Should I finish this book?

This summer, I’ve created a Kindle graveyard of half-finished books.

Part of it is the fact that I have pretty much no attention span.  I read in thirty second intervals between naps, feedings, and diaper changes–whatever book I choose had better be seriously gripping.  The next book is always shinier, more exciting.

My newest thing is the free shelf at the library. I’ll clear out my shelves and donate a bag of books, only to replace them with new ones.  I guess there are worse hobbies.  I could be addicted to online poker or something.

Truly, life is too short to finish a book you’re not enjoying.  If you love to read, chances are that there is a book out there you could currently be enjoying except you’re stubbornly sticking to this dud.  There are plenty of fish in the literary sea.

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What do you think? Is disciplined reading worthwhile for its own sake?

happy reading

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Weekend Update: My Tokyo Trip

I’ve been to Tokyo before, but this trip was different.  For one thing, I was staying in one city for five whole days–unheard of!  I rarely get that much time off.  I was also serving as a pretty unofficial tourguide to my dad, who’d never been to Japan before.  Probably the biggest difference, though, was that this time I’d be traveling with a two month old baby girl.  Let me just hit some of the highlights:

Meiji Ji

I love that this lush forest is smack dab in the middle of a bustling city.  It’s always my first stop in Tokyo as one of the best ways to clear my head after busy travel days.

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Warayakiya

I’d never been here before–it was a recommendation from the hotel’s amazing travel desk.  They grilled tuna over huge blazing flames of burning wheat grass (the traditional style of Shikoku).  After what felt like five hundred years of pregnancy, this partially raw fish totally hit the spot.  Yum!

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Dominique Adams Bakery

I’ll admit, I came here purely to take a photo of my ice cream.  Worth it.

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Tsukiji Fish Market

Everything I’d read about this place made it sound like if you couldn’t make it in time for the 3:00 AM auctions, you shouldn’t even bother existing anymore.  I was glad to have a reason to go; my dad suggested it and it was AMAZING.  Streets of vendors with delicious looking fish, giant clams, soda flavored ice cream, ultra-sharp knives.  Breakfast was the best sushi I’ve ever tasted.  I say that I travel on my stomach, that is to say that I plan my trips around delicious foods and remember my travels by the the snacks I’ve tasted along the way.  Tsukiji was an experience I will never forget.

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Book Clubs

As someone who has lived in three cities in the last four years, I value a good book club.

It’s like this: you show up in a new town, ready and willing to make new friends–but where to find them?  I’ve had a few manufactured friendships; someone I know happens to know someone in the place I’m moving to.  The key to conjuring a friendship out of thin air is to have an activity act as a buffer, bonus points if it’s a group activity.  Church groups and bar trivia teams have provided me with plenty of acquaintances.

The best results have come from book clubs.  It makes sense; friends generally have common interests.  At book club, we are generally all into reading, food, and wine.  In every book club I’ve been a part of, that’s been about all that we had in common.

I love it! The variety of tastes and differences in personality are so exciting.  One person is into Austen, one into mystery/thrillers, and I’m the nerd reading Jurassic Park again.  I never thought I’d like the ultra-feminine classics, but my book club has convinced me.

Today, I’m headed into Tokyo with my dad and my baby to explore some more.  We’ll write more soon!

happy reading

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Weekend Update–Dad’s here!

It’s been nonstop family time for this baby.

This week, my dad is visiting from San Diego.  T is having a blast getting to know her family, and I am taking full advantage of the situation.  Oh, you want to hold her? Mind if I use the bathroom, eat breakfast, go to the gym, do my hair, take a nap?  With an extra person around to help, at times I feel like I have restless arms–they’re used to attempting to do it all.

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The only downside to visiting Okinawa this time of year is the debilitating heat.  If you’re outside for more than fifteen minutes, you start to melt like a human candle.  It feels like drowning inside a microwaveable steam bag of veggies.  It feels horrible.

I read something called “Mommy Milestones”; similar to baby milestones (I can hold my head up! I can roll over! I can sleep through the night!), Mommy milestones are a way to celebrate your new abilities a mom.  During all of the visiting, I’ve been able to hit so many milestones.  First gym visit without baby, first gym visit with baby, first successful car ride without a screaming baby, first international travel.

With my dad here, I’m exploring parts of the island and doing all kinds of things I wouldn’t normally do alone.  More on our adventures soon! Right now I have to take advantage of the fact that my kid is sleeping.  Time to use the bathroom, eat breakfast, go to the gym, do my hair, take a nap.

Hope your weekend is half as fun as ours has been so far, and half as hot!

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My Book Reviews: You Will Know Me

You Will Know Me follows Devon, an ultra competitive high school gymnast and her family.  As a toddler, Devon had a toe traumatically severed by a lawn mower, and used gymnastics to recuperate.  Even then she was described as a natural, a protege.  Her parents can’t help but sacrifice everything to her talent: they take out a second mortgage on the home, they all but neglect Devon’s younger brother.  Every spare minute is dedicated to practicing, and soon talks of the Olympics arise.  In the midst of this cutthroat atmosphere, the boyfriend of one of the coaches is murdered.

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Cabot weaves a dark and complex world of gymnastics worship, with Devon as its idol.

I meant to dip my toe in the world of competitive gymnastics, but Meg Cabot pushed me into the deep end–in a few pages, I was totally immersed.

I didn’t want to like this book; I am totally burnt out of murder stories.  I’m tired of everything being “the next Gone Girl”, or “the next big thriller”.  Often, I am left wanting.  I’m not thrilled by thrillers, not intrigued by mysteries.  I’m bored by all of it.

You Will Know Me was different enough to hold my interest.  The death of the boyfriend was an undercurrent; the over-the-top parenting drove the true plot.  Devon was a weird (in a good way), dark, troubled high schooler.  I loved how fleshed-out each character was.  Overall, this was a fast-paced summer mystery/thriller that I fully enjoyed.

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For more about You Will Know Me, check out these links:

Interview with Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott discusses her writing process

Buy on Amazon

I’m having a great vacation and loving California.  I hope you all are having a great time, too!

happy reading

 

Delicious words

My favorite words from Stephen King’s The Shining
  1. Nimbus: a luminous vapor, cloud, or atmosphere about a god or goddess when on earth

2. Lassitude:  a weariness of body or mind from strain,oppressive climate, etc.; lack of energy;listlessness; languor

3. Verdigris: a bright bluish-green encrustation or patina formed on copper or brass by atmospheric oxidation, consisting of basic copper carbonate.

4. Denuded: to make naked or bare; strip

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Oh, Sweet Summertime

I’ve been lucky enough to travel home pretty frequently while living overseas.  I love being able to take Teagan to meet my family and close friends that I’ve known for years.

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More on the trip later–right now I’m busy soaking it all in.

happy reading

Rereading

There aren’t many books that I love enough to read twice.  I’ve read every Harry Potter millions of times, and The Hunger Games was worth a second shot.  On my most recent flight, I panicked: I’d brought the fully charged Kindle, but had forgotten to load my current book.

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Enter Stephen King.  Ahh, deliciously horrifying Stephen King.

During takeoff, I fed the happy baby and settled into one of my favorite stories ever: The Shining.  Is there anything better?

We experienced some airport drama on this trip, and after the first flight I was separated from my travel companion, Maureen.  Somehow, she ended up with my Kindle (and my snacks!), but I was already too far gone.  I ducked into the Hudson News and bought the hard copy of The Shining.  If I’ve already read it 4829084190 times, who’s to say I won’t read it 28482109 more?

What books do you love enough to read twice?  Which is your go-to comfort read?

Hope you’re all having as great of a summer as I am!

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Weekend Update: Maureen is here!

When people make the effort to visit us here in Okinawa, I know that they must really love us.  It’s incredibly expensive, and such a huge undertaking to fly for almost 24 hours each way.

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Maureen came out to Okinawa last week, and we’re having the best time.  I am loving having another pair of hands to help me with T.  I’m getting spoiled: I can shower for longer than thirty seconds without the relaxing sounds of a hysterical baby.  I have someone to share every mundane baby noise and movement with.  Sometimes I even get to eat with two hands!

35312066772_f02ac4fb18_o-1-e1498215051826.jpgHaving visitors always brings out the best in me; I have a reason to get out and see touristy things.  We’ve seen ancient castles, gorgeous beaches and waterfalls, and of course we’ve enjoyed ramen and sushi.  It’s so nice to be with someone I’ve known long enough to just be with.  Instead of shallow conversations about people at work, we have pointless talks about Harry Potter character development.

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Today, I am thankful for good friends and good food.

My Book Reviews: With Malice

Short review: this book was not good.

The premise sounded somewhat interesting:  a girl is accused of killing her best friend over a guy while studying abroad in Italy, but has no memory of the trip.  Very Amanda Knox.

The writing was clumsy, the plot was boring and made no sense, the characters were flat.  I finished it mostly because I was bored.  Jill, the main character struggles with her amnesia, saying:

“I concentrated, trying to recall more, but it was like my brain was constipated.”

For real? You couldn’t think of any better way to phrase this?

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Her characters don’t talk like real teenagers, it’s more like a grandma’s idea of how teenagers speak.  There are several segments featuring online chats where characters say “Gurl”,  “I M here 4 u” and “bee-otch”.  Come on, now.  This sounds like how people wrote emails in the dawn of the internet, when it was still called “the web” and we were all drowning in AOL free trial CDs.

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This book was a nice try that fell flat.