Summer Reading – 2019

Summer is almost here! I will be continuing to read for my Reading the Classics Challenge and my 2019 Focus on Authors Challenge. Titles are mostly based on giveaways, book club picks, and books set in Ireland, as I get ready to travel there in August. What are y’all reading this summer? Any read you are most looking forward to? Here is my list:

Book Club Reads

  • The Plague by Albert Camus
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman
  • Tigerman by Nick Harkaway
  • Recollections of Things to Come by Elena Garro

NetGalley Reads

  • Once Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie Johnson
  • A Stranger on the Beach by Michele Campbell
  • The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins
  • The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
  • The Long Call by Ann Cleeves
  • How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul; Maria Russo

Readalongs

  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck

2019 Focus on Authors

  • Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
  • Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson
  • The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  • Landline by Rainbow Rowell
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King
  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie
  • Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life by Laura Thompson

Other

  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand- audiobook
  • The Children by David Halberstam – audiobook
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama – audiobook/book
  • Made for This by Jennie Allen – audiobook
  • The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy – audiobook/ebook
  • Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt – audiobook
  • The Fact of a Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich – audiobook
  • The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein – audiobook
  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas – book
  • 1916: The Easter Rising by Tim Pat Coogan – ebook
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WWW Wednesdays – June 19, 2019

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I’ve been starting some Agatha Christie reads for my Focus on Authors Challenge. I absolutely love her books. She is one of my favorite authors and so prolific. This is definitely the perfect way to begin the summer.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

Focus on Authors Challenge: The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie – book = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle – audiobook = ♦ ♦

*Click on book title for my full review. All Agatha Christie will be reviewed in one post at the end of June or early July.*

Reading Next

Have you read Agatha Christie? If so, what is your favorite Agatha Christie? Feel free to comment below and leave me a link to your WWW post if you have one.

HAPPY READING!!!

 

 

Book Review: Reclaiming Conversation

reclaiming-conversation-1Title: Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age
Author: Sherry Turkle
Genre: Psychology
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Pages: 448
Format Read: audiobook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: June 19, 2019

Goodreads Description: Renowned media scholar Sherry Turkle investigates how a flight from conversation undermines our relationships, creativity, and productivity—and why reclaiming face-to-face conversation can help us regain lost ground.

We live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection.

Preeminent author and researcher Sherry Turkle has been studying digital culture for over thirty years. Long an enthusiast for its possibilities, here she investigates a troubling consequence: at work, at home, in politics, and in love, we find ways around conversation, tempted by the possibilities of a text or an email in which we don’t have to look, listen, or reveal ourselves.

We develop a taste for what mere connection offers. The dinner table falls silent as children compete with phones for their parents’ attention. Friends learn strategies to keep conversations going when only a few people are looking up from their phones. At work, we retreat to our screens although it is conversation at the water cooler that increases not only productivity but commitment to work. Online, we only want to share opinions that our followers will agree with – a politics that shies away from the real conflicts and solutions of the public square.

The case for conversation begins with the necessary conversations of solitude and self-reflection. They are endangered: these days, always connected, we see loneliness as a problem that technology should solve. Afraid of being alone, we rely on other people to give us a sense of ourselves, and our capacity for empathy and relationship suffers. We see the costs of the flight from conversation everywhere: conversation is the cornerstone for democracy and in business it is good for the bottom line. In the private sphere, it builds empathy, friendship, love, learning, and productivity.

But there is good news: we are resilient. Conversation cures.

Based on five years of research and interviews in homes, schools, and the workplace, Turkle argues that we have come to a better understanding of where our technology can and cannot take us and that the time is right to reclaim conversation. The most human—and humanizing—thing that we do.

The virtues of person-to-person conversation are timeless, and our most basic technology, talk, responds to our modern challenges. We have everything we need to start, we have each other.

My Review: Sherry Turkle dives into the debate that we have been having more and more, especially in the last decade. The advancement of technology has changed our lives and the way that we communicate with others. However, this book was a bit disappointing, because I personally have a love/hate relationship with technology, and I wish there had more discussion throughout the book related to the positives of technology. Technology allows us to have information readily available. I know what is going on in the world and can stay connected to family and friends no matter where I am. As someone who lives far away from my parents and many of my lifelong friends, the ability to stay connected to them through calls with my cell phone or the WhatsApp messaging and video service has been such an amazing thing for me and has helped me not feel so lonely.

I do believe there needs to be a balance. Devices should not get in the way of face-to-face communication. I never touch my cell phone during meals with friends and family nor do I use it much when I am hanging out with people. However, as mentioned by the author, that is not quite the norm anymore. I have on occasion had to tell people I am with to put down their phone and listen to me, and this can be a bit frustrating. The author mentions that younger people are attending device-free camps, and I really like that concept. My niece, who is 11 years old, has been attending a device-free summer camp for a couple of years now and absolutely loves it. I’ve also been lucky enough to not have had a breakup text message (mentioned in the book), and seriously I can not even imagine that, though I know it happens all the time.

One thing I have trouble with is keeping myself from going on social media while I am at work. I know that by checking Facebook, Twitter, etc. my level of actual work productivity declines. I believe for most of the book, the author was stressing how technology is addictive, and we have just adjusted our lives around that by how we spend our time and how we communicate with others.

While many great points were brought up, the following are things that I had issues with throughout this book that caused me not to get much benefit out of it:

  • Take in account introverts. Even before cell phone and other devices – yes I am old enough to remember those days – I still did not talk to random strangers in the doctor’s office waiting room and many times car rides would just be silent with no conversation. I am that person that often prefers not talking. I probably converse much more now through technology then I ever would have without it.
  • What is the up with the author’s obsession with Thoreau? I enjoy some good ol’ Thoreau as well, but the author seemed to mention him or quote him in every section of this book. It led to me getting overly excited when she would quote or mention other authors or influential people. She should expand her influences a bit.
  • Robots? Was it really important to spend so much of the book on the danger of  robots? Maybe that is where the world is headed, as more and more machines are doing jobs that people formally did. Maybe I will have robots doing my housework in the future – to be honest I would welcome that. However, I felt that this section at the end of the book was just another way of saying that technology is bad and scary.
  • Technology is bad. As mentioned above, there are some benefits to the age of technology. Those benefits should be mentioned more. I felt that the author was really hating on technology for most of the book instead of really discussing how we can continue having one-on-one communication and attention while still existing in this technological age. While the author might not be fond of the fact that society now exists in a world of technology, it is what it is, and as humans we adapt to the world we live in, so why not talk a little about the good aspects of technology. For example:
    • Through my cell phone applications, I am able to listen to podcasts and books (including this one), while I am out for a walk or driving (though for the record I do not play or text on my phone while I am driving, even while I am at a stop light – please stop doing that people as it is so dangerous – this is the end of my PSA).
    • Research for educational papers and books are much easier and efficient now with information at our finger tips.
    • While communication has changed from face-to-face conversations to online conversations, I will say, as mentioned above, that I now communicate with more people on a regular basis than I would have without the online conversations, especially since I have family and friends all over the world.

Yes, we live in a world now where people play on their phones more than talk to each other; teachers are having to attract students attention away from phones; drivers are getting into accidents because they are texting and driving; and privacy is a thing of the past. It is a different world than the one that existed 40 years ago, but I do believe that people are adapting. I think while social media is still very addictive to a majority of the population, there are many people I know who have purposely ended their social media accounts or deleted those apps from their phones. I just wish this book would have focused a bit more on what people are doing to not allow technology to be their only method of conversation.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ 

What are your thoughts of this age of technology that we live in? What are some things that you do to reclaim conversation? Can you exist without technology?

Reading Kurt Vonnegut – May 2019

One of my reading goals for 2019 is to become more familiar with works by different authors by featuring a different author every month (see A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge). May was spent reading as many works by Kurt Vonnegut. My first experience with Vonnegut was reading Mother Night a few years back after my husband recommended it. I absolutely loved it! A little while later, I read Cat’s Cradle for an IRL book club, which I didn’t enjoy as much as Mother Night. 

9780385333849_p0_v1_s550x406Title: Slaughterhouse-Five
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: March 31, 1969
Pages: 205 pages
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Husband’s book collection
Date finished reading: May 22, 2019

Goodreads Description: Selected by the Modern Library as one of the 100 best novels of all time, Slaughterhouse-Five, an American classic, is one of the world’s great antiwar books. Centering on the infamous firebombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim’s odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we fear most.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

4980Title: Breakfast of Champions
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: 1973
Pages: 303
Format Read: Audiobook/Book
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app & husband’s book collection
Date finished reading: May 28, 2019

Goodreads Description: In Breakfast of Champions, one of Kurt Vonnegut’s  most beloved characters, the aging writer Kilgore Trout, finds to his horror that a Midwest car dealer is taking his fiction as truth. What follows is murderously funny satire, as Vonnegut looks at war, sex, racism, success, politics, and pollution in America and reminds us how to see the truth.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

Galapagos by  Kurt VonnegutTitle: Galapagos
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: 1985
Pages: 195
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library book sale in Maryland
Date finished reading: June 5, 2019

Goodreads Description: Galápagos takes the reader back one million years, to A.D. 1986. A simple vacation cruise suddenly becomes an evolutionary journey. Thanks to an apocalypse, a small group of survivors stranded on the Galápagos Islands are about to become the progenitors of a brave, new, and totally different human race. In this inimitable novel, America’s master satirist looks at our world and shows us all that is sadly, madly awry–and all that is worth saving.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

My Review: When my husband convinced me 10 years ago to finally read Kurt Vonnegut. I did not know at all what to expect. Vonnegut was like nothing I had ever read before. I think you could make the argument that if you mixed Joseph Heller and Margaret Atwood together, you may get something that comes at least a little close to what reading a Vonnegut book is like. There is satire and there is darkness. If those elements were not enough, Vonnegut also throws in some science fiction. He created lines that would forever be used as catch phrases in regular conversation. An example of this is that my husband always says the phrase: “so it goes”. I have started to use that phrase as well and realized where that phrase came from when I picked up Slaughterhouse-Five a few weeks ago. Vonnegut covers dark topics (like war) with a bit of humor that makes the story engaging and entertaining. I also enjoy how Vonnegut recycles characters but without forcing the reader to read his stories in a particular order. For instance, Kilgore Trout is fleetingly mentioned in many of Vonnegut’s books, but in Breakfast of Champions, the reader finally gets to learn more about Kilgore Trout.

Vonnegut stories are almost in a genre by themselves. While I really enjoyed Mother Night (my first Vonnegut read many years ago) and Galapagos (my most recent Vonnegut read), I didn’t quite love his more popular books like Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat’s Cradle and Breakfast of Champions. While they are still amazing, I just never can quite get into the science fiction parts that are a little out there. I fully admit that this issue is probably because I don’t tend to enjoy science fiction.

My Overall Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

WWW Wednesdays – June 12, 2019

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I’ve spent the last week trying to complete some books for readalongs and an IRL book club that I just attended. However, I am very much looking forward to diving into some Agatha Christie books, as she is my June Focus on Authors selection. I’ve been an Agatha Christie fan, since I was a kid.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

HP Litsy Buddy Read: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
IRL Book Club: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman – ebook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I left book club on Monday evening and immediately started watching the Good Omens series on Amazon Prime. I’m really enjoying it so far!

Reading Next

Have you read Agatha Christie? If so, what is your favorite Agatha Christie? Feel free to comment below and leave me a link to your WWW post if you have one.

HAPPY READING!!!

Book Review: The Little Book of Lykke

34879265Title: The Little Book of Lykke
Author: Meik Wiking
Genre: Nonfiction, Life-style
Publisher: Penguin Life
Publication Date: September 7, 2017
Pages: 288
Format Read: Audiobook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: Library Libby app
Date finished reading: June 1, 2019

Goodreads Description: Lykke (Luu-kah) (n): Happiness

It’s easy to see why Denmark is often called the world’s happiest country. Not only do they have equal parental leave for men and women, free higher education and trains that run on time, but they burn more candles per household than anywhere else.

So nobody knows more about happiness – what the Danes call lykke – than Meik WikingCEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and author of the bestselling sensation The Little Book of Hygge . But he believes that, whilst we can certainly learn a lot from the Danes about finding fulfilment, the keys to happiness are actually buried all around the globe.

In this captivating book, he takes us on a treasure hunt to unlock the doors to inner fulfilment. From how we spend our precious time, to how we relate to our neighbours and cook dinner, he gathers evidence, stories and tips from the very happiest corners of the planet. This is the ultimate guide to how we can all find a little more lykke in our lives.

My Review: I really enjoyed Meik Wiking’s The Little Book of Hygge. It was an interesting take on finding little things to make you happy, like the feeling of being cozy, wrapped in a blanket in front of the fire. There are many studies that point to the Nordic countries, including Denmark, as being the happiest places on earth. In The Little Book of Lykke, the author discussed bigger issues of happiness, ones that are more societal.  Here are some examples:

  • Higher Taxes – that doesn’t seem like a thing that would bring happiness (especially for most Americans), however, in other places in the world higher taxes mean education and health expenses are paid for, so it lends a level of financial security.
  • Meals with family and friends
  • Get to know your neighbors
  • Less time with technology and on social media
  • Spending money on experiences/memories not things
  • Bike and/or enjoy the outdoors
  • A work and life balance
  • Inspire collaboration and cooperation not competition
  • Do random acts of kindness
  • Write down things that you are grateful for

I enjoyed learning about the co-habitating housing in Copenhagen. This type of housing is a building with multiple apartments. However, the people in these apartments get together for joined meals. This builds a stronger community.

So much of this book reminded me of all the things I loved about my years of living in Italy. This book actually mentioned Italy as an example of a place that focuses on families first. I loved how so many dinners were times I got to spend conversing with my husband and friends instead of just meals to be consumed while binging Netflix. Families spent meals together, including leaving work during the day to have lunch at home. I always felt that there was a good balance of work and life there – a need to work to live not live to work. I also used to bike, run and walk everywhere. If I got sick, I went in to see my doctor. I didn’t have to make an appointment, fill out paperwork, or worry about having insurance or a co-pay.

It is amazing how one adapts to the society that they exist in. Now that I live in Houston, I drive everywhere instead of biking or walking. I spend a good amount of my day in the car. My work day with commuting time ranges from 11-14 hours. This leaves very little time for family, friends, or myself. Also, everyone seems glued to their phones here, even when they are driving. Workers get excited if they are fortunate enough to have two weeks of paid vacation. Don’t even get me started on healthcare, and the struggle I have had just to find a doctor that is in my insurance plan.

I felt this book was helpful in understanding how society can actually control one’s happiness, but also helped me realize more little things I can do to bring moments of happiness into my life.

The biggest, and maybe the only, issue I have with Meik Wiking’s books about happiness is the concept that being social leads to happiness. This is part of what makes co-housing (mentioned above) so appealing. As I’ve gotten older, I have realized more and more that I am very much an introvert. Social gatherings actually cause me stress and anxiety, unless it is small groups of friends or family. I have had jobs where I need to constantly collaborate with others, but I actually enjoy my current job much more, where I spend most of my time alone crunching numbers. Happiness may not always come from social experiences.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 

What things do you do that add happiness to your life? What would you change if you could?

WWW Wednesdays – June 5, 2019

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I spent this last week finishing up my May Kurt Vonnegut reads and am getting ready to start reading one of my favorite authors of all time, Agatha Christie (see Focus on Authors). I feel that Christie is the best way to start the summer!

Currently Reading

Finally got the Harry Potter audiobook back from the library! I wasn’t able to finish it in time before, and I was getting to some really great scenes with Fred and George that I always enjoy.

Finished Reading

Focus on Authors Reading Challenge: Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut – book = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
NetGalley ARC: The Seduction Expert by Saya Lopez Ortego – ebook = ♦ ♦
The Little Book of Lykke by Meik Wiking – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

*Click on the title of the book for my full review. I will continue to put up more reviews later today and tomorrow for the above books.*

Reading Next

What have y’all be reading? Let me know in the comments or include your WWW link if you have one.

HAPPY READING!!!