I Am Allowed to Dislike Books

The year is almost over and I am one book away from having read forty this year—and I think I’m going to make it. I was thinking back over my books of 2013, because one of my friends said it was funny that according to my goodreads profile, I’ve never read a book I didn’t like. (This isn’t true, of course, I’ve read plenty of books I hated—one particularly stands out to me: it was basically this retelling of Dick Whittington and his cat, interspersed with random bits about a boy who couldn’t read. I can’t remember the title, but I think it won a Newberry. Ten year old me was less than impressed.) (Ooh, found it. Thanks, Google.)

Thinking it over, it’s true—I haven’t rated any book less than 3 stars all year, even though there were a few I honestly didn’t like. The most recent of these was Emma, by Jane Austen. I really didn’t enjoy it at all, but after I finished it, I struggled to find merit so I could rate it more highly. It’s a Jane Austen novel—and I love Austen! But I didn’t love this. All the characters were annoying—but it had a good message! Sort of? I disliked it, but I couldn’t admit it to myself, so I marked it three stars and tried to explain all the good things about the book whenever I was asked instead of just admitting I didn’t like it.

All of this reminds me of this video I watched last night.

Carrie says something about not getting out of the book what the author put in. It really stuck with me, because why am I unable to say that I dislike a book? Is it because I know how hard the author worked and am desperate to find merit? Is it because it’s supposed to be a good book?

I realized that just because I dislike a book doesn’t mean it’s not good or that the author isn’t a good writer. Literature is so subjective, and what does my opinion matter to anyone? And generally I dislike books not because of the writing, but just because that particular book didn’t speak to me. (Though sometimes it’s because of the writing, let’s be honest.)

In the spirit of being honest, I’m not going to be afraid to say I dislike a book any more. I went through and gave two stars to the books of this year I didn’t like. I’m resetting my 50 Books Challenge page to prepare for next year (though forty is my 2014 goal), and I’m going to tell the truth of what I thought of a book. I’m going to allow myself to dislike books, knowing full well that I much more frequently fall desperately in love with them, so I shouldn’t worry anyway.

Are y’all doing a reading challenge next year? If so, what’s your goal? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

Best wishes,
Hero

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Chums for the Dumps

I’m feeling slightly out of sorts today, but I’m cheering myself up with a big cup of coffee, a week old soft pretzel, the 10th Doctor, and the thought that if I so asked, my friend Josie would pop out of the woodwork and sing the Gaston song for me to make me feel better. (She is the Le Fou to my Gaston and it’s awesome.)

And though I am almost identical to Gaston in every way possible (ha), I do have a penchant for reading that he rather lacks…

This is a rather silly lead-in to a post one of my and Josie’s most gorgeous friends tagged me to do, all about books and reading habits. So without further ado, here we go!

Do you snack while you read? If so, favourite reading snack: Yes; I snack while doing everything. Usually potato chips because they’re easy, or oranges. I love oranges. (I have an unhealthy addiction to oranges. Well, I guess it’s a healthy addiction… Guess who won’t be getting scurvy anytime soon?)
What is your favorite drink while reading? Coffee. During Lent it was tea. But usually it is coffee.
Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the thought of writing in books horrify you? It depends. I mark up & take notes in some of my spiritual books, but usually if something strikes me I write it down elsewhere.
How do you keep your place while reading a book? I actually have a tendency to just shut the book and search for my place when I come back. I’m properly good at it. (Sometimes.)
Fiction, non-fiction, or both? Fiction, generally. Non-fiction can be good, too, but I generally read fiction.
Are you the type of person who tends to read to the end of the chapter, or can you stop anywhere? I usually have to stop anywhere, because I don’t have time to read a chapter to its conclusion. (I read in bits and pieces because of my lack of free time.) I’ve been on chapter 17 of Out of the Silent Planet for about a week now.
Are the type of person to throw a book across the room or onto the floor if the author irritates you? Yes. Cue me at the end of Inheritance.
If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you look it up right away? If I’m on my nook, yes, because then I don’t really have to put the book down. Otherwise I just get around it by context and move on.
What are you currently reading? Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis. I’m almost finished – debating whether I should move on directly to the next book in the series or leave it alone.
What is the last book you bought? I bought a bunch of books at Goodwill, including The Pilgrim’s Progress and Murder on the Orient Express. My mom just bought me The Dialogue of Saint Catherine of Siena, if that counts.

Do you have a favorite time/place to read? Basically whenever I have time!

Do you prefer series books or stand alones? If it’s well written, I don’t care. I prefer to write stand alones because I’m lazy, but I’ll read whichever with no preference.

Is there a specific book you find yourself recommending over and over? The Great Gatsby, lol. I recommend the Books of Bayern a lot, and the Leviathan series. I love that series.

How do you organize your books? My books are organized on my shelf by the last name of the author. 🙂

I guess the overarching point of this post was for me to say that the ultimate chums when you’re down in the dumps is a good book. And Doctor Who. If any of you want to do this, feel free! You don’t have to link back to me or anything. As for being tag-errifically annoying, I’m going to dramatically point at Raewyn from My Spare Oom!

Thanks for reading!
Hero

February Report Card & March Resolutions

Good evening, my friends. I have saved just enough time online to write you guys a post tonight. Eggplant parmesan is in the oven, homework is sitting neglected to my right, and Frank Sinatra is crooning over the sound system… The door is open because the weather’s nice (well, now it’s closed because Mom just shut the dog out, but just pretend my house is tranquil, wouldja?) and I’m just sleepy enough to be at ease instead of cranky.

All right, I’m running out of time with this ridiculous blithering… It’s time for the dreaded report card.

1. Do something worthwhile.
Grade: B

I don’t give myself an A in this because while I did a lot of good things, I still spent too much time on the internet. (I have learned to ignore my screensaver, so that didn’t work…) But I have cut down, especially since the start of Lent, and I’ve filled it instead with reading, knitting, and all that schoolwork I like to ignore.

2. Be more charitable.
Grade: A-

I caught myself a couple times being a grumpy old judge-a-pus, and have been making an effort to be kinder. This morning my brother and I had this exchange that kind of captures my inner turmoil on this resolution.

Me: Did you cut holes in your sweatshirt?
Him: There was already a hole, so I cut more so I could put my fingers in.
Me: *raises eyebrows*
Him: Did you paint your nails with white-out?
Me: No! It’s just white nail polish. It’s modish. And at least it’s not sweatshirt vandalization.
*pause*
*pause*
Me: I’m sorry. Your sweatshirt looks cool. It’s neat what you did with the sleeves.
Him: And your nails are cool. Or pretty. They’re pretty cool.

Basically, I’ll say something rude without thinking and then backpedal because I realize it was uncalled for. It’s a work in progress.

3. Get more sleep.
Grade: B

I’ve found myself making the effort to go to sleep earlier, but I did pull some late-nighters this month. Therefore, B.

Out with the old & in with the new! Onto the March resolutions!

My March resolutions are rather simple, I’m afraid.

1. Spend time outside.

The weather is lovely right now and I spend entirely too much time on my bum inside. I need to go outside sometimes; get some fresh air and the like. I want to start a vegetable garden, but we’ll see what happens. My parents have a bunch of other projects on their hands right now. 😉

2. Keep my room clean.

Enough said, probably.

Well, that’s all for me tonight, folks. My books came! And I’m about a hundred-fifty pages off the end of Les Misérables – unfortunately, I have some tidying and history work to get to tonight, so it might be a while before I get to read as much as I wish. (I need summer! :()

Best wishes!
Hero

ETA: Contest winner announced momentarily!

I Sorted My Cello into a Hogwarts House

For the record, I am aware that it’s Wednesday. If you’re worried that I’ve given up the interwebs for Lent again and will once again take a forty-five day hiatus, don’t be. This year I’m just banning tumblr – as well as a few other things I find myself entirely too dependent on (coffee, for one). I don’t really have any excuse for not blogging yesterday except that I hit an emotional speedbump and decided to moan about it instead. [cue rolling about on the floor and whining and being a general Richard II]

This post is sort of a general status update, seeing as I’ve been sort of scattered recently.

Books Challenge

I’m actually ahead of schedule – I’ve read 6 so far. Unfortunately Les Misérables is still on hold until I finish Richard III (the biography not the tragedy) and all these Shakespeare plays I’ve decided to undertake. I have been picking up one of Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclicals every now & again over the past couple days… attempting to cope… failing…

Got this email from Tatiana:

WobblesSo that’s basically what we’ve been reduced to.

Orchestra

We got new music on Sunday. I hated it at first, but it’s growing on me. I’ll just tell you that sight-reading Colas Breugnon by Kabalevsky WITH A SUBSTITUTE CONDUCTOR when you’re already in a foul mood does not endear you to a piece. It really doesn’t.

[Let’s just go ahead and say flat out that I have been in a pretty terrible state over the past couple of days & it’s only getting worse. Gah.]

Anyway, on the subject of orchestra/cello/etc, I’ve decided that Evvy is a Gryffindor. (My last cello was Ravenclaw, and I’ll explain this in a moment…)

DSCN0378

So where the strings of a cello connect to the fine tuners, there’s a covering of thread, most likely so the tuners can grip well enough. My last cello had dark blue and copper-y/gold thread – but Evvy’s scarlet & gold. Gryffindor.

Which explains a lot, actually. Like why she’s so stubborn and temperamental. […okay, I’m… crazy… I know…]

Other Orchestra Stuff

Went to see a friend of mine perform in a Brahms concert with the senior group of my youth orchestra: she was only in a couple of them & I proceeded to feel guilty about enjoying the symphony much more than the chorus. 😛 (I can’t help it! They played Hungarian Dances – three of them!)

I was going to see another Brahms performance tomorrow night, but it fell through. C’est la vie. I’ll probably stay in and spend the evening watching movies instead.

Which reminds me…

Random Stuff I’m Getting Kind of Obsessed With (Running Out of Names for This)

Kaylee’s my favorite so far.

1. Firefly! The classic one-season space-western from Joss Whedon that my friends have been nagging me to watch since the dawn of time. I was originally put off from the show because the pilot episode is kind of… iffy… but I’ve given it another go and am definitely enjoying it so far.

The whole space-western thing confuses me, though: at this point the only things wester about it are the fact that sometimes Zoë says ‘ain’t’ and all the music is very Lone Ranger. I’ve been told it’ll make sense to me later (that and a lot of things), but the stuff I do understand outweighs the stuff I don’t, so I’m okay. (The reverse of that statement is true for Homestuck, by the way. I just… Confused. All the time.)

DSCN0387

Currently…

2. Sudoku. I’ve always liked sudoku – my aunt even gave me an electronic sudoku gizmo (that I have since lost, but it was a while ago) – but I recently found my old barely touched sudoku book and have been obsessively solving puzzles. On the day I found it I tore through eight puzzles in one afternoon. It’s gotten to the point where I can actually walk around the house/have conversations with people while working on a puzzle. (I thought I was so clever at Marian Group for holding it under the table during the meeting… turns out everybody could tell, but nobody cared enough to tell me off about it.)

Photo on 2-13-13 at 3.42 PM

I’ve sticky-tabbed the life out of the blue book…

3. Prayer. 😛 (This is cheating, but I don’t care.) This is your Ash Wednesday reminder that Lent isn’t just about giving up chocolate and waiting for the Easter Bunny. This is one of the first few years that I’ve actually been mature enough to go deeper during Lent, and I’m actually excited to take advantage of this prayer-intensive time. I’ve bookmarked all my favorite prayers in With Mary in Prayer (blue for rough times/things going wrong, pink for prayers for the journey onward, yellow asking for help and guidance, and orange for the night prayer) and I’m going to try and keep it on me and take a few minutes every now and again throughout the day to ask for that guidance and that grace that I so desperately need. Also, the Divine Mercy Chaplet is my new best friend. I started saying it daily for Morgann because I offered it to her for her spiritual bouquet on her birthday – we said it together at the silent retreat we went on, so it holds special meaning in our heart. After the week of the chaplet I’d promised was over, I found myself gravitating back to it. It’s short enough that I always have time to fit it in somewhere and literally can’t make any excuses not to pray it, yet it’s still profound and deeply calming in its rhythm.

4. Shakespeare Uncovered on PBS.  As I mentioned a couple posts ago, some of the girls in my history class are reading the Henriad & Richard III to supplement our history texts this session. As much as I love Shakespeare, sometimes it can be hard for me to get into the plays – a lot of times I don’t understand who relates to who and it takes me ages to understand what the heck is going on. At the same time, I abjectly refuse to watch the movie before I read the play: that’s cheating. 😉 So the other day while searching around online for Ben Whishaw’s rendition of Richard II (very good, by the way, I’d put The Hollow Crown on my list of new obsessions, except it just ties into this), I found PBS’s Shakespeare Uncovered. What they do is go deeper into the plays, find the history and the meaning in it, and give you a broad understanding of the play. Watching this gave me ground to stand on when I went back to the play, and made the reading infinitely easier. If I finish my history work tonight, this is my reward. 🙂

5. Oh my goodness this post goes on forever… Okay… Last one: pictures! I spent a good chunk of time today picking out pictures of me and my friends to fill this plethora of picture frames I found. I’m hoping to hang them around my room so I can remind myself of the people who care about me and make me smile, even when I’m feeling grumpy. (Though usually they’re the ones who’re making me grumpy, so… *smacked*)

Okay, this is far enough – I need to wrap up and go back to my history work. If you read thus far, give yourself a pat on the back. You earned it.

Best wishes,
Hero

P.S. Remind me on Friday to tell you guys about the ‘things I’m freaking out about’ category that I decided to cut. 😛