Monday, January 26, 2015

Winter Respite Read-A-Thon

Seasons of Reading
This week, January 26 - February 1 is A Winter's Respite Read-A-Thon.  We are about to be snowed in, so at least I'll be able to read a bit tomorrow.  With school this week, I may not be able to make all my goals, but I will try.

The Orphan Train by  
I'm more than half way through this book. I hope to finish this by the end of this Read-A-Thon.

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
I'm more than half way through this book as well. This will be finished by Friday for sure.

Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood by Marsha Sinetar
This is a school book, I will be reading this, but not finishing it. I don't want to get too far ahead.

The Creative Writing MFA Handbook, Revised and Updated Edition: A Guide for Prospective Graduate Students by Tome Kealy
I'm almost done with this one, so I might as well finish it.

The Violent Bear it Away by Flannery O'Connor
Continuing to work on my Classics Reading, this one will be at least started, but hopefully finished.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Classic Books 4 and 5

#4 The LoverThe Lover by Marguerite Duras
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a fictionalized first person account of a pubescent female french girl who takes an older Chinese lover.  Marguerite Duras said that this was semi-autobiographical.

I enjoyed it, it wasn't my favorite.  This book was released in 1984, but the story takes place in the 1920s.

SteppenwolfSteppenwolf by Hermann Hesse
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have one word for this book.  URGH!
What torture.  Almost as bad as James Joyce's Ulysses.  I had high hopes for this book, I enjoyed Siddhartha, but this was not as interesting.  It was said to be a self analytical look at Hesse's life as a middle aged divorced man.  I also read (online) that each character is an aspect of Hesse.  This is an existential novel that was way above my head. I also listened to this in audio format.  Peter Weller (actor) was the narrator, and although I like him and enjoy his voice, he read this monotone which led to monotony and me falling asleep while he droned on.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Working through a big book

The Tale of GenjiThe Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

View all my reviews
I'm only on page 65 of this 1,182 page epic novel from the 11th century. But to be honest, I'm reading it slowly.  I have my regular books that I'm reading and making a dent in. But this is a book that can only be read in small doses.  I am giving myself 6 months to finish it.  

It is on my 'classic book' list.  I have no opinion so far.  It isn't a bad story, it actually has no story really. Not yet.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Read-A-Thon Time

Seasons of Reading

From January 26 through February 1 there will be a Read-A-Thon hosted by Michelle @ The True Book Addict and Castle Macabre. 

I have no specific books I will read, whatever I land on will be what I will read.  I figure I can finish 2 books for this Read-A-Thon.

Since school has started, I will be in class for 3 nights, so it will take away from my reading time, but I will give it the good old "college" try.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Classic Book Journey continues!!


Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

"Wise Blood: An idea that one has innate, worldly knowledge of what direction to take in life, and requires no spiritual or emotional guidance.

Hazel Motes is a simpleton from Tennessee who leaves home and travels by train to Taulkinham where he spreads his gospel of anti-religion and the church of No Jesus.   Motes meets several interesting characters along the way, all of them over the top.  But this is OK, because this exaggerated treatment of these characters makes for an interesting and compelling story.

Flannery O’Connor loves mixing religion with her beloved American South. And because it is Flannery, don’t expect rainbows and unicorns.

Two favorite quotes:

“Rat Colored Car”

“Eyes the color of clear fresh ice”

 5 / 5 Stars


Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Inspired by Conrad’s journey to the Congo in 1890.

I don’t know what to say. I didn’t enjoy this book.  I can’t say I cared that the main character Marlow was on a ship traveling to Africa for Ivory trading. 

This is the problem with some classics, they are not relatable. I’m not in for high adventure. Perhaps when this was written (before TV) it served its purpose, but today’s reader can’t connect to this.

I did enjoy some of the language, especially the quotes below.

“The germs of empires”

“Like a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds. We live in the flicker.”

“Free as air and nearly as thin.”

“We live as we dream, alone.”

“I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice.”

3 / 5  Stars

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

To The Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf


I listened to the audiobook narrated by Juliet Stevenson.  I also had the text, but I mostly listened.  I'm glad I did, Stevenson gave the words such a sense of poetry. Otherwise, I would have been terribly bored.  Not a fan of the story, but I did love the language.

There are three parts to this novel.  

The Window which deals with Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay and their 8 children as they spend time in their summer home in Scotland.  We are given a glimpse into their relationship and how very different these two people are, but never the less, love each other in their own way.

Time Passes is the shortest section.  These chapters encompasses a 10 year period where many things unpleasant happen.  I found this section o be the most interesting.

The final part is To the Lighthouse.  This deals with closure.

This wouldn't have been a book I would have picked up on my own. I honestly didn't know about it.  This is the good thing about having to read these books, I will read books that may open up a whole new world for me.  Would I'd rather read King or J.R.R. Martin? Yes of course, but I can take a year and open up my world.  I won't like everything I read, but at least I can say, "Hey I read that" and actually be able to discuss it.

Favorite phrase in book:  ...the floor of her mind

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm

I understood that this book would have some unusual and gruesome elements. I was prepared for that. I thought some of the stories were strange regardless of the time period or region they hailed from. I can see why some of these stories were made more palatable. They had good bones, but needed a different treatment. What annoyed me was the redundancy. It was interesting to read one story and then read a similar story with some changes, but there were several that were like that, and I grew bored. It also seemed like there was a common theme that grew tiring. All the princes were either enchanted & forced to marry the most beautiful princess in existence, or the beautiful daughter/princess was treated poorly by relatives or enchanted by a witch and of course a man has to come and save her from her predicament. Then there are the children that got into mischief that usually led to their detriment. I nearly gave this collection, 2 stars, but as a writer, I can see the inspiration behind the more common stories of today, and for that, it deserves the extra star.

Friday, January 9, 2015

MFA Reading

By the end of this year, I will be one of the most well read people you know (and I know).  This isn’t a challenge that I just decided to do.  Looking into the MFA programs, many of the schools list reading list (or suggested) reading lists.  The books range from one of the first novels The Tale of Genji written in the 11th century up until recent 21st century fare.

I’ve read some of the books on the list, and I don’t have to read them all. Only 2 from here or 5 from here, but for one school alone, I will have to read 35 of these books.  I will not apply to schools until the end of this year and if I get an interview, that won’t be until early 2016, but I will have to get through many of these books. 

I thought I read pretty widely, but it turns out, I don’t.  It was sad for me to see how many books on the list I did not read.  I just skimmed the list and perhaps out of 200 books, I’ve read 15.  I will be reading things that are sitting on everyone’s TBR lists but are never read.  Most of these were not on my TBR list as of late.  They were at one time or another, but then I decided I wasn’t going to read any more classics. Well I guess never say never.

I have to read books from the UK, Americas and other countries.  From 18th and 19th centuries and the 20th century.  Books such as Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe, The Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope and Moby Dick by Herman Melville (kill me now).

Thankfully I made it through three books by Joyce this past summer (including Ulysses). But with those, I had a lot of help from my advisor/professor.  These books, I’ll have to rely on my brain.

I am looking forward to reading some of these books and some I’ve never heard of but sound interesting.  The “RUSSIANS” are on the list, but I doubt I’ll get to or through War & Peace, as The Tale of Genji is also over 1,000 pages.  I don’t think I can do two of those in one year. 

I have to read 35 books in all, I will be happy if I read 20 of them and I’ll be happier if I really understand 10 of them.

All this while I’m working full time, going to school full time, writing my manuscript for the MFA program, writing my personal statements for five schools and trying to get my own reading done.

I’ve decided I’m not going to worry about it too much.  I will make a conscious effort to read books from the list, and whatever I finish, I finish.  I don’t anticipate being done with the list by March 2016, but hopefully by the time I enter the program (keeping fingers crossed) I will be done.

If I don’t make it into the MFA program, well, at least I will have the bragging rights.

So if you come across my currently reading lists on goodreads, and wonder why in the world I’m trying to read Heart of Darkness and The Age of Innocence at the same time, remember this post.

Currently reading:  To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (20th Century English)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Something New

I was looking around for something to do with my blog.  I post book and movie reviews as well as some personal stuff, but I think I can do more.  Since I love writing, I think I'm going to do a short stint of Fiction Friday's (The writing one not the reading one).  Writing a short story every week and posting it on Friday.  I don't think this will go for the entire year, maybe for 2 or 3 months.

I will start this Friday.  It is more for my benefit than anyone else's.

Now the thing about it is it probably won't be all fiction. I'm also working on Creative Non-Fiction.  So maybe I"ll call it (Non) Fiction Friday's.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ode to a Lamp

This is my new lamp, it replaced a bankers lamp that had been sitting by my bedside for years.  I didn't buy the bankers lamp, I got it from a job I had.  15 years ago, we moved offices and they were going to throw these bankers lamps away, so I took one home.  It served me well, but after 15 years, it started to show signs of shorting and sparking.  So instead of trying my luck, I bought a new one.

Isn't it glorious.  The light is phenomenal and on either side of the lamp is my chair (left) and my bed (right).  Both my most used reading spots in the house.  Now when I read paper books, I'll be able to read them with ease.

To many it is just a lamp, to me it is something that enhances my favorite thing...reading.