Books this quarter

Shhhh, everyone is sleeping. Everyone but me. It’s the middle of the night, and I’m awake. Wait, does 11:55 count as the middle of the night? That is the time I am starting this. It counts as something, when I have to be up in less than four hours to take my dear friend Jennifer to the airport. Whether it counts or not, I am awake when I should not be. But it means I’m here, posting a little something, which is needed as it’s been a while!

Remember how I moved to the burbs and started commuting by max? I’ve given up driving as much as possible. I’ve driven around a bit the last few days with Jennifer being here, and a few weekends ago when my friend Nicole was here. Outside of that, I have been largely commuting by max, especially after the day I was pulled over while driving to work. I definitely deserved the speeding ticket the cop was trying to give me, but his machine went down and I was sent on my way without a ticket and with the suggestion that I should purchase a lottery ticket. I didn’t, but I did decide that this was just one more reason that max commuting was better.

I’d like to tell you that I take the max in an effort to save the earth. But that is not the main reason. I take the max because I can read more. I mean, a LOT more. And I love it. It dawned on me the other day that if I continue at this pace of reading, my end of the year list is going to be so long that no one will read that post. So I decided I should break up my book talk of 2014 into quarters. And here we are at the end of the first quarter of the year.

I’ve read 14 books. Don’t worry, I am not going to tell you about all 14. Just the ones I really loved. If I gave it one, two or three stars on goodreads, I won’t mention it here.

Four star books:

“The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion: Oh it hurt. It caught my breath, caused tears and made me say “oh shit” several times-always at the end of a chapter, as if saying any more about it would just be too much to handle. 4.5 stars. Profound insights into grief, even if much of her life is not relatable to many of her readers. I read it in three days.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith: I tried to read this about a year and a half ago and could not get into it at all. However, this time I instantly loved Francie and her love of the library, so I fell much easier into her story. It is, at times, a very simple and slow story, but beneath that is much depth. On the surface, I don’t have many things in common with any of the characters, but I still found them all quite relatable. This one took 13 days, but they were lovely days.

Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs-Christians Debate” by Justin Lee: I read this is 9 days but then spent 3 months trying to figure out how to review it. What I keep coming back to is just that it’s important. If you’ve ever spent even a minute thinking about this topic, no matter where you currently stand, I think you will find this interesting, insightful and helpful.

“The Days of Anna Madrigal” by Armistead Maupin: I am happy and sad. A good ending to the series, but I am going to miss these characters who have been with me for a decade. This is the final book the much loved Tales of the City series.

Five Star books, in which I would like to point out that two out of three are happy, which should counter act some people’s opinions that I only like sad books.

“I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith: Absolutely Perfect. I loved it! I read it over 14 fantastic days in which it’s all I thought about. And it has one of the best opening lines ever: “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”

“Bastard out of Carolina” by Dorothy Allison: Shit. That was the first word out of my mouth when I finished the last page (yes, I realize I cursed at the end of another book too. Don’t judge me. Reading is powerful). This book is very difficult to swallow at times, and it hurts. If you are sensitive to child abuse, be warned that this is largely a story of just that. But ultimately it is a story of survival. Amazing writing. I felt like the characters were often in the room with me. It took 14 days to read, just because it is one that you have to put down often just to let it all sink in.

“The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion: I just loved this. It made me laugh all the way to and from work on my max commute, two days in a row. Fast, delightful and fun read. I’ve recommended it to at least 10 people since, one of whom is a coworker who read it last week and loved it, showing up at my desk on her lunch break with tears in her eyes because of how much she was laughing.

Thus ends this quarter in books. It’s 12:30 now. Maybe I can catch a few hours of sleep. If not, it’s ok because there are four books on the end table next to me.

This week in “Find Me Some Love, Internet”

I don’t actually believe in dating “games.”  There should not be any rules on how long you have to wait to answer a text or an email or to call the person you are interested in. But can we all agree that when someone you have never met (and are not yet sure if you want to meet) answers every message in a series of emails within a minute of each one you send, instead of waiting a day, a few hours, even just a few minutes more than one, it sends a message something along the lines of  “I’m far too eager and there is a very good chance I am desperate and potentially have no life at all”?  Oh I know that sounds a bit awful and potentially snarky. But it’s too much. It’s just a little too much, especially if there wasn’t much about his profile that really had you very interested to begin with but you are trying to be open minded. Trying can only go so far.

When you’re on the site that offers you “guided questions” instead of just a blank email in which you have to come up with your own way to start a conversation, you get this odd little opportunity to quickly learn a few snippets about both yourself and your potential dates, simply by what questions you choose to ask, how they answer, and how you feel about both their answers and the follow up questions they picked for you to answer. For example, if you tell me that you are 1) always late 2) read 0-3 books last year and 3) never want alone time but instead want constant socialization, I am annoyed and exhausted before I’ve even looked at what questions you wanted to ask me. Or if you’ve sent me a list of questions that get very personal very fast, don’t be too surprised when my reply is “this is far too personal” since I’ve told you in my profile that I’m an introvert and it takes a bit to get to know me.

Yesterday on the 6:06 a.m. blue line train to work, a very attractive guy almost fell, nearly landing on me, and promptly sat down in the empty seat next to me. “Oh!” I thought. “This is it! I don’t have to do online dating! He’s just going to literally fall in my lap!” Until I managed to look sideways and realize he was now asleep, which was the state he stayed in for the rest of my 50 minute ride. So much for that.