I am linking up with Leigh Kramer for her What I’m Into series (a few days late). Since the new school semester started at the beginning of March I have been much busier than I was in January and February which means I’ve done a lot less reading/watching/listening, etc. than I would like. So, I’m including a few from February as well to round out the list. I am very excited to have a guest post for Briana Meade coming out very soon, so stay tuned for that!
What I’ve Been Reading:
- Way of Kings and Word of Radiance. Books 1 & 2 of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Chronicles. Oh. Em. Gee. Some of the best books I have read ever. Period. And I have read a looooot of books. Beautiful writing, stunning world-building, interesting plot, complex characters, twists and turns. These books have everything. The only downside is that the second one just came out this month, so it will probably be another three years before Sanderson churns out his next 1,000 page masterpiece. Also, I’m cheating a little bit because I am not quite done with Words of Radiance, but maybe you can cut me some slack.
- Notes from a Blue Bike Tsh Oxenreider’s new book about living simply and creating the life you want to live. In many ways I was inspired by this book to evaluate and define what it is I want out of life. What are my priorities? What are the things that matter most deeply to me? What are the values I want to build my life around? And how do I make those things reality. You only live once and you can either whine the whole time about how life isn’t the way you wish it was, or you can find ways to intentionally create the life you want to live. Tsh gives examples from various times in her family’s lives when they have been living in Turkey, in Austin, Texas and in a tiny town in Oregon. I mostly really enjoyed this book and its message. But then she wrote a chapter about traveling and how it’s important for their family and so they have found a way to make it work even after having kids. At first I was like, “Hurray! It’s totally possible, see?!” And then I read about how they spent a week in Paris with their kids and made compromises like barely seeing the Louvre and stopping at playgrounds so their kids could get out energy and foregoing a romantic picnic by the Eiffel Tower. And that’s where she lost me. Because all I could think was, “That sounds great, except for the part where your kids were there and you had to go to all of the playgrounds in Paris.” So, this confirmed for me that I need to go to Paris before we have kids.
- Girl at the End of the World. This is Elizabeth Esther’s memoir about growing up in and leaving a fundamentalist cult. It was equal parts heartbreaking and hopeful. Although not many of us have experienced the level of fundamentalism and abuse Esther experienced, I thought her story shed light on what spiritual abuse looks like in an extreme case which helped me understand what it can look like in milder situations. I also drew hope from the way Esther and her family were eventually able to make peace with God and find a way back to the Church. If anyone had a reason to give up on Church entirely, it was Esther, and reading her story gave me hope for my own.
- Allegiant– Veronica Roth. I read this because I read the first two books in the Divergent trio and felt compelled to finish the story. It’s easily the worst of the three books. In this book the narrative is told by two first-person narrators (Tris and Four) and chapters alternate between them, but the voices were so similar I constantly had to flip back to the beginning of the chapter to remember who was supposed to be speaking. The plot feels very fragmented rather than cohesive and in the end I still wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be hoping for.
- Gone Girl –Gillian Flynn. I read this as a quick read at the end of my vacation and I can’t say I liked it all that much. Without ruining the ending (even though I don’t really recommend reading it) I’ll just say that in my opinion, the author sacrificed an opportunity for complexity in the characters and some insights on relationships for the sake of sensationalism. Not a fan.
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette? – Maria Semple. I read this book as a light vacation kind of read and I was not disappointed. It’s fun, it’s clever, it’s well-written. I didn’t guess the ending from page room. The characters are unique and interesting. If you are looking for something light but not mindless, I’d recommend it.
- Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. This is another long fantasy book, but the prose is stunning and the characters are great. In simplest terms, it tells the story of a young boy who loses his family to some mysterious forces and spends a lifetime trying to find out what happened to them and seek justice. With about a million plot twists along the way. If you are at all into fantasy, read it.
What I’ve Been Watching:
Captain America – Winter Soldier: This was another typical superhero movie and I found it entertaining as I generally like superhero movies. I’ve always found the Captain America character in himself a bit bland since he is just sort of an all-around good guy without a lot of internal conflicts. I did think this movie added a little more complexity to the Captain America saga. And he’s easy on the eyes.
The Grand Budapest Hotel – What to say…it’s a Wes Anderson movie. While I LOVED Moonrise Kingdom, this movie was harder to categorize as something I “enjoyed.” Some parts of it were deeply sad, but were mixed in with Anderson’s characteristic quirky humor so that it was also amusing. But it was hard to say, “Oh I loved it!” when there were some very sad or upsetting elements. I do always love the look of Wes Anderson movies. Each shot is like a painting and I find them very visually interesting.
Since finishing both Sherlock and Downton Abbey, I’ve been keeping up with my regular shows including Nashville, Parenthood, Bones (out of loyalty, even though every episode is essentially the same), and The series finale for How I Met Your Mother took me through an emotional wringer I may never recover from.
Jonathan and I have also started watching the IT Crowd and are trying to catch up on Scandal which we just started watching a few months ago. (Are we the only people who don’t find Olivia Pope to be all that sympathetic of a character, btw? I just spend most of the show feeling really bad for David Rosen). We also watch Parks and Recreation, New Girl, and Modern Family as they air.
What I’ve Been Eating:
I made a zucchini lasagna for the first time a few weeks ago and I am absolutely raving about it. It’s hands-down the best thing I have cooked since moving to Korea. You use the zucchini instead of lasagna noodles so it’s much healthier for you (though it does still have all that cheese). I’ve actually made it twice since I found the recipe and talked about it at least once a day. I’m that proud of it.
Also, I am maybe obsessed with pinot noir. I can’t seem to stop myself from buying it every time we go to Costco or Homeplus (the only 2 stores in our city that sell wine). It’s like I’m stocking up for the apocalypse. This wouldn’t be such a terrible thing, except that Jonathan doesn’t really drink wine. So it falls to me to finish all those bottles. I bravely soldier on…
It’s finally spring in Korea which means cherry blossoms everywhere! We are headed to the Jinhae Cherry Blossom festival this weekend and running a 10K in our city which we will hopefully write all about soon (with many pictures!) on our Two Sore Thumbs blog.
What about you? Anything you are into that I am really missing out on?
I’ve had zucchini lasagna before but never one where the zucchini replaced the noodles. I’m intrigued! A Cherry Blossom Festival sounds lovely!
Hi, Leigh. The zucchini lasagna is amazing, haha. All of the flavor of regular lasagna, but cuts out a lot of extra heaviness from those huge noodles. The zucchini doesn’t have a super strong flavor so the main difference is a sightly different texture. And the cherry blossoms were lovely, though the festival, like everything in Korea, was CROWDED. Haha. Thanks for stopping by.