Thursday, March 13, 2014

So Much for Not Procrastinating...

I wrote a ten page paper between yesterday evening and this morning, so I'm taking a few hours off tonight, okay? :P I've moved my 'old' Falling Letters blog here - I'm pretty nostalgic so I like to preserve these kinds of thing. The current Falling Letters blog (at fallingletters.ca, to become a book blog) will keep the old book-related posts and the basic design, but will be modified to meet the needs of its new initiative.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book Blog?

Okay. I've decided to reinvent this blog as a proper book blog. I've spent the past few years on the sidelines watching how things are done and I think I'm finally ready to give it a shot! Since I'll be graduating university in June, I think this will be a good activity to fill that void. I would like to start working on it now as a form of procrastination, but I've only got three weeks of classes left so I'm going to try to hold out until then =) Watch this space.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Wrapping Up 2013, Looking Forward 2014

Last year I said "I'm going to exercise my willpower more". Hahahahaha. I'm going to scrap the format of the last few year end posts and just type away a bit. This year was mostly eaten away by a three month summer trip around Ireland, England and Portugal, book-ended by two busy semesters (the first overloaded with school work, the second overloaded with paid work). Once again I did not meet my reading goal - I consistently seem to fall around 10 books short, so instead of making my goal 75 again for this year perhaps I should make it 65! I read 67 books in 2013, quite a drop from last year's 90 or 92 (my GoodReads 2012 shelf says 92). I had adjusted my goal for 2013 to 75 to account for the summer, during which I did actually read six or seven books. This year the slacking came in the fall, when I had to re-devote myself to work and school.

I accomplished my one niche reading goal of 10 Tolkien books this year. I was going to say I fudged this a bit by including three movie books on the list (though they were beautiful and informative reads) but then I recalled I counted The Lord of the Rings as three separate books in 2012 so it's even! Artist and Illustrator, A Reader's Companion, and Tolkien and the Great War were the best of the bunch this year. On a related note, I've been participating quite a bit in the Desolation of Smaug thread in the Tolkien group on Goodreads (I 'accidentally' wrote a 2 000 word post on my thoughts about the movie). This year I will aim for 10 books again, with the intention of perhaps tackling the HoME as related to LotR, The Silmarillion and more scholarly books.

Best reads of 2013: Nothing as spectacular as in 2012, I think (no new all-time faves), but some really really good ones include The Good Father by Noah Hawley, Building Imaginary Worlds by Mark J.P. Wolf, The Ocean at the End of Lane by Neil Gaiman (oops, this is definitely a new all-time favourite, haha). Good ones include Ireland by Frank Delaney (I read a handful of general/local Irish books over the summer), A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, and A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty.

This is the bit where I usually write about my goals for the upcoming year. I don't know how I feel about goals. They don't really make any difference in my life (this I am realising after four years of blogging about yearly goals!!). I need to dig a bit deeper and figure out how I might be able to make the changes I want to make but can't be motivated to do so. I think the biggest struggle is that I'm very okay with my life right now. I don't have to change anything and I will still be healthy, happy and comfortable. I know, intellectually, that I will be even healthier, happier and more comfortable if I pursue some of the changes I want to make. But how do I enact those changes? I've decided to try out charlieissocoollike's (Charlie McDonnell) trick of not breaking the chain (designed by Karen Kavett). I've printed off one calendar for writing and one for meditating/maintaining daily morning routine. This could be the sort of simple thing that keeps me motivated. After years of ambitions that fail after just a few months, I like to think I'm finally at the end of my rope and I can kick those failures back this year. I'll be graduating university this year, ready to start my own life in the big world. I think that'll be a major factor in how I go about making these changes. Another difficulty is how I don't have a consistent lifestyle throughout the year (i.e. I'll go travelling for three months in the middle). I need to figure out how to adapt the changes to my lifestyle changes...Well, enough about the challenges of change. Here's what I'd like to this year (note the similarities to previous years):
  • Read 75 books (including more non-fiction, books I own but haven't read, books released in 2013 and 2014, books that have been on the TBR for a long time)
  • Write for 20 minutes daily (ideally [a number of words], either fresh or rewritten)
  • Meditate daily (as part of morning/bedtime rituals - did this for a few months in 2011, never felt better, somehow could not convince myself to ever do it again, see above for possible reasoning)
  • Some smaller goals: Make family dinner once a week, vacuum once a week...maybe I'll think of more later
I also don't know how I feel about blogging anymore. I started using Tumblr and Goodreads in the fall of 2011 and while my use of these platforms didn't really harm my blogging habits any more than if I hadn't been using those platforms in 2012, I did migrate quite a bit more towards them in 2013. However, when I do post my thoughts on either of those websites, I really consider what I'm writing and I think because of this careful consideration my personal writing has improved over the past year. If you browse the 'my thoughts' tag on my Tumblr or my short reviews on Goodreads, you'll see I haven't stopped documenting my thoughts; I've just been shaping them into a form appropriate for a much different medium. I used to think if I ever started doing that  that it would be a bad thing, those bits of writing wouldn't be as valuable as if I had formed them into a fat, formatted blog post but I no longer think that way. So, my dilemma now is how to proceed. Do I let this blog fall to wayside or do I revive it? If I do revive it, I think it will need to be in a different form that what I've been doing the past few years. It's not longer sustainable or unfortunately that interesting or valuable for me. I'm not sure I even want to document my writing anymore - I can use track changes in Word when it really matters and I don't want to talk about writing anymore, I want to do it. I think I've finally reached the end of my rope with my writing habits and

In conclusion: I don't know what's going to happen with this blog in 2014. I'm not making a TBR page or providing any semblance of a schedule. There are other things I want to give priority to in my life. Let's see where this leaves Falling Letters. This whole post may sound a bit dreary, but I'm actually feeling more optimistic than ever because I'm not giving myself false hope and I'm trying to consider my situation realistically, in order to make real changes. Here's to 2014!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Hullo...

Hm, so this blogging thing didn't pan out so well this year...that big trip I took in the middle of summer didn't help! I'm going have to rethink my blogging strategy and maybe try something a little different next year, given that I'll be done university and heading into full travel mode, hopefully.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon: Wrap-up

During the Readathon, I finished one book (~40 pages) and completed three books.

  • Beyond the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
    • This is the book I finished.
    • I had heard a lot of good things about this book, so I decided to pick it up. It's written like a novel, with the author playing no role in the story (note: this is non-fiction), which I wasn't expecting. I had to continuously remind myself that this is a true story, not something like Sweetness in the Belly or Slumdog Millionaire, which are realistic but still ultimately fiction. The reality of this non-fiction novel was hard to swallow - not because it wasn't realistic, but because it was heartbreaking to see what the people who serve as the characters in the story experience as ordinary, every day life. The amount of corruption was astonishing and infuriating - it quickly becomes clear that those who demand bribes and those who give them are only doing so to gain the smallest of advantages in a difficult society, or to gain access to basic necessities of life, or to ensure the criminal justice system plays out 'fairly'. Beyond this common aspect of life, what the people of the slum have to do to survive is almost incomprehensible to someone like me, who has not faced any challenges even remotely similar.
    • The only complaint I have with this book is that there was no afterword describing what happened to the slum featured. Towards the end of the novel, destruction of the slum was imminent but there was no word of what ultimately played out. I'm sure I can find out through Google, but I feel this is basic information that should have been included.
  • When the King Comes Home by Caroline Stevermer
    • I had cautiously optimistic hope for this book! I stopped signing books out of the scifi/fantasy section years ago because I could only find awful books, but somehow this caught my eye and the description on the dust jacket sounded very nice, just the sort of thing I would like to read. But...
    • Oooh, what a disappointment this book was! It was alright for about 50 pages, then I thought it was going to get better, so I kept going, and by the time I realized it was going to stay awful I was so far in I decided to finish it. This is the only book I made any notes on because it frustrated me so much - here they are!
    • The first note I made was 'Nice little read, not too much to note - lots of art, a little too perfect and blissful' - hah!
    • There's no real conflict (a bit of teasing is the most we see) then BOOM out of nowhere about 60 everything turns around and the main character's running away and she finds the alleged King and things start to go haywire. There's a number of weird plot things (SPOILER: I thought it was absolutely silly that this 'King' is not actually the King but his assistant and the King himself shows up a bit later, why bother, why not go straight to the King?) that don't make sense or seem pointless or are really weak. For example, one numerous occasions the MC continues to tag along because it's 'not convenient' for her to go home, as she is supposed to be doing - this isn't played as wishful thinking, like the MC wants to tag along so she pretends it isn't convenient; it's played as actually being inconvenient therefore she must stay. It seems like the author had to work so hard to make sure her MC stays the MC and so everything feels really forced and awkward and out of place. Most of my notes are comments on the poor plot; you get the idea so I won't post them all here.
    • I did like the writing style - nothing too fancy, fairly concise, but easy to read. I like to think it's the sort of style I write in.
  • Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
    • I saw the movie first......I prefer certain aspects of the movie's plot (mostly the differences towards the end of the film) and Tiffany's portrayal, but I liked how the book handled mental illness and how the dance competition was intended to help young girls overcome depression. I also really enjoyed the narrative style and the counsellor character (can't remember his name); the book was a nice easy breezy read for me so not too much to comment on. Also, I borrowed the book from my friend so I don't have it here to reference. 
  • Isis by Douglas Clegg
    • I read this book around 11PM during the Read-a-thon, after I came home from a going away party. It turned out to be a great way to cap off the event! Really a short novella, it's a creepy little tale told in what I consider to be a traditional storytelling style, just the kind of story I adore - I loved how it got darker and darker, and how the relationship between the brother and sister was always a little unnerving, bordering on incest but not quite.
    • The illustrations are also really lovely! Some repetition throughout the book (I've never understood why repeating an image is a thing :/) but very pretty all the same.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon: Mid-Event Survey

Just finished dinner...here's my responses to the mid-event survey!

1) How are you doing? Sleepy? Are your eyes tired? My eyes were tired before I breaked for dinner, I actually shut them for about 15 minutes while lying on my bed...that little refresher did the trick, though, and I'm feeling bright eyed once again!

2) What have you finished reading? I've finished Beyond the Beautiful Forevers (had about 50 pages left to read today), and read in their entireties Silver Linings Playbook and When the King Comes Home
3) What is your favorite read so far? Silver Linings Playbook
4) What about your favourite snacks? Cheese cubes and gummy Coke bottles (not at the same time, though ;))
5) Have you found any new blogs through the readathon? If so, give them some love! I have been keeping socializing to the minimum, but towards the end of the event, I hope to check out some more participants' blogs :)
Currently reading: The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon: Introductory Questionnaire

I'm a little bit behind (I slept til eight today! ;P) but here are my answers for the introductory questionnaire!

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? The Canadian Prairies! It looks a little grey out today, just how I like the weather to be when I'm spending time reading :)
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Hard to say - I've heard fantastic things about The Flame Alphabet, and it sounds like something a little different, so I'll go with that one.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Gummy Coke bottles - my special treat for today!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! Uwah....I'm going on a three month trip to Ireland, England and Portugal in a month and I'm using today to get some reading done since I won't have much time during my trip! ;)
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I participated in a different read-a-thon in December, but this will be my first big one - I'm hoping to spend more time reading! ;)


Currently reading: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo - I finished most of this book during the week, but have about 40 pages left.