52. Nick Offerman – Paddle Your Own Canoe

Whoa, sorry I haven’t posted in a while! It’s partly because my last book took me forever to get through, and also partly because I’m just lazy.

I read this last book partly over my Thanksgiving break (which was nice, it was sooo good to be home!) and then finished it last weekend. IMG_7680

The book was Paddle Your Own Canoe, a *sort-of* memoir by Nick Offerman, aka Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec.

I loved Parks and Rec, and if you’ve been with me for a while you know that I love reading memoirs by comedians.

However, I was disappointed with this book. It was just boring to me. Sure, there were some funny parts, but for me they were few and far between.

I was expecting more humor, but it kind of felt like it was full of too-big words.

He spent a lot of time telling the story of how he grew up to be a comedian (understandably), but those parts got pretty boring for me. I liked when he talked about his more recent years with his wife, but that was only a part of the book.

I think a lot of people think that Ron Swanson and Nick Offerman are one in the same, but of course they are not. They may have some similarities, but if you’re thinking of reading this book just because you love Ron Swanson, I would not recommend it.

I’m sure there are people who enjoy this book, but it just dragged on for me. I was mostly reading it just to get it over with, because I’m almost never a book quitter (there was one book I started reading this summer that was so bad I never finished it).

Anyway, I just don’t really have anything to say about this book. I had high hopes for it to at least entertain me but it barely even did that most of the time, sadly.

 

16. Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale – Graduates in Wonderland

Finally, I’m home for spring break! I had a four hour train ride on Friday, during which I read a good chunk of my latest book. This is my fifteenth book that I’ve finished this year!

Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale - Graduates in Wonderland (photo taken by me)
Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale – Graduates in Wonderland (photo taken by me)

The book is Graduates in Wonderland – The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults, written by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale. The book is made up of a bunch of emails that the two friends sent each other after their lives went in different directions following their graduation from Brown University.

I really liked this book. I really like the set up of it, with all the emails being around two pages or less, there were plenty of natural places for me to stop when I had to put the book down, which I always like. The two characters (the authors) are really likable and funny – I found myself laughing out loud quite a bit at this book.

Since the emails are exchanged between two best friends, you get to hear each person’s life story the way they tell it to someone they love, which gives the book a personal feel. I began to feel like I knew the characters and was genuinely happy for them when something good happened or sad at their misfortunes.

At the start of the book, one of the girls is living in New York while the other is in Beijing, and throughout the book they write to each other from other places in the US as well as France, England, and Australia.

The book has a really happy ending and it definitely left me wanting to know what happened next – as if they were actually my friends. One thing that I especially liked was the epilogue, where they listed what all the main characters throughout the book are doing today – kind of like an ending of a movie.

Even though there are some sad parts, this is overall a really happy book. While their tales are not very relatable to me, someone who has never left the country, their stories are because this book reflects how life happens.

I came across this book randomly online one day, and I’m so glad I did. This is a great read and I would recommend it to any college-aged or postgrad reader.

15. Janet Mock – Redefining Realness

Guys…. I can see it… the light at the end of the tunnel…. Spring Break is almost here!

I’ve had two midterms and two papers due this past week, but basically all I have to do tomorrow is hand one of those papers in and sit through a few classes and then I get a week off! I have to take the train home on Friday which means plenty of time to read! Yay!

Somehow, along with studying, researching, doing interviews and writing those papers, I managed to read a book this week! It was Redefining Realness by Janet Mock, a transgender woman of color who used to work for People magazine. This book is her story of her life.

Redefining Realness was one of the books I got for Christmas from my sister. I had wanted to read it, but truthfully, I didn’t know too much about her story, I just saw the book once and thought it looked interesting (if you’ve been following along, you’re probably noticing a theme here…).

Janet Mock - Redefining Realness (photo taken by me)
Janet Mock – Redefining Realness (photo taken by me)

The book starts out with a scene from 2009, when she first met her current boyfriend, Aaron. I really, really liked that scene and wish she had included more about her recent life in the book.

Anyway, after that scene, it flashes back to her childhood in Hawaii. The book follows her through most of her young life, including moving to the main land to live with her father and one of her brothers, moving back to Hawaii, being the first in her family to attend college, and eventually getting gender reassignment surgery in Thailand (although she point out that this surgery was not the “end goal”).

Her story has a lot more to it then just “growing up trans”. Besides the adversity she faced in that aspect, she also had a dad who was addicted to crack, a mom who was more concerned with her current boyfriend than her children, and was nearly homeless for a while.

Her story is really amazing. There were so many pieces of her story that totally surprised me. It really is a great read.

One thing that I loved most about the story were her pop culture references. I know that sounds like something so trivial, but it made me laugh when she compared a mascara-stained tear running down her face to that of Lauren Conrad’s on The Hills and comparisons like that made the book all the more relatable for me (although I really can’t relate to her story in any way).

As I mentioned before, I loved the beginning when she described her first meeting with her boyfriend. I’m not sure what about it I loved so much, but it stuck with me. It kind of teased me a bit, and after that when she talked about her childhood in detail, it made me wish she had more stories of her adult life in the book. That’s the only complaint I have about this book, other than that, I really enjoyed it. She has a great way of portraying characters and her story is really stunning.

11. Alexandra Horowitz – Inside of a Dog

I just finished my latest book, Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz. I saw this book at Barnes & Noble and, being the dog lover that I am, picked it up. I chose to read it these past few weeks to shake up my genres a bit because I still feel like I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs lately.

Before I started this book, I looked up reviews on it, which is not something I usually do. I think I was curious because this book is different from anything I’d normally read, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it.

Alexandra Horowitz - Inside of a Dog (photo taken by me)
Alexandra Horowitz – Inside of a Dog (photo taken by me)

The book explains “what dogs see, smell, and know,” as told by Horowitz, a cognitive scientist. Basically, Horowitz was interested in the behavior of dogs and spent years studying and analyzing their behaviors in order to write this book. The book gives you a better understanding of why dogs act the way they do and what they can actually understand.

The reviews I read of this book were not all that positive – a lot of people said they felt that the book didn’t really have a point and left them wanting a better understanding still.

I completely disagree with those reviews. I really enjoyed this book. I learned a lot of interesting facts about dogs through this book, was able to relate to it since I have a dog at home, and even though it may not answer all questions I have about dogs, it still gave me a much better understanding of them. Horowitz also points out in the book that not all dog behaviors have an explanation, so it makes sense that she can’t answer everyone’s questions.

I thought the book was really interesting and it taught me a lot. Horowitz uses examples of her dog, Pumpernickel, to introduce her findings, which I thought was a really nice touch. The book also has a really nice ending that helps the reader to admire their own dog in a new way.

I think this book would be great for any dog lovers, especially people who have their own dogs, because then while you’re reading it you can connect it to your dog and learn a lot more about them.

I really love dogs in general, which I think made me biased in terms of liking this book, but I’d love to hear about your dogs in the comments! 🙂

5. Susannah Cahalan – Brain on Fire

Susannah Cahalan - Brain On Fire (photo taken by me)
Susannah Cahalan – Brain On Fire (photo taken by me)

Last night, I finished Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan. I read this book over the past few snowy days and read practically all day yesterday to finish it up.

Brain on Fire is a memoir written by Cahalan, who was a 24-year-old journalist at the New York Post when she suddenly started experiencing numbness, hallucinations, and seizures, among other things. Cahalan went into a psychotic and then catatonic state and spent a month living in a hospital while confusing her nurses and doctors.

Throughout her memoir, Cahalan tells the complete story of her illness – as complete as it can be, that is. Cahalan herself doesn’t remember most of her month-long hospital stay, and therefore used her reporter skills to tell the story. She watched videos of herself taken by the security cameras in her room, read through diaries kept by herself and her parents, interviewed people involved and dissected her medical records in order to portray her “month of madness”.

I LOVED this book. Absolutely loved it. I’ve recommended it to practically everyone I’ve spoken to this past week and I bring it up every chance I get. I find it fascinating (yet terrifying) that a young woman in her early twenties can go from perfectly healthy to barely being able to communicate her thoughts in such a short period of time, and then can recover and be able to write a book about it.

One thing I really liked about this book was the short chapters it had. Most chapters were around 5 pages long, which I like because it gives you the ability to stop and put the book down at almost any time without having to stop reading in the middle of something important. I like books that are broken up for easy reading, which is exactly what Cahalan has done here. I also think it’s really nice to have a first person account of a medical problem as opposed to reading it from an outsider’s perspective, because I think it makes it much more personal.

At times, I felt like the writing became a little wordy when she was describing medical terms, although I know that those details were entirely necessary for the story. It’s kind of similar to how I felt while reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which I think most people have had to read for school at one point or another. That book also gets a little overwhelming with medical terms at times which can make it a little harder to follow, but those facts are important and need to be included. In Brain on Fire, I think Cahalan does her best to make everything as easy to understand as possible, but there are just some facts that cannot be left out. She makes the medical jargon as easy to follow as possible.

I would definitely recommend this book to pretty much anybody. It’s an incredibly interesting story and I can’t get over how crazy her story is. This book gives readers a chance to hear from someone firsthand what it is like to go through an ordeal like this, and it really shines some light on important issues in the medical field. I think this book would be a particularly good read for someone who is interested in science or specifically the brain, because it really shows what power the brain has over the entire body, and some of the science aspects of the book are really, really interesting.

I’ve mentioned that I have been recommending this book to almost everyone I encounter, and I envision myself continuing to do so in the future, because this really was an excellent read and I don’t see the story leaving my mind any time soon. I honestly cannot say enough good things about this book. If you haven’t already, you should at least look into reading it.

1. (My first actual post!) David Sedaris – Holidays on Ice

First of all, Happy New Year to all reading this! I usually don’t really celebrate New Year’s Eve, and I couldn’t even if I wanted to last night because I’ve been super sick since Christmas. 😦 But I hope you all had a wonderful night and I wish you all a great year. I’ve decided to do the “Photo A Day” challenge, so if anyone is interested in checking that out, it’s on my tumblr (www.drvnkfvck.tumblr.com).

Anyway, since I stayed in last night, I took the opportunity to read a new book, Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. I ordered this book on Amazon a few weeks before Christmas so I would have time to read it during the holiday season, but they sent me the wrong book! (Not Amazon themselves, it was one of the used books options.) So I had to contact them and they sent me the right book, which I just got the other day.

David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice (photo taken by me)
David Sedaris – Holidays on Ice
(photo taken by me)

The book is somewhere around 150 pages and is a collection of stories, which David Sedaris is known for. I’ve read one of his other books, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, this past summer. I really liked his style of short stories about his experiences that were presented in a comedic way, so I was expecting to love Holidays on Ice. It was a good read, but I didn’t necessarily love it, mainly because I was confused when stories would jump from his point of view to a fictional (I’m guessing) story. I just wish the fiction and nonfiction had been separated into two parts, maybe then I would have liked it more.

In terms of the stories themselves, I generally liked them. A few of the nonfiction stories were also in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim so I skipped over those ones, but the new ones were funny, as per usual.

Overall, this book was an easy read that I enjoyed. It’s not your typical happy lovey Christmas book, and I think that makes it fun to read around the holidays, just because it’s something different.