Thursday, December 31, 2009

The not wrap-up post

I've decided I'm not going to do a 2009 wrap-up post. This year was an amazing year for me in everything except reading. Even my three week Christmas vacation did not bring as much reading as I thought. In order to keep from being filled with sadness and regret, I'm just going to go on and pretend the book blogging world is not resetting their challenges and how many books they've read for a new year. The first half of my reading year was fantastic.

I started this blog in the first place to challenge myself to read different kinds of books, read as much as I can, and write reviews so I can look back and remember what I read more easily. I've done all of these things. Just because I am disappointed that I didn't get as much reading done as crazy people like Eva has, I shouldn't get hard on myself.

Instead of telling how many books I've read this year, let's focus on the positives. Here are my favorite reads of this year.

A Prayer For Owen Meany ( One of the best books I've ever read. I had to read it for a class this semester. I'll never forget this book!

The Jewel of Medina ( I'm really resisting adding this to my rereading list! I suggested that my mom buy it on her Kindle which she got for Christmas.

The Road ( Reading my review on this book again makes ME want to read it again! Oh boy...

Do Hard Things I didn't write an actual review on this, but this book has popped up many times in my everyday conversation and a handful of blog posts.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn ( I actually started rereading this but didn't have the time. I'll probably pick it back up to finish rereading it during J-term.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

We Didn't Start the Fire Challenge 2010: Post your reviews here!

Post a link to any reviews you write for this challenge or and posts related to the challenge (booklists, etc). I will put a link to this post in the sidebar of my blog so it will be handy through the rest of the year.

This challenge is open to anyone at any time, as long as you make a commitment and stick to it! 2010 hasn't evenn started so there is still time to join if you haven't already. Read more about it in my original post

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Revolutions by Justin Calderone: Thoughts


Revolutions is a book of contemporary poetry about beginnings and endings, the realization that there cannot be day without night. The poems in Revolutions are not written in traditional poetry format; they are closer to song lyrics than standar poetry, and the way the words are used and spelled are vital to the context of the poem. Written in diary form, Revolutions is about small things in life that affect us the most and the memories that we carry forever. It is a contemporary poetry book of hopes, dreams, prayers, love, loss and wishes. Revolutions is written right now about yesterday and today. And tomorrow.

Revolutions by Justin Calderone is a diary of poems. Calderone writes a poem whenever the mood strikes for two years, which turns into this book of poetry.

Revolutions is the purest poetry I have seen. Calderone does not title his poems. In his introduction, he states “These poems are what you think they are.” Usually when we read poetry, we feel this pressure to find the deeper meaning to every little thing in the poem, which sometimes takes away some things you shouldn’t. This is why I don’t have a big appreciation for poetry. Some poetry is better off being analyzed, but a lot of it just needs to be read and soaked in. Calderone invited us all to soak in his very conversational style of poetry.

Unlike many poets, Calderone does not edit his poems much. He says he can’t go back and edit days later because he is a different person than when he first read the poem. You are reading it just as it comes out of his mind.

This book of poetry is perfect for someone who wants to enjoy poetry but doesn’t exactly want to pick up Shakespeare’s sonnets or some Emily Dickinson. The poems read like song lyrics and move along quickly. Every so often, a line will pop out that is extremely clever or deep, just like what would happen if you were listening to music.

One of my favorite stanzas appears near the beginning of the book, on page 5.

If I tell you that I’m going

Then you know I’m already gone

If I tell you that I’m singing

Then I’m already in the song

If I tell you that I love you

Then my love is twice as strong

This is what poetry should be. It should be easy to enjoy, not pressure the reader, and leave the reader wanting more. I just finished a class this semester where 2/3 of it was poetry. Even though I was on poetry overload and I didn’t want to read another poem for a couple years, Revolutions found its way into my life.

Winter-you’re one old man-who moves faster than me-See-I stop for the cold-But you’re too old


The book ends with a bang. The last poem is the only poem with a title. It is also more personal than the rest of the poems in the book. Calderone is more specific to what the past two years were like for him.

These years have killed me

These years have thrilled me

I touched Heaven

And burned in Hell

I cried myself to sleep

In that soul crying way

Every night

Just to hear someone say

That they love me too.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Anthem by Ayn Rand: Thoughts

Don’t judge a book by its author. That’s what I learned from reading Ayn Rand’s Anthem. I read The Fountainhead earlier this year and did not enjoy it at all. My friend Becky loves The Fountainhead so much she inspired me to give Ayn Rand another shot, so I picked up Anthem.

Anthem is like The Giver by Lois Lowry and 1984 by George Orwell made a really good book baby. The good parts of each book are combined in Anthem to form what I think is the best politically paranoid book I have read. (Politically paranoid is what I call books like Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Animal Farm, etc)

Anthem takes place in a world where people are assigned their occupations, reproduction is highly controlled, and the word “I” is unheard of. People are numbers and basically robots. Anthem is told through the eyes of a street sweeper who violates all the rules of his society and hides in a tunnel to write and conduct experiments. He meets a peasant girl who he calls the Golden One. Together, the violate everything their society values, the communal life.

My big thing against The Fountainhead was that it took hundreds of pages to say what could have been said in about 200. Anthem solves this problem. There is a powerful deeper message with a page-turning story all within about 120 pages. When life is crazy, we sometime have to rely on short novels to satisfy our cravings. Anthem is a wonderful choice. It crams so much into its small length. Love, Danger, Philosophy, and more.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Where I get back in the groove!

I've finished two books since I went on break on Wednesday! This is the most pleasure reading I have done since before I started working at camp in June!
I started with a reread of a book I know I like and would finish so I would get back in the groove of reading. Reading textbooks is different from reading novels. You can skim textbooks, but not novels, so I want to reset my ways of reading by readng As I Have Loved You by Nikki Arana again. I read it for the first time around this time last year and loved it. It spoke to me again in a whole new way. Two of the major issues in the book I am dealing with right now and it really made me think about how I am dealing with those things in my life. Read my quick thoughts on it here: (The author even commented on the post! It made me so excited at the time!)

I started and finished Anthem by Ayn Rand yesterday. I read The Fountainhead earlier this year and didn't really like it. It was one of those books that took hundreds of pages to say what it could have said just fine in half the length. Anthem was refreshing. It was like the good parts of 1984 and The Giver combined together. I really enjoyed it, but you'll have to wait to see how much I enjoyed it until I write a seperate post on it!

I am doing most of my reading in a new spot. It is perfect! We moved to a new house in September, so I really haven't spent too much time in it because I go to school three hours away. My new spot is by huge windows where I can see all the snow we got yesterday, has a good windowsil to lay down my books and a cup of tea, and the most comfy ikea chair ever!

I'm in the middle of two other books and I am about to start a third, probably even more after I pick up more books from the library. The library in this new town is TINY, so I am fully relying on interlibrary loan!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas reading plan!

Tomorrow at 6:00pm I will be done with finals. Today is my last written finals, but tomorrow I go home! My big plans include going to a camp party and READING! YES!!

I just went crazy and interlibrary loaned a whole bunch of books. I had an orderly list of books I wanted to read over my three week break, but I expanded some. Here's what is in my pile for my break!

The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare
Revolutions by Justin Calderone
The Lovely Bones
Anthem by Ayn rand
The Testament by John Grisham
The Pact by Jodi Picouly
Juniper Tree Burning by Goldberry Long
Special Topics in calamity Physics
Columbine by Dave Cullen
Unhooked by Laura Stepp
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (reread if I have time)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Review: A Prayer for Owen Meany

I don't even know how to describe it! This book was fantastic and refreshing and challenging and I just want to tell everyone I meet about it. There is so much depth to this novel that if you read it over and over again you would still feel you could juice more literary goodness out of it, yet you would still feel like you are good friends with the characters. This is one of the best books I've read in a long, long time.

All the synopses on the book fail to capture even the slightest bit about this novel. In general, this is a coming of age novel told from Owen's best friend John's point of view. John writes after all the events of the novel have happened and he is a cynical middle aged man. John says Owen is the reason he believes in God, but does not have a solid relationship with his religious beliefs. His religious actions are actually quite contradictory. Owen is a short little guy with a terrifying voice and is crazy smart. Owen is willing to do anything for John, including stay back a grade so he can be in the same grade as John.

It amazed me how much symbolism and motifs there are. It is a diamond mine of themes and motifs and things to think deeply about. That is the main reason why I love this book. Most novels I have read make you struggle to read between the lines, but A Prayer For Owen Meany makes it easy because all the little symbols and things are extremely important to the story. John Irving doesn't want us to miss out on any of the important little details.

This book reminded me of The Catcher and the Rye and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. All the good things from The Catcher in the Rye were put into this, and the quirkiness of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn were put into this book.

I really don't know what else to say without spoiling the whole thing, and I think I've raved quite enough! Go read this. Right now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

We Didn't Start the Fire Challenge 2010

I am hosting a new challenge this year! This is my first time hosting a challenge, so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you see any problems or want to make suggestions!

The “We Didn’t Start the Fire” challenge runs from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010.

Do you know Billy Joel’s song “We Didn’t Start the Fire?” The song has plenty of historical and pop culture references, which offer us book junkies plenty of opportunities for reading material! I like 80s music, especially this song, but I don’t know anything about some of the things in the song. The goal of this challenge is for you to learn about some of the many topics mentioned in the song.

I want this challenge to be flexible for you, so all I want you to do is pick a level of commitment and stick to it! You don’t need to list your books beforehand or write a certain amount of reviews. Overlaps with other challenges are absolutely fine!

This site has the lyrics to the song as well as a video with pictures of what each thing in the song is as well as a link to a site for each topic for more detail.

Here are the levels:


Bronze Fiction: Read 5 books specifically mentioned in the song or a book by an author specifically mentioned. Or, read a work of fiction about something else mentioned in the song.

Silver Fiction: Read 8 books within the same criteria mentioned above.

Gold Fiction: Read 10 books within the same criteria mentioned above.


Bronze Nonfiction: Read 5 nonfiction books about any topic in the song.

Silver Nonfiction: Read 8 nonfiction books about any topic in the song.

Gold Nonfiction: Read 10 nonfiction books about any topic in the song.


Bronze Combo: Read any combination of 5 fiction or nonfiction books related to the song.

Silver Combo: Read any combination of 8 fiction or nonfiction books related to the song.

Gold Combo: Read any combination of 10 fiction or nonfiction books related to the song.

Sign up by commenting on this post.

I will put up another post for you to link to your reviews in January.

Feel free to use the graphic at the beginning of the post! Good luck and have a blast!

I need a plan!

I haven't read any books for fun. I need a plan so I'll actually read!

So, instead of paying attention in my first year seminar class, a class I shouldn't have to take, I brainstormed. Here's what I came up with:

Read one book per month. This must be a very high-quality book that isn't some obscure title. Books I have read in the past that would fit into this category would be books like East of Eden, The Poisonwood Bible, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Memoirs of a Geisha, and more recently- A Prayer For Owen Meany.

I want to read a book that is worth my time. I want this book to have depth and really great characters or have a really fast plot like My Sister's Keeper or The Kitchen god's Wife.

So this is where all of you come in. Can you suggest any really great books for me to read? I will look up every book that is suggested and find out things about it so see if it is something I may want to read. I am so excited for this! I just fished John Irving's A Prayer For Owen Meany for my English class. I wasn't expecting anything from this book, but it was amazing!! Definitely, I should think about reviewing it on here! was really really really good!

So, know of any books with lots of depth, motifs and great themes? Know of any with a page-turning plot? I'll be checking to see if I have any comments on this post probably a little too frequently!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Two birds, one stone.

I don't even know how to introduce this because this makes me so happy!

I found a way to not hate exercising.

And to find time to read.

Oh, yeah baby!

I have to exercise a certain amount of minutes every week for my wellness class. I hate exercising. A lot.

This week I switched from doing my time on the elipticals to a bike. The time seemed to go much faster on the bike because it was less torturous.

Then yesterday, I took a book with me. My 20 minutes of cardio went by sooo fast that I didn't even have time to think about how miserable I was. I don't even think I needed endorphins because I was so happy I got time to read!

I did 4 1/2 miles on a bike and read 30 some pages of The Poisonwood Bible. This is multitasking at its finest!

I have enough minutes for this week, but since I don't have any huge Friday night plans, I may have to go work out and read some more!

See? Books are also fat-burning and good for your health! This is why literature matters!

Dana Goia

I had a really cool opportunity Wednesday night to attend a lecture by poet Dana Gioia on why literature matters. I really didn't want to go because it if required for a class for English majors that I have to take even though I'm not an English major. However, this lecture was pretty interesting and entertaining at times. I didn't take notes on the lecture, so my thoughts will be a bit scrambled, but I had to share them with you!

Gioia's main point on why literature matters is because it influences your own life. Your life is a story you are writing every day. Literature can be a part of that story. At the end of the Lecture, Gioia answered questions from the audience. One asked what books especially influenced him at certain points of his life. This hit me right on, because I have a handful of books I will always treasure because of the role they played in my own story.

Another question he asked was how he thinks people should interpret poetry. Can the reader get something different out of the poem than the poet intended them to? Gioia says absolutely! He compared poetry to a room. You can get in the room by the front door, a window, the back door...whatever. When you enter the room, it is only partially furnished. You have to furnish the rest yourself.

It was interesting to hear the background story behind a poem before he even read it aloud. Although some people in my class thought that took something away from the poem, I really liked it. I also liked how Gioia read some serious poems but also some hilarious ones, "Alley Cat Love Song" in particular. Here's the first part:

Come into the garden, Fred,
For the neighborhood tabby is gone.
Come into the garden, Fred.
I have nothing but my flea collar on,
And the scent of catnip has gone to my head.
I'll wait by the screen door till dawn.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

WAIT! It's today?!


Off to work out, shower, get hair cut, run errands, do homework, pack, and head up to camp instead.

I can't believe I forgot about the read-a-thon!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Review: Before You Hit the Wall by Danny Lehmann

Yes! I finished a book! I normally don't review my devotional readings, but this one is exceptional because it is the first book I finished since June and because I really liked it

This book offers practical advice on how to shape up spiritually, advice that you could actually apply to your own life. Lots of books go on and on, telling the readers why they need to get more serious in their relationship with God, but few offer good advice on how to do so. Lots of books just say, "read your Bible. Pray." but Danny Lehmann tells us the most beneficial ways to read your Bible and pray, among other things. Lehmann is able to offer such good advice because he has done what he is telling his readers to do in his own life. Lehmann practices what he preaches. The techniques in the book work, because he has applied them to his own life. He speaks from experience.

Here are some bits of his advice:

-Read the Bible, but also spend certain times studying it within its context. There are times for both. When in an in-depth study, still find ways to apply what you are learning to your life. Answer the question "What does this passage mean to me?"(In my own reading, I have decided to write a little blurb about how what I read affected me in my journal instead of just writing down what I read.)

-Fill up chunks of free time like exercising, random time on the computer, or cleaning by listening to sermons you downloaded for free on itunes.

-Memorize scripture that means something to you by repeating it over and over in your head and spending an intentional few minutes every day specifically for scripture memorization.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Sunday Salon: Where I try not to get discouraged

This week, I read five chapters of a devotional book.

This is five times more reading for pleasure than I've done for the past four or five months but that doesn't mean I am happy with it. I'm thinking I need to commit to an hour or uninterrupted reading two or three hours a week. I think I can manage that. At that rate I should be able to read one average sized novel each week. On Wednesday night I am going home, but I won't get much opportunities to read. It will be hard to read during the read-a-thon because every day at school is a read-a-thon! Still, I'm going to try to make good progress on one book this weekend. Maybe, if I am ambitious, I will finish this poetry book I've been working on since June and promised a review to the author, who I personally know. Come to think of it, that sounds like a pretty reasonable goal!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Climbing on my soapbox...

(from"soap was delivered to stores years ago in sturdy wooden crates, which were recycled for many purposes (e.g., the Soap Box Derby, where children once made racing cars by attaching wheels to the basic box. Nowadays of course, their parents fund fiberglass molds for body parts, etc.) But one of the best uses for a soap box was as a portable "stage" for an orator to stand on, to rise above a crowd and make speeches. It was democracy at its most basic: get on your soap box, and harangue the assembled listeners."

Ok, enough education.

For some reason lately, I've been really into fighting for a more positive female body image. I click on news stories involving models and celebrities more now so I can look to see if they say something about it.

Of course, we've got Oprah talking about it, Dove has this campaign for it, but it has never truly caught on. Yes, we may have more important things to worry about but this problem is so simple, anyone can have a part in solving it. You don't need to have a whole bunch of money or political power or friends.

Sometimes you just need a pack of post-its and a pen.
This is one thing I am kind of obsessed with right now. has totally changed how I spend my free time. Instead of just sitting around, I write encouraging post-its to hang up on bathroom mirrors across campus. I can't wait until fall break when I will be able to hang more notes up in places other than my school!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Weeding

"We’re moving in a couple weeks (the first time since I was 9 years old), and I’ve been going through my library of 3000+ books, choosing the books that I could bear to part with and NOT have to pack to move. Which made me wonder…

When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?

Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all? (This would have described me for most of my life, by the way.)

And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore? SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?"


Technically, I've moved three times since June. I moved to camp in June and I had to pack up everything because my family was planning on moving at the time. When I got back from camp, I had to unpack and repack some things again for college. Then, a few weeks ago, my family actually moved. I keep on forgetting my address. I had my camp address memorized pretty well and then my college address, but I can't seem to remember my new home address and phone number!

I never really weed through my book collection. I don't have all that many. When I notice I have a book that I never read or never will read, I get rid of it. When I notice the children's books I saved for sentimental value are no longer so sentimental to me, I get rid of those too. In that case, those go to my little sister.

My big dilemma was which books I should bring with me to college. Most of my friends didn't bring any with them. I chose to bring classics and books that have the most chance of being required reading for a class as well as my favorite books that I'd like to reread again.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Library Loot October 14-20 2009

Yes, I actually do have some library loot! It is oh-so dangerous having a library with over 250,000 books in it within walking distance of where I live. I don't believe in love at first sight, but the first time I laid eyes on the library here, I fell in love (remember this post?

Now you know why. I give campus tours to prospective students and I love taking them into the library. In the past few days, I've had the opportunity to show two prospective students the library for the first time.

So, even though I don't have much time to read, I have two projects that I'm working on that require us to use a number of print sources. I'm quickly realizing how great this library is. Even on some really obscure subjects, there are several books on the topic! They even have several shelves of journalism related books. I'm in heaven. I don't normally read nonfiction for fun, but I may have to start!

So here's my loot. Most are for school projects but they are still fun ones!

I'm doing one speech on gender roles in children's toys and another speech on media bias, so that's what the first four books are for. The books for my media speech are really interesting, but they make me so mad that the media is so corrupt today.

What I've been up to since June!

The covered bridge on campus.
I graduated from high school. I look like big bird, hence the position my arms are in.

This is the only picture I have of someone doing dishes at camp. We were always doing dishes. And singing while doing dishes.
...and dancing... Christmas music...

The girls I lived and worked with all summer. Miss them so much!

Where the girls lived. The guys who worked at camp lived in a house down the road in the camp. I'd trade my dorm room in for the Roudybush (the name of our cottage) any day!
Now I'm at school and working in Catering on campus. I write for the newspaper (of course!) and do a whole bunch of random other things. I'm always busy. This week for instance, I had to designate certain days where I wouldn't schedule anything so I could actually get some homework done! I have a feeling I'll have to start doing that to do some pleasure reading done! I'm excited though. Two out of my three favorite books are required reading in some of my classes this semester. I'm reading Hamlet now for my English class and we're going to be reading The Poisonwood Bible soon for my first year seminar class...that is if my prof doesn't redo the whole calendar again.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


What a way to start reading again with a read-a-thon coming up soon!

The good news is that I'm going to be at home for fall break during the read-a-thon, but I'll only be able to read for about 7 hours. I'm heading up to the camp I worked at this summer for their fall party for the staff. I'm so excited to see everyone there! What a great combination, read-a-thon and seeing my camp friends!

I'm going to try something new, something dangerous, something blasphemous is you're one of those people who starts planning their read-a-thon list right after the previous read-a-thon ended. I'm not going to make a booklist. I'm not even going to research books to read. I'm going to read whatever I feel like reading and whatever we have laying around the house. If I think of a good book to read, I'll get it from the library but I am not making a huge pile like I did last time!

I'm going with the flow!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wait, what? We thought a sea monster had gobbled her up!

Au contraire, I'm still alive. After a odd and confusing circle of events, I decided I'm going to try my hardest to start reading and blogging again. I haven't read anything for pleasure in many months because of my summer job at camp and now because I'm in college, taking 17 credits and am involved in too much for my own good!

I'll post on what I've been up to in a little while, but since I am back, I have to change some things to make this blog something worth coming back to. I have so much going on already and a lot of it is stuff I have to do. I don't want reading and blogging to feel like another homework assignment, which is the LAST thing I need! Instead of trying to read as many books as I can, I'm going to read more for the fun of it rather than the competition of it. I'll reread books if I feel like it. I won't spend hours planning what books I'm going to order from the library. I'm going to go with the flow.

I'm going to savor the experience of reading. If I get a free moment here, it is truly a gift. I won't try to rush through books. If I want to underline and dogear pages I'll do that because it means I'm making the most out of my reading experience.

If I want to read a classic and not even stop to think about what the "Deeper meaning" of it is, that's fine! I'll be overanalyzing enough literature in my English class for my own good already!

I'll treat books like a good piece of dark chocolate. Slowly eat it as a rare treat and enjoy the experience, not out of duty but out of enjoyment.

(pssssst....thanks Eva)

Monday, September 14, 2009

oh Mr. Kidder...

So, since you last saw me, I've read one book.

Count 'em.


This one book I read keeps coming back to haunt me. All freshmen at Messiah College have to read the same book. The book changes every year. Last year, it was A Thousand Splendid Suns (lucky!). This year we all had to endure Tracy Kidder's account of Paul Farmer in Haiti in Mountains Beyond Mountains.

Since this year is Messiah's centennial, they are making everything into a big deal. Tracy Kidder is on campus right now. I have to go to this thing tonight where we will have to sit through another two hours of Kidder boredom. Then, we get to go to the Union, eat free food, and have him sign our books.

I want him to sign my book, just because. My teacher for the class where we had to read the book says that he will talk to you about what you thought of the book. I don't want to tell this man I hated his book. I really don't have a good reason other than it was dull. I'll sound like a whiny little freshman, telling this man I couldn't find anything to appreciate about a book he probably spent years working on.

All in all, Mountains Beyond Mountains would make a better newspaper article than a book, as my roommate would say. I couldn't agree more.

Any suggestions on what I should do when I meet Tracy Kidder tonight?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Long time no see!

Hey everyone! It is kind of depressing that I have read only two pages from any book other the Bible for two weeks. This week was my camp orientation and I got a real taste of how little time I will have for things other than camp!

Camp is great so far though!

I figured out how to update my friends and family on facebook by twitter on my phone. There might be a sudden increase of updates from me since this will be the easiest way to let everyone know what is going on in my life when I am away. If you don't want a whole bunch of things about my camp life, I will not feel hurt if you stop following :)
I have one big and exciting post planned for this summer. I will be reading and reviewing a book written by a teacher at my high school!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Summer Reading

Hey, all! Even though I won't be reading and blogging full-force this summer, here is what I will be up to! I have some books I have to read for school and some that have been sitting around my house not being read because the library books I constantly have on hand look too appealing. I will be taking these books with me to my summer job at Whitehall Camp & Conference Center.

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand: If the Fountainhead wasn't enough for me already...I am entering another Ayn Rand scholarship. I don't know If I will actually finish this one. It is 300 pages longer than the Fountainhead!

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder: This is the common reading for all the First Year Seminar classes at Messiah College, which all freshmen have to take first semester. I'm not particularly looking forward to this book, but it is shorter than most books I have had to read in the summer for school assignments!

The Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare: I picked up a no fear shakespeare edition of this for $2.50 secondhand. I've been wanting to read it for a while.

The Lovely Bones: Poor, lonely, neglected book...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Month of May


Books read: 11
High School's Not Forever
3 Willows
The Black Pearl
The Jewel of Medina
My Sister's Keeper
Patiently Alice
Daring Chloe
How to Win at College

Pages read: 2868

Books so far this year: 53
Pages so far this year: 15509

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish!

I wish this were a review of another Hitchhiker's book, because that would mean nothing is changing.

I knew once I left for college, I would blog a lot less, but I thought I would have a whole summer to read a bunch!

I will be leaving June 7 for a place where I won't be able to access a computer very often. I will be a worker in the kitchen at Whitehall Camp. I will return home August 14 and then go to college August 27.

There are so many loose ends to tie up and this blog is one of them. I will get to read some over the summer, but not a lot and nothing worth reviewing.

You're probably thinking "June 7? That's still a few weeks away!" I'm a senior in high school. I have finals, graduation banquets and parties, friends and family to say goodbye you guys!

I'll miss you all. Thank you for all the comments you have left me and all the support in this 7ish months I have been blogging. It has been a blast. I'm not saying I'm completely quitting, but I am at least for the summer.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Salon Senioritis (woo! alliteration!)

I haven't read in over twenty four hours.

I haven't felt like doing ANYTHING for weeks now. I didn't think this would spread to reading and blogging, but it has.

The only thing I want to do is go on facebook, sleep, and time travel into the future.

So please forgive me. I want to read, I just haven't convinced myself that I should quite yet.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Miscellaneous Book Babble

1. Right now, reading seems pointless. Seven out of the past ten books I've read were above average, most of them really good books! I don't want to pick up another book because I don't want to be disappointed!

2. One book was so good, I read it while walking in gym class yesterday. My head got hit really hard by a basketball. Serves me right?

3. I got a paper back I wrote on I Capture the Castle two days ago. The guy who plagiarized every word got a better grade than I did. I didn't think my English teacher could get any more clueless!

4. Have you read the guest review of My Sister's Keeper yet? (

5. My dad got an alumni publication from the college I'm going to. They will be celebrating their centennial my first year! In the magazine, various Messiah College personalities chose a book to define each of Messiah College's ten decades. Like I really needed more proof that this is the place where I belong! Here are the selections:
1909-1919: Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
1920-1929: The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
1930-1939: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
1940-1949: The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
1950-1959: Reforming Fundamentalism by George Mason
1960-1969: The Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard
1970-1979: The Purple Decades by Tom Wolfe
1980-1989: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
1990-1999: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
2000-2009: The Philadelphia Chickens by Sabdra Boynton

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Booking Through Thursday: Gluttony

Book Gluttony! Are your eyes bigger than your book belly? Do you have a habit of buying up books far quicker than you could possibly read them? Have you had to curb your book buying habits until you can catch up with yourself? Or are you a controlled buyer, only purchasing books when you have run out of things to read?

I don't buy books very often, so I'm applying this post to my Library habits.

My mom freaks out when anyone wastes food, so her attitude towards wastefulness has shaped me, too. We don't waste things that she buys from the store. If leftovers are not eaten, behold the wrath of mom.

There is a different rule for food if we go to a buffet or a salad bar. Mom tells us we can get our plate of food and if we don't like it, get another plate. We can waste all we want at a buffet.

I think of bookstores as the grocery store. Don't waste what you buy. The only books I buy are the ones I know I like already, or dirt cheap. The library is where you can take all you want and return what you don't want.

I've come home from the library with huge stacks the past couple of trips. I feel like a complete dork with a stack of ten books. I feel fat. (You know, when people see a skinny girl stuffing her face, they give her looks like she's fat.) I have to remind myself of mom's buffet rule. Library books can't go to waste, so you can take all you want. There is no such thing as gluttony at a library, unless you take out more than the limit and try to find ways to be able to take out more.

I definitely think people are gluttonous at the bookstore. Why do you need to own all these books? Unless you are the type that finds a couple dozen really good books and keeps on rereading those over and over again (like my dad), why do you need to buy the books? You don't need to own them unless you have to keep taking them off your shelf. Otherwise, read it, review it, and return it to the library! The trees will thank you :P

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

GUEST REVIEW: My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult, reviewed by Jenny

(Inspired by Eva and her mom read-a-thoning together, I've been wanting my family to join in on a little bit of reading fun. My mom, Jenny, is reviewing My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult here on my blog. She definitely will offer you a different review from the ones I post. It is nice to have a change of pace every once in a while!)

(From Anna is not sick, but she might as well be. By age thirteen, she has undergone countless surgeries, transfusions, and shots so that her older sister, Kate, can somehow fight the leukemia that has plagued her since childhood. The product of preimplantation genetic diagnosis, Anna was conceived as a bone marrow match for Kate — a life and a role that she has never challenged...until now. Like most teenagers, Anna is beginning to question who she truly is. But unlike most teenagers, she has always been defined in terms of her sister — and so Anna makes a decision that for most would be unthinkable, a decision that will tear her family apart and have perhaps fatal consequences for the sister she loves.

Without first knowing it would contain everything I like in a book under onecover – medical, mystery, legal/ethical dilemma, I found myself drawn to MySister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult who I have never read before.

On the one hand the way the book is written (in multiple points of view) really draws you in. At the same time it jumps around so much that it circumventsthe entire telling of the most important discussion of the book (Kate and Annatalking about Anna’s donating a kidney to Kate).

I mistakenly read the book so I could figure out if Kate gets her kidneyinstead of reading it as a mystery trying to solve why Anna files the lawsuitfor medical emancipation other than “so you know how it feels to not have anycontrol over your body?” as stated on page 387.

The book is about two sisters, Kate and Anna, who are closely linked by medicalcircumstances. I too was close to my sister although for very differentreasons. I am 10 months and 3 days older than my sister. So strong was ourbond that my mother dressed us alike until we were about 10 years old and weshared a bedroom till I was about 15 years old. It is this reason I “get”how hard it is to form one’s own identity.

Sisters, Kate and Anna are so close in fact Anna says on page 92, “ Kate andI are like Siamese twins; you just can’t see the spot where we’reconnected.” During the court proceedings, the defendant’s expert witness,a psychologist states on page 387, “there are several studies that indicatechildren who serve as donors have higher self-esteem, and feel more importantwithin the family structure. They consider themselves superheroes, becausethey can do the one thing no one else can.”

During the course of the book I never stop questioning Anna’s mother’s(Sara) love for her. Can you love equally and still favor one child? Idon’t believe so especially since the “love” Sara has for Kate seemssolely based on keeping her family intact. So their mother’s choices forthem are fear based instead out of love. Although any mother may desire thisit also seem selfish to me.

Sadder even still is that Sara has managed to convince Anna she’s made thesechoices out of love. If that were so, wouldn’t her parents have discussedthe situation with both girls? Her parents major failing is they don’t askeither girl’s feelings.

So here’s the part where my motherly advice comes to play. All parents messup – if only in our children’s eyes. No matter how good our intentions,WE WILL MESS UP!!! Our best chance in nuturing our children’s love is togive them what they most desire - equality. Children can forgive our mistakesif they felt loved. (Love is the only thing that covers a multitude ofmistakes.) Love cannot blossom if there is a preference shown for one childover another.

Even though it’s a long shot, it is possible to figure out if Anna wins thelawsuit; however, you won’t be able to figure out how it ends!!! The endingmay be the worst ending I’ve ever read. So bad, in fact, I threatened totear out the last couple chapters and instead write the answer to does Kate getthe kidney? before passing it onto my daughter. Even though I am a parent I did not relate or empathize with Sara. Herdecisions wind up being disastrous because someone dies without ever havingfelt accepted, which is the worse than the books actual ending.

WARNING: If you’re one of those who read the last couple of pages of a bookto decide if you want to read a book, DON’T!!!! or you will miss out onreading a overall very satisfying book. . . regardless of the ending.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Review: The Jewel of Medina

I'm doing this review dewey-Style, with portions of her book review questionnaire
Title and author of book: The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones

Fiction or non-fiction? Genre? Adult Historical Fiction

What led you to pick up this book? I'm not sure. I think I saw it on the librarything early reviewer list

Plot summary: A'isha is pledged to be married to the prophet Muhhamad at a very young age. She marries him but can't live with him until she becomes a woman. When she finally lives with Muhammad, she finds that she is treated more like Muhammad's daughter than his wife. A'isha is not the typical woman of her time. She goes from being Muhammad's child bride to his warrior bride. A'isha learns what real love is and struggles to find her place among Muhammad's many wives.

What did you like most about the book? I've read many books that retell the story of women in the Bible, but this book was interesting because even though a lot of the treatment of the women is the same, it is a different religion and different customs.

What did you like least? Muhammad was protrayed very negatively. If I practiced Islam, I'd be outraged. Muhammad is the prophet of Islam, basically the Jesus of Islam. I wouldn't want a book portraying Jesus this negatively.

What did you think of the writing style? It was confusing at times because the author liked to show off her knowledge of Arabic terms.

What did you think of the main character?What is the central character’s biggest problem? A'isha struggles to control herself and find her place in Muhammad's life. I liked how she was a rebel, but wanted to wring her neck every time she acted without thinking, which always messed up her relationship with Muhammad for a while.

What strengths does she have that help her cope? She relies on other people. Muhammad's first wife is often there to console A'isha, and sometimes she goes to her father. Although A'isha is very independent, she knows when to ask others for help too.

Any other particularly interesting characters? Safwan, the man A'isha thought she would marry, is pretty interesting. Although he adds a soap opera like aspect to the story, it is not unwelcome.

What did you think of the ending? I thought the book could have ended earlier. There is a bittersweet ending that is unnecessary. If the book ended only a few chapters earlier, It would have had a fantastic ending.

Do you recommend this book? If you use a rating system, what’s your rating? I do recommend this book, especially for those who like Biblical fiction (like The Red Tent). I'd give this book a B

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Review: 3 Willows

Did anyone else not know there was something more to Ann Brashares other than The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants?
Well, there is. Brashares has writte two other books besides the major four: The Last Summer and 3 Willows. 3 Willows as just published this year.
The subtitle of 3 Willows is "The Sisterhood continues." I thought that maybe this was a book telling what happens to the sisterhood when they are all grown up, but it is not. 3 Willows still takes place in Bethesda, where Carmen, Lena, Tibby and Bridget live, but this book focuses around another circle of much younger girls.
Jo, Polly, and Ama are best friends. They are growing apart. The summer after eigth grade, they go on their seperate adventures. They do not have a shared pair of pants, but 3 Willows is similar to the Traveling Pants books with the themes it covers.
3 Willows isn't totally Pants free. The Sisterhood are celebrities among the characters in 3 Willows. Effie, Lena's sister, plays a big part in Jo's story. Polly babysits Tibby's siblings.
I woudn't let a preteen read the Traveling Pants books, but this is a great book for 11-13 year olds. They'll be itching to read Brashares's other books after reading 3 Willows!
Grade: B

Monday, May 4, 2009

Review: My Little Red Book

In our society where PG-13 TV is on at all hours for kids to watch and we are so open about PG-13 matters, why aren't women as open about their special monthly gift? This collection of short essays(very short, I'm talking one or two pages) confronts this issue. The stories of first periods range from teenagers today, teenagers from the 60s, and grandmothers. There are stories from women and girls living in many different cultures.
This is a light read, but fascinating. The topics introduced in this book would be a very interesting thesis for someone studying sociology.
Periods are pretty much a forbidden topic. Why? I even found myself shielding the book when I read it in school. I didn't want the guy sitting next to me in English class asking what I was reading! This demonstrates exactly why the eightteen year old editor put together this book.
I think I'm becoming a feminist more and more every day...
Grade: A

Friday, May 1, 2009

I Got Published!

I took part in the Gene Kelly Critics program in my city. This lets students from the schools whose musicals are entered in the Kelly awards review two other school's musicals and have them published on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's website. You can read my reviews of "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "42nd Street"" at these places:

Review: Fahrenheit 451

by Ray Bradbury
(from Nowadays firemen start fires. Fireman Guy Montag loves to rush to a fire and watch books burn up. Then he met a seventeen-year old girl who told him of a past when people were not afraid, and a professor who told him of a future where people could think. And Guy Montag knew what he had to do....

The concept of this book seems like to would make a really great story. But like many books I have read that makes a political statement (1984 and The Fountainhead for example), I found that Fahrenheit 451 was lacking in several ways.

The characters in the book lacked specific character traits. I felt as the characters simply existed on the page. I can't describe the characters to you because there was nothing to describe.

Just like 1984 and The Fountainhead, the main character Guy, seemed to be highly exalted. Bradbury portrayed Guy as a man with faults, but the fact that he sacrificed his secure life for books made up for his faults several times over.

Fahrenheit 451 is a small book with little substance. We all know censorship is bad. Okay. I get it. Other than that, you can skip this one.

Grade: D

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Month of April

Month: April
Books Read: 13
*Pages Read: 3976
Titles of Books Read:
The Fountainhead - Library Challenge
Sixteen - Library Challenge
Julie of the Wolves - Library Challenge
The Road - My Year of Reading Dangerously, Library Challenge, 1% Well read
Eclipse - My Year of Reading Dangerously
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - Library Challenge
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - Library, My Year of Reading Dangerously
Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? - Library Challenge
Uncensored (reread)
I Capture the Castle - Library Challenge
Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives Colume #1 - Library Challenge, My Year of Reading Dangerously
Fahrenheit 451 - Library Challenge, 1% Well-Read
My Little Red Book - Library Challenge

Favorite Books Read: The Road, I Capture the Castle, Eclipse
Least Favorite Books Read: Fahrenheit 451
Blog Posts: 36

This Year so far
Books read: 42
Pages read: 12,641
Blog Posts: 116

*This number is calculated by adding the total number of pages in books read, as well as how many pages of a book read but later abandoned

I had a really good reading month! I read lots of good books and picked away at more challenges. I read the most books this month than any other month since I started seriously reading!

Review: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

by Dodie Smith, author of 101 Dalmatians

Cassandra Mortmain lives with her brother, sister, father and stepmother in a Castle. Her family is the opposite of royalty. He father, a failing writer, does not provide for his family. In her journals, Cassandra writes about her ordinary and average life until one day, he life becomes much more exciting.

The wealthy extended family of the landlord unexpectedly comes by for a visit. Suddenly, the Cottons and the Mortmains are friends. Cassandra's sister Rose gets engaged to one of the brothers, and Cassandra's life drastically changes.

I haven't read Pride and Prejudice, but I think it would be like I Capture the Castle. This book was published in the 1940s, so the tone is different from Victorian writers, but I Capture the Castle uses some of the themes common in the works of the Bronte sisters and Jane Austen.

If you stray away from Victorian era books like I do, I Capture the Castle is the perfect book to ease you into it. The writing isn't stuff and hard to understand. You will actually want to turn another page. Cassandra's narration is fresh and inoocent. She is excited and her excitement is passed on to the reader.
Grade: B+

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Components of a Truly Horrible Book

I did 6 Components of a Truly Great Book a few weeks ago (, so now it is time for an opposite post.

1. Reading is a chore. You make yourself read a certain amount of pages to get it done and/or hate every page you read.
2. It fails to catch your attention.
3. The thought of finishing the book makes you nauseous.
4. You tell everyone how horrible the book you are reading is.
5. The book ruins your mood.
6. The language is so hard to understand that you have a dictionary by your side and dread having to pick up the dictionary again.
7. You have to use sparknotes in order to understand the basic plot.
8. There are spelling or factual errors.
9. A nine year old could write a better book.

These things are stong indicators that I need to stop reading a book. I guess I need to take my own advice and stop reading a certain book!

What makes you stop reading a book?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


There was a problem with comments (so that's why I haven't had to approve any!) this week. Thanks to Trish for letting me know about it! The problem is fixed now. I was so lonely!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Library Loot

I got tired of my ginormous stack of books I got a few weeks ago and returned all the books I hadn't read yet. They just didn't seem exciting any more. Now these ones sure do. I'm tempted to apandon the two books I'm reading right now but I have to exhibit some self-control sometimes!

I finally got to the top of the waitlist for this one, which also means that if I can't read it or don't like it, I'll feel horribly guilty.

This was on my TBR list and it was on the new books shelf at the library. Yay!

I have to read this for an essay contest. It is a survival guide to high school. I should be writing his book, not reading it. This book won't help me. The last month of high school doesn't require a survival guide, just a lot of procrastination!

I heard about this book but never was really interested. This was an impulse grab.

What kind of English teacher assigns a Shakespeare play a few weeks before graduation?

My first graphic novel. I can't get enough of the Twilight series so I decided to give this a try. It is short so I may actually get to read a Graphic novel.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

BTT: Symbolism

My husband is not an avid reader, and he used to get very frustrated in college when teachers would insist discussing symbolism in a literary work when there didn’t seem to him to be any. He felt that writers often just wrote the story for the story’s sake and other people read symbolism into it.
It does seem like modern fiction just “tells the story” without much symbolism. Is symbolism an older literary device, like excessive description, that is not used much any more? Do you think there was as much symbolism as English teachers seemed to think? What are some examples of symbolism from your reading?

Symbolism is a hot topic in my English class. Most of the kids think symbolism does not exist and we shouldn't study it. I think the total opposite. Many of the books we read in English would totally stink if it weren't for the things you get out of them when you read between the lines.

I think symbolism is only important with highly skilled writers. John Steinbeck and Edith Wharton and Shakespeare mak symbolism amazing. But, you can read their books without having to worry about symbolism. Symbolism is like chocolate syrup on ice cream-it just makes a good thing better.

I think the reason why there isn't much symbolism nowdays is because the quality of literature is declining. As I said before, only the really good writers used symbolism effectively. I've seen several subpar attempts of symbolism in modern literature, but the symbolism in the classics is amazing.

English teachers didn't make up the concept of symbolism. Even one of the oldest books, the Bible, uses symbolism to an extent. Literature would be really flat and boring without symbols. Seeing the symbols in books and finding them yourself without the help of a teacher or sparknotes is one of the most satifying things about reading.

I remember when English classes first started teaching symbolism-in 10th grade for me. I thought it was totally crazy how the color blue said so much. I still do. Thinking that if a character is wearing a blue dress means she has certain character traits is too much. However, thinking blood is a reoccurring symbol for guilt in Macbeth is legit. Symbolism can be taken too far, which is why I think a lot of people have an aversion to it.

I'm stuggling with symbolism and reading between the lines being taken too far right now. I have to write a paper on how I Capture the Castle is influenced by the time period in which it was written and the author's life. The book has a few minor parallels but not enough to write a seven page paper out of. It is ridiculous to assume that every author wants their books to be overanaylized I'm sure I Capture the Castle was not meant to be a reading between the lines book. Others, like The Fountainhead, need to be analyzed to get everything you can out of it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I honestly tried to avoid it....

I’ve never been part of the “in” crowd. Now that I’m totally in the whole Twilight thing, I’m thinking I’m in!

I picked up the first book last year. I gave in to what everyone was talking about. I conformed. Then, I told myself I would use the book on my senior project (I did. For two paragraphs) for cut down on the guilt factor. I mean, Twilight isn’t real books! I’m better than that. I’ve read great books before. Twilight…eh…whatever.

I couldn’t put it down. I ordered the next book from the library and waited. And waited. And waited. I couldn’t put New Moon down either.

As much as the topic of the books creeped me out at first, I’m loving them.

Now comes Eclipse. Instead of waiting for it to come from the library, I borrowed it from my uncle’s girlfriend who would definitely get to me quicker.

And guess what? I finished that HUGE book in 2 ½ days!

Now, waiting a few weeks until she can bring me the next one isn’t enough. I found a friend that could possibly give me the last book tomorrow.

I broke my rule of not watching movies based on books. I watched the movie. It wasn’t amazing but it was okay. I’d watch it again. I’m actually thinking about watching it again very soon even though I just finished watching…

I’m sorry. I don’t want to be obsessed with Twilight. I honestly tried not to.

I’m punishing myself by actually reading the assigned reading for English that I planned not to read. Here I come Macbeth. That’ll teach me not to read more scary vampire books…..right?