Friday, December 2, 2016

Let's Talk About...Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

Let's Talk About... is a chance for us to talk about anything and everything. It's a way for me to get some of what I am thinking and feeling out onto the page and to engage in real, honest discussion about it with you. I hope these posts can be fun, interesting, educational, and, more than anything, a chance to learn from each other. 

Welcome to my first Let's Talk About... post! This series has been months in the making. My poor husband bears the brunt of my mental ramblings, but he's not always interested in whatever happens to be weighing on my mind. Case in point: today's topic.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life

How we Gilmore fans have longed for this day. It has been literally years of wishing and hoping. Now, here we are... and boy, do we have a lot to talk about.

I became a Gilmore fan in college. My best friend introduced it to me and we binge watched the early seasons together. The final seasons aired during those college years and we often watched together. When the show hit Netflix last year, I was thrilled and immediately re-watched the whole series with utter delight. When news of the revival came out, I, like thousands of others, freaked out just a little.

And now, here we are. I've seen the revival. I watched all six hours within three days despite the fact that we were on a trip to see family and enjoy the Thanksgiving holidays. Priorities, y'all.

I'm fully aware that there are already about a thousand think pieces regarding the revival out there on the interwebs. Please bear with me through one more. I have a lot to say.

(btw...there are MAJOR spoilers ahead, so if you continue reading, it's at your own peril.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November 2016 Chapter

Welcome to the Read.Write.Repeat. monthly wrap-up.  Every month, I give a quick overview of what books I read, the progress made on the 100 Best Novels goal, a few book-related links, and general blog news.  

November News 

Remember last month when I was cheerfully looking forward to the end of the election cycle?

Can I take that back?

While the election was three weeks ago at this point and some of the fervor does seem to be dying down, things are so far from over. Instead of celebrating the end of the cycle and a historic milestone for the country, this month has been, for me, a time of grief. I know politics are controversial, particularly this year, and I know you, my dear readers, likely have a range of feelings on the state of American politics. I absolutely respect your views and your right to have them. I hope you can do the same for me. All I can speak to is my personal perspective and my earnest desire to understand experiences different than my own. While I have been struggling daily with my response to the election results, more than anything I am resolved to learn, to listen, and to advocate for the maligned. I'm spending a lot of time in prayer, a lot of time reading the news, and a lot of time researching how to be an even more active participant in our political process.

It's hard to pivot from the veil of political uncertainty for me right now. It's hard to think about other things. It's hard to think about a cheerful holiday season when so many in our country fear for their futures. I saw someone on social media pointing out how they want to caption all their Instagram food pictures with "Here's a picture of my lunch, but I haven't forgotten that other thing." That really nailed how I'm feeling. Life goes on. Work. Errands. Chores. We have no choice but to continue. But, the approaching changes never leave my mind. I'm constantly thinking and praying about the future of our country and how I can contribute good into our world on a daily basis.

All of this thinking (and, admittedly, stressing), has left me wanting an outlet to share my heart and thoughts. I know this blog is about books and they will always be the heartbeat. These days, though, I need it to also be a space for me to talk about other things sometimes. So, I'm introducing a new series of posts. "Let's Talk About..." posts will give me a space to share some of what's on my heart - both serious and not - and for you to join me in the discussion. I'm going to post the first one this Friday. Since we're all tired of talking about the election, it's not going to be about that. It's going to be about something way more controversial: the Gilmore Girls revival. Yep. I'm going there. I have a lot of thoughts and I need to talk them out. I'm certain that, in the future, I'll tackle some of my political feelings, but I think that day is down the road a bit. For the moment, it's going to be a place to talk about whatever happens to be dominating my head space that week. Please bear with me and give me some grace as I figure out exactly what these posts will look like. Mostly, I want them to give us all space to digest and sort through relevant topics in a thoughtful, respectful way.

Ok....let's switch gears!

The other thing which totally dominated my life this month (besides the epic, exciting World Series win by the Chicago Cubs) is NaNoWriMo. This was my second year doing the challenge and I was totally determined to scale that literary mountain. And I did!! Ok, technically I'm writing this on Monday night and I have two days and 1,786 words to go. But I'm totally going to do it. I'm so proud of myself for reaching this goal. It was so much work and I read and blogged so much less than I usually do. But, here at the end, I have about a third of a novel written (I'm a little too loquacious for my own good). It's a story I care about and which feels deeply personal. I know it won't be done any time soon. This is a book I think I could work on for ten years and continually polish and adjust. So, I'm not running off to a publisher any time soon, but the last few weeks definitely taught me that I do have time for writing if I make time for it. I was such a passionate writer as a kid and it's something I've wanted to get back to for a while, so this feels so good.

I also must give a quick shout-out to Suzanne at Tattooed Missionary. Without her, I genuinely don't think I could have met the NaNo goal. She was such an encouragement to me, especially after the election when I felt like so lost and like words would never make sense again, much less be worth writing down. Plus, she helped me look up tattoo artists near me and listened to my overly personal ramblings. What a friend! How anyone achieves NaNo without such a supportive partner, I'll never know. Thank you, Suzanne!

I have a lot more on my mind to share with you, but I've already gotten way deep and way long-winded, so I'll be saving more of these thoughts for those upcoming "Let's Talk About..." posts. For now, here's what was happening on the blog during the emotional whirlwind that was November.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Grape, Olive, Pig - Matt Goulding

Grape, Olive, Pig
Title: Grape, Olive, Pig: Deep Travels Through Spain's Food Culture
Author: Matt Goulding
Publication Date: 11/15/16
Pages: 368
Genre: Food / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I got a copy courtesy of Harper Collins and TLC Book Tours.
Date Completed: 11/26/16

Summary: Goulding takes readers on another sumptuous journey, this time all across Spain.

What I Thought: Remember a couple months ago when I read and reviewed Rice, Noodle, Fish? You may recall how I gushed over Goulding's rich descriptions of both Japanese food and culture. After that delightful experience, you can imagine how I was to read this second installation in the Roads and Kingdoms series.

Thankfully, TLC Book Tours had be covered on that front. They and Harper Collins graciously provided me an advance copy of the book to read and review. My thoughts?

Goulding's prose is as on point as ever. The magic web he weaves over Spain is enchanting and tantalizing. It may make you want to scrap planning your trip to Italy and reroute to the Spanish countryside it did for me. I think we're still going to least until I get my husband to read the book. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Henderson the Rain King - Saul Bellow

Henderson the Rain King
Title: Henderson the Rain King
Author: Saul Bellow
Publication Date: 1959
Pages: 352
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 10/27/16

Summary: Henderson is a rich man who travels to Africa in hopes of finding contentment or adventure or a combination of both. Though he certainly finds adventure, one can debate the success of his search for deeper meaning.

What I Thought: Though thematically this book is very similar to others on the 100 Best Novels list, it is quite different in tone and style. I really enjoyed the laid-back character of Henderson. His levity brought a fun quality to the book that many other search-for-meaning books overshadow with their serious tone. 

That is not to say that Henderson's cheerful demeanor is always fitting to his situation. He gets himself into some pretty serious scrapes in Africa. In the midst of them all, he continues to reflect back on his life and think of his wife and family. He seems to be one of those people who can charm just about anyone, yet not in a way which you resent. I found him to be a lovable character, though I do not think we would get along in practically. We are far too different. Still, I enjoyed reading about his journey. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway

The Sun Also Rises
Title: The Sun Also Rises
Author: Ernest Hemingway
Publication Date: 1926
Pages: 256
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 10/26/16

Summary: Ex-patriots wonder the European continent drinking, having affairs, and experiencing French and Spanish culture to the fullest.

What I Thought: I am a big fan of F. Scott Fitzgerald's work. He was a bit of a scumbag in his personal life, but his writing, to me, is some of the best by an American author. He and Hemingway were close. In the same way that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein were close and have some similarities in their works, I can now see that Hemingway and Fitzgerald were very similar. 

This was my first Hemingway novel. For someone who loves literature so much, I'm a little shocked and ashamed that it took me until almost 30 to read any Hemingway. Somehow he slipped through the cracks of my education to this point. As with Fitzgerald's work, I really loved the tone and voice of Hemingway's writing. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Ragamuffin Gospel - Brennan Manning

The Ragamuffin Gospel
Title: The Ragamuffin Gospel: Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out
Author: Brennan Manning
Publication Date: 1990
Pages: 240
Genre: Faith / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I can't remember.
Date Completed: 10/18/16

Summary: The good news is here! Grace comes through faith alone. Manning shouts it from the rooftops in his best-selling book.

What I Thought: After reading Love Does by Bob Goff in September, Manning's book felt refreshingly deep. Now, I enjoyed Goff's book, but it lacked a depth I was looking for. Manning delivered on that front. 

Ragamuffin joyfully proclaims the message of grace. We don't have to work for our salvation. Rather, forgiveness and freedom is available to every ragamuffin. Manning, who comes from a Catholic background, has no qualms about declaring his message. I really enjoyed the book. While none of Manning's thoughts were new to me, they were a great reminder. It certainly never hurts to be told again that God loves and accepts you unconditionally. All we need to do is accept His gift of grace. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf

To the Lighthouse
Title: To the Lighthouse
Author: Virginia Woolf
Publication Date: 5/5/1927
Pages: 209
Genre: Classic / Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 10/11/16

Summary: An intended family trip to the lighthouse is delayed by many years. Much more than this simple plot, the book revolves around the complexity of relationships and the reality of personal experience.

What I Thought: I have a feeling I will come back to this book multiple times in the future. In this particular reading, my first, I did not feel swept away by the book or immediately infatuated with it. Rather, I felt a slow pull, a sense that this book matters and has a depth which will take more than one reading to explore. 

To me, this felt very much like a test read, an exploration of what Woolf is about, an examination in preparation for future endeavors. I want to read more Woolf. She's one of the few female authors to have really broken through and impacted the literary world in her time. I like her writing style (a realization which was a bit of a relief considering how much I wanted to like her writing before even opening the book). The style and the story both reminded me quite a bit of Kate Chopin's The Awakening, which is one of my absolute favorites.