been dragging it around with me to Washington D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia. She was less than thrilled (I was in middle school okay) but she was not pissed. I managed to tape up the tear and color it back in with a sharpie so that the tear wasn’t too noticeable except to the two of us.

Now I normally do not dog-ear pages in a book, especially if they are not my own. I also typically do not write in books unless I am studying them for school and it’s just easier to annotate that way rather than stick in a million post-it notes. I like to keep my books as pristine as possible, but there are times that they get eaten up by the horror that is my backpack.

For my AP Language and Composition class in high school, we had to read an essay titled Never Do That to a Book by Anne Dilliard. Dillard describes two kinds of reading: “carnal” reading and the kind of reading that I do. It is a humorous essay, and if you can get your hands on it, I would definitely recommend reading it. Carnal readers are those who dog-ear the pages, who write all over the pages, and who expose their books to the elements. Those other kinds of readers are those who refuse to let dust get on their books, and make sure that book covers remain uncracked and brand-new.

Basically, what I got from this essay is that there is no one way to love a book and to take care of them. Even though some readers may seem like they disregard the care of their books, it is really how they express their love for reading.

So I want to know…how do you read? Do you think you could read any other way and enjoy it in the same way?

 

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to be read

TBR jar / TBR masterpost

So, I’d seen the idea of a TBR jar floating around on another book blog…so I decided, why not? I barely have any room for the books that I have and my separate TBR lists are amazingly long, so I decided to compile the lists into one masterlist.

Well, that might have been a mistake. I counted all of the tiles that I have written down…and there are 127 titles. 127 you guys! Because I am interested in so many genres and try to read diversely…well…let’s just say I will be committing to this TBR jar for a while.

The way the TBR jar will work is that I have written each title on my TBR list and the names of the books that I own that are unread on separate slips of paper. I will fold them up, mix them in a Mason jar, and pick out a couple to read each month.

So as of now- I am hereby banning myself from buying any more books/adding to this TBR list until I can get it to a more manageable size. (It’s obvious to pretty much everyone except me that I have a huge problem).

I’m gonna keep track of what I’m reading and when, and I will do so on this post:

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
  2. Alex and Eliza
  3. Alexander Hamilton
  4. America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction

  5. Angel
  6. Angels in America (#1)
  7. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
  8. Anton Chekhov: The Complete Short Novels
  9. Anton Chekhov: Stories
  10. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  11. As I Descended
  12. The Awakening
  13. A Bad Feminist
  14. The Bell Jar
  15. Between Shades of Gray
  16. The Bluest Eye
  17. The Boy in Striped Pajamas
  18. Boy Meets Boy
  19. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  20. Catch-22
  21. Casual Vacancy
  22. A Circle of Quiet
  23. City of Bones
  24. The Collected Stories- Pushkin
  25. Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol
  26. The Color Purple
  27. The Complete Plays: Christopher Marlowe
  28. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
  29. Crazy Rich Asians
  30. Difficult Women
  31. Dreamology
  32. Dreams from My Father (Finished September 2017)
  33. Elbow Room
  34. Eleanor and Park
  35. Eligible
  36. Every Heart a Doorway
  37. Extras
  38. The Eyre Affair
  39. Fangirl  (Finished August 2017)
  40. The Fault in Our Stars
  41. Fire
  42. Flame in the Mist
  43. From the Silence of the Tao House
  44. The Fountainhead
  45. Fun Home
  46. The Geek Feminist Revolution
  47. Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue
  48. Girl, Interrupted
  49. The Girl on the Train
  50. The Girls of Atomic City
  51. Give us the Ballot
  52. The Glass Castle
  53. The Goldfinch
  54. Gone Girl
  55. Good Wives (Little Women #2)
  56. The Handmaid’s Tale
  57. The Hate You Give
  58. The Help
  59. History is All You Left Me
  60. The Hobbit
  61. How to Make a Wish
  62. The Iceman Cometh
  63. If I was Your Girl (Finished September 2017)
  64. I’ll Give You the Sun
  65. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Finished September 2017)
  66. It Takes a Village
  67. The Jane Austen Book Club
  68. The Jungle
  69. Larger than Life
  70. The Life of Pi
  71. Lowlands
  72. The Luster of Lost Things
  73. Mark of Athena
  74. Memoirs of a Geisha
  75. The Melody of You and Me
  76. Mom & Me & Mom
  77. More Happy than Not
  78. Mourning Becomes Electra
  79. My Antonia
  80. My Sister’s Keeper
  81. Nevermore
  82. The Nightingale
  83. Not Otherwise Specified
  84. Notorious RBG
  85. Of Fire and Stars
  86. One Hundred Years of Solitude
  87. The Opposite of Loneliness
  88. The Outsiders
  89. Paper Towns
  90. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  91. Persepolis 2
  92. The Picture of Dorian Gray
  93. The Price
  94. The Princess Bride
  95. Queens of Geek
  96. Ramona Blue
  97. Red Fire
  98. Room
  99. Sara Bareilles: Sounds Like Me (finished August 2017)
  100. The Secret Life of Bees
  101. Seven Ways We Lie
  102. The Shell Collection
  103. Shiver
  104. A Short History of Nearly Everything
  105. Sightseeing
  106. Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda
  107. Story of the Trapp Family Singers
  108. A Streetcar Named Desire
  109. The Sun is Also A Star
  110. Tales from Watership Down
  111. Tash Hearts Tolstoy
  112. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  113. Tender is the Night
  114. A Thousand Splendid Suns
  115. To All the Boys I Loved Before
  116. Two Boys Kissing (Finished August 2017)
  117. The Virgin Suicides
  118. Walden
  119. We are Okay
  120. When Breath Becomes Air
  121. When We Collided
  122. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  123. Wild
  124. Wild Swans
  125. Wuthering Heights
  126. The Year of the Runaways
  127. The Zoo Story

This started out as a cute idea, but now it has turned into something that I’ve probably needed to do for a looong time.

Progress: Read- 6/127

Bolded Books are those in my possession.

 

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book review, nonfiction, reading recommendations

Review: Freakonomics

The conventional wisdom is often wrong.

Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

freakonomics-cover

Click the image above to purchase this book on Amazon.

This book was once recommended to me by a college admissions officer for the University of Chicago, and let me tell you, I would definitely take an economics class from Steven D. Levitt, although it is outside my major.

AUTHORS: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

GENRE: Nonfiction

WHERE DID I GET THIS BOOK: book sale

RATING: 4.5/5 stars

BACKGROUND: It may sound odd, but there is a striking similarity between sumo wrestlers and school teachers in Chicago. Have you ever gotten the feeling that your real estate agent is trying to cheat you? Is a gun more dangerous to your child than a swimming pool? How did the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade affect trends of violent crime? Will your name affect your future success? What are the economics at play in the Ku Klux Klan? Questions and observations like these are addressed in this book; there is no unifying theme, as admitted by the authors, except that an economist and a writer look at everyday, and unusual, situations and use data and numbers to try and challenge our own conventional wisdom and apply economics to the strangest of situations.

THOUGHTS: I am sure that, unless you are a super-nerd like me, reading a book about economics sounds like the last thing you’d want to do with your free time. However, the way that Levitt and Dubner (who is not an economist but rather a journalist) approach these topics is accessible to us laymen who have maybe left the basic properties of supply and demand back in high school. There is data and numbers involved, but it is done so sparingly, so that less economics-inclined readers can easily skip over them and read the conclusions only and so that those who like numbers can pore over them and have them supplement the conclusions drawn. Freakonomics is for everyone.

And it is far from vanilla as other economics books might be- it addresses data surrounding abortion, drug dealing, and the black-white gap. Of course, there are more whimsical chapters as well that deal with sumo wrestling and real estate agents. The point is, that it brings real-life situations under the microscope and challenges the reader to analytically examine the conclusions before them and compare it with the information that they thought was a given. If anything, this book encourages us as rational creatures to question every piece of information given to us, and to not take what the media says for granted. And in an era filled with fake news, we could all afford to be a little more skeptical of what we’re being told.

If you enjoy a read that will challenge you to step out of your comfort zone a little bit, that will engage your mind, and that will leave you rethinking some aspects of your life, then this book is for you.

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book review, fiction

Review: Magic

The event remains by invitation only, which is respected by all, and over the years it has become one of the most cherished secret occasions held in Paris.

Magic, Danielle Steel

magic

Click on the image to purchase the book on Amazon. I originally picked up this book because I found its premise to be intriguing: a “White” Dinner, where all invitees are required to dress in all white, where the location is at a secret, random, Parisian monument, and where the night is supposed to be filled with magic.

AUTHOR: Danielle Steel

GENRE: Romance, Realistic fiction

WHERE DID I GET THIS BOOK: local library

RATING: 2/5 stars

SUMMARY: Every year, the White Dinner is held at one of the Parisian monuments. It is an elegant event, where only the richest and most prestigious people from all over the world are invited. The whole event is rather secretive, as the location of the dinner, which is always at a historic monument in Paris, remains a secret until the night of. Jean-Philippe makes sure to invite nine couples each year he attends, as he is always one of the invitees, and this particular year, there is trouble brewing for more than one of the couples invited, and there is potential for new couples to be formed as well. The year after the White Dinner brings challenges, romance, and testing of relationships but ultimately, the White Dinner proves to be a point of “magic” in all of the invitees lives.

THOUGHTS: I like to think of myself as a rather generous book reviewer, but I need to be honest, as I did not enjoy this novel. The characterization fell really flat for me, each woman counterpart of each novel was characterized as the “perfect” woman with a couple of insecurities. They are all stylish, beautiful, sexy, intelligent, and a good mother if they have kids. The only thing that can really distinguish them is their partner, their job, and the situation they are in; none of these things should be the defining characteristic of any character or anyone in general, in my opinion. The men were all also gentlemen, but appropriately seductive; the only man that was not good was one rascal playboy and it was just all so boring.

The lives that the characters lead are also not recognizable nor relatable to me; one character enjoys India because she is able to take a private jet to each exotic location, another goes shopping for her daughter’s wedding dress at Dior, and they all enjoy unbridled success in their careers and enjoy the perks of being the most elite people in society. I have nothing against the culture that was being displayed in the novel, but I did have an issue with how these conditions were treated as normal and expected in the novel; it only made all of the characters come off as entitled.

The thing that got most on my nerve is that there were so many redundancies when the issues that were facing each couple surfaced in the book. The same arguments for whether or not to take a job in Beijing, for whether a relationship with a large age difference will work, etc. came up again and again and were sometimes examined from different points of view but these revisiting of the issues felt less like progress in the conflict and more just like saying the same thing over and over.

Some good things about this novel is that it was extremely readable, the prose is smooth and sometimes very simple. There are certain kinds of readers that would enjoy this book, but I unfortunately was not one of them. If you like characters that live exquisite lives and romances that face some challenges but inevitably and perfectly come back and blossom, then this book is probably for you, but I don’t think I can recommend it.

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book review, reading recommendations, short story sunday

Short Story Sunday: Dreams

For those of you who find it hard to set time aside to read, but still love the pull of a good novel, I introduce to you Short Story Sundays! Basically, I will review a short story or even an essay that I loved each Sunday (most of them will be recommendations) instead of a full length novel or play that you can easily pick up, read, and digest in the span of an hour.

This week’s short story comes from the amazing Anton Chekhov, and it can be read at American Literature, just follow this link.

SUMMARY: A nameless tramp is being escorted by two “peasant constables”, who are trying to figure out the tramp’s name. As they walk, the tramp gives details about his Orthodox Christian upbringings, saying he was the son of a nurse and grew up comfortably for he lived in their master’s home. He characterizes himself as a true gentleman on the inside though he is a peasant on the outside. He then reveals why he refuses to give up his name, and it has to do with the fact that he does not want to finish his penal service. Instead, he would rather be sent to East Siberia, where he could be part of a commune and maybe start his family. The draw of his dreams are pulling to the other peasants, but are soon forgotten as dreams often are.

REVIEW: As per usual, the most interesting aspects of Chekhov’s writing is not his plot lines, but rather his characterization. The main character in this story is everyman, neither a poor beggar nor a rich gentleman, though he fancies he is one. This man knows that there are only a few options for his life, and hypes up one of the options so that it sounds even better than real life. And as he dictates the details of his dream, the other characters are so enthralled that for a few seconds, they are won over.

I think this brief story has a lot to say about social classes, upbringings, religions, and the sort; but I’d like to focus on what it is communicating about dreams. The main character who has learned to idealize his past and his mother in order to have a clean conscience is also the one who turns a wasteland into a virtual paradise. It seems so clear and plausible that the constables, each of whom are not in the low position that the main character is in, fall for it, even just for a minute or two. These characters are all peasants, and the dream of a life far away from reality, far away from their ordinary day-to-day affairs are enough to spark something as dangerous and precious as hope.

Chekhov, once again, beautifully captures the part of the human existence that is altogether a cure and a curse; a dream with enough belief behind it might just come true, but it you put all of your stakes on that dream, it will become alive just to haunt you (The Great Gatsby, anyone?). Yes, this story is short, but it’s brevity is the only thing needed for the subject, which is fleeting dreams.

RATING: 3/5 stars

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