My Books

Book Bashing

I’ve been in a rut lately when it comes to reading material. I do GoodReads’ book challenge (at the rate I’m going, 40 books this year will be a breeze) to help keep up with what I’ve been reading, get motivation to finish books that I’ve started, and find my next book to read through an endless chain of recommendations. Though I’ve stumbled upon a some great books in the past years this way (The Night Circus, Unwind Dystology, and Perks of Being a Wallflower to name a few), there have also been books I loath entirely. Only if a book is truly awful do I give up finishing it entirely (although I still count it as read so I get the credit towards my yearly reading challenge. Honestly at times even getting through the first 100 pages is challenge enough). The books I’ve given up entirely in the past two years are…

 

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

This book I actually ripped up and plastered the pages over my writing journal as a reminder how not to write. Usually my bibliophilic tendencies would internally combust at the thought of harming a book but I thoroughly enjoyed murdering this one. I didn’t even make it past page 150. As a die-hard Harry Potter fan, I gave in to the hype that The Magicians was a grown-up college version of my beloved Harry and friends. Whoever supports this heinous comparison should be doomed to book purgatory (I’m looking at you, LitReactor). I felt no personal connection to any character because they were all so forgettable and unrealistic. Quentin was nothing but a Debbie downer, in spite of the fact that he learned his alleged brilliance could be used for magic. Who WOULDN’T be stoked to find that out? Quentin, obviously. Probably because he had no real brilliance to be accounted for.

The final straw for me was the appearance of the antagonist (if that’s what you can call it). In class one day, something made Quentin angry (I think his professor called him out on not doing an assignment or something just as trivial) so he decided to get back at the professor by *gasp* jiggling the podium just a smidge with his mind. The horror! The next moment, some grey-suited thing appeared and made the whole room freeze for hours. Well that was… Odd. Not exactly sinister, just confusing. Quentin somehow assumed it was his fault that the well-dressed eccentric stranger did such a horrible thing (but we all know what happens when you assume…). I literally had to reread that entire exchange to catch what exactly Quentin did, and assumed the podium jiggling was the culprit. Ok….. Then the school had an assembly to calm the students’ worries regarding such a horrific event.

WHAT…….? Quentin made a piece of furniture shake and therefore brought the wrath of the evil Barney Stinson upon the school. I couldn’t go on. I could, however, go on about countless other times where the plot seemed to halt (like when Quentin waited outside a building he couldn’t get into for FIVE HOURS before he thought to do anything about it), but I digress. Plot ridicules aside, I sent most of my time reading this book distracted by Grossman’s grammar and writing technique because it was just wrong. Horrible writing, horrible plot. It is an insult to JK Rowling for this book to be compared to Harry Potter in any way. I just wish I had a basilisk fang to go all Tom Riddle’s Diary on this piece of crap.

 

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

I read The Maze Runner, the first book in this series, and though I wasn’t completely in love with it, I was reasonably entertained by the suspense of the maze and the creepy inhabitants they called grievers. I could see potential in the idea and was interested enough to want answers.

I should have just stopped there.

My hopes were high when starting The Scorch Trials, which was the downfall of the book. Had I gone in with low standards, I may have actually finished this one. Instead, I was met with such a mountain of confusing and unexplained plot twists with no hope in sight for any answers at all. I lost track of what I was supposed to be anticipating that I just grew bored of the boys’ fruitless wanderings. I left them stranded in the desert and have no intentions of returning to see them through to safety. Once again, horrible writing to match the horrible plot.

 

These are just the books I hated so much I couldn’t finish. There are many more books I finished but wished I hadn’t wasted my time doing so…

The Moon Dwellers by David Estes — If this one hadn’t been so short, I wouldn’t have finished it. I was in the mood for a thrilling dystopian but this one definitely fell flat in every way possible. That’s the last time I expect something good to come from reading an obscure young adults novel.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson — How this book became so popular so quickly, I will never know. I looked forward to each time Ursula died in hopes that her next life would be a bit more interesting. It never was. You would expect the 500+ page novel to address why she kept coming back to life, especially since she mentioned a couple times how familiar things felt. I guess that was too complicated for the author to try to conceptualize and add to the plot. Pity.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger — I watched the movie first then decided to give the book a go. Now I can’t even stand the movie. It takes real talent to make spontaneous time travel so boring. Also, I’m convinced this book may be the true inspiration for Fifty Shades of Gray. TMI, people. Put more effort into explaining how he knew he was going to die rather than give us the intricacies of her miscarriages. Rather than heart-wrenching, it was disturbing and disgusting.

Tiger Lily by Jodie Lynn Anderson — Peter Pan is one of my all time favorite stories so I gobble up any spin-off I can to revisit Neverland. This book made Neverland seem so ordinary and lackluster, I felt the need to apologize to JM Barrie on its behalf for destroying the magic. Better keep Neverland and its’ inhabitants in the hands of the master. I have learned my lesson.

 

Blegh. Next time you want a good book to read, stay as far away from these as possible. Now excuse me as I try to find my next read that will restore my faith in modern literature. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

My Books

I am a Rêveur

I know in French that means Dreamer, but it means something entirely different in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. If you haven’t read this book yet, it’s about time you do. I want you to go down to your nearby Barnes & Noble and get it right now. I’m serious. I can wait.

This has become one of my all-time favorite books, so much so I am currently reading it for the second time. I don’t read books multiple times unless they completely envelope me into another world that I admittedly prefer over my own. I’ve read each of the Harry Potter books at least 3 times, some as many as 5. I feel like I could read The Night Circus just as many times. THAT’S how enchanting it is.

As you might has guessed, this book is about a circus that’s only open at night. Completely decked out in black and white, Le Cirque des Rêves is much different than anything anyone has ever seen. It is the venue of what I can only describe as a “magic face-off,” although it’s much more than that. Through intricate details and stunning imagery, the circus comes alive and sections of the book take your own perspective as though you are walking through the path between countless striped tents yourself. I have never so much wanted to jump inside a book and live within the pages so much as this one. I almost find myself more intrigued by the circus itself and the secrets it holds than the actual plot.

I don’t want to go into much detail about the actual storyline, for fear of giving any of the secrets away. The best way to go into this book is blind–not knowing much about anything, in order to fully watch the magic unfold.

You’ll soon learn that the circus “groupies” so to speak call themselves Rêveurs, following the circus around and wearing black and white to better blend in with the object of their obsession, save for a splash of red–a scarf, a hat, a rose resting on one’s lapel. I find myself wanting to dress accordingly as I read, mashing my consciousness even more so into the story and calling myself a Rêveur as well. I know if the night circus were real, I would be right alongside them, obsessively following, exploring, and writing about the circus.

Erin Morgentsern, bravo. You have created a masterpiece of both the book and the circus.

My Books, My Brain, My World

Welcome to my world

I’m not good staying in one spot. If I have a day off with nothing to do, it frustrates me to death if I spent it inside with nothing to show for it. I live for adventures, all the way from exploring new foreign cities to finding a cool coffee shop I never knew existed. When I decided to study abroad, I chose Semester at Sea because you don’t simply stay in one country all summer/semester but rather eight or ten! That’s my kind of study abroad.

I think this stemmed from my love for reading. Growing up, my family had a tradition: almost every Friday night, my parents would take my sister and I out for dinner (usually Tia’s, a Mexican restaurant that has since closed, but gave kids tortilla dough to play with instead of coloring pages–a better alternative if you ask me!) then across the street to Borders Bookstore (now closing as well… how depressing). I loved wandering the maze of bookshelves, trying to decide which story I should delve into next. The few times I couldn’t decide on a book, or even find one that I wanted, I would be so frustrated. I couldn’t stand the idea of leaving a bookstore and NOT finding a book!

To this day, I find comfort in bookstores. While traveling abroad, I would find bookshops in almost every country and feel at home again. I bought my copy of The Great Gatsby from Pisa, Italy and I absolutely love it. I’ve met people who have never read a book for fun in their lives and it baffles me. Never??? I can’t even fathom life without my precious books! Sometimes I just sit in front of my bookcase and stare at them… A new adventure awaits me within each page. I can spend hours sitting on my couch but feel as though I’ve just journeyed to Hogwarts and fought alongside Harry and Hermione or followed Ray Bradbury to the future foretold within the tattoos of a strange fellow. I may be in the waiting room of a doctor’s office but feel as though I’ve been locked inside a room with Jack and his mom or escaped to Neverland with Peter and Tinkerbell. It’s always a new adventure, no matter how many times I read it.

Then there’s my journals. I have a large stack of them of various colors and shapes that I consider some of my most prized possessions. I’ve kept a consistent journal since 9th grade and now can’t image in how I would function without one. I always have something to jot down, mainly because I communicate best through writing. I’ll try to explain something to you and it just comes out as a confused mess. When I write something down, however, suddenly my brain comes out from hiding and pours onto the page.

When I write, I explore the recesses of my mind. It’s an interesting place up there… silly brain. Writing helps me discover what exactly has been going through my head and what thoughts have creeped in there lately. It’s not always pleasant, but it’s always an adventure.

As much as I love exploring lands that don’t exist or my own mind, having actual tangible adventures are my favorite. I rode a camel in Marrakech, Morocco, straddled two continents at once in Istanbul, Turkey, and backpacked my way through Italy for a week. I’ve spent a week living with a local family in central Mexico, playing Pictionary with the two daughters as a way to learn Spanish. I’ve spent 10 hours on a smelly Greyhound bus from Atlanta to Orlando, sitting among men who openly discussed their recent time in prison.

I like adventures. They make for great stories and keep my life from being stagnant. Journey with me as I embark on adventures of all sorts.