Senior Book Club

One of my favorite things about my job is when I get to lead the monthly book club at a local senior center once a month. Don’t ask me how a teen librarian ended up with this task – it doesn’t make sense, but I love it.

I didn’t choose the booklist for 2015 because the branch’s previous teen librarian chose them before I started. This is good and bad. It’s good because when the ladies don’t like a book they can’t blame me for it since I didn’t choose it. It’s bad because when the ladies don’t like a book they can blame me for it because I am representing The Library. May’s book was Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson and let me tell ya, the women were not pleased. It’s a “historical novel” that takes place during WWI but the war is happening in the background the entire time and a weird love story takes center stage. At the end there’s a fairly graphic sex scene that lasts for a few pages, steering from the typical course of the predictable “…” authors use to allude to the deed. The women went nuts over it! I was nervous to mention anything about the scene, but this group has now taught me that women 70+ enjoy talking about sex more than women 20+ enjoy talking about sex.

The main character becomes an ambulance driver for the war and there are multiple scenes describing having to cut the clothes off of wounded soldiers. At the end of the book when she’s about to do the deed she “sees a man” for the first time. Imagine my surprise (and delight) when one of my favorite ladies in her late 70’s with her delicate, frail voice starts going off on a tangent:

“The author tries to say she’s never seen a man before when she was around wounded soldiers all the time! She cut their clothes off before surgery! You’re trying to tell me she never snuck a peek? She’s not as innocent as the author wants us to think, we all know she snuck looks when she could! Didn’t we all?”

 

Ladies and gentleman, the book was terrible but the conversation was A+

 

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The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise

ambersunrise in-bloom

This month I selected the book The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise for my Teen Book Club to read. It’s advertised as the next The Fault in Our Stars because it’s about two teens with cancer but for as much as the two books have in common there’s just as much that’s different about them.

In Amber Sunrise, the main character Francis is a relatable, slightly narcissistic 15 year old who cares a lot about what other people think about him and calculates pretty much every one of his sentences and reactions. When he’s diagnosed with cancer he meets a girl named Amber who is snarky and sarcastic and even though they’re nearly total opposites they quickly bond and, naturally, fall in love.

In all honesty what I loved about this book was some of the character descriptions and some beautiful prose that would pop up here and there throughout the story. Other than that, I had a similar to reaction to The Fault in Our Stars book which was: “meh”. I love TFIOS film because it took out pretty much everything that I hated in the book, so maybe I’m not crazy for not agreeing with pretty much 99% of the general population. The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise was originally published a couple of years ago in the UK under the title In Bloom and the entire time I was reading I thought I liked that title better… until the very end when an extremely subtle passage makes you realize why the US version has the title that it does, and I started crying. After losing a friend last year, I completely related to this and shared the same feelings of hopelessness and anger and sorrow over  having to move on and reading it hit me like a ton of bricks. This passage is a spoiler-alert but if you read the book jacket you already know how the story goes. If you don’t want to know the ending, skip ahead!

I stayed up all night the next New Year’s Eve. I wanted to claw at the year before, to catch it in my hands and drag myself back into it. I knew that once the New Year came Amber’s death would no longer be something that had happened. Soon she would enter the past tense… I cried as the sun rose on January the first. Amber’s death felt like the last thing we could ever do together. Of course her bit of it was over. But grieving for her, loving her, missing her… they were all things I still had to do.

I don’t think grief is the same for everyone but I do believe that everyone goes through similar hurdles when it comes to grief’s relationship with time. Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, that time you talked until the early hours of the morning that started out about T.V. shows and turned into how social media hindering real life experiences with each other. Time moves on and it feels wrong. Some days are numb, some days you sob out of nowhere, and some days are maybe even okay. That’s what a lot of this story is about and even though this book isn’t one of my all-time favorites, I do appreciate the author’s realism with handling grief.

I’ll end this with a couple of my favorite passages that made me both nod with approval and laugh out loud, so they’re winners to me.

More than losing my virginity, more than cancer, more even than the time I saw a lady fall over in the street and didn’t laugh, this was the exact moment I felt the last shred of my childhood disintegrate.

But I knew boys like Paul… boys like him were, essentially, pasta. Everyone thought they loved him because they had never been forced to experience the true blandness of him on his own.

…Then she figured it might be an allergy of some sort, so she threw out all the toiletries and replaced them with white bars of soap that said soap-free on the packet (!?).

Oops!

Well, it turns out that blogging is pretty difficult to keep up with when –

a. I don’t have internet at my apartment and-
b. I work two jobs with stupid hours and I really like to sleep in my off time.

Anything embarrassing you want to share with me, you’re asking? I’ll tell you! I’ve forgotten a lot of books that I’ve read since June. I’ve become one of those people – the type of library patron that I had never understood who would put 8 books on hold and then return 5 of them at the desk because they “forgot” that they “already read them”. However, the “good” news is that judging by the looks of my coffee table & magazine basket I have read approximately 30 magazines this year. That counts for something, right?

Okay, want to hear something even more embarrassing?

I’m currently sitting in a Starbucks right off of campus waiting for my video chat book club with friends (or Stacked, as we’ve named it) to start and listening to the Michael Buble Christmas album and kind of really loving it.

Sometimes I like being around campus because I feel like I get to enjoy the college experience without actually being in college. I honestly didn’t enjoy my college years because of the incredible amount of stress that was constant, and my friends that did “have fun” (yeah, that’s what we’ll call it) typically had very poor grades and would ask me around every exam time how I was able to get my work done.” Uhh– because I don’t go out. I eat ice cream on my couch and study.”  My major required a 3.7 grade point average to stay in the program and I’ll never forget the day my mom called me saying that there that been a voicemail from the school saying I was on academic probation after getting a couple Bs and a C during midterms. MIDTERMS. It scared the crap out of me, to put it elegantly.

But those days are over and yet I’m around campus a lot ever since I got a membership to the UC rec center. It’s about a mile from my apartment and when I walk there I get to waltz around campus with my super light tote bag holding only a lock for my locker and water bottle, watching the other people lug around bags filled with about $2,000 worth of electronics and textbooks and smile to myself. “Aww yeah, Hell Week is the worst!” “Ugh, DAAP is killing my soul.” “Let’s go watch guys play frisbee on Sigma Commons.”

——————————————————————————————————

For what it’s worth, I can only remember reading a handful of memorable books this year. It wasn’t a great year of me following my instincts on some titles/book covers. I’m still annoyed at that Longbourn novel.

I now make a promise to myself and to you, dear reader, that I will try to write an entry every week until the end of the year. This seems pretty feasible considering the hustle and bustle of the holiday season means I will be going to my parents’ house, which has a wifi that works about 65% of the time. That’s the allure of visiting the countryside, after all: gambling the odds of the mobile and wifi signals.

xx.ls

Death and Taxes

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted and here’s why:

I got a new place in Cincinnati. I can walk to work! (At least library work, not retail work.)

I took a solid two weeks from the 15th-onward moving the majority of my stuff. I still don’t have my real bed or couch. Turns out after about two weeks your body gives up its fight against the elements and starts to accept its current reality: the air mattress.

And the Big One: I’ve been pretty open about my budget woes and have decided to not get internet/cable. The cheapest deal I could find was $44 for just internet, and I figure this way  I can get rid of my addiction (Netflix account) cold turkey. I’m saving money on both accounts that will go toward my student loans AND I’ll read a lot more than I have the last couple of years. Plus, I still have a small T.V. and DVD player to enjoy. The only setback to this is I’ll have to either go to the library or a cafe of some sort to update this site…

In other news, I did my taxes today and it wasn’t too horrible yes it was. But you know what they say, death and taxes. Death and taxes. Death. Taxes. Deathandtaxes. (I’m a little brain dead in the aftermath.) But shout out to H&R Block who made me not want to kill myself entirely. I might still go into hiding living off the grid in Montana one day, but at least H&R Block gave it a real go in trying to keep my sanity.

Also! I finally met with my book club Stacked via Google Hangout. It was a good time that I’ll talk about in more detail later.

Good night, all. Death and taxes.

xx. ls