Monday, January 30, 2017

Poem: A Bucket List Consists of Peace & Happiness

create your own happiness
love yourself first
go to bed early
get up early
wake up with a smile

exercise
drink water
treat your body like a temple
you are its god
worship yourself

be modest
treat others the way you want to be treated
give respect to get respect
give love to receive love
read. write. educate yourself.

be kind.
create a bucket list.
complete your bucket list -
before you kick the bucket
travel

be happy alone
learn to live alone happily
be honest, yet tactful
be the person you needed when you were younger
understand that it's okay to not be okay

you are stronger than you realize
breathe deep
indulge yourself
find a healthy stress reliever
don't rely too heavily on any one person or thing

meditate
find balance
you're going to be okay -
because you already are

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
Audible Audio version
Dates read: January 1 - 8, 2017

Jake Gyllenhaal did a great job narrating this book, one that I personally would've had difficultly following and enjoying if I had chosen to read rather than listen to on Audible. Having just read A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, I felt inspired to stick to the time period and read/listen to another classic written by one of his contemporaries.

I wonder if I didn't really get into the story because it was written from the perspective of a character, Nick Carraway, who didn't really understand the situation himself? Maybe that's the point? I mean, he's a young guy from the Midwest who moves to West Egg, NY, fresh out of college and looking to make a name for himself in the bond business. I mean, talk about culture shock, right?

Carraway becomes Gatsby's neighbor, trusted friend, and attends many of his lavish parties during the roaring 20's. He's witness to the love triangle between Gatsy, Daisy - his distant cousin, and her husband Tom who also has a girl in New York. A story that captured the 1922 Prohibition era lifestyle, The Great Gatsby became one of the greatest classics of twentieth-century American literature.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Review: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Photo Credit: Walter Lim
Eat, Pray, Love
By Elizabeth Gilbert
Published January 30th 2007 by Riverhead Books
Paperback, 400 pages

This has to be the first book that I read after the movie that I still enjoyed after seeing the movie. I mean that I am NOT disappointed that I saw the movie first. I saw the movie in theaters in 2010 with about 10 female relatives, some of whom had read the book beforehand and some hadn't. We all came away feeling inspired in one way or another. I vividly remember wanting to rush out and get a copy of the book - a feeling I had never felt before after seeing a movie. Normally the film adaptation doesn't inspire me like that.

I finished listening to this book while on a road trip and I wanted to continue the road trip for another year. My destination doesn't necessarily matter, although I would love to go to Italy and South America. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for someone who can pick up and leave for a year and travel with no or little support from friends and family.

I think I related to this story so much because of the phrase in the description, "In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want—husband, country home, successful career—but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed by panic and confusion." I am single, living in the country, and by my own standards have a moderately successful career and am filled with panic and confusion over not having what I am "supposed to have." I tell myself I'm happy, but am I really happy because I don't have what society tells me I'm supposed to have at this point in my life? Reading/listening to Gilbert's account of her journey to rediscover and explore herself for a year gave me the motivation I needed to do the same for me in my own way. I love her style of writing because she's telling a story as if to a friend yet she's writing for herself and readers, especially women, can relate to what she has to say.

This has to be the first book that I read after the movie that I still enjoyed after seeing the movie. I mean that I am NOT disappointed that I saw the movie first. I saw the movie in theaters in 2010 with about 10 female relatives, some of whom had read the book beforehand and some hadn't. We all came away feeling inspired in one way or another. I vividly remember wanting to rush out and get a copy of the book - a feeling I had never felt before after seeing a movie. Normally the film adaptation doesn't inspire me like that.

I finished listening to this book while on a road trip and I wanted to continue the road trip for another year. My destination doesn't necessarily matter, although I would love to go to Italy and South America. I have a lot of respect and appreciation for someone who can pick up and leave for a year and travel with no or little support from friends and family.

I think I related to this story so much because of the phrase in the description, "In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want—husband, country home, successful career—but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed by panic and confusion." I am single, living in the country, and by my own standards have a moderately successful career and am filled with panic and confusion over not having what I am "supposed to have." I tell myself I'm happy, but am I really happy because I don't have what society tells me I'm supposed to have at this point in my life? Reading/listening to Gilbert's account of her journey to rediscover and explore herself for a year gave me the motivation I needed to do the same for me in my own way. I love her style of writing because she's telling a story as if to a friend yet she's writing for herself and readers, especially women, can relate to what she has to say.

I recommend this to anyone who is ready to do some self-discovery, travel the world, and is not happy about having what they're supposed to have and is panicked and confused by that unhappiness. Recommendations will also go to my book club.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Poem About Excuses

A poem I wrote using the single word "excuses" prompt  for a holiday dinner with the Burlington Writer's Workshop Middlebury Chapter.

Excuses.
Excuses?
What? I don't get it.
I'm too tired.

Excuses.
Nah. I've got other things to do.
I'll do it later.

Excuses.
It's later. Shit. I wanna read.
Now I'm tired. I'm going to bed.

Excuses.
I'll work on it in the morning...
Or maybe on my lunch break.

Excuses.
I thought of some good lines in the shower. Now I don't remember what they were.

Excuses.
Damn it. More good lines in the car driving to work.

Excuses.
I ate too much. I can't move.

Excuses.
Now I know there was something I was supposed to do. If only I could remember what it was...

Excuses.
I'll just wing it.

Excuses.
I don't want to. Not anymore. I have no inspiration to write about excuses...

Excuses.
I don't understand the point.  What is it again?

Excuses.
I don't have easy access to anything to write with.

Excuses.
I was born 2 weeks past my due date so because I came into the world late, I am inherently late to everything.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Review: A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Farewell To Arms Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Published 2004 by Arrow Books (first published 1929)
Read: Nov. 4 - Dec. 18, 2016

As much as I enjoy books set in wartime, I had a difficult time getting into A Farewell to Arms. I attribute that to Hemingway's style, which is a lot more simple and conversational than I am accustomed to reading. When I started listening to an audio version, I couldn't get enough of it though I think that is because of his simplistic/conversational style. In written form, it is difficult to follow along, keep track of who is speaking during conversations, and remember the point of many of his run-on sentences.

And besides style, the story itself didn't reel me in; reference not intended towards Hemingway's love of fly fishing. I didn't care enough about the self-absorbed, unfeeling protagonist of Lieutenant Frederic Henry, let alone his girlfriend (Catherine Barkley) who didn't seem to have the ability to form an opinion on her own. When a male author has any sort of dislike for women, or obvious hate for them in this instance, it's obvious in their writing because of how they portray their female characters. The points I felt like I was physically there in the story were when Lt. Henry was with his unit, not when he was with Catherine. The other men in his unit actually had some substance to them, unlike Catherine. My opinion of both Henry and Barkley were most likely biased by my reading of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain just before reading A Farewell to Arms. The Paris Wife is a fictionalized story of Hemingway's marriage to his first wife, Hadley Richardson, from her perspective - review to come in a different post.

Readers will be left wondering how much of the story was based on truth and what Hemingway experienced during and after WWI.

View all my reviews

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017 Reading List

This year I plan to do a lot of reading to keep up with my love of reading, blogging, and getting out of debt. The logic behind picking these books is to read some things that will help me in different ways, such as getting out of debt and career advice, and also to clear off my bookshelf. There are a handful of books on this list that I got in swaps with my book club and have been collecting dust. If I don't like them, then I'll gift them to a new and better home.

To start, I have hyperlinked the book titles to the Goodreads description and will update the links to my reviews when they are moved to the Read list. The section for Book Club Books will remain as such, and you can assume that if the month has passed the link will be updated to the blog post.

Read

  1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  3. Invisible Target: Breaking the Cycle of Education Abuse by Andrea Clemens (February book, post pending)
  4. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (January book)
  5. Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (post pending)
  6. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Klein (April book)

Currently Reading

  1. Rokitansky by Alice Darwin
  2. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
  3. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
  4. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
  5. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham - selected for an April "buddy read" in a Goodreads group I'm in called Read Women.
  6. Hillbilly Elegy: a Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (May's read for book club)

To-Read

Alphabetical order by author last name
  1. Quitter by Jon Alculf
  2. Rhinoceros Success by Scott Alexander
  3. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  4. Dodgers by Bill Beverly
  5. The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs
  6. The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian
  7. The Dharma of Star Wars by Matthew Bortolin
  8. Alec: How to be an Artist by Eddie Campbell
  9. Deadly Heat by Richard Castle
  10. Raging Heat by Richard Castle
  11. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
  12. The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
  13. Sweetness #9 by Stephan Erik Clark
  14. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  15. Love Your Life Not Theirs by Rachel Cruze
  16. The Legend of the Monk and the Merchant by Terry Felber
  17. A Time to Kill by John Grisham
  18. Silence by Thich Nhat Hanh
  19. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness
  20. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
  21. The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand
  22. Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand
  23. Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand
  24. A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand
  25. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  26. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  27. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
  28. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
  29. Travel Writing: Expert Advice from the World's Leading Travel Publisher by Lonely Planet
  30. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  31. Son of A Witch by Gregory Maguire
  32. Under The Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
  33. The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu
  34. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
  35. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
  36. Six Characters in Search of an Author and Other Plays by Luigi Pirandello
  37. Dave Ramsey's Complete Guide to Money: The Handbook of Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey
  38. The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness (Classic Edition) by Dave Ramsey
  39. EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey
  40. Learning Curves by Gemma Townley
  41. Last Night I Dreamed of Peace by Dang Thuy Tram

Vermont Books 'n' Brews Book Club Books

I will add to this list as we decide each month's books, and the links are to Goodreads descriptions unless otherwise noted.


January
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - audio-book review, August 2016.
Another Review of The Nightingale - March 2017 review

February
Invisible Target: Breaking the Cycle of Education Abuse by Andrea Clemens (post pending)

March
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien (currently reading)

April

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Klein

May
Hillbilly Elegy: a Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance (currently reading)

June
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
*I can't wait to read The Good Earth again! This is one of my favorites from my teenage years.

July -
August -
September -
October -
November -
December - we don't read for book club in December because it's so hectic with holiday festivities.

If I get to them

The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon
1. Outlander (completed April 3, 2016 - post pending)
2. Dragonfly in Amber (currently reading)
3. Voyager
4. Drums of Autumn
5. The Fiery Cross
6. A Breath of Snow and Ashes
7. An Echo in The Bone
8. Written in My Own Heart's Blood
9. Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone (not yet published)


In Conclusion

In all, my goal is to finish reading 55 books by the end of 2017. This list shows more than that, and that's okay! It gives me some flexibility. With your encouragement and involvement in my blog posts, I'm sure I can complete it! Thanks for reading.