"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."
--Martin Luther

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookworms from Literatures (How Meta)

Gah, I'm late posting this week! I got caught up with two assignments, but I really liked this topic, so better late than never. This week's post at The Broke and the Bookish is about characters who are book nerds. I love me some book nerds. Here are some favourites from the books that I've read:

1. Hermione Granger from Harry Potter: This has to be a given, right?

2. Francie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: I love how she just went to the library every day to educate herself. Libraries change lives, y'all.

3. Matilda Wormwood from Matilda: Another point for libraries! Who doesn't love how little Matilda went to the library and ended up with Great Expectations.

4. Marie-Laure from All The Light We Cannot See: I love how this character was so limited in what she could read (because she was blind and braille books are expensive), but yet was such a voracious reader of the books she had.

5. Cath from Fangirl (gee, I feel like I include this book every other week!): She read Simon Snow books and she wrote a Simon Snow book.

6.  Jo March from Little Women: Jo loved books and plays and writing. She's kind of my hero.

7. Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables: Okay, she got a little wordy, but she was definitely a lover of literature. Remember her adventures reenacting the Lady of Shallot?

8. Diana Bishop from A Discovery of Witches (and sequels): This woman practically lived in the library.

I realized almost all the way through the list that it was almost entirely females, so here are some male bookworms:

9. Hanta from Too Loud a Solitude: I read this ages and ages ago, and would love to revisit it. It's a short novella about a man who works compacting paper and books, but as much as he can, rescues the books and reads them himself.

10. Konstantin Levin from Anna Karenina: I don't actually remember what he read, but I remember him as a man of books and learning.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Books To Come My Way

Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic (as always, over at The Broke and the Bookish) is the most recent ten books that have come into our possession. It could be purchases or library books. The majority of my reading comes from the library or via OverDrive, but I'm doing a course on graphic novels in which we are encouraged to do a lot of reading on the side, so I have purchased several of those in the recent past. This week was a little difficult because I had to retrace my readings based on Good Reads and try to remember when I purchased certain books or picked them up at the library. There was one book that I read recently, but I remembered that I actually signed it out in early June but renewed it a couple of times before committing.

1. Saga, Volume 4 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples (library): I'm kind of addicted to this series, something I *never* thought I would say about comics. I'm growing! Too bad volume 5 won't be out until September.

2. Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis (e-book purchase): I bought this after I saw it advertise on a list of e-book details. I have a bad habit of purchasing e-books and letting them sit on my Kindle for ages though...

3. The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge (school library): One of the books on my summer to-read list.

4. Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge (library): We just did a presentation at school on Gulledge's second graphic novel (see below), so I took this out for comparison.

5. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (purchase): I initially borrowed this book from the library, but when I heard that a new version was out with an excerpt from her forthcoming book, I had to had it because I'm a total... wait for it... fangirl. :)

6. Russian Winter by Daphne Kolotay (OverDrive): Another entry on my summer TBR list, one which I ended up loving.

7. Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge (e-book purchase): This was for a school project, and unfortunately my local library does not carry it. I'm glad I bought it, though, as it's a great book.

8. Runaways: The Complete Collection, Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan (purchase): A guy at the book store recommended I check this out for my graphic novels course. I haven't started it yet though.

9. The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett (library): I read this for a summer reading challenge that I'm doing. I had to choose a book that was a bestseller in my birth year (1980), which was hard because I'd already read two on the list and some of the others were not to my taste. I can't say that I particularly liked The Key to Rebecca, unfortunately.

10. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer (OverDrive): An impulse download that I quite enjoyed.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Hyped Books I've Never Read

This week's topic at The Broke and the Bookish is "Top Ten Hyped Books We've Never Read". It's hard for me to do this category because I'm not a hype kind of person. I tend to read a lot of classics and older books rather than jumping on too many bandwagons; still, there are books that are hard to avoid if you follow the blogging community, so here are some books that would fall into this category:

Books with General Hype:
1. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert: I generally dislike the whole genre of "I did this thing and found some kind of enlightenment and let me write a book about it." I didn't particularly like Wild (I know, I know), and I have the feeling I won't like Eat Pray Love. If I do end up reading it one day, I'll just focus on the eating part. ;)

2. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg: Yeah, I know I should thinking about developing in my career and all that, but I like to read books that bear little resemblance to actual life.

3. Bossypants by Tina Fey: Everyone seems to like this book, and I probably would too, but I tend to only read biographies of dead people.

4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: I hear about this all the time, especially now with the television show, but it's a huge time commitment. Maybe one day....

5. A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin: See above.

6. Captivating by Stasi Eldridge: I really wanted to like this book because it was soooooo hyped in the Christian community for a while and most of my friends were raving about it. I have never managed to get past the first chapter. I remember having a great bonding moment with a friend when we realized that neither of us could get through Captivating.

Books With Blogging Hype:
7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: It's on my list, I swear!

8. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: So many bloggers seem to think this book is the bees knees. It doesn't seem to be my kind of thing, but I won't rule out reading it one of these days.

9. The Selection by Keira Cass: I hear about this book all the time and it seems you either love it or hate it.

10. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: I've been hearing a lot about this book lately and I'm not sure if I'd like it. Anyone want to convince me? ;)

What about you, readers? What hyped books have you never read?

Friday, 3 July 2015

Not Today

In mid-July of 2013, Gill and I started our journey to become parents. Without going into too much unnecessary detail, today it became clear that two years have gone by without a pregnancy. I have a myriad of thoughts about this depressing anniversary, which I'll be sharing later on when I've processed things a little more, but today, I am sad. Today, I am grieving. Today, I will let myself feel the heartache that is overwhelming, in hopes that tomorrow I can find that sliver of hope to keep going. If you happen to know me in 'real life', I could use a hug.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Reads From 2015 (So Far)

This week's topic at The Broke and the Bookish is the best books read so far this year. Here is my list:

1. Maus by Art Spiegelman: I mostly read this because I'm taking a course on graphic novels, but I loved it. There are so many layers here in Spiegelman's account of his father's experience of WWII and the Holocaust.

2. He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope: To be honest, I didn't know if I would like this book about a man's excessive jealousy. I think if it were only about jealous Louis Trevelyan, I would have gotten tired of the book, but the sub-plots and cast of characters kept me engaged.

3. Breaking the Tongue by Vyvyane Loh: A novel about World War II in Singapore.

4. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden: I've been putting this on a lot of lists lately because it's just so good. It takes a new look on Canada's History and despite the violence, I loved this novel.

5. Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden: Yeah, he's a new favourite of mine. This novel deals with two young Cree men and their experience as snipers in World War One.

6. Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov: As a Russophile, I really should have read this ages ago, but I finally picked it up this year and loved it. Poor, lazy Oblomov!

7. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel: Despite it's length, I plowed through this book quickly as I just couldn't put it down. I can't wait to read Bring Up the Bodies.

8. Villette by Charlotte Brontë: A young teacher moves to France to teach in a girls' school. I really enjoyed reading about her experiences and emotions.

9. Us Conductors by Sean Michaels: Bonus points for the fact that shortly after I read this book, he came and spoke at a library near me so I got my book signed!

10. Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay: There are so many things going on in this story: Intrigue, distrust, jealousy, love. I really enjoyed it.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer TBR List

Is it almost summer already? It feels like spring has gone by so quickly! This week at The Broke and the Bookish, we're blogging about the books we plan to read this summer, so here goes:

1. Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas: This book has been on the list for a looooong time, so I am stoked to finally read it.

2. Petersburg by Andrei Bely: To continue on the Russian theme that I've had going this past year. This book is high on the list as I've been nostalgic for my days in St. Petersburg lately.

3. Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay: See above. I'm always on the lookout for contemporary books that cover Russian well.

4. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley: Last year I read The Once and Future King, so it seems time for another version of the Arthurian legends. I bought this book last fall at a used book sale, so I'm looking forward to having a chance to read it.

5. Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie: To finish off the trilogy of biographies of Romanov tsars.

6. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks: Just because it looks interesting and it's on a few of those lists of books you should read before you die.

7. The Case of Comrade Tulayev by Victor Serge: I read about this book in Martin Sixsmith's history of Russia and it seemed right up my alley, as I'm somewhat fascinated by the Stalinist purges of the 1930s.

8. American Gods by Neil Gaiman: I keep hearing about he's amazing. I've read one of his books, but this is supposed to be a magnum opus, so I hope to enjoy it.

9. The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness: I've been slowly making my way through her trilogy, and plan to enjoy this book in mid-August when my summer courses are done.

10. The Jefferson Rule: How the Founding Fathers Became Infallible and Our Politics Inflexible by David Sehat: A friend in an online political events group mentioned this book, and a few of us thought it would be interesting to read over the summer and check back to discuss.

It was hard to narrow down this time, you guys! I think it's because I got a tablet and the Overdrive app, so now I want to read allllll the books I can find. Happy reading!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Advocating for the Infertile: Are Infertile People "Oversensitive"?

I've noticed something lately. I'm not sure if it's isolated, or a trend, or what. On the one hand, I've noticed people trying to be honest and speak up about infertility, miscarriage, and child loss. On the other hand, I've noticed some of these postings and honest confessions meet a host of negativity, criticism, and accusations of "oversensitivity". "You're just sensitive" is something thrown around a lot, often in ways that simply leave a bad taste in one's mouth, and frankly, it seems to be used on the Internet a lot as a way to say, "I see your opinion, but I'm going to ignore it and keep doing this anyway."

I've definitely seen this attitude as a response to infertility. From posts noting that fake pregnancy announcements can be hurtful to addressing the church's handling of Mother's Day, for every two people that find these helpful, there seems to be at least one nay-sayer. Paraphrased comments seem to say lots of the following:
  • The world does not revolve around you.
  • You should stop being jealous and celebrate those around you.
  • Should we stop posting about birthdays because it isn't someone else's birthday.*
  • You should get off social media / not go to church if it hurts.

So, am I just oversensitive, and should I just 'get over it'? Well, the answer is YES, I'm sensitive. I don't like the term "oversensitive", as it implies that there is some kind of a scale that determines who is allowed to be upset by events, and to what degree, but I will admit to being sensitive. Sorry guys, but I am. In fact, we all are. When we go through a crisis, it affects the way we view our lives and others. Prolonged infertility is a personal crisis and a constant grieving process. There is not a moment of the day when my infertility and longing to become a mother are not somewhere in the back of my consciousness. It's ridiculous to ask me to put those feelings in a box and not be affected by them, just as it's ridiculous to ask that a person undergoing a health crisis should just "forget about it" for a while. So how should I deal with this, and how should my loved ones and my church?

Those going through infertility need to recognize their sensitivity... and be okay with it: Accepting that it's okay to be sad has been very difficult for me. It's so easy to feel guilty about it, because shouldn't I be glad about my loving husband, my wonderful house, my collection of quirky but loveable family members and friends? It's taken a long time to be understand that I can be happy about those things, but at the same time profoundly sad for something that is devastating to me. That said, it is my responsibility to manage my sensitivity. That may mean that I avoid occasions where I know I can't keep it together. It may mean doing what I can to deal with my emotions, whether that is therapy or exercise or binge-watching crappy television. I need to be the first person to take care of myself, and I also need to understand that people WILL say things that hurt, often unknowingly, and to learn how to deal with it without punching them in the face.

No, really. Try not to slap people. (Source: Here)

Those with friends who are / may be going through infertility need to recognize their friends' sensitivity... and deal with it: Why? Because that's what friends do. We've ALL got stuff we're sensitive about. It may be our parents, our bodies, our health, our food issues, our weird phobias, etc. You may think these are legitimate concerns, or you may think they're ridiculous, but if you want to be friends with that person, you accept that s/he has flaws, sensitivities, and quirks, and you decide to deal with it. Some of these sensitivities may be temporary, like a job loss, and some may be lifelong struggles. You can choose to drop your friends because they don't make enough money to have the same lifestyle as you, or you can choose to go to a restaurant where the prices are lower. (Yes, shameless Friends reference.) You can choose to have vegetarian dishes available when your non-meat eating friends come for dinner, because even if *you* have no interest in giving up meat, you value these friends enough to cater to their decisions. Likewise, you can choose to say your infertile friend can suck it up if she doesn't like your "hilarious" April fool's day prank,** or you can handle pregnancy and children with sensitivity (note that I say sensitivity, not that you stop talking about it at all). This applies in person and on social media. Like it or not, we have people on our friends list going through a myriad of personal issues, some of which we know about, and others we do not. We don't have to censor ourselves constantly, but it behooves us all to stop and think about what we post from time to time. I myself frequently think of something that sounds hilarious at the moment, only to realize a few minutes later that it's actually mean-spirited or bratty or just plain not that funny.

More than anything, I think we need to give grace to the "sensitive". You know what they say about walking a mile in someone's shoes. Who's to say that it won't be you next who has a deep personal issue that causes you to well up with tears or want to hide from the world? If we walk around with the attitude that anyone who doesn't like what we say can just suck it up, we may end up with a lot of pride, but not a lot of friends.

ETA: I'm linking this post up with Amateur Nester's Tuesday link-up. Check out her post and some other great blogs as well.

*I think this is a pretty ridiculous argument. First of all, we ALL have birthdays, whereas we are not all able to become parents. It might be John's birthday today and not mine, but at some point it will be my birthday and not John's. Also, I've never known a church to ask all people with a birthday to stand and be celebrated. It will be Mother's Day once a year, but I've yet to see Hallmark have a "Let's celebrate and love women (and men) who contribute yet are not parents" day...

**Does anyone actually think fake pregnancy announcements are hilarious? Even before infertility, I found them pretty lame. What's fun about getting people excited, and then telling them you're lying?