Book 12: About Being a Hopeless Romantic and a Nerd

So I’m very openly both of these things, a nerd and a hopeless romantic. There were times in my life that I tried to cover either or both of these characteristics up. But one of the great things that comes with growing up is the realization that embracing who you are rather than trying to hide it will bring you so much more happiness and ease in life.

The twelfth book I read this year struck a chord with both of these character traits of mine. Q by Evan Mandery is a book about a man in love, and all his future selves who come to him in hopes of improving his life.

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The funny thing is that I almost didn’t read this book. I was worried that while recovering from a break up, I would suffer from rather than enjoy reading about a couple in love. But the truth of the matter is, I believe in love. That may be a cheesy statement. And I’m not saying I believe that love is easy, or like the movies, or like the books. I believe love is hard work, but that it’s worth it. I believe that if you open yourself up to love it’s not hard to find. And this book, in a lot of ways, was exactly what I needed. Yes it’s fantastical. Yes, it’s got a classic happy ending. But to be honest, I think I would have liked this book just as much without the happy ending.

This book does so much more than just tell a love story. It explores happiness. Not what brings happiness, but rather, the difficult pursuit of happiness. Towards the end of this book, when future selves seem to visit the character almost on every other page with new requests of what he should or shouldn’t do, I found myself laughing aloud. I think most readers would. At the end of the day, none of his pursuits turn out as well as he thought. And when he reaches the age himself when time-travel is finally invented, he explores the fact that most people in his time have succumbed to the fact that if they go back, it is to improve their past-self’s life and not their own. There is something beautiful to me about this. But I think it’s also meant to serve as a lesson for us. Pursue something, not for how it may effect your future, because you have no way of knowing that. Pursue something because you are passionate about it now.

This book is one of my favorite types, literary science fiction. It uses time travel, but doesn’t succumb to explaining it or exploring its grand effects on the world. It just uses it as a tool to convey a message. I love that. And I will leave you with this quote which speaks volumes about us. It’s a quote about time travel, but moreso about technology. “Ultimately, though, as is so often the case with scientific innovation, neither man’s greatest dreams nor his worst fears are realized.”

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Book 11: Book Before Movie

I’ve had a policy for a while. If a book I want to read is being made into a movie, I need to read the book first. If I watch the movie first, chances that I read the book are slim to none. And I love reading. And I know books often have nuances that are missing from movies. And I know books, almost always, are better than the movies.

I had no desire to see or read Wild by Cheryl Strayed until I saw it on several lists, the lists that helped me build my goodreads to read list, which is way longer than 56 books by the way.

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I finished this book early on a Sunday morning and cried myself back into a nap. I didn’t cry because the book was sad, I honestly didn’t even cry because it was beautiful, I cried because I didn’t want it to end. I gave this book a five, which hasn’t happened much lately. When I was younger and found a book amazing, it was because I felt I had literally devoured the book. As I aged, the means to get a five changed. For the most part, a five meant a book that changed the way I perceived my life or the world we lived in.

This book may have not been so impactful if I had read it in a different time in my life. After all it is a book about a woman who has been down in a hole of misery for three years and how she forced herself to climb out of this hole. I happen to be in a much shallower hole, a break up is really not much compared to the death of a parent and divorce, right now. My climb isn’t as hard as hers. But this book, along with others I’ve read, has helped me make that small climb all the same. The truth is, though, everyone has been in a hole like this at some point in your life, and if you haven’t yet you are lucky! But anyone who has been in a hole, at some point, even if it was long in the past, can relate and find a truth in this book.

My biggest takeaway from this is this: without the bad stuff, we wouldn’t be where we are. When something is good, and you have to learn to see the good, you absolutely have to, you can look back at your past and realize that if anything had gone differently thus far, the good or the bad, you wouldn’t be in this place right now.

My second takeaway from this, and it’s also huge, is that people are good. This is actually something I already believed, much to the chagrin of many people I know. But throughout her hike, Cheryl ran into many many people, and only a couple of time were those interactions negative. I wish more people assumed people, inherently, were good. Or at least strived to be good.

PS I saw the movie right before publishing this. As usual (at least for me) the book was better, but definitely worth a watch! Though they left a lot out (I could never make those decisions), those two takeaways were as present in the movie as they were in the book.

Book 10: How I Got Back Into My Reading Groove

Helloooooooo

As I mentioned in last week’s post (or maybe not?), I cut it pretty close with my deadline with book 9. My goal is to post about my weekly read on Mondays, so ideally I would be done with my books on Sundays. But because I am not a slow writer (mostly because I am not a perfectionist in my writing and have yet to revise one of these posts) I can get away with being done with a book on Monday. This is what happened last week. I finished the book about 20 minutes before going to sleep. This is NOT ideal.

When I picked this week’s read, Yes Please by Amy Poehler, I was worried about my deadline again. This book was heavy (physically not necessarily in content) and pretty thick. I’m not a fast reader by any means, so I wasn’t sure this was a good call. But this book has been on hold since my library brought it and I knew I would be annoyed at myself if I put off reading it. I mean someone else was eagerly awaiting this read!

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So how did I read this >300 page book in less than a week with a full time job and a very full social schedule (because being physically alone might lead to feeling lonely and I did not feel like dealing with that!). The same way I do everything else. The same way every one accomplished tells people to achieve things. I made time for it. I had gotten in a rather annoying (to me, not to others) habit of watching Friends on Netflix whenever I had nothing to do. I am not against watching TV. I have a few shows that I watch pretty religiously. I have a few shows that I watch with specific people. But I try not to let TV viewing become my go-to-thing. As this blog indicates, I have a lot of other things I want to accomplish with my time!

But I had been letting that happen again. So I had to rein the Friends viewing in. I took at least a half an hour before I went to sleep every day to read my book. This weekend I spent most of my downtime reading instead of watching TV. That’s not to say I didn’t manage to do other things. I skyped with my whole family. I went for a long run. I explored the city with a group of my friends. And I read about 200 pages of this book. In fact I finished it early this morning. I’ve already returned it to the library for the next reader to enjoy!

So that’s my advice to you! Whether you want to read more books, work out more, do more crafts, develop a new skill, or anything else really you have to set yourself a goal and you have to make time for it. Not necessarily a lot of time. Most of us don’t have as full a schedule as we like to think we do. But if you are one of those rare people that really has absolutely no free time and still feels like you’re not accomplishing your goals, I advise you to reprioritize. Maybe you need to cut some things out in order to accomplish what is truly important to you. That is your call!

As for a quick review of this book, what can I say? It’s Amy Poehler. I didn’t like it as much as I liked Bossypants but it still made me laugh. I took a lot from it. I have some new quotes saved on my phone to help me get through this cloud. Probably my favorite aspects was reading about Amy’s and Seth’s friendship and reading about all the hard work that Amy (and all these successful people) had to do to get where they are. It’s hard to be mad reading about a good friendship. And I loved the fact that Seth shared his own perspective on Amy in this book. It’s also hard to get mad when you find out that someone had to work really hard to achieve their success. Hard work, not just by Amy, but everyone she worked with and respects, is a big motif in this book. You have to work hard to achieve your dreams. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions. I’m not the best at making the hard decisions, but I’m going to work on that!