In seventh grade, I decided I needed to grow up and stop reading kiddy books and doing kiddy things. So I began to only read “adult” books, which means I started with somewhat legitimate books, like Memoirs of a Geisha, and then I moved into something that I discovered and adored–books from the publisher Red Dress Ink, which I later learned was a bunch of stuff called “chick lit.” I loved it, because I hated being 13 and knew even then that my twenties was when I was really going to come into my own. (I held onto that belief and it turned out to be true; much from third grade to the end of college was a lot of angst, frustration, and unhealthiness that I try not to think about.) There were girls traveling through Europe and waking up in a hostel to see their best friends having sex in the next bed. There were girls who lived alone and loved it, who made their own rules and had jobs and ate ice cream for dinner. And there were a whole lot of girls who worked in publishing, and that was awesome. Continue reading
I’m not convinced that my to-read list is always 2394870329478 titles long (okay, about 300) because I like reading. I do like it, but I think I often feel dissatisfied with the fiction I’ve been reading, and I get bored with it easily. And my reading interests have changed greatly since I was a child, when I really did just enjoy getting lost in a book. I don’t list reading as one of my pastimes because narratives draw me in. That’s why I like television, but it’s no longer the primary reason I read.
I do still like getting lost in a good story now, but it’s not my biggest reason for reading, I think. If I look back to the point in my life when I stopped reading voraciously and just, well, read books sometimes (roughly 7th grade to freshman year of college), it came around the same time that everything in my life was frustrating and dissatisfying. To avoid talking about my angst and my mental health problems and my physical health problems, let’s just move to how it was frustrating academically. I hated school, and I hated even more the idea that everyone around me thought I loved it, just because I did well in it. If I look back at my blog posts and journal entries and yearbook messages and penpal letters from that period, I think it’s pretty clear that I was one of those gifted kids who, instead of seeking out challenges and creating her own, largely took a lack of interesting or challenging ways of getting into what she was learning as a reason to be angry and to disengage.
I don’t want to place blame, because I used to do that a lot, and it was only somewhat founded. Continue reading
It has come to my realization that I could actually have pursued a more lucrative career in the health sciences like my mom hoped I would. Oops.
So last month and over a bit of February (remember, I had vertigo, so my brain fried itself and I spent 10 days not being able to comprehend more than three written sentences at a time), I read Reading in the Brain, which, while dense, is pretty awesomesauce. It’s about exactly what the title says, duh. I read it at a very convenient time, since I’m taking a class titled Literacy and Services to Underserved Populations. One of the things I keep realizing in library school is that, for someone who considers herself rather enlightened and attuned to social justice issues, it really hadn’t occurred to me that there were so many issues surrounding illiteracy, like learning disorders, the obvious social structures and issues that keep children from finishing school, and more. So coupling my natural interest in how social politics perpetrate inequalities with the actual science of how reading works was interesting, because it made me worry for a minute that I would take a stance that teachers don’t know what they’re doing, and being a progressive Democrat who is the daughter and sister of teachers, I DO NOT DO THAT. EVER. Because teachers, generally speaking, super duper know what they’re doing. But I digress. Dahaene described the entire neural process of how the brain, fascinatingly enough, has basically two simultaneous processes, one for recognizing letters and one for recognizing full words, even if that word is actually written incorrectly or includes typos. Fascinating stuff. I can’t really explain it to you as well as he did, and at times he got slightly too technical for me, but given that this was not my first time in the neuroscience book rodeo, I think it was probably due to my overtaxed brain. Continue reading
I’m doing pretty well with this Fifty Fifty Me thing. Two books down, plus four movies. “A Small Act” is a fabulous documentary that was filmed in Kenya around the time that I was there, in 2007. “The Devil Inside” is a load of crap and is actually comedic (though not on purpose), not a horror movie as advertised. “Source Code” is harmless, silly fun. Today’s movie was “Young Adult,” and it is really, really wonderful.
I feel so entrenched in critical and literary theory that I don’t know how or what makes something “good” anymore, but if it has something to do with being full of things that you can point out as funny or astute or literary or apt, or if you can think of a thesis statement for an interesting analysis of the film/book/whatever, that must be a good start, right?
I have only read Maureen Johnson’s HuffPo review of “Young Adult,” and she and I think many of the same things, so I have no idea of the kind of press or critical reception or mainstream reception the film is getting. But I hope it’s positive. That said, I have little faith in that, just because it’s the kind of movie that could appear to be very silly, and since most people in America don’t care to develop critical skills, I feel like “Young Adult” might end up shoved in a category with silly movies when it is anything but. Continue reading
I just started reading Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares, which is the first of his three seminal works on the acting process. I decided to read it when I saw a friend reading it to work on her acting career; I’m reading it because I have enjoyed acting when I’ve done it, also because I have found acting difficult when done right, and also because I thought it might be an interesting approach to writing. I think for that third thing to work, I might end up reading all three of his books, not just this one.
But I got it from the library in Tucson, which means I have to finish reading it by Tuesday night, as I leave Wednesday morning. I had trouble getting it from the Boston library. It’s quite interesting so far–somewhat fiction, somewhat like a diary, rather than just “Hi, let me teach you some shit about acting.” I think writers’ guides could take a note from that approach. But now that I’ve trained myself to be critical about fucking everything ever, I’m having trouble getting through it, and so I’m only on page 10.
This is partly because, at least for the kind of reader and thinker I am, this is a book that demands to be read with a notebook at your side for jotting down quotes you want to remember, activities you want to try, or ideas you come up with. It is not a book for bathtub reading, which is what I thought when I decided to Blanche DuBois out and take a bath this morning. Continue reading