My friend over at Suey’s Books is participating in a 30 Days of Books challenge where they have different writing prompts about books for 30 Days. With my upcoming trip I won’t be able to do all of them but I thought I would do a few. The first one asks 3 questions about books.
What is a character in a book I relate to most?
I would say Anne of Green Gables. She is perhaps a younger version of myself but in many ways I can relate to her. She’s passionate, imaginative, extremely loyal, positive and has a bit of a temper. I’ve always related to her bosom friendships and her fierce love for people. She also knows how to hold a grudge which can be a weakness of mine as well. Plus, she would definitely be a blogger in 2016!
A book that changed my opinion about something?
Lisa See’s On Gold Mountain really made me think about my views on immigration in a new way. She manages to make a telling of the 100 years of her family ancestors gripping and interesting. What was particularly compelling is to see the way Chinese immigrants were treated and to listen to all the rhetoric over the years. I don’t know anyone that would see Chinese Americans as a horrible burden and yet the same rhetoric that is used against immigrants today was used against them. It also has something to say about interracial marriage and the way we look at race today (Lisa has blonde hair and blue eyes. You’d never guess she is of Chinese descent).
The most surprising plot twist or ending
I’m not a big fan of twists as they usually leave me feeling manipulated rather than intrigued but I guess the last Harry Potter book had a great twist. I would never have guessed the character arc of Snape and what Rowling would do with him, transitioning him in one book from horrible villain to underdog hero. It’s pretty remarkable when you think about it and it says something to her writing that I bought it.
So there you have it! What would be your answers to these 3 questions. Share in the comments section. Thanks
For some reason October has historically been a tough month for me. I think with the end of summer and cold weather my psyche rebels and is unusually sensitive to everything around me. Sometimes I just feel sadness and it won’t go away, like a pit deep in my stomach trying to drag me down.
I don’t always have a good reason but it just seems to happen that way. Do you have periods of the year that you are more susceptible than others to the blues? March is also a tough month because it feels like winter is never going to end.
At least there is Halloween to look forward to in October. Growing up my Mom made costumes for us every other year and we gathered quite box of dress-ups to play with throughout the year. I was everything from Raggedy Anne, to Sleeping Beauty to Pocahontas. Then during my college years Halloween kind of died out and I stopped dressing up (you think that would be prime dressing up time but not for me).
I went on a mission and one Halloween we were angels with little halos and another we wore fairy wings to the ward party. When I got home I lived in Orem and then moved to American Fork with Megan and Camille. During our 2 years as roommates we threw some great Halloween parties and I started dressing up again I was Tracy Turnblat from Hairspray, a Geisha, and Dorothy.
We kept the tradition of the Halloween party going for a while but as is usually the case people moved, things changed and last year I found myself not doing much for Halloween. Luckily I invited my friend Rachel McGary over and we had soup in pumpkins and chatted. I also went to a church dance where I dressed up as superwoman.
This year came and October was particularly grueling what with date-gate and the great church meltdown I was hoping to do something for Halloween but nothing was coming up so I didn’t get a costume. Then my ward announced a party on the 30th and my friend Melissa invited me to her Halloween party.
So, I began the happy task of finding a costume! It was a welcome distraction believe me. I am not a sewer so that leaves me with either assembled costumes or purchasing a costume. I usually go for the latter but it can be difficult as I am out of the sizes of some costumes and I don’t want anything with the word ‘sexy’ before it (it’s so strange how many things they are able to make sexy for Halloween!).
Eventually I settled on a witch and I am thrilled with how my costume turned out. I think it looks like Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter. What do you think? I love it!
What are all of you doing for Halloween? Whatever it is, I hope it is very happy and full of a lot more treats than tricks. Sure love ya!
I sat down to write three or four different blogs tonight and I finally decided I just had too much on my mind. So, in a shift from my normal style of topic based posts I am doing things a little bit differently.
Things on my mind:
1. I can’t believe that Casey Anthony was acquitted. I am sorry but a mother (or aunt, or grandma or human being) does not lose their child for 31 days and not say anything to authorities. Then there is the duct tape, emails, smells, the partying and pathological lying. Just the fact that a case is based on circumstantial evidence is not a reason alone for reasonable doubt. No prosecution’s case is perfect because usually if it is than there is a plea deal and no trial! Reasonable doubt is not no doubt. It just makes me sick that she could do this to her beautiful daughter and that she is getting away with it. I’m sorry but it does. Plus she was not found to be innocent. I hate it when people say that . All she was found of is not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. There’s a difference!
2. The debate of a debt ceiling has also been on my mind. Unfortunately I think the Republicans will capitulate to the President and continue the status quo of debt without any guarantee of real reforms. Cuts will be bantered about but no sacred cows will be touched, no real entitlement reform. Neither party wants to be seen as the ‘bad guy’ that is hurting babies and senior citizens- how about who is hurting our entire country? The greater debt we sink into the weaker our country becomes. The only thing that Obama seems willing to cut is defense- something very comforting with the 9/11 ten year anniversary quickly approaching us (even if he cut the entire defense budget it still wouldn’t make a dent when compared to entitlement reforms of medicare, medicaid and social security). Now Moody is considering lowering our rating, which means the dollar gets weaker, while the Chinese get stronger. Is that what we want? Not me. Come on Republicans- get some guts!
3. On an entirely different note- Can’t wait for the new Harry Potter movie to come out. I wasn’t nuts about the last one because I felt it dragged a bit, but I am eagerly anticipating this final chapter. Every review I have read is full of praise (97% on Rottentomatoes.com). I am not a huge fantasy fan but I loved the books and have also thoroughly enjoyed the movies. The performances, special effects, and screen adaptations are first rate. Its nice to have one summer movie to look forward to. It just wouldn’t be summer without it. Btw- my sister is seeing it like 4 times this weekend! Now that’s hard core
4. On another movie note I saw Woody Allen’s new movie Midnight in Paris over the weekend and loved it. For some reason it hasn’t gotten much play but it is a whimsical and funny story of a liberal writer who arrives in Paris with his less-sincere fiance and her parents. He wants to soak up the mystique of Paris (the photography is great- makes you want to go to Paris so bad! Anyone interested?). Meanwhile, the fiance is more interested with her pedantic professor friend who muses in a different sort of way- he is all about knowledge, even trivia, where the writer wonders about life and love. One night he steps through time and ends up in 1920’s Paris and then meets his literary and artistic idols of the day such as Gertrude Stein, Picaso, and Hemingway. The movie asks the question- would life be better if only we had lived in a previous golden age?
5. I must admit that coming back from my break has been harder than I would have thought. I miss the ocean so badly it hurts. Sometimes I pretend the sound of the traffic outside my apartment is the waves and then I almost don’t want to step on to the patio and have the illusion ruined. Its been cloudy and gray here and yesterday I was feeling a little depressed. I have also been struggling to get low blood sugar readings (they are ok) here like the I did in Hawaii. It makes no sense because I ate terribly in Hawaii. I think it may be that I went longer without eating so my levels got low and just couldn’t rise as much as they do, even with mediocre food. I have been back at the diet front; however, and I think I have already lost 1 lb.
6. My trainer is setting up a boot camp system that will help me record my progress in ways besides weight loss. Starting next Wednesday we are going to do a set of challenges (push ups, tricep curls, crunches etc). Then we will repeat the same things every 6 weeks with a small prize for improvement. I am very excited about. I am also on the lookout for long-term goals for this year, something sort of like surfing was for me the last 2 years. Any ideas?
7. Read a book this week that was a real snooze (how do you make the end of the world so dull? she does it!) but one of the things that annoyed me is the author threw in a number of references of how lame Fox News is and how the President from Texas (obviously President Bush) is an idiot. It didn’t have anything to do with the thoroughly boring story but it still annoyed me. If you want to write an opinion piece call the New York Times, don’t write a novel and subject the rest of us unwillingly to it.
I also reread All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot and thoroughly enjoyed it. Its funny because you wouldn’t think an animal-phobe like me would like a story about a country vet but I do. You see the story really isn’t about the animals- but the animal owners. I counted over 40 different characters that Herriot creates throughout the book. They are funny, sad, charming and totally delightful. It is a terrific book- particularly for the light and airy days of the summer. If you haven’t read it- read it!
8. Had a Chinese cooking lesson with my friends Taylor, Darcy and Melissa. Was a lot of fun and totally what I needed to get out of my funk. We made egg rolls with pulled pork, pineapple, cabbage, carrots and scallions; along with wantons stuffed with real crab and cream cheese. I even bought a fry daddy for the activity- something I’ve wanted for years and felt was too fattening. Its still for a rare indulgence but it is healthier to fry at home. Anyway, it was a good time and just what I needed. Sadly I did not take any photos. I always forget because other people in my family were always taking the photos. Plus, I’m kind of in between cameras right now. I am still researching before I buy a new one.
9. I received, you won’t believe it, a REFUND from my eye doctor for a payment I had made previous to my surgery. In order to work I had to pay my doctor $1356- part deductible and part my 20%. Well, I get my mail coming home and there is a refund check! I call the doctors and they said the insurance company only applied $695 to the deductible so the rest was sent as a refund! Who ever gets money back from the doctor? When does the insurance company cover more than expected? Never. I still can’t believe my good luck (and let’s be honest I was due for some good luck after the year I’ve had!)
10. What did I do with that refund? Well, I spent a small portion of it on an item I have wanted for several years- I bought a kindle! Over the course of this trip I realized how much I wanted one and how tired I was of lugging around those heavy books. I went ahead and ordered the 3G wireless and have been downloading up a storm- mostly novels before 1923 which are free! I have all my Jane Austen, George Elliot and Elizabeth Gaskell. Its great! I can also download all my audible downloads on the kindle at no extra charge. I’ve always loved gadgets but come on the kindle is just fun!
Anyway, so those are my random thoughts for the day. I love you all. Thanks for listening to me ramble…
So, I thoroughly plan to elaborate on each of these books, but I thought my blog readers might be interested in a listing of my top 16 favorite books. I have met illiterate people, and I feel so sorry for them. It makes me sad that the only world open to them is the one before them. When I read I can escape to the 18oo’s, enter Middle Earth, marry a high school sweetheart or any other adventure I want to take. I read at least 2 books a month and most of the time more (depends on the length of the book and the month).
My book selections usually fall into categories. First of all, there’s the classics. As all my blog readers will remember I love Elizabeth Gaskell. Her books are all amazing. They make me want to be better- to live a fuller life. I also love Dickens, Elliott, Austen and more. I love how the classics were written like a movie- full of minute details to soak up.
The next set of favorites are political science/sociology books. Again you will remember I love books analyzing society such as The Great Good Place, Bowling Alone and Urban Tribes. I loved studying political science at BYU because of the way it made me think. Instead of just looking at something like a Starbucks, I am encouraged by these books to think about the impact, effects and social trends involved. I know some people think these books are boring, but I just love them. For instance, when I first read Urban Tribes by Ethan Watters it made me feel connected to the world in a new way- like there was a whole new group of singles out there who knew exactly how I feel. I felt validated in a way I hadn’t in years. I read it with a highlighter and a notebook and just LOVED it.
Another category is memoirs. I have always been fascinated by interesting stories about unique people. These memoirs can run the gambit from lighter fare like Cheaper by the Dozen and Mama’s Bank Account, and more intense stories such as The Hiding Place and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. These books make me want to be a better, more interesting person- to conquer challenges and write down my humorous experiences.
Moving on, I also love children’s books- particularly ones I read growing up. Reading wasn’t always easy for me. I was a later reader (which is funny because now I am a ferocious reader and can read books much quicker than most of my friends) and although I was never diagnosed I think I had a little bit of dyslexia. It was always hard for me to focus, take tests, follow directions and explain what I felt inside. I always felt I knew the material better than anyone else but the grades would never show. This was true all the way through college. It’s funny because you would think someone with such difficulties would hate reading but for some reason I plowed on through, almost forcing myself to enjoy it. A couple of books that spoke to me when I was young were Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Woman, Girl of Limberlost, Caddie Woodland, Narnia, Roald Dahl stories and more. Later on I loved Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
The last category is totally random. There are some books that I just like. Any good books are Ok by me. I am up for any type of book, time period, and writing style. I especially love the experience of reading a book with others and talking it out. There have been a few times when I read a book and kind of liked it but after talking it over with others I liked it much more. Their vision made me see the book in new ways- made me understand it in a more completely. I love it!
Finally I will give you my top 16 favorite books:
1. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
3. Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
4. Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank and Lilian Gilbreth
5. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
6. Urban Tribes by Ethan Waters
7. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriett Jacobs
8. Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes
9. Red China Blues by Jan Wong
10. Delicacy and Strength of Lace by Leslie Marmon Silko and James Wright
11. Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
12. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
13. Complete Poems of Elizabeth Bishop
14. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather
15. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
16. Howards End by EM Forester
So, there you have it. My favorite books. Some others I love are Wives and Daughters and Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, My Antonia by Willa Cather, On Gold Mountain by Lisa See, Harry Potter, Screwtape Letters and Narnia books by CS Lewis, Lord of the Rings, Little Women, A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. So many good ones. I just read a new book called Lying Awake by Mark Salzman that I LOVED! I could go on and on.