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As I said the other day, one of my New Years Resolutions this year was to read at least two books per month.  (read here)  For documentation’s sake, I thought I’d give a brief summary of the ones I’ve read thus far.  One of William’s good friends, Cody, suggested writing a mini book report on the books I read.  I really wish I had done that.  Or been able to do it.  I have discovered that after being out of school for so long, I am not very good and reading and discussing my thoughts about it anymore.  Oh lets be honest, I was never very good at it.

No matter, here are my little brain dumps on Books 1-10–likely for no one’s pleasure but my own.

  • Book #1: The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen Carter

My first read of 2013.  I’ve always been fascinated by Abraham Lincoln.  Such a stoic human.  Such a tumultuous time period.  The premise of this book starts with Lincoln surviving the attempted assassination by John Wilkes Booth and continues with what the author thinks would have happened had he lived.  A few things in particular stuck out to me about the themes in this book. Carter did a wonderful job outlining the political climate, albeit unrest, at this time in our history.  How far we haven’t come from those days. I loved that Carter was able to make the former President the central figure of the book while only having him appear in about 5-6 scenes.  According to an interview he did after the book was published, he said it was quite daunting to attempt to “put words into Lincoln’s mouth” and have them be historically sound while still in keeping with the plot of the book.  The result was a developed character that was as equally present as not while remaining the novel’s underlining protagonist.  This was a “just for fun” book as there is, clearly, no historical basis behind it, but I loved it all the same!

  • Book #2: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Not even going to lie to you guys, I did not love this book.  I think I would have actually enjoyed it a lot more had I been reading it in a discussion group or lit. class.  I read the entire thing thinking, “Wow this is one of those books.  There is a heap storm of symbolism going on in this sucker that I do not understand, nor do I care to.”  I do like a good “coming of age” novel, however, the protagonist in this one annoyed the poo out of me.  I just wanted to grab him by the shoulders and tell him to snap out of it.

  • Book #3: What is the What by Dave Eggers

This was my first Dave Eggers book.  Loved it.  It is by no means a light read, however, it touched me immensely.  Easily one of my top 5 favorite books I’ve ever read.  My words wouldn’t come close to doing it justice, but what a powerful story of human suffering, perseverance, and will to overcome.

  • Book #4: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

This was a quick read.  You’ll notice that a lot of my pairings thus far this year have been a long and a short book.  What is the What is about 600 pages long so I needed a quick one to stay on track!  I own a few Agatha Christie novels, but this was my first to read (reoccurring theme with me).  I love a good suspense novel and this one was wonderful.  I’m a gluten for period novels as well and this one was first published in 1939.  I loved that the copy I have still uses ‘electric torch’ instead of ‘flashlight’.  Ah, so good.

  • Book #5: 39 Steps by John Buchan

A while back, I purchased the Boys’ Adventure Series put out by Penguin Classics.  Not going to lie to you, I purchased them partly because I’m in love with the covers that were designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith who is also behind the beautiful cloth-bound classics that Penguin has put out that are carried by Anthropologie among other stores.  Regardless, several in the series I had never read before so I purchased them.  I enjoyed 39 Steps.  It was a fun novel first published in 1915.  It was Buchan’s first “shocker” novel.  The main character is a man on the run for most of the book, and I really liked how Buchan loosely tied the novel’s time period to actual events in British history.  It was a quick, fun read.

  • Book #6: Train Dreams: A Novella by Denis Johnson

This one was recommended to me by a dear friend of mine.  I would like to read this one again sometime.  I enjoyed it, however, I don’t believe I enjoyed it to the extent I should have.  The story is epic and tragic all at the same time.  The author experiences so much in a few short pages.

  • Book #7: Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore

This book was given to me by my grandmother the day my college roommate passed away.  Inside she wrote me a message reminding me of the angels in our lives–both here and in Heaven.  It has taken me 5 years to bring myself to read it.  I cried through the whole thing.  It is a wonderful story.

  • Book #8: Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars

Summer of the Swans was the Newbery Medal winner in 1971.  Yes, it is technically a children’s or young adults book, however, I read it anyway.  Several years back, I asked my grandmother for “old books” for Christmas.  No idea why I did such a thing but it is on of my favorite gifts I’ve ever been given.  My copy of Summer of the Swans was one of the books given to me that Christmas in my “old book” collection my grandmother painstakingly put together for me, though I had never read it.  It was a quick read, but it will definitely be one I read with my daughter one day should I have one.

  • Book #9: Night by Elie Wiesel

I cannot believe I hadn’t read this before, but I had not.  What a powerful and poignant account of a horrible time in our history.  I have also never read The Diary of Anne Frank but after reading Night, has moved up to the top of my list.  The fact that the story is true breaks my heart, but it was the power of Elie’s writing is what drew me in.  I’m not sure what else I expect from someone who lived through one of the worst crimes in our history, but his writing was wonderful.

  • Book #10: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Again, surprising that I have not already read this but I am really enjoying it.  There are several passages that Bradbury so astutely writes in the early 50s that are 100%% spot on for how our culture is today.  As a huge advocate of the physical, written word, you can imagine the thought of premise around this book is simultaneously intriguing and disturbing to me.  I can definitely identify with the old woman who choses to go up in flames with her home once she’s discovered to be harboring books.  (No, I wouldn’t do such a thing for books, but I understand her emotional attachment to what reading gives to us as humans)

For Book #11, I’m reading The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard.  I’m actually 1/3 of the way in to it and really enjoying it.  I discovered my love for reading Westerns after reading Lonesome Dove last year.  A fact which is shocking considering I grew up in a household with one of those GIANT TV satellites in the backyard–which was really neat when it snowed and made the perfect place to make snowballs, but was NOT cool the other 364.5 days of the year when it monopolized every TV in the house.  How I complained when Dad took control of the TV to watch Tora! Tora! Tora! for the 3,022nd time or some all-weekend John Wayne marathon.  Ah well, yet another time my father was right.  And I’ll leave it at that because he does read my blog and I don’t want to give him too much joy in being right.

I’m always up for new book suggestions, so if you have them, I’m all ears!  🙂

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Confession: I have never kept a New Years Resolution.

Go ahead.  Judge me.

This year I made two New Years Resolutions.  One I’m right on track with, the other, is a little harder.  (Be prepared to judge me again)

My first New Years Resolution was to make sure I kissed William before bed every night.  Yes, you read that correctly, I do go to bed without kissing my husband goodnight.  If you’re one of those couples who doesn’t struggle with this, more power to you.  Most of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, do not.  William is a night owl, I…used to be a morning bird and now I am more of a neither avian.  Regardless, it is a struggle for me and so I decided to make a conscious effort of it this year, especially since he has been in grad school we rarely go to bed together anymore anyway.

My second New Years Resolution was to read at least two books a month for the entire year.  I stole this resolution from a dear friend of mine, Allyn.  Go ahead.  Judge me again.  Judgment all over the dang place.  Alas, I like the resolution and wanted to piggyback on her good idea.  I love to read and would imagine that on average I read more than two books a month anyway, however, I go through spurts typically.  I’ll read three or four books then not touch one for two months.  My goal with this resolution was to keep myself reading consistently.

So far, I’m right on track!  I will say, this month I’m on the road more than normal for my job so I have enlisted the help of Audiobooks to keep me going, but I’ve decided that those “count” in my book towards my resolution so I feel good about it still.  The sub-goal of the aforementioned resolution was that I was to read books that I already owned rather than buying new ones.  I have more books than I care to admit that have never been read which I what I was attempting to solve by this rule.  There had to be an amendment to the above rule, however, because I didn’t want to purchase/rent Audiobooks for ones I already physically owned, thus paying for them twice.  So in my mind, I added said amendment and the rule-breaking crisis was averted.  (Yes, I like rules)  KBB, you’d be proud of me.  (I wish I could tag your TEDx Portland video but I cannot find it on the interwebs anywhere yet!)

This week I’ll be finishing up Book #10 for the year and on to Book #11.  I thought I’d give a brief run-down of the ones I’ve read so far for documentation’s sake, but this post is already a little lengthy so I’ll save that for tomorrow!  10 down, 14 to go!

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Hello blogging world!  How I have missed working on my posts.  I think I can be qualified as one of the world worst bloggers on account of my three month hiatus. That said, I have returned to my blog with a new attitude towards it.  Thanks to my father as I blame him for my OCD personality (though he adamantly denies it, he’s far worse than I) which is what I attribute my failing blogging efforts to! Towards the end of last year, it had become overwhelming and strangely intimidating for me to try and post everyday which is what I felt that I needed to do to keep up. That’s the same reason that I can never stick with a diet plan or New Years resolution–it just overwhelms me somehow.  However, I find that if I go into things like this with the right mindset it tends to turn out a little better.  So I am pressing forward with my blog excited to share recipes, stories, things that I love, etc. as often as I can while making sure I am still enjoying it.

Along with my return as Mrs. Fancy Pantz, I am moving forward with four other things in my life that will require an unusual amount of dedication and commitment from me–whether or not I’m willing or ready to put it forward.  I am moving into a new position at work starting April 5, starting P90x on Monday to try and get myself ready for the summer, starting a Kaplan class to prepare for the GMAT for graduate school, and a New Years resolution that I didn’t commit to until March! Ha!  The change of pace at work should be good, I’m dreading P90x but it needs to happen, and lets face it, no one wants to study and work full time, so I’ll fill everyone in on my New Years resolution because it’s the most exciting of the four!

I love to read.  It’s a favorite hobby of mine…probably my favorite.  I’ve never had an organized or targeted approach to reading but that’s changing my friends.  I have lists on napkins and scraps of paper in drawers all over the place with lists of books that I want to read.  That said, my lists and the number of books that I own that I haven’t delved into yet far out number the ones that I have.  The majority of what makes up my lists are classics that I either haven’t read and am definitely missing out because of it, or I was forced to read in high school or some college lit class and never fully appreciated it.  A few weeks ago, I came across Random House Publishing’s list of The Top 100 Novels of All Time.  Brilliance.

Click here to view the list.

I will be first working from the “Reader’s List” and when I complete that one I’ll move to the “Board’s List”.  I’m excited to have a targeted approach to my reading and even more pumped that I’ll someday have read ALL of these timeless pieces of literature.  I’m committing to read 50 this year but I’m hoping that I’ll finish more than that.  The first one I read was #53 The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

I have my wonderful friend April to thank for this suggestion!  I really enjoyed this read.  The story is about a woman named Offred who is a handmaid (essentially a modern day concubine) in the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian and theocratic state that has replaced the United States of America. Because of dangerously low reproduction rates, handmaids are assigned to bear children for elite couples that have trouble conceiving.  The story is a very progressive representation of world in which men control women’s bodies–it is interesting to read this interpretation so clearly weighted on the side of women when it wasn’t too many years ago that women feared this type of society deriving.  I honestly wouldn’t consider myself too much of a feminist though it’s an interesting thought to ponder…

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

My next read is #2 on the list The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.  Honestly this one has been a little tough to get into, however, I am pushing through!  Resisting the urge to become too long winded, I am going to end my post here. I’ll be posting again soon though. Happy Sunday!