Want to Read: Non-Fiction

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If you saw this post from earlier in the year then you probably know that one of my reading goals for 2015 is to read more non-fiction. Now that we are 3 months into the year (I cannot believe it is already March!) I have realized that I am sorely lacking in this department having read exactly 0 non-fiction books so far this year. Recently, I have become (re)fascinated (This should be a word…)  with history thanks to Crash Course History and Kahn academy, which fueled my interest so much that now I am searching for every book history related that I can find. Specifically those to do with ancient civilization and biographies of great people, with a few other things mixed in there as well. So without further ado, here is my non-fiction want to read list:

Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

Being an art history major, this book immediately caught my attention. This one is all about where certain colors come from and what famous people of the past used them. I feel as though there should be a class on practical things like this for art history majors. To me it seems useful for understanding ancient art better, but who knows, maybe its just me.

Catherine The Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie

There is something about Catherine the Great (And Russia) that has always kept me slightly fascinated. In elementary school I was obsessed with reading royal diaries, a fictional series that takes real queens/princesses and makes a story out of their teenage years. And in that series was one about Catherine the Great, so there started my interest. Now though, I would love to take an in depth look at her life and accomplishments.

The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan

I am not a huge WWII buff like some people I know, but I don’t think it is possible to not be at least a little interested in the subject. The Longest Day recounts the invasion of Normandy both before and after it occurred. I am looking forward to understanding WWII better, specifically how the soldiers really felt during those times.

Zelda by Nancy Milford

After reading Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald I wanted to know more about her. Z was a good book, but since it was fiction based on a real person you can’t really know what to trust and not trust. Zelda is one of those people that you can’t help but be fascinated with, especially since she was married to one of the best authors of the 20th century.

So what are some non-fiction books that you loved and would recommend?

Until next time x

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2015 Reading Goals

DSC_0648Every year I challenge myself by creating a reading goal, and 2015 is no different! Usually, I base my goals on how many books I think I can actually finish rather than how many I want to read. I like to have my reading goal all about feeling good at the end of the year by how much I accomplished. I don’t want to feel that I should have read more. Although let’s be honest, I think we all feel that, at least a little bit.

This year I set my goal at 20 books. Last year I also set my goal at 20, but only managed to read 19. Close, but no cigar! I made it the same again because I really want to complete that goal and I know that I can. This year I was a little lazy in keeping up on my reading. I always start and end strong, but slag off in the middle.

Sadly, I have only actually finished one of these reading challenges after doing it since 2011. Hoping I can change that this year! The first time I did it I vastly overestimated how much I can read in a year by making my goal 52 books. I won’t be making that mistake again!

Some other readings goals I have is to read more nonfiction this year. I started last year and surprisingly really enjoyed it. I really want to jam as much knowledge as possible into this brain of mine!

What are some reading goals you have for 2015?

Until next time x

The Works of Jane Austen: Completed

I have been putting off this post for some time as I actually finished my last Jane Austen novel about two months ago. I have just been feeling so sad that I don’t have any left to read (And I hate re-reading books).

Jane Austen has been one of my favorite authors for a long time. Ever since first reading Pride and Prejudice I have been in love with her works. Over the course of the last few years whenever I was in a particular Jane Austen kind of mood I would run to the bookstore to pickup whichever novel I had yet to complete. Now my only hope for a Jane Austen fix is if someone makes some more updated films of her books (More like the 2007 P&P please!).

Jane Austen is one of those things where you either love it or hate it. I know that a lot of people find her stories very boring, especially the writing style. Back in high school I was talking to my English teacher about books and he mentioned how he hates Jane Austen’s novels because its about rich peoples petty problems. I can see where he’s going there. I just can’t help but find them fascinating though. I think my problem is that I am in love with elegance and Jane Austen just screams elegance to me, or at least the time period does.

My favorite Jane Austen novel is definitely Pride and Prejudice. My love for it started with watching the 2007 film adaption and went from there. I think that I really connected with these characters in particular because they come from a family of girls and I can relate to that (even though I do have one brother). When I decided to read the book I found it even more enthralling than the movie, and then I read more of her books and the movie adaptions of them.

Some of them are definitely better than others. Emma and Northanger Abbey I think are her weaker works. The storyline was less interesting and in Northanger Abbey the writing was not quite like her other novels. I heartily recommend trying at least one of her books though! I find them very comforting, especially when I am feeling down. I almost feel jealous that there are people out there who have not yet had the chance to discover Jane Austen and her works. /sigh I am just being butthurt.

I am sorry this turned out to be a rant about my love for Jane Austen. I just couldn’t help it :3

Until next time x

 

Halfway There: 2014 Reads

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Every year on goodreads I challenge myself to read a certain number of books, this year it was 20. It doesn’t seem like much, but when you are in university there just isn’t enough time in the day for reading. So far I am halfway to my goal and thought that it might be an interesting idea to discuss these books on my blog. I have now discovered that writing about books is difficult, I just don’t think I can do the books or my thoughts justice. But I gave it a try anyways. At the end of the year I will probably attempt this again. Hopefully I reach my goal!

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

Into the Wild was an interesting read for me. I don’t usually go for biographies, but this one caught my eye. What appealed to me was the sense of adventure that surrounded Christopher McCandless and essentially, enveloped him. His sense of adventure was his own demise. I myself could never have done what he did, I am too much of a materialist for that, which is probably why I just read about it in books. Jon Krakauer did an okay job retelling McCandless’ tale, but sometimes took me out of it. Especially when a whole chapter was devoted to him telling his own story about when he went mountain climbing when he was younger. I know it relates in some ways, but I didn’t buy this book to read about you, even if you did write it.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

I often have this one trouble with books: I get so engrossed in the content that I read it too fast and ultimately forget what it was ever about. This is what happened with Fight Club. I decided to read Fight Club because I see it referenced everywhere and those references intrigued me. If the first rule is to not talk about fight club, then I want to know what fight club is. I thought that the story as a whole was well done and very original, but there are a lot of aspects that I just don’t remember. Its not the stories fault, its mine.

Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card

This book is one thousand times better than Ender’s Game. Maybe even ten thousand times better. I found Bean’s life far more interesting than Ender’s ever was. Bean was an orphan, his small size gets him into all sorts of scenarios, he is essentially a super human, all of this just makes for an interesting story. If you like sci-fi, then read this book! I really wish that they would make a movie out of Ender’s Shadow but I don’t think they ever will. They screwed up Bean in the movie version of Ender’s Game to much for that.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

I often have a hard time describing Murakami’s novels to people. I don’t think me saying “There is just lots of weird shit that happens” will quite do them justice. However, I can say that The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is my favorite out of Murakam’s novels that I have read so far. I simply liked the story more than the other ones I have read. The only thing about it is that its an open ending, you don’t know if he’s ever going to find his wife. I didn’t really have a problem with it per se, I am just very curious!

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Warning: This book will make you want to travel to Europe. I’m glad that I will be visiting the continent next year or else this book would have been akin to torture. This was my first Hemingway novel, and I really enjoyed it. I especially liked the writing style. One thing that I did not understand in it was how the two main characters were so deeply in love. It just didn’t seem convincing to me. Everything happened so fast and it seemed almost artificial. I later read that it was written that way to make love seem fleeting, which it definitely did a good job with. After reading that I appreciated the story more. Overall a good read. I’m interested in reading more of Hemingways work.

Love Letters of Great Men and Women by Ursula Doyle

I have already posted my thoughts on this book here. Most people would probably not read this book from to back like I did, but would rather skim through and read a letter here and there. I realize that my way is kind of insane, but I can’t help it. It bothers me if I don’t read a book all the way through. In all honesty, I think that my opinion of this book would be better if I had just read a letter once in awhile when I felt like it.

Emma by Jane Austen

Compared to Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park I did not enjoy Emma as much, but it is still a good read if you’re a fan of Jane Austen. My main problem with this novel was that I did not like the main character, Emma. She thought herself too above everyone else (because she is wealthier) and was so sure of her abilities with match-making, which is essentially where all the conflict arises in the story. I am glad that in the end she comes to her senses, but it took her a long time to learn.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

I loved this novel and as a result, it really messed me up. Before I read Z, I knew almost nothing about Zelda Fitzgerald or F. Scott Fitzgerald other than I loved his novels and she was very eccentric. Now I know that you can’t take everything in this novel as truth, after all they didn’t write it, but I think that Fowler did capture them quite well. I’ve always loved reading and watching anything that is set in the 20s, the golden age of America. And let me tell you, this couple didn’t take anything for granted, they really lived it up. Its the downfall that got to me, their life after they were married a couple of years seems so depressing. They fight all the time, Scott won’t let Zelda do the things she wants, they’re always in debt, they almost divorce. How it all ends is so sad. After I had finished reading this novel it left me thinking about it for days. About how peoples lives can seem so complete, and yet it all crumbles. It was all an illusion. I definitely recommend this one, especially if you enjoy period reads and are nosy and enjoy reading about others lives.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Before reading The Kite Runner I had already read one of Hosseini’s books, A Thousand Splendid Suns, so knew that it would be an emotional ride. The fact that this story is fiction but is placed within true events makes it even more so. This is a very human story. There are good people and bad people in the world and you will meet a few of each in your lifetime. The protagonist, Amir, definitely met the extreme of both sides. This book is essentially about choices and how the choices you make will resonate for the rest of your life. Hosseini writes a really good story, and amazing characters. If you’re not afraid to have your heart ripped out with emotion I would recommend it.

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey is definitely my least favorite Jane Austen novel. It seems mean but I thought Catherine was rather stupid. Actually, impulsive might be a better word. She did things without thinking and was too curious. Although, her curiosity never got her into any real trouble. What made me really dislike Northanger Abbey was the way it was narrated. Jane Austen would go in and out of perspectives. At one moment the narrator would say “And now our heroine is….” and the next we would be in the heroines head. This form of narration really distracted me at times and took me out of the story. Other than that it was all right.

A Romantic Notion

DSC_0315One thing that I am overly happy about that comes with the end of the school year is reading. I used to always find time to read while in school but more recently I was too stressed to do anything but stress over stressful school things. Yeah. Can you tell that last semester was a testament to my strength as a student? Now I can just relax with a cup of tea and a book, the perfect day if you ask me. The latest book that I have completed is Love Letters of Great Men and Women.

Don’t let that title fool you though. A lot of the letters in this book were not from who I would consider ‘great’ people. Half of them I had never even heard of. A lot of the men, in fact, were magazine editors and the likes. I am sure that for their time they were great and very influential in society, but I expected this book to mostly include people whos names are still mentioned today. Such as Mark Twain and Queen Victoria. To put it in simple terms, I was deceived by the title. Perhaps I was the only one, who knows.

Now onto the letters. Some I could not understand at all (theres 15th century English for you), while others were extremely sad and the rest what you’d usually expect from a love letter. This book was an eye opener to the amount of affairs that have taken place over the last few centuries. Holy. I think about half of the letters in this book were addressed to not so significant others.  It makes sense when thinking about the fact that a lot of marriages were arranged in the past, but I still felt quite sick at the thought. I suppose it is considered romantic to run off with your lover and leave your not so lovely husband/wife behind, which is probably why those letters were included.

My favorite letters I have to say were definitely from Mozart to his wife. The way he wrote them was so playful and childish, it made me overjoyed to think he would write to his wife in such a manner. I probably enjoyed his letters the most due to the fact that they were refreshing to read compared to the others. They were far more care free and less traditional.

I have to say that I did enjoy this book immensely, but not for the letters themselves. I found out that I love learning about peoples lives, especially in other time periods. For each ‘great’ person thats letters are contained in this book there was an introduction in order to learn about there life and the context of the letters. These introductions were my favorite part of the entire book. Plus, to my surprise, these letters did not actually make me want to receive a love letter. Shocking, I know. Letters seem to be the greatest romantic notion these days, especially with instant communication. But after reading so many, it doesn’t appeal to me as much. Not that I wouldn’t be glad to receive one, but they have lost their romantic luster. I certainly did not expect that by reading this book I would lose interest in love letters. Strange to say the least.

Birth of a Book

 

I found this video a couple of weeks back and absolutely loved it. I am one of those people who absolutely hates ebooks. I will never buy a kindle or download a book on my ipod. Never being well, never. It makes me sad that so many bookstores are now closing because of this new technology. I suppose we’re supposed to embrace this new format of books as in many ways it does make reading easier, but it really just makes me sad.

I love holding a real book in my hands. Turning each page to discover something new. The smell of new books or books that have been left out in the rain. I love collecting books and adding or reorganizing my bookshelf.

For me, ebooks takes away a lot of what I love from a book. And sure, what you should love from books is mainly the story itself, and the themes and meanings behind the book, but it isn’t complete if I can’t hold that story in my hands.

Thats why I love this video so much. It shows the traditional way of making and binding a book. I love the heard work that goes into making a single copy, it makes me feel as though what I am holding is more special in some ways. Its hard to believe that at one point in time, printing books itself was a new technology that people were amazed by. We’ve come along way since then.

But still, I can’t forget the origins of the book.