Book Resolutions for 2016

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2016 brings you many blessings and the things you work for come true. I have learned so much about myself and other people this past year, and I want to continue to grow even more. May your spirit be lifted this new year. Every year I always come up with a few book resolutions that I want to attain. Most of the time I fail miserably, but hey, it’s nice to at least try! What’s most important is that you at least set reading goals. Those goals help you outline what you plan to read or how to diversify your reading. Book Riot’s read harder challenge is always a great way to plan your yearly reading, and I’ll be following some of their suggestions to include in my book resolutions

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When setting your resolutions,  a good thing to remember is to be realistic. A lot of times I set idealistic reading goals, but end up failing them because they don’t fit my lifestyle or my schedule. If you are apart of the Goodreads reading challenge, set your reading goal to something attainable. If you think you’ll only be able to read 10 books, then make it 10 books! Don’t be embarrassed if your reading expectations seem lower than someone else’s. Remember, read at your standard. That is definitely something that I have come to terms with over the years. Resolutions should make you feel good when you accomplish them, not a burden.

Another tip when setting your reading resolutions is to challenge yourself. Make your reading goals something you have to work for, a challenge. For example, I’m not much of a non-fiction reader, but in 2016 I want to challenge myself to read more non-fiction. Maybe there is a certain author that you want to read but never have, or perhaps you want to finally tackle that Tolstoy novel that’s been eyeing you for years. Try to push yourself and your brain to new limits.

So with all of that being said, here are my planned reading resolutions for 2016:

  1. Read more non-fiction (this one is difficult for me)
  2. Write more on my blog about bookish happenings.
  3. Read at least two self help books.
  4. Try an audiobook or two.
  5. Get back into reading Shakespeare (I’m a huge Shakespeare fan )
  6. Read a graphic novel.

 

So that’s it! My list is super small but it fits me and challenges me to try something new.  What are your reading resolutions for the upcoming year? Happy New Year and happy reading!

 

 

Book Review: Go Tell it on the Mountain-James Baldwin

 

51eZsnTQAHL__SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Baldwin debuts his first novel in 1952 with his piece titled Go Tell it on the Mountain. It is everything and then some,  and the gravity of the subject matter stills plays an important part into today’s history. Creating a religious narrative, the reader is able to have a particular view of the African American community that is seldom discussed or written about. Go Tell it on the Mountain is a peek into the heavily religious community of African Americans during the early 20th century, 1935 to be exact. Baldwin uses a fourteen year old boy as the vessel into which religion is poured into. He explores the inner battle and war religion causes on one’s self. . Fast forward to now, Go Tell it on the Mountain is much more than a simple story about a black boy growing up in 1930’s in Harlem. Baldwin raises many questions on morality, how Americans view themselves, and the influence of religion on one’s life. How does religion add to the development of character and one’s self? This novel is important and to be read.

But he did not long for the narrow way where all his people walked; where the houses did not rise, piercing as it seemed, the unchanging clouds…only humiliation ; there awaited him, one day, a house like his father’s house, and a church like his father’s….

As stated before, the setting is 1935 Harlem, New York. A young boy by the name of John is the stepson on his preacher and evangelist father Gabriel Grimes. At a young age,  John is confronted with the heavy religious influence that is placed on him by all the people surrounding him, most notably his father.  John must decide on what path his chooses for his life: one of religion or one of “sin” as his father would suggest. The inner turmoil of religion within John’s exploration of himself, is a clear definitive of Baldwin’s social commentary on the black community. The novel breaks into what are backstories of each of the character’s life. Baldwin uses religion as the centerfold of the character’s life. Throughout the novel, the fire that is softly lit and barely burns our fingers, comes into a full blaze by the end of novel, tempting us (and the characters) to either hold on and let the flame ignite or to fiercely and surely put the flame to its’ death.

As for my review of this novel….I’ve read shorter works by Baldwin but this was my first full novel by him that I read. Baldwin always has something perspective to say, and I’m always in revere in how great of a writer he is. I enjoyed this novel, as I think it says a lot about how religion can have a deep influence in our life. Baldwin takes the life, the words, the breath of his real to life characters and transfers it unto the pages beautifully. Even though I didn’t like some of the characters, mainly the father, Gabriel, I still felt the depth of each and every character. Baldwin questions religion without inherently saying that it’s bad or good. There were so many moments in the text where I felt for John the protagonist and towards the end, I was left feeling like I too had come through a “spiritual awakening” that Baldwin illuminates. Go Tell it on the Mountain is heavy even for its 262 pages. This isn’t a book you gently read on the beach and proceed to place back in your woven beach bag without a second thought. This is a book you read and then ruminate over for some hours, carefully peeling through the pages., resting on words spoken by the voice of the author. This novel is a classic, timeless, even epic read. I highly recommended this novel, but be prepared to leave with much more than you came with.

How I Prepare for My Christmas Reading Binge

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Yes, I’m taking about Christmas coming up this week! Also my birthday, which is Christmas Eve (don’t forget ;)). The Christmas holiday is always my favorite time to curl up with a good book and relax. It’s a time I get to catch up on any reading that I didn’t accomplish earlier, and it’s just genuinely a great reading period. I’m festive, I’m in the mood, I’m warm with hot cocoa; it’s a bookish holiday for me! However, I do have to prepare my winter reading binge in advance and make sure I am fully stocked of bookish necessities before I start my hibernation. With this being said, I have created my winter reading regime  for your reading pleasure. These are the ways I like to keep warm in the winter and fully enjoy my bookish holiday.

  1. Yummy snacks

Before you start your Christmas reading binge, snacks are a MUST to keep your stomach satisfied while your pages deep in your gigantic tome.  I like to keep my snacks clean (non greasy and non sticky) so I won’t ruin my pages.  Aim for snacks like dried apple crisps, nuts, crackers, carrot and celery sticks. They’re not only delicious and healthy, but they won’t leave your book’s pages looking like a baby covered in strawberry jam had some fun.

Apple crisps:

http://kr.iherb.com/Brothers-All-Natural-Fruit-Crisps-Fuji-Apple-and-Cinnamon-1-oz-28-3-g/59693

2. Warmth

Chances are that it’s a little cold outside and you’ll be reading indoors. Living in South Korea, I’ve experienced the winter season a few times now and I definitely prefer to be indoors.  I grab my warm blanket and toasty socks and curl up in my bed and enjoy my reading time. Being comfortable is very important when reading in order to maximize your experience. For me, I like to be tucked in and warm. Try these fun blankets and/or socks that are not only comfortable but fun to look at!

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http://bookishgifts.com/collections/types?q=Socks

Blanket guide:

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/best-throw-blankets-for-optimum-fall-winter-coziness-224389

3. Lighting

Yes. When I begin my Christmas book binge, to me lighting is everything.  I don’t like anything super bright, but I also don’t want it to be so dark that I have to strain my eyes. I tend to pick locations that are dimmer in light (think sunset lighting), or have a nice warm glow. Whatever your lighting preference is, just make sure you aren’t hurting your eyes and it’s comfortable for you.

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http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/10-best-bedside-lamp-for-reade-54118

Selecting a good reading lamp article:

http://www.nytimes.com/1986/04/10/garden/expert-advice-on-selecting-a-good-reading-lamp.html

4. Drink of choice

Tis the season to grab a hot mug of cocoa or coffee or tea. I really like having something warm to drink while I am reading. It makes me more comfortable and I tend to ease into my reading a bit more. However be careful not to choose something that makes you doze off instead! Try this delicious hot chocolate recipe.

THE-best-Crock-Pot-Slow-Cooker-HOT-CHOCOLATE-RECIPE-Rich-and-creamy-Via-Karas-Party-Ideas-KarasPartyIdeas_com_.jpg

http://www.karaspartyideas.com/2013/10/the-best-crock-pot-hot-chocolate-recipe.html

 

That’s it! Those are my basic reading ingredients to fully enjoy the Christmas reading season. For me it’s all about comfort during the winter season, so I like to choose a warm and quiet environment that will allow me to relax and not stress. I hope these small tips can help you in  some way. What does your winter/Christmas reading binge regime look like? Share your thoughts below!

Merry Christmas and enjoy your holiday season!

 

 

Book Review: House of Leaves-Mark Z. Danielewski

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As I closed this book, things that washed over me were 1. relief and 2. a terrible headache. I had heard of this book, from a very muffled murmur of being a “horror book,” so I was quite eager to order the book and begin what was to later be known as “quite the cumbersome and lugubrious read.” A week later, as I received a heavy package in the mail, I tore through the cardboard and bubble wrap that unveiled a heavy 700+ page book. Further on, I curled in bed ready to embark, only to put it down 1 hour later.

House of Leaves isn’t easy, and many times I put the book down and it took me months to finally finish it. There is a lot- and I don’t think I was fully prepared for the mind warp I experienced. Mark Z. Danielewski wrote a hell of a novel (can we even call it that?). House of Leaves is much more a experience than simply a book. There are many reactions to the novel/story, but mostly all of them refer to the book as going into a maze blind with arms tied back. Satisfied that I finished  House of Leaves, it definitely goes into my archive as strangest novels I have read thus far.

The walls are endlessly bare. Nothing hangs on them, nothing defines them. They without texture. Even to the keenest eye or most sentient fingertip, they remain unreadable. You will never find a mark there/ No trace survives. The walls obliterate everything.

House of Leaves is a story of a house that is ultimately larger in the inside than It is on the outside. When photojournalist Will Navidson moves in with his wife Karen and two kids, they too discover the oddities that lie beneath the house.  They use a series of Hi 8s and special camera to document the growing insides of the house. The documentation of the house has turned into a cult classic with hundreds of people looking into the dark rooms of the foreboding Navidson house. This later turns into texts, essays, analysis, interviews, etc., all attempting uncovering the mystery of a family and the house they lived in.

Zooming out, the completed story of the Navidson house  is actually compiled by a now deceased man by the name of Zampano. Zooming even further out is the incredibly unreliable narrator Johnny Truent, who stumbles upon the analysis of the House of Leaves created by Zampano. We follow the blurred lines and endless mutter of tales and mishaps of Johnny who does a sort of dissertation of the House of Leaves compilation. Johnny’s past is dark just  like house the readers discover. Later in the book we experience the same feeling of disorientation  and complete lost  as the novel twists and turns (literally) and unfold page after page of madness. By the end we are left stripped of answers, grasping to make sense of the novel with a bottomless hole.

This book was quite to load to read. As I mentioned before, I put this book down several times as I was often on and off losing interest. It wasn’t until I forced myself to finish the blasted book that I tore through the pages and then closed it with sheer relief and happiness. House of Leaves wasn’t my favorite read at all, but I have read worse. It is extremely smart and brilliant and for that alone, I have to give Danielewski all the praise. This book is extremely ambitious, but it was successfully created. I wasn’t really “scared” as some people have been by the book. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some creepy parts of the novel, that gave me a few raised hairs on my arm, but it wasn’t as “horror-ish” as it was hyped to be. I believe it was more of a psychological thriller than anything. To be honest, I only enjoyed the action-y bits of the book where the people interacted with the house (not going to give away spoilers). I’m happy I read this, just for the sake of reading it, but I would give this book a 3 out of 5  for pure literature sake.  For creativity and innovation, definitely a 5 out of 5, anyone that can write a mind puzzle novel deserves many accolades. Would I recommend this? Well….if you’re up for a challenge and okay will feeling unsatisfied on  a whole, I say go for it! But you’ve been warned!

Have any of you read House of Leaves? What are your thoughts?