Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

OMG, this play was so depressing and sometimes confusing. I think it might actually make more sense if I actually watched the play. But now that I know that the story is so depressing, I will probably not even watch it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg

Over ten years ago, as I was preparing to move back to the United States from Asia, I was talking about all of my fears of moving with my friend, David. David has a way of seeing right to the core of things which can be helpful and irritating at the same time. He listened to me and commented, "You're afraid of entering the dating scene again!!!" Yes, he was exactly right. If only I had had a book like Modern Romance to survey the current dating scene for me. Sigh.

Well, fast forward about ten years, and here we are. Modern Romance does provide a thorough and entertaining review of the state of dating today. It is amusing, insightful, and sometimes crude (warning to my younger readers!). Most importantly, Modern Romance reminds us that behind each of those Tinder pictures that you so quickly swipe there is a real human. I appreciate that Ansari encourages readers to not write off someone so quickly, but to give them a chance (meaning: at least four or five dates) before you move on to the next first date.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Happy 800th post!

This is my 800th blog post! I started this blog eight years ago on April 25th, 2007. Since then, lots of life events have happened. I got married, finished graduate school, moved to a new house, backpacked around Europe with Boomer for a summer, and reached a huge milestone in my professional life. All of the books I've posted about have seen me through all of these life events!

Thank you for reading my blog and sending me book recommendations! I love hearing about what you read, what you like, and what you don't like. I hope I've steered you toward some good books. I know we're all different though so what I like may not be what you like, but I thank you for reading along with me and letting me know your thoughts!

In honor of this 800th post, I am re-posting my very first post to remind myself why I started this blog. Everything I wrote is still true. Although, I think I would change "I like to read" to "I LOVE to read." :)

From April 25, 2007:
I like to read. I wonder if you knew that.

I read paperback books because they don't hurt as much if I roll over them in bed.

I read because it makes me feel more connected to who I am. I like taking in new stories, new information, and new ways of thinking about life. I enjoy having a parallel story sitting in my head while I go about my day. I like reading something that changes how I look at myself and the world around me.

The purpose of this blog is to keep track of the books I have read and my thoughts on them. This blog will not be retroactive. Books described here are books that I have just finished. So welcome to my bookshelf. Enjoy.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Like many others, I love To Kill a Mockingbird (read my very short post about it here). Needless to say, I had very mixed feelings about reading Go Set a Watchman but I picked it up anyway.

Eh, I really liked Scout much better as a girl. As a young woman in Go Set a Watchman, she didn't have nearly as much spunk and charm and heart as I remember her having in To Kill a Mockingbird. I can say that I will never read Go Set a Watchman again, but I am thinking of picking up To Kill a Mockingbird again to get this bad taste out of my mouth.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Way More than Luck: Commencement Speeches on Living with Bravery, Empathy, and Other Existential Skills by Various Authors

After reading J.K. Rowling's commencement speech, I wanted to read more commencement speeches. It's time to go back to school (although I am still glad that I actually am not going back to school this fall...and it's been about five years since I was in grad school), and a great time of year to look for inspiration. For example, a college friend of mine would always watch Dead Poet's Society every year before the new quarter began to motivate himself.

I was disappointed with this collection of commencement speeches. I only found one to be that great (Jonathan Safran Foer's address to the Middlebury College class of 2013). I mean, for a collection of speeches, I would think the editor would pick some better ones.

So eh, skip. But I still recommend checking of J.K. Rowling's speech!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Sophie's Choice by William Styron

I am slowly making my way through Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2015 Reading Challenge. It is a challenge because I am looking for books to read that are out of my comfort zone. But one of the great things about reading is being challenged to think about life and my worldview differently, so I welcome the challenge. And so, we move onto "a book recommended by someone with great taste."

And here's a sad tale: I had a very good friend in junior high, and her mom was quite the reader. I admired how much she read. Whenever I was over at their house, her mom read on the sofa while we did our homework. Sophie's Choice was her all-time favorite book. The sad part of the story is that I am no longer in touch with this friend, but I still remembered that her mom loved Sophie's Choice. And so, in a tribute to this lost relationship and my former friend's mom's taste in reading, I read Sophie's Choice.

The book is narrated by Stingo, a twenty-something Southerner, living in New York. His neighbors, Nathan and Sophie are brilliant, abusive, and passionate. Stingo starts spending time with them and he learns more about both of their pasts. Sophie's past is heartbreaking and full of secrets.

This is NOT a light read. Actually, my experience of reading Sophie's Choice was similar to reading The Goldfinch. I was jet-lagged when I read The Goldfinch, and reading that crazy book did nothing to help. Similarly, I was home with a cold as I finished up Sophie's Choice, and it just made me feel worse. I need to read happier things when I'm not feeling well physically.

I thought I might watch the movie after reading the book, but nope, gonna pass. This book was already too heavy and disturbing and I don't need more of those images in my head.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Life From Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness by Sasha Martin

I almost didn't finish this book. Martin writes at the beginning about how her and her brother were taken away from their mother, but it is unclear about exactly why, and so I found myself not really trusting her.

I did eventually finish the book though. Martin lives with various families and then writes about how she made her way as an adult, creates her own family, and cooks her way through the world by making a meal from every country over the course of four years or so.

There was something off about this book for me. I never really connected with the author or felt an affinity for her. Kinda odd.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin

A memoir about life as a mom living on Park Avenue in New York City. Martin is educated as an anthropologist, so she writes about her own experience as a mom living in the community, but she also observes and analyzes the behaviors of her fellow moms.

I alternated between feeling fascinated and disgusted while I was reading this book. The lifestyles of these women are so extreme! $10,000 purses! One of the more amusing parts of the book was when Martin adds up what it costs just to maintain one's body (hair, nails, yoga, waxing, clothes, etc.). Boomer and I could live quite comfortably just on one of these lady's body maintenance budgets.

A so-so book, like I said, fascinating yet disgusting.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination by J.K. Rowling

"Ultimately we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria, if you let it." --J.K. Rowling

The above is from J.K. Rowling's commencement address to the Harvard graduating class of 2008. She goes on to say, "So given a Time-Turner, I would tell my twenty-one-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a checklist of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who comfuse the two."

A short, sweet, and powerful speech. You can read it in minutes, but think about it for a bit after. I think my life would improve if I listened to a commencement speech every Monday.