This is How You Lose Her

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This is How You Lose Her

Author: Junot Diaz

Publisher: Riverhead Kindle Edition, 2012 (E-book)

Rating: 5OWLS

Thoughts:

The short stories in this book are about love in all its shapes and forms, both beautiful and ugly. In the first few sentences of the book the main character, Yunior, describes himself as being like “everyone else: weak, full of mistakes, but basically good.” Through the different characters, you see that life and love are complex. For Yunior, many of his decisions are shaped by his circumstances and the examples that those around him have set. This is my second time reading this book and it drew me in both times, I couldn’t put it down. I plan to read Drown soon (I know, I am reading them out of order). Also, follow Junot Diaz on social media if you don’t already!

Memorable Quotes:

“And for a while after we got back together everything was as fine as it could be. But only for a little while. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, my girl started turning into another girl. Who didn’t want to sleep over as much or scratch my back when I asked her to. Amazing what you notice. Like how she never used to ask me to call back when she was on the line with somebody else. I always had priority. Not anymore. But every time I tried I couldn’t pull it off. I was into her for real. I started working over time on her again, but nothing seemed to pan out. Every movie we went to, every night drive we took, every time she did sleep over seemed to confirm something negative about me. I felt like I was dying by degrees, but when I brought it up she told me that I was being paranoid.”

“You’d think, given the blood we see, that there’s a great war going on out in the world. Just the one inside of bodies, the new girl says.”

“The houses are in terrible conditions; they are homes for ghosts and for cockroaches and for us, los hispanos.”

“And that’s when I know it’s over. As soon as you start thinking about the beginning, it’s the end.”

“She’s sensitive, too. Takes to hurt the way water takes to paper.”

“Our relationship wasn’t the sun, the moon, the stars, but it wasn’t bullshit, either.”

 

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Fates and Furies

Fates and Furies Cover Image

Fates and Furies

Author: Lauren Groff

Publisher: Riverhead Books, 2015 (Hardcover, 390 pages)

Rating: 5owls

Thoughts:

This was the tale of a marriage between two very complex individuals, Lotto & Mathilde. I enjoyed the structure of the book very much; the first half of the book is told through Lotto’s point of view and the second half through Mathilde’s. Not all is what it seems in this relationship and Lauren Groff does a great job of of unveiling all the layers in the best way possible.

Memorable Quotes:

“Bumblefuck Pie, a hick to these boys from Boston and New York. Zitty, the childhood loveliness vanished, too tall, too skinny. A Southerner, inferior. His wealth, which had once singled him out, unremarkable among the wealthy.” p. 23

“Luxuriating in horror, he was. In the unhappiness of being broken. There was not not a kind of wallowing joy in this.” p. 103

“For many months up there he had looked down and considered how the lifespan of a sunflower reflected the lifespan of man: hopeful, beautiful, brightly shooting out of the ground; broad and strong, with a face turned full and dutiful toward the sun; head so heavy with ripe thoughts it bowed toward the ground, turned brown, lost its bright hair, grew weak on its stalk; mowed down for the long winter.” p. 128

“He would have liked to go deeper into her, to seat himself on the seat of her lacrimal bone and ride there, tiny homunculus like a rodeo cowboy, understand what it was she thought. Oh, but it would be redundant. Quiet daily intimacy had taught him. Paradox of marriage: you can never know someone entirely; you do know someone entirely.” p. 202

“Somehow, despite her politics and smarts, she had become a wife, and wives, as we all know, are invisible. The midnight elves of marriage. The house in the country, the apartment in the city, the taxes, the dog, all were her concern: he had no idea what she did with her time.” p. 244

“It occurred to her then that life was conical in shape, the past broadening beyond the sharp point of the lived moment. The more life you had, the more the base expanded, so that the wounds and treasons that were nearly imperceptible when they happened stretched like tiny dots on a balloon slowly blown up. A speck on the slender child grows in to a gross deformity in the adult, inescapable, ragged at the edges.” p. 354

Saga: Volume 1

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Saga: Volume 1

Author: Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples (artist)

Publisher: Image Comics, 2012 (Paperback)

Rating: 5owls

Thoughts:

I know I’m new to the world of comics, but this one was fantastic! Sharp characters, great writing, awesome illustrations, it’s the total package for me. The world of Saga is being created beautifully and I already put the next volume on hold at my local library. Can’t wait to keep reading!

Memorable Quotes:

“Violence is stupid. Even as a last resort, it only ever begets more of the same.”

“Doesn’t matter if it’s personal or professional, a good partnership takes work.”

“If there’s an opposite of a honeymoon, it’s the week after a couple’s first child is born.”

“Trust me, this whole freakout is probably just hormonal. You only gave birth, what, a week ago? Your body’s still, like, a wasteland of chemical imbalance.”

Why Not Me?

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Why Not Me?

Author: Mindy Kaling

Publisher: Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, 2015 (Audiobook, 4hrs 57min)

Rating: 4owls

Thoughts: This fun little audiobook sure packed a lot of sound advice! Mindy does a fantastic job of making fun of situations she finds herself in while at the same time extracting life lessons and sharing them with her readers. I recommend listening to the audiobook as Mindy narrates it herself.

Memorable Quotes:

“Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled. Listen to no one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know, and that doesn’t always mean your parents. If you do that, you will be fine.”

“People get scared when you try to do something, especially when it looks like you’re succeeding. People do not get scared when you’re failing. It calms them. But when you’re winning, it makes them feel like they’re losing or, worse yet, that maybe they should’ve tried to do something too, but now it’s too late. And since they didn’t, they want to stop you. You can’t let them.”

“People talk about confidence without ever bringing up hard work. That’s a mistake. I know I sound like some dour older spinster on Downton Abbey who has never felt a man’s touch and whose heart has turned to stone, but I don’t understand how you could have self-confidence if you don’t do the work… I have never, ever, ever, met a high confident person and successful person who is not what a movie would call a ‘workaholic.’ Because confidence is like respect; you have to earn it.”

“I want to say one last thing, and it’s important. Though I am a generally happy person who feels comfortable in my skin, I do beat myself up because I am influenced by a societal pressure to be thin. All the time. I feel it the same way anybody who picks up a magazine and sees Keira Knightley’s elegantly bony shoulder blades poking out of a backless dress does. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen my shoulder blades once. Honestly, I’m dubious that any part of my body could be so sharp and firm as to be described as a “blade.” I feel it when I wake up in the morning and try on every single pair of my jeans and everything looks bad and I just want to go back to sleep. But my secret is: even though I wish I could be thin, and that I could have the ease of lifestyle that I associate with being thin, I don’t wish for it with all of my heart. Because my heart is reserved for way more important things.”

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

Author: Leslye Walton

Publisher: Walker Books Ltd, 2014 (Paperback, 301 pages)

Rating: 5OWLS

Thoughts: This beautiful story pulled at my heartstrings and made me imagine the impossible. The story unfolded magically and I enjoyed tasting a bit of each character’s perspective. Such a delicious read that I could not put down!

Memorable Quotes:

“Love, as most know, follows its own timeline. Disregarding our intentions or well rehearsed plans.” p. 21

“Fate. As a child, that word was often my only companion. It whispered to me from dark corners during lonely nights. It was the song of the birds in spring and the call of the wind through bare branches on a cold winter afternoon. Fate. Both my anguish and my solace. My escort and my cage.” p. 125

“I found it ironic that I should be blessed with wings and yet feel so constrained, so trapped. It was because of my condition, I believe, that I noticed life’s ironies a bit more often than the average person. I collected them: how love arrived when you least expected it, how someone who said he didn’t want to hurt you eventually would.” p. 173

“She’d never understood how some parents just lost it. Now she did; children betrayed parents by becoming their own people.” p. 230

Big Magic

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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Publisher: Penguin Audio, 2015 (Audiobook, 5hrs 6min)

Rating: 3owls

Thoughts:

Elizabeth Gilbert portrays creativity as a magical entity. Though I didn’t agree with some of her beliefs about where ideas come from and the value of education in learning to be creative, this book did give me some new perspectives on how to deal with times in which I no longer feel creative or like I’ll never get a great idea. It was a bit too whimsical at times, but as an audiobook it made my drives more enjoyable.

Memorable Quotes:

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”

“So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?”

“Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest.”

“Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us. Make space for all these paradoxes to be equally true inside your soul, and I promise—you can make anything. So please calm down now and get back to work, okay? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.”

All About Love

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All About Love: New Visions

Author: Bell Hooks

Publisher: William Morrow, 1999 (Hardcover, 240 pages)

Rating: 4owls

Thoughts:

Bell Hooks breaks down how we are taught about love as children and how that affects us as adults, why our romantic expectations of love aren’t often met, and what the world would gain if we all lived a life of love. I enjoyed this book very much because it made me think of our culture and how we could do better by practicing love for others as well as self-love.

Memorable Quotes:

“Most men feel that they receive love and therefore know what it feels like to be loved; women often feel we are in a constant state of yearning, wanting love but not receiving it.” p. xx

“So many of us long for love but lack the courage to take risks. Even though we are obsessed with the idea of love, the truth is that most of us live relatively decent, somewhat satisfying lives even if we often feel that love is lacking.” p. 11

“One of the most important social myths we must debunk if we are to become a more loving culture is the one that teaches parents that abuse and neglect can coexist with love. Abuse and neglect negate love. Care and affirmation, the opposite of abuse and humiliation, are the foundation of love. No one can rightfully claim to be loving when behaving abusively. Yet parents do this all the time in our culture. Children are told that they are loved even though they are being abused.” p. 22

“Bringing love into the work environment can create the necessary transformation that can make any job we do, no mater how menial, a place where workers can express the best of themselves. When we work with love we renew the spirit; that renewal is an act of self-love, it nurtures our growth. It’s not what you do but how you do it.” p. 65

“In our society we make much of love and say little about fear. Yet we are all terribly afraid most of the time. As a culture we are obsessed with the notion of safety. Yet we do not question why we live in states of extreme anxiety and dread. Fear is the primary force upholding structures of domination. It promotes the desire for separation, the desire not to be known. When we are taught that safety lies always with sameness, then difference, of any kind, will appear as a threat. When we choose to love we choose to move against fear–against alienation and separation. The choice to love is a choice to connect–to find ourselves in the other.” p. 93

“When we see love as the will to nurture one’s own or another’s spiritual growth, revealed through acts of care, respect, knowing, and assuming responsibility, the foundation of all love in our life is the same. There is no special love exclusively reserved for romantic partner. Genuine love is the foundation for our engagement with ourselves, with family, with friends, with partners, with everyone we choose to love.” p. 136

“To know love we must surrender our attachment to sexist thinking in whatever form it takes in our lives. That attachment will always return us to gender conflict, a way of thinking about sex roles that diminishes females and males. To practice the art of loving we have first to choose love–admit to ourselves that we want to know love and be loving even if we do not know what that means.” p. 155

“Sometimes it amazes me to know intuitively that the grieving are all around us yet we do not see any overt signs of their anguished spirits. We are taught to feel shame about grief that lingers. Like a stain on our clothes, it marks us as flawed, imperfect. To cling to grief, to desire its expression, is to be out of sync with modern life, where the hip do not get bogged down in mourning.” p. 200