Jurassic Park

I have only ever seen the Jurassic Park movies with my friend Christine.  I watched it for the first time on vacation with her in Florida, then we watched it when it came out in the theaters in 3D, and this summer we watched it outside at Tulsa’s Guthrie Green.  Before she moved away in August (insert sad, crying emoticon here), we fit in Jurassic Park 2 and 3 on DVD.  After watching all three movies, I decided I needed to read the book, because Christine assured me that it was better than the movies.

#31daysofreading

I started reading Jurassic Park as an ebook from the library. Then, just as it was getting good, I opened it up on my desktop to find that it had expired someone else had already checked it out.  Thank goodness I work at the library where we still have more than a few printed books.  We had a paperback on the shelves, which I checked out immediately.

In Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park, eccentric businessman John Hammond has paid a lot of money to bring dinosaurs back from extinction.  With detailed explanations, Crichton convinces you that the science behind this crazy idea could actually be plausible.  Throughout the book, you also meet a cast of interesting characters, who may or may not survive to the end of the story.  And of course, there are dinosaurs.  Lots of dinosaurs.

After watching the movie adaptation and reading the book, I have to say that I enjoyed both and can’t rank one over the other.  Jurassic Park isn’t my typical read, but it was certainly an enjoyable one that kept me on the edge of my seat.  It’s a great book to choose if you’re looking for a little adventure in your reading life.


Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton, 4-stars, suspense fiction, dinosaursjurassic park

The Divorce Papers

The Divorce Papers made me realize how much I love epistolary novels. Susan Rieger’s story of how lawyer Sophie Diehl manages the divorce of Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim is told through correspondence, including legal papers, emails, newspaper articles, and more.  Even though reading through paperwork might sound boring and divorce is an unpleasant topic, The Divorce Papers tells a fascinating story.

#31daysofreading

Sophie is not a divorce lawyer.  Yet somehow, a longtime client of her firm, Mia, decides that Sophie is the right lawyer for her divorce.  Sophie’s firm wants to keep their client happy and asks her to take on this daunting task.  As Sophie learns more about divorce law and of the story of her client, so do you.  She asks for assistance from her bosses, reads articles about the law of her county, and keeps in close contact with her client.  You learn more about both Sophie and Mia, as well as the intricacies of divorce law through each piece of correspondence.

Normally when I choose a book, I check Goodreads for it’s average rating and I don’t often read books with a rating of less than 3.5 stars. I either didn’t check before I read The Divorce Papers or I decided I didn’t care, because it has a 3.32 rating.  The masses are not always correct: sometimes a book just falls really well with you even when many others hated it.  That was the case for me with The Divorce Papers.  Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down.  If you’re looking for good epistolary fiction, I recommend this book.



the divorce papers

#GIRLBOSS

I read #GIRLBOSS one morning in July when I woke up accidentally at 4:45 AM.  My medication woke up my brain before my body wanted to get out of bed so I picked up #GIRLBOSS (yes, the hashtag is included in the title) off the top of the giant stack of books next to my bed.  It’s not a long or difficult read, and I had the book finished by the time my alarm went off at 7 AM to get ready for work.

#31daysofreading

Part memoir, part self-help, part business tale, #GIRLBOSS is Sophia Amoruso’s story of how she grew her business NastyGal.  She started out as a one-woman shop on eBay selling vintage clothes she found in thrift stores and over the course of a few years grew that shop into a multi-million dollar company.  I had never heard of either Amoruso or Nasty Gal, but the book had been recommended by a website I read for young professional women called Levo League.

What I liked most about this book was, as is the case for most memoirs, is Sophia’s story.  She’s honest and open about the mistakes she made in her young adulthood and as she started her business.  Her journey to becoming the CEO of a giant brand was, to say the least, unconventional.  She didn’t go to college, she didn’t attend business school.  Instead, she built her business through trial and error and wasn’t afraid of making mistakes if she could learn from them.

Interspersed through her personal story are tips for the modern young professional women, the #GIRLBOSS.  She has rules like, “Money looks better in the bank than on your feet,” and “Dream big, start small.”  None of these tips or rules are new or earth-shattering, but they are practical reminders that can help young women take charge of their personal and professional lives.


#GIRLBOSS, Sophia Amoruso, 4-stars, memoir, business, advice, some swearing


#GIRLBOSS

Summer 2014: What I Was Into

May, June, July,  August: Summer 2014 flew by for me. I started a new job in the spring, muddled my way through my kidney problems and diagnoses, started new medications, went on vacation, came home and got a promotion, and now August is almost over and now it’s September.  It was a challenging summer, but a good one.

#kidneyproblems

Where do I begin with my #kidneyproblems (I’ve decided to stop fighting and simply embrace hashtags)?  Between insurance changes and long wait times before I could see a specialist, I didn’t visit a nephrologist (kidney specialist) until the end of May. The only way to find out for sure what was going on with my kidneys was to have a biopsy of my kidney.  Alas, with more insurance confusion, it took almost another month to schedule and then have the procedure.

 Within a week of the biopsy, though, I received a diagnosis: a kind of glomerularnephritis (kidney inflammation) called IgA nephropathy. According to my kidneys, I’ve had this inflammation for 5-10 years, without symptoms.  When I caught a virus in the airport or airplane on my way home from Mexico, it set off the underlying kidney inflammation.  All those unpleasant symptoms I had in April, May, and June (including kidney pain, overwhelming fatigue, and other unmentionables) had nothing to do with being in Mexico–I’ve had this disease for years.

After receiving this diagnosis, I started medications to try to reduce the inflammation, which I’m still taking as of this writing.  Almost immediately after starting the medication, I felt like I woke up from a three-month long fog.  I finally had energy again and I no longer felt fatigued all the time (just some of the time).  Alas, even with these benefits, my medication also has its downsides, including sometimes causing me to wake up at 4:30 AM and making me want to eat all the time.  It’s been a long summer of figuring out how to handle being on all the different new medications and coping with their side effects.  In September, though, I may be able to start making some medication changes—I’m just waiting on my next nephrologist appointment.

Vacation

There are few things I love more than vacation, and particularly a vacation at Lakeside.   For one week every year, I am able to go to my happy place.  I have a whole week to read, spend time with family, and eat delicious food, and it is glorious.  While I was more tired than usual this year (thanks kidneys),  I still found a way to finish twelve books, enjoy my family, and appreciate sunsets on the dock.

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Promotion

I started working at the library in April as a Bilingual Circulation Clerk. As will shock no one who knows me, I love working at the library.  I have direct access to nearly any book I want AND I get to help people: two of my favorite things.   In July, I went on vacation for two weeks in Ohio (and it was GLORIOUS).  Upon my return, I was offered a promotion to Library Associate–and I took it! It meant a chance for more hours as well as a significant pay increase.  Instead of working in Circulation, I now work at the Information Desk at the same branch of the library.  I work with people from so many different walks of life–I never know what kind of problem people might need help solving.  I sometimes help patrons find books or research information, but I primarily help troubleshoot computer, email, and internet problems. I also teach computer classes in Spanish twice a month.  This new job has been a great opportunity for me and I’m excited to see where it leads.

Books

As will surprise no one, my love of books has only been encouraged by my library job.  I’m still not quite where I need to be to meet my 100 books-in-2014 goal, but I made a lot of progress this summer.  You can check out my Goodreads page (if you have a Goodreads account) for the full list, but here are some of my favorites from this summer.

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber (memoir)

Data, A Love Story: How I Gamed Online Dating to Meet My Match by Amy Webb (memoir)

Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe (audiobook memoir)

Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer (true crime, polygamous mormons)

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman (young adult fiction, WWII)

A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier (young adult fiction, 1917 influenza epidemic)

The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger (epistolary fiction, law)

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (suspense fiction, dinosaurs)

End of Summer

At the end of each month this summer, I would think about writing that month’s “what I’m into” post.  Alas, I could never muster up the energy and thinking skills to actually write something. Being sick all the time will do that to you.  Here’s hoping that this fall, things will be different.  I have some ideas about what I would like to write and publish here, most likely including reviewing some of my favorite books I’ve read this year.  We shall see what my kidneys decide.

TV

I think I’ve mentioned before that over the last two years, my entertainment and escapist world of choice has been TV shows. I don’t sit in front of the television, ironically.  Instead I indulge with Netflix and DVDs on my laptop.

This development has come about for a number of reasons.  First, I’m tired. And I’m busy. I love my job, but it’s demanding. At the end of the day, I’m exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I wrote a paragraph that scratches the surface of what I do in a day, but that just got exhausting so I stopped writing and decided I’d elaborate on that another day. Just picture a lot of preschoolers, co-workers, volunteers, cleaning, and running around like a crazy person. That’s my life. And I love it. But when I come home I don’t want to read.  My brain is sleepy and I want to do something that demands less from me.  Reading requires a lot of my brain and my emotions.  Shows pull on my emotions, but in a different and less demanding way than reading.  So, TV it is.

Second, I enjoy TV shows more than movies.  Movies are an hour and a half or two, and then they’re over.  Unless it’s Firefly (tears), TV shows have multiple seasons with many episodes.  More stories? More character development? More of my favorite actors? Yes please. I enjoy being able to immerse myself in a show’s universe, story arcs, and characters over a longer period of time than movies allow. Escapism!

Third, Netflix has better TV shows than movies.

Fourth, when I do read, I’ve become interested in mostly memoirs and non-fiction.  Fiction, except for young adult literature, doesn’t really strike a chord with me anymore.  I loved The Help, but I read that last Spring Break and I haven’t read any good fiction since then.  I know it’s out there, I just can’t/won’t make the investment. I mostly read Christian fiction in high school, and I don’t like that anymore either.  My most recent reading binge of 20 books on my trip to Mexico only included three works of fiction, all Christian. And I hated two of of them, because they were so insipid and useless. But I like to finish things, so there you go. Despite these disappointments, I still love stories of things not real. And since written fiction has been letting me down, TV comes to save the day.  Oh, the stories I have found and loved in television over the last two years!  Like books always have, the stories in shows are making a mark in my life.

Fifth, I love the ridiculous.  Time traveling alien? Yes. A forensic anthropologist and her crack science and FBI team? Check. A political drama set in space? Awesome. A sci-fi western? No doubt. A cute nerd and some spies? Definitely.  I don’t watch shows to experience real life.  Reality need not invade on my entertainment.  I want to see what’s possible on the edge of imagination. I want a window on what life is like without some of the limits put on mine. I want to dream about adventures that are impossible. I love seeing how a super-spy mission, a trip to an imaginary planet or a battle against a terrifying foe can give insight into my own life. Because it does. I will elaborate on that another day, though.

Sixth, I like the funny. My job is ridiculous and hilarious most days. But some days it’s soul-wearying.  I dwell in reality, where life is hard for my students and their families. Again, a story for another day. But while dwelling in reality is the only place I want to be, it can be draining. And sometimes I just want to laugh.  A crazy paper company staff? Of course. A dysfunctional family who is perpetually ridiculous? Hilarious. Crazy friends living the New York life trying to find love and happiness?  Absolutely.  The cast of a made-up comedy show constantly becoming involved in shenanigans? Always. I don’t care if people aren’t that funny in real life. That’s why I’m watching: to appreciate humor in a world that needs some.

Seventh, I just like TV shows.

 

Now that I’ve analyzed my current obsession to some detail, it’s time to play Guess Those Shows (a distant cousin of my family game of Guess Who’s Dead). I’m not especially clever with my descriptions nor do I watch obscure TV shows, but I’m curious if my scant readership knows which shows I described. So, Guess Those Shows?

July

It’s July.  How did that happen?  June really did fly by.  I’ve barely even processed the last week or so.  So much has happened and is happening now that I just don’t quite know what to do with myself.

I drove to Cleveland a lot. And my sister moved in with me–then I didn’t need to drive to Cleveland anymore.

I was a bridesmaid in the craziest wedding that will ever be.

I went to Cedar Point. And rode many roller coasters, including the 4th tallest roller coaster in the world.

I think I’m getting a sinus infection.

I wrote letters, sent texts, typed facebook messages, and called people. Desperately trying to stay in touch with people I love.

I enrolled for grad school.

I bought a new water bottle.

I joined an Ultimate Summer League.

I still have little to read.

Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing–but I know I’m in the right place so I just keep going.

I miss the Little Light House.

July. Be awesome.

April Thus Far

April thus far has had mixed results.

My Senior Seminar paper is finally completed. I still have a presentation, but the paper is done. Of course, as I looked up a quote in it this evening for another paper, I found a typo.  It was 43 pages–there were probably more typos.  Hallelujah, I’m done with that paper.

It was just getting to the completed state that was difficult. And challenging. And stressful.  I don’t really know how I’ve managed to live my life this “April Thus Far.”  So much of life lately has been nutty, busy, crazy, and just plain ridiculous.  Some of that was fun. Some if it was not.

Despite the mixed results thus far, I remain confident that April will finish miles ahead of March.  The crazy won’t end–it never will.

In fact, I shouldn’t be writing this post at all. I should be finishing my 10-11 page paper on theology of disability that’s due tommorow or studying for my American Government test that’s tomorrow or reading for the president’s class or cleaning my room or preparing for my summer or any number of things.  However, lately, I have been choosing mental and emotional health over certain responsibilities. Like going to visit a best friend I hadn’t really talked to since beginning of February or going to Ultimate practice–when I should have been homeworking.  Somehow, though, everything gets done.

Time now to finish a research paper.  After writing a 43 page opus, adding five pages to a paper that needs to total 10 is no big deal.

April: please proceed awesomely. I’m depending on you.

A List

A list of books

One of my favorite nerdy things to do in my life is finding books to read.  When I get stressed by school or other things of life, I go to my library website and request books like a crazy person.  Which is how I have ended up with 47 items checked out of the library right now. My limit is 50, so I could get 3 more….

My library is an enabler.  Its website makes it far too easy to search for and request books.  Unfortunately, I don’t have time to read everything I check out and sometimes I know I miss out on good books because I just don’t have time to finish them before they must be returned or I am not in the mood to read that particular book.  So, I think a list of books I currently possess via a library card is in order.

I am an eclectic and eccentric reader. Hence, the books on this lists are from various genres and recommended or discovered from various places (thank you Barnes and Noble, Borders, NPR, NY Times, Half-Price Books, etc).  If I feel really adventurous, I may write some reviews of these books that I read.  That all depends on the quantity of my spare time in the coming months.  The fact that I’m about to go on what will essentially be 6 weeks of travel makes that idea of writing my own book reviews unlikely.  But who knows, it could happen.

Since these books I am about to list are only on my to-read list, I cannot vouch for their excellence, readability, quality of dialogue, appropriateness, level of heathen activity, or anything else.  I selected these books for reading possibilities based on random factors, which include judging a book by its attractive cover, liking the blurb on the back of the book, and being intrigued by the title.  I make no promises.

A List
You can’t get there from here: a year on the fringes of a shrinking world / Gayle Forman
When March went mad: the game that transformed basketball / Seth Davis
The oak leaves / Maureen Lang
On Sparrow Hill / Maureen Lang
Waiting for normal / Leslie Connor
Musicophilia : tales of music and the brain / Oliver Sacks
The secret of lost things: a novel / Sheridan Hay
Love and other impossible pursuits / Ayelet Waldman
The moon in the mango tree: a novel / Pamela Binnings Ewen
The boy who dared / Susan Campbell Bartoletti
The piano teacher / Janice Y.K. Lee
The shape of mercy / Susan Meissner
Water Street / Patricia Reilly Giff
The girl who threw butterflies / Mick Cochrane
The Penderwicks / Jeanne Birdsall
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street / Jeanne Birdsall
Kiki Strike: inside the shadow city / Kirsten Miller
Thirteen reasons why / Jay Asher
The other side of the island / Allegra Goodman
Siberia / Ann Halam
Tamar / Mal Peet
Marie, dancing / Carolyn Meyer
The remarkable & very true story of Lucy & Snowcap / H.M. Bouwman
Airman / Eoin Colfer
The last treasure / Janet S. Anderson
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society / Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
A child’s journey out of autism: one family’s story of living in hope and finding a cure / Leeann Whiffen
A universal history of the destruction of books: from ancient Sumer to modern Iraq / Fernando Báez
Gideon the cutpurse: being the first part of the Gideon trilogy / Linda Buckley-Archer
Anything but typical / Nora Raleigh Baskin
Olive Kitteridge / Elizabeth Strout
Speak / Laurie Halse Anderson
In the company of crazies / Nora Raleigh Baskin
Three cups of tea: one man’s mission to promote peace– one school at a time / Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
If I stay / Gayle Forman
The returning / Ann Tatlock
Words unspoken / Elizabeth Musser

So what should I read first?