Hello, all! Before we dive in to a mid-month wrap-up, I feel as though I owe you an explanation for my absence here. To start, I want to make it very clear that I am still 100% passionate about Food For Thought and talking with all of the amazing people I have met within the blogosphere. I am not going anywhere.
As you may know, I am a student. This semester I had to pick up 24 credit hours... which is a bit much. One of my classes is an eight week course, so my workload will be especially heavy until November. I also work a part-time job to support myself and my education. By the time I finish up all of my daily to-do lists, there is very little time left to embrace my love for books or creative outlets. I have even less time to visit all of my favorite blogs. Believe me when I tell you, I miss writing and I miss visiting other blogs.
That being said, I'm beginning to get into the swing of things. I'm finally finding (a little bit) of reading time, and here I am writing a blog post! It feels like a breath of fresh air. I don't think I can come back to the same frequency of posts I had over the summer until November rolls around, but I can guarantee you will hear from me at least weekly again.
With all of that out of the way, let's talk about books!
My reading time has been rather limited, but I did manage to sneak in several short stories and two novels!
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
I managed to sneak this one in just before the semester started. Rereading Mockinjay was the conclusion to a Hunger Games trilogy reread I had done with Karo. (She has a lovely new blog now. I suggest you click the link!) I think my mind suppressed this book after the first read. There were many things I had forgotten about, or straight up remembered wrong. It was an extremely different story than the one I remembered. I have to say, I enjoyed it far more this time around than I did as a high schooler. I do still feel Catching Fire is my favorite in the series.
Young Lori had an out of body experience reading Catching Fire. I was snuggled up under an atrocious amount of blankets in bed. Baby-Stella was curled up into a kitty-loaf next to me. The house was peaceful. It was late. None of that mattered to me. To say I was hooked by the book was an understatement. I was absolutely absorbed. The world around me didn't matter anymore--it didn't even exist. My soul was sucked out of my body and mentally, I was living the events of the book with Katniss. (Don't tell me you haven't had a similar reading experience. I won't believe you.) To make the book more compelling to me, (sorry for the potential tmi) Katniss's struggle with PTSD coincided with my own mental-health journey with PTSD. I had just begun talk-therapy and taking antidepressants. The reading experience was emotionally and mentally exhausting to me.
When I finished the book (in one sitting), I was a HOT MESS. Maybe it was being under a mountain of blankets for hours. Maybe it was my connection with Katniss at that point in my life. Maybe it's Maybelline. All I know is, I was so confused and drained. My throat was parched and I felt delirious. I convinced myself I was feverish, and drug myself half-dressed to the bathroom to check my temperature. All I managed to accomplish was dropping a cup full of old stick thermometers onto myself. Why did we own a whole cup full of mercury poisoning? Why am I a walking disaster? Who knows, but next I knew, the entire bathroom was covered in glittering droplets of mercury and shattered glass.
Then there's me... half dressed... at 2 am, calling my step-dad downstairs to explain to him how I covered the bathroom in mercury because a book made me deranged...
Thank the gods he is also a reader, and understood a good book hangover.
I have picked up several classic short stories this month. I was having trouble reconciling including them on my Goodreads challenge, but decided to anyway. Why not? It's still reading! I'm not one to speak too much about short stories synopses, because I feel it is necessary to walk into them in complete ignorance. If the author wanted the reader to be fully prepared for the events, they would have included more exposition, and they would have written a novella instead.
I will say, my ratings for the stories were a mixed bag. Obviously, there's always an issue with classics because certain language or notions are no longer accepted as we've grown as a society. However, classics do endure as classics because of their timeless messages--even if the message does change as we grow.
Hunter in the Snow by Tobias Wolff
The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula Le Guin
Up in Michigan by Earnest Hemingway
The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe (Reread)
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Reread)
The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
Reunion by John Cheever
A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner
Cathedral by Raymond Carver
Hills like White Elephants by Earnest Hemingway
Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot
I have been perusing a fantastic goodreads list of BIPOC authors, and borrowing many from Libby. The list was made graciously by Karo. I'd say if you also find your reading is too white, this is a fantastic list to start a diverse reading journey with. I cannot thank you enough for the time and effort you have put into this list!
The first book I picked up from this list is Heart Berries. This book is a very poetic stream of consciousness memoir. I always forget how hard stream of consciousness-style writing hits me. Wow. Mailhot explores her experiences with living in a reservation in the Pacific Northwest, her hospitalization and living with PTSD and Bipolar II Disorder, and all of her extremely evocative struggles throughout her adult life. Please ignore my poor attempts at explaining what this book is. It's powerful. Too powerful and heart-wrenching for my writing abilities.
As of the time I am writing this, I'm working on two books:
The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon.
I'm buddy-reading this with Karo... who is so kind to my lagging behind due to school. Bless her. I SHOULD be about halfway through the book. I intend to get there by the end of today. I haven't exactly fleshed out how I'm feeling. I was extremely excited going in. I mean, it's a book where dragons are a major component! What's not to love?!
Well... it's everything else. There's a lot of negligence within Shannon's writing between cultural appropriation and a general lack of enthusiasm in the rare moments we get an action scene. Mind you, I can enjoy a dry politically driven novel like this, but there are so many scenes here that are truly astounding when you think about what's really going on... but Shannon makes it all sound so bland. (Is is really my workload keeping me from reading, or a general lack of investment?) I will bring a more detailed and organized review to you once we finish our read, but at this time, I think I am sitting at 3 stars.
2. The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto
I'm struggling here too. I actually considered DNFing this book a couple of times, but it's such a short one that I am committed to finishing it. This story is also written in a sort of stream of consciousness format, but the narrator speaks in an almost emotionally detached way. It has the opposite effect on me that Heart Berries did. The further along the story goes, the more I realize it's a slog. How can a 188 page book feel like a 500 page book? Yikes.
To top it all off, the book's overarching point is how the main character, Chihiro navigates a new relationship with Nakajima, a boy who has clearly been through some terrible trauma. I can't be wishy-washy about it. I hate the way PTSD is represented here. I'm sorry if you love the book. You are absolutely valid in your opinion, and I have no desire to take that away from you. However, I'm finding the book makes me feel pretty crappy and hurt by its representation of PTSD. I only have 40 pages left, so I intend to finish the novel anyway. Again, more fleshed out thoughts will be coming your way soon.
Thank you for joining me on this mid-month check in! What are you currently reading? What's your favorite read of the month so far?