Tag Archives: 2017

2017

If I had a word for 2017, it would be unexpected. At this point last year, I thought 2017 would be the year I got my wisdom teeth out, paid off my student loans, and read 200 books. I didn’t imagine much else. Well…I did get my wisdom teeth out. I paid off my student loans. I read 119 books. I also spent a summer in Idaho being a camp person (Whhhhaaattttt!) and then moved to Madison for law school. It all seems kind of crazy and impulsive, and it was. 

Yet on paper, it wasn’t. I have wanted to go to law school for 18 years. I planned to go after I paid off my student loans and naturally I applied to law school after paying them off. But…Unexpected. Picking Madison after years of planning to go anywhere but there. Unexpected. Discovering that I actually hate living in the city. Unexpected. The social isolation of law school. Unexpected. Learning I don’t love law school. Unexpected. Realizing I’m okay with that. 

This was a bumpy year for me. I’m grateful for it. I am grateful for all the uncertainty and confusion and failure. It sucked and left me drained and anxious but it forced me to grow and rely more on God. It reminds me of Romans 5:3-5. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

Hope. What a wonderful word. 

Thank you to all the friends and family who kept me sane this past year ❤ I am so grateful for you all. 

Goals for next year? Read 118 books and live more gratefully. Hold me to it! 

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Regency Rejects and Nothing Non-Fiction: My 1 Star Reads from 2017

My least favorite reads from 2017: 

A Civil Action by Johnathan Harr

After a semester spent discussing civil procedure, I understand why my professor assigned us this one to read. It served a purpose. My classmates almost universally loved this book; I hated it. It was over-wordy, extremely biased, and sloppy with details. For most of the book, I was ready to give it two stars and call it “excessively dull,” but the last hundred pages were too egregious to ignore. I wouldn’t accept this kind of bathos in my fiction; I fail to see why I should tolerate it in my non-fiction. 

The Ishbane Conspiracy by Randy Alcorn

Reading this book was a lot like tying a millstone around my neck and jumping into the ocean: dangerous, painful, and a waste of time. The message that comes across is  that if you avoid dating, prom dresses with a slit, and Harry Potter, you’re a good Christian who won’t let sin in. Besides carrying a dubious moral message, the book itself is awful. The writing is heavy-handed and over the top. The characters are one dimensional and boring. The climax is out of nowhere and completely dramatic. Not worth it!

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Somewhat interesting plot idea…less than thrilling results. The writing was poor and the characters annoying. The plot never really went anywhere. The villains were super predictable. The relationship between the main characters was unhealthy and concerning, full of unhealthy emotional dependence. The menfolk have no personality. Not interesting or worth the time. 

A Jury of Her Peers by Jean Hanff Korelitz

This might win Most Disappointing Read of 2017. You know what is sexy? Lawyers flirting over their ACLU cards, said no one ever. Except possibly this author. A boring legal thriller that shoots itself in the foot by creating a self-righteous, dull heroine; an annoying romance; and a story line that revolves around a giant, government conspiracy. 

Plato and a Platypus Walk Into A Bar…: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes by Thomas Cathcart

This is a very brief look at different philosophies. If you took a basic philosophy course, this will be old hat. I’d give it two stars for the philosophy portion and negative two for the jokes. This book was completely un-funny. The jokes are either old and well-worn or so vulgar I almost didn’t finish. 

In The Woods by Tana French

A dark mystery about missing children and murder. Unfortunately, also a story full of angst, angst, and more angst! Though it began promisingly, the book drags on and slowly kills all the things I liked about the beginning. Relationships are ruined for stupid reasons. The main character was a bore. A boring, angsty read! 

Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception by Maggie Stiefvater

 Yet another promising YA novel ruined by raging hormones. I liked that the heroine takes things in stride. She discovers she can see fairies and doesn’t wuss out. However, she mainly accomplishes this by obsessing over her love interest instead of worrying about imminent death. The writing and plot are sloppy, definitely can tell this book was an early work for Stiefvater.

A Marriage of Inconvenience by Marion Chesney

I. Hate. This. Book. So. Much. Definitely the worst read of 2017. A Regency romance about a woman who hates men and a solider forced to become her fiance. I hate this book for its awful, inaccurate use of regency slang, weird Freudian philosophy, and terrible conclusion. Just…bleh!! 

The Forrester Inheritance: A Regency Entertainment by Daisy Vivian

Miss Mariana Porter stands to inherit a great deal of money – provided she marry one of her cousins. Obviously that cousin will be the one she takes in immediate aversion for absolutely no reason. One of those one-star reads that left me feeling more amused than infuriated. The characters are one dimensional and lack basic personality. 

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

A leadership book about…leadership? The internet? Something? Vague, repetitive, and cocky without the substance to back it up. Not bad ideas necessarily but the book alienated me.

The Bachelor Girl’s Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

“A female Sherlock Holmes”…except not.  This book is full of weird, switching POVs and a mystery that takes backseat to a confusing insta-romance. The book is super poorly paced. Action scenes are glazed over and character “change” comes out of nowhere. Half of the book was unnecessary and the other half didn’t fit anywhere. It lacked transition entirely. There are weird footnotes that don’t fit with the story. By the end of the book, I sort of forgot what the point of the mystery was in the first place and I am still confused about the motivation of the killer and his minions. I loved the title of this book and nothing else.

 


2017 Reading Challenge: My 5 Star Reviews, Part 2

My favorite reads from 2017…continued! 

David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell “looks at the complex and surprising ways the weak can defeat the strong, the small can match up against the giant, and how our goals (often culturally determined) can make a huge difference in our ultimate sense of success.” An interesting, challenging read that explores the takeaway lesson of a relatively familiar Bible story. 

Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund 

A futuristic, sci-fi retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel. I’d give the plot about 4 stars but the characters definitely bump it up to 5.  I love the characters. The author does an amazing job capturing the spirit of the The Scarlet Pimpernel but with a gender-bender twist. The science talk occasionally bogs the story down, but it was nice to have a YA book that “makes you think” while telling the story. Politics, science, moral responsibility, right and wrong, good and bad…it is all to be found hovering at the back of the characters and their actions and decisions.

Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison 

Book 1 in the Tyme series. Rapunzel retelling…starring Jack and his beanstalk. This is one of those books you have to stick with all the way through. Rapunzel starts off as a very annoying, naive, rude character who doesn’t know a map from a mother. However, her character arc is wonderful. The story is much more nuanced than most fairy tale retellings. Lovely world building and almost no romance!  

Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella by Megan Morrison

Book 2 in the Tyme series. Though billed as a “Cinderella retelling,” this book breaks from the usual Cinderella mold and has very little to do with the original story. It has a bit of an Ever After High vibe going but it transcends that with really solid, interesting characters and social justice themes. (A YA novel with a couple interested in something other than each other! Hurah!) That said, if I have one complaint with this book, it would be the romance. Overall, unexpectedly enjoyable.

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved. But Tessa’s return unearths buried memories and questions that don’t add up…leading back to the night of the murder. My Caveat: I’d give this book 5 stars for its genre. Not sure 5 stars compared to books overall. However, as a psychological thriller, I really enjoyed this one. It has deep, meaningful characters with twisted, broken personalities. There is no unlikely romance and there are strong, female friendships. It is creepy without being overwhelming. 

I Believe In A Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

Desi Lee can accomplish anything as long as she has a plan. Soccer? Student body elections? College applications? She has it down. Coming to terms with her non-existent love life, Desi decides the problem is that she hasn’t put together the right plan. And what better place to find a plan than in a K-drama? I am obsessed with K-Dramas so I loved all the references. But really, I loved this book in general. Desi could easily have been a goody-two-shoes character. Yet somehow she comes across as relatable and hilarious. While her behavior at times is downright crazy, all she had to do was reference a drama and I was totally for the plan. Why not stage a car accident or create a fake love triangle?

Loyalty and Legislative Action: A Survey of Activity by the New York State Legislature 1919-1949 by Lawrence H. Chamberlain 

This book focuses on three legislative investigations of “subversive” activities conducted by the New York legislature. While that doesn’t sound like a topic you’d want to curl up with in a rainy day, I found it surprisingly readable and interesting. What continually surprised me was how relevant the book was. Though specific examples may no longer apply, the government’s actions and arguments are only too familiar. From John Doe investigations gone horribly wrong to the overuse of (possibly illegal) warrants, the general facts sound eerily like something you would hear in the news today. 


2017 Reading Metrics

Let’s recap: 

2017 Reading Goals:

  • 170 books
  • 25 re-read books
  • Get my to-read list down from 960 to 900 (and keep it there!) 
  • Read some Greek classics and church fathers

And what actually happened? 

2017 Reading Reality:

  • 119 books
  • 12 re-reads
  • To read list: 924
  • Greek classics and church fathers: 0

…Kind of depressing, really. The last time I read so few books it was 2010. And in 2010 I wasn’t really keeping track of what I read, so I might actually have out-read myself then too. I had high expectations for this year…but then I went to camp. And then I went to law school. I guess I have an excuse!

This year I read: 40,247 pages. (Only down 1,162 pages from last year.)  The longest book was Civil Procedures: A Coursebook by Joseph Glannon (aka…my Civ Pro textbook) at 1,287 pages. The shortest book was Enough Rope by Dorothy Parker at 110 pages. My average rating was 3.2 stars. 

Keep an eye out for my annual 5 Star Favorites…coming soon! 


A movie worth seeing once…

Since January 1st, I have been to the movies 9 times (a high number for me!) but have only seen 5 movies. I end up watching them twice! I saw Sing, Moana, Beauty and the Beast, and now Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 twice in theaters. The one exception is the Lego Batman Movie, which surprises me because I was most looking forward to that one. (I just Googled it and there is a showing of Lego Batman at a theater in Oak Creek…if I hustle, I could make it…just kidding, not that committed.)  

Prior to this year, I don’t think I have ever seen a movie twice in theaters. It just doesn’t logically make sense to pay that much to see the same movie. Yet I have done it 4 times this year! Why?! Have the movies been that much better? I don’t think so. It is more that I have a lot of friends I like seeing movies with…so I go, again and again. 

Though I know it doesn’t make sense financially, I like seeing movies in theaters more than once. The second time around I get to remember my previous thoughts and emotions as well as experience new ones as I pay attention to other details. Perhaps what I am really enjoying is just seeing the movie twice in a short span of time. I wonder if I would enjoy the experience as much with a regular DVD?

I conclude from this: a movie worth seeing once is worth seeing twice!


Books Vs. Time

I have barely read anything since the month of April began and I am seriously stressed out by that. I had a nice lead on my 2017 Reading Challenge and it is slowly dwindling away. To combat this, I have gone to the library several times and checked out a plethora of books. 

The thing is, that is not where the problem lies. It isn’t that I do not want to read, it is that I do not have time to read. While I know that, I don’t like acknowledging it. It is so much easier to think, ‘Oh, I just need to find the right book to get me reading,’ than it is to think, ‘I need to manage my time better if I want to read later.’

However, I have been very responsible and have not been reading. My overflowing library basket can attest to that! 

EDIT: Also, full disclosure, I’ve been watching more K Dramas than normal so that might also play a part in this.


2017 Reading Goal: February

Since I find myself occasionally daunted by my reading goal of 170, I have decided to do a monthly “reading goal update.” I’m hoping this will help keep me inspired and on track. So what were my goals?

  • 170 books
  • 25 re-read books
  • Get my to-read list down from 960 to 900 (and keep it there!) 
  • Read some Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas

So far this year I have read, drum roll please, 30 books! That means I am currently 7 books ahead of where I need to be to stay on track for the year. However, since I haven’t begun tackling the Greek philosophers or early Church Fathers, I figure the lead won’t last long. The more books between me and the red, the better. 

As far as re-reading goes, I’ve only re-read 1 book but Goodread’s new re-reading option has me jazzed to read more, so I am not too worried. 

My to-read list is currently at 937. I’m rather proud of that. I might actually succeed at keeping it below 900 this year. 

I already noted the lack of Plato in my literary diet. I suppose I should start this part of my challenge soon.  

Overall, though, not a bad start, eh?