Book I Read This Month - September 2011

Survivor - Chuck Palahniuk
On my shelf, all I can see is an enormous PALAHNIUK, so I kept forgetting the title of the book; it's practically invisible on the cover. Anywho, it's a great book. Very Palahniuk-ish. Ah, isn't it great when an author has such a distinct voice that you can say something like that and everyone totally knows what you mean? And this book is weird. It's written backward. Even the page numbers are backward, counting down to the suicide of a celebrity religious leader as he dictates his life story to the black box of an airplane. It was a hilarious book, and I enjoyed it.

Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
I was shocked at myself for not having read this book yet, so I decided to give it a go. It is a classic and all. Also, my high school English teacher is related to Mary Shelley. But anyway, I thought the book was great. The first half was very well written and emotional, the interlude in which the monster relays his story to Frankenstein was a bit distracting but interesting, and the concluding third was suspenseful and quite telling about human nature.

42 - M. Thomas Cooper
This is an interesting mystery about a man whose wife runs away with her daughter, leaving no clues behind. As the story progresses, more things go missing and the main character becomes the main suspect. An intriguing story and a quick read, I would recommend this book to people who want to have a little fun and just go along for the ride. The number 42 does crop up a lot and gives you the chills a bit near the end, so I wouldn’t suggest reading it alone in the dark on a stormy night where something or someone could hop out and kill you…

Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
Some people claim that this is the best book ever written. And I have to say, that I really enjoyed reading it! Books published in its time period (and the ones translated from a different language, not less!) are usually difficult to read, but I found Anna Karenina surprisingly easy to read. The characters are very well developed, and the plot is twisty and exciting. And am I the only one who found it humorous? I wouldn't say it's the best novel ever written, but I have to agree that it is one of the best.

Publish This Book - Stephen Markley
Frustrated with the publishing industry, having written and pitched many stories to no avail, college student and writer Stephen Markley decided to write a memoir about trying to publish a book; the peculiar idea, however, was that the very memoir he was writing would be the book he was trying to publish. While Markley essentially wrote the book about writing the book, the events in his life quickly and cleverly became the main plot as he revealed the naivety and determination of youth that border on hubris. This is just about the funniest book I have ever read.

Conspiracies – F. Paul Wilson
Repairman Jack is back searching for a missing conspiracy theorist and uncovering some alien conspiracies on the way. I’m not sure why I’ve continued to read this series except for that I don’t like to stop reading something I’ve already started. The character Jack doesn’t seem all that interesting to me. In fact, the author goes out of his way to explain that Jack is normal in every sense of the word, except of course for the whole bad ass thing. But everyone seems to like the books, so I’ll keep reading and maybe the ending of the series will be awesome.

The Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K. le Guin
Blog Book Club book for this month!

Herzog – Saul Bellow
As I was reading this I kept feeling as though I’d read it before. Maybe I have. It’s a semi-autobiographical novel about a writer having his midlife crisis. Interesting and entertaining.

Blog Book Club: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Ethnologist Genly Ai travels to the planet of Gethen to try to convince the planet to join the Ekumen ally system. This planet is always freezing cold, but the thing Genly finds the hardest to get accustomed to is the inhabitants’ gender identities. Everyone there is androgynous, except during their mating cycle, the only time they can reproduce. They can become either male or female during this time, and can even be the opposite during a different cycle, depending on their mate. After living on the planet for a few years, Genly begins to fall into some sort of love with a Gethenian named Estraven, which he, a perpetual male, finds a bit disconcerting.

The main theme of this novel, I believe, is duality. Being cold all year round and holding androgynous inhabitants, Gethen seems to Genly to be, well, a bit one sided. However, as he learns new things along his journey there, he realizes that on his planet, where they have changing seasons and stagnant genders, there is more violence and confusion, Gethen being essentially more dual than his home planet. As a man in love with an androgen, Genly is apprehensive, but during Estraven’s mating cycle, he finally realizes that “he was a woman as well as a man,” the most dual anyone can be, really.

As for the title, “The Left Hand of Darkness” refers to a Gethenian poem written in the novel, in which light is the left hand of darkness and darkness is the right hand of light. More duality. Woohoo.

Ursula K. Le Guin is considered a feminist science fiction writer, and I suppose this book, while the narrator is a man, is a feminist work. “Estraven” isn’t far off from “estrogen” after all. Le Guin also wrote The Dispossessed, a novel about anarchy, and The Lathe of Heaven, in which a man’s dreams come true, literally. I’m totally not a fan of science fiction, but I rather enjoyed The Lathe of Heaven and dare I say the other two as well. I think you may too.

So, for those of you who have read The Left Hand of Darkness, what did you think of it?

Peace, Aimee

Peace and Change

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Peace Blogfest this week! I hope everyone had a wonderful Peace Day. I have to share with everyone this amazing post from Wednesday, written by Sam de la Pena. If you have the time, it’s definitely worth the read.

Now, if you remember, I said I would be making some changes to my blog starting in October. This is due to my changing schedule and my non-changing personality. I want to make my blog more interactive because I love hearing what you amazing people have to say instead of me writing blog posts and putting them up. I usually can't think of much to write in them anyway, but I just can't shut this blog down; it's become a part of my daily life.

This doesn't mean I'm going to stop posting regular posts. If I've written something that I feel I really need to share, of course I will share it with you, but it will be more informal and less scheduled. Less pressure on me that way.

I will be hosting several events every month. Here are the few that I have planned so far, and as I develop my other ideas, I will be sure to share them with you:

Theme of the Month
– Each month will have a theme (announced on the first day of the month) around which all discussions and events will be centered. Unless something important comes up anyway.

Blog Book Club
– On the second day of the month, I will announce a book that I will be reading and posting about at the end of the month. You can read the book and post about it yourself on the same day (much like a blogfest) or just join in on the discussion in the comments section. The book will, of course, have something to do with the theme of the month.

Monthly Writing Contest
- I will be hosting a writing contest every single month! I've held two contests before, and I really enjoyed it. I will give you a writing prompt, and you can email me your submission before the deadline. The winner will have their submission posted on my blog, I will link to their blog, and they will receive a terrific prize! The contest, also, will correspond with the month’s theme, and it will be announced on the third day of the month.

Books I Read This Month - This is not really an interactive thing, but at the end of the month, I will posting a list and description of the books I read over the course of the month. You can tell me what you thought of the books if you've read them before, or you can use the list as a suggestion for books to read in the future! You can also share in the comments section the books you read this month.

Discussions – These are pretty much regular blog posts that I will put up if I, uh, write them. They will pertain to the theme, and this will hopefully get me thinking on the topic and get me actually writing a thought-provoking blog post. These will be sporadic…

So there you go! I hope you're as excited as I am for the changes!

Peace, Aimee

Peace Through Connection

An understanding that despite all differences, we're really all the same, is the most important thing to have to achieve peace. If only one person or a small group of people know about Peace Day or even think peace is plausible, then the chances of us reaching a peaceful state are practically nil.

To connect with other people and to spread the word about peace, this is why I hosted the Peace Blogfest. If we connect with other people, no matter their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, likes or dislikes, or anything that makes them different, and if we focus on the things that make us similar, make us human — our ability to think, to feel emotion — then we are one step closer to creating a peaceful world.

Peace, Aimee

Peace Through Tolerance and Non-Violence

I live in a fairly racially-uniform town, so I grew up without much diversity around me. However, at around the age ten, when I started understanding the things said on the news, I was a bit cultured shocked at the violence that goes on throughout the world. While I'd never seen in person an altercation between people of different races or religions, it was strange for me to realize that these things actually happened. And I didn't understand.

I went to Catholic church as a child while most of my friends were Protestant or Lutheran, or any of the other variety of Christian there is in the world. No one especially cared much about this, at least not until middle school, when puberty hits and tweens begin rebelling against their parents, analyzing other kids to see who they should hang out with and what they should become. I'd like to say I didn't do this, and compared to many people, I hardly did, but there were some aspects of my childhood that I wanted to shy away from. When I told people I was Catholic, they winced a little, then they laughed a little, then they started to poke a little fun. But why? Maybe there's a stigma there, and maybe we break the bread a little differently, but essentially we're the same. We live by the same rules: don't kill, don't lie, respect your parents. Soon, this began to get in my head a bit. Like most kids at that sensitive age, I questioned my upbringing, and soon, at around the age of fourteen, I decided that I was no longer a Christian. I acknowledge my childhood in church, but to this day, I still don't feel like Christianity is what I believe. And guess what, even if I don't believe what the Christian doctrine believes, I still don't kill people, I don't lie, and I (try to) respect my parents. Instead of prayer and church and bread and wine, I do yoga, I'm a vegetarian, and I write.

Looking back, I can see my desire to belong, the same desire that children and teenagers, and adults as well (since I'm entering that realm now), all harbor. I understand, and even laugh at a little, that my story has nowhere near the level of intolerance that people experience on a day to day basis in this world. I've lived a lucky life so far, all things considering. However, from the religious disputes in the UK (Protestants and Catholics) to the Anti-Islamic issues we deal with in the US (they've got enough problems with violence in the Middle East without us judging them for their beliefs), from discrimination against blacks and Hispanics to the lack of effort in helping those in need (starvation in Africa, the homeless, the mentally ill), there is an obvious problem with violence and intolerance in this world.

This problem, the biggest problem and the one that most immediately needs resolving, does not consist of groups pinned against each other. This is a personal problem. Wars are waged in the hearts of man, not in a religious system or in the biology of one's skin. If we resolve our personal issues and prejudices, we can then work to resolving the issues around us. World peace must begin with inner peace. :)

Peace, Aimee

Peace Through Art

Here is a picture I drew (in my childish hand) that shows the connection between humans, revealing how peace is not just possible but it's also necessary.

And here is a poem I wrote entitled "Infant Dreams." It sounds a bit dystopian, but it how I see the world (in particular America) in it's present condition. It reveals how a culture can shape a mind into thinking a certain way, in this case, shaping an innocent child with so much potential into a soldier, who fights for his country even if he does not honestly believe in what he's fighting for. If we focus on peace, however, I think we can change this and make the world a better place for the children of the future. Note: I'm not trying to be politically controversial here, so don't mention that, please... :)

Infant Dreams

What child is this who cries in such a sing-song way,

as if the knowledge of life's true intention is perched upon its lips,

as if Jack Kerouac's ghost sits on its shoulder whispering "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want."

But staying in a place once delicate but now a hardened soul appeals to no one,

the world kidnapping and brainwashing its fragile infant mind.

What soldier is this who huddles in the darkness,

snuggles close to his fellow sqaudron brother as the rockets fire in the distance;

the cursed concept that dragged them from their mothers' arms

nags and snaps and bites at their hearts and their wallets.

Something sinister slithers and sneaks its way into a child's brains,

driving out the precious infant dreams

and replacing them with American nightmares.

Preparing for Peace

Peace Blogfest starts Monday!

Here's the link if you need a reminder participants and those of who would like to sign up (you still can)!

Peace, Aimee

P.S. Here is a picture of all the books I bought from Borders in the past few weeks. Sad to see it go. :(

P.P.S. (or P.S.S. whatever it is) Sorry I'm posting on a Sunday instead of Friday like I was supposed to! I had a busy week: job interview (got it!), laptop died (bought a new one!), car died (still working on that...), lots of school stuff, and, well, that's enough excuses... Have a nice weekend, er, day. See you tomorrow for Peace Blogfest Day One: Peace Through Art.

Writing About Reading About Writing About Reading

And you get to read about it!

Here is the first paragraph of my Introduction to Literature textbook:

“Many people read literature for pleasure. Many others read literary works mainly to satisfy academic requirements. Duty and pleasure, however, are not mutually exclusive. And so, even though you may be reading the literature in this book to fulfill course assignments, you may find yourself enjoying at least some of the work you read here. One of the purposes of this chapter is to introduce you to some of the pleasures literature offers.”

Oh the irony.

They might as well just say 'This book is going to suck all the fun out of literature. You may never read a book again.'

The best part about reading this textbook, though, is that while I am reading about what is fun about reading, I am having fun making fun of it.


Peace, Aimee

DiYanni, Robert. Literature: Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. 2nd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

List of Peace Blogfest September 2011 Participants

Here is the list of people who have signed up for the Peace Blogfest so far. You can still sign up until 18 September 2011, so please, go here and sign up!

You can use this list to follow the participants or to read their posts when the 19th-21st arrives!

Emily Henard at Owls In Trees
Hektor Karl at After Troy
Caitlin Nicoll at Logically
J.C. Martin at Fighter Writer
L.G. Smith at Bards and Prophets
Jennifer Hoffine at YA Audiobook Addict
Trisha at WORD+STUFF
S.B. Stewart-Laing at Writing the Other
Sam de la Pena at Sam de la Pena
msmouse7 at Ms. Mouse Cleans House
Lorna at Lorna's Voice

And me, of course!

Peace, Aimee

That Old Experiment?

If you may recall from the middle of August, I took a week long vacation and called it an experiment. But it's been a while since then, so I guess it's about time I elaborate on what I meant by 'experiment.'

I tried for a week not to look at my blog, not to even click on the page, because I was getting a bit overwhelmed by everything going on in my life, and my blog was one of the first things I thought I could handle cutting out to remove stress. But I couldn't help myself. Blogging, reading other peoples' blogs, and stuff like that has become part of my life. Like I said, constant output, since I'm doing this just for fun and there's really nothing in it for me, is kind of difficult. It's pressure placed upon me by myself, but it's pressure nonetheless. But I don't think I could shut down this blog, so I've decided to make some changes to it.

September is just about the busiest month for me, in my real life, my digital life, and my writing life. I have something planned for almost every day on this blog for this month, including the Peace Blogfest, which I'm super excited for! However, October is practically empty, which worried me at first until I officially decided to change things up around here.

Instead of a regular blog, posting article-type things three days a week like normal bloggers do, I've decided to make my blog more interactive. I've started up that Blog Book Club, which I hope more people will join, and I've done a couple contests. There are more things in store for followers to participate in, and October will be the trial month in which I see if my idea will actually work.

That's all for now, but I will be keeping you updated on the changes as I organize everything!

Have a nice weekend!

Peace, Aimee

P.S. I will be posting the list of the Peace Blogfest participants on Monday, so sign up this weekend to get your blog on the list! Thanks so much to those who are participating! You have no idea how much it means to me that people out there are supporting and spreading the word about world peace! Thank you!

First Campaigner Challenge

It's time for the first Campaigner Challenge of the Third Writers' Platform-Building Campaign! Here is a description of the challenge...

Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. It can be in any format, including a poem. Begin the story with the words, “The door swung open” These four words will be included in the word count.

If you want to give yourself an added challenge (optional), use the same beginning words and end with the words: "the door swung shut." (also included in the word count)

For those who want an even greater challenge, make your story 200 words EXACTLY!

And here is a link to the challenge page...

I managed to get my story to exactly 200 words! Here it is. I hope you like it!

Peace, Aimee

The door swung open.
“Get up.”
My weak legs wouldn’t let me.
“Get up,” he repeated.
“I can’t.” The sound came out a raspy squeak.
He gripped my arm with his huge hand and yanked me to my feet. A yelp of pain escaped my cracked lips. The cement was like spikes on my blistering soles.
He didn’t say another word, but I didn’t care where he took me. Nowhere could be worse than here.
Down the hallway he dragged me, passing dozens of doors identical to the one I had been staring at for months. At the end was another door, which he ripped open, revealing the sizzling heat and the blaring sun.
He shoved me out. I stumbled and fell, scorching my naked body in the desert sand.
“Go,” he said. “We don’t need you anymore.”
It took all my strength to roll onto my back and look up at the man who had been torturing me for all those weeks. And the others too.
“That’s all?” I managed to say.
He stared at me like I was an animal, looking into me with those dark eyes, and I looked back into the oblivion.
The door swung shut.

Blog Book Club September 2011

The first Book Club was fun, and I thought it was great hearing what people had to say, so I'm going to do it again this month!

Over the course of September, read The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. le Guin and post about it or join the discussion in the comments section on Wednesday 28 September 2011.

Peace, Aimee