aboutabook

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan #Review

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan


The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

Released: January 2011
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Age Group: Adult/New Adult
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 211
Source: Purchased

I am smitten with the format of The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. The novel is a series of dictionary entries, and each word represents a feeling or a thought or a moment that occur during the course of a romantic relationship. The entries are brief, but Levithan’s writing is powerful. If you’ve been in love or if you’ve been hurt or if you’ve been in love with the idea of love, then at least one passage will resonate with you, knock you down, leave you breathless. This was mine:

corrode, v.
I spent all this time building a relationship. Then one night I left the window open, and it started to rust.

While I appreciated the creativity of the storytelling, I did struggle with the story as a whole. At first, I thought I was reading vignettes about many different relationships. It wasn’t until the end that I realized it was about just one relationship. I ended up giving the book a quick, second read-through so I could gain a better understanding of what I had just read. I also feel like I may have picked this book up at a bad time. The Lover’s Dictionary isn’t the happiest of novels. For every entry about love and butterflies, there were twice as many about drinking too much, distrust, and complacency, and it weighed heavy on my heart.

I recommend this book…but not if you’re falling in love because it will just “harsh your mellow”. And not if you’ve just gotten out of a relationship because it will make you feel even worse. Everyone else should give it a go though!

The Weekend Review

Work in Progress

It’s been a while, right? My last post was in May, and normally that would mean that I found nothing to write about during the almost-three-month hiatus, but not this time. I’ve endured a number of changes the past few months (mostly good), and I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around everything. Where do I even begin?

I’ve closed the door on a worn-out and toxic relationship– the kind of relationship that leaves you as a shell of your former self. I’m slowly rebuilding my bank accounts, my goals, my dreams, my character, my confidence. It’s exhausting, but for the first time in five years I can actually see toward the future, and it’s definitely bright.

I’ve opened my arms and embraced new and healthier relationships. It started with a Bachlorette Party at the beginning of June. Then, I went to my very first company outing despite having worked for the same company for almost two years. On Friday, I actually went out for beer with a couple of my co-workers and, I also have some (vague) plans to reconnect with old college buddies.

I’ve also started dating someone, which has been both an exciting and scary experience. More on that later though.

These days I can only complain about work, and trust me I’ve done that so much recently. We’re barely surviving all of the changes and transitions that occurred during our busy season this year, and the work environment has become incredibly negative as a result. For the first time in almost two years, I feel dread when I think about work, and I really, really need a vacation. I look forward to when things start to normalize again.

And just as my life is going through changes, so is Books & Tea. I’ve started with a facelift. Honestly, I have no idea what the heck I’m doing. All I know is I sort of had an idea, and it didn’t really translate well, but after two hours of updating old posts with “featured images”, I deemed it too late to turn back. I imagine I’ll have to create some sharp, attractive graphics so there is some kind of consistency, and maybe I’ll start some new, weekly feature, but mostly I just want to get back to posting regularly.

Books & Tea and my dear readers, I’ve missed you.

The Weekend Review

The Weekend Review

1. Have I told you that I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series? Again? These books have cast a spell on me (har har har!).

2. Fitocracy.com is a cool website and iphone App that marries physical activity with the level-up systems of RPGs. I get to burn calories while simultaneously satisfying my nerdy desires to gain experience points. Currently, I’m a level five paladin fitocrat, and I only have 864 points to earn before I level up.

3. The office staff had their monthly meeting, and our manager bought everyone Panera’s. In the past, we were allowed to customize our orders to our hearts content, but that took a long time, and it cost a lot of money. Now, our manager just buys a bunch of turkey sammiches and asiago steak sammiches for everyone. Except for me. I just found out that she orders the Mediterranean Veggie sammich special for me. It is a small gesture, but it actually made me feel appreciated.

Coffee and Mango

Coffee and Mango

4. Mangoes. I’ve never been a mango fanatic before, but now I cannot get enough of them. I eat them plain, I eat them along side homemade coconut rice pudding, and I eat them on top of steak salad with homemade honey lime dressing.

5. Three Day Weekend! Thanks to Memorial Day, I get one more day to really mess up my sleeping schedule.

 

 

magical

Is it possible to re-read a series too many times?

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I’ve mentioned before (here and here), when the seasons shift from Summer into Autumn, I re-read the Harry Potter series. The crisp air, the Fall colors, and the overcast skies make me think about feasts in the Great Hall, trips to Hogsmeade, and mugs of butterbeer. This year, the hankering to re-read Harry Potter has come two seasons early. I blame it on Al Roker, who has been reciting Harry Potter-themed trivia on Comcast On Demand for the chance to win tickets to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. After hearing Hedwig’s theme for the umpteenth time, I could resist no longer, and I decided to hunt for my books. You’d think I wouldn’t have to “hunt” for something I cherish and read so frequently though. Alas! I am dreadfully unorganized.

I embarked on another re-read around midnight on Saturday. After cracking open the cover of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the 8th time, at least, I was struck by a memory of my first, true re-read. My final semester at college, right before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part one) hit theaters, I decided to re-read the series from start to finish. I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time in probably 10 years, and I was flabbergasted by how much I forgot. I had become so accustomed to the introduction in the movie that I forgot all about Vernon Dursely’s uncomfortable day at Grunnings and the shower of shooting stars over Kent, which was probably bewitched by Dedalus Diggle. Since then, it’s been a rare occasion that more than a year should pass before picking up at least one of the books to read (last year was one such occasion), and I feel I could practically recite parts of the series.

I wonder if there is such thing as reading a book (or in my case, a series) too many times. Is it possible that one day, the spell these books have cast on me will run its course? …Naaaaaah! Surely not. That’s kind of like saying one day I will stop craving my mom’s homemade chicken noodle soup!

What book(s) do you frequently re-read? Have you ever felt like you read a book too many times? 

confess

Writer’s Block Anonymous

During my freshman year of college, I had one teacher say something to me that, for better or for worse, determined my college career. “This is a well-written piece, and I know of a small, on-campus publication that would love to print it. Have you ever thought about studying English?” The following semester, I disregarded my parents pleas to study business, and I declared a major in English. But with an Emphasis on Practical Writing. It was a compromise, you see; in case creative writing never worked out, at least I could write interoffice memos really well. And I never did submit my essay to the small, on-campus publication.  This isn’t about regret though. Not really.

Shortly after college, I stopped writing, and after I stopped writing, I stopped dreaming. I could fill up a notebook with all of my excuses, but it all boiled down to the value I placed on myself as an individual and myself as a writer, which was zilch. Aside from these sporadic blog posts, I haven’t written anything in about 4 years.

Last month, I got a new supervisor at work, and after work I stopped by her office to chit-chat. Honestly, this lady terrified me, and this was my way of testing the waters. For some reason, I mentioned that I used to love to write, but lately it’s caused me a lot of anxiety. I mentioned that fear of failure kept me from telling stories, even though I recognized this was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The next morning, she approached me and told me she ruminated over our conversation from the previous day, and it upset her that I wasn’t writing anymore. She printed out a quote and stuck it to the whiteboard in my office:

There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure. –Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Then she told me that I need to start writing again because I’d never be satisfied otherwise. This caught me by surprise because for once, someone seemed to give a damn– someone other than my mom and dad, who have to encourage me to keep writing because they are my parents***. But, the encouragement didn’t stop there. Once a week, she asks me if I went home and wrote. She sends me encouraging words and pictures in e-mails, like the Rumi quote above. She turns accounting lessons into life lessons into reasons why I need to write.

Sometimes I forget why I write because I read articles about writing for an audience and writing for publishers and writing for money and writing for fame and writing for change. Sometimes that burden is too much because at the end of the day, most of us started writing for ourselves. Because art nourishes in a way that accounting never could. So, last weekend I wrote. On the back side of neon orange-colored printer paper. With an equally orange pen that had the perfect amount of inkiness to slide across the page with ease but without coating the side of my hand with black smudges. My hand started to cramp after just a few minutes because I haven’t written with such vigor in a long time.


 

Footnote:
*** It’s like when I was really young, I used to say I was going to be a tiger when I grew up. Or a cowboy-girl. I’m certain it was met with, “Honey, you can be anything you put your mind to”. I obviously could never become a tiger, but good parents don’t discourage big dreams. (Cowboy-girl, on the other hand, is still a potential job title that I may or may not strive for once I gain a little more work experience.)

 

feature

That time I did a Follow Friday on a Saturday: Japan!

Yesterday, I did not go to work. I woke up at 9:00 in the morning bathed in warmth and the sun’s rays. It felt like a magnificent Saturday morning. Alas! It was only Friday. This is a much better scenario than thinking the day is Friday, but in reality it’s only Thursday (or worse, Wednesday). I did forget about participating in Follow Friday, but this week’s question was too fun for me to pass up.

Spring Break: Where would be your favorite destination spot if you could join the Spring Break festivities?

First, this would require me to still have a Spring Break. Adulthood is such a drag! But, if I could choose any place to visit for a Spring Break, I would go to Japan.

Hanami by Eric Monfort

Hanami by Eric Montfort

1. I would have a Hanami (花見)– Hanami means “flower viewing”, and they take place when the cherry blossoms are flowering. I’ve read that many people get together and have picnics in parks, but even to walk amongst the trees and their delicate flowers would be a delight.

Okunion Cemetery on Mount Koya from Jordy Meow

Okunion Cemetery on Mount Koya from Jordy Meow

2. Take a hike on Mount Koya– After spending a day hiking mountain trails, you can experience a temple lodging by staying at one of the Buddhist temples.

Old Town in Takayama

Old Town in Takayama

3. Travel back in time in Old Town in Takayama– The houses that line these streets are preserved from the Edo Period (1600-1868). Take tours of sake breweries, enjoy a cup of coffee at a coffee house, or even take a tour of houses to see how people lived during the Edo Period.

Kenrokuen from trako_aus

Kenrokuen from trako_aus

4. Visit Kenrokuen– Kenrokuen in Kanzawa is considered to be on of Japan’s most beautiful landscape gardens. While you’re there, you can also visit a tea house and watch a tea ceremony.

Nagoya Castle from Yevgen Pogoryelov

Nagoya Castle from Yevgen Pogoryelov

5. Daydream in Nagoya Castle– because how could you say no to a quintessential touristy thing like touring a castle?!

Japan is on my bucket list, so really I’d be happy to visit even in the dead of winter. Where is your dream Spring Break destination?

Follow Friday is a meme hosted by Parajunkee’s Views and Alison Can Read

justmycup

Just My Cup of Tea: April Showers

In the north, there often is one week of warm weather early in the year that makes northerners feel irrationally hopeful that spring is around the corner. It usually takes place in March. We start packing away our long johns and bulky sweatshirts…only to be greeted with a porch-full of snow a few days later. Now it’s April, and the true battle for warm weather begins. It snowed last earlier this week, dipped down into the teens at night, and now it’s 70 degrees and sunny. Which begs the question, why am I indoors typing up this post?! But, I digress.

I planned this post shortly after browsing the Farmer’s Almanac, which suggested the Great Lakes region was going to have a soggy springtime. It made me think of that proverb “April shower bring May flowers”. In reality, it’s not been overly rainy, at least not in my town. The forecast always says rain, but it never comes. It’s kind of disappointing because I love rainy days.

Ah well. Here is a collection of fantastic tea cups and mugs for rainy days.

Rain from Society6

Rain from Society6

The Rain mug makes me think of rolly faces pressed up against rain-spattered living room windows looking out onto the world with longing. I never experienced this because I was always the kid splashing around in puddles and making mud pies. I had good parents, and they had good carpet cleaners.

Polka Rain from Society6

Polka Rain from Society6

If you take your tea or coffee with a little whimsy, then I think Polka Rain is the mug for you!

Monsoon from Society6

Monsoon from Society6

Somehow, I don’t think this really represents a monsoon. But hey, what do I know? I live in Michigan, and we don’t get monsoons here.

White Cloud and Rain from Pieces of Porcelain @ etsy.com

White Cloud and Rain from Pieces of Porcelain @ etsy.com

I love this White Cloud and Rain mug from Pieces of Porcelain. So, the handle looks a little cramped, but the patterned cloud and the raised rain drops are unique. Pieces of Porcelain offers a lot of really unique and clever pieces of pottery, so mosey on over to her etsy shop to see more.

The details on the Rainy Day mug are subtle. I love the lightly raised rain cloud at the mouth of the teacup!

Which of these rainy mugs is your favorite? Alternately, is springtime sprouting in your neck of the woods? Has it been particularly rainy?