Monday, January 30, 2012

January and Febraury reading lists

My “read two-books a month goal” is still going strong. I’ve amended the resolution slightly to allow for only1 book a month if the book is longer than 1000 pages and filled with teeny tiny print. James Michener’s Hawaii was a massive undertaking which took all of December. However, I’ve more than made up for that in January since I am now on my 5th, yes 5th book of the month. So far I have finished Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, The Man from Beijing by Henning Menkel and The Giver by Lois Lowry (How I went this long without reading The Giver, I’ll never know. If you’ve never read it, do yourself a favor and go read it right now). Currently I’m about ¾ of the way through The Paris Wife by Paula McLain.

I recently took my reading habit up a notch thinking it might give me inspiration to start writing again, which is also why I started blogging. While College was definitely the best 4(okay, 6) years of my life, I think it somewhat stifled my creativity. I spent so much time reading textbooks, it hardly made me want to read in my free time. The same thing happened to writing; I spent 6 years writing research papers which completely ruined the writing process for me. I came to loathe something that had come naturally to me since I was 6.

So reading has rebooted some of my creative juices. And blogging is slowly helping me to get the words flowing again. I think blogging especially helps because there are no rules. Many times, writing a good blog posts requires you to break every grammatical and paragraph structure rule in the book. It’s a total rebellion from the research papers that I was automatically defaulting to. Now, I am just stretching out my storytelling muscles and writing what I know. Slowly but surely, I’m getting my sea legs back.

The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain, which I am currently reading, it a real treat. The author’s voice is so lyrical it’s like reading poetry. The narrator is Hadley Hemingway, the first wife of Ernest. The subject matter is especially interesting because it centers on the start of Hemingway’s career and how he learned to write. He had a natural gift, but he had to direct and develop that craft in a substantial way. He learned a lot from the other authors in Paris at that time and was actually mentored by Ezra Pound and Scott Fitzgerald. McLain really brings the love story between Ernest and Hadley to life. I had no idea Hemingway was such a hunk, but I have to say I’m developing quite a crush on him. Now, as is the case with many historical novels (my favorite genre), I know that this story does not end well. But as I do when reading Romeo and Juliet or watching Titanic, I always cross my fingers that this time something might change.
Another reason why I am so entranced by this novel is its focus on ex-pat living. I first fell in love with the romance of expatriating while studying Hemingway in high school. As luck would have it, moving out of the U.S. is almost certainly a part of our near future due to Jonathan’s career path. Reading a novel from an expatriate-wife point of view is especially relevant to me right now. As romantic as it is, the reality is that it’s a huge sacrifice and substantial adjustment to make for your husband’s career. And of course, Jonathan’s job won’t be moving us to Paris anytime soon.

The Paris Wife, so far, is a truly delightful read and I strongly recommend it. It’s an instant favorite and one that I don’t want to end. However, the irony of not wanting to finish a good book is that they are usually so good that you can't help but rushing though it. I’ve zoomed through this one and will likely be done by February 1st. On the list for February are The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. A girlfriend recommended The Girls from Ames as it chronicles the lifelong friendship of a group of women. I have a feeling it will have me feeling quite sentimental over my high school group, the “Naughty Nine”.
Amazon suggested Miss Peregrine, and I am assured by the reviews that the book is not nearly as creepy as the cover suggests.
It’s likely that I will be reading more than 2 books this month since Jon and I are taking a ski trip with another couple. I’m envisioning lots of full day ski activity for Jonathan and friends, and hours of reading by the fire with a spiked hot chocolate for Laine. Sounds perfectly heavenly to me.

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