My Regrettable Decision

I’m not above admitting when I’ve made a mistake, which is exactly what I did, earlier this week, on a Tuesday. Since I had to work on Saturday, I only had to work from eleven to two on Tuesday, so I spent the morning writing and drinking coffee, and then perusing my bookshelf for the next book I would read, since I just finished Lust and Wonder, by Augusten Burroughs the day before. When browsing a bookstore, I wait for the spine of one of the books to interest me, then I pull it out to read the back to see if I’m interested, and only then do I make the purchase, and that is the same way I choose what to read at home, looking at my bookshelves until something jumps out at me. I’m not sure why, perhaps I liked the style of the font on the spine of the book, or something about the author’s last name, Navarro, spoke to me, but for whatever reason, I decided to start reading Story of a Sociopath, and now I regret it immensely.

Don’t get me wrong, the book so far has been fantastic, but my timing couldn’t have been worse. A week from today, my wife and I leave for a weeklong vacation on the Gulf of Mexico, along with my brothers, my mom, and grandmother, and I’m not at all confident that I will finish this book before that time comes. It may seem insignificant that I finish the book before vacation, and perhaps I’m a total nut job in the way that I think, but I absolutely don’t want to take Story of a Sociopath on this trip, and it has nothing to do with what the book is about. I grew up going to the beach every summer, and one of my favorite things was picking out the books I would take, interesting books that I had restrained myself from reading, reserving them especially for week where I had nothing to do, and could lose the day, sitting in the sun and reading them.

For me there is something special about the books I read on vacation, picking them up years later and being transported back in time to those wonderful days of summer spent at the beach, and for some reason, taking a book that I’ve already started before vacation just doesn’t have the same effect for me. I have 708 pages left in this monstrous book I’m reading, so now it’s a race against the clock, to see if I can finish it in the next six days, which given that I have to work forty hours, write six more blog posts and ten thousand words in my book, and somehow find time to get the sleep necessary to have the energy to perform all of these tasks, it’s seeming more unlikely by the minute. I’ve consulted my wife, the resident expert on all of my personal problems, and she suggested putting it aside, and resuming it when I return home from vacation, but that too doesn’t appeal to me. I’m too invested in the story now to put it aside, while reading something else, my mind will likely wander back to Thomas Spencer and what is happening in his world, so it seems that I have no choice but to read on, trying my best to finish the book before we leave next Saturday. Wish me luck.

What I’ve Been Reading: June Edition

IMG_3691It’s Monday, the universally most hated day of the week. At this point you can’t even see the weekend through all of the work yet to do, and it’s pretty discouraging, but we go through this week after week and somehow we make it through, and I don’t suppose this one will be any different. Most everyone has something they like to do once they are home from work, a way to unwind and relax before starting the whole process again tomorrow. Mine is reading and this is what I’ve been reading lately, so maybe you can take use some of these recommendations to help you get through the monotony of the work week.

The Road: Written by Cormac McCarthy, this novel focuses on the journey of a dad and his son, as they walk a lonely road in search of a better life. The world that once was, is no more, and very few people populate these United States. There are no stores or gas stations, no restaurants or movie theaters, all having fell victim to the disaster that destroyed nearly everything. The search for food and shelter are their top priorities, and they get by, relying on each other to keep moving on. It was a really good book, the voice of the father telling the story as it unfolds.

Spring Torrents: This book from the 1800’s, written by Russian author Ivan Turgenev, is one of my wife’s favorite books, and thus was highly recommended to me. It’s the story of a man, who while traveling through Germany, meets a girl who becomes the love of his life, and then his fiancé. It’s a story of one man’s journey, from the time he meets the girl, to returning to Russia to sell his estate so they will have enough money to start their life together. While in Russia, something unexpected happens that changes everything. It’s a pretty short read that ends rather abruptly, and while that annoyed me at first, I think it was the author’s intention to make the point at how quickly things can end.

Election: Written by Tom Perrotta, this book focuses on a high school election as several students try to become the next president of their school. Written from several different perspectives, a teacher, and several of the students, you get a sense that some things in high school are more important to some people than to others. It’s a story of betrayal, perseverance, of students and teachers alike constantly battling themselves in a struggle of right and wrong. I was first introduced to Perrotta through a book of short stories I read last year. Since then I’d been looking forward to reading more of his work, and Election did not disappoint.

Lust and Wonder: Augusten Burroughs is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I read A Wolf at the Table last year, a memoir of his childhood, and quickly became fascinated with his life, and the way in which he shares it. Of all the books on this list, Lust and Wonder is the one I recommend above the others, the story of his adult life, searching for love and contentment while battling his own personal demons, was a book that I had a hard time putting down. I started it late Saturday night and finished it today on my lunch break, getting lost in the story each time I began again. Like Jack Kerouac, Burroughs words feel like a privilege to read. There are several of his books that I haven’t read yet, but I am going to spread them out over time, using them as rewards going forward after I finish a particularly difficult book. I feel that it would be a disservice to the writer to binge read all of his work at once. To truly appreciate the greatness of his words, I think you need to take a break from them so that when you return you will see how truly lucky you are to be reading them.

Seven Suspenseful Summer Reads

IMG_3647Summer is upon us and what better way is there to spend a lazy summer day or night than reading a good book that will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next? Whether you are relaxing on the couch in the comfort of your air conditioned home, or headed to the beach to lay out in the sun, while the sound of the ocean crashes against the sand, bringing you to a total state of relaxation, I’ve got some suspenseful book recommendations to fill your summer with some of the best books you’ve ever read.

1. Angels and Demons: It’s not a new book, but one that if you haven’t read by now, you are truly missing out on one of the most thrilling books you are likely to find. Written by the author of The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, in my opinion is even more suspenseful and a much better and quicker read. This book is full of murder, and one man’s quest to find the assassin before he strikes again. If you’ve seen the movie, and found it pretty boring like I did, you will be thrilled by this fast paced novel that is so much better than the film.

2. Where’d You Go Bernadette: This book is the story of a young girl and her search to find her mother, who mysteriously disappeared. Told from the perspective of the daughter, Where’d You Go Bernadette, is both heartwarming and suspenseful, the perfect book to take on vacation.

3. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time: A neighborhood dog is murdered in the night, and the young narrator of the story, Christopher John Francis Boone takes it upon himself to investigate. It is a thrilling story of this boy, who isn’t your typical child, and the search for the truth. Written by Mark Haddon, it is definitely a must read if you haven’t thus far.

4. Thirteen Reasons Why: With the show based off this book coming on Netflix recently, it’s popularity has resurged. It’s the story of a box of audio tapes left on the front porch of high-school student Clay Jensen. The tapes feature a voice coming to him from his classmate who recently committed suicide, and tells him that he is one of the reasons why she did it. Throughout the course of the book, the thirteen reasons why she killed herself are revealed and we see how our words and actions can push someone over the edge. I read it in two days, so if you’re looking for a book that will have you turning the pages late into the night, desperate for answers, this is a good one for you.

5. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo: This is the first book I can remember being up at two in the morning, reading and reading, with no regard for sleep because I was so compelled to find out what happens next. It’s the first book in a trilogy, so if you like it then the good news is there are two more novels to feast on. A girl from a wealthy and prominent families disappears as a child, and forty years later, desperate for answers, her uncle hires a journalist to uncover the truth. Go along with Mikael Blomkvist to as he attempts to find out what happened to that young girl so many years ago.

6. Disclaimer: This is the story of a woman reading a book that was mysteriously left to her, who throughout the course of reading it, realizes that she is the main character. The things she is said to have done will tear her family apart and ruin her life if it comes to light, which is exactly what the author wants to do. Written by Renee Knight, this thriller is one of my go-to book recommendations when someone asks my opinion, and one of the most suspenseful books I’ve ever read.

7. Gone Girl: This is the story of a girl who disappears, and the aftermath that follows. Each chapter alternates from the husband’s perspective to the journal entries of his missing wife. It is pretty evident from the beginning that something isn’t right in this seemingly happy marriage, and the search for the missing girl turns this small Missouri town upside down. You will be able to devour this book quickly, eager to find out what happened to the missing girl, and I recommend you get started immediately.

Happy Summer!

The Library Book Sale: I’m an Idiot

IMG_3607Buying books does not make you smart, and as it turns out, neither does reading them, which was evidenced to me as I walked out of the library this afternoon, feeling very, very dumb, this in spite of the fact that I read daily and consider books to be one of my favorite things in the world. When the bank closed today, and I got off work a few minutes after one, yes, I had to work the Saturday before Memorial Day, depriving me of my much needed three day weekend, I drove to the main branch of the Memphis library, one of my favorite places in this city that I love. The parking lot was crowded, but I found a parking space without too much trouble, about fifty yard away from the biggest public library that I’ve ever seen. This weekend, the library was having their semi annual book sale, which boasts all books for sale at a price of two dollars or less, and since moving to Memphis last summer and having to work during the hours of the sale in the fall, this was my first opportunity to attend the event, and I was very excited.

There is a used bookstore located in the front corner of the library and I often go there in search of books, not that I really need any more, but there is something therapeutic for me in standing idly in front of a bookshelf, glancing at the spine of each book and waiting for something to catch my eye. On the front door was a sign advertising the sale, so I walked into the used book store and began browsing for the newest additions to my increasingly packed bookshelves at home. I didn’t see any sale prices anywhere, but figured that once I got to the register they would adjust the prices of the books, making them even cheaper than what was written on the inner cover in pencil. I spent about half an hour and picked out four books that looked decent enough to spend a few dollars on, none of which had I previously heard of, then grabbed another, a book by one of my new favorite authors, Augusten Burroughs, as I stood in line waiting to check out.

There wasn’t a mirror behind the checkout counter, but I feel certain that my face donned a look of panic as the cashier began tallying up the prices. To my dismay the prices being keyed in at the register were the same prices written in the books. I looked at the brochure on the counter which confirmed that the book sale was in fact happening today, at this very moment, but too full of pride and not wanting to embarrass myself I stayed silent rather than asking the cashier why the books weren’t discounted, thinking how pathetic it would seem that I couldn’t afford the already cheap used books, so I paid full price and left the store. Before I turned left out the front doors of the library I noticed a large number of people on the other side of the entrance lobby, people apparently smarter than I, as they had found the book sale without making the mistake of thinking it was in the used bookstore. I walked over and through the doors saw way more books for sale, than in the used bookstore that I’d just left. I browsed the fiction section for only a couple of minutes, torturing myself looking at books that I wouldn’t be purchasing now that I’d already bought some. I calculated that for the price I spent on five books at the used bookstore, I could have bought seventeen had I gone to the actual book sale, so no, reading books doesn’t protect you from being an idiot. Live and learn I suppose. I can try again in the fall when the book sale rolls around again.

I’ve Been Reading Naked

A week ago I started reading naked and it has definitely changed my life for the better, and I would highly suggest that you follow suit. Naked, a collection of essays by David Sedaris, one of my all time favorite writers, will have you laughing out loud, leaving those around you to assume you are a lunatic, but it is well worth it. I’d read this book for the first time about eight years ago after being introduced to Sedaris by a college english professor, and since that time have read other collections of his essays that have never disappointed. Although I’d already read the book once, I didn’t remember any of the stories or details therein except for the fact that he grew up in North Carolina, so unlike other books I have reread, Naked was just as funny, perhaps even more so now, than it was when I read it as an eighteen year old.

I also just got done reading The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty, a writer I’ve only recently discovered in the past couple of years and it too was a pretty good read. Moriarty’s storytelling ability from two different perspectives is a unique one that is fun for the reader and is a staple of her writing style. While I prefer The Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies over The Hypnotist’s Love Story, it is still a book worth reading if you are looking for something to fill the void until Moriarty’s next book comes out. At the very least it will have you intrigued enough to keep coming back to find out what happens next, so as summer approaches, I think this would be a good one to take on a vacation where you want to be entertained but not so much intellectually challenged by what you’re reading.

Before The Hypnotist’s Love Story I read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, a book written years ago, set in the future where books are banned and the fire department starts fires rather than puts them out. Fahrenheit 451 was for me at least a very fun and interesting book that has me wanting to read more of Bradbury’s work. As someone who loves books almost as much as anything else, it puts me in the main character’s situation, wondering what I would do if books were illegal. Is preserving the works of some of the great writers in history worth going to jail for? If I worked for the fire department and was responsible for burning books that people were illegally hiding, would I be able to go through with it. Fahrenheit 451 shows the reader just how unbearable the world would be without books, and I think if placed in that world I would have some very tough decisions to make. Out of these three books, this one is the most intellectually stimulating while Naked by Sedaris is the most fun. If you have to pick one of these three to read, I’d highly recommend Naked, because once you get a taste of Sedaris’s witty writing style you will be begging for more, and luckily he has several more books to satisfy your cravings.

March Goals

March has come and gone and with the passing of another month it’s time for my obligatory blog post about how I did last month in sticking to the goals I made on New Year’s day. The easiest one has still been writing a blog every day, although I’m not really in the mood to write one at the moment. It’s been a long week and I have to work tomorrow and just want to relax and watch the Grizzlies basketball or Cardinals baseball game, which I’m sure I’ll do as soon as I finish doing what I have to do. In writing daily sometimes I feel like I have nothing to say and other times I feel like I can’t stop talking, so hopefully going forward I will have more of the latter than the former.

In the first month of the year I was a stud (or a nerd) when it came to reading and I read ten books, easily surpassing my goal of reading one per week, however I fell off in February and didn’t finish a single book. In March I did a little better, finishing two books, and although I didn’t read a book every week, I am still on pace to average a book per week throughout the year so I guess that’s good. The first book I read was “Room” by Emma Donoghue and it was definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. I dedicated a whole blog to it earlier last month so feel free to check it out if you want. I definitely would highly recommend you checking that one out. The other book I read in March was “Pet Semetary” by Stephen King. I hadn’t read any King novels before last year because I was kind of turned off by a short story of his I read years earlier, but in an attempt to see if a book could actually scare me I decided to read “The Shining.” It didn’t scare me in the least but it was pretty good, so this year I read my second Stephen King novel.

I enjoyed “Pet Semetary” more than I did “The Shining” but I wouldn’t recommend it. It was good, but it’s not like a life changing book or anything, it’s just a good story that takes a while to read. I place the full blame of not reading more than two books last month solely on the back of “Pet Semetary” the five hundred plus page novel that took me a couple of weeks to get through. My other goal that I’m still trying to stick with is working on writing my book every day, and for the first time since I made the goal, I’m proud to say that I’m actually doing it. I’ve got into a nice routine of writing my book, which I think might have something to do with me not being as enthusiastic about writing the blog all the time, because in all honesty I’ve found the story that I’m writing to be so much more fun than the blog. In terms of sticking to my goals, March has by far been my best so far, but I’m not all that confident that I can keep it up. Check back next month to see if I’ve gone back to being a failure, and check back every day to find an original blog, written by me, that may or may not entertain you.

Room: A Book Review

IMG_3442Over the past couple of months I have strayed away from dedicating an entire blog post to a single book for a myriad of reasons. Firstly, it’s not all that easy to write a complete book review while giving absolutely nothing away. Secondly, I read so much that if I were to do a book review each time I read something new I would theoretically be doing one every week which would I’m not too eager to do, because lastly and perhaps most importantly, very few people seem to care what I think about books, based on the number of link clicks I get for my blogs on the topic. Don’t get me wrong, I love sharing what I’ve been reading, but if it’s just not something my readers are interested in, then it makes very little sense to write about books as often as I had been. That being said, I just got through reading a book so good that a blog post hardly does it justice, but it will have to do, because I’m not sure how else to honor its greatness, but I did know that it deserved its own post, rather than being crammed in with a bunch of other books I read for the month, so that’s what this is.

The book is called “Room” and if you’re like me you probably had never heard of it until the movie came out last year, and perhaps maybe you still haven’t, but you are in luck tonight, because by becoming aware of this fantastic novel, you are no longer living in the dark. The story begins for us, on the fifth birthday of Jack, but the real story had been happening long before we meet the young narrator. Told from the perspective of the five year old boy, “Room” is captivating from the very beginning and a book that is truly hard to put down because with each turn of the page you get closer to finding out what happens to Jack and Ma. Some parts are tragic and you feel the pain that Ma feels trapped in her boxed in life with only her son to keep her company each day. The innocence of Jack is so wonderful that sometimes I found myself laughing at his contentment in the horrible situation that he was born into.

I’ve been fortunate to read quite a few good books so far this year, and I’m not sure where “Room” ranks on the list, but it is a very good book that I highly recommend. Overall I give it a 5 out of 5 because of the great story that is full of suspense and also because the voice of the narrator that speaks to the reader through the pages has the ability to inflict his emotions and feelings upon us, and it’s absolutely incredible. It’s a pretty quick read because you won’t want to put it down, so if you’re looking for something to do this weekend, you definitely won’t be disappointed if you go pick up a copy of “Room” by Emma Donoghue.