Where did the time go?

Where did the time go?

Holy Moly, how is it 2018? One of these days, I will figure out how to make this whole blogging thing a regular part of life but I admit that full-time work, full-time graduate school and general adulting has left me exhausted. However, being now officially done with my MBA (woohoo) I can get back to enjoying the subtle niceties of life….aka copious amounts of reading. I’m not sure I even want to know what the page count from between Christmas and New Year’s is as I felt like I was searching for a new book almost every day.

I’m pleased to say that I’m back on the book challenge bandwagon and managed to burn my way through both Bossypants by Tina Fey** and I feel bad about my neck by Nora Ephron. 2 more down and yeah, still several to go. But hey, I have, like 3 months until I’m 35 and have to hang my head in shame for failing this noblest of endeavors.

I enjoyed reading Bossypants immensely. The clever witticisms that I would expect of Tina Fey are sprinkled throughout the memoir along with advice that is darn good regardless of whether or not you happen to possess a pair of boobs. A few key gems:

  • “In most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.”
  • “Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.”
  • “It is an impressively arrogant move to conclude that just because you don’t like something, it is empirically not good. I don’t like Chinese food, but I don’t write articles trying to prove it doesn’t exist.”
  • “Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.”

And in a beautiful response to scathing fan letter:

“To say I’m an overrated troll, when you have never even seen me guard a bridge, is patently unfair.”

I appreciated the no-nonsense manner in which the book conveyed the trials and tribulations of her youth, complete with awkward adolescent years, and the sharing of potential closet skeletons that frankly we all have from our youth but not all are courageous enough to own. As a woman, who sometimes laments being female everytime I have to restock my supply of feminine hygiene products for the next go-around of my body punishing me for not being pregnant (this comic illustrates the relationship with my uterus perfectly), I was more amused by Tina’s rambling regarding the fact that she didn’t realize her period would involve blood since TV commercials always showing a bright blue liquid. Whether this is actually true or merely an amusing anecdotal story, I can identify with the confusion and wonder about the marketing mind that decided we mustn’t make the masses squeamish with the sight of a little blood.

Musings on the joys reproductive cycles and marketing tactics aside, reading this book made me want to hug Tina Fey until she got a restraining order against me or (instead) figure out how to bottle that indomitable spirit and sell it for tons of money on Amazon. Seriously, read this book and decide how to channel your inner Tina Fey. With feminist hat firmly affixed, I’ll venture to say that we need more Tina Fey’s in the world.

Now, Nora Ephran’s book…well, I just don’t know what to make of it. I’m not sure if I feel this way because I read it much too soon after the rollicking ride of Tina’s Fey’s life and feminist views and so, by comparison, there was a missing joie de vivre element but this book simply did not resonate with me. Many chapter openings pulled me in but then there were abrupt endings or a lack of final wisdom conveyed. Sure, I also don’t understand obsessing about one’s purse or paying hundreds of dollars for a glorified rucksack where one will inevitably store dust mites, forgotten scraps of paper and even a black hole portal but then there was no real sense of closure to the chapter. When I finally read the last page and gently closed the back cover, I sat staring at the book in befuddlement. Where was the grandiose message of sage wisdom? Where was my adult empowerment that you know what, everything is going to be ok? While there were a few gems, overall I am still pondering why this book was written. Perhaps, as I age, potentially ungracefully, Nora’s writing and the message will resonate with me more but for now, someone please let me know if I merely missed the cereal box decoder that was necessary to unlocking the hidden message?

Happy 2018 all! Soon to come, thoughts on Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.

** Disclosure: Book links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and decided to purchase one of the books.**

Image credit: Pixabay.com

Book Challenge Take 2

Book Challenge Take 2

I know I said that I wouldn’t try another book challenge when I re-launched this blog in January but now find myself drawn to the idea of a book challenge….oh fickle Pinterest, why do you send so many through my feed?

I came across one this past Friday from Bustle.com-21 books every woman should read by 35– and was immediately drawn in. Why, I’ll be 35 in a little over a year! And shiny! What a fun mix of books. Fiction, non-fiction, old classics, new classics, books I probably should have read by now and others that I’m excited to read because they are outside of my normal genres, et cetera.

I’m not sure if I am simply experiencing some sort of weird mid-30’s crisis but for whatever reason, I feel like 35 is going to “a year” and that I need to accomplish something meaningful. A book challenge (plus finishing my MBA if all goes on schedule) seems like a good lead-in but part of me still wants to do something epic like hike Mt. Kilimanjaro with a bunch of other bad-ass (or crazy depending on how you want to look at it) women in 2018. Or maybe I’ll go the less expensive route and finally get around to training for a marathon….

Potential existential crisis aside, another reason I like this particular challenge is that I’m already off to a great start and have read two of the books on the list. I’m not enough of a purist (aka: lazy) to re-read those books simply for the sake of the challenge, even though the book were great reads and one, Lean In, is still a topic of conversation at my work, but hey! look at that? Only 19 more books to go…I’ve so got this.

If I can figure out how to embed a countdown timer in WordPress, or even if I can’t, head over to the fancy new page devoted to this challenge and help keep me accountable to finishing this one! And be on the lookout for some future book reviews from titles off the list.

 

PS: In the spirit of more book list (Thank you, Pinterest) here are a few other links that may be of interest. Happy Reading!

The Book Nerd’s Guide to Surviving a Dystopia

11 Books to Read if you Love “The Handmaid’s Tale”

20 Life-Changing Nonfiction Books That You Can Finish In A Day

 

The capacity to forgive- Railway Man

I’m not sure why I was moved to read this book after seeing a preview for the recently released movie of the same title (starring the dreamy Colin Firth) as I tend to shy away from WWII-related books and movies- especially if based on a real event or is a memoir. Historical events of the 20th century still feel a little too close to current times that I am often discomforted by the reading of such books and rarely force myself to watch war movies as I usually end up crying the entire time. I blame being forced to watch “All Quiet on the Western Front” as a precocious 7th grader. That movie has haunted me.

Cinematically traumatic memories aside, I was intrigued by the story line for Railway Man. Perhaps it was due to my being fairly ignorant to the horrors inflicted on British soldiers within the Asian theater during WWII as more of my history centers around the Holocaust and European theaters of that time. I was also pulled in by the wonders of fate that allowed a man who was so horribly tortured and survived events that most of us can’t even being to fathom, the opportunity to 50 years later meet the man who was the interpreter during his torture and the fixation of his hatred for what he experienced.

Railway Man is an autobiography written by Eric Lomax. Perhaps it is the span of time in between when these heinous events occurred and when he was able to finally write about the events, but the book read with a sense of distance to it. Understandable given the descriptions of torture the author lived through along with his time spent in the Changi prison. Lomax was captured by the Japanese when Singapore was surrendered in Feb. 1942 and eventually ended up with thousands of other POW’s building the Burma Railway (tens of 1000’s of people died in the building of this railway). Lomax was tortured under suspicion of anti-Japanese activities due to his suspected involvement in helping to build a radio while in the POW camp. He was found guilty of this charge and transferred to another Singapore prison where he spent the remainder of the war.

Lomax had a difficult time adjusting back to civilian life and he talks at length in his memoir on this topic as he is able to reflect on how his experiences in the war changed him. He became a patient of Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture in the mid-1980’s where he received counseling to help him both deal with what he experienced and document his experiences as a POW.

The most powerful part of his story is when he is able to meet the interpreter, Nagase Takeshi**, and forgive him for his part in the torture Lomax experienced.

As I finished this memoir, I couldn’t help but cry a little at Lomax’s capacity to forgive a man who was fundamental to the pain and suffering he endured. While you could argue that even if Takeshi had wanted to protest the torture being inflicted on Lomax and others that were being interrogated, this likely would have been a death sentence for Takeshi and probably not changed the outcome of Lomax’s story. My own thoughts also ran along the lines of could I forgive something so great? I think of my daily life and those of people around me and what we choose to focus on, hold against each other and allow to be unforgiven but are they worthwhile things to fall into an “unforgivable” category? Perhaps it is all relative to what we do experience in our lives. I can only hope that I never live through such a brutal and life-altering experience where my capacity to forgive, heal and find peace at what I endured at the hands of my fellow man would be tested. I honestly don’t know what the outcome would be.

Railway Man also reminded me that WWII stories need to continue being present in our 21st century world. More so as fewer and fewer are left to share firsthand accounts, and sadly being replaced with others from different generations who have their own difficult memories to battle.

**Nagase Takeshi wrote his own memoir called Crosses and Tigers and spent much of his life post-war leading people back to the Burma railway to discover the mass burial graves of railway workers. He also financed the construction of a Buddhist temple at the River Kwai bridge as part of his atonement for his part in the war.