Random Update of Random

Hey, y’all! Happy Easter! I hope you are still partying, because I totally am. Alleluia!

I was lucky enough to get to go home for Easter weekend, and that’s always, always super fun. I spent my time in the RGV eating, talking, going to Mass, talking, sleeping, talking, flying kites, and did I mention talking? Seriously, though, my family is an Catholic extrovert’s dream.

How I spent my Easter vacation.

I finished both The Namesake and Between Heaven and Mirth. Real quick about those two books: I didn’t realize that I’d already seen the original talk on which Between Heaven and Mirth is based, and while I enjoyed it in book form, I feel like I would’ve enjoyed it more if I hadn’t seen the talk first. Such is life. I still highly recommend it, though! The Namesake was good, too! I now want to READ ALL THE JHUMPA LAHIRI BOOKS.

In case you live under a rock, just letting you know that this happened yesterday:

So epic. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to watch it because of work, but I saw plenty of pictures and a couple of news clips. Also, my aunt and uncle were there (I KNOWWWWW), so I’m looking forward to their descriptions! I was talking to a friend about Pope St. John XXIII, and we both agreed that 1) we know almost nothing about him and 2) we definitely need to get to know him better! So if you have any favorite quotes or pictures or whatever, send them my way!

I promise to try to blog more! I’ve had lots of thoughts knocking around in my head, and I definitely need to be more disciplined about setting them down somewhere instead of letting them evaporate in my head. Easter resolution!

I think I’ve pretty much caught you all up on my life now. Have a lovely day!

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The Book Pile March 30-April 6

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I only had time to read two books last week because the toilets in my apartment building backed up not once, but TWICE. Add a bunch of crazy shifts into the mix, and at the end of each day this was me:

Thankfully, I was able to stay at a friend’s house for a couple of days. But still. You never notice how much you love indoor plumbing until it stops working.

Finished
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On Such A Full Sea-Chang-Rae Lee : Sigh. I so wanted to love or at least like this book. Remember how excited I was to read it last week? It was a simpler time.
Okay, the good things first. There was some gorgeous writing in there, especially this, which was my favorite sentence in the whole book: “Isn’t this what we also fear and crave simultaneously, that some internal force which defies understanding might remake us into the people we dream we are?” I took that to prayer, big time. Also, I enjoyed reading about the city of B-Mor; how they lived, what they did for fun, etc. But I generally enjoy things like that. So I’ll give him that.

But. But but but. Okay. First of all, the protagonist had such a weak personality, and you’d better believe it grated on my nerves. I felt like she just let the story happen to her instead of being part of the story, if that makes any sense. Second: the first person plural narration style was kind of cool at first, but by the middle of the book I was longing for some good dialogue. Third, the story just kind of went SPLAT all over the place about halfway through. I kept thinking, okay, it’ll pick up now…or now….how about now? And so on. Finally, without giving anything away, I was super disappointed with the ending. The things that I felt should have been resolved weren’t resolved!!! Or, at least in my opinion they weren’t. I made many noises of disgust and stewed over it for a couple of days. Why you gotta do me like that, Chang-Rae?

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A Prayer Journal-Flannery O’Connor : This book was much, much shorter than I expected; almost half of it was just a photocopy of the original journal. Okay…why? I mean, it was nice to see her actual handwriting, but one page would have been enough, yes? Anyway. Despite the fact that it was so short, I enjoyed it. Her longing to long for God jumps out of every page. My favorite part: “I don’t want to fear to be out, I want to love to be in…Help me to feel that I will give up every earthly thing for this. I do not mean becoming a nun.” Word, Flannery. Again, I just wish it had been longer!

Up Next
The Second Coming-Walker Percy: Haven’t even cracked it open. See first paragraph. But he’s next!

Between Heaven and Mirth-Fr. James Martin, SJ : This book was briefly on my radar when it came out, but I’d forgotten about it until I saw my friend watching a talk Fr. Martin gave that was absolutely hilarious! I definitely agree with Fr. Martin: holiness=happiness! I’m interested to see how he expands on this topic.

The Namesake-Jhumpa Lahiri: I’ve been eyeing this book for years, but it kept getting pushed to the back of my mind. Now I’m finally getting around to it, and I’m excited but also a little nervous about being excited, mostly because of the whole Chang-Rae Lee incident last week. [totally over it (not)]

What are you reading this week?more importantly, who wants to wench talk about On Such A Full Sea with me? Did you love it? Or did you also hate it?

The Book Pile: March 23-29

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Finished

The Presence of Grace and Other Book Reviews /Mystery and Manners – Flannery O’Connor

I’m sticking these two together because I basically have the same thing to say about both of them. First thing: I really enjoyed both of these. I mean, I knew I was going to enjoy Mystery and Manners, but I wasn’t too sure about the other book, because, well, I never read book reviews!

Pretty much.

Like I said last week, Flannery isn’t afraid to tell it like it is, which is actually harder than it looks. At least, for me it is. But reading these reviews has inspired me to be more discerning and to think about what I read/see/hear, instead of apathetically taking it all in like I normally do. I know that I am sometimes almost afraid to speak up if something is not that great, because I don’t want to discourage people. But sometimes things are so badly done that it’s almost worse to not speak up (*coughSonOfGodcough*). I’m not saying we should be tearing them a new one, but it’s probably better to be charitably honest instead of lying and fawning all over something just because it’s done by a Christian or has to do with Christianity. I don’t know. I have Many Thoughts about this, and they probably need their own blog post.

 

Abandoned

The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikubu: Welp. It’s official. 11th century Japan is Not My Thing. I kept getting lost and bored with all the staring at moonlight and contemplating blossoms….the only thing this novel made me want to contemplate was the inside of my eyelids.

I’m nothing if not stubborn, so I soldiered on for about 100 pages after I lost interest, but in the end I just couldn’t take it and had to give up. Womp womp.

Up next
A Prayer Journal – Flannery O’Connor : I put this book on hold ages ago and promptly forgot about it until I read this post on one of my favorite blogs, which made me want to read it even more. Well, what do you know. Two days later, I got the magic email of magic that said it was finally in! Serendipity FTW. It’s much slimmer than I expected, but I’m already loving the little bit I’ve read so far.

 

The Second Coming – Walker Percy : Marie recommended Walker Percy to me last week after I mentioned that I liked Flannery O’Connor, because Southern Catholicism, that’s why. I picked this up at random.

 

On Such A Full Sea – Chang-Rae Lee : Sometimes I place holds on books and then completely forget about them. And by “sometimes” I mean all the time. I have no memory of requesting this book, but it looks so interesting. Way to go, past self!

From the jacket:

“In a long-declining future America, abandoned urban neighborhoods have been repurposed as secure, self-contained labor settlements of contented workers–descendants of those brought over en masse many years earlier from environmentally ruined cities in China–devote their lives to the cultivation of pristine produce and seafood for the wealthy residents of the elite walled villages that lie outside….Within one of these labor settlements…lives Fan, an almost mythically gifted female fish-tank diver. When the man she loves disappears, Fan shocks her community by leaving the safety of its gated walls to go in search of him, crossing from one world into another, and another, and another.”

Go me! This is totally up my alley and I’m psyched to read it!

What are you reading this week?

The Book Pile – March 16-22

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So here’s a new thing. At the end of 2013, I realized that I really hadn’t read too many books, which was a bummer. It was a bummer because I used to be the person who *always* had her nose in a book, and somehow, over the years, I had lost touch with that girl. No me gusta. So I declared 2014 to be THE YEAR OF THE BOOK. My goal was to read at least 52 books, but I got into the swing of things real quick, because I’m already at 24. Holla! I haven’t decided what my new goal is; I guess I’ll decide on that when I actually do reach 52 books!

Finished:
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The Tale of Murasaki – Liza Dalby : I checked out The Tale of Genji at ye olde local library on a whim, and then found this book at the Goodwill a couple of days later. Who can resist such a good case of literary
serendipity, especially when it involves historical fiction? Not I. If I’m being super honest, I got lost a couple of times, what with so many -shos and -takas and -shis. It also slowed wayyyy down towards the end, which was a bummer. But the author definitely knows her 11th century Japan, and it shows. Actually, it says on the back cover that she was the only Westerner to ever become a geisha. Say whaaat?
Does a book about that exist? Because I would be all over that.

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Annihilation – Jeff VanderMeer : This book gave me nightmares, y’all. (That’s a good thing) I was so excited and NERVOUS to read this, because I’d seen it hyped up so much everywhere, and I was afraid of it not living up to the hype, like so many other books. (*coughcough* The Luminaries *coughcoughcough*) Annihilation definitely did *not* disappoint. It’s about this all-female team of explorers that set out to explore Area X, which has been cut off from their world for years. They are actually the twelfth expedition; many of the other expeditions have ended in disaster. One thing I liked was that I as a reader was discovering Area X at the same time as the narrator, and at various points I was yelling WAIT WAIT WHAT JUST HAPPENED. I never say this, but I hope they make this into a movie one day. Yes. It was *that* good. This is the first of a trilogy, and let me tell you, I absolutely. cannot. wait. for the next one in May. Time, y u no go faster?!!?

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Everything That Rises Must Converge – Flannery O’Connor : I have a confession to make: the first time I read something by Flannery O’Connor (I think it was Wise Blood) a few years ago…I hated it. I know, I know! I don’t even remember why I hated it, but on one of my trips to the library last week, I decided to give it another go with a different book. I’m glad I did, because this was great! It’s definitely not a “feel-good” book; Flannery drags her characters through hell and back in order to bring them to self awareness. My favorites in this collection were “The Enduring Chill”, “The Lame Shall Enter First”, and “Revelation.” The stories are dark and hilarious and honest, and I am now on a READ ALL THE FLANNERY kick, as you can see below.

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This Year You Write Your Novel – Walter Mosley : So I read a blog post somewhere last week about binge-reading, and decided to give it a whirl. I picked a skinny book at random from the library shelf and sat down to speed-read the whole thing or at least skim it hard. It was filled with all this basic stuff about writing which was…helpful?…I guess? I don’t know if I picked the wrong book or what, but I was like, welp, there’s 45 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

In Progress:

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The Presence of Grace and Other Book Reviews – Flannery O’Connor : This is a collection of book reviews that Flannery wrote for her diocesan paper. I’m about halfway through, and I love that she isn’t afraid to basically say, “Hey, this book really sucks,” instead of fawning all over something just because it’s Catholic or written by a Catholic. Bad writing is bad writing, y’all.

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Mystery and Manners – Flannery O’Connor : This is a book of essays/articles that were collected after Flannery’s death. From what I can tell from the table of contents, it looks like they are mostly on writing fiction, but it also contains her famous “The King of the Birds,” an essay on raising peacocks. I’m anxious to start this one, if only to wash that boring ass Walter Mosley book out of my head.

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The Tale of Genji – Murasaki Shikubu : Like I said before, I spotted this at the library and when I saw the thick spine and tiny print, I did what any respectable bookworm would do and said CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. I’m slightly nervous to read it, since I kept getting lost while reading “The Tale of Murasaki.” We’ll see how it goes.

What are y’all reading right now?