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Day 122: A little behind (well thats an understatement)…

May 2, 2010

Lets see, my project completely stalled after a single month. I’m sure, dear readers, that I am not the only one surprised by this. Lets just say that the final months of my junior year of college won out over my reading obsession. I had the chance to read a few books, but didn’t get very far and definitely didn’t get around to blogging about it.

Have no fear. I am back and better than ever (not sure who might still be out there in the blogosphere reading this thing, but I know people keep checking this even months after my seemingly ultimate post).

It’s been a whirlwind semester. From my 5.5 classes to clubs and sororities and everything in between, I have barely had a moment to stop and think. A few life highlights (just cause I want to brag): I’ll be in New York City this summer working at an ad agency (again). I’m beyond thrilled and can’t wait. I also have mastered the practice of curling my own hair. Far less substantial but I’m proud of the achievement nonetheless. Now, it’s finals week right now. I just finished a 20-page paper about women in politics. It’s riveting, I promise. And until Saturday, my exam schedule is completely free. Until then, I must find a way to entertain myself–don’t even suggest studying! My goal is to get back on track. 99 books isn’t out of reach (am I still deluding myself?) but I want to continue reading until the end of the year. Or at least start where I left off. So thats what I’m going to do. It’s my late-New Year’s resolution to stick to my original New Year’s resolution. (That and to stop online shopping).

Okay, so read with me and keep me motivated. Today I’m starting “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. I’ve always wanted to know why do some people succeed, living remarkably productive and impactful lives, while so many more never reach their potential. Evidently he has the answer, and I’m itching to learn the secret.

Day 22: Girl with a Pearl Earring

January 23, 2010

Alas, I am back on track. With the help of my lovely boyfriend (who gave me an amazing book as a gift for a recent celebration) I am only two books away from my January goal. I literally read “Girl with a Pearl Earring” by Tracy Chevalier in one sitting (I have been reading since about 6:00 this evening), and it was so beautifully written that I didn’t notice that I hadn’t moved from my chair in the cafe on the freshman campus (the only reason I have 5 hours of free time on a Friday evening is recruitment). All who know me know that I wear my heart on my sleeve, so I appreciated an unrequited love story that actually ends well. Something about Greit, a young protestant girl who is forced into being a maid for a wealthy Catholic family when her father can no longer work, is easy to relate to. Although the closest I have ever come to manual labor is working at a grocery store while I was in high school.

What I found most interesting about reading this book is that while the plot is ficticious, the characters–the painter Vermeer and his wife Catharina–are real people. (It HAS to be true, I read it on Wikipedia.) No, but seriously, when I realized that the painting on the cover of the book looked vaguely familiar, I looked up his name, and its all real: the paintings that Chevalier references in her book actually exist. My mind grapes were blown.*

The Tally:
Days Left: 343
Books Read: 7

*If you are not familiar with the term “mind grapes,” please watch more 30 Rock. Goodnight.

Day 21: The World to Come

January 21, 2010

My apologies to my 2 or so loyal readers (I’m talking about you, Mom). With the passing of my 21st birthday and a whirlwind of research falling into my lap, this book has crept along very slowly. As I mentioned before, I’m currently reading “The World to Come” by Dara Horn. And by currently reading, I mean that I have foregone microeconomic policy reading and problem sets just to get to the last few chapters. It was recommended to me by my boyfriend, and what a great recommendation. It really has everything that one person could want in a book–stories of war, stories of love, and a little bit of loss, but not so much that I want to tear the pages out and jump out of my window (see “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” post from earlier this month…) If you, like myself, are a fan of novels that have multiple plot lines that weave together and jump around a bit, this book is for you! Especially because my reading time has been broken up into bits and pieces–10 minutes on the bus, 45 minutes after my stat lab is done, 1 hour while waiting for a round of sorority recruitment to end–I think that this book has been perfect. The stories are constantly evolving, the characters are all intertwined and it holds my entertainment incredibly well.

The Tally:
Books Read: 6 (almost 6, I’ll be done with the last few pages by the time my classes end today)
Days left: 344
Goal for the end of January: 3 more books.

TV vs. Reading: My College Conundrum

January 16, 2010

I have been back at Duke for about a week now, and classes started just three short days ago. Already I have found myself slipping into old habits–watching TV when I have excess time in my schedule just to unwind. After reading pages upon pages of Harvard Business School articles, microeconomic Policy textbook chapters and endless statistical equations, reading a book–no matter how fun and entertaining it may be–just doesn’t appeal to my brain.

This got me thinking. As a kid, my mom always urged my brother and I to read a book instead of sitting in front of the TV. We lived in a household where the amount of time watching the “boob tube” (as she lovingly referred to it) was restricted and piano practice and homework always came first. Now, well, that’s a whole different story.

What’s the verdict here, for a student who is constantly studying. Even super-enjoyable books can be intellectually challenging, and its hard to turn on your brain for all hours of the day. Lucky for me, I’m having a lot of down time and have made significant progress on my next book, “The World to Come,” by Dara Horn. It’s one of those stories with multiple stories weaving through it, so I’m intrigued already.

Cheers, Christine

Day 13: Siddhartha

January 13, 2010

I told my mom about my New Year’s resolution, this blog and my goal of reading 99 books in 365 days. And she asked me what I had read. As I rattled off the titles, she looked oddly concerned, and then she said something that struck me and half funny, half insightful. She told me that everything you read becomes of who you are, how you think and what you know. Once you read something, you can’t unknow what you just read and that it will inevitably become a part of who you are. I never really thought of books that way. I see them as tools to challenge the way you already think and even sometime…entertain. So this book is dedicated to my mom’s sesibilities. I just finished “Siddhartha” by Herman Hesse. And I don’t think I need to write a lot to explain this book. This one’s for you, mother, and it wasn’t brain candy.

Today was the first day of classes for the semester, and I can tell my progress has slowed. I need to dedicate time for reading instead of just hoping I will have an hour or two at the end of a long evening. Because I always end up sitting in my tiny new room staring a bookcase packed full of new books (they are delivered almost on a daily basis now. Yesterday, three came in the mail and it was like Christmas). But I have the next book in my sights and I’m really going to crack down this time and finish it in a timely fashion. Hopefully.

The Tally:
Days left: 352
Books read: 5

Cheers! Christine

My lack of progress…

January 10, 2010

…can only be attributed to the fact that I have spent the last 48 hours moving myself (and a few friends) into our new respective apartments and trying to get life set up before classes at Duke start on Wednesday. I am going in a bit of a different direction than originally planned, however, with the book I am currently reading. Check tomorrow for my summary post to see what it is!

Cheers, Christine

Day 8: The Earth Hums in B Flat

January 8, 2010

When you read, do you know that feeling that you don’t want to come to the last page of the book, that you don’t want to sleep no matter how exhausted you are and you can’t think about anything else until everything is resolved in the story? How often do you find a novel that does that–where even on the busiest day you find three straight hours to sit on the couch with your dog and just read.

I don’t think I’ll be able to say enough good things about this book. It’s definitely my favorite of the four books I’ve read thus far and its not one that I will soon forget (I even skipped watching House to read. That never happens.) I think this might also be the first time that I finished a single book in under 24 hours since I was in 5th grade and obsessed with the newly-published Harry Potter series (it also says a lot considering work today was pretty busy and I was left to my own devices attempting to get through a mountain of ads). I think what I loved about the book is that Gwenni, the main character, is a twelve-and-a-half year old that you can actually relate to. She has a big imagination and in insatiable curiosity and even though her small town–and her family–is involved in serious tragedy, she doesn’t know any better than to be naive and sweet. She has an astounding lack of cynicism for someone in her situation, which can really only be attributed to the fact that she is so young and wrapped up in her own little world. I have a feeling that if either of my parents read this book, they would think her to be a bit like me. Her mother is always calling her “odd,” he nose is constantly in a book and she has an imagination that runs away from reality. She’s definitely my kind of leading character. Also, the plot was very compelling–there is no way that if you start reading this book that you will voluntarily put it down.

I don’t really want to give away what the story itself is or what unfolds in the 300-some pages, but I can’t say this enough: go read it.

As for my next endevour, I’m trying to decide from three books that came in the mail today: “100 Years of Solitude,” “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” or “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.” Any suggestions?

The Tally:
Days Left: 348
Books Read: 4 (at this rate, I could read 182 books this year. Highly doubtful that I will want/be able to do that once class starts on Wednesday. I’m moving into my new apartment for the semester tomorrow so hopefully I can get some reading done tonight).

Hope everyone is staying warm! Cheers, Christine.