Books I Read This Month - December 2011

Incendiary – Chris Cleave
Whoa. Intensely emotional and depressing, this is the story of a woman recovering after her husband and four year old son are killed in a terrorist attack. Made me cry. Only recommended for those with strong, erm, not stomachs so much as minds. I know mine had some trouble handling it.

Life of Pi – Yann Martel
This was the book club book this month! Here is my post about it.

The Pale King – David Foster Wallace

This is David Foster Wallace’s last novel, which he did not have the chance to finish before his death. However, it reads like a complete novel, and is quite good. It is about some IRS agents and is semi-autobiographical. I liked it quite a lot.

Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides

This novel takes place over the course of three generations of a family, from Greece to Detroit, from the early 20th century to present day. The narrator is a hermaphrodite. This is a lovely book and I enjoyed it immensely.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
The earth is destroyed to make room for a super space highway, and a man is picked up by a passing spaceship just in time. With his alien friend, he hitchhikes across the galaxy. Great fun. Hilarious. And a classic.

1Q84 – Haruki Murakami

I’m not usually a fan of fantasy, but this was a great book. It was a sneaky fantasy, starting off like a literary novel, but slowly becoming weirder and weirder as it went. The two main characters are massage therapist slash murderer Aomame, which means “green peas” in Japanese, and writer and math professor Tengo. They are somehow transferred into an alternate universe that has two moons in the sky and is riddled with magical little people that hide inside other people and come out to build air chrysalises upon their death. The more I read of Murakami, the more I realizes he must be genius.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Pi Patel, born Piscine Molitor Patel in India to a Hindi family, adopted Christianity and Islam as his second and third practiced religions at the age of sixteen. His family owned a zoo, and his father warned him constantly about the dangers of all the animals, but he assured him that the most dangerous animal in the zoo was the human being. When the family decided to relocate their zoo to Canada, they had to load their dozens of animals onto a Japanese cargo ship and travel across the Pacific Ocean. Part way there, the ship sank, killing every living thing on board except for Pi and a Bengal Tiger. Together they survived on a lifeboat for seven months at sea.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel is definitely my favorite book. I have read it at least three times, as well as Yann Martel’s two other books once. The impact of the themes is the strongest aspect of the novel. At the beginning of the book, Pi Patel is struggling to be accepted by his family and his peers. He practices Hindu, Christianity, and Islam, which confuses his parents and makes his older brother and classmates tease him. But his faith in God keeps him strong. Throughout his journey at sea, Pi transforms from a loving, young, strict vegetarian boy to a desperate, frustrated castaway and finally to a strong young man full of faith and hope.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone of any age who is searching for spirituality and a reason for hope in life. I don’t mean to sound too sentimental here, since this book has plenty of hilarious moments and clever lines, but Life of Pi is truly an amazing book of enlightenment that everyone should read.

If you have read Life of Pi by Yann Martel, what did you think of it?

Peace, Aimee

And the Winner of the Shakespearean Sonnet Contest Is...

Tyrean Martinson!

Congratulations Tyrean! Email the 2500 word excerpt of your manuscript (or whatever you would like me to critique) to whenever you’re ready.

Here is Tyrean’s winning sonnet.

Leaves flicker in winds, flames against blue sky
Reds, golds, oranges, all bright and living still
for a short time they dwell on branches high.
As the cold seeps in, bringing winter chill,
hard rains, darkening clouds like seasons’ night,
they fall in drifts of crackling wonderful
sound for our passing, joyful delight
until trampled muddy and disgraceful
when we rake them together for compost,
laid near by roots of trees and over garden beds.
Nutrients for next year’s colorful boast
sink down to rise up again overhead.
Each leaf a living miracle of life
showing promise in spite of fallen strife.

The Giving Spirit

During Christmastime, people tend to become more generous. While I believe that one should not have to be in the Christmas spirit in order to do something nice for someone, I think it’s wonderful anyway that people can connect to one another through the love of Christmas (despite religion; many people are not religious but still celebrate the holiday as a tradition). There are many charitable events going to in this month of December, all over the country and around the world. Here, I will list a few (some have incentives) for you, and I hope that you may feel uplifted by the spirit of the holidays and inspired by the kindness of others. I am definitely going to participate to the best of my ability, and I hope you do too!

Amnesty International, one of the most prominent non-governmental organizations, is hosting the Write for Rights campaign December 3-11, in which people write letters to government representatives and individuals concerning the civil rights of people trapped in unfortunate and unjust situations. Here is the link for more information.

Comedians Russell Brand and Sarah Silverman are offering a free stand-up event on December 11 called the Love Exchange. If you like their comedy, you can see them preform at no monetary cost to you! The way to snag a ticket is to donate two hours of your time to any of the participating charities. Here is the link for more information.

A group of bloggers are hosting a blog event called The Bah Humbug Blahgfest, in which they are giving away various prizes, including Amazon gift cards. Just sign up with a comment on their post and there will be a random drawing for the winners. How generous! Here is the link for more information.

You don’t have to be in the Holiday Spirit to be in the Giving Spirit!

Peace, Aimee

The Road Less Written

November 2011’s theme was Shakespeare, but I didn’t get around to writing my own sonnet until the end of the month. In the contest (tomorrow is the last day to submit, by the way) you may write a Shakespearean sonnet. I tried to do this but I had a difficult time with finding words to rhyme, but that retain the meaning I had intended for the poem. The result was blank verse. Now, I would like to share one with you. It’s about when I was in middle school, and our gym class walked down the street to the ice rink. Doesn’t sound like sonnet material, but I think it works.

But first, for those of you who are interested in poetry, I have to recommend to you a wonderful book on the craft. The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry is a fantastic guide for meter, rhyme, form, and diction for the poet who is tired of reading poetry craft books that read like manuals or school textbooks. I highly recommend it! Humorous, insightful, and delightful.

He took my hand and led me cross the way
Over the fields and down the hill to ice.
We latched our skates and huddled in our coats,
Our noses pink and touched by frozen air.
We slided, glided, slid, and slipped about,
Forgetting time and struggles with our books.
The classroom seemed ten miles down the road,
And soon a slippery hour had passed us by.
We trudged back through the snow and into warmth,
Our pink ears numb and fingers clad in wool.
We drew the dreaded pencils from our bags
And sat ourselves behind our desks to thaw.
We skated through the days and then the weeks,
Free figure eights trapped yearning in our boots.

December 2011

This month, there is no theme, and there is also not going to be a contest. The Shakespeare sonnet contest is still going on, though, and I hope more people will participate! The last day to submit is Sunday 4 December 2011. Here are the details.

However, I am still having a Blog Book Club this month. The book is Life of Pi by Yann Martel. It is by far my favorite book ever, and since I haven't reread it in a long time, I've decided to reread it this month and discuss it here on my blog on Thursday 29 December 2011. Please join me in reading this lovely book and post about it on your own blog, or just join in on the conversation in the comments section that day!

I also have some other blog posts for this month, so look forward to that. :)

Peace, Aimee