Tag Archives: Pleasure Reading

Monday’s Musings (Dec. 3rd).

3 Dec

Today’s an exciting day for me because it’s the last day of classes of the fall semester. Woohoo! This semester has definitely flown by. However, I’m ready to be done. The “burn-out” associated with end of the semester stress has definitely set in. Though I’m relieved that today is the last day of classes, it’s only the beginning of a week of stress. I’ve got a Community Psych final on Wednesday, a Developmental Psych final Thursday, a Human Biology final on Monday, and a Humanities essay to write. I can feel the tunnel vision and stress headaches approaching.

I’m looking forward to the semester being over. Then I get to focus on friends, family, traveling, celebrating, and lots and lots of pleasure reading for a full month. Yes! 🙂

While browsing NPR’s book section of their website today, I came across a great article: Finders Keepers: 2012’s Books To Hang On To. The books from the list were:

  • Home by Toni Morrison. Though I haven’t read Home, I recently finished Morrison’s Sula and enjoyed it. I may have to give Home a try sometime during my holiday break.
  • Mortality by Christopher Hitchens.
  • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan. Though I hadn’t heard of this book until reading the NPR article, I’ll definitely have to read this book because it focuses on why people love books and what they searching for through them. Aka, exactly the kind of book I’d love!
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
  • Brothers by George Howe Colt. 

Since I only had heard of one of these books (Home by Toni Morrison) before reading the NPR article, I definitely am behind on my reading. Thankfully, I’ve got a month of relaxation following finals to read as much as possible.

So, have any of you read any of the books from the NPR article? Or are there other books you read during this year that have had a huge impact on you? I’ll definitely be in need of more book suggestions to enjoy over the holidays. 🙂

Advertisements

Reflecting on words.

29 Nov

Have you ever come across one of your previous pieces of writing and thought: Did I seriously write that? It’s SO good! That happened to me last night when I came across a blog post I wrote on October the 20th, titled The finding place of my words. As I read my own words, I was amazed. There were certain connections I made on that brisk fall day back in October that still apply to how I feel right now. I don’t know what it is with writers wanting to write about words or the creative process. However, in my case, it provides me with perspective, which is discussed in more detail in my blog post titled, The magic of first lines in literature.

Last Spring, as I was walking across the quad of my college campus to get to class, I had to stop and take in the scene that was unfolding before me. As I looked around, I saw tons of college students sitting on the quad reading. However, as is customary for Asheville, they were all different. Each student’s reading experience was unique. One guy was lying in a hammock he had strung up between two nearby trees, and his book rested lightly against his bent knees. I also saw a girl who was lying on her stomach on a flowery blanket with her bare feet casually in the air. She was holding a book out in front of her, careful to block the sun from her eyes. The third student I spotted was my personal favorite though. She was sitting in the grass with her back up against the trunk of a tree. Her long, dark hair covered the sides of her face, making it possible to only focus on her eyes, which were moving so fast across the pages of her book that I could tell she was a very focused reader. I think the image of the third student stuck with me the most because I could see so much of myself in her. As a reader, especially when it involves a book I am reading for pleasure, it takes a lot to break my focus. Often times, I get so absorbed in the words that I lose the ability to fully comprehend what is going on around me, outside of the world of words that I so often call home.

Though I don’t know whether the students that I observed were reading for their own pleasure or for a class assignment, I like to believe either they were reading something for pleasure or were at least reading something they were interested in. I enjoy sticking to this belief simply because it is very closely related to how I imagine myself when I am reading. In so many ways, words have always been my refuge, but they have also been the place I have returned to again and again if I need to re-evaluate something or find my sense of balance.

“All my life I’ve looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.” – Ernest Hemingway

Not all words provide us with the strength to change or the reassurance that we are moving in the right direction in our lives. However, if a series of words can come together into a sentence that causes us to stop and read the sentence again and again, it’s almost like magic. Whether they fill us with a sense of happiness, loss, sadness, anger, loneliness, or hope…words matter. They have the ability to reach a place inside us that not many people can even describe. It’s almost as if the most precious of sentences we have ever read reside in a place so deep within us and so personal that it takes a certain kind of experience for the words to resurface.

“To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it’s about, but the inner music the words make.” – Truman Capote

“One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment.” – Hart Crane

Words matter. They are precious stones that have been washed by the countless waves of the sea, and they lie in the sand, waiting for us to uncover them. But the most precious words, the ones that are the rare deep blue stones, they are not so easy to find. They reside in the crevices of rocks, thrown to those places by the most violent of waves. But they have triumphed. They have overcome the turbulent waves of the sea, taking refuge until we are able to bring them out into the light. So don’t wait. Start searching.

Summer pleasure reading wrap-up.

31 Jul

It’s hard to believe that my summer is almost over (though I still have about 2 weeks left). However, since I spent as much time as possible reading as many books as I could, I thought I’d do a summer/pleasure reading wrap-up for the months of May, June, and July. Also, since I love quotes, I thought I’d include quotes from the books that I could find quotes from on Goodreads. 🙂

May

  1. The Life All Around Me by Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons: “I believe that anything is possible if you have the combination of love for what you’re doing and the will to sit down and not get up until it’s done.”
  2. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver: “In a world as wrong as this one, all we can do is make things as right as we can.”
  3. Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten
  4. Pigs In Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver: “No matter what kind of night you’re having, morning always wins.”
  5. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks: “Stories are as unique as the people who tell them, and the best stories are in which the ending is a surprise.”
  6. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver: “I thought I wouldn’t live through it. But you do. You learn to love the place somebody leaves behind for you.”
  7. How To Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward: “When you are small, if you reach out, and nobody takes your hand, you stop reaching out, and reach inside, instead.”
  8. Beyond The Waves by Miranda Marek
  9. A Soft Place To Land by Susan Rebecca White
  10. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green: “Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”

June

  1. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson: “That is what literature offers—a language powerful enough to say how it is. It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.”
  2. Fifty Shades Of Grey by EL James: “Laters, baby.”
  3. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh: “Perhaps the unattached, the unwanted, the unloved, could grow to give love as lushly as anyone else.”
  4. If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland: “I found that many gifted people are so afraid of writing a poor story that they cannot summon the nerve to write a single sentence for months. The thing to say to such people is: “See how *bad* a story you can write. See how dull you can be. Go ahead. That would be fun and interesting. I will give you ten dollars if you can write something thoroughly dull from beginning to end!” And of course, no one can. ”
  5. On Writing by Stephen King: “Writing is not life, but I think that sometimes it can be a way back to life.”
  6. The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank: “Sometimes you’re loved because of your weaknesses. What you can’t do is sometimes more compelling than what you can.”
  7. Fifty Shades Darker by EL James: “You’re the only person I’d fly three thousand miles to see.”

July

  1. Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos: “But sometimes, a boat needs to rock; a boat needs to head straight for the heart of a storm and come out on the other side, weather beaten but with flags flying.”
  2. Fifty Shades Freed by EL James: “I want your world to begin and end with me.”
  3. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger: “Listen, sometimes when you finally find out, you realize that you were much better off not knowing.”
  4. Sam’s Letters To Jennifer by James Patterson: “What are we but our stories?”
  5. The Map Of Love by Ahdaf Soueif
  6. The Tenderness Of Wolves by Stef Penney: “It just goes to show you can’t leave anything behind. You bring it all with you, whether you want to or not.”
  7. Harvesting The Heart by Jodi Picoult: “Perhaps he d always known that the truth of a person lies in the heart.”
  8. Belong To Me by Marisa De Los Santos: “You know what he said? He said that being away from me is less like being away from a person than being away from other people is. I don’t know anyone else who would say something like that. And he was right. When we were apart, I missed him all the time, but he didn’t feel faraway. He felt closer than the kids at school.”…Certain people are like that, I guess. They’re together no matter where they are. They just belong to each other.”

Total: 25 books. Not too shabby, especially considering I was studying abroad for 5 weeks and going to my internship for 5 days a week. 🙂

What have you read this summer that you’ve really enjoyed?

When in Ireland, visit the Aran Islands.

15 Jul

I just got back from a lovely day at Inis Mor, the largest of the three Aran Islands. “Inis Mor” actually translates to “big island.” Even though I didn’t get to see the popular fort that many people visit when going to Inis Mor because the trek was quite steep and had lots of rocks, but it was still a great day exploring a cute little island. Since I had some time to myself while the rest of my group headed up to the fort, I snapped away with my camera (and got some great shots) and did some pleasure reading. And of course, my day was complete when I ended my time on the island with a double scoop of chocolate ice cream. No harm in that, right?

When in Ireland, take luck where you can find it.

25 Jun

Most of us have heard the phrase, “the luck of the Irish,” but whether the luck is still around or not, I’m not sure. I’ve never really believed in luck, but since coming to Ireland, I’ve learned to just take luck where you can find it.

For instance, I’m currently in Ireland and tomorrow I start my study abroad program at NUIG. That’s luck. Though it may not seem like luck that I am here, it’s lucky that the right opportunity arose to allow me to be here taking part in a study abroad program. There are not many people who get this kind of opportunity, but when I realized that I had this chance, I had to take it.

Even though I’m excited about what my program holds and I’m looking forward to meeting new people, I’m nervous. It’s scary….doing something this big. I don’t know anyone. I’m in a foreign country. Thankfully they speak English, but even that isn’t too much of a reassurance considering how big of a step I’m taking. Even though I went to Peru in January of 2010 with a group from my high school, this is a step up from that. Though traveling to Peru was my first time out of the United States, the trip only lasted 12 days, and I was with a group of students from my school, so I knew everyone. In this instance, I don’t know anyone, and I will be here for 28 days rather than 12. Quite a difference.

I know that it takes time to adjust, and my mom has warned me that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself about not doing everything since just being here and taking classes for 4 weeks is huge in itself. However, there’s always that voice in the back of my head urging me to not hold back….that voice in my head that would rather go out and do stuff instead of hang out on campus and study and pleasure read on the quad. However, hanging out on campus and studying/pleasure reading on the quad sounds pretty great to me. Since it is luck that I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy this experience, I’m going to enjoy it my way. All students are different, and all of the students participating in this study abroad experience in Galway, Ireland have different expectations for how the program is going to go. Just because my expectations don’t match those of another student doesn’t mean I need to fret. Maybe it just means that I need to enjoy being in Ireland/taking classes/reading, and maybe by some small stroke of Irish luck, I’ll meet someone who’s looking for a similar experience.

Photo Friday: Books.

1 Jun

“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”-John Green (An Abundance of Katherines)

Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten: More Than Just A Book Review.

16 May

A few days ago I finished my fourth pleasure reading of the summer, Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten. This book was an amazing read, and I simply couldn’t put it down. Here is the synopsis according to Amazon,com:

Max Parkman—autistic and whip-smart, emotionally fragile and aggressive—is perfect in his mother’s eyes. Until he’s accused of murder.

Attorney Danielle Parkman knows her teenage son Max’s behavior has been getting worse—using drugs and lashing out. But she can’t accept the diagnosis she receives at a top-notch adolescent psychiatric facility that her son is deeply disturbed. Dangerous.

Until she finds Max, unconscious and bloodied, beside a patient who has been brutally stabbed to death.

Trapped in a world of doubt and fear, barred from contacting Max, Danielle clings to the belief that her son is innocent. But has she, too, lost touch with reality? Is her son really a killer?

With the justice system bearing down on them, Danielle steels herself to discover the truth, no matter what it is. She’ll do whatever it takes to find the killer and to save her son from being destroyed by a system that’s all too eager to convict him.

I connected most with the character of Danielle, Max’s mother. Even though there were certain times when I didn’t approve of some of her choices, ultimately she did what any good mother of a special needs child would do, she fought for him. For me, reading this book reminded me of all the people who have fought for me as I was growing up and throughout my life due to my Cerebral Palsy. Whether it was making sure that I was placed in the same classes as other kids my age in middle school or making sure I could get a single dorm room in college or be able to register for college classes early so I could make sure the classroom buildings weren’t too far apart in between back-to-back classes, I’ve always had people fighting for me. When I was growing up, and even now, that person has been my mom. It took me a long time to realize that her tough love was her way of fighting like hell for me to get the same opportunities as all the other kids my age. Nowadays, one of my previous physical therapists, Meredith, has acted as my biggest advocate in terms of getting a single room for college, etc. However, the strong realization over the past year is that I’m reaching an age where I have to be my own advocate, or at least figure out who the person is that I need to talk to in order to get a certain thing done, has been a little scary. Though I understand that it is because I’m getting older and I have to “take the reins” in a sense, I’ve always had others fighting for me. Though I know that they won’t go away simply because I start being my own advocate, when I was growing up, I was my own fighter in a different way. I fought to get up in the morning and not instantly start crying because of the pain that came so suddenly. I fought to try to keep a smile on my face because I knew that if I didn’t I would just break down. I fought to ignore all the stares, even when I would have liked to just scream at those kids that would walk by with their mouth gaping open, and who would turn around and look at me more even after their mothers had walked them past me already. I fought, every single day, and I still do. And I’ll fight to be my own advocate. It’s just been interesting to realize that I have to switch gears, while also realizing that I’m just fighting for what I have always deserved: the same opportunities that other kids my age have been given.

That being said, read this book. It’s amazing.