In My Mailbox #2

In My Mailbox is a book meme hosted by The Story Siren. Click here to read more and participate!

In My Mailbox is a book meme hosted by The Story Siren. Click here to read more and participate!

I showed off my last book splurge six days ago, and yes: I have acquired more since then. Whoops. If you want to skip my side-rant, scroll right down to the photo below.

The purchases I made are nowhere near the book count from my last IMM post, but… I can’t stop myself. These last few weeks have tired and stressed me out to the point where I’ve felt like calling it quits on this nursing assistant training. I love this class, I do, but it drains, and I  sometimes find it nerve-wracking (especially for us beginners) and an occasional downer to my day.

(I mean: “I slept for two hours. I want to go home, not sit through an additional four hours of class,” or “I slept for two hours. I want to sleep, not get up at 5 AM and stand all day, jet around, and tend to people for the next eight hours.” Praise for those who can do this every day without much complaint, because those are the ones with real passion. Me? I look at these residents and I care and empathize, but: do I really want to do this? I don’t know, and it sucks to put yourself through some tough work only to discover in the end that you hate it.)

Books, however, have the opposite effect. I love weaving through aisles and flipping through curious books, and even returning to the same old books that a deep part of me desperately wishes to own (but I somehow convince myself to put them down anyway). I am down for a library raid any day (and even have some library loot to share soon), and just like borrowing books, buying and hoarding books are a pick-me-up. “This day has been tough,” I say to myself. “I deserve this!”

So what did I get? Ahem:

Siddhartha and Teeth

  • Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz

For months I have heard and read wonderful reviews about Teeth, and I have eyed it for probably just as long. I’d walk into the book store and make a beeline for one of my favorite sections (YA fiction), and ogle and grab and carry this book all around the store. Never did I buy it, though. I’d find another book — or, as is often the case — a set of books I decided I’d for-sure read and enjoy over Moskowitz’s novel.

Like anyone, I feel utterly disappointed to buy a book — so full of hope believing that I will like or even adore it — only to discover it’s a flop. Let me tell you: Teeth is anything but. I am told the prose is a wonderful match for an original story, and thank goodness I agree. Teeth, I learned, is nothing like I thought it would be, which is neither necessarily bad or good, but oh! This book is good. Very, very good. It has been far too long since I’ve felt truly hooked into a story that I can’t put down. Lucky for me that I typically have free Fridays, because I stayed up well into normal waking hours — nearly finished reading — before I decided sleep is a beautiful, beautiful thing. This book and its main characters latched on quickly and have now left me with a lingering bittersweet sensation.

  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (Translated by Hilda Rosner)

This is the story of how I finally came to own Siddhartha and simultaneously made myself feel a teeny bit happier in the process.

Consider this a “feel better now” present to and from myself for having a not-so-great first-day clinical experience yesterday, because I do. I could turn the ordeal into a long, whiny rant, but to keep it “short”: I should have been up and getting ready at 5 AM, and I was. Or did. …Or tried. I physically removed myself from the bed only to lie back down to sleep for another half hour. A half hour became 6:26 AM, and: Oh my holy heavens I have to be there BEFORE 7!

It's smashing

Needless to say: I was 20 minutes late, had a ridiculous time finding available parking, became confused and lost once inside this facility (Where are my classmates?! Where is my instructor?! WHERE IS THIS HIDDEN ROOM LOCATED?!), I most likely annoyed the heck out of several staff members, and I nearly broke down in pathetic tears because I’m extremely ridiculous and I’m late, I’m late! The rest of the day was rough, and I will leave it at that.

What better way to make myself feel better than by driving to the nearest bookstore? Yes, there are other delicious things out in life like chocolate-gorging that send me straight into pure bliss… followed by a free-fall drop into self-loathing. Books don’t have calories I want to stab, so yeah. The bookstore it is.

Siddhartha is just one of hundreds upon hundreds of titles I want to read, and I do hope to read it this year. I made an attempt last year and failed (it’s embarrassingly easy for me to become distracted sometimes), but I know this book is not particularly long. “Great choice,” the cashier told me — he appears awfully fond of this classic, and I hope to appreciate it as well.

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Reading Challenge: Books in Translation.

I punched the sun to where it belongs: behind the clouds.

Today’s weather took a turn for the beautiful: 56°F. Clouds did their usual (which is to say they smothered the sky in fantastic grey), and I believe the faintest splatter of rain graced my skin. I’m ecstatic and thankful: a hiatus from dry air! As to be expected, the chilly interlude will end as warmer days heat up and resume skin-melting terror. Once again, I am reminded of that time of year: summer.

It’s not that I despise the sun per se, but I can’t deny my love of grey skies and rain clouds. I love the smell of crisp, fresh air when temperatures are in the single digits, I love snow, wind storms, lightening, thunder, and crazy-mad rain. I love yuck-weather all-around, so a pregnant rain cloud is the very first sign of delight.

But the sun? No. I do not like the sun. It sends scorching heat waves that threaten to melt skin off my body. It causes the air to boil with *temperatures so hot that I lie motionless on the floor for hours—days, even—dehydrated. It reminds me that my body is not something I want to see in shorts and t-shirts because I chose to eat and hibernate like a bear. No freezer blast of cool air can save me.

(*75°F is excruciating.)

In consolation, summer holds several prospects that send just a pinch of surging excitement. For starters, my prick of a neighbor moves out July 20th. I don’t like him, and he doesn’t like me. All I have to say is good riddance — I hope he’s moving off the planet and shrivels inside the stomach of a black hole.

In other news: three class-free months and an ocean of reading time!  (How many hours does an ocean of reading time translate into? My guess: a lot.) While stacking a bunch of books to fill my future free-time, I sought reading challenges over the weekend. The idea is that I’ll start one or two challenges after classes end, and so I came, conquered Google, and made discoveries. Alas, the saying is true: so many books, so little time! I wanted to take on this challenge, that challenge, and those, and these, and oh my.

Click picture to read Allie’s post!

To deny these challenges felt more frustrating than the day I sat as a distraught kindergartener. I was nearing a hot mess of tears and my hair was in danger of being yanked out by my own hands, because: god dammit, which letters of the alphabet construct my last name? It was a distressful afternoon as I watched my peers exit one-by-one to have a merry blast on the playground. Well, at least they could spell their names.

I remained indoors to wallow in disappointment, imagining letters H and A coming together and maniacally laughing.

But enough of that — fast forward back into the present moment. I fought off the temptation to take on ALL READING CHALLENGES, but I did agree to one: the Books in Translation challenge, hosted by The Introverted Reader.

The challenge–need I even say it?–is to read translated works, of course! You can sign up any time during the year and set a goal at one of the following levels:

  • Beginner (1-3 books)
  • Conversationalist (4-6 books)
  • Bilingual (7-9 books)
  • Linguist (10-12 books)

For once I’m playing it safe and aiming for the beginner’s level. (Because reading is risky business. After all, a paper cut awaits at every turn.) Books I have planned are Battle RoyalThe Hunchback of Notre-Dame, and Siddhartha. I would normally welcome more, you know, but with fifty-four books already marked as summer reads — not to mention several of which have quite the page count — three is a good starting point, I think. If all goes well, I may step up the conversationalist level and tack on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or 1Q84.

Look at me read! I can even spell my last name.