Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I've been very good when it comes to buying books. I do not remember the last time I splurged on books or did a huge haul. I usually get my copies from the library through my Kindle, or buy used copies from the used bookstore which usually cost less than $6. However, I am a bibliophile and a book hoarder no matter what I do, and when I saw this edition, I was just like, "TAKE MY MONEY!"

See them here
But you know what's even crazier than these elegant little black books? PINK BOOKS.

I saw them on here

Aren't they so simple, beautiful, and understated?? Sigh. The temptation is real. What are some of the recent editions you just absolutely want to have? Let me know so I can feel better about myself and my need for these beauties. 

Book Guilt Part Deux

Monday, April 13, 2015

Last year, I put up a post on books I probably should have read already but haven't. I've since fixed that and read three out of that list - The Picture of Dorian Gray, Into the Wild, and Lolita. I am happy I did so, because I liked all three, especially The Picture of Dorian Gray. Today, I figured I would go ahead and list down a few of the books I'm guilty I haven't read yet, even though I've always wanted to. Here's to hoping I tackle on them this year.

  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
Now there's a ton more books that I haven't read like Moby Dick for example, but I honestly don't feel like reading it in general, so I'm not including it on the list. These titles are here because I've always wanted to read them. I just haven't yet.

What are some of the books you are ashamed you have never read? 

If I had a superpower, it'd be to read all the books at once.

Friday, April 10, 2015

So many books, so little time. This is such a usual thing for readers to say. We have piles of books stacked, unread, and we could only wish we could pick all of them up at the same time and read them all. Sadly that may be an impossible feat.

I am halfway through In the Garden of the Beasts by Erik Larson, which is highly engaging, and I had no plans of stopping, but then my public library emails me. The said email let me know that Americanah, a book I have been wanting to read for a while, is finally available for me to download on my Kindle. I get serious anxiety when that happens, because I almost want to yell, "No! I'm not ready yet. I'm still working on one book!"

Because I felt torn, I went on twitter and said this.

Then, surprise surprise. Erik Larson himself tweeted back. 

I ended up choosing to finish In the Garden of the Beasts, because how could I say no after this awesome response? So how do you decide which one to read first, which one to read next? Have you ever been in my position wherein you get anxious over choosing which one to pick up? And have you had any memorable interactions with authors through social media? I'd love to know.

the weekend that was.

Monday, April 6, 2015

I had a pretty good weekend. Not only was the #bluebooks campaign for World Autism Awareness day/month a huge success, I also had complete days off, which was perfect as it gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted, and also have the choice do nothing at all.

On Saturday, I spent the afternoon taking a walk with my dog. It was 65 degrees and the sun was out, a perfect spring day in my opinion. We eventually sat on the grass at a nearby park and there, I enjoyed an iced coffee and a new book. I'm starting this historical mystery, The Man from Berlin by Luke McCallin, which surrounds a murder of a German officer and is told from the point of view of a military intelligence officer who's assigned to the case. 
On Easter sunday, it proved that the Bay Area has such unpredictable weather. I woke up in the morning and it was raining. I love listening to the rain, so it was a perfect way to start the day. I also was able to have the "luxury" of breakfast - something I never get to have on a daily basis. I made sunny side up eggs, toast with peanut butter and bananas, pieces of cantaloupe, two biscuit cookies, and of course, coffee. It was quiet in the house and it was probably one of the most peaceful mornings I've had in a while. 

How was your weekend? Did you get some reading done at all? I hope you did, and that your easter sunday was just as relaxing as mine.

#BlueBooks for World Autism Awareness

Friday, April 3, 2015

April 2nd was World Autism Awareness Day and as a teacher for some children with autism, I wanted to recognize the day. I also find it important to spread the word about it. Since I'm neither rich nor famous, I decided to go about that through something I know most about: books.

I went ahead and asked as many book lovers as possible online to spread awareness by taking photos of their books with blue covers. Then, I asked them to post them up on Instagram and use the hashtags: #WorldAutismAwarenessDay and #bluebooks. 

I only started messaging people the night before, and could not have imagined that it was going to be so successful. I received an overwhelming response and over 400 participated. The hashtag #bluebooks is insane, and its participants are still increasing by the minute, because that is the power of social media after all.

just some from the hundreds of participants yesterday for #bluebooks
In the grand scheme of things, posting about books is such a small gesture. Doing this alone can not make a difference. However, I believe it is an effort to get people to pay attention. To listen. By seeing that sea of blue, they will wonder about it first. Then, they will ask questions. This effort easily spreads awareness, encourage conversations, and push people to start educating themselves more. These things will shed a much-needed clearer light on the disorder that is heavily misunderstood. My hope is that someday, we will all  be more educated about it and compassionate, and that the misconceptions about people with autism are erased. 

Having said that, I had the most inspiring day. I have been told so many stories related to autism yesterday from people who have it, or who know family members/friends/colleagues who have it. There were also a few who asked for more information as they weren't as aware of it. It was eye-opening.

Because it is Autism Awareness month, I would love #bluebooks to keep going. If you have instagram at all, please join us as it's not too late to post your photos. Tag me @jillmray so I can easily find you and follow me because giveaways will be hosted later on. 

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Rating: 4 stars
In this non-fiction book, the author, Erik Larson, takes us back to 1893 during the Chicago World's Fair, the very first fair in the country. This fair was where the very first Ferris Wheel was built as well as other carnival-related activities that we still have today. In this book, the author focuses on two people - a man who was the architect behind the fair and then H.H. Holmes, who is infamously known as the serial killer who used the popularity of the fair to lure people into his hotel to kill them. 

All I can say is this author sure has some talent! This book about this specific time in American history was so incredibly well-researched and well-written, but not only that. He was able to tell it in a way that is engrossing and absorbing. I could not stop reading! It was dark, grim, and reads like a history book, but even non-history buffs will appreciate his style as he tells it as if it is a fictional narrative. If only every non-fiction out there is like this, I think more people would read from the broad genre.

I do have to say one thing: I was most definitely more fascinated by the Holmes side of the story. While I cared and liked knowing more about the process of setting up the fair, I think the architect's part in the story dragged on too much. There were too many details, but I think that this is another thing fans of the book loved about this, so to each his own.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time reading this book. It was informational and entertaining at the same time. It was excellently written and was so fascinating that after reading this, I went on to watch documentaries and read more articles based on this historical time. It's an interesting look into such a popular (and yet surprisingly not as talked about) part of American history, and to look at two completely different human beings. I highly recommend reading this book if you like non fiction, if you're interested in history, or just want something different than your usual picks.

(sort of unrelated, but if you watch American Horror Story, don't you think this Holmes' storyline could be a good story for season 5?? They said it was going to be focused on a hotel, and the only clue they gave the viewers was a top hat... which Holmes wore all the time. Just a thought!)

A Day in the Life

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Today I am participating in the 'A Day in the Life' event hosted by Trish from Love, Laughter, and a touch of Insanity. I am a few days late, but I've enjoyed many of the posts that I couldn't help but join in! I figured I would do this 'day in the life' on a Monday, because well, that's how a usual weekday goes for me. It changes every now and then, but for the most part this is it. I make up for it on the weekends (by sleeping in, reading a lot, staying in pajamas all day long, and sometimes going out with friends)

I am up at 6:45am. My first thought is always, "I WANT TO GO BACK TO BED." Then, it's me looking for coffee. It takes me half an hour to get ready, and half an hour to drive to (my first) work for the day.

My first shift starts at 7:45 AM. I work at a well-known big department/general/grocery store as a Human Resources staff. I am pretty much in front of my computer all day or doing paperwork, unless there's interviews scheduled and new hires.

That particular work is only until 1pm, so when I'm done, I drive to my second job - only 5-10 minutes away. Since my second work is so close, I tend to eat something quick for lunch while waiting for my shift to start. I also take this time to go on Twitter, Instagram, and all that. I am honestly always on my phone! As you can see, it's a bright sunny day here in Northern California. 67 degrees. Not too hot, not cold. I do miss the rain though.

1:30PM - I start my shift. I work as an English teacher at a private center. I teach from Gr.1-7. 
Today, I had two students. Each student gets an hour each. Sometimes we go over.  
By 3:30pm, my coworker and I decide to go for a quick Starbucks run. I ordered a non fat latte. She ordered the limited edition Birthday Frappucino - it looks awesome, doesn't it??

When we come back, I start a group class that consists of 12 students. The class ends at 6;00. Afterwards, I continue working for 30 more minutes by myself, mostly organizing papers and doing a bit of lesson planning. Everyday is a different schedule and set of new students. I'd say Wednesdays are my longest days because I have more students that day.

 I'm finally done for the day, and when I walk out, it's close to sunset. 

I come home and relax for a bit. Dinner is served at 7:30.

We eat while watching The Voice. After eating, while continuing to watch the show, our dog Kobe likes to think of it as his play time. I just throw a tennis ball in the room and he plays fetch. Pretty low maintenance dog.
 If it's not Monday or Tuesday, I don't really watch T.V. because I mostly watch shows online. Sometimes, I use that time to work out. I like working out at home using the Insanity DVDs. Not today though.

When that's done, it's already 10. I go online and start responding to comments and visiting other people's blogs. I also try to write up a post or two around this time. While doing that, I am also on Skype with my boyfriend since we've been in a long distance relationship for a few years now and that is definitely a daily thing. We don't necessarily talk ALL the time, especially because we are busy doing our own things, but it is nice to be online with each other's company. He is usually editing photos. Check out his photos here. When we are both free, we usually talk, watch Netflix together, play video games, brainstorm creative ideas, and/or just be online.

 By 11, I am about to get ready for bed. I almost always drink tea, light a candle, and get in comfy clothes. Then, I start reading. I love reading in bed and it's the perfect way to end the night.

I tend to sleep around 1am, which I know is terrible!! But I am such a night owl, and can't sleep earlier than that even though I have to wake up at 7am the next day. Oh well. Reading is worth it in my opinion!

letting go of books and regretting it.

Monday, March 30, 2015

The other day, I decided to sell some of my books. I didn't have any room left on my five shelf bookshelf, and I figured some of the titles were those that I would never pick up again. Also, I figured that these books were better off read and appreciated by others. Letting go of these books was fairly easy, almost refreshing. Then I get to certain books that I had to think twice about. Sure, I probably would never re-read them again, but I could not muster up the courage to think about giving them away. So they stayed. 

When I got to the bookshop where I sold some of the books, I freely gave the seller the bags I had kept them in. I walked away to browse while the bookseller did her thing. When she called me back to the counter to give me the price for the stack, that's when I saw it. On the stack of books I was willing to let go was a book that I did NOT want to sell at all. I must have accidentally dropped it in there without thinking. Since I didn't want to risk looking and sounding like a crazy book-woman, I kept quiet. I got the money, and I left the bookshop feeling a little sick.

Walking to my car, I kept telling myself it's not really a big deal. I could just buy it again someday if I really wanted to. I kept repeating in my head, "They're just books. They're material objects. They should not have such a strong hold on me. Right??" However, even when I kept telling these things to myself, I still felt bad. To me, it was reminiscent of an unwanted breakup. Letting go of books was like letting go of something that's been part of my life. And maybe I was overreacting in this situation. Maybe you understand where I'm coming from. Maybe not. All I know is, it was a pretty odd and memorable experience to feel so strongly about it.