Thursday, July 31, 2014

5 Books To Read in Your Mid-Twenties

Saturday was my 25th Birthday. Even typing that feels like a milestone. Perhaps (read: most likely) I am making too big a deal of the whole quarter of a century thing. Regardless time moves forward and there is nothing you, I or Dumbledore can do to stop it. Since there's no changing this whole aging thing I might as well embrace it to the fullest, and for me that means with books!

I figure there are five types of books you should find in your early to mid twenties. They're the ones that are going to make you think, grab your heart and give you googley eyes. They'll be your friends when real life drama gets to be too much. They'll stay up for you when everyone else has an early alarm. More importantly, they are different for everyone. Instead of giving you all five books that I thought were essential to my twenties (so far) I wanted to give you all a chance to come up with some of your own.

Now here are the five kinds of books you have to read in your mid twenties!

A Book for All Ages
 The Little Prince
Antonie de Saint-Exupery
The Little Prince is, in it's essences, a children's book. Once you dive into it's pages, however, it becomes so much more. I got it for Christmas one year and read it in a single sitting. I couldn't figure out why I was sad the rest of the day. Really The Little Prince has more to say to adults than it does to children. It's about loss, and the nature of relationships and how we perceive ourselves and those around us.  
That's what makes it a book for all ages. I would have gotten something completely different out of The Little Prince had my parents read it to me when I was tiny. I would have felt different had I read it in high school.
Other Options : Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone, Ella Enchanted, 

A Look Into Someone Else's Life
When You Are Engulfed in Flames
David Sedaris
The ages between 20 and 25 are a mixed bag. There are new apartments, new friends, jobs that you hate, jobs that you maybe like but don't pay enough. Then there are all the bad decisions, the late nights and the petty arguments. Sometimes it's hard to see beyond the small bubble that is your world. That's why you need a book like this, one that looks into someone else's existence and makes you realize "okay, maybe I can handle this whole life thing."
For me that book was When You Are Engulfed in Flames. Sure sometimes life was hard, but David Sedaris reminded me that it could be ridiculous and funny too. It made me want to live like my time was worth writing about. 
Other Options: Just Kids, Sleepwalk with Me, I was Told There'd Be Cake

A Book for the Road 
American Gods
Neil Gaiman
There isn't a better time for a road trip. You have as few responsibilities as you're ever going to have. You're still young. Wanderlust is a real thing. But money....Yeah, that whole money thing can really ruin a lot of dreams. That's why these books like this are so important. I might not be able to drop everything and travel for months at a time, but I can read about people who have, and sometimes that's even better. 
That was my experience with American Gods. I read it over a summer where I did little traveling and my world seemed very small. It was like a breath of fresh air every time I got to join Shadow on his adventures. More than anything it reminded me that those adventures could be had here, in middle America, and not just in the Europe or California, as so much many stories would like you to believe. 
Other Options: On The Road, You Shall Know Our Velocity

A Book to get You Out of Your Comfort Zone  
The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern
One of the best things about your mid twenties is that you get to shape your own tastes. You've found a favorite wine, a go to meal, and probably a genre of book that you gravitate too. There's nothing wrong with comfort, or falling in love with historical fiction or fantasy or paranormal young adult fiction. It's just that now is the time to remember there is so much more out there!
For me I was all about contemporary literary fiction. I wanted to read to to about David Foster Wallace and Foer. I devoured Tartt. My shelves read like a whose who of the great minds of the last five years. Actually, they still do. Going to a liberal arts school had made me pretentiousl
For me, getting out of my comfort zone meant abandoning books that you'd find reviews for in The New Yorker. I picked up the Night Circus. It reminded me of the books I loved when I was younger. It broke away my prejudices against other worldy novels. More than anything it gave me reason to explore other genres. 
Other Options: Depends on your comfort zone really, Could be a Sartre novel or something like The Time Traveler's Wife. Try new things!
A Classic  
Pride and Prejudice 
Jane Austen
The classics you read in your mid twenties are special. No one is making you read them. You chose them because they sounded interesting. You don't have to write papers on them. There aren't professors lecturing about symbolism. Maybe it's a modern classic like Life of Pi, or you finally decide it's time to read the Odyssey? You finally get to feel like your in on some sort of secret. These novels aren't dry. At least not when you're enjoying them. They're still full of life and lessons, and to think that ten years ago you would never have learned them because of a deep relationship with sparknotes.
I didn't get to Pride in Prejudice until I was old enough to drink. I read it as much for pleasure as I did for class credit. It made me realize that Austen and Elliot didn't have to mean nap time. All of the classics I've read since are thanks to Elizabeth Bennett.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Detroit: An American Autopsy - Charlie LeDuff

Detroit: An American Autopsy
Charlie LeDuff

It's no secret that golden age of Henry Ford and Motown is past. No place knows that better than Detroit. It's a city that's fallen far, that's riddled with corruption and poverty, and is now in a state of bankruptcy. There's more to Detroit, though, it's got a pull, and that pull brought journalist Charlie LeDuff home.

I don't often read nonfiction. I'd love to be the kind of person that does, who finds subjects interesting and then picks up book after book on them. But since I'm not it took a book about Detroit, the major city nearest my hometown, to get me to give nonfiction a go.

Detroit the book, much like the city, isn't what one expects. Charlie LeDuff  has deep roots here, and he strives to tell a deep, full story. It's a goal that he mostly achieves. Autopsy is as gritty as it's title would suggest. There are tales of corrupt politicians and unsavory citizens. There are stories of people and entire neighborhoods that are down on their luck. LeDuff did the legwork and he has a lot of love for America's largest failing city. What this book really captures is a feeling of hope through decay, but it stops right there. As a reader you're left with the impression that everyone has resigned themselves to the way things are.

There is almost no talk of the goodness that's left in the city. The New York times did a piece on Detroit this past week and they came out far more even. Sure there is a lot of bad happening in America's auto capital, but there are a lot of people gunning for change, and with a little momentum things could really start looking up. My only complaint about this book is that this side of the city is missing. LeDuff presents Detroit just as his title suggests, like a corpse that has nothing left to say. That's just not the story I'm seeing from where I live.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Top Ten Favorite TV Shows

I love books. That was a pointless sentence. Have you seen this blog?  However they aren't the only thing in my life. I'd be a professional netflix watcher society would let me. I'd be good at it too! Which is why I was excited that this weeks Top Ten Tuesdays explored other mediums. Seeing as how I went to film school and am forever tired of the "favorite movie" question, here are my
Top Ten Favorite TV Shows

1. Orphan Black
I didn't start watching Orphan Black until season two had already started airing. That being said it's number one here for a reason. It's well written, well acted and fantastically paced. I'm not usually one for Science Fiction, and cloning had never really been of much interest to me but OB changes that. It's everything television is missing, it's women in all their glory. I'm just sad I have to wait another year for season three.
2. Community
I was one of the fans gunning for #sixseasonsandamovie. Community, to me, has always been the little show that could. It was smart, especially for a sitcom, with a diverse cast of hilarious actors. 
3.Doctor Who
You know how there are some books that come into your life at the right time? Doctor Who was that show for me. I didn't start watching until series 5 had just finished airing but I remember spending night after night crocheting hats and watching Nine, Ten, and finally Eleven saving the universe. Like I said before, Sci Fi isn't really my thing. Fantasy isn't either. It has to be done just right, it almost has to be bigger than the sum of it's parts. That's what Doctor Who is. It's bigger than a mad man in a blue box, clever companions and far away places and long over histories. Modern Who, which is all I've watched (classic is just such a commitment!) teaches compassion. I was a bit disappointed with the last season but I'll be in front of my TV come August for Twelve's first episode. 
4. How I Met Your Mother 
HIMYM had it's ups and downs but it was always there for me. Ted, Robin, Marshall, Barney and Lily felt like friends. I cared about their lives. I was furious over the finale in only the way a die hard fan could be. I even liked the finale season (save, again, the finale, don't talk to me about it. I've gone on so many rants. I have it down to a science) and thought I was ready to let go!
5. Brooklyn Nine Nine
Are you watching Brooklyn Nine Nine? Why not? It is the best new sitcom of the 13-14 season. It has a crazy talented and diverse cast. It's hilarious. It's everything I've ever wanted in a cop show. Please watch it. Please Please Please.
6. QI
QI, or Quite Interesting, is the Stephen Fry panel show where the panelists are rewarded for being interesting and punished for being obvious. It's education and funny, oh and so very British! You can find several full episodes on Youtube. It's a shame there isn't an American version.
7. 30 Rock
Before I started typing I sang the entire 30 Rock theme to my dog. For those of you who don't know, the 30 Rock theme has no words. Anyway, Tina Fey's magnum opus is one of the things that made me want to write. It was part of the NBC Thursday line up that I LIVED for. I'm glad I can go back and watch it on Netflix whenever I want.
8. New Girl
New Girl shouldn't work. There should be something about a group of 30 year olds failing in life and love that everyone is tired of. Except New Girl is really funny. Like laugh out loud till your sides hurt funny. As a show, New Girl does a great job of taking characters that should be inherently unpleasant and making them loveable. Even the Nick/Jess relationship last season worked.
9. Glee
There's an ongoing joke on Tumblr that nobody hates Glee like Glee fans hate Glee. Glee fans are aware that if there was ever a shark to jump it happened sometime around the end of season one where there was a bohemian rhapsody/ childbirth mash up . I still love it though. It can be crazy and weird and sometimes not very good but I've seen every episode more than once. That might have more to do with my best friend being obsessed with it, but it doesn't change the fact that I cried during Finn's send off episode and I'll be heartbroken when it ends next season.
10. Girls
I've had mixed feelings about Girls but I can't stop watching. I've never been so drawn to awful characters before. There is something inherently millennial about it. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

June in Review

June, I liked you. You're good people month times? Early in the month my BFF came to visit. I hadn't seen her since February and a reunion was long overdue! Over just under four days we went to two concerts, countless restaurants and had a minor breakdown over Orphan Black.  

Unfortunately that was the last of my "planned" fun events for the summer. Now I have to wait till September to quell my wanderlust. The rest of June was fine, though. It's hot here in Michigan and the mosquitoes are no joke, but that also means lots of ice cream, sunshine and fireworks. 

Books Read:
23.Dreams of Gods and Monsters - Laini Taylor
24. To All The Boys I've Loved Before - Jenny Han
25. Can't and Won't - Lydia  Davis 
26. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - JK Rowling
27. Just One Day - Gayle Forman

American Authors: 4
African: 0
South American: 0
Asian:  0

Male:  Female:5

New Releases:3

Jar Books: 0

Challenge Books:0
June continued my trend of finishing books exclusively by female authors, again this happened without my realizing. Overall it was a pretty good month for reading. I had a minor slump after BFF visited but that's long since passed. I'm also working my way through 1Q84. I hadn't realized what kind of commitment a 1150 page novel would be this summer! I'm about halfway through now, so hopefully it makes an appearance in my July wrap up post. 

In July I am also doing the Book Photo Challange over on my bookish tumblr, in case any of you were interested in participating!