Sunday, June 17, 2012

#9: The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

There's nothing like being so engrossed in a book that you stay up impressively late flipping the pages until the end. And your eyes are so tired of being open that your contacts are all dry and sticky.

I've read a lot of good books, but it's been quite a while since I've experienced the above.

Good God, even the cover is beautiful.
Green's "The Fault in Our Stars" far exceeds my expectations. And I had high expectations (due to the extreme praise in word-of-mouth reviews) despite its classification of a young adult novel. Which shouldn't be any reason to hold it back. Although I occasionally enjoy picking up books geared toward a younger audience, I've stayed away from those lately because their authors simply tend to lack respect for their readers (a concept put into words by a friend of mine as we discussed modern teen novels).

What makes John Green unique in this sense, is that he doesn't write something that is fluffy and happy and shallow just because his audience is younger. But rather, he fully intends and expects his younger reader base to understand and appreciate mature musings of the world.

"The Fault in Our Stars" is a heartbreaking story that pulls on heartstrings. But it's also much much more than that. Instead of just a compelling story, it is a compelling story that's written beautifully. I found myself on several occasions rereading some of my favorite lines, just because the way the sentences are put together is brilliant. I couldn't possibly adequately convey the beauty that are the words on those pages.

And it is beautifully written during the humorous parts, the more somber parts, as well as the thoughtful parts. Not to mention, the balance between these three is perfection.

Extraordinary read! Five stars and two thumbs up for this one! Definitely the best of the year so far.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

More failure, but also some win! Also: incoherent ranting.

So I went with my friend to the library already a couple weeks ago now. I decided to try a little harder to honor a couple items on my (summer) bucket list and grabbed an "Italian for Dummies" book and a nonfiction (my goal is to read 5 this year, since this is a genre I'd like to read more of).

Let me give you a little summary of how those have been going....

I think I've now opened the Italian book twice, and that was right after I got it. Sigh. I would love to be able to say things in Italian, but I'm way too stinkin' lazy to actually go through the learning process on any more languages. After 7 or 8 years learning German, I'm all "languaged" out!

As for the nonfiction, I picked up a biography on Princess Diana. I was actually pretty excited to read it; I think the lives of royal families are fascinating, especially Di's. And, you know, it's not all that bad. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's interesting. However, I've been chugging along slowly for a couple weeks and, at this point, I'm more interested in finishing so I can read my next book (one of the many I've bought irresponsibly) than because I'm enjoying it. I also know I will not be able to finish it by the time it's due at the library, so I'm calling this one a fail and moving on.

In other news, I started a new job at a cafe inside a book store and I love it! Perfect environment for me. It's taking some time to learn all the drinks, but I can't be too hard on myself because I've never worked at a coffee place before.

Anyway, on Sunday, the power in our entire half of the mall went out! It was a little hectic, until they told me I could leave a couple hours early! Which meant I got to get a head start driving down to my cousin's grad party (which was about 45 minutes away). It was a whole lotta win until my power steering went out... and then my AC (and OF COURSE it was sweltering out that day). Long story short I was able to drive it to a car place near my aunt and uncle's house, but I had to stay overnight with NO overnight stuff. Boo.

But. BUT! I ended up just being really glad my car broke down (my parents agreed to pay for it and it all worked out in the end) because I got to spend an extra day with the fam, which included my grandparents in town from South Carolina. It was so great. Reminded me of my childhood when the whole family (all 20 of us) would rent a beautiful house on the beach every summer. Good times!

Here's a gem from almost 20 years ago! Probably one of the first years of the traditional vacay. My cousin is plopping sand in my hair.... In typical Holden Beach fashion! (Fun Fact: the baby in the background is the one who just graduated. Time flies!)

I also scored TONS of yummy grad party leftovers. WIN!

Spending all that time with my aunt and uncle, grandparents, and cousins was so great. It hit me that I've been focusing too much on what I don't have for too long, and it's time to start appreciating what I do have. I grew up being really close with my extended family. It's tough sometimes that they live all over the country: Arizona, Delaware, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin. As we've grown older, it's been much harder to get together and we go much longer between visits.

Sometimes I feel sorry for myself that I don't have a huge circle of friends, the perfect roommate, or lots of family that lives close by. But I have much much more than so many people, and when I think of my friends and family, I think of each of them so fondly! I know I couldn't possibly be more lucky and blessed. Nobody's perfect, but my friends and family are all pretty great!