2017 Book Roundup

I can’t quite categorize the type of books I read in 2017 because it was a rather random assortment, but I surprised myself with how much I was able to read, despite my rather full work load. Here are my top 5 recommendations, along with a list of the rest of the books I read this past year!

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: An excellent speculative fiction novel that depicts a world in which women are, quite literally, subservient to men. It’s shocking and absurd and a warning- everything a great speculative fiction novel should be.
  2. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance: An eye-opening memoir that discusses the people (his family, but we are to assume their stories could be easily transferrable) who are struggling to get by in Appalachia with obstacles of poverty, drugs, and poor education.
  3. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven: A wonderful Young Adult novel that discusses death, mental illness, and abuse. The characters are sweet and painful and a good reminder (for a teacher) that there is so much more going on behind the scenes that we will likely never know or understand.
  4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: A funny, but heartbreaking, story of a kid growing up on a reservation with a dream to get a better education and be successful. Though it’s definitely not the main focus, it offers a look at the way of life on reservations and the many ways that we are failing Native Americans as a country.
  5. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit: A series of essays that reflect on the way women are treated with horrifying statistics about abuse and a stark demand that we stop turning a blind eye to the reality of these issues and start doing something about it.

Here are the rest of the books, in no particular order, that I read this year:

  • Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham
  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  • Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres
  • Firstlife by Gena Showalter
  • El Deafo by Cece Bell
  • Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • Columbine by Dave Cullen
  • milk and honey by Rupi Kaur
  • Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
  • the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  • We Beat the Street by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, Rameck Hunt
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk
  • the sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur
  • Legend, Prodigy, & Champion by Marie Lu

Have you read any of these? Did you read any great novels this year? Let me know in the comments!

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Gold, Flowing 2018.

I haven’t been super proud of the person I’ve been for the past few months. True, the end of 2017 hasn’t exactly been good to me, and I haven’t necessarily been doing anything wrong, I’ve just been a little disappointed. Maybe it’s seasonal depression, maybe it’s my thyroid, maybe I drink too much, maybe it’s the loneliness; but I haven’t been myself. Or maybe I don’t even know who “myself” is anymore. I just know there has to be more to life than waking up, going to work, coming home, eating and watching Netflix, taking a shower, and going to sleep. Somewhere along the line I got lost in the everyday and forgot to live. I got lost in the responsibility and the laziness and forgot the inspiration and the joy. I got caught up in the pain and the fear and the pity. And maybe I still am- but at some point, I need to embrace the struggle and get on my way.

My Bumble profile lovingly quotes Langston Hughes: “I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.” And it’s true, I do love those things- but they’re not the only things that construct the me who makes me proud, the me who knows I’m worthy and capable of greatness and endless days of sunshine. The me I want to be knows that I like to travel, be active, try new things, do yoga, cook, read, garden, drink (especially craft beer and wine), and connect with friends.

So, in 2018, my goals are going to be to pursue “me” in any way that I can. I don’t want to lay around and wait for someone to invite me- or even wait for someone to join me- I’m just going to do it. I want to take baths, reflect, write poetry, and dream. I want to run, bike, meditate, and pursue a life of health. I want to cook, eat, breathe, and live in the moment. I want to drive, discover, visit and explore everything I can find. I want to do me, feel the joy, and bask in the limitless possibility of 2018 and all that it has to offer.

“No longer rooted, but gold, flowing. I feel a thousand capacities spring up in me.” (Jennifer Niven, All the Bright Places)

Filling the Gap

I’ve been having a tough time dealing with this breakup. The hardest part is that when I started dating him, I thought I was done. I thought the search was over and I felt relief. Relief that I didn’t need to wonder if I’d end up alone. Relief that I found someone who I could grow with. Relief that I’d be able to share my joy, my pain, and my love with consistence.

And then it was over.

And I have been struggling. Man, have I been struggling. It’s as if everything reminds me of him. I’m not even trying! No one wants to hear you talk about your ex in conversation, but after over 3 years with someone, their story becomes part of your story and it just seems like every conversation can relate back to some memory or some aspect of their personality. Such an annoying way to be reminded over and over again that those stories are no longer your story.

Yes, I know he was not my entire life. I get that I’m my own person with my own interests and stories. I know I have value and that I’m a decent human being who is just fine without a significant other. That’s not the point. The point is that when your life so intertwined with someone, it’s hard to untangle yourself. It’s hard to know when the untangling is benefitting you or stripping you of who you are. And when I get like that, I can’t help but wonder if I’ll forever be untangling, emotionally stunted from being with someone else.

Until you meet someone else.

And you know what? It’s not even romantic or flirtatious or lusty. It’s just friendship. The ability to know that you can meet someone and connect with them and laugh and talk about your life and feel heard and appreciated. It has really been so long since I’ve done that. I didn’t even know I was missing that sense of friendship. Even for a weekend- to have someone appreciate my company and the sacrifices I’m willing to make, to care about what I have to say, and listen with sincerity and honesty- it all reminded me of what I’ve been missing.

The best part, however, isn’t that the gap has been filled. It certainly has not- one weekend does not promise the evolution of an incredible friendship. Perhaps it does, but at this point, it doesn’t even matter what comes of that one relationship. Now I know what this gap means to me. I know what I’m needing from life and the people in mine. Do I still feel lonely? Sure. But I also feel hope, too.

The Alchemist

When I first read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, I was either in late middle or early high school. I found it to be enchanting and transformative. For a long time after that first read I continuously returned to Coelho’s words and his promise that “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” I loved how his words gave me the freedom to dream and know that no matter what I attempted, I would not fail. I might not be successful, but everything would bring me one step closer to where I needed to be, as long as I didn’t give up on myself.

Upon my most recent read, I had a similar reaction. It reminded me that I should always be striving toward something, and that if I truly wanted it, the universe could bend to help me get there. In the wake of my recent breakup, I was pretty upset. The reason for the split as explained to me was that we were “growing apart.” But I think what he really meant was that I was growing up, and he was falling back into a lifestyle he trusted, one that was familiar to him. Coelho reminded me that my true love would not stand in the way of my Personal Legend. Basically, if he was the one, he’d accept my growth and movement instead of fearing it or wanting to hold me back. I have a renewed desire to find my passion in life, whatever it may be. And I know that once I am pursuing my dreams and my passions, I’ll be able to return to a possible love life. One that will support me in my pursuit and bring balance to my life.

While I admit that parts of The Alchemist need to be taken with a grain of salt, the overall moral of the story was one that resonated with me nearly ten years ago and today. With a message that powerful- how could I not recommend it? It’s a sweet story about a boy, but when you dig a little deeper I think you can find yourself in that boy.

Poem: Thank You, Walt Whitman

A poem about the sudden inspiration, understanding, and love I discovered as I read Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.

 

Thank You, Walt Whitman

 

How long have I been lost

wandering

through the jungle of my mind

searching

for answers I didn’t know I

needed.

 

This was not the first classic I’ve

uncovered

in my life yet it was the first to

demonstrate

the definition of myself has been

mistaken.

 

I am interpreted based on my

Appearance.

I am appreciated based on my

Profession.

I am connected based on my

Relations.

But they are not the me

Myself.

Technologically Impaired

I am used to having a mediocre knowledge of technology and how things work. I can get by, communicate, and stay up to date in my field advancements, and usually, that’s enough. But today I was beyond frustrated to the point where I actually cried at my incapability to figure out what the heck is going on. All I wanted to do was upload the pictures on my phone to my computer. I’ve done it a million times and never had any issues. Ever.

So here’s what happened. I plugged my iPhone into my computer using a USB cord. iPhoto pops up, and then has an error message about the phone needing to be unlocked. No problem. Go to the phone, it asks if I want to trust the computer, I say yes, and then nothing happens. WHY!!!! I did it a million times, I turned both off, I updated my iPhone, I checked for updates on my Mac and there were none. I reset the location and security settings on my phone. Nothing made a difference!

So, after spending over an hour messing around with it, looking up solutions, and crying- I still had nothing to show for it. And I couldn’t figure out iCloud either. Ah! I’m so far behind the times and crazy frustrated. Maybe tomorrow I can look at it with fresh eyes. Or next week. Or maybe next month. It seems like I might need a bottle of wine to get me through it!

Anyone else technologically impaired like me? Have you had this problem before? Or are you a tech guru who can help me?! Let me know in the comments!

Kass<3xo

Moving on Up, Moving on Out

Hey guys!

Big news…I think I’m moving out this summer! I’m so nervous and excited and happy and sad all at the same time. I absolutely love living at home..hanging out with my parents, snuggling with my dog, not having to cook dinner or go grocery shopping, and, of course, saving money. There really aren’t too many downsides to living at home, but the long commute is an inconvenience for a multitude of reasons: lessened ability to be more involved after school, less sleep, less energy in the evening, crazy number of miles put on my car (100 a day!!!), less social life… The effects are starting to weigh me down. So while I love being at home, I know this is the next logical step, and if not now- when?

That being said, I’m moving in with one of my best friends, which of course I’m excited about! However, I am nervous that his girlfriend (who is another one of my best friends- and would most definitely be a bridesmaid if I were to get married tomorrow) will end up feeling upset. She moved across the country for an amazing job opportunity, but I know she wishes he could move in with her instead. I completely understand, as I’d like to move in with my boyfriend as well, but the locations of all 4 jobs are not in favor of either of those options at this point. I don’t think it will be an issue, but of course there is a small part of me that feels concerned because our friendship is so important to me.

Regardless of my (many) fears, I am looking forward to this new adventure and progressing on my “adulting” journey! Stay tuned for updates in the future…!

Kass<3xo