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

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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!!!

WWW Wednesdays – May 29, 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.

If you are located in the USA, I hope you had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! I had a great weekend with family and friends and was even able to catch up on some housework and get in some quality reading time by the pool.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen – audiobook =♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½
NetGalley ARC: Smitten by the Brit by Melonie Johnson – ebook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ½
Focus on Authors Reading Challenge: Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦

*Click on the title of the book to read my full review. All Kurt Vonnegut reads will be covered in a full Vonnegut review sometime next week.*

Reading Next

How was your week of reading? Post your WWW link in the comments section below if I haven’t already visited.

HAPPY READING!!!

Book Review: Smitten by the Brit

41150496
Title: 
Smitten by the Brit
Author: Melonie Johnson
Genre: Romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Pages: 384
Format Read: ebook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley
Date finished reading: May 26, 2019

Goodreads Description: English professor Bonnie Blythe expects her life to play out like her favorite novels, especially now that her long-term boyfriend has finally proposed. So when a shocking discovery leads Bonnie to end her engagement, she decides to close the book on love. But the plot thickens when a brand-new character enters the scene—and quickens Bonnie’s heart.

With his brilliant blue eyes, sexy accent, and irresistible charm, Theo Wharton is like a romantic hero straight out of a Jane Austen novel. When fate places Bonnie in England for a summer—conveniently close to Theo—she realizes a hot friends-with-benefits fling is exactly what she needs to start a fresh chapter. Just as Bonnie begins to believe she’s falling in love, an eye-opening revelation into Theo’s life makes Bonnie feel like she’s wandered into one of her favorite books. Will Bonnie have the courage to risk her heart and turn the page with the dashing Brit to find her true happy ending after all?

My Review: Sometimes I’m just in the mood for a feel good romance and this definitely fit the bill. You are rooting for the main character, Bonnie, right from the start. You want her to have her happy ending after her she catches her fiancé cheating on her. I love the cast of girlfriends. Their interactions are so amusing. The perfect thing for a romantic comedy. The reader feels the ongoing steamy attraction between Bonnie and Theo with an added bonus of an English countryside setting and quotes from Shakespeare, Austen and other English authors. Unfortunately, even when I just want a good romance story, I can’t just turn off my realistic sensibility. Is it really a good idea to have a main character go immediately from one long term relationship to jumping so quickly into spending the rest of her life with someone else? Seems too soon, even though Bonnie appears to be very mature and confident in herself. Maybe I could have overlooked that if the end was a bit stronger. Theo had his own family obligations and responsibilities that prevented a long term commitment to Bonnie, and yet in couple pages those obligations and responsibilities just disappeared and all was good. I would have liked further development in Theo’s family dynamics, especially since his family was full of interesting characters. Overall this was a quick and enjoyable read.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

WWW Wednesdays – May 22, 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.

Last week I participated in the Bout of Books Readathon. Unfortunately, it was a tough reading week, since I had multiple house repairs and renovations done (the joys of home ownership) and family was staying with us until yesterday. However, I still managed to read more than 1,000 pages, which was really good for me. I always want to read more than.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading 

The Man from the Train by Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James – audiobook = ♦ ♦
Focus on Authors Reading Challenge: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut – book = ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

*Click on the titles to view my review. All Vonnegut reads will be reviewed at the end of the month.*

Reading Next

Have you read Kurt Vonnegut? If so, what are your thoughts on his writing? What are you reading lately? Please feel free to share your WWW posts in the comments below, if I haven’t already visited.

HAPPY READING!!!!