15 til John Green

Hey there!

I recently learned that there is a name for the condition I suffer from. It is tsundoku: the tendency to buy books and leave them on the shelf, unread. I always get so excited about reading books that I’ll buy four at a time and only end up reading some of them. And now that I have a name for this terrible habit, I feel like conquering it. More on that in a moment.

I have also recently discovered the vlogbrothers, the greatest nerds on YouTube. John and Hank Green are two brilliant, immensely thoughtful, creative, and influential brothers who created a YouTube channel to communicate with each other from opposite sides of the continent. A community of nerds, or nerdfighters, has sprung up around the vlogbrothers and their mission to decrease world suck. I bring these guys up because 1) if you’re reading my blog, you will probably enjoy their insightful and silly videos, and 2) because John is an author of a handful of books that I desperately want to read.

However, I couldn’t justify buying four new books with so many unread books already in my possession. So, I challenged myself to read 10-15 of the books I already own before I buy John Green’s beautiful box set. Luckily, fifteen rhymes with John Green and I’d rather read 15 books anyway. Thus, “Fifteen til John Green” was born!

My progress so far:

  1. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood is set in Kingston, the town I live in September to April. It’s based on the true story of a famous woman convicted (possibly wrongly convicted) of murder and sentenced to life in the women’s penitentiary in Kingston. Psychology was a budding field back then, and people didn’t really understand how our brains worked all too well. So, Grace Marks claims to not remember the murder or how it happened, many people believed she was just lying. A young psychologist wants to discover the truth behind it all and spends the majority of the novel interviewing her and listening to Grace’s version of her story. A long, but very interesting novel.
  2. Stumbling On Happiness by Daniel Gilbert was fantastic. It’s a non-fiction book about how truly bad people are at predicting what will make them happy five minutes from now and five years from now. I’d heard this book mentioned so many times, but I forgot about it after I bought it. I guarantee that you will have a small identity crisis reading this book, and you will most definitely say “Other people may think like that, but I sure don’t!” at least once. It definitely lets you know that you can loosen up a bit when you’re trying to make the ‘right’ decision…because you’re probably making the wrong one either way. It’s not too long a book, and it’s absolutely worth every second.
  3. I also read a small collection of Sherlock Holmes adventures. All I will say on the matter is “WAY better than the movies, almost as good as the TV show”. I can’t wait to read the whole collection.
  4. Pride and Prejudice is one of those books I can’t believe I hadn’t read (or finished) yet, especially since I wrote an essay on it in April. I’d seen the movie and heard teachers analyze it before, so I was always like “Yea Lizzie! Yea Lizzie’s dad! You guys are awesome!” But then my English teacher last year turned the whole concept of the book on its head and made me think about all of it in a totally different way. It is definitely worth it to critically analyze this book as you go through (even if that sounds about as much fun as stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork). It really gives you a new perspective on love and social relationships.
  5. The Waterproof Bible by Andrew Kaufman was short and brilliant. I could hardly bear to put it down, so I finished it in one very interesting day. It’s such a weird book that asks you to just let go and accept things as they are told to you, even if they seem really weird. Even as I finished the book, I realized that I didn’t know what it was about, but I had enjoyed every page. I still don’t really know what it’s about. I guess I’ll have to read it again!
  6. I finally finished The Fellowship of the Ring! Some people warned me that I wouldn’t like it because it’s super detailed and historical and geeky, and I was like…do you know me but at all?? It was bloody flippin’ incredible! (I don’t think I actually have to say it was better than the movie, right?) The only problem with it is that I only bought the first one along with The Hobbit (which, to my horror, didn’t even match!), so now I’m dying to buy part 2 and 3. But that doesn’t really go along with my “finish 15 books before you buy four more” thing. Maybe I can do this challenge again. Something like… “Ten more til Mordor”? …okay, I’ll work on it.
  7. And I’m currently reading The Power of Why by Amanda Lang, which, so far, corroborates everything I know about the suckiness of school, but backs it all up with scientific facts! My day is made!

I have really enjoyed all of these books, but if I had to recommend one….I couldn’t do it. I can recommend two though. Read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It’s incredible. And definitely read The Waterproof Bible. Kaufman is a Canadian writer and the book takes place half in Toronto, Ontario and half in Morris, Manitoba, so it was fun for me to recognize all the street names and the horror of being in downtown TO in traffic. I think that was redundant…downtown Toronto and traffic are synonymous, right?

That’s all for now folks! Enjoy your week and DFTBA,
Kenzie

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The Evolution of a Bookworm

Hey there everyone :) How’s your day been? I’m feeling very compelled to write something, but I’m not sure what just yet. ←That’s fair enough warning; rambling may follow. Well, I might as well start with reading. Because I talk a lot about how I feel regarding all the books I’m reading, but I’ve never really mentioned how I feel about reading itself. You may think (if you’ve visited my other pages) that I’m a pretty hard core reader. I really don’t plough through a book a day…though I can if need be. I guess I’ve been through quite a few stages in my bookworm life…

Stage 1 (age 2-3)

Cheryl and Bradley have a two-year-old daughter who will only nap for one hour in the afternoon. In order to lengthen baby-free downtime, they place a small stack of Little Golden Books in the corner of her bed, so she will have something to do when she wakes up. A bookworm is born.

Stage 2 (age 4-8) 

Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones, The Giggler Treatment**.  ‘Nuff Said.

Stage 3 (age 7-12)

I started reading books probably out of my age range like Harry Potter (of course), Inkheart, Peter Pan, The Historian, and yes, I’ll admit it (because I was 12), Twilight. I liked adventure books. The bigger, the better. The more fantastical, the better.

Stage 4 (age 11-15)

It was at this point in my life that I found a Nora Roberts book on a shelf in our house. Because of that one book, I went through a phase where I read standard harlequin romance novels by the truckload. A little embarrassing, actually. And then I read an article that said people who read romance novels are far less likely to be happy in their own love lives. It makes sense. Nora Roberts (at one point, the only author I would read) has written a lot of books…over 200. They’re all very different, but they all have the same formula which includes a happy ending; I have yet to read a Roberts book that didn’t end in a marriage, a proposal, solving the mystery, or getting the bad guy. It’s very confusing when all the characters you read about find the perfect mate, and you can’t even find someone who makes you happy more often than they annoy you. This realization is when I stopped reading the romance novels.

Side note: I had found someone who made me happy more than he annoyed me at 11, but I was too dumb to know it then. I’m not so dumb anymore—he still makes me happy more often than he annoys me…kind of :p

Stage 5 (age 17-now)

I didn’t read much of anything for quite some time, with the exception of a couple high school English books. My first and second go at Grade 12 English (5% increase in English mark = acceptance to Queen’s) were very important times in my bookworm existence. In both years, we were given the opportunity to choose between a bunch of books. I picked The Handmaid’s Tale the first time, and The Glass Castle and The English Patient the second. I wasn’t expecting much considering given they were grown-up, award-winning books (blech!) so imagine how surprised was I when I actually really enjoyed them.

And so, I am at the stage in my bookworm life where I sprout two little wings and make an effort to read as many award-winning/classic/must-read books as it takes to find my favourite authors. You may have noticed my 1001 books page and my library page. These are my attempts at educating myself in the world of literature, beyond harlequin romance and The Giggler Treatment.

Well, it’s quite late and I do believe you all know a few too many dark secrets about me that I generally don’t advertise. Since I suppose you won’t all share dark secrets of yours, maybe you could leave your favourite book in the the comments. I’m always looking to add to my wish list.

I’m honestly surprised you read this far. You must be as crazy as I am.

Your crazy bookworm,

Kenzie

**NOTE TO ALL PARENTS: read The Giggler Treatment with your children, or gift it to them if they’re older. All I can remember about that book is dog poop, a shoe, and laughing until I cried. I think I read it 50 times. I will gift you with a sample here.

My Favourite Day-Brighteners

My five favourite things in the world (not including people):

1. Birthday/ice cream cake … This is my problem with teenagers. After a certain age, no one wants cake for their birthday, they just want alcohol.  You’re wasting a perfect excuse for free cake, people!

2. Bear hugs … Studies show that regular huggage can decrease your chances of getting heart disease and increase your oxytocin levels. (Oxytocin is referred to as the “love hormone”: it increases bonding between friends and couples, maternal behaviours, fights stress, and much more.)  People who give and receive hugs regularly reportedly have lower blood pressure and decreased heart rates, are more sensitive to touch, and are generally in a better mood.  Sooo… hugs, please!

3. Holding soft, clean little babies … Well, I am female.  There’s something about little baby ears and noses and fingers and toeses that just make me happy.  And it’s even nicer when I’m not the one cleaning up the poop.

4. Discovering a word or phrase that sums up something I’ve been trying to say forever … I am currently reading The Art of Zen & Motorcycle Maintenance.  It’s a great book, well-written, interesting characters, and all that jazz.  But the best part about it is that every so often, the main character will share this really profound, in-depth thought about, say, how gravity cannot be any more real than ghosts. (Read it to find out why!) Also, I found the word physiognomy reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula and I was so excited … Yea, I’m a nerd, I know.

5. Buying new music … Definitely guaranteed to put me in the best of moods right away.  Just bought a few songs I’ve wanted forever.  I think I’ve mentioned a few of them before, but they’re all worth another mention.

Easy to Love – The Jezabels

Night – Sean Rowe

Plans – Birds of Tokyo