She was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world. – Kate Chopin, The Awakening

The Awakening is one of the books in Radcliffe’s Rival 100 Best Novels List. This is why it made it on my list of to read, as somehow I thought it was a good idea to add another list to my endless list of books to read.

As a general rule, I don’t check the user reviews prior to picking up a book to read. I will check the rating, however; on Goodreads.com, The Awakening has a rating of 3.5-ish stars.

I liked The Awakening. I do think that looking at it from a 2017 point-of-view takes away a lot of the shock this type of subject matter. Women in the late 1800’s were very much submissive to their husbands, and any hint of impropriety was anathema. On the face of it, this novel is about a woman that decides she wants to have freedom from everything: husband, society, social status, her children, etc.

Spoilers…
Edna’s always done what is right and proper. Married a successful businessman, had two kids, ran the household and kept up with all the societal norms. One day, she wakes up (hence the title) and realizes that she is not where she wants to be and is not who she wants to be. She longs to be independent. To have freedom from her husband, from his house, and from her children. She falls in love with the son of a friend, who loves her earnestly in return, however he will not be with her as she is married and it is not the right thing to do. Edna, saddened that she can’t have her Robert, goes out for a late night swim and drowns herself.

Fuck. That ending is pretty depressing. I can say I sympathize with Edna; I know that the journey to self-discovery is sometimes hard, and can take a long time. Christ, I am forty and constantly discovering things about myself. Again, this is much easier said in 2017 than it was in the 1800’s. We all make mistakes through life, and they help form our opinions of who we are, who we want to be, and what we want to do with our lives. Personally, I am grateful for all the ups and downs I have been through: failed first marriage, then crappy relationships, friendships that went bad, and shitty jobs. I consider myself lucky, however. I can now appreciate the good in my life, such as the good relationships and friendships. Each relationship and friendship has taught me something about myself, and about others. Each shitty job I had was a stepping stone, and a rite of passage.

Anyway, back to The Awakening. I enjoyed the book, and I cared about the protagonist (even though I do think her killing herself was weak).

I gave it three stars on Goodreads.

Goodreads Challenge: 2017

Another year, and another batch of resolutions. Unfortunately, I missed my goal of 16 books in my Goodreads 2016 Challenge, but I did manage to read 14 out of 16.

I’ve already touched on the first eight books I read during 2016. Below are the latter 8 since the update last year.

The Day of the Locust – This is a classic, and is listed on Random House’s Top 100 Best Novels. This is a sad take on life in Hollywood in it’s heyday. I wasn’t supposed to like the characters, although in a way I suppose, in a way, I could understand their motivations. This was a quick check off of my Top 100 Novel list, and for that am glad.

Quicksilver – This was my first Neal Stephenson novel, and I enjoyed it immensely. I can honestly say I liked most of the characters, and Stephenson’s style of writing grew on me pretty quickly. Will be looking into the rest of the series. Maybe this year?

Brave New World – My first Aldous Huxley novel. Loved it! I’ve added more Huxley novels to my “to-read” list, and as a result am determined to re-read 1984 by Orwell as well.

The Good Soldier – Liked this very much! It was also part of Random House’s Top 100 Best Novels.

Bloodline – First Star Wars novel, for a fan, this is sad to admit. Decided to read this as it was part of canon and reviewed very well. I enjoyed this novel very much, and have added all the other Star Wars canon novels to my list.

The Magnificent Ambersons – enjoyed this so very much! The main character has the same name as the main character in Stephen King’s 11/22/63. Both characters are time travelers in a way. In the Magnificent Ambersons, George Amberson is mentally stuck in the past while time, and civilization rush past him making changes to his life.

The Shining – How did I not read this before? I blame the movie. I loved the movie, however I knew I needed to step away for a significant amount of time. I loved the characters immensely as well as the universe it is set in. As soon as I finished, I eyed my copy of Doctor Sleep that has been on my shelf for years waiting for me to be ready to begin.

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) – Holy shit, Brandon Sanderson! And I thought I loved the Mistborn Saga! This is the second novel in the series I read last year, and it is just as great as the first (Way of Kings). I now visit Sanderson’s blog every week to see how he is progressing on the third book in the series (he is on 3rd Draft).

So this year, 17 books are the goal, and I’ve upped my Kindle library as well as the hardcopy library. Hoping to find some gems this year as I continue to push towards completing all the various lists I have compiled, from science fiction and horror to the classics.

As of this writing, I’ve finished reading one novel, and a quarter of the way through another. So I am on a good pace to start!

Goodreads Challenge: September Update

I am now nine months into my goodreads.com self challenge. I have read six of the sixteen books I had set out to read for the year. I knew going into the challenge, that sixteen books was a hell of a challenge, given my work schedule and my penchant for gaming.

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The six books I did read, however I enjoyed very much.

    The Marketing Gurus – I read this mainly for work. The marketing classes I took in college did not prepare me well for marketing in the real world. Come to think of it, neither did the Computer Science courses I took. This books was basically an outdated cribs notes of marketing books and theses. This was a 3 star book.
    The Alchemist – Uplifting book that reads as a fable. I give it 4 stars.
    The Way of All Flesh – I picked this book as it is on the Random House 100 Best Novels list. This was a very interesting book for me. Interesting parallels into my own early journey through life. I give it 4 stars.
    The Beautiful and The Damned – I loved the Great Gatsby, so decided to pick up another of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s works. I was not disappointed. An interesting look into the relationship of a marriage, where both partners are equally selfish and narcissistic. This is especially so, as the characters’ main focus surrounds money and status, instead of each other. I give it 4 stars.
    The Emperor’s Soul – Brandon Sanderson is quickly becoming a favorite author of mine. This book takes place in the same universe as Elantris, and has an awesome new magic system, albeit similar to the magic used in Elantris. Only regret is that there aren’t more stories or follow on books set in this universe. 5 stars!
    The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) – My second Brandon Sanderson novel this year. He’s created yet another world/universe with a great magic system and great characters. I didn’t want to start on a series, however from what friends and reviews tell me, this is a great series to start. Luckily, Sanderson is almost as prolific a writer as Stephen King, so I shouldn’t have to wait long for the series to end (regardless of whether or not I would want it to end). This is another 5 star book from Sanderson!

I’ve got a fully loaded Kindle shelf, and 2 shelves in my home office loaded with fiction to read. I am going to make an honest run at hitting my 16 books for the year, and hopefully make a dent in Random House’s 100 Best Novels list.

100 Essential Novels Scratch-off Chart

For the 16 years-ish, I have made it my mission (err…bucket-list) to read every book on Random House’s 100 Best Novels list. Sadly, I have not made the kind of dent I wanted.

Somehow, I found Pop Chart Lab, and they have yet another way for me feed my OCD for completion of lists and at the same time have some cool artwork. It appears there are some books not on my other list(s), so that makes this even better.

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Pop Chart Lab’s description of the product:

Need a book recommendation? How about 100? Scratch that literary itch with this stunning scratch-off chart of essential novels from 1605 to present. Each timeless work is represented by an evocative, hand-drawn cover design—gently scratch the gold foil off each novel you’ve read and reveal an additional, narrative-specific design detail hidden underneath!

I ordered this today, and am super-excited for it to arrive. I can’t wait to start scratching off novels from the chart!

You can order your own, here.

Welcome 2016!

Welcome 2016!

This year, Mrs. Guru and I welcomed in 2016 whilst surrounded by our very dear friends. We looked back on a year that was truly a mixed bag of emotions. I lost a very dear friend of mine to a heart attack early on in the year, and right before Thanksgiving, my mother-in-law lost her 5 year battle with cancer. I discovered a very close friend from childhood is wrestling with his own demons, and is being brainwashed in the name of religion.

On the other side of that 2015 coin, was a year of re-connections. I reconnected with old friends and family, and my father with whom I had never really had a relationship with. In some cases, people reached out to me. In the case of my father, I took the first step at reconnecting. Sometimes it takes the loss of those closest to you to remind you that your life is too short, and that your life is made up of those that have been, are, and will be in it.

This year I will do my best to reconnect with those that I have lost touch with, and continue to build bridges with those I currently have in my life. Whether they know it or not, they have had a hand in creating what I am today.

Lee Child and Stephen King talk Jack Reacher

This is a great interview/conversation between my favorite storyteller, and one of my favorite storyteller’s favorite storytellers. Oh, yeah! Say that three times fast. Lee Child comes off as having a great personality, and the interview plus Q & A was very insightful. I may go ahead and pick up one of his Reacher books as result of watching this video.

Goodbye Egon…

Today, as I drank my first cup of coffee and settled in to my desk at work, I prepared myself for yet another Monday. I went over the current to-do list and marked off which items I needed to cover ASAP, and which would take me more time. Then, I checked the front page of Reddit. To my shock, I read that Harold Ramis has passed away.

Growing up, Ghostbusters was one of my favorite films; and when they filmed Ghostbusters 2 on my block and in my neighborhood, I was ecstatic. I grew up watching all the great comedies that Ramis either starred in or wrote. Whether it was Animal House, Stripes, or Ghostbusters, lines from each of these movies sometimes crawled into my conversations. The article goes on to laud of all his achievements, as well as the fact that he went back to his roots and lived in Chicago up to his death.

Harold Ramis’ work made a huge impression on me growing up. His portfolio of work will live on enriching the lives of kids, and grown-ups alike for years to come. I am saddened that someone I watched growing up has passed, but I am very grateful for all the laughs he gave me.

Goodbye, Egon!

January 2014 recap…

The first month into this new year, and I am trying my damndest to keep up with resolutions made for the year.

– I am currently about a third of the way through Kim, by Rudyard Kipling. I didn’t think I would be as interested in this classic as I already am. I like the characters in the story, but not as much as I like learning about the culture of the time. It is proving to be a great choice as a starting point for my “Books Read of 2014.”

– My company was acquired, which has led to a flurry of work, preparation, idea generation, etc. The overall vibe I get is basically positive, and it helps in getting through the grueling workweek.

– Mara Jade is still growing, pretty much every day she is learning new ways in which to annoy me. Be it chewing up my shoes, sneakers, hats, socks, and underwear, she does it and then looks up at me wondering why I keep shouting no. I love this dog.

– I haven’t hit the gym as of yet, however I have started wearing my Fitbit religiously and find that I am forcing myself to get out there and walk more. There is now a competition amongst those in office for who has the most amount of steps for the month of February. People are checking their steps made daily, and this pushes everyone farther to be that person on the top of the heap. I am just happy that I have begun to shed some weight; however, the weight loss is also due to the fact that I am changing my eating habits as well as slowly changing my lifestyle to something healthier.

I am focusing more on improving myself. I am starting my improving my health, and then focusing on the things that bring me genuine joy. I’ve dedicated a lot to my job and career, and now need to focus on me and my wife.

This year, I am going to make awesome. Even if it is through sheer will.