January is coming to a close. How is that even possible? Ridiculous really. Just plain ol ridiculous that winter is tiptoeing by without a trace of snow. Whatever, I’ll bet on February instead.
As I watch each forecasted snow day come and go with sunny skies, I sate myself by reading. Between the geography class, more work at the office, finishing college applications, planning a trip, and focusing on my writing more – I’ve managed to stay fairly busy. All things considered, I am kind of impressed with myself with the amount I was able to read this month…
On the Hours blog, I wrote a blogpost about the importance of making time for reading. I realize now that by filling the extra spaces in my day with reading, I can read a whole lot without carving out a special reading time. For example – I keep a book in the car and read whenever I am riding to and from work to the grocery store or anywhere else. I also keep a book on my desk; if I have five minutes between finishing one task and starting a new one – I just read a tad.
Here is what I’ve got so far:
The Father of Spin, Edward Bernay and the Birth of Public Relations – Larry Tye
What is your favorite color? What do you think is hip? What do you believe to be socially acceptable? Did you know that there are men and women who specialize in manipulating how you think about those things? There job is to make you do things that they want you to do, all while making you think that you want to do it. Don’t believe me? Read the book.
I’ve been fascinated with propaganda since I studied Joseph Goebbels and Nazi Germany senior year of high school. I decided recently that I want to become the world’s expert on propaganda (a lofty goal I suppose). I don’t know yet if that means getting a PhD in it, or just studying it in my spare time. I figure that either way I should get started. This was a wonderful dive into the world of public relations. Edward Bernay’s life is fascinating and even more, watching the public relations field grow was nightmarishly intriguing.
A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
I actually already wrote an entire blog post on this one because it is just. that. good.
Profiles in Courage – John F. Kennedy
Who knew JFK was a talented writer? I didn’t. His style is simple but the book moves along at a good pace and is rarely dull. His basic idea was to outline the lives of a few courageous senators who did what they believed was best for the country despite the negative ramifications. I am a bit obsessed with biographies, so reading a whole book of them written by a guy who is a legend in his own right – that is my idea of a gold mine. I learned a lot and enjoyed every minute.
Writing Fiction for Dummies – Randy Ingermason and Peter Economy
This was my second time reading this book. Some of the examples and pointers seemed a bit redundant. The authors tend to repeat themselves again and again. You never know, perhaps we need to be inculcated with certain principles: NO FLASHBACK IN THE FIRST FIVE CHAPTERS. SHOW DON’T TELL! etc… I may have started skimming a bit towards the end, but I learned a whole lot, enjoyed the exercises, and got some ideas that I believe will make my novel a whole lot better. I would recommend any young author to go through his/her draft with this book on hand and apply all the exercises.
Daily Life in Chaucer’s England – Jeffrey L. Singman and Will McLean
This was a book I reread for inspiration and research for my novel. Despite the fact that it is almost like an encylopedia of late medieval England, it is well written and fairly easy to read. Of all the resources I’ve looked through for my novel, this is by far the best.
Letters from Amelia – Jean L. Backus
My dad purchased this book for me used, since it is out of print now. It goes through the life of Amelia Earhart in her own words, supplementing letters she wrote to her mother with engaging biographical bits.
In my opinion, the best biographies not only tell the story of a life, they help you to get inside a person and understand them. Reading Amelia’s letters have helped me to understand her in a way no other biography or documentary could. It is an intimate and enlightening portrait. If you want to know more about Amelia Earhart, or just enjoy biographies in general, I would say this is a must must.
(The actual biography bits around her letters could have been better. Also the text and letters uses multiple names and nicknames for her friends and relatives. It can be confusing.)
And the Mountains Echoed – Khaled Hosseini
Remembering how Hossieni’s previous books were so good that I pretty much swallowed them whole, I waited to start this book until I knew would have enough time to read the whole thing in one sitting (we were going on a long road trip). Unfortunately, this book was really different. It is almost like a book of bedtime stories in that each chapter is a complete unit. The units interweave a bit here and there, but each chapter has a new narrator, storyworld, and characters. That is not necessarily a bad thing. Each unit is beautiful in its own right. However, it wasn’t what I was expecting. I certainly didn’t absorb this book the right way. Once in a while a chapter would come in which I didn’t connect with the new main character, and then it would be hard to stay emotionally invested and I would start to skim, hoping the next chapter worked better. Still, Hosseini is a master storyteller. If I had read this book in bits, versus trying to swallow it whole, I think I would have enjoyed it a whole lot more.
Brain Rules – John Medina
The author says a lot of things I don’t believe, however the basic premise was fascinating: he takes 12 principles of how our brain works and then applies it to how we can better our personal life and productivity. Some of his ideas are a bit crazy and some of his principles are a little weak in the research department, but all in all this was a fascinating read. I learned a lot.
(I did skim. It seemed like some chapters were peppered with unnecessary anecdotes to lengthen the book. If there is anything I hate, it is unnecessary words to turn what could have been a short chapter into an impressively long one.)
Lifestudy of Isaiah – Witness Lee
I started reading this lifestudy series in junior high. It has taken me six years to get from Genesis to Isaiah. I am (optimistically) hoping to finish the old testament this year and then plow through the new testament series in college. The reason I enjoy them so much is because they focus on studying not just the facts and doctrines of the bible, but God’s life and our Christian experience. I have recieved so much life supply so far that I plan to continue to read and reread these books for ther rest of my life.