Friday, August 31, 2012

I Have A Book Problem

It will come as no surprise to those who know me well but for anyone who is reading this blog and has never had the privilege (yes, privilege I say) of making my acquaintance there is something you should know about me—I am a complete and total nerd when it comes to books. I love to read and always have. Ever since I can remember I have always had shelves full of books surrounding me. In fact, while most young children sleep with stuffed animals, I would actually sleep with my books when I was little (which, from the stories I am told about my childhood was probably one of my lesser oddities—thank goodness I am completely normal now--heh).

So before I could afford spending large amounts of money on books I used to love going to the library where my mom worked for a short time—browsing the shelves and always coming home with a stack full of books. I was so excited about the books I read that I wanted to share them with everyone and I even created a small library in room where my family and friends could “check out” books from my own personal collection. I was always getting free pizzas from the school BookIt program and one of my favorite shows was Reading Rainbow ("Take a look it's in a book of Reading Rainboooow...").

Perhaps one of the best childhood stories about my book-loving obsession that my mom likes to tell is how I totally (at least I think unknowingly) gave the figurative finger to some haters at the new school I started when we moved from Georgia to Pennsylvania in the first grade. See, the Pennsylvania educators didn’t believe my test scores were as good as they were since all southerners must be dumb hicks (which, okay, Honey Boo Boo Chile is not doing us any favors in dispelling that myth) so they gave me several of their own IQ tests. When they were finally satisfied that I wasn’t completely ignorant , I drove the I-told-you-so needle in even further by politely asking “now can you please show me to your library”?

Why tell these stories? Well I’m hoping that they will help you understand the confession I am about to make in that while (I admit) this problem I have is completely ridiculous it does have some historical bearing. It’s not pretty and I am not proud of it but I feel as if it is an omission I must make to control the madness.
Here goes.

I have a book buying problem. As of today I have about 80 books in my house that I have not read (but bought with the good intention of reading) and for whatever reason I keep buying more. I know what you’re thinking—I must be broke from buying books. Well no, not really. I buy most of my books when I am out thrifting at Goodwill so most of the time I get them for about a $1-$1.50 each which, you know, isn’t too bad in my opinion. A lot of the books I buy are classics that I feel I should be reading but there are also a lot of fiction books, some nonfiction books, and a few beach type reads that I think would be good guilty pleasures (in my crazy mind my unread books should have variety to accommodate whatever mood I might be feeling when I am never reading them).

I realize that there is a simple solution to this book obsession I have—stop buying books until I have read the ones I have--easy, right? Okay so I have tried that in the past and it lasted for maybe a couple months. The problem is that I am a slow reader and combined with work and everything else going on in my life I wasn’t making much progress. Then I would see a book at the thrift that I had remembered wanting to read and I would be like “it’s just one book, it’s no big deal.” Or “but it’s a classic—classics are different than just buying some trashy literature.” Thus the vicious cycle would begin again.

The whole problem really sucks –I like physical books and I like having them around me. There are worse things to be addicted to right? But in the sense of practicality and the fact that my current house does not have any extra room for a library (oh someday) I realize I have got to do something. I don’t really know what that something is but I am open to suggestions. One possible solution I have thought of is to publish my list of unread books on this blog so that you readers can give me the thumbs up/thumbs down on any that I either must read or ones where I shouldn’t waste my time. I purchased all the books on my list thinking they might be good so if there are any that you all out there have read that totally suck I would love to know. On the other hand, I would also love to get excited about any on the list so if there are some that are truly amazing must-read-right-away books, please do tell!

So, in all it’s glory I give you Ashley’s Unread Booklist (try not to be too judgey ok?):

Book Title Author
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie  Alan Bradley
The River King  Alice Hoffman
Made in America   Bill Bryson
Rocket Men   Craig Nelson
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius   Dave Eggers
Naked   David Sedaris
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle   David Wroblewski
The Age of Innocence   Edith Wharton
The House of Mirth  Edith Wharton
The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard   Erin McGraw
A Good Man Is Hard to Find   Flannery O’Connor
Love in the Time of Cholera   Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Middlesex   Geoffrey Eugenides
Waiting  Ha Jin
Atonement   Ian McEwan
The Grapes of Wrath   John Steinbeck
Freedom   Jonathan Franzen
The Postmistress   Sarah Blake
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies  Seth Grahame-Smith
Vanity Fair   William Thackeray
Their Eyes Were Watching God   Zora Neale Hurston
Innocent Traitor   Allison Weir
Saving Fish From Drowning   Amy Tan
The Pilot’s Wife  Anita Shrieve
Run   Ann Patchett
The Magician’s Assistant  Ann Patchett
The Shipping News   Annie Proulx
Nickel and Dimed   Barbara Ehrenreich
Animal Dreams   Barbara Kingsolver
The Stone Diaries   Carol Shields
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter   Carson McCullers
Lady Chatterly’s Lover   D.H. Lawrence
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress  Dai Sijie
Snow Falling on Cedars   David Guterson
Outlander   Diana Gabaldon
The Fiery Cross Diana Gabaldon
The Little Friend  Donna Tartt
Angela’s Ashes  Frank McCourt
When Everything Changed   Gail Collins
Madame Bovary   Gustave Flaubert
Collapse Jared Diamond
The Eyre Affair  Jasper Fforde
The Namesake  Jhumpa Lahiri
Strange But True  John Searles
A Civil Action   Jonathan Harr
The Kite Runner  Khaled Hosseini
The Inheritance of Loss  Kirin Desai
War and Peace  Leo Tolstoy
The Master Butcher’s Singing Club   Louise Erdrich
Tara Road  Maeve Binchy
The Blind Assassin  Margaret Atwood
Gone With the Wind   Margaret Mitchell
Stiff   Mary Roach
The Omnivore’s Dilemma  Michael Pollan
American Gods   Neil Gaiman
Ender’s Game   Orson Scott Card
The Cotton Queen  Pamela Morsi
The Good Earth   Pearl Buck
The Constant Princess   Phillipa Gregory
The Boleyn Inheritance  Phillipa Gregory
Watership Down  Richard Adams
A Reliable Wife   Robert Goolrick
The Satanic Verses  Salman Rushdie
Shalimar the Clown   Salman Rushdie
The Birth of Venus  Sarah Dunant
In the Company of the Courtesan   Sarah Dunant
Affinity  Sarah Waters
The Little Stranger   Sarah Waters
Fingersmith   Sarah Waters
Adam and Eve  Sena Jeter Naslund
Jane Slayre   Sherri Browning Erwin
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell   Susanna Clarke
The Bell Jar  Sylvia Plath
The Once and Future King   T.H. White
Sarah’s Key  Tatiana de Rosnay
The Things They Carried  Tim O’Brien
The Girl with the Pearl Earring   Tracy Chevalier
In Cold Blood   Truman Capote
Life of Pi   Yann Martel
White Teeth   Zadie Smith

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hello blog world! I realize I have been on a bit of a hiatus for the last 5 months and whether anyone really cared or not, I don't really know (crickets?) any rate I have decided to attempt to blog regularly again so woo-hoo and here we go...

The Top 10 Things That Have Happened in My Life While I Have Been Too Lazy To Blog:

1. My grandmother (on my dad's side) passed away at the end of April. Although my family was deeply saddened by the loss of such a wonderful lady we had the great opportunity to visit with her up until the very end and create some truly beautiful memories. We sang songs, looked at old photos, and made sure she knew how much she was loved. It was hard to let her go, but I know she is dancing with my grandfather somewhere and watching over us all.
My grandmother on her wedding day

Reading love letters we found that my grandfather had
written to my grandmother during WWII

2. My cousin Veronica graduated from the College of Charleston in May and Erik and I were able to visit with her, my aunt, my uncle, my other cousin, and my mom's parents. This was the first time Erik met my aunt, uncle, and cousin Carter, as well as meeting my my grandmother and grandfather. It was also his first time visiting the family beach house in Isle of Palms.

First time at IOP! Ahhhhhh...
3. My washer decided to breathe it's last breath in June and my kitchen sink sprouted a leak in the same weekend. Therefore, I spent a small chunk o' change to buy a new washer and new sink. 

4. A good family friend got married at the end of July here in Atlanta and my mom and dad came down from St. Louis so we could all go to the wedding. We had a great time (maybe a little too good of a time--Erik ended up passing out on the couch and sleeping with one eye open! Seriously, I have the video to prove it).\

5. Lulu turned 1 in May, but we have officially been her parents for 1 year as of July 31st.

First "Family" hiking trip
6. I finally bit the bullet and joined a new kickboxing gym in Atlanta. It is expensive, but has totally been kicking my butt. Definitely worth it.

7. Lots of babies being birthed! Erik's sister had her second baby, a son named Parker in April and my best friend Lauren had her second baby, a daughter named Charlotte on August 6th. Although they are both super cute I can't say I am anywhere close to wanting one of my own yet--I'm having quite enough fun being a doting aunt!
Erik and Little P
8. Erik almost died from an infection as a result of a chipped tooth. I am not exaggerating. OK, well maybe a little--but it was really, really, bad! After an ER visit, a couple shots, a serious round of antibiotics, AND  a root canal he is doing much better now. A lesson to all--do not neglect your teeth!!

9. Erik and I have been participating in a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) so we have been getting all kinds of farm-grown, organic veggies every Wednesday. While totally awesome, it has also been quite the challenge for me cooking-wise as I have had to be inventive with some of the more random vegetables.
A summer vegetable saute I made up with some CSA veggies!
10. My sweet nephew Regan turned 1 in July and is currently riding out his first hurricane in New Orleans (stay safe everyone!).
Regs! Always ready to party! : )
So that about gets you all caught up on the recent happenings in my life. Hopefully you will forgive me for being gone so long (those of you who noticed of course) and I promise to be a little better about keeping things updated!