Showing posts with label dan brown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dan brown. Show all posts

Thursday, April 11, 2013

How to graduate college without reading.

Fun reading, that is.

I recently read a pretty great blog post by Stormy over at Book.Blog.Bake (here!).  Stormy's in college, and she outlined what her reading life has been like since she started her college career.  Her post made me laugh a little because when I was in college...

...wait for it...

...I didn't HAVE a reading life.

I know!  THE HORROR.  I feel guilty even admitting it to myself.  But alas, it is true.  College is the one time in my literate life when I had a near-cessation of all pleasure reading.

From my conversations with others, I've found that I am not alone in this.  A lot of people lose their pleasure-reading mojo in those four (or five, or seven...) years on the way to a university degree.  On the flip side, other students go on total reading binges in college.  I actually read several very active book blogs run by current college students, and I have to admire them for it.

Reason #1 why I wasn't reading in college: I was busy dancing like an idiot in dorm rooms.
Other faces blurred to protect the innocent.  You know who you are.
But why did my reading life shrink to nothingness in college?  Here are the main reasons I can pinpoint.

1. Too much OTHER reading to do.
Freshman year, I was a pathobiology major (nerd alert!) and spent all my time trying to figure out what a derivative was and not blowing things up in chem lab.  Sophomore year I switched to family studies, and for the rest of my collegiate life, I was left with the hell that all social science majors are familiar with: NEVER-ENDING TEXTBOOK READING.  No time for novels, that was for sure.

2. Too much socializing to do.
What can I say?  I lived on campus all four years, and there was always a party, concert, or midnight pizza run to attend to.  And even when I wasn't out and about, I was on AIM in my dorm room IM'ing everyone I knew and coming up with witty, pithy away messages.  Those were the days, AMIRIGHT?

AIM away messages: practice for future Facebook statuses
3. Too much work.
I worked 3 jobs simultaneously while I was in college, in addition to taking a full courseload.  I was fairly well booked all the live-long day.

4. Too tired.
With all the aforementioned stuff going on, I rarely went to bed before 2am and rarely woke up after 7am (on weekdays, anyway).  When I DID have downtime, the last thing I had energy for was a book.  Instead, marathons of West Wing (BARTLET FOR PRESIDENT!) and episodes of Late Night with Conan O'Brien were pretty much the only activities that could hold my attention for more than 30 seconds.

My senior year college dorm room.  NARY A BOOK IN SIGHT.  West Wing DVDs, 35mm film, and an overabundance of fluorescent colors are there to date me though.
THANKFULLY, during the last semester of my senior year, I reconnected with my love of literature.  I had a serious case of senioritis, and spent a lot of my free time getting back into the world of Reading For Pleasure.  What were some of the books that knocked me out of my funk?

Angels and Demons, and The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

One of my friends let me borrow these, and I remember sitting at one of my jobs, DEVOURING them.  Nothing like a quick and dirty mystery to get you back in the groove.

Jemima J by Jane Green

I randomly picked this up at the bookstore and read it during my solo spring break vacation to Los Angeles (another story for another day).  This started my love affair with Jane Green, and was probably the beginning of my women's fiction addiction.

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

My then-boyfriend-now-husband let me borrow this right before I graduated, and I was fascinated.  I quickly jumped into Krakauer's other available books afterwards.  And we all know about my adoration of JK.

So, collegiate readers, I salute you.  College is not an easy time to get lots of fun-reading done.  For those of you that do, keep on truckin'!  And for those that have lost their reading mojo, please have faith that your break is temporary, and the library will be waiting for you after graduation.

Now go down that Jager shot your roommate just poured for you, and don't give it a second thought.
Graduation day.  That face says, "Thanks for the memories, now where's my library card?"

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Where do your books take you?

Any parent will tell you that life pre-kids is very different than life post-kids.  "Different" doesn't mean better or worse--just different!  You have to give some parts of your carefree lifestyle up, but you get an awesome bundle of awesome in their place.  WIN.

One of the things that the husband and I gave up after Small Fry's arrival was our frequent travel.  We traveled a LOT in the 6 years of our relationship before the little dude was born.  We still travel now, but child-related travel (wholesome family fun in the Outer Banks) is way different than pre-child travel (let's go to Vegas and see how quickly I can double-fist margaritas).
Not really kidding about those margaritas.
Anyway, now that we travel less in person, I find myself wanting to travel more in the literary sense.  I love reading books that either take me back to the beautiful places we've been, or transport me to new destinations that I haven't yet had the chance to explore.  I guess that's part of why I'm so into Giraffe Day's Around The World in 12 Books challenge this year.

With that in mind, here are a few books that have helped me travel to both once-visited and new-to-me destinations:


The Borgia Bride and I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis
The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown
Juliet by Anne Fortier

Italian cities are some of my favorites to visit in novels.  I've been to Florence, Rome, and Naples, and these particular books cover those cities very well.  The authors get VERY detailed about places, people, and atmosphere, and it really transports you right along with the characters.  Plus, how fun to go to Italy and try to retrace Langdon's steps?

The Netherlands

A Heart of Stone by Renate Dorrestein

I already talked your ear off about Park's novel and how beautifully he portrays Amsterdam, but Dorrestein is a Dutch author who sets most of her books in that country as well.  A Heart of Stone is not a lighthearted read by any measure, but I enjoyed that it was set in the Netherlands and told from a native's perspective.

Coastal North Carolina

Basically all Nicholas Sparks books ever

I read a lot of Sparks novels before we visited the OBX last summer, and once we got there, I realized why he likes to use the beaches of North Carolina in his books.  They're beautiful, peaceful, and relaxed...very conducive to romance.  I am not the biggest Sparks fan in general, but I do love his settings.

Nantucket, Massachusetts

Basically all Elin Hilderbrand books ever

I've never been to Nantucket, but Hilderbrand's romances are usually set there, and they make me desperate for a beach vacation.

The UK/Ireland

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I have never been to the UK or Ireland, but I am DYING TO GO.  (I know I have some UK readers, who wants to put up this ginger for a week or two?)  There are so many good books that highlight the flavor of these countries--this list is but a few.  You can also read pretty much any Sophie Kinsella or Jane Green novel to get a London fix.


Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

This book highlights some of the more devastating parts of Hawaii's past, but the islands themselves are painted so gorgeously by Brennert.  I want to go to there.


The Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson

Nothing could ever make me more interested in Stockholm as a vacation destination than The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series.  I was researching flights by the end of the trilogy.  Larsson wins for making it sound awesome to eat open-faced sandwiches in the cold.


A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

None of these books illustrate Africa in the most positive of lights, but as a lover of travel, they leave me feeling intrigued about what a trip to the continent might be like.

Mount Everest

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

Krakauer does not make climbing Everest sound fun.  At all.  (See: parts of book where 8 people die trying to climb it.)  But I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me wonder what it would be like to scale the darn thing.  Maybe just to base camp?


Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (or any classic Russian lit, really)
Stalin's Children by Owen Matthews

I know this is a tad crazy, because neither of these books make Russia seem like the most inviting place in the world.  Plus, Russia is actually not a very safe place for American travel these days, but books set in that country make me insanely interested in checking it out.  Maybe one day.

Around the Globe!

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
A Cook's Tour by Anthony Bourdain
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Can't argue with a novel that basically takes you around the globe!  And two of these are nonfiction books, making the travel experiences even more vivid for the reader.  (Bonus: Bourdain's book will make you want to Eat All The Things.)

There are also a few favorite destinations that I haven't read books for yet.  Have you read any books set in these locations?  I'm dying to find some!:

Spain (specifically Barcelona)
Greece (either Athens or the islands, Mykonos and such)

Do you like to "travel" when you read?  What are some of your favorite literary settings?

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