Saturday, November 3, 2012

Books I Read in October

It feels good to write books plural this month! My selections were pretty easy to get through. The first book I read was:

 The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin 

I bought this book in the airport on the way home from Lauren's wedding, and read most of it on my three flights. The book was easy reading and kept me entertained. I won't lie, it is easy to both like and dislike this book. On the one hand, the book inspired me to think about my own life and little changes I could make in the name of self-improvement, on the other hand, the problem with Rubin's book is that it is very personal to herself and her situation, making it not as useful as it could be for readers, and as Brendan argued, some of her ideas are nonsensical/unhelpful (I think Brendan sees the entire book as self important and unnecessary, but he hasn't actually read feelings on that debate are too complex to go into). I personally enjoyed the chapters on boosting energy (1), lightening up (4), buying some happiness (7), and pursuing passions (9)...the other eight chapters, I didn't find as interesting or helpful. I sometimes became bored with Rubin's examples, and from the description on the back of the book, I thought she was going to test more age old theories about the ways in which "happiness" (such an abstract concept) works. However, I'm still glad I read this book because it did inspire me to find more time for the things that were truly important to me (writing, working out)...I also thought the book had some nice little tips about how to be better to your partner and family. Maybe, the best part about it is that reading about someone that is evaluating her life and making changes causes one to evaluate his or her life actively, something I think everyone could use more of. Overall, my advice is check out the happiness project blog. It has a lot of the same ideas, only you don't have to pay $14.99 for them (but if you're in an airport bookstore in Syracuse with limited options and 11 hours of travel time ahead of you, then go for it).

The next book I read was:

Feed by M.T. Anderson 

Okay, so my friend Rather had recommended this book to me years ago (I am a sci-fi and young adult novel lover, so it totally fits in with my interests), however, I totally forgot about the recommendation. Enter my 26th birthday present from Brendan: A beautiful sushi set and two YA novels (this is the other one).  I quickly devoured Feed, a sci-fi dystopia (honestly, Atwood's "speculative fiction" label seems fitting here) about a world in which most people have feeds installed in their brains, which serve all modern day purposes of Internet & television, but also help regulate or "enhance" normal functions of the human brain. The book's central character is Titus, a teenage boy who is a typical representation of his obviously obnoxious and hopeless generation. When Titus and his friends take a spring break trip to the moon (yes, I know, I loved that too), they cross paths with a young woman named Violet and a feed hacker, and Titus's life is forever changed. Feed is honestly the most disturbing book I have read since Room. I mean, seriously, I was FLOORED by the ending of this novel. It was just so horrific to read about this awful society where humans are literally only valued as consumers and where one's life, essentially, depends on his or her ability to buy, buy, buy. The line by line writing is nothing fancy here, but the plot is wholly interesting, however, some may be literally too disgusted by the main character's personality (a total product of his environment) to proceed. However, I am a big fan of this book...I had more empathy for Titus than revulsion.

In Other News:

Much of my family is gathered in La Marque, Texas this weekend to celebrate my Mimi's 95th birthday (which is on Wednesday). After skyping with them, I felt totally sad I'm not there. However, cooking this delicious dish and serving it with leftovers from last night (bow tie pasta with pesto, tomato, and green peas) cheered me up. I also treated myself to a mani/pedi earlier today, which felt great after the crazy busy month that was October. Plus, it helps to know I'll see my family (well, some of them anyways) in just 2 and 1/2 short weeks for Thanksgiving. Brendan has been working on his conference paper all day. We're looking forward to going to San Antonio on Wednesday for the SCMLA (South Central Modern Language Association) conference (but both a little nervous about how chairing our panels and giving our presentations will go).

We hope you enjoy October's book selections and wish you happy reading! We're settling in for a quiet night of reading and writing.

<3 S, B, L&Z

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