Through the Tunnel

Over the last month I haven’t posted much.  Well, probably more than the last month.  Okay, definitely more than a month.

For the last year and a half I spent much of my time staring ahead, keeping my eyes firm on the light at the end of the tunnel.  I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and constantly worried I would never actually get to the end.  Of course I did, I made it through the tunnel, into the light and I graduated.

Of course, I was initially elated.  I was done, and I was extremely relieved.  I just wanted to be relaxed, and enjoy my moment.  Eventually reality set in and I realized, I was done.

It seems like it should be a good thing, realizing I finished something big.  I know I should be proud, and excited for the next stage of my life.  Instead, as soon as reality set in I was overwhelmed with terror.

What am I doing next next?  What should I do next?  What have I been doing with my life up until now?  Am I where I should be in my life?  Am I going anywhere?

What comes next for me?

So, yeah.  I haven’t been posting much due to a minor existential crisis.

I had thought to share that fact with you, but thinking it was too much.  After all, who am I to whine about my problems?  Of course I am not perfect, and I do not have the level of privilege that some may assume, I have a roof over my head, I am a citizen of a free country, and I have the means and opportunity to not only get an education, but also travel, and occasionally sit at a computer and ramble on about my life, even though I am well aware of the fact that my ramblings do not help anyone in any way.  My problems are nothing compared to the people who are starving, or who live with horrible illnesses.  I know that, but it doesn’t make me feel any better about my own problems.

I try to think about what I should do next, and I begin to feel overwhelmed.  The two most obvious answers, get a job or continue with school, are both slightly out of the question.  I live in a small area with limited work options and no current availabilities, in or out of my career field.  Additionally as much as I would like to continue on with my education, I’m not exactly prepared to embark on the journey towards my doctorate degree.  Which leaves what?  What do I do now?

I came through the tunnel, but I am still have no idea where I am.  Somewhere along the way I lost my focus, and I can’t seem to find it.  Worse than that, I’m not sure what my focus should be.  Should I make my focus my writing?  Should I pour myself into the blog, or spend hours sewing, or get deep into exercise and fitness and run for hours every day?  What do I do?

Sadly, I am not writing this down because I have any answers to share.  I have nothing.  This post is little more than a whine.  The most I hope this will do is allow me to let go of a little of the frustration and move on.

So there is where I have been.  Hopefully it’s not where I will stay for long.

50 Books- Heart of Darkness

photo (6)

Today almost didn’t have a book post.  As I was reading A Passage to India last night, seeing that I was only 25% through, I had a moment of extreme guilt.  There was no way I was going to finish 75% of the book that night, not while still being a fully functional human being today.  For the first time, I was going to have no book finished when I had a post due.  So far during this challenge, I have managed to always have a book.  I’ve never run out of time, often been very early, but usually at least done the night before and have the post already written.

Suddenly it occurred to me.  I was not planning on writing up A Passage to India today.  Today I was going to write on Heart of Darkness.  I had completely forgotten I had read the book.  This should tell you all you need to know about the impact this book had on me.

50 Books- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Where did I get the book and how many pages?

This book is available on Oyster, with a reported 80 print pages.  Between the books I am reading myself, the books I want to read, and the books my daughters are reading, I am in love with this service.

Have I read this book before?

No.  Never heard of this book before, except the brief reading of the title on the list.

What do I already know?

Nothing.  I picked this book at the time because it was short and I was trying to get a little ahead on my reading to make time for The Lord of the Rings without being late with a post.  The most I learned before reading was from my husband who told me he was pretty sure this book was the basis of the movie Apocalypse Now (according to wikipedia, he is correct).  As I had never seen the movie, that meant nothing to me.

What do I think now?

I don’t think much now.  There was a moment at the beginning of the book where the author is describing four passengers in a boat.  He seemed to go on and on about the people, the ocean, the boat.  It felt to me like he would never shut up, but technically the passage was not very long.  In the end, the description was only to let me know one of them was going to tell the story.  It was a lot of description with very little purpose.  I instantly understood why there is a lot of warning against too much description when you are writing; when the text is not moving the story forward, you make people want to move away.

For me, it didn’t get much better.  There were portions of the book where I felt connected, and I understood what was going on.  Shortly after those points the book would seem to go onto a tangent that made me need to go back, reread, and figure out what was going on again.  At the end of the book, I wasn’t sure I felt like I understood any of it.  I certainly didn’t remember much.

Should you read this book before you die?

I’m beginning to wonder if I should leave this part out.  It seems to come down to two answers; I loved it so you should read it too, or I did not like it, but would love to know what you got out of it.  Either way I am still technically recommending the reading of the book.

Here, quite simply I did not connect to the book.  It could have been the writing style did not match my preferences, or that the story content was not for me.  Whatever the issue, I did not have a moment of enjoyment with this book.  It doesn’t mean I might not like it if I read it again later, or that you won’t love it.  It just means I didn’t see what I was supposed to see.

Perhaps that is the problem I have been having all along.  I’m not sure what I am supposed to see in these books, and therefore what I get out of them is completely up to me.

Come back next week to hear about the next book, A Passage to India.

Happy Reading!

50 Books- Anna Karenina

photo (6)

50 Books- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Where did I get the book and how many pages?

I do not have a clue where I got this book.  Most likely one a base somewhere, sometime recently.  Wherever it came from, it is a monster of a book with 923 pages.

Have I read this book before?

No.  I had heard of it, but that is all.

What do I already know?

Not much.  I was pretty sure it was Russian, but I wasn’t sure where that thought came from.  The cover of the book has a quote calling it one of the greatest love stories in world literature, however the quote is from Vladimir Nabokov, the author of Lolita, so there may be a different kind of love story in mind here.

What do I think now?

I did not like Anna Karenina.  I’m not talking about the book, I’m talking about he character in the book.  T

This is a book told in eight parts.  The way each part begins and ends gives the impression that this was originally released as a series of books, but I am not certain.  I know it was a way books used to be released, but of course, anything is possible.

During the first part, Anna is a sweet person.  She travels, trying to help her cheating brother save his marriage, and meets a young military man, Vronsky.  Her intense attraction sends her running away back to her husband.  This is the last moment when I understand and have any respect for the character.  Soon he follows her, and they begin having an affair.

Now, I know, everyone has their own opinion as to the romance level in stories involving extramarital affairs.  I personally do not enjoy them.  I don’t think betraying another person that way, no matter how horrible the person is, is something to be admired.  I know, some of these stories are from a different time, a time when leaving a spouse was not only not done, but almost impossible for a female.  Either way, I have a hard time thinking of a story that surrounds an illicit affair as a romance.  The longer the story went on, the less I liked the characters and the less I wanted them to be happy.  In the end their tragic romance ending seemed fitting.  Yes, it was horrible and sad, but not surprising in the least.  Okay, the exact details surprised me, but the fact that bad things happened did not.

I think one of the hardest parts of the story was the treatment of the husband.  In the beginning I had the impression they were happy.  Anna rushed home to him, and he greeted her lovingly.  Maybe it was just me projecting my own marriage and life, but I assumed they were happy.  Later, as Anna dives full in to her affair, suddenly there is extensive talk about how horrible of a person her husband is, painting him as controlling.  I found him to be excessively understanding.  When she tells him she is in love with someone else, and hates him, he shuts down in the moment.  He does not do well with tears and emotions, and he had been given bad news.  When he calms down a little he tells Anna, they will continue to be married (which gives them both the continued social protection their marriage always had) and all he asks is that she does not have her lover in their house.  He is not throwing her out, he is not making a scene, and he is not even demanding that she never sees him again.  Just, not in our house.  Trust me, my husband would NEVER react that way.  And Anna could not handle that one stipulation.  It just gave me more sympathy for the husband.

There was more romantic stories along the way.  The story between Kitty and Levin, a man who deeply loved someone, and waited, knowing if he could not have her, he would never love anyone else.  They had a few bumps, but I never stopped rooting for them.

The general story was well written and compelling.  It was slightly confusing along the way, as the names were foreign to me, and each character was known by at least two different names.  I didn’t like the ‘hero’ of the story, or at least the woman for whom the book was named, but I liked almost everything else.

Should you read this book before you die?

The tragic romance is an interesting genre, and not one I particularly enjoy.  I don’t root for these couples, and I am almost happy when things go bad for them.  However, that does not mean it is a useless style of story.  Just as much can be learned for the poor relationship examples as the wonderful ones.

Coming up next, Heart of Darkness, followed by A Passage to India.

Happy Reading everyone!

Austria Pt. 2

All right.  Here we go again.

One week ago, I was in Austria.  The first part of the adventure can be found here (or you can probably scroll down, whatever).  I already told you about the travel there, wandering around aimlessly, and the briefest touch on the trip home.  So, we are left with the afternoon tour to visit the sights of The Sound of Music.

The Sound of Music was actually the largest reason we visited Austria, and more specifically Salzburg.  As soon as I was done with my final homework assignment, (probably the last homework assignment EVER) I felt the overwhelming need to do something.  I wanted to run through open fields, scream from the mountaintops, and listen the the hills sing.  Basically, I wanted to be Julie Andrews at the top of the hill, spinning around and singing that the hills were alive.  We visited with the idea that I would actually get a chance to geek out, and spin on that hill.  However, as the sights of the movie are rather spread out, and many of them are private property, I conceded to my husband’s repeated appeals to pay for a tour.

I don’t like paying for tours anywhere.  It’s nothing against the tour guides; every tour we have ever been on has been great.  It’s informative, fun, and usually at least a little funny.  You really do learn and see things you wouldn’t have otherwise.  I just really hate paying for the tour.  It’s usually through a bigger company, and you know the tour guides are only getting a fraction of what you are paying.  I mean, yes, this current tour took us on a bus out and around, which means paying for the gas and the driver, as well as the ticket sellers, and the tour guide.  But we have seen many, many walking tours which also seem overpriced.  What extra is the money going for then?

So, I had to be talked into the tour.  But I was glad I was talked into it.  We would not have found 90% of the stuff and the other part would still have required us to drive on windy roads in the mountains through wind and snow, only to have a 50/50 chance of actually realizing what we were seeing.  Instead, we were driven around, taken to places were we could see what we wanted, and given a bunch of fun facts about the movie (which I will try to remember for you.)

The first stop was the lake behind the house.  It may not look like a lake, but underneath the thick layer of snow was a layer of ice, covering the water that Julie Andrews, and the child actors, all fell in.

IMG_2893

Apparently the terrace where they filmed everything was not actually the back of the house, but an exact replica built off to the side.  Because they were using a different house for the front, and doing studio filming for the inside, they couldn’t risk the house showing up in any shot.  It almost seems like a waste of location shooting to do it this way, but of course, the movie speaks for itself that way.

We also learned that the child playing the youngest Von Trapp was unable to swim.  During the scene where they all fell into the water she was supposed to have been grabbed by Julie Andrews before they went underwater.  Unfortunately, while filming the scene she actually fell into the water, and was unable to grab the child beforehand.  The little girl was of course saved and recovered, but it was quite a scare.

After this we traveled to find the current location of the gazebo.  It had one been outside the house (this one) but tourists were causing a disturbance to the conferences held in the house.  It was then moved to the other side of the lake, where we were standing, but no one maintained it while it was there.  After a time it was movie to Hellbrunn Castle.

IMG_2901

It didn’t look like much, just a gazebo.  We weren’t able to go in either.  Years ago a couple were recreating the “Sixteen Going on Seventeen” dance, slipped and had a foot go through a window.  It was all right, but not the highlight of the tour.

IMG_2904

This picture has nothing to do with The Sound of Music, and I have no idea who those people are.  I just happened to like the shot.

Just outside the castle, near where were were parked was the place where the bus stopped to let Maria off after the left the abbey.  It was nothing more than a long yellow wall, but it was still kind of cool.

IMG_2908

As Maria gets off the bus, she sings the song, ‘I Have Confidence.’  Most of the sights she sees as she is singing this song are no where near here, and a few of them I wanted to see, but was unable to.  What I did learn however, is during that song, the real Maria Vonn Trapp makes an appearance in the background.

BawwFofCcAIxR2r.jpg-large

We learned there were many things the Real Maria was unhappy with.  She did not like how were husband was portrayed, more stiff than the real man had been.  This cameo was supposed to appease her.  As I learned all of the changes in the story, I am slightly surprised that that was her only complaint.

I never realized this entire story was based on a book written by the Real Maria.  It makes sense, I just never knew.  There were many things that were wrong in the movie.  In order to make things a little more appealing to audiences.  Not only were the children’s ages and genders wrong (both the oldest and the youngest were actually boys, and the oldest was in their mid/late twenties when they left) but there were actually more children.  The captain had seven children with his first wife, then he and Maria had three more children.  When they left Austria, according to our tour guide, they had nine children, with the tenth on the way.  I suppose as far at story telling goes, I can understand why these changes occurred.  I do however feel slightly lied to, and must make time to read the book later.

After this we drove by the house that had been used as the front.  There is no where to stop closer, unless you are walking so I only got a drive by shot.

IMG_2911

We were also only able to get a drive by of Nonnburg Abbey.  There is no where to park, and as we were told there were also 21 very strict nuns who would not let anyone inside.

IMG_2913

After this we drove out to Mondsee, the town where the church used in the filming of the wedding was.  The Real Maria was married in the Abbey, but for the movie, it was actually about 20-30 minutes out of the city.

We took a brief stop on a hill top where a helicopter took shots for the opening scenes over the town where Mozart’s mother was born.

IMG_2929

Also along this road we passed the headquarters for RedBull, which is apparently an Austrian company.  It was only a drive by, so I didn’t get a picture (and I actually care nothing about Red Bull), but the place was beautifully built.

Eventually we arrived at Mondsee, where St. Michael’s church is located.  We had a little time there, so we wandered into the church and took a few pictures.

IMG_2930

IMG_2931

IMG_2932

IMG_2934

IMG_2935

Afterwards we headed across the street to get some warm apple strudel.

IMG_2938

IMG_2939

I tried to get a picture before ti was destroyed, but my family has their priorities when it comes to food.  Pictures for blogs is not one of them.

On our way back to the bus, I finally got my running through a field, spinning around in circles moment.  It wasn’t the hilltop from the movie, but I was going to take what I could get.

IMG_2941

So that was it.  That was our one day in Austria.  It was amazing, exhausting, and beautiful.  I think you can see a little bit of why I don’t always get around to posting my travels.  This was a lot, and it was all about one day!  Hopefully, this is a start of a good trend for me however. More travels, and telling more stories about them.

50 Books: Birdsong

Some of you may have noticed, this is not the promised book for this week. I was completely on schedule to be done with Anna Karenina this week, but during my weekend travels I ended up without any time to read. Normally I am a person who reads before bed, however as I was sharing a room, I couldn’t keep the light on. Instead of skipping a week of bookishness, I decided the quickly read the next book on my list, as I knew it was a very short one.

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Where did I get this book and how many pages?

This book is available on Oyster, and is reported to have 88 print pages.

Have I read this book before?

No. I have never heard of this one, not even in passing.

What do I already know?

Not much. The cover says it is a modern play, and there appears to be a soldier and a woman there. My guess, based on these clues, is it is a wartime romance.

What do I think now?

This was a very short play, but I liked it. I don’t always like reading plays. It took me a little bit to get into the rhythm of the story, meaning things were slightly lost at the beginning. It was a story about a group of soldiers fighting in a war. It didn’t say which war, but they referenced speaking French and fighting Germans. I originally assumed that meant WW2, but a brief internet search told me it was actually supposed to be WW1. There doesn’t seem to be much beyond tragedy in this story. There is a soldier who loses a son, a soldier who lied about their age to enlist and isn’t doing well, and a commanding officer who is haunted by the memory of the love of his life, who left him many years earlier. It is a pretty dark story, but well written. I would like to see this play one day. I think it would be dark beautiful.

Should you read this book before you die?

Occasionally I have trouble when I come to this portion of the post. I feel as though I should always say yes, read this book. Someone else made the list. I don’t know who, and I don’t know why. There is no explanation as to why these books were chosen, or what makes them better then the billions of other books that have been written. Not every book I have read on this list has made a large impact on me; some have been just mildly entertaining. I’m not sure what I am supposed to get out of this. I’d like to know what put this on the list.

As a writer, I enjoyed the rhythm of the flashbacks and the way they told the story without telling the story. I liked the technique of the writing, but I’m not sure that I learned anything new. As a reader, I felt it did a great job of creating an image of war. It was horrible, and dark, but of course I already knew that about war. Again, not really a lesson.

I suppose that is the reason to read this book, to see what you get out of it.

Next week, I will be caught up, and we will finally see Anna Karenina, followed by Heart of Darkness.

Happy Reading!!

Austria Pt. 1

All right, this will be a long one, but I promised to get better about my travel posting.  The upside is your ability to see more of my traveling; the downside is long, picture heavy posts.

We decided to go to Salzburg, Austria on a whim.  I had just turned in the last of my homework, and felt the need to do something big.  Before I knew what was happening, we had booked a hotel, arranged a dog sitter, and had plans to drive.  Normally, I am not much of a road trip person.  I grew up in a large, not well off family, so anytime we traveled it was by car.  Squeezing all of us in for hours at a time was unpleasant, and being the one who also had motion sickness was even worse.  However, there only appeared to be flights into Salzburg one day a week, which did not work with our weekend plans, and Google Maps said it was only an 8 hour drive.  Not pleasant by any means, but completely doable.

Right around the halfway point in the trip we were due to drive very close to a large base, so we decided to breakdown the trip a little.  We drove to the base Friday night, as soon as everyone was done with school and spent the night.  The next morning we woke up, took care of a little trip business (Little One had to have new shoes before walking around all day), got a hot Venti Vanilla Latte,  and got back on the road.  As soon as we left the base I discovered the Vanilla had been left out of my latte, the first of many disappointments on Saturday.

We got on the road around 10, later than we wanted, but expecting a four hour drive, still reasonable.  After programming our hotel in the GPS we learned it was actually going to be 5 hours.  As soon as we discovered this we realized it made sense; the town the original route passed through was about 45 minutes away from the base we were visiting, so we were technically a little away from where we should have been.  We decided to suck it up and get on the road.  German Roadside

I don’t know how many of you have driven through Germany in the winter, but it can be quite beautiful.  Cold, but beautiful.

German Roadside 2

It was a good thing the drive was beautiful because that 5 hour drive turned into 9 hours.  There was construction, traffic, and who knows what else.  I’m fairly certain at one point there was a time portal; we were 90 minutes away from our destination for at least three hours.  I’m not sure how we kept our good humor through the trip.   Maybe it was the excitement, maybe it was the girls behaving themselves and keeping content in the backseat.  Whatever it was, we never completely lost our optimism.  It was a bit too late to do much when we finally arrived at the hotel, so we ate and settled in so we could get an early start the next day.

I think I am getting better at finding hotels that are a good value.  We don’t spend much time trying to get the fancy 5 star hotels.  As far as we are concerned, they drain our available travel money on the place we spend the least amount of time.  When we travel, we get in the hotel, we drop our stuff and we leave.  We are only in our hotel to sleep and shower.  Why waste money on a nice room we will barely be in?  For that reason, I don’t have super nice photo of our room.  The hotel was nice, but not impressive.

Hotel Room

See?  My kids think it is a great room when they don’t have to share a bed.

Room Number

Okay, a bad glare, but isn’t the room number sign adorable?

In the morning, when things were brighter, we saw we had half of a good view.  It was cold and snowy in Salzburg so it’s hard to see, but above the ugly buildings was a large snowy mountain.

Austria Hotel View

We headed out to see what we could see of the city.  Instead of having a day and a half, we were down to one day and we refused to waste it.  One bus ride and we were in the city center.

Shopping Road

Sundays in Europe are often quiet.  Most of the stores are closed, and the streets are deserted.  It made it peaceful.  Much less stressful then the normal weaving through a crowd with kids.  We worried that we wouldn’t be able to do anything, but there were still options.

We stumbled on Mozart’s Birthplace, which was pretty cool.  No pictures allowed inside, but honestly, it was an old house.  If Mozart had not been born there, it would likely be long gone by now.

Mozart's Birthplace

We wandered around and took some pretty pictures of the views.  We weren’t trying to hard to find anything specific, just looking to see what we could see.

Austria Bridge View

We also stumbled on the birthplace of Christian Doppler, but we couldn’t go inside.

Doppler House

It was near a random statue, which seemed to be unlabeled, and Little One decided she had to pose underneath.

Lily Statue

It was a pretty relaxing morning.  We took it easy, as we had signed up for a tour in the afternoon (which will be pt. 2).

Austria Mozart Grafitti

One of our favorite things we stumbled on was this Mozart themed graffiti in a walkway under a road.  I know technically that graffiti is not authorized, but come on.  This is high class stuff here.

A little before our tour we found a Starbucks.  This is one of my travel quirks.  I know there are great coffee shops round the world, but I don’t go to the Starbucks for the amazing coffee.  I mean, I like it well enough, but that isn’t why I look for one everywhere we go.  I collect the city/country mugs everywhere I can.  I have a collection of travel mugs from years ago, and since we have been in Europe I have stuck to the regular mugs.  It’s a silly tradition, but it gives me a morning reminder of my travels.  As I make my coffee, I can think of where I have been, and I often pick my mug based on where I would like to return.

Of course as it was cold, we took advantage of the warm store filled with warm drinks.  The Starbucks was two story and we enjoyed ours downstairs.

Starbucks

I loved the downstairs of this Starbucks.  There were these stone archways with drywall filling in the gaps, and large heavy duty wooden tables.  It felt like we were in a medieval castle, waiting for people to storm in and try to steal our coffee.  The girls and I enjoyed it, but I think my husband was pretending not to know us.

Just before our tour was scheduled to leave, we found a church right next to the meeting place.  As we are us, we had to go in (once we confirmed they were not in the middle of services) and look at the Art.

St. Michaels Outside

It was a good thing I snapped a picture of the sign for my memory.  I remembered St. Michael’s.  It was St. Andra.  No where close.  It was a pretty church, and there was a remarkable series of paintings around the edge showing the crucifixion step by step in about 20 paintings.  A bit dark, but well done work.

Church Art

I never get tired of finding art in churches.

Church Art2

Sure, there is a definite theme in the work found in a church.

Church Art4

Technically, religious art isn’t a thing I care much about.  This doesn’t speak to me spiritually or anything.

Church Art5

But it’s hard to argue against the quality.

Lily Candle

We left after Little One lit a candle.  I may have lit one too, with the selfish purpose of a safe and easy trip home the next day.

After the church we took a tour, which was four hours on and off a bus, and will come in the next post on this trip.  It was a quick trip, with really only one day in the city of Salzburg, but it was amazing.  Luckily for us, the candle worked, and our trip home was much easier and less stressful.  We stopped by the same base halfway through for a little rest.  I guess the Starbucks there realized they had forgotten my Vanilla syrup from a couple days earlier, because they made sure to give me extra in my coffee instead of the extra shot of espresso I requested.  Sigh.  I really need to check my coffee at that shop before I leave next time.

Well, that is all for today’s post.  Come back Friday (or Saturday if my internet stays slow!) for Austria pt. 2, The Sound of Music Tour.

Insert Something Witty

Hello all!

I fully intended to have a full week of witty and insightful posts this week.  Somehow I thought as soon as school was over I would have more time, and I would be able to allow myself more creative freedom.  So far it’s not working out that way.

Instead of being open to creative endeavors, I was struck with wanderlust.  It was strange, hitting quite literally moments after I turned in my final paper.  I was overcome with the need to run through the hills, celebrating my newfound freedom.  So that is what I am going to do.

We threw together a quick trip to Salzburg, Austria.  We leave tonight, approximately five days after we decided to go.  We have never gone from idea to vacation so quickly, so I have still not wrapped my mind around the idea of leaving.

Long story short?  Instead of photographing the new quilt I have to post for this week, I decided to get ready for our trip.  It may seem crazy, but I decided I would rather have clean underwear to wear all weekend than have a pretty for the day.  I hope you are not offended, but at the end of the day I am comfortable with my choice.

So no new posts for a few days, but I am hoping to come through with a good travel post after I get back.  It was after all one of my goals for the year, so I have so make sure I don’t fail on the first try!

Have a great weekend everyone!

50 Books- Half Way Through!

There will be no book breakdown today, partially because I am still working on Anna Karenina, but mostly because I have 50 books and 52 weeks in a year.  A halfway check in just makes sense to me.

So, first off, lets go over the numbers.

I have completed 26 books from the list, 28 if we count extra books for the His Dark Materials Trilogy.  This means I have read a total of 6,018 pages.  This averages out to 231.5 pages per book (214.9 if you count 28 instead of 26), and 1,003 pages per month.  That seems like a really low number to me.  I guess I thought I read more on a regular basis.  Perhaps I do normally.  I’ve never actually checked.  Of course, all of these statistics include only books that have been completed  and written down, so nothing is included for those I am part way through.

The longest book I have completed was The Way We Live Now, which had 876 pages.  (Technically, if we are counting the His Dark Materials trilogy as one book it is longer, with 933 pages.)  The shortest book, by a lot, was Alice in Wonderland with only 41 pages.

It would be hard for me to pick a favorite from the list.  I’m not good at picking favorites; as soon as I pick a favorite book ever, I am basically giving up on every finding a better book.  I refuse to believe I will never fall in love with another book.

I would have to say the book with the best ending was Life of Pi.  I did not see that last 10 pages coming, though maybe I should have.

One of the books I was most surprised to enjoy was One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.  It didn’t start out like a book I would normally choose, but it grabbed me.

The book I am least likely to ever read again is Ulysses.  I don’t care if it is supposed to be a brilliant work of art.  That book is a hot mess.

There are several books I will definitely read again: 1984, Frankenstein, The Bell Jar, Pride and Prejudice.  Not only did they have great writing, but the stories grabbed me much more than I would expect.

I feel like I am learning a lot about writing, and about publishing.  So many of these classic great novels do not have any of the elements current agents and publishers seem to be looking for now.  They are too long, or too short.  Their topics are off, and their stories might be seen as confusing.  More than anything, the first 10 pages (a typical request for potential novels) did not grab me.  If I was basing my reading on the first 10 pages alone, I would have put down more than half of these.  And let’s be honest, I have before.

Of course, I doubt I would ever write anything that would land me on a list like this, but it still makes me feel a little better.  Maybe openings are not my strongest point, but I am not alone.

More than anything, I am getting a little tired.  It’s not the reading itself that is exhausting, but the lack of choice in my books.  I am slowly filling a new book case with the books I plan to read when this is done, as well as having a nice long queue of books waiting in Oyster.  I’m itching to just read a book simply because it appeals to me, not because it is on a master list that someone thinks everyone should read at some point in their life.  I thought this would be easier on me.  Sure I would read these books within a year, but I figured I would have plenty of time to read other books as well.  I have so much more out there that I want to read, and I am tired of being chained to a list.  Six months in, I’m not backing down now, but I can’t help but wish I was done.

As I am still chained to a list, tune in again soon for the next book, Anna Karenina.

Happy Reading Everyone!

Done

I know I have been AWOL this last week.  It was not something intentional.  I completely meant to post, but well, things got busy.

I know, now I sound like the date who promised to call, didn’t and then awkwardly bumped into you at the coffee shop.

I promise, it’s not like that.  I was distracted, as I was completing my last week in my Master’s program.  That’s right people.  I am done.

There are no words for the level of relief I feel right now.

I was never sure I wanted to start the program, as much as I wanted the degree.  I knew it would be a lot of work, and I was terrified that the payoff would not be enough.

Now that I am done, I can’t seem to stop dancing around the house.

I’m not sure I could say the extra degree will pay off, but I can say I am happy.

There was a lot of stress, and several moments where I wasn’t sure if I would make it.  But this feeling, right now, completely worth it.

I have finished this chapter, and I am moving onto the next one.  As soon as I take a nap.  This dancing is exhausting.

(Ok, I’m still going to be dancing.  I just find sleepy Boo to be adorable.)

Have an AMAZING day everyone!

50 Books- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

photo (6)

50 Books- One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Where did I get the book and how many pages?

I honestly cannot remember where I got this book.  Most likely ordered from amazon.com, as I have so few options to find good, English language books.  Wherever it came from it clocked in at 324 pages.

Have I read this book before?

Nope.  The opportunity never presented itself, and it was not a book I sought out.

What do I already know?

I went into this one knowing nothing.  After the first five pages I glanced at the back cover and saw it was about a guy in a mental hospital and was the origin of Nurse Ratched.  Maybe 25 pages in my husband informed me it was a movie with Jack Nickolson.  I almost wish he hadn’t told me, because I am sure it influenced how I saw the character, but in truth I think he would be perfect.  (I know about the movie now, I haven’t seen it.)

What do I think now?

When I started, I wasn’t excited.  I mean, seriously, not into the book.  I could not have cared any less, and I wasn’t really into it.  I had already read The Bell Jar, and had a committed person book I was loving.  I wasn’t sure I could like this one; it just didn’t seem like my style of book.  I mean, it was all about a testosterone fueled, swaggering, loud mouthed guy causing trouble; not my thing, but thanks.

Within about fifty pages, I was hooked.  Okay, yeah, McMurphy is everything I already said, but he was also incredibly smart and intuitive.  He knew how things were, and could see exactly what was really going on with everyone.  He read the patients, the nurses, the doctors, and could see their buttons.  He knew just how far he could push, and exactly what he could get away with before the consequences were past what he could deal with.  It doesn’t mean he always stuck within those limits, but he was smart.  The obnoxious layer everyone could see was truth, but it was also a cover; no one would look past that outside to see everything else he was.  He painted his outside in such a way that people could not see the depth within him.  More than that, he did more good for the patients than the doctors did, even if it didn’t seem like he should have.  His methods were strange, but he brought about real change.

The end of the story is heartbreaking, but I honestly could not see it ending any other way.  This story wasn’t really meant to have a happy ending.

Should you read this book before you die?

Yes.  Absolutely.  There is so much going on here, and it is such a good story about fighting what is keeping you down.  It might not be the happy inspiration you need, but it is still worth the work.

Coming up next, is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy followed by Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks.

Happy Reading Everyone!