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On This Bookish Day: January 1st- J.D. Salinger is born

Hello fellow bookworms, I have decided to start a new monthly posting. I’m going to call it On This Bookish Day (incase you hadn’t got that from my oh so subtle title). So the idea is that one day of the month I will honour an important literary date in history. I’ll tell you a little about the author and review one of their books. Or at least that is the plan at this stage of the game. Just on a side note I haven’t seen this on any blogs as of yet, but that doesn’t mean someone hasn’t already had the idea, I am not trying to steal it if it already exists.

So for my post for On This Bookish Day:

January 1st- J.D. Salinger is born, 1919

So a little about the man. Salinger as many know was an american writer, he was raised in Manhattan, and started by writing short stories while he was in high school (pretty impressive). He is most well known for Catcher in the Rye, many read it in school as part of the curriculum, I on the other hand did not. He has had a total of 5 books printed, all of them short story collections, except for the famous Catcher in the Rye. He was at one point considered the most important American writer since WWII, and from what I can tell it’s because his book got people talking. Catcher in the Rye is a book that people wither love or hate, so people will discuss.

A few random facts I found out while looking him up:

  • The Catcher in the Rye was originally rejected by publishers, but once published was an instant success. Selling 65 million copies since its publication
  • He studied a number of religions including: Hinduism, Christian Science, Scientology, and Zen Buddhism.
  • Salinger was drafted into the war in 1942 and during that time he met Ernest Hemingway.

I’m sure there are many more but those are the ones I found interesting. So as you can imagine in honour of his birthday I read The Catcher in the Rye for the first time and wrote a quick review.

the-catcher-and-the-rye

★☆☆☆☆

Hmmmm, what to say about this classic piece of literature…… I hated it. I originally rated this with two stars and then after thinking about it for a bit I decided it was a one star book for me. It isn’t often that I use to word hate for any book, but the more I think about it, the more I get annoyed.

So the quick summary plot since I’m sure many of you know the general idea of the book if you haven’t read it already. The very simple plot is: a young man, 16 years old is being expelled from another private school. The story is Holden Caulfield going back home, and his couple of days in the city before his parents find out. The novel is written from Caulfields point of view and is basically showing his observations of everyone he encounters.

So now for why I hated it, sorry guys for anyone who is a big fan, but Holden is the most annoying character I have ever read. He is just a cocky little s***, who walks around telling you how much better he is than everyone. Or just plainly how dumb everyone else is. The whole time I read this book I was frustrated because I wanted to slap him the entire time. I know it is relatively accurate to how teenagers talk but he repeats saying over and over and over, and it drove me nuts. None of this is really anything bad about the writing, it is only the story itself and the character. From what I have seen you either love or hate this book, and you can clearly see where I landed. I personally believe that the popularity of this book is because of the controversy around it. One of the reasons I was so interested, was to find out which group I would land in.

It was a short book so it’s a short review. In the end I hated the book, but didn’t hate the writing. So surprisingly I would try this author again.

Let me know what you guys thought of the book and if you guys like the idea of this sort of monthly blog post. I was pretty excited about the idea so I hope you guys liked it just as much.

 

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My 2017 Reading Goals

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.

Melody Beattie

Okay, so I usually don’t do a whole lot for reading goals, but this year I have a few things I want to work on. Some pretty specific and others just trying to do better. I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t take my own reading goals to seriously. This would be why I don’t really do TBRs….. I won’t stick to them, at all.

Finish previously started series.


I was going through my read list on Goodreads and realised that I have a ton of started series that I never finished. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the book and decided to leave it, I really enjoyed them but never seemed to go back. I have a habit of reading an authors most popular work and not going back whether I liked it or not. I really shouldn’t be judging based on one piece of work especially if I thought it was good, seems I should continue. So I came up with a list of all unfinished series that I was actually enjoying, and I have quite the project here:

  • The Golden Compass
  • Divergent
  • Harry Potter
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
  • Cinder
  • Persepolis
  • Coalwood Way
  • Wolf Brother
  • Sherlock Holmes

60 Books Total


My good reads goal I’m upping this year to 60 books, but now that I have discovered graphic novels and manga, I’m aiming for 40 of those books to be book not including either of those.

17,000 Pages


I have never thought about it this way before, but since I got my Goodreads yearly wrap-up e-mail, I’m looking at it a little different. I read a little over 15,000 last year and wasn’t sure how much to add so I picked an extra 2,000. We will see if that was anywhere near reasonable.

6 Classics


My list of classics is just sad, so I feel like I need to push myself to do better. I even enjoy the classics that I have read just never seem to pick them.

15 Non-Fiction


I read quite a few memoirs but I think I could always do a bit better. I believe I read 10 last year so this shouldn’t be to much of a push. Especially considering I got a couple for Christmas this year. Yay!!!!

Read More Diversely


This one is so hard to measure, but I still want to do better with it. I noticed this last year that almost all the authors I read were american or european, and that just seems like I’m missing out.

 

Wish me luck guys!! And let me know what you guys are trying to achieve this year.

Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

half-of-a-yellow-sun

★★★★☆

I have mixed feelings about this novel. I have been hearing amazing things about her book Americanah, and my local library only had this one in. So I really went into this book completely blind; I basically grabbed a book by the author and went with it. If I remember right I probably looked up the rating on Goodreads as usual, but plot wise….no clue. I wouldn’t say that it helped or harmed really. It isn’t full of suspense (where I would recommend going in blind), but you don’t need to know much back story to get into it.

The book is focused around three main characters : Ugwu, a house boy for a university professor; Olanna, who left her life to live with the professor in a small town; and finally Richard, who moved from England to write and fell for Olanna’s twin sister. The book goes back and forth between the early sixties to the late sixties. The book is looking at the Biafran war in Nigeria in the late sixties from the view point of the civilians. The early sixties is looking at the characters before the war, and showing how their lives are all intertwined. The late sixties is what the people went through during the wars entirety.

Okay, so now for the review part. I’m going to start with what I liked about the book, which was a lot to be honest. I found the characters to be well written, they were real to me. No one was perfect: they were all actually pretty flawed, but I’m pretty sure that’s the point. I really liked the different points of view the story was told from, starting with my favourite: Ugwu, he is thirteen in the early sixties where the book starts, and is a house boy to Odenigbo. There was a lot of innocence in this boy at the beginning, and I rally enjoyed seeing the story from someone who was basically looking in. What he saw was while he was serving and cleaning, not always directly with the other characters. Ugwu starting off at what I would consider a pivotal age. He went through a lot of changes, he was maturing at the same time his country was undergoing some major changes. This story being written in a very different time from when I was raised, as well as culturally very different, made the women’s stories very intriguing for me. Olanna was basically considered a mistress, a new relationship starting off the the book, then putting their new lives through a civil war. There are very different expectations for women in the novel from what I have ever experienced. It was enlightening to read about how they were affected differently from the men. The last character I felt the book was centred around: Richard, the english writer, who seemed in a little over his head. He started out in a completely different world from what he had been used to. He jumped in with two feet, and just decided to experience the country in all it’s entirety, with the Nigerian woman he had fallen for. Richard was a writer looking for inspiration, and ended up falling in love with a country that was going through a struggle leading to a war.

To be honest I knew literally nothing about the Biafran war, I didn’t even knew it happened let alone what it was about or what the people went through and their fight for normalcy. Although this book as written about a war, it didn’t touch on the war itself for the most part. It was really focused on what the people were going through and how it changed them. Every person was affected in many different ways. The educated people with money had their worlds flipped upside down, being forced out of their homes without any money or belongings. The people who already had very little, needed to worry about being forced to fight or getting caught in the middle of the whole thing. I feel like I learnt a bit about the Nigerians history, it was a small look, and it was from a book of fiction, but I enjoyed it.

Now for what I wasn’t a fan of. This book I found to be character driven, which I don’t have a problem with. But I did find that it took me quite a while to get into, I enjoyed the writing which kept me going but I wouldn’t say that I was hooked until the story moved to the late sixties when the war was starting: which was about 100 or so pages in. I understand what she was doing with the book, looking at the war for the peoples perspective, and focusing on how war and internal conflict can divid a country. I personally prefer to have known more about the politics of the war; it wasn’t clear how it began or how it ended for that matter. I didn’t really understand why the group of people didn’t get along. The book wasn’t necessarily supposed to be about the war, but that was the most interesting part for me. The last thing that I could have done with out was some of the romantic drama. As you may have picked up on, I don’t like romance. Before you get mad I am not saying that this book is in anyway a romance book, just that I could have done with less of it in the plot. I get it love and drama happen in the real world it just seemed like there was quite a bit that all happened to this one family in a relatively short amount of time.

I was very torn between giving this book three or four stars, I went back and forth a few times. It was a bit of a struggle for me to get into and then it seemed quite long, but I just couldn’t bring myself to give it three stars, the writing was just to good. Although this isn’t my favourite book, it was well done and I really enjoyed the writing itself. I am now interested in reading more from this author, from what I have seen most of her stories take place in Nigeria. I really enjoyed seeing a different culture portrayed in this way, from many different angles. I would recommend this book, but I would say it’s something you need tot be in the mood for.

In my effort to start reading more international writers, and learning about other cultures, I’m open to any suggestions you guys might have for me to try next.

Wenjack by Joseph Boyden

wenjack

★★★★★

I have heard very good things about the author Joseph Boyden on on booktube, Canadian seem to like him. When his newest book was on sale I ordered it right away. The book seemed very interesting and had good ratings on Goodreads. One thing I didn’t know before it arrived in my mailbox…It’s tiny, like 112 pages tiny. But as they say good things come in small packages. The plot of the book is one from a very dark time in Canadian history. It is written partially from the point of view of  a young Ojibwe boy, who ran away from his residential school in Northern Ontario. Along the way, the spirits of the forest comment on his predicament and ultimately comfort him on his journey.

This book is amazing!!! I would call it a tiny masterpiece. Although it may only be 112 pages, so much in conveyed in that small amount of writing. The story is beautifully written on such a hard subject. The main character is such an innocent young boy, going through such a brutal time. You can only feel sympathy and heartbreak towards this boy. There are a few others along the way, but for the most part the only character you really see in depth is Chanie Wenjack. I loved that this was written from the boys perspective. It felt as if the author was giving Chanie a voice, which was brutally stripped from his people.

This story is unbelievably important to Canadian history. It isn’t nice to read or talk about, but it happened and it needs to be known. I would actually say that this would be a good book to be read in schools, because to be honest when I was in school, they barely talked about it at all. Most of what I have learnt about residential schools is what I have learnt on my own through research and documentaries. It is important to know the atrocities that happened to the indigenous people, so that we can start to fix it and to be sure that nothing like this ever happens again. I also think that it could enlighten a lot of Canadians,bringing a better understanding to the problems that our natives have, we caused it. If you emotionally and physically harm 7 generations of an entire group of people it is going to take some time for reconciliation.

This novella can now be considered my new favourite book. It takes about an hour to read and to absorb it in, but it will leave you thinking. I will carry this with me for many years. This book broke my heart. It is one thing to know what happened in theory, written from scholars points of view. To hear a story told from the point of view of a 12 year old boy who is going through it, makes it hard to read. Reading about his emotions, the fear and the sadness, made me so sad that this had ever happened to so many kids and families. This story in particular is a piece of fiction, but the little boy in it was a very real person. The spiritual aspect may be fiction, but the residential school and the escape are true.

I would most definitely recommend this to absolutely everyone, especially Canadians. It would be an important read for us all, about this dark time in our country’s history. You need to know about the good and the bad.

Let me know if you guys have read anything else by this author. This was my first book by him and I have now fallen in love with his writing.

Breakfast With Buddha by Roland Merullo

breakfast-with-buddha

★★★★★

So this is a book I had never heard of, until I needed a book about a road trip for the 2016 popsugar reading challenge. I looked it up on their Goodreads page and people were  repeatedly suggesting Breakfast With Buddha. It sounded more interesting than anything else I had read about so I took it out from my library and there you have it. So the description for this book is super quick and simple. It’s about a man named Otto who has to drive from New York City to North Dakota to deal with his parents’ estate after they passed away. When his sister bails on him for the ride, she convinces him to take along her guru: a Skovordinian monk. In a nut shell the book is about Otto and the monk discussing everything about life as they drive across country.

O.K. So now you probably want to hear my thoughts on this unique novel, or maybe you don’t. But now that I’ve got you here I’m going for it. First of all let’s start off with the fact that I don’t give out five stars lightly and I think this one has earned it. This book was awesome. I was expecting it to be slow and probably boring but I loved it. There isn’t a whole lot of plot in the book to be honest, and no action whatsoever. It’s a very character driven book, but it works for me. I have never read a character driven book that I was able to get into. With this one, I was hooked pretty early on. I fell in love with the character Volya Rinpoche, the monk. He is so calm and understanding, with great metaphors. He simplifies everything down, even the most complicated topics, to be able to describe what he believes in and why. Otto was a very real character, probably because he reminded me of myself a lot of the time. He got frustrated easily, and was very skeptical of this man being the real deal. Which is exactly the way I would have been in the same situation. With that being said he was completely open to trying it the monks’ way and they got along quite well. My favourite part of the book is that Rinpoche doesn’t back down; he loves having honest conversations on beliefs.

There is a lot in the book about religion and beliefs. That shouldn’t be to much of surprise since one of the main characters is a monk. I personally am not religious but I found this to be extremely well done and very interesting. The book didn’t go into great detail on all religions or even just one for that matter. The spiritual part of the book was more about Rinpoche’s belief, which isn’t really a religion: he has strong beliefs but they are more of a mixture of all the religions together. He does a great job at bringing it back to the fact that it doesn’t matter what denomination you are. In the end, they all want the same thing: for you to be a good person and live a good life. Before you get too worried they are beating you over the head with this simple fact; it’s worked into the plot. Rinpoche has a lot of very open conversations with Otto and that’s how it’s mostly conveyed.

There is a lot of growth for Otto during a very hard time in his life. It seemed like it was just what he needed. He went into this trip dreading being stuck with someone so different and he came out a different person: a better person. I loved the fact that he acknowledged the fact that Rinpoche changed his views slightly, and that he appreciated it. I hate it when a character changes and has no idea it was because of this person that annoyed them. They just go on thinking they have always been this good. Otto gives credit where credit is due. There is no way he would have ever been as open to the monks’ way of life if he wasn’t forced to spend days in a confined space together. His experience changed the way he sees life and the best part was: it changed his relationship with his sister. He sees her as less of a nut job now. It was great to see someone become enlightened by someone who lives a very different life and to see them both benefit from the relationship.

As you can see from my raving, I love this book. I think it is easy to see that I would recommend this book to pretty much everyone. No matter what beliefs you may have I think there is something to be taken from it. It makes you want to be calmer and a better person reading it. This is the first novel I have read by this author and I will most definitely be reading some more.

Have you read anything similar? Or would you recommend something for me based on this review? Let me know your thoughts.

Seriously, Why Am I The Weird One For Reading?

seriously

Okay so this has been driving me nuts for a very long time. Why do people think it’s odd to enjoy reading? I mean I know it isn’t for everyone, and people all have their own hobbies, but is it just me or does it seem like no one reads anymore. When I was a kid and reading it wasn’t as odd to me that kids would rather play than read (built up energy and lots of distractions and what not) I get that. But now as an adult why is there an almost pregnant pause when I tell someone that I read lots? I know I’m not the only one out there, but man it feels like it sometimes. I have narrowed it down to a few main reasons that I have heard repeatedly: Too busy, it’s boring, I can just watch the movie, and in some cases it isn’t “cool” seems it’s just for the nerds.

The most common reply I reply I get to the why-don’t-you-read question is: I just don’t see to have time. Realistically you aren’t that busy, judging by how much time is spend binge watching Netflix. Peoples schedules aren’t as busy as they would let on. If you watch two episodes of The Walking Dead I can read about 100 pages of a book, so it should only take a few days to finish off a book. Don’t get me wrong, I love Netflix too, I just don’t watch it everyday. In some cases I understand the business:  you have kids and work and a social life. Shit gets busy fast. Also I have no kids and that idea scares the crap out of me; way to much to do all at once and from I can see a slight lack of freedom ( I know I have been told it’s all worth it). I know everyone has stuff going on in their lives. If not for enjoyment maybe for your mental health, I think it’s in everyones best interest to put in a little time to read once and a while. Hey, they have done studies you live longer!!

Another common reply is that they find it boring, and depending on the book they could be completely right. Realistically that could just be their opinion; I find lots of other peoples hobbies and past times boring as shit. But when I think of kids, all most all kids, from a very young age love books being read to them, so guess my question is: when did the change happen? I read in elementary school, I read in high school and I continue to read into my adulthood. Perhaps for some adults, they stopped reading when the schooling was done. Was it that teachers and homework ruined reading for them? I’m the first one to admit I loved reading the book for school but had zero interest in analyzing it to death: either I like it or I didn’t, who wants to pick it apart? Judging by how this paragraph is going I think I may have brought up more questions than I answered.

The next reasoning I hear and this one is probably the most annoying to any bookworm is: well I watched the movie. And to this my normal response would be AHHHHHHHHHHH, IT’S NOT THE SAME!!!!!! To be honest there is just no reasoning with these people, and I have no excuses for them. I just can’t understand them and if I’m honest with myself I probably don’t want to. You never know what’s contagious these days. To be honest here if you look at it from a numbers point of view  you just can’t get multiple hours of reading all crammed into a two hour movie. Take The Martian for example it takes average 5 hours and 28 minutes to read, unless you’re my boyfriend then it takes 6 months,  and all that in condensed into a 2 hour and 31 minute viewing experience ( I googled that shit). I have read the book ( I loved it!!) and I have watched the movie and guess what they missed stuff, simply put it’s just not the same. When you watch the movie you are now watching multiple peoples interpretations on the story not the creators, I will always strongly recommend to read the book first.

It is not unusual for me to ask someone if they have read anything good and their response to be, “well I don’t really read”. To a huge bookworm and nerd that is pretty much mind blowing. From some, the general attitude was like I was being uncool in high school, which I admittedly was at that time. I am hoping it is just the general opinion of my town and that the perhaps the more cultured cities don’t see it as an archaic pastime. Although my hopes for this aren’t high, I rarely hear of see people discussing a book it’s always t.v. shows and movies. This is the reason I called my blog the lost art of reading.

If you guys have any opinions about it let me know, or if you’re a little more understanding than me that’s cool to. Of course there is no actual judging if you read or not just thought it would be a good conversation to have.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

cinder

★★★★☆

This is a YA book that is not by any means new and still remains extremely popular. After reading it I am completely on board with this series. This is a fairy tale retelling of Cinderella but in this version, Cinder is a cyborg mechanic. So, not your typical fairy tale. There is still the wicked stepmother and step sisters, but the fairy tale aspect is more in the background I found for this novel. There is an epidemic as well as an intergalactic struggle going on amongst the traditional Cinderella story.

I will admit that I wasn’t expecting to really like this book. I know that this entire series has gotten amazing reviews especially on Booktube. But to be honest, I’m just not a big fan of YA. I find they usually have boring superficial love stories that I just don’t care about, and they are always completely unbelievable situations for teenagers to be in. Maybe it is because it was a Cinderella retelling. But the fact that the main character is 16 didn’t bother me for this story and the love story isn’t the main point which I liked. I will probably never read a romance novel; I avoid them like the plague. I was completely absorbed into this book right from the get go (I read most of this book in one day). Like most YA the story is very fast paced and very plot driven. But they give you a bit more story than most youth novels I found. It isn’t completely action based but it isn’t surrounded a love triangle (my biggest pet peeve, because THEY NEVER HAPPEN!!). Obviously there is a romance in it because this is Cinderella, but it’s not the whole point of the book. There is a plot twist in the book (no spoilers don’t worry) but to be honest I saw it coming pretty early on in the story, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book.

One main selling point for young girls is the fact that it isn’t a story with a helpless girl who needs a man to come in and save her. I know my mom hated that about Disney stories when I was growing up. But Cinder is a mechanic, and I loved that she did a typically male job. She wasn’t looking to meet the prince and get married, for him to rescue her from her horrible life. She was planning her own way out of her situation and I liked that too. I guess that’s a bit of the feminist coming out in me, but I think that’s a much better role model for young women. They read about women who work their asses off to get what they want.

This is a novel that is marketed towards teenage girls, but I really enjoyed it. As an adult I would definitely recommend this. It has a way of entertaining you while at the same time bringing back old memories from your childhood.

Let me know what you guys think