February’s Library Haul

It is with much excitement I begin writing this post: I have finished a haul before the end of the month! Yay for small victories! I wish I could credit my success to an increased reading speed but no. It is because my haul was small and primarily from the teen fiction section. But still, I count this as victory and credit my success to choosing a responsible number of books and learning to manage my time better. I did a surprising amount of soul searching this month and racked up all sorts of personal development. I took a delve into figuring out why I’m drawn towards material meant for teens, new directions I can take my writing and this blog, and how all of this circles back to where I’m headed as an adult. Here we go!

Divergent, Veronica Roth Have you seen this movie?  Have you seen Theo James?? I’m not even going to pretend that he’s not 100% the reason I needed to read the book, so that I could keep the image of him in my mind until the sequel hits theaters. Since I’m in this series purely for the mental image of his hot bod, my review is that…. Four, played by Theo James, reads just as well on paper. Divergent is an easy read about a dystopian society. Not the best of the teen dystopian genre, but not bad. I took Divergent with me on a delightful camping trip with a group a friends. The night before the camping trip, I had a terrible falling out with one of my friends so emotionally, I felt pretty shitty. While I didn’t hit my existential stride of analyzing my teen self versus my adult self, this book set those wheels into motion. In other news, my dear friend Sarah is reading this series along with me. Ahh yes, people are jumping on my book club bandwagon. Looking for Alaska, John Green My least favorite of John Green’s work so far. I initially thought it may have been because I was getting burned out on John, which was a depressing thought for me. I started to really recognize themes in John’s stories. Looking for Alaska has the dorky protagonist teen that starts out a little withdrawn but comes into his own through a series of hijinks and adventures, largely inspired by a free-spirited girl who has amazing looks, fierce intellect, but some character flaws that cause her to be emotionally detached (by choice) and reckless. The main character Pudge, says to Alaska (the girl), something along the lines of ‘you’re a mystery sometimes,’ to which she responds, ‘that’s the point.’ Damn, if that doesn’t echoes my reviews of Paper Towns! I think I started getting tired of hearing John write from a teenage male perspective that focuses so much on a female character. But during this novel, I really started to delve into that my existential stride of analyzing my teen self versus my adult self that I mentioned above. In these teen fiction novels, I read about these characters having these huge philosophical internal monologues. I read as they develop their outlook on the world. These teens of fiction make major decisions of personal mentality and I can vaguely remember doing the same things. I tried to take myself back to a time before I had been permanently marked and changed by experiences and people, some good and some bad. I tried to think back to before I had so many tallies of hurting other people and being a piece of emotional baggage they have to carry around. Look forward to a blog post about returning to my teen roots soon. Also, the version of this book had a FAQ with John and discussion questions from him too. If you can, I suggest finding this version! The Fault In Our Stars, John Green I’ve watched this movie countless times and have cried countless tears each time. I resisted reading the book because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to feel the feels as intensely. I WAS WRONG. I was delighted at the added depth of the book compared to the movie. I was excited to see how John did writing as a female character. He didn’t do bad, but he also didn’t take me to that teen place in my heart. But lord, did he write some absolutely beautiful words. The universe demands to be noticed. Pain demands to be felt. Some infinities are bigger than others. Gah, read the book watch the movie trust me. Note to Self, Samara O’Shea I thought that it would be fitting to read a book about journaling while reading all these teen books. I foolishly thought journaling went hand in hand with being a teen. Oh yeah, I still keep a journal as an adult. Oops. O’Shea offers really great tips on how to journal with suggestions on style, to subject, to frequency of entries. She shares her own journal entries from her teen years to late twenties. It’s a really insightful and practical read. I got some great advice on stream of consciousness writing, documenting personal experiences/emotions and am revisiting the idea of keeping a handwritten journal. I have been journaling since I was in middle school but stopped keeping a handwritten journal after high school. Still toying with that idea because I always get ideas of things I want to write down in the most random of places (AKA places other than when I’m in front of my computer). Get ready for the new haul…………….

As always,  I want to hear your thoughts! And your book recommendations! Bonus Question: Do you journal? Do you diary?


January’s Library Haul: Gifted Edition

Oh what a way to start off the year! While January’s haul may have been a little bit light, it in no way reflects what has been happening in my life! I’ve always thought that books have a way of coming into your life exactly when you need them, and this haul reaffirmed my belief. Having fewer books was a real relief as it gave me more time to focus on two major life developments: I became the Vice President of the Akron Rugby Women’s team and I also got a new job at Keep Akron Beautiful as their Communications and Volunteer Project Manager (my dream job!).

These books still managed to create a meaningful experience in my life and I will always be grateful to my wonderful mother & beautiful friend for gifting them to me.

The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
I had no idea that this was going to be my favorite book of the haul. In fact, I had no idea this book was going to creep into my overall ‘favorite books’ category. The Kite Runner is a beautiful book about not so beautiful things. Reading this book was really eye opening for me in regards to the culture of Afghanistan and that of refuges and immigrants. Hosseini writes of an Afghanistan before it was ravaged by war and conflict and I have a better understanding of the culture.

As I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, I’m still working on accepting books whose main characters aren’t all that likeable and at times, Hosseini’s narrator does pretty terrible things. But this book was somehow an easy read which I can only attribute to Hosseini’s writing because seriously, some of the book gets pretty heavy.

Yes Please, Amy Poehler
Talk about a book coming into your life at the right time! Being able to read Yes Please while I was in the middle of the interview process for my new job was such a relief. I’ve always identified Amy Poehler as a strong, female role model and that’s exactly the type of voice I want to be reading to add to my self-pep-talking arsenal.

Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed with her book. She lets readers know off the bat that, “writing a book is hard.” And you can tell at times she struggled to write it. To me, some parts of her book felt rushed. You can tell where she really took the time to tell the story and where she just knew what she wanted to say but didn’t take time to really say it. It’s really apparent to me when she quickly name drops whole paragraphs of celebrities.

It also didn’t always feel like she knew what her book was really about. Like she had all of these separate pieces and tried to string them together for a cohesive book. I wish someone had reminded her that this didn’t have to be her only opportunity to write a book, that she didn’t have to do it all in this one go.

Not saying that I didn’t enjoy the book. I definitely found myself laughing out loud at times. My favorite was the chapter on apologies. See there? I just did it, rushing through to say what I want to say without really saying it. Note the difference between this paragraph and the ones above it.

Also, my best friend Sarah listened to the audio book had had really positive things to say!

Wild, Cheryl Strayed
Had this book not been gifted to me, I would not have read it. I was even skeptical of wanting to watch the movie. I had a hard time reading Wild, the story of Strayed’s hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. One of my other reader’s flaws in addition to having a hard time with books whose characters aren’t likeable is having a hard time with books that spend a lot of time on scenery.

The time between Cheryl on the trail and Cheryl interacting with people or retelling details about her past drug on for me. Even though I bawled during the beginning of the book, I would not recommend this book for others to read.

But hey, I’m going camping this weekend and I’d be lying if I didn’t say it put me in the right mindset! It also taught me while hiking long distances, 7 pees/day is a good ratio to strive for!

And now, February’s Haul!

As always, If you’ve read any of the haul, let me know what you thought! Got a recommendation for something you think I’d like? I want to know! I own all of January’s Haul if anyone would like to take out a loan at the Library of Helen!

BONUS QUESTION:  What’s the best book anyone’s ever given you?