Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Reading List

Hey Guys,
I love the idea of having a summer reading list. I don't normally give myself a short term TBR, but summer seems like the perfect time for an exception. Hopefully I manage to finish all nine of the books listed below. Two of the books are novellas, but I'm not exactly a fast reader. The only book that I have started, and am close to being done with, is The Shadow of the Wind. Since I haven't yet finished any of the books on the list, I figured I'd give a link to each book on Goodreads for you guys to check out descriptions and other people's ratings.

- The Shadow of the Wind

- The Circle

- The Diary of a Young Girl

- The Night Circus

- Fracture Me

- The Angel's Game

- Seeking Her

- We Were Liars

- Goodnight June

Have you made a summer reading list? If so, what books have you included?


Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Art of Asking

Hey guys,

So it's no secret that I watch a lot of YouTube videos... like all the time. There's some amazing content on the internet and it's wonderful to see the way technology positively effects our lives. Some days it seems like the internet is only full of negative people who lack the ability to respect others, but that's just not the case. The internet connects people and allows for a new level of creative development.

Every now and then I like to re-watch Amanda Palmer's TED talk. I have so much respect for people who dedicate their lives to art and that sort of creatively driven lifestyle.

I was having a conversation with one of my closest friends the other day about the people in our lives who are just genuine people. You know who I mean? People who are just nice to everyone and don't seem to have any ulterior motive for helping others. People who are unapologetically themselves and truthful about who they are, seemingly without caring what other people think of them. Those people aren't perfect, but they also don't pretend to be perfect. Amanda Palmer seems to be one of those genuine people. She covers a lot in her TED talk, from her music career, to making money, to allowing yourself to trust strangers. One of my favorite parts about her presentation is how she encourages people to ask for help.

I've never liked the idea that asking for help was a form of weakness. Yes, asking for help can leave you vulnerable, but it can also lead to so many wonderful opportunities and connections. No one can get through life purely on their own. We all need help at some point. Allowing yourself to connect with other people is so important.

So maybe I've watched Amanda Palmer's TED talk too many times, but much like her husband, Neil Gaiman's, graduation speech it never ceases to inspire me to be the best and most sincere form of myself possible.


Friday, June 13, 2014

Interrogating My Bookshelves

Book Riot contributor, Peter Damian recently wrote an article called An Exercise In Interrogating My Bookshelves inspired by the following comic by Tom Gauld.

I found the comic particularly funny because once I starting thinking about my bookshelf it seemed incredible accurate. So I thought I would follow Peter's lead and answer the following questions about the books on my own shelf.

Read? Of course there's a ton of books on my bookshelf that I have read, but the last book I read was Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi. The book is the second novel in the Shatter Me series. I love Mafi's writing style and never wanted this book to end. The second novella, Fracture Me, and third book, Ignite Me, are both waiting on my Kindle App.

Intending to Read? This category makes up another large portion of my bookshelf. Instead I'll list the book I'm intending on reading next, which is The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank. Can you believe I've never read this book? In Junior High School when everyone else I knew was reading The Diary of A Young Girl and To Kill A Mockingbird my English teacher was going off a completely different list. I've been planning on reading those books ever since then and it's about time I get down to business.

Half Read? I read half of the book Dune by Frank Herbert for an English class back in high school as a part of our summer reading assignment. Unfortunately I dropped the class because I was worried that it would cause conflicts in my schedule and take up too much of my time. It was probably a silly choice, but I can't go back now. I remember really loving Dune before I set it down and I'd love to pick it back up again at some point.

Pretend I've Read? When I was younger I would often pretend to have read more books than I do now. I still feel pressure to read the popular books or authors that everyone raves about, but there's only so many hours in the day. Despite all of that, I have noticed that I tend to act like I've already read The Lord of The Rings trilogy. The books have been sitting on my shelf for a while now, but I don't think I've read more than 20 pages of The Fellowship of The Ring. I finally read The Hobbit at the end of last year and really enjoyed it. Maybe I'll pick up The Fellowship later this year and try again.

Saving For When I Have More Time? Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. This is a rather large book and it seems like a daunting endeavor. Seeing as I'm currently reading Les Miserables (another big book), I'm waiting until I finish that before starting anything else of that length.

Will Never Read? Jane Austen's Persuasion has been on my shelf for a few years now. Since Pride and Prejudice took me SO LONG to get into, I doubt I'll ever read another Austen. Every time I consider picking up Persuasion I think about the two years it took me to finish the first half of Pride and Prejudice. I should probably just get rid of the book altogether.

Purely For Show? I have a book about Coco Chanel that I picked up at the used book store because I was going through a big fashion designer stage. As much as I want to read the book, I'm sure I won't ever get around to reading it. The book does a great job at looking really nice on my shelf though.

Read, But Can't Remember a Single Thing About It? I found The Music of Dolphins by Karen Hesse buried behind a bunch of books the other day. I remember reading it when I was younger, but I don't remember anything about the story.

Wish I Hadn't Read? A Cool Million by Nathanael West. I read this book for a class in college and it was a bit much for my taste. I didn't appreciate reading about people being scalped and the other such acts committed in the book.

How about you? Does the comic represent your bookshelves as well?


Sunday, June 8, 2014

TFIOS Thoughts

Friday afternoon I finished rereading The Fault In Our Stars for the second time. I originally read the book when it came out in 2012, but I wanted a refresher before seeing the movie with my mom yesterday. There's so much I want to say about this book and this story, but it's extremely hard to put into words how much this book does for me. I guess you could say, "my thoughts are stars I can't fathom into constellations".

I'm sure people love (or don't love) the book for all sorts of different reasons. For me, the books that I like best are ones that I can relate to on some personal level. My favorite books also force me to consider questions about the world and human nature; things that everyone can relate to. John Green writes in a way that encompasses all of these aspects in each of his books.

I've never personally experienced the type of love story this book holds, nor have I encountered the type of pain and seriousness that accompanies cancer (thankfully), but I have spent many hours in the hospital. I know what it's like to feel like a pin cushion. I know what it's like to wish for the good nurses. I know what it's like to try and sleep in the ICU with a nurse at the end of your bed and the constant beep of your fellow patient's monitors. I know about pain levels and the 1-10 scale. I know what it's like to feel different from everyone else.

When Hazel refers to herself as a side effect it summed up many of the ways I feel about myself. I tend to see myself as an anomaly, something that evolution is set up to get rid of. I'm a hopeless cause with no cure, but aren't we all really? Eventually, we all meet the same fate and return to the place we came from. The amount of time we are given on this planet, in this particular life, doesn't actually make a difference. We are all fatal. "What a slut time is, she screws everybody."

We never know the size of our own infinity, but we can choose who we love during that time. Who we effect and who effects us. This book reminds me that loving people is what we are meant to do with this life. And it doesn't matter how many people we love, but how strongly we love them.

The book isn't just about two kids who have cancer, it's about humanity. It's about what it means to exist in this world and to share our lives with other human beings. It's about love, in all of it's forms. Everyone can relate to that.

- - -

Now I just want to briefly talk about the movie. Firstly, I thought the movie was excellent, but the book will always be better. Books always are, you really can't compare them too closely because you can develop and reveal characters to a much larger extent in writing. The movie wasn't quite able to capture the same level of wittiness that Hazel and Augustus speak with in the book.

But they did get a lot right.

I was however very pleased with the little ways they edited the story to work as a film. I loved the text bubbles and the way they did little firecracker pops at different parts. I also really loved Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort as Hazel and Augustus. They both did a great job of playing out those characters. So did everyone else in the movie.

Lastly, don't go see this movie if you hate crying in theaters because I don't think I've ever cried that much in the presence of total strangers. I was trying to hold back but there was still a river of tears running down my face (and that's not even an exaggeration). 

But also, you should go see the movie. And read the book.

Have you read The Fault In Our Stars? Have you seen the movie yet? What are your thoughts?