Thursday, November 2, 2017

About Too Much Baseball and a Lack of Books

It's November, and I have failed to finish one book, write one post, or read very much at all in the month of October.

And I have a lame reason, too: it's all baseball's fault.

My husband and me, NLDS 2015

Do you know how long baseball season is? Baseball season begins in April (sometimes March) and continues all the way through September or October, depending on how far your team makes it. This year, it went into November. Ugh!

With our friends and JT's ground-rule double ball, 2015 NLDS

My husband went back to the next NLDS 2015 game without me

You see, I am married to a neurotic Los Angeles Dodger fan, and three years ago I officially converted from a well-grounded, in-name-only New York Mets fan to a fanatic LA Dodger fan. It was bound to happen after 17-years of marriage. 

I secretly took this picture of my crazy husband. Help!
We even dragged our kids into the sickness

Lost to the Nationals, NLDS 2016, pretending to be happy

My Girl, Audra, and me at NLDS, 2016

Corey Seager #5, 2016 Rookie of the Year

For the last three years, we have been attending a lot of Dodger games, even playoff games, and often with a couple of friends. In 2015, my friend's husband caught Justin Turner's ground rule double during the NLDS against the NY Mets. And last year my husband caught a foul ball by Yazmani Grandal.

LA Dodger Fan (my husband) Makes a Great Catch, 2016, Jon Soohoo
Yazmani Grandal, #9, LA Dodger Catcher

This year the Dodgers broke all kinds of records, and they were the BEST team in all of baseball. Needless to say, it has been an exciting three years following the Dodgers.

JT or Justin Turner or Redturn, #10

It is no surprise then to say that this October has been a volatile month, with the Dodgers sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks for the NLDS and beating the 2016 World Series Chicago Cubs for the Division Championships. We were able to attend a couple of these games, and for the remainder of the series, I sat comatose, unable to think of anything else, watching every game to the end.

Finally, after 29 years, they were going to the World Series.

NLCS 2017

Long story short, it has been one of the most exciting World Series, going through all seven games, only for the Dodgers to lose to the Houston Astros. Yeah, I'm bummed, but I am truly glad it is over because it has consumed my life, literally. I am absolutely ready to get back into reading and writing.

Top Deck NLCS 2017

Until next season.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: All the Books on My Fall TBR List

All the Books on My Fall TBR List
(Yes, ALL)

Is it fall already? My summer TBR list was a dud, having barely touched what I said I would. I think I hit a dry spell.

Plus, I have been really bad. This last week was rehearsal week and recital weekend, in which life is a whirlwind and the house is a mess because [you] live at the dance studio and theater with your kids, and no housework gets done - let alone reading - and [you] go to bed each night feeling like your left your brain somewhere else. That has been me. My point is, I have not read for a whole week! Probably longer.

Therefore, come fall, and I will definitely still be reading:

Lives of the Romans - Plutarch (TWEM Histories)

Crime and Punishment - Dostoyevsky (re-reading, with Cleo)

Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years 
- Laura Ingalls Wilder 
(Have not even started these)

School Education - Charlotte Mason

And I hope I can start this in fall:
City of God - Augustine (TWEM Histories)

I do want to read this, too: 
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

But, that's ALL I have.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Things I've Been Silent About: Memories by Azar Nafisi

Things I've Been Silent About: Memories
Azar Nafisi
Published 2008

Earlier this year I read Reading Lolita in Tehran, by Azar Nafisi, and it became one of my more memorable reads of the year; I hope to reread it someday. Having been introduced to Nafisi, I became interested in her speaking engagements about literature, which I watched via Youtube, and other written works. 

This book, Things I've Been Silent About, was not on the top of my list - I would rather get a copy of The Republic of Imagination, but my library system does not carry it. Instead I read Things. It is a very long personal narrative that fills in all of the gaps about Nafisi's private life before, during, and a short time after the period covered in Reading Lolita, which mainly focuses on Nafisi as a literary professor in Iran (while intertwining the ever changing political atmosphere into the story). 

Azar Nafisi

It is an autobiography, a family story, and a political history of Iran from the author's perspective. Azar was born in 1955. While she retold her personal history, she shared the political changes in Iran, including the Islamic Revolution and the Iraq-Iran War. I only remember the conflict with Iran in 1979 because, as a weird nine-year old I enjoyed current events. I read the newspaper and followed the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Nafisi reserved only one sentence for that event, and did not even mention the hostages. (It is recorded in the back of the book in the timeline.) But it was not important to her history because, at the time, Iran was drastically changing before her eyes. Yet, I remember it because 52 Americans were taken hostage, in Iran, and held for 444 days. I wore my yellow ribbon every day because I was emotionally invested. But I did not know or understand that Iran was turning inside out. For Nafisi, it was her whole world. 

The Iranian Hostage Crisis, 1979

But the major conflict of the autobiography is the turbulent relationship Nafisi had with her oppressive, explosive, controlling mother and how she rectified it at the end of her mother's life. She also has an unfaithful father, though adultery (mostly with men) seemed expected and acceptable in Nafisi's culture. Aside from his adulterous affairs - emotional or physical - Nafisi had a wonderful relationship with her father; it is through him that she developed her love of literature and poetry. Both of her parents were involved in Iranian politics: her father was the Mayor of Tehran, until he was arrested and sent to prison for several years; her mother was elected to Parliament for a time.

Azar Nafisi and her mother, Nezhat

She had the opportunity to study abroad in Switzerland, England, and later the United States. But if these appeared to be wonderful opportunities, they were overshadowed by her chaotic, unstable home life. There was no firm foundation growing up. 

Nafisi had a senseless first marriage that did not last; and her second marriage was tested during the time of the Islamic Revolution, but it held firm. She and her husband had two children. They later decided to move to the United States to work and raise their children, away from Iran as it remained oppressive.

At the very end of her story, Nafisi said she learned from both her parents that (and I paraphrase) : all that we think we have - our home, our identity, sense of self and belonging, our very lives, (and I would add family), can be taken from us very swiftly.  We cannot count on geography for our homes; we must learn to make our own portable home, through stories and memories and experiences that guard and resist "the tyranny of man and time."

Well, it was a sorrowful story, and I do not doubt that the author suffers still from her past pain. There was an emptiness that I felt while reading it, too, and I know it is because there was a lot of uncertainty in her life, both as a child and even when she wrote this book as an adult. But I do not want to get into it because it involves religion, and I know some people are content believing in nothing or a man-made religion for the sake of tradition. I am not sure if Nafisi practices a religion today or has faith in the Christian God, but she has been accused of spreading "Islamophobia" because she wrote about the darkness of Islam (specifically how it treats women). I feel empathy for her because I know she had to find answers and solutions in her life that are not concrete or permanent. Nonetheless, I am grateful to have read her story.

Azar Nafisi 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Throwback Freebie

Novels From the Well-Educated Mind List That Turned Into Relationships

Over five years ago I read The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, and I decided to read through the book lists. I completed reading the novels in a few years, and I came away with several life-long relationships with these books I did not know I loved. These are the gems:

Don Quixote - Cervantes 
If you like quotes about life, truth, and common sense, 
you'll find them abundant in this one.

Pride and Prejudice  - Jane Austen
Completely wonderful, with a touch of hysterical.

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
An engrossingly strange, epic story.

Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
Not to be taken seriously, but oh, so shocking.

Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
If you love a good, long, deep story, you'll love Tolstoy for this one.

Return of the Native - Thomas Hardy
If you love language and words, this is Hardy's treat.

Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
So many lessons here to be taken very seriously, even by Twain.  

House of Mirth - Edith Wharton
Try to read this one without becoming emotionally invested.

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
Tragedy ~ you cannot turn your eyes away.

Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
Ellison has something to say. Listen up.

Honorable Mentions: 
I have to include these titles because I had already read them before The Well-Educated Mind, but they were on the list, and I gladly reread them; now I keep them even closer with a deeper understanding and appreciation.

Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
You need to read this one, my fellow Americans.

Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane

1984 - George Orwell
Please learn this: Communism sucks the life out of people.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Painful Reads

Books I Struggled Painfully Through and Some I Did Not Finish 

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
(Made it through page 179.)
This story lost me. 
I really desired it to take me away because: Fitzgerald; but, no.

The Republic by Plato
(Made it to page 100.)
It's just unenjoyable.

The Peloponnesian War by Thucydides
(Begrudgingly read it to the end.)
After The Histories by Herodotus, I did not want anymore ancient war.

The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
(Read at least half of this until I had to look away.)
Such a disappointment.  The movie is SO MUCH BETTER.

Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
(Almost finished it, but no cigar.)
This sounded so cool to me, but after enduring most of it, 
I felt like I was swimming against the current for too long.  
It became tiresome.  

The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola
(Again, halfway through, but I couldn't stomach it.)
One could say it was quite effective, 
but at some point I had to stop because I felt nauseous.
It's not gross; it's just too much.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
(Reluctantly finished the first chapter.)
This one irritated me for so many reasons.  
True, I did not give it much of a chance, 
but I think the F-word was the last straw on top of everything else.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
(I don't remember how much of this I did read, but I recall waiting for it to get funny, and it didn't.)
I heard this was satire, but I think it went over my head.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
(Had to finish it, but it was painful to the end.)
Everyone in this story made me angry for the entire read.  There was no rest.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
(Regretfully read this aloud to my kids.)
What did I just read?  
I told my kids they would have to read the remaining books in the series 
on their own because I was done.