A Year In Books- The Final Chapter.

Last week, I completed the final week in my Year of Books. For those of you who may be new to my blog, last January I made a resolution to read one book a week for every week of 2011. And guess what? I did it! For the first time in my life, I actually fulfilled my New Year’s resolution. It feels good y’all. Real good.

How To Be A Woman

The final book of my Year in Books was How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran. And. It. Was. Mind. Blowing. I’m so completely bowled over by this book, I don’t even know if I have the words to convey what a hilarious and moving revelation it is. Every single woman reading this blog needs to buy it immediately (but it’s not out in the US yet so you have to order it from Amazon UK). Actually, every man reading this blog should buy this book as well. Sure, you may not be able to relate to some of the brilliant anecdotes but it would probably give you a lot of insight into what the hell is going on in your girlfriend/wife/sister/Mom/Aunt/Barista’s head.

This book was absolutely hilarious but it also made me reevaluate why I do some of the things I do and examine some of the reasons why certain things seem so intrinsic to being a woman. It also totally made me realize how ill prepared most of us are for being a woman. I mean, I learned all about menstruation and the changes that would happen to my body in school but that doesn’t even begin to cover all we need to know to be women. Moran asks those questions I never thought to ask but absolutely needed to know and had me literally laughing until I gave myself the hiccups. It was glorious.

I don’t even think I’m capable of praise high enough for this book. Moran was able to make me think critically about feminism, weddings, sex, shopping, and my body while also making me laugh hysterically. She also shares her stories of figuring out this thing called womanhood and what that really means and those stories are both moving and hilarious. I loved every single word in this book. Every. Single. Word. I don’t know what else to say except that I am so happy I was able to end my Year In Books with this book and that I think y’all should read it.

The End.

A Year In Books

Chronicles of Narnia

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! Last week, I completed my yearly Chronicles of Narnia marathon. It was magical. Obviously. Although, I have to admit an ulterior motive in finishing them quickly- I am currently reading another incredible book and I wanted to make sure it was the last entry in A Year In Books. I can’t believe I actually fulfilled a New Year’s resolution for once! I’m feeling quite satisfied with myself to be honest. Anyway, on to the Chronic-What-Cles of Narnia.

The Horse and His Boy

I love this story because it’s a rare glimpse into the glory days of the reign of the Pevensies in Narnia. Also, it’s a great geography lesson of the world in which Narnia exists. You get to learn more about the other countries and customs that inhabit that world. I also love a great underdog story and this certainly is one. It’s the story of Shasta, a poor and beaten boy from Calormen who meets a talking horse, Bree, that tells him he clearly isn’t a native Calormene and convinces him to run away with him to Narnia. Along the way, they meet another talking horse, Hwin, and runaway Aravis. They join together to flee to Narnia and the North. I don’t want to ruin it for those of you who haven’t read it, but there is a pretty spectacular happy ending here.

Prince Caspian

The Pevensies return to Narnia! The Pevensies return to Narnia!! Except Narnian time works differently from ours so many centuries have passed since the days when Peter sat on the throne as High King. Telmarines have taken over and let me tell you, they aren’t so nice to the talking animals and magical creatures of Narnia. And the Telmarine King isn’t even nice to his own nephew, the rightful King, so his nephew, Caspian, flees into the forest and finds the remnants of Old Narnia. A war ensues and the Pevensies are called from our world to Narnia’s aid. And guess what? They totally win. It’s awesome. Except for the part when Aslan says Peter and Susan won’t be returning to Narnia, that’s actually a bit sad.

The Voyage of The Dawn Treader

Here we meet Prince Caspian again! He’s such a charming lad. Lucy and Edmund return to Narnia, well, not actually Narnia, but rather a Narnia ship bound for the utter East and Aslan’s country. Along the way, they seek to find certain Lords who were loyal to Caspian’s Father and had to flee the evil of his Uncle. Boy are there some adventures on this journey! Probably more than any of the other books, this one had me flipping through the pages furiously to find out what happened. It’s a great read and has one of C.S. Lewis’ best characters in it, Reepicheep the mouse, who is the most valiant and brave of all the talking animals. We also meet Lucy and Edmunds cousin Eustace, who is quite a pill although you come to like him by the end of the book. C.S. Lewis had such a knack for writing very developed characters in very few words and Eustace and Reepicheep are great examples of that.

The Silver Chair

This is my favorite of all the Chronicles. I absolutely love the story, I mean, you can’t really go wrong with an underground world and an enchanted Prince, but this book also features one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. Puddleglum. He is at once both pessimistic and hopeful. I adore him. This is another excellent example of Lewis being able to write a fully developed and endearing character in a short book. Whenever I think of my favorite fictional characters, Puddleglum is one of the first to come to mind. He’s so dark and yet so full of light. I also love learning more about Eustace and his companion on this journey, Jill. They both attend a wretched school full of bullies but they get their revenge in the end and it’s both satisfying and funny. I have to admit, I have a sweet spot for traveling tales and this is top amongst those.

The Last Battle

This book is the final adventure in Narnia. In fact, it’s the end of Narnia itself. Just as Aslan brought the world into being in such a beautiful way, so he ends it. This is a spectacular story and I rather think has some good lessons about not being swayed by propaganda. Everyone is back in this tale, yes everyone, including all four Pevensies. But how can that be? You may be asking. To which I reply, with Aslan, there is always a way. And it’s lovely and sweet and sad all at the same time. It’s an ending only C.S. Lewis could write and get away with.

 

Even though I read these books every year, I never tire of them. They never fail to delight and excite me. If you haven’t read them, and like fantasy adventures with talking animals, magical creatures, and children saving the day, then you absolutely must read these.

What are y’all reading this week?

A Year In Books

Mindy Kaling

Last week I read Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Minday Kaling. Hilarity ensued. I laughed, I laughed some more, I nodded my head in understanding and sisterly solidarity, and then I laughed again. Mindy Kaling, who many of you may know was Kelly Kapoor on The Office (Oh and she also writes and produces for the show), is exceptionally hilarious and relatable. She is every really awesome hilarious friend you’ve ever writing about every hilarious and awesome thing you’ve ever talked about with that friend. It’s happiness in a book people. That’s truth.

Kaling also talks about how she made it in New York City. It’s like a funnier and more realistic version of every “How I Made it in New York” movie you’ve ever seen. I have to admit, I always admire people who take a chance by following their dreams to the big city, that takes a lot of guts. And Kaling has lots of guts. Lots of really funny guts. I’ll be honest, I’m pretty jealous of her funny guts.  As I said before, reading this book was like hanging out with your favorite friends who is hilarious and, let’s be honest, a lot cooler than you, but when you hang out with them, you get a little cooler by proxy. Reading this book made me cooler by proxy.

If you like to laugh and get cooler by proxy, I suggest you read this book. Nay, I insist you read this book. The world could use a little cooler by proxy…er……laughter.

What are y’all reading this week?

I Have A New Love In My Life…

I bet you think this post is about my boyfriend. Sike! It’s about the new Black Keys album El Camino.

Ok. Everyone needs to open their iTunes and buy El Camino immediately. I love The Black Keys and this is another stellar album put out by them. They had me from track one, although my favorite track by far is this little gem.

That video is from their absolutely brilliant SNL performance last Saturday. Seriously kids, they owned it hard. I keep listening to this song again and again, it makes me want to dance and  be involved in some sort  of car chase. I dig it.

Also, there is this video for Lonely Boy (their first single) that may be one of the best music videos I’ve ever seen. It’s so hypnotic and hilarious and a complete stroke of genius. Watch it, won’t you?

Yeah, you’re welcome.

 

 

A Year In Books

The Lost Continent

For the last two weeks I’ve been reading The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson. I took an extra week to read it because it was excellent and I didn’t want to rush through it. Bill Bryson has completely won me over as an author and I will definitely be reading more of his books. This book took me completely by surprise, it’s the chronicle of Bryson’s road trip across American after having lived in the UK for many years. So, pretty awesome.

When I first started reading the book I felt a little lost, when Bryson was describing certain places it seemed to me he was relying on a lot of stereotype. I kept thinking “Wait. I’ve been there, it’s not like that at all.” and then I remembered that Bryson’s road trip was in 1987. 1987 was a completely different time  and although it doesn’t seem to be that long ago, I imagine things were probably a lot different 24 years ago. Once I got over that- I was full in. Bryson is hilarious. His adventures on the road are completely relatable and, perhaps unintentionally, perhaps intentionally, satirical. Basically, his writing is my jam.

It’s a travel memoir but it’s unlike any travel memoir you’ve ever read. Not only because it’s very very funny, but also because it seems so familiar and comforting. Most Americans have taken a road trip or two around the country, usually at fairly young ages, so the idea of someone well into their adulthood trying to recapture a little bit of that childhood nostalgia resonates. It resonates hard. It’s also very compelling because we all know just how enormous the US is and therefore have mad respect for anyone who attempts to drive across it. It’s definitely what you refer to as a “journey” and not merely a “trip”.

Seriously y’all, this book is one of the best I’ve read all year. I loved everything about it. The snarkiness, the endearment, the good, the bad, and the tourist attractions. It was all brilliantly written and made me want to jump in my car and take off for the open road immediately.

What are you guys reading this week?

Watching Breaking Dawn Was Like Getting Punched In The Brain

Breaking Dawn

This movie was so terrible. SO. TERRIBLE. I don’t even think terrible covers it. When I left the theater I felt like the biggest fool in the world. Why was I there? What possessed me to give that movie a chance? How could I have let such a travesty happen to me? What makes it worse, is I was there with my friend and her brain got punched as well and it’s all my fault. I can’t believe I paid to see that. I will never forgive myself. Ever.

Full disclosure here, I did read all 4 books so I knew what I was in for more or less. Which, really, when you think about it, makes it all the worse that I saw the movie. I knew better! The first 3 books were fine I guess, I’ll admit I was caught up in the romance of them, but when I got the the fourth book everything changed.

Listen- I can suspend my disbelief enough to believe in vampires and werewolves. But under no circumstances am I able to suspend my disbelief so much that I can accept that a vampire who has been dead for over 100 years still has viable sperm. Really? Unacceptable. I’m also unwilling to believe that chewing your baby out of the womb is an acceptable way to deliver a baby. Oh, and just so everyone knows, no matter how innocent they try to make “imprinting” sound- it is still creepy as hell. And honestly, it was even worse on film. Worse and never-ending- this movie is like 2 1/2 hours long. For reals. Shame on me for sitting through it.

Anyway, I’ll probably see the next one too. I clearly need to have my head examined.

A Year In Books

For those of you who might be new here, every Monday I write a post about the book I read last week. It’s all a part of the New Years Resolution I made to read one book a week for an entire year. Here we are in November and I haven’t missed a week- I’m not bragging but…c’mon, I actually kept a New Years Resolution, that’s pretty impressive. ;)

Bossypants

Last week I read Bossypants by Tina Fey. You must be thinking “Wait! GotC! You already read that book this year!” And you would be right. I did. But I found it so hilarious I read it again. So sue me. (Please don’t sue me) Also, I needed some comedic inspiration. I’ve recently run into a bit of what the kiddos call “writers block” and I have always found that surrounding myself with things I think are funny generally helps shake the funny loose from the brain. It’s very scientific. Tina Fey is one of my comedic icons so re-reading her book seemed like a good idea. And guess what? It was. The funny finally shook loose.

If you haven’t yet read Bossypants, let me ask you this, “What the deuce have you been doing?!” This book is not only hilarious, it actually has a lot of excellent advice and insight into being a woman in a male-driven industry. It’s pretty genius actually. Even if you aren’t looking for insight or advice, I can promise you will laugh. And who doesn’t want or need a laugh? Read this book y’all. Read it hard.

What are you guys reading this week?

A Year In Books

Heaven Is For Real

Last week, I read Heaven Is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo. It’s a little boys account of his trip to Heaven when he briefly passed away on an operating table as told by his Father. It’s a very interesting and very sweet story. I mean, regardless of whether or not you believe in Heaven, it’s an amazing story. This little boys appendix ruptured, but through the misdiagnosis of doctors, he went 5 days before finally being operated on. 5 DAYS. 5 days of poison coursing through his little body. And he lived. It’s incredible.

I have to be honest, there were certain parts of the book I felt were heavily influenced by Colton’s father, Todd who is a pastor. Not enough to make me feel like Colton wasn’t telling the truth, but there were definitely parts I felt sounded more like an adult talking about Heaven and less like a child. Having said that, there were also many parts that very much sounded like a child talking about Heaven and there was a lot in this book that was very compelling. I have to say, this kid is absolutely amazing, not only his strength but also his very sweet outlook on life and Heaven. As an adult (or you know as much of an adult as I’ll ever be) I can sometimes be a bit cynical, but  this book reminded me what seeing the world as a child is like and the innocence and hope I used to feel. Overall, I just felt like this was a very sweet and heartfelt book.

What are you kids reading this week?

A Year In Books

A Farewell To Arms

Sometimes, you just need an old favorite. Last week, I did, so I read A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway. It’s one of my absolute favorite reads and I usually re-read it about once a year. This year reading it held special meaning for me after reading Paris Without End a few weeks ago.

If you have never read A Farewell To Arms, you need to. It’s a classic for a reason. Full disclosure, I had a reputation in High School for being a bit of a Hemingway fanatic. So, you know, obviously I was one of the cool kids. I read everything Hemingway ever published- it was a bit of an obsession for me. I’m a sucker for stream of consciousness. True story. It all started with A Farewell To Arms though, it was my first, and still holds a very special place in my heart. Catherine Barkley is a bit crazy, which I absolutely fall in love with every time. I think she is one of Hemingway’s better written female characters (hmmm maybe that’s because he used first wife Hadley Richardson as the inspiration….). I’m entirely sympathetic to Catherine throughout the novel, although I don’t have that same consistent sympathy for Frederic Henry. There’s just something about Catherine Barkley, when she talks about her first love and how she became a nurse with vague notions of taking care of him after he suffered a heroic but not life-threatening injury during the war, I think how entirely human and sweet those imaginations were, and when she reveals he was blown to bits by a bomb, I think how entirely true and real that is. Catherine is a real person. And by that I mean, really well written.

I don’t entirely agree with Hemingway’s notion of two lovers becoming one another and being only one complete person when together but it certainly makes for lovely reading. The descriptions of WWI were powerful in that they never felt emotionally manipulative. The war is described frankly and without grandiose exclamations (which is interesting seeing as how Hemingway himself was quite prone to grandiose exclamations), it is the war as Hemingway experienced it and his way of viewing and discussing it would ultimately be part of an entire literary generations conception of it. It’s simple and beautifully written.

This is just one of my absolute favorite books ever. If I was forced to choose only 5 books to read for the rest of my life, this would be one of them.

What are you guys reading? What 5 books would you choose??

A Year In Books

Bonk

Last week, I read Bonk by Mary Roach, who has now become one of my favorite authors and I can’t wait to read more of her work. This book was hilarious and informative and endlessly fascinating. It was about sex.

Ok. It wasn’t really about sex. But it was a commentary on the study of sex so, you know, same thing. This book came very highly recommended to me by the queen of all things interesting and fabulous, my friend Mary. After reading this book, I would say I owe her big time because she has introduced me to a new love in my life and that’s the work of Mary Roach.

Roach is amazing. Beyond amazing, she’s stupendous! She has an inquiring mind and sharp wit and was able to make me interested in the science bits just as much as the sexy bits of Bonk. Just so everyone is clear, this book is about the history of the study of sex. And it was hilarious but also educational, which is the absolute best way to get me to learn anything. Some of the experiments she explains in her book may seem absurd initially, but stick with it because I promise you will learn something useful. Also, if there is ever a category on this in Jeopardy-  I will dominate it! I’ll take Coital Imaging for $400, Alex.

I can’t emphasize enough how completely brilliant this book is. THIS BOOK IS BRILLIANT! Ok, well, I guess I *can* emphasize it enough. I can’t wait to read Spook, Stiff, and Packing for Mars. Can. Not. Wait.

What are you guys reading this week?