And She Reads Again Monday, Sep 12 2016 

I used to read all the time (a book a week) but fell out of the habit. Partly because I’m currently in the middle of the Game of Thrones book, the first book in a Song of Ice and Fire and it’s so tedious at the start.

Lately all I’ve been reading articles online (mostly health related ones). But something kicked inside of me and I started reading again!  Yes, it’s still Game of Thrones, and I’m not reading as fast as in the past, but it’s better than nothing!

This stuffed dragon is something I got to celebrate my reading again.  Why a dragon?  I love them (always have) and Dany is kind of awesome, and she’s Queen of Dragons.

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The Trouble with Time is: Monday, Feb 1 2016 

I haven’t read in ages, and I blame Game of Thrones.  Okay, so maybe part of it is that I feel like I don’t have enough time.  But I used to make time.  I used to read.  A lot.  So much so, that when I was younger my parents would worry I was depressed or something and to the point where my parents even asked my sister to find out if I was okay.  I was okay, though granted, I hated working at my parents’ restaurant when I was a teen, so I liked to read, especially fantasy novels, to forget about work.

But recently that changed.  I have been trying to read Game of Thrones, the first A Song of Ice and Fire novel, but for some reason I just can’t get through it.  My sister keeps telling me to just skip it, but I can’t just skip a book.  Though I haven’t finished a book in forever, I still follow my rules of reading.  But to be honest, I think a big reason, is that yes, it’s tedious because it’s all politics at this point, but also, I haven’t had a lot of time lately.

Since beginning my weight loss journey, I’ve been working hard on exercising, and my workouts have been taking a lot more time now than they used to.  And maybe reading so much is what encouraged my heaviness when I was younger.  I had to finish this chapter, this book, so I couldn’t possibly go and maybe walk or something.  Maybe subconsciously, I worry that I’ll fall into old habits?  Maybe now I’m reading too much into things.  Obviously I’ll continue doing both, I just need to get past this book, and I’ll be back to my old self.

Hell, it kind of happened with Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and I both loved that book and didn’t exercise then.  Maybe I’ll love Game of Thrones, even though it’s just another fantasy novel, and in my opinion not as gripping as the ones I used to read when I was a teen inadvertently scaring my parents into thinking I was depressed. Hey, maybe that’s the reason I haven’t been able to get through it?  Maybe on a subconscious level I resent the fact that it is doing so well, when the books I loved as a teen did not reach my television screen?  Okay, maybe definitely now I am reading too much into things.

The Dante Club and the Sins of War Monday, Oct 12 2015 

Prior to reading The Dante Club, I had read Matthew Pearl’s The Technologists and because I’d read that book and loved it so much that, I decided to go Pearl’s beginnings and read The Dante Club.  As The Dante Club included so many of the poets I’d studied in my Lit classes, it was a refreshing jaunt through history.  With Longfellow, Holmes, and Lowell, I attempted to uncover the plot of a murderous fiend, who killed in the name of Dante.

It was interesting to see how much of these poets rich histories Pearl included in his novel.  It wasn’t just a murder mystery to be solved, it was an education into our past.  With the Dante Club, we got a peek into the different personalities of these writers, and what they may have been like.  Of course, since it’s historical fiction, we cannot presume that was how they might have really felt, but it was nice to see these figures as real people and not just names in a history book.  It was interesting to see the passionate Lowell, and the demure Holmes with differing opinions on how things should be handled.  

These men who were compatriots, and friends, at times had many disagreements, and the characters’ various traits is what makes Pearl’s characters so relatable.  They didn’t just solve a murder, but they also delved into the complexities of their relationships.  Holmes and Lowell were at such odds, that it was sweet to see them when they worked together.  Although maybe I’m just a sucker for a love/hate friendship.

Though the novel is a typical murder-mystery, it was also a statement on the casualties of war, even after the battles have long ended, seeing the murderer was a suffering Civil War vet.  Despite the gruesome methods in which the murders were committed, one could not help but feel sorry for the poor vet, who did not know how to survive post war.  In a time where we are seeing more and more veterans unable to cope with life post-combat, this sentiment rang painfully clear, and stays fresh in one’s mind.

Why is it called the Hunger Games? Was murder ball taken? Monday, May 21 2012 

I recently had the pleasure of reading Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.  I have to start off by saying how awesome they were.  I finished all three books in three days, but it would have been two, had I not had a crazy day at work on my first day of reading them.  And when i finally finished reading them, I had an empty pit in my stomach.

I couldn’t decide why I felt so empty.  Was it due to the fact that these characters felt so honest, and so real, that it was sad that their story was finished?  Or was it that that the story was so raw, and too frightening as a possible reality (a dystopian world where kids had to kill each other)?  I still haven’t decided.  It’s probably a combination of both reasons, really.  And why did these books affect me so much?  While I consider the books are classics, but not the same caliber, as Ulysses.  James Joyce, Collins is not.  But she does build a vivid world filled with suffering and interlaced with with brief moments of humor and hope.

These books started a love, and addiction, to the characters, akin to my love of Coca Cola (or polar bears).  They are close to being as awesome, in my opinion, to the Harry Potter books.  Cue the braiding my hair sideways, and my sister buying an archery kit for us to practice with.  I even bought myself a District 11 shirt (because Rue is awesome, and because that’s where thecapitol.pn put me).

What makes these books so addicting is all the characters are extremely likable.  While they do all have their faults (some are cold, some are dumb puppies, others are too blindsided by their causes), you can find yourself wanting to know each of the main characters.  The other amazing thing about this trilogy is that there is a female protagonist who actually kicks butt.

And she isn’t just any female protagonist.  She’s a strong willed female character.  She’s not like Bella, who is happy to wait for her boys to fight over her.  Katniss, though clearly in like (we can’t exactly describe it as love at first), also realizes that she doesn’t need anybody to survive or to be happy.  She could do fine just on her own.  And it’s this realization which eventually has her realize who she really wants (not needs) to be with.  And the readers find us chanting along with Katniss.  We can’t decide who we want her with, either.  Some of us want her with Peeta, naturally.  Others wanted her with Gale.  And a few could see her with both.

And while one may think it’s a book simply about teen angst, these novels are more than that.  They are, obviously, a fight of good and evil, but also the idea that too much power is not good for one person.  One side used power for evil, setting children to fight against children, and another side used power for ‘good’ food and comfort for everyone.  But in both cases, they were overexerting themselves over the general populace.  The populace never actually got to decide anything for themselves.  And it’s this idea, this inequality, that so brings to mind past, present and future politics.

This is where I wonder why this so-called pageant (yes, they do use these terms in the books), is even called the Hunger Games.  I think a title using the word Murder would be more appropriate, as that is really what the tournament is about, but then I guess the leaders of the Capitol had to give it a more appealing nature to their citizens.

This book only served to remind me, that yes, this hasn’t happened for us, but it has happened for children in war torn nations across the world.  Not this exactly, but nothing much better.  Why is it okay for kids to be taken and used in wars and battles?  And after reading and watching the movie, it made me worry, “am I much better than a citizen of the Capitol, reading and watching a story about kids fighting each other?”  One would like to think so, and I try to remind myself of the differences.  But I can’t help but wonder.

To lend or not to lend Tuesday, May 8 2012 

Being an avid book reader can have its problems. Not only does it lead to too-full bookshelves (my apartment is currently housing 561 books), but it can also lead to lending anxiety. Lending anxiety is a term I have only recently coined. And it stems from the suffering one feels after loaning out a book.

I love my books. While I do love sharing my loves, so that others could love them too, it leads to an anguish that only comes with waiting for the book to arrive back in hand. And it isn’t until I see those books back in my hand that I feel totally better.

It’s obviously all in my head (then again, what isn’t?). But, I still get an empty feeling when I see that gap on my bookshelf. I like seeing all the books lined up perfectly on my bookshelf. So much so, that as you know, I’ve even organized my bookshelf by theme and then by author. And if you don’t know, then, I had, for a while, just placed (though it felt like dumped, to me) them all on my shelves, in no particular order. I kept my shelves this way until I had time to organize it, which went from waiting a few months to a few years. And this disorderly conduct, as I have dubbed it, drove me absolutely nuts.

And so you can imagine my chagrin, when I see an empty space on my shelf. Something that had troubled me for so long, and had been fixed only so recently, is still having its peace and stability threatened by the mere idea of an empty space. And this disappointment is only doubled when you think about how this book might never return to you.

I’ve honestly thought about ordering this Personal Library Kit. Partly because it fits into my idea of eventually having my own library (more on that later) and because it means I can make sure that I always get my books back. At the same time, I hardly find myself send out my books, due to the reasons mentioned above, so I am not sure if this would be a worthwhile enterprise.

And though I do complain about the unease I feel when sharing a book, it does make me proud and happy when i find out that the person I loaned the book to thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s also a point of pleasure for me to discuss in detail the specific plot points we enjoyed, the ideas we shared, and the concepts we disagreed on. Discussing a book in length is one of my favorite things (cue Julie Andrews). So, really then, what is so wrong with sharing? Maybe I will buy one of those library kits.

Death of a bookstore Thursday, Mar 29 2012 

I meant to post this ages ago, when it originally happened, but with a lot of things on my plate, I only finally got around to posting about this.  The end of Borders was a sad day for me.  You may ask why, since it’s just another one of those giant megastores.  And while megastore bookstores are often ‘stealing’ business away from their smaller, privately or independently owned operators, it’s still a shame to see one go.  (Virgin Megastore how I miss thee).  Because for me, big or small, it’s sad when a bookstore dies.

Borders at Columbus Circle

Borders was the first bookstore I really spent a lot of time at.  I would sometimes visit the Barnes and Noble, and almost always visit the library, but I usually went to Borders.  To be honest, I had really been rooting for it to survive, and now whenever I pass by the carcass of what used to be a Borders, I feel a strong sense of shame and guilt.  The reason why I liked Borders so much was that its layout always made sense to me.  Whether i was visiting the Borders in my hometown on Cape Cod, or visiting one of the giant locations in New York, I could always find my way.  You could say this is because those stores have one generic layout.  But that wasn’t true.  Locations varied on where they would put certain subjects and where they would put the rest.  And yet, I seemed to always know exactly where to look regardless of which Borders I was visiting.

Borders was somewhere I could go to find anything I wanted, even for non book related products.  And then, the new Barnes and Noble opened, and I must guiltily confess that I started going there instead.  The idea that I will never visit Borders again upsets me. It makes me think on the future of books themselves, but since the debate on Kindle vs Spine should be saved for its own post, let’s leave this entry with a moment of silence for our lost friend.

One man’s loss is another man’s gain Wednesday, Aug 31 2011 

I honestly feel awful for Borders.  It always had great discounts, great sales, great events.  I still remember dragging my mom there, before I had learned to drive, just so that I could browse.  But everyone has been feeling the financial stress, and especially in this economy, even giant megastores feel it (oh Virgin Megastore, how I miss thee).  But as the old adage goes, one man’s loss is another man’s gain, and here the public gains.

Borders is having their going out of buisness sale.  That’s 50% – 70% off of their entire stock.  Everything.  They are even selling their fixtures.  And while it’s upsetting to see them go, one could always use a few more books.

I would go into a diatribe how this is not the fault of kindle, as I’m sure most people are quick to put the blame on ebooks, but really, I feel now is not the time for such things, but rather mourn the loss of a good friend, and help them with their financial troubles by buying all their stuff at a really low price.

First free book! Wednesday, Aug 10 2011 

So remember how not too long ago, I posted about goodreads’ giveaways?  Well, I won my first book!  It’s called Death Is Not An Option, and it’s the next one I plan to read, after I finish Casino Royale. This actually has me really excited.  It’s a bunch of short stories mized together, which is typically not the type of book I like to read, but I think it would be a good train ride read.

It’s funny how the word won makes you feel so happy.  Though I didn’t need to do anything to win, just drop my name into a hat essentially, it still has me feeling like I’ve achieved something.  And I think that’s why goodreads has such a large amount of giveaways.  It makes the submitters feel really happy, which will most likely have a positive spin on the reading experience, and have the reader leaving a lovely, if not glowing review of the book.

This is why I plan on waiting before reading the books I read in the mail.  Not because I think people take me seriously, far from it actually, but because it would make me feel better about myself.  And really, isn’t that what we all strive to do?

Goodreads good books giveaway Thursday, May 19 2011 

So, while I’ve been a fan of Goodreads since my recent “Bookcase Revitalization Project,” and I just noticed, quite literally, ten minutes ago, this great feature they have on their website: Giveaways. Awesome, right? Right. Well, I first found out about one specific giveaway quite literally this morning before I left for work, during my normal Facebook routine in the morning. And since I love Goodreads so much, I have their app on my Facebook account and on my phone, and so I got an immediate notification that they were having a book giveaway And of course I submitted an entry, because really, I just love books.

Well, silly me, I accidentally closed out of the window without posting about it. And so here I am, unable to access Facebook, but really wanting to spread the news. So I use my phone to go on to goodreads.com and try to find the giveaway news I had seen earlier this morning. I couldn’t find a notice of it anywhere. So I searched in all the links on the site, and eventually find what I was looking for and more.

Little did I know that Goodreads provides users with a constant surge of giveaways. Awesome right? Right. Who doesn’t like a free book? I’ve already submitted myself in the running for a few, and keep planning to submit for many more. They have several going on at a time, and it takes little to no effort to submit. So it should take little to no effort to consider it!

The book shopper’s curse Sunday, May 8 2011 

(c) ginnerobot

Well sometime last month, I decided it was imperative that I finally get the task of organizing my bookshelf completed. I don’t know what possessed me to get it done now, after what must have been ages of clutter. And since I’m occasionally a bit of a glutton for punishment, I decided to add another task to my already enormous to-do list. Since I’d have to remove all my books and reorganize them, I’d decided I would also catalogue them (so to speak) on Goodreads (and also LivingSocial Books).

In doing so, I discovered that not only did I have close to 350 books, but also that I had over 150 books unread. How could this be possible? Truth be told, I did include some poetry and anthology books from my college years which I had not finished in their entirety, and did not feel like I could say I had finished them. Maybe I will change those in to having read as I had started them (and honestly, don’t know if I have a particular urge to read them). But the idea that I had so many books unread kind of frightened me, especially knowing that so many of these books have gone unread. And so I resolved (resolutions shouldn’t be a once a year thing) that I should read more instead of spending most of my time after work playing those facebook games (ugh way too many of them).

And now I find myself planning out which books should be read when, and in what order should I read them. And I also contemplate, should I in fact re-organize my bookcase and have it organized dewey decimal or library of congress style? I’m undecided at the moment, if I even want to go that far, but should have that figured out eventually. After all, as long as it’s organized in some way, I am very happy. And really, that’s all that matters.