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8th-Jan-2015 11:54 am - Oh, right, I still have an LJ.
This is the time of year that I usually update, so I guess I'll do that.

Making New Year's Resolutions was difficult this year, because my life is pretty goddamn awesome right now. I resolved to run a 5k in under 23 minutes, and to go hiking more. Other than that... continuing to revel in the wonderfulness that is grad school, and to carefully maintain my school/family/workout balance. One semester down, so far so good.

Life really is amazing right now. I'm so grateful for it. Interestingly, I have lost a lot of FB friends over the last 6 months or so, and I wonder if there's a connection there. I'm finally getting my life in order, so people unfriend me? I get it. I had to hide people from my feed who seemed to be doing well back when I wasn't. I'm sure there may be other reasons that people are unfriending me; it just seems like weird timing. I don't even post on FB as much as I used to, so I don't think it's because I'm being annoying or anything.

Anyway. I usually post the however-many books I read over the past year, so I guess I'll do that, although there weren't as many this past year due to applying to school/freaking out/actually going to school.


Although I didn't read as many as usual, I actually read several books that I've been meaning to read for years. I've also been buying fewer books to add to the ENORMOUS collection of books on my shelf that I still need to read. Someday I might actually get through all my books!

  1. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read this one out loud to Téa. When I was her age, my mom read it to me, so it was a nice nostalgic read for me. Téa also seemed to enjoy it; she asked a lot of questions about the time period, and it seemed to blow her mind a little bit!

  2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. 5 stars-- such an excellent, sad, and enthralling book. I can't believe I finished this one a whole year ago; seems like it was more recent.

  3. Dreams of Joy by Lisa See. 4 stars. I haven't read a Lisa See book that I haven't enjoyed. This book taught me that I am totally incapable of listening to audiobooks; I tried to listen to it during my long car trips, but ended up having to just read the book because I forgot to pay attention. Oops.

  4. The Strange Case of Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. 4 stars. Creepy little book.

  5. A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan. 3 stars. Not very memorable, honestly.

  6. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White. Another one from my childhood that I thought would be great for the nostalgia factor, and it was, for the first 3/4 of the book. I never realized what a shitty character this book turns Fern into! She ends up totally obsessed with boys and forgets about her beloved pig, basically. Her brother ends up being the hero. It's so irritating. Thankfully Téa wasn't really paying attention by the end of the book, so I don't think she picked up on how sexist it ends up being. I won't be reading this one to her again.

  7. The Cider House Rules by John Irving. 5 stars. I've been meaning to read this one forever, and I wasn't disappointed. It's so different from the movie! They had to change a lot of things to condense it for the movie (it's like a 500 page book), so reading the book was a great experience.

  8. Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado. 4 stars. Once a year or so I get a hankering for a good survival-in-the-mountains story, and this one was quite good. This was the plane crash in the Andes with the rugby team. The survivors had to resort to cannibalism in order to stay alive.

  9. Baking Cakes in Kigali by Gaile Parkin. I don't remember this one super well, but it did pair well with "We Wish to Inform you that Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families," which I read the year before. Both about Rwanda; the latter was about the genocide, the former was fictional, but set in the aftermath.

  10. The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera. A bit of a disappointment after reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being (which I loved) years ago. Even after reading summaries of this book, I barely remember it.

  11. Possession by A.S. Byatt. Byatt is swiftly becoming one of my favorite authors; this book was incredible. 5 stars. Literature for people who love literature, for sure.

  12. Schindler's List by Thomas Keneally. One I've been meaning to read forever, and finally did. This book made me really appreciate the movie-- it was incredibly well-casted. What can you say about a book about the Holocaust? Horrifying and enlightening. 5 stars.

  13. Divergent by Veronica Roth-- I really wanted to like this one, because I thought the movie trailer was excellent. The book was okay, but kind of disappointing, and then I found out the movie sucked so I didn't even see it.

  14. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy -- another I've been meaning to read for ages, but it didn't live up to my very high expectations for Thomas Hardy, whom I usually love. It was good, just not as good as his other books.

  15. The Glass Palace by Amitov Ghosh. Oh my lord, this one took me forever to read. It was a huge, dense, ultimately amazing book, but really hard to get into. It was nice to read about a part of the world that I don't usually read about (Burma/Malaysia/India).

  16. Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin. Another one I meant to read forever, and so glad I finally did. 5 stars. Totally did not expect this to be a gay literature classic (how did I not know that? I don't know; I just didnt). I read Baldwin's other book, Go Tell it On the Mountain, years ago, and that one was totally different. Both excellent reads.

  17. Native Son by Richard Wright. Another one that had been sitting on my to-read shelf for years and years. SO EXCELLENT. Why didn't I read this one before? This may have been my favorite of the year. It was about a black man in the ... 20s? 30s? Anyway, it was basically Crime and Punishment but set in Chicago, and with a lot more racism.

  18. A Passage to India by E.M. Forster. I appreciated this one touching on racism in colonial India, but unfortunately I just find Forster to be so, so boring. However, this was another on my to-read list that I finally got through, so that was good.

  19. Education and Social Change: Contours in the History of American Education by John Rury. Excellent book, read for a class.

  20. American Education by Joel Spring. Another great book, read for a class.

  21. Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality by Joel Spring. Same class as the two above, and best of the three. Basically all about how minorities have been completely screwed over by the educational system for the past few hundred years.

  22. The Hot Zone by Richard Preston: So good! So relevant! I actually found it comforting to be so well informed about ebola.

  23. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver-- I don't even know. I hated this book, but it was compelling to read. But I hated it.

  24. Pet Sematary by Stephen King-- 4 stars. My aunt once told me I'd never be able to get through this book after I had children. I made it through, but it was a pretty rough read. King considers it his scariest book, and he might be right about that.

  25. School Psychology for the 21st Century by Kenneth Merrell-- you guessed it, read this one for a class.

  26. Whatever it Takes by Paul Tough -- read for a class.

  27. Interviewing students for school solutions by John Murphy-- read for a class; probably my favorite read from all my classes this past semester. But probably only interesting if you're learning how to counsel children.

  28. The School Psychologist's Survival Guide by Rebecca Branstetter. I read this one to learn more about the field; it pretty much solidified for me that school psych is what I want to do.

  29. No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy-- good read, but not as good as The Road.

  30. A Shining Affliction by Annie Rogers-- I re-read this one that one of my Hampshire professors wrote. Still just as good as it was years ago when I read it.

  31. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson-- eh. My sister gave this one to me for Christmas; I hated all the characters in it.

So that's it for 2014! I'm going to continue to try to cram in personal reading during this year (especially during this final week before classes start for me).

In conclusion, regarding the last half of 2014 (basically summing up the last 6 months since I last updated LJ):

School is awesome. Love my field, love my classes, love my classmates, love my field site.

I fell off my workout/running routine toward the end of the semester, due to school craziness, but I am back on the wagon now. I ran a lot of races this past year, and I'm pretty proud of myself for those. High hopes for more races this year!

My BFF moved from Chicago to Boston (like a 10 minute walk from my campus), and that has been ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL. I see her so much! When she lived in Chicago and I lived in NYC, we only saw each other like once a year, so I am incredibly happy about her move.

Téa is doing great in first grade, and we're both dealing pretty well with my school schedule. Anthony's been stepping up his Dad game in my absence, so that's been a load off my mind.

So that's my enormous end-of-year/beginning-of-year update! On to the next semester!
31st-Dec-2014 08:01 pm - Books to read in 2014

For my own reference, the books I want to read this year. I'll be adding to the list and crossing out the books I finish as the year goes on.

Goals this year: Get to 200 books on the "1001 books to read before you die list" (27 more); read AS MANY AS POSSIBLE that are sitting on my bookshelves.

Currently reading:

Tweak by Nic Sheff
Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
The Book Thief by Markus Zusac
Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (reading to Téa)
Charlotte's Web (reading to Téa)

Unread on my Nook:

Divergent by Veronica Roth
We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Unread from previous years:

Silas Marner
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Mary Barton
Breakfast at Tiffany's
The Count of Monte Cristo
London Fields
Martin Chuzzlewit
The Thousand and One Nights
The Three Musketeers
A Passage to India by E. M. Forster
Hawaii by James A. Michener
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Cider House Rules by John Irving
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

bookretorts books

January - Mysteries - A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
February - Juvenile Literature - The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
March - LBGTQI - Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
April - Non-Western Literature - The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
May - Non-Human Perspective - Watership Down by Richard Adams
June - Beach Reads - The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman
July - Books to Movies V - Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (and movie)
August - Superheroes - Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman
September - Books I Never Read in School (free choice)
October - Banned Book Month - Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
November - Spin-Offs - The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
December -Nostalgia Month IV - The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Around the World 2014 List

The Plague -- Algeria
The Worst Journey in the World -- Antarctica
Collected Fictions -- Argentina
The Piano Teacher -- Austria
Miracle in the Andes -- Chile
King Leopold's Ghost -- Dem. Republic of Congo
The Book of Laughter and Forgetting -- Czech Republic
Miramar -- Egypt
The Tin Drum -- Germany
Auto-da-Fé -- Germany/Bulgaria
The Piano Teacher -- Hong Kong
Independent People -- Iceland
The Blind Owl -- Iran
Silk -- Italy
Forgotten Country -- Korea
Timbuctoo -- Mali
Schindler's List -- Poland
Don Quixote -- Spain
What is the What -- Sudan
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo -- Sweden
The Glass Bead Game -- Switzerland
The Ordination of a Tree -- Thailand
The Invisible Mountain -- Uruguay
The Lotus Eaters -- Vietnam
The King Must Die -- Greece
Baking Cakes in Kigali -- Rwanda
Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali -- Mali
The Worlds of a Maasai Warrior: An Autobiography -- Tanzania
Opium Nation -- Afghanistan
Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilisation -- American Samoa
The Glass Palace -- Burma
The Proof of the Honey – Syria
The Man who Loved Children – Christina Stead – Australia
Memory of Fire by Eduardo Galeano – Uruguay
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese – Ethiopia

29th-Dec-2013 07:19 pm - The *48!* books I read in 2013
Doing my annual book round up early this year, for the hell of it. I *may* finish one more book before the year is out, but we'll see. If so, I'll add it. (Edit: finished, added it.)

I didn't read as much this year as I did in 2012 or 2011, due to that whole packing/moving/starting a new life in a new state thing. And then working a lot, and working on grad school applications. Hopefully I can get more reading done this coming year, but who knows with all my other goals going on. Anyway, here they are:

  1. Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult -- 2 stars. Shoot! I really thought I had got through 2013 without reading a Jodi Picoult. It's my mom's fault; she makes me read them. I read a couple of Picoult books that I really liked a few years ago; everything else I've read by her has been crap. This was crap.

  2. Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Connor -- 5 stars. Read this in a book of 3 Flannery O'Connor novels. I can't remember which one was which, now. Oh, apparently this was her collection of short stories. I... have no memory of them. Oops!

  3. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides -- 5 stars. One of my favorite books of the year. I have to read more Eugenides soon.

  4. The Violent Bear it Away by Flannery O'Connor -- 2 stars. Again from that book of 3.

  5. The House at Pooh Corner by A. A. Milne -- Téa loved this one!

  6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green -- 3 stars. Not my favorite by him. This book apparently makes everyone cry, but... it didn't make me cry. It was pretty predictable.

  7. The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan -- 4 stars. I freaking love Amy Tan.

  8. Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow -- 4 stars. I really didn't expect to like this book as much as I did! A really engaging historical novel about the turn of the century.

  9. The Round House by Louise Erdrich -- 3 stars. I wanted to love this book, but it just ended up being okay.

  10. This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz -- 3 stars. I forget why I didn't love this one.

  11. Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo -- My sister had this book when we were kids, and I always meant to read it. I finally did so. It was intense.

  12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn -- 3 stars. Oh man, I hated this book so much for the first half of it. I was so ready to one star it. I HATED THE CHARACTERS. But everything got so fucked up in the last half of the book, I had to shake my head and just admire the author's craft. It was brilliantly horrifying.

  13. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn -- 3 stars. Disturbing but dry.

  14. Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel -- 3 stars. This one was cute, but a little too romance-genre for me. I don't really understand why it's hailed as an amazing classic romance.

  15. Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler -- 3 stars. Noir mystery just isn't my genre, but this is extremely good if you like that kind of thing.

  16. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis -- 4 stars. I'm a sucker for black struggle novels, and this was a doozy.

  17. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith -- 4 star. Another of my favorites this year! I gotta remember to pick this one up for my sister.

  18. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer -- 5 stars. Freaking amazing book.

  19. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami -- 3 stars. Classic horror, I'm glad I read it. I had to write down the characters to keep track of them all. Entertaining.

  20. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell -- 4 stars. I love Gaskell. Her writing makes me happy, like Jane Austen novels do.

  21. See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid -- 2 stars. This is an author I meant to read for a long time, and her new book disappointed me.

  22. Lucy by Jamaica Kincade -- 4 stars. So I read a better one by her! I loved this book.

  23. Hunger by Knut Hamsun -- 4 stars. This one really stuck with me. Haunting.

  24. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo -- 5 stars. THIS IS A BIG REASON I ONLY READ 47 BOOKS THIS YEAR. This one should have counted as several books. It was a looong journey through this book, but so worth it.

  25. We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevitch -- If you want a sobering, well-written book about the horrors of genocide, this is your book.

  26. The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall -- 3 stars. An LGBT classic, and therefore quite depressing.

  27. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez -- 4 stars. I started reading this one on my Nook by accident-- I just wanted to see how the book began, out of curiosity. It pulled me in, and I read the whole thing. Amazing, sad book.

  28. Tono-Bungay by H.G. Wells -- 3 stars. I gotta give Wells credit; this is a great book. But dryyyyy.

  29. The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng -- 3 stars. It was okay, memorable, with great imagery (I feel like I saw the movie rather than read it; that's how I know the imagery was amazing), but dry at times.

  30. Ghana Must Go  by Taiye Selasi -- 4 stars. The writing was just amazing. This one should become a classic.

  31. Oroonoko by Aphra Behn -- This is such an old book, I kind of don't know what to make of it. Lots of ambiguity about slavery.

  32. The Women of Tijucopapo by Marilene Felinto -- 3 stars. I found this book randomly at a book sale and it looked interesting. It was a weird book, but well written.

  33. The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne -- 4 stars. This book was creepy! Really good though.

  34. The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy -- 5 stars. Yet another reason I read so few books; this one counts as like 3. Probably the best book I read this year; this tome is a classic.

  35. She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb -- 1 star. Probably the WORST book I read this year. I hated the main character, I hated the story, I hated the writing. Wally Lamb is supposed to be really good, but... ugh. I won't be picking up another of his anytime soon.

  36. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh -- 3 stars. This one was all surface, I thought. Yes the language is amazing and forces you to read it in a Scottish accent, and yes it shows you how Scottish drug addicts live which is kind of interesting. But, I don't know. All the characters were jerks and it lacked depth.

  37. A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin -- 3 stars. Yet ANOTHER reason my book number is so low! This one was a beast to read. It took me forever because NOTHING FUCKING HAPPENED IN THIS BOOK. Get on with it, George, you old windbag! The next book better have more action.

  38. The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen -- 4 stars. Would have been 5, probably, as it's an amazing read, but I couldn't get Franzen's snobbishness out of my head.

  39. The Other by Thomas Tryon -- 4 stars. Oh, this one was creepy. Tryon is always creepy as hell, apparently. I recommend his book "Harvest Home."

  40. The Purloined Letter by Edgar Allen Poe -- I read a bunch of Poe, and I found him kind of dry and boring. Disappointing, because I really love H. P. Lovecraft, who was apparently inspired by Poe.

  41. The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe -- see above.

  42. The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allen Poe -- see above.

  43. The Road by Cormac McCarthy -- 5 stars. One of my favorites of the year, so engrossing. Which is weird, because I tried to read this one while I was pregnant, and I couldn't stand it.

  44. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain -- 5 stars. I simultaneously read this and listened to it on audiobook in my car, so it's going to forever be linked in my mind to driving through beautiful mountains to get to my student in Vermont. It was nice to have this book for company on those trips. It's a funny little classic for good reason.

  45. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley -- 5 stars. Classic, brilliantly creepy.

  46. Cain by José Saramago -- 2 stars. Endings are everything; I loved this one up until the very abrupt ending. It felt like the author was leading up to something big, then sort of gave up and ended it without making a point.

  47. Getting Started with Latin: Beginning Latin for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age by William E. Linney -- Random nonfiction. I read this to try to re-teach myself Latin so I could help a student with it, but this was only the most basic Latin. It was fun to re-learn, though, and I plan to use this to teach Téa when she's a little older.

  48. Tweak by Nic Sheff. Almost as bad as "A Million Little Pieces." Almost. I read this one really fast just to get through the awfulness.

So that's it! I read a lot of really long books this year. Next year I'm hoping to read through a lot of what's been sitting on my bookshelves for years. I have so many books I've been meaning to read, but I get distracted by new ones. It's a problem.
15th-Jul-2013 03:53 pm - Moving: Part One
This is gonna be a whirlwind summer for us, I can tell.

Moving is going to be crazy. Good thing I've spent the past few months mentally preparing for it.

What I'm focusing on this week:

* Packing non-essentials (things we won't need to use within the next few weeks)
* Getting all Téa's doctors appointments taken care of (eye exam Thursday, physical tomorrow to catch up on shots and fill out a form for kindergarten registration)
* Setting up appointments to see apartments next week

Téa and I are headed up to Maine on Saturday, so I'll have a week or two to get things settled up there, and then hopefully I'll be coming back down here to load all our stuff on a moving truck.

But I'm totally overwhelmed by the thought of the moving truck, so I'm focusing on THIS week. And not all the other stuff that's crowding my brain, like getting used to a new city, having to find all new doctors/dentists/optometrists, getting Téa into kindergarten, buying a car, finding a job, applying to grad school....

Yep. One step at a time!

I am ON IT, you guys. I got this. I'm way too thrilled to be stressed out.
9th-Jul-2013 10:36 am(no subject)
Anthony says to me this morning as I'm waking up,

"Hey, Chris wants me to help him move."

"Umm... the Chris that lives in Baltimore?"


"Whaaaat? When?"

"This weekend."



Of course I'm not going to say no. Ohhh, no, I'm not gonna be pegged as the bad guy AGAIN (see http://desiresuicide.livejournal.com/2011/08/14/). And I realize that I tend to take off on weekends whenever I feel like it to go to Maine or, more recently, Massachusetts (although I take the kid with me). But it's annoying, because it's short notice, and we (hopefully) don't have many more weekends in NYC together. Next week I'm headed to Maine for a couple weeks or so. And this past long weekend we didn't do much of anything because it was hot, and neither Anthony nor Téa were feeling particularly good.

Oh well. I'm gonna keep my mouth shut. Except for bitching to you guys about it.

To follow up on my previous entry: Things are looking good on the job front (although we're trying not to get our hopes up, lest we get our hearts broken). Anthony has had two interviews at one place and one at the other, and all three interviews went well. Hoping to hear something this week. As soon as he gets hired, I'm gonna fly my ass up to New England (if I'm not already in Maine) and find us an apartment in Manchester, NH.

Yeah, we decided on that.

Let this happen soon, please PLEASE! I HATE NEW YORK!
12th-Jan-2013 07:52 pm - The 75 (!!!) Books I read in 2012
Holy crap, I read a lot this year. It's almost embarrassing to admit how much I read, because it shows that I don't have much of a life. lol. Anyway, here's the list!

Cut for long-ass list!Collapse )
Phew! This is the most books I've ever read in a year. I don't know if I'll be able to keep up this pace in 2013, but I've already finished 2, so we'll see!
1st-Jan-2012 10:05 am - The 65 Books I Read in 2011
65 books this year! Holy crap! Here's my list, with my ratings and thoughts on each.

Cut to save your friends page!Collapse )

And there we have it. Holy crap, I read a lot this year!

Soon to come: a new "books to read in 2012" post, and maybe an actual 2011 retrospective post. Maybe.
30th-Nov-2010 04:26 pm - I WON!
12th-Jun-2010 02:52 pm - Get out of my house, literature!
Shameless plug: If you like reading and have a lot of books to get rid of, you should be on paperbackswap. Just saying.

I have a crapton of books on there that I'd love to get rid of before I move.

I'm also donating a bunch to the local used bookstore.

I always feel guilty when I give away my books (even though they're all books I've read and most likely will never read again), but when I think about all the stuff I'm going to have to pack and unpack, I pretty much want to throw out everything I own.
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