Wednesday, May 30, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere."

~Elie Wiesel~

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Let's Bust a Recap : The Kite Runner

Oh y'all. I know this book was a #1 New York Times bestseller for over two years. I know all the reviews are stellar. I know everyone thinks it's so powerful and important and real. 

But I hated it. I really, really, really did not like it at all. Maybe reading it right after reading Night was not my finest decision and maybe that somehow affected my reaction, but I will not be picking up any more of Hosseini's books.

The Kite Runner was published in 2003 and is the first of Khaled Hosseini's three novels. After the success of this novel, Hosseini quit his career in medicine to become a writer full-time. 

The Kite Runner is about a boy named Amir and his horrible life. Like seriously, his life is just awful from pretty much the beginning of the book to the end. When you have a story filled to the brim with child rape, dysfunctional father/son relationships, the ravages of war, profanity, senseless executions, misplaced hope in an empty religion, child suicide, and let's just throw in infertility and nearly impossible inter-country adoptions for good measure, you have a story I don't want any part of. 

I've been processing this book and my reaction to it for weeks now and trying to pinpoint exactly why I am so strongly against it. Arguments that people have given me in defense of this book include the "realness" of it, the "redemptive" qualities in it, the attention it draws to a country and region that is in such constant and seemingly endless turmoil. I guess I can get where people are coming from. Maybe. A little. I wrote just last week on this very blog that I think it's important to read about the depths human depravity can reach, to educate ourselves, to remember. Knowledge is power. 

But this story is fiction. And I think my intense distaste for this book stems from the knowledge that these awful things do happen in real life. So why do we want to make up more bad stories with sad, hopeless endings and read them? Do you know what I mean? There's enough horror and tragedy in this world without creating more of it. I personally didn't find any redemptive qualities in this book. It was depressing to the very last word. I can't feel good about characters who have suffered through the very worst of human wickedness and have no higher eternal hope at the end of the story. That's not a good read for me. 

I read this book because of all its accolades and because friends whose literary opinions I trust recommended it to me. But I can't personally recommend it. The writing itself wasn't anything extraordinary or earth-shattering, and I was sorry I read it. Good luck to you if you decide to. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Casual Fridays

First things first: I got a little "Currently Reading" widget on the blog! (It's the little things, y'all. And go me for even knowing what a widget is, right?!) Look over to the right of the screen and check it out. (If you read my blog on your phone, it's very likely that you'll need to scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "Web View" in order to see all the extras I have on the side of the blog. I wouldn't personally know because I'm back to that flip phone life, but that's usually how it works.) I created a GoodReads account solely for the purpose of getting that little widget for my blog. So if you ever just want to stop by and check on what I'm actually reading, you can! I'll do my best to keep it up to date. 

And now I will proceed to talk about my anniversary which may get me all sappy and romantic and braggy about my amazing husband so if that totally makes you gag, feel free to skip this part because I so get that. (But don't miss out on the crazy book haul which I will definitely be talking about later in this post.)

Our anniversary fell on a Saturday this year, and my sweetheart's schedule had him working the three days leading up to it (he's an emergency room nurse so his schedule is whack). So Friday night after another long 12-hour shift, he stopped by the store to pick up some goodies for our 4-day weekend. Usually, this means that he will walk in the door with flowers for me and I would be lying right now if I say that a teeny tiny corner of my heart wasn't a bit disappointed that that wasn't the case Friday night. 

However, I wake up at 4 in the morning alone in bed and go out in search of my husband. He intercepts me in the hallway and says he needed to get a drink of water or some such nonsense like that and sends me back to bed. Well, after several minutes of him still not coming back to the bedroom, I walk out to the front part of the house to find him arranging the most gorgeous dozen red roses you ever saw and setting up the table with this banner from our wedding day that I thought had never survived the drive away from the church. Enter scene of Cody being so exasperated that I ruined his sweet surprise and me having an emotional meltdown because I actually married the best guy on the planet and I can't even handle it. We ended up staying awake and exchanging cards (which were not identical but they both said "Happy You & Me Day" on the front—stop it), reading our love letters out loud to one another (more waterworks: we wrote these as a part of our pre-marital counseling and they are framed and hang in a prominent place in our home—even if you're already married and didn't do this, I highly recommend it; it's the sweetest), and dancing to our song (I warned you how sappy this could get, don't hate me). The whole morning is my new favorite memory and I never want to forget a single detail. 

I love you, Cody Aaron Hancock, and I don't deserve you. 

Anyway (for those of you trying to get past all the mush, here's where you should tune back in), later that morning, we drove out to Lake Wales to check out a new little used bookstore I've been hearing whispers about, and we hit the mother lode, y'all. We walked out of there with no less than 14 books, and that was only after me getting through one shelf. You guys, I cannot recommend this place highly enough. It's called The Book Shelter and they're only open on Fridays and Saturdays from 10AM-6PM, but you need to check it out. They have a fantastic selection (obviously), great incentives (we got a free book just for finding the silverfish—ask me what this means), and the prices are insane (to put this in perspective, the stack of books from The Book Shelter on the left side of the roses cost less than the four new books from Barnes & Noble on the right side of the roses). I can't even, and yes I'm going to list all the books we got because I know you want to know. If you decide to check it out, tell them I sent you. 

And now for the books. The stack on the left side from top to bottom are as follows:

A Walk to Remember : Nicholas Sparks
Hatchet : Gary Paulsen
Dogsong : Gary Paulsen
Mrs. Dalloway : Virginia Woolf
The Joy Luck Club : Amy Tan
The Devil in the White City : Erik Larson
Housekeeping : Marilynne Robinson
Lila : Marilynne Robinson
Gilead : Marilynne Robinson
The Idiot : Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Scarlet Pimpernel : Baroness Orczy
Love in the Time of Cholera : Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Beloved : Toni Morrison
East of Eden : John Steinbeck

And the new ones from Barnes & Noble because we don't just throw tradition to the wind even when we've already bought 14 books somewhere else:

Present Concerns : C.S. Lewis
The Woman in White : Wilkie Collins
I Am The Messenger : Markus Zusak
The Hunt for Red October : Tom Clancy

Cody only chose three out of all of these. I have a problem. We also walked down the street from The Book Shelter and finally spent a gift card I've literally had since our wedding. Six years seemed like long enough to hang onto it. And, of course, we had our date night to The Melting Pot and Barnes & Noble. Six years and it just keeps getting sweeter. 
The Melting Pot : 5/19/2018
Have you read any of the books from my list up there? Can you guess which three Cody picked out? Can you guess which two I've already read since Saturday? 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"Sometimes she would cry bitterly for hours, 
with Toto sitting at her feet and looking into her face, 
whining dismally to show how sorry he was for his little mistress. 
Toto did not really care whether he was in Kansas or the Land of Oz 
so long as Dorothy was with him; 
but he knew the little girl was unhappy, and that made him unhappy too."

~from The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum~

Monday, May 21, 2018

Let's Bust a Recap : Night

"I remember, May 1944: I was 15-and-a-half, and I was thrown into a haunted universe where the story of the human adventure seemed to swing irrevocably between horror and malediction."

Night is a memoir of Elie Wiesel about his experience in Nazi German concentration camps at the end of World War II. It is very dark, hopeless, and depressing. It's actually the first in a trilogy by Elie Wiesel in which he describes his personal transition from darkness to light during and after the war. The following books in the trilogy are entitled "Dawn" and "Day".

The road to getting Night published was not easy. After being liberated from Buchenwald at the end of the war, age 16, Wiesel moved to Paris and in 1954 completed an 862-page manuscript about his experiences. This was somehow cut down to 245 pages and published in Argentina under the title "And the World Remained Silent". The French novelist Francois Mauriac took it upon himself to find a French publisher for Wiesel's work and in 1958, after more cuts, a 178-page book entitled "La Nuit" was published in France. Two years later in 1960, a 116-page English translation was published in New York under the title "Night". Over 40 years later, Farrar, Straus and Giroux approached Wiesel's wife Marion about preparing a new translation of Night and she accepted. In 2006, that translation was published and that is the book that I read on my way to Israel the first week of April.

In an introduction to the translation by his wife, Wiesel says that when the book was originally published in English, he was an unknown writer who was just getting started and whose English was far from good. Since that time, his wife has translated many of his other works and, according to Wiesel, she knows how to transmit his voice better than anyone else. As a result of her work, he maintains that Night is better than it was. 

I chose to read Night on my trip to Israel because we would be visiting Yad Vashem while in Jerusalem and it seemed appropriate. I finished the slim, 120-page volume on the way there. The weight of all that the Jewish nation survived during that horrific time in our not-so-distant history stayed on me during my time in Israel.

It's not fun to read about entire communities being slaughtered, families being ripped apart and never seeing each other again, living babies being tossed in the air by soldiers for target practice, a teenage son watching his father being beaten to death and then living with guilt for being afraid to stop it: these things ought never to be. But they happened. And we dishonor the lives lost if we sweep that part of our history under the rug.

While it is never pleasant to read accounts of such depraved, disgusting human behavior, I believe it is important to do so. The crimes and sins committed by humanity against humanity should rightly horrify and outrage us. Forgetting them may make us feel more comfortable, but by ignoring the past or blotting it out, we become far more susceptible to repeating it.

Night doesn't end on a happy or hopeful note. It is not uplifting in any way, shape, or form. Wiesel's writing is raw, heartbreaking, and painful. Despite all that, I would definitely recommend this book and because of all that, I would really like to read his following books Dawn and Day. Have any of you read them?

"Because I remember, I despair. 
Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair."

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Six Years

Happy Anniversary, my sweet thing!
I did, I do, I will....always, always, always. 
Augustine Grace Photography

Friday, May 18, 2018

Casual Fridays

Hello friends! This blog has been sadly neglected of late, but hopefully you've been enjoying our Wednesday quotes and you can forgive me for not posting anything else since our recap of The Wizard of Oz waaaaaaay back on April the 2nd. 
Dead Sea ~ 4/11/18
Shortly after that post, I left the country to fulfill a lifelong bucket list goal of mine on a trip to Israel. (I plan to blog about it someday, but it was a big trip and even the thought of trying to blog it is a tad overwhelming.) I've also been overjoyed to welcome two of the sweetest little men you ever did meet into this world, and they have entirely stolen my heart. They bookended my April arriving on the 1st and the 30th, and I can't get enough sweet snuggles. This Auntie's heart is full to overflowing.
I've also gotten some serious quality time with all my favorite girls in the form of soccer games, backyard camp outs, and just general gypsy-princessing. 
So there's been a lot going on and I haven't been blogging. I have still been reading. A little. I managed to read 3 books during the month of April, and I'm just starting to come out of the dark place they took me enough to attempt some recaps so stay tuned for those coming the next few weeks. I'm currently still slugging my way through Anna Karenina (I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! I may not finish in May but definitely June), and I've also just barely started The Professor by Charlotte Bronte. 
That's all for this little snapshot of my sweet life these days. Excited to celebrate 6 years of marriage with my honey this weekend. Much love to you and yours, and please fill me in on what your April and May have looked like this year down in those comments! 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"I cannot understand why you should wish to leave this beautiful country and go back to the dry, gray place you call Kansas."

"That is because you have no brains," answered the girl. "No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home."

~from The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum~

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it
 is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both. 
Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, 
and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives...
What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable than that of liberty and learning, 
each leaning on the other for their mutual and surest support?"

~James Madison~

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A Word for Wednesday

"If men were angels, no government would be necessary."

~James Madison~