I am a disgrace to the reading community. I’ve read maybe 200 books in my very short 23 years, not including the “Spot Run” and “Cat Takes a Bath” books I read as a child. My library is a disgrace. I have two, only TWO, book cases filled with books. What kind of reader/writer am I? A terrible excuse for one. My library is lacking so many books… I will never catch up.

I read a lot for my classes, but I don’t pay that much attention and half the time I skim these books.

I blame my parents. Yes, I said it. I blame you Mom and Dad! You didn’t give me books! Well, that’s not true. If I asked for a book I usually got it. But they didn’t really encourage books. I can’t really blame them, English is their second language. My dad was never a big reader, he’s a worker bee and I get that from him (my drive to have two jobs I can attribute to him). My mom was a reader as a child, but she read Czech books. My love for writing was my doing, I loved making up stories. That I can give partial credit to my childhood best friend (who will be known as Niche). Niche could never fall asleep during sleepovers and she would always give me heck for falling asleep first, so I would lay on the floor or next to her in bed and tell her stories until she (or in some cases I) fell asleep.

But my love of literature and books I must blame on my brother’s friends. As I was slowly starting my high school honours English classes all his friends (but not him) were starting their Majors in English at University. They talked about books and suggested books for me and I fell in love. Also, I have to attribute some of my love of literature to my 10th grade English honours  teacher and my 11th and 12th grade English honours and Literature teacher. These men encouraged me, they were fun and serious at the same time. They didn’t take shit from the other teachers, they were sarcastic and fun and I felt so in touch with these men. In 12th grade I was reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, of course half of the content was lost on me but I still found it beautiful. My teacher saw this on my desk and we began to talk about it. I felt like an equal to a man I looked up to. I felt intelligent and I felt respected. I felt like comfortable and in my element.

But I screwed this all up by not reading enough!

I made a list this morning, a list of all the books I need for my library or want for my library. Off the top of my head this is what I came up with:

José Saramago: Baltasar and Blimunda, The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, The Double, The Elephant’s Journey, Cain, The Stone Raft, Journey to Portugal, The History of the Siege of Lisbon

Margaret Atwood: Surfacing, Life Before Man, Bodily Harm, Cat’s Eye, The Robber Bride, The Penelopiad, MaddAddam (not yet released)

Charles Dickens: The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, The Adventures of Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cites, Great Expectations

Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Life, the Universe and Everything, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, Mostly Harmless, And Another Thing…

Tom Robbins: Jitterbug Perfume, Skinny Legs and All, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Another Roadside Attraction, Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas

Cassandra Clare: City of Ashes, City of Class, City of Fallen Angels, City of Lost Souls, City of Heavenly Fire (not yet released).

Angela Carter: Wise Children, Nights at the Circus, The Passion of New Eve

Gabriel Garcia Marquez: In Evil Hour, The General in His Labyrinth

James Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses

Milan Kundera: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

S.E. Hinton: The Outsiders

Umbeito Eco: The Name of the Rose

Susanna Clarke: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norwell

Laini Taylor: Days of Blood and Starlight

And this is just what I thought of in the span of a half hour! If there’s anything that anyone thinks I should add or that I have to read then please tell me! I clearly have my work cut out for me, but the more the merrier. Plus if anyone wants to get me a present for any possible situation (birthday, Christmas, Name’s Day, etc) just pick one from the list. I recently finished The Great Gatsby, but there will be no review until I watch the new movie. I want to compare it. I’ve also got my judgemental cap ready for when I see it.

I just started All the Names by José Saramago and I’m only on page 33 but I already have quotes stashed from it’s pages. This is always a great sign.

Similar blog posts:

The Three BookateersRecommended Reads

Dan’s Book Club40 classic literature books I should have read in school

Red RoseThe Book Guilt List

Japan KaleidoskopMy Reading List of Japanese Literature 


Antlers of a Dilemma

So, here’s the sich: My tutoring job pays me decent wage, but I get 8 hours a week. Not nearly enough to support me in my endeavour to become an adult and move into an apartment.

Since the company I work for does not proceed with tutoring over the students’ summer vacations I plan to get another serving job to increase my income and support my lifestyle. If this second serving job were to work out, I plan not to go back to the tutoring company. Seems all fine and dandy does it not?

Well, unfortunately it would appear that my students have become accustomed to me. Why? Beats the hell outta me. I personally think I’m a terrible tutor. Let’s be honest here, when I’m not in the mood I deal with my tutoring sections by telling my student to write an essay on whatever topic I pull out of my… head and then proceed to go over it with them when they’ve finished. What do I do while they sweat and stress over this random essay topic? Why, I study my own homework, or read. I give them my attention when they ask for it, but mainly I’m in my own world. I’m not a very good tutor, or so I have led myself to believe.

Turns out, my ESL student is adamant that I tutor him over the summer, and that I continue to tutor him when the new school year arrives. Seriously, Kid? I know that I’ve been your tutor for two years, but how have you not yet realized that I have NO idea what I’m doing? He even recommended me to a friend, who I also tutor now. Today, another student surprised me, she also asked me to tutor her over the summer. WHAT IS HAPPENING? Did they conspire? As soon as I decided I want out, they’re trying to pull me back in! What the hell am I doing right?

What’s a girl to do? I need that time to work at a job that will allow me to pay my rent, also if I were to tutor them by what miracle would I get any of my own work done? It seems like a simple answer, “Just say no.” It works with drugs, and forest fires, why not with telling kids I wont teach them? Unfortunately, I have a  weak heart and feel obligated to these kids. Who else is going to tell them that what they’re doing is actually quite pointless and will in no way help them when they get to college or university? For my own sanity’s sake (what little is left anyways), I need to say no. I need to tell them, “Hey, I’m sorry I’ve got my own shit to deal with.” But it feels so cold! I feel like I’m shoving the baby bird out of the nest right after it’s hatched, so long birdy, have a nice fall, try not to die at the bottom.

Of course, I realize I’m exaggerating  and that these kids will just find another tutor. But do I really have an obligation to these kids, (keep in mind, that “kids” in this context means high school students)? Or am I just filling myself with needless guilt (which I tend to do)? It does seem like I’ve already made up my mind to say no, but I guess what I’m looking for is reassurance that I’m not hanging these kids out to dry to benefit myself.

If you think you have an answer for me, go ahead, lay it on me. I’ve always appreciated the advice of strangers, they’re never biased in my favour.

(I apologize for the enormous amount of cliches you just endured, it happens when I’m in a pickle.)

Chaucer: A Love/Hate Relationship

Undoubtedly if you’ve ever studied the english language at an institution of “higher learning” you’ve come across Geoffrey Chaucer.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s a clever guy, “ahead of his time” as we say about the greats,  but holy shit can I get sick of him real damn fast!
This is my fourth, count ’em, FOURTH paper on Chaucer. And only the first of two for this particular medieval literature course.  You might say, “then stop taking medieval literature courses.” Well, I assure you I’ve considered it, but it’s Chaucer or Shakespeare, and as much as Chaucer can piss me off Shakespeare should be heard not read. It is a play after all, so why make me read and analyze it when it’s meant to be watched on a stage to entertain on a primary level, not only a literary level. The point is to watch and hear Shakespeare over and over, not pick apart his works on the page over and over. At least Chaucer was meant to be read.
That being said, what else could I possibly say about Chaucer? They, and by “they” I mean the academic community of literature, have been analyzing this one sarcastic, witty, condescending bastard for YEARS! What in my three years of university could I have possibly learnt that would generate some new fanciful and enlightening insight into Chaucer that has not already been thought of? What do they expect me to write? If they want some recycled idea, why don’t they read their own papers from way back when on Chaucer, I’m certain they had to write some.
That being said, I realize it’s important for us to explore the classics and the greats in order to understand where modern literature has grown from, but could we PLEASE lessen the amount of papers on the man? Yes, he’s brilliant and all that, but honestly how much can I really say about the Wife of Bath that my professor doesn’t already know?

Now, I realize that thinking this and not letting my professor know how I feel about the whole Chaucer stigma is a cop-out, a bitchy and cowardly move.  So, as I can be bitchy, but in no way consider myself a coward when it comes to proving a point (even if I’m wrong) I will let you in on the opening paragraph of this particular Chaucer paper:

For years we have been picking apart the words of Geoffrey Chaucer in his work The Canterbury Tales, trying desperately to come to the right conclusions about his multi-faceted characters. Which authority will decide when the right conclusion has finally been reached? Is there a panel of judges or just one person waiting to say “Yes, this is right,” or will Chaucer descend from the sky to come out and say, “By George, I think they’ve finally understood exactly what I did here?”  No, to my understanding there is no omnipotent authority that will finally tell us we have done well, and we have finally figured out Chaucer. This is the exact purpose of The Canterbury Tales; whichever character is looked at his or her personality can never be pinned down, no matter how palpable the analysis proves to be. This struggle to understand Chaucer comes from his playful look at authority. Chaucer uses his characters as a guise to undermine and expose any perceived authoritative conception.

Of course, I had to provide some literary/academic merit to this particular rant. But I think I got my point across.

I’m starting to feel that university is without a doubt only a business these days. I pay thousands upon thousands of dollars taking classes to be judged by people who have gone through the same process only to end up with this paper, this flimsy, flammable, piece of paper with my name on it that says, “You finished the requirements and passed, you jumped through our hoops and paid through the nose to do so, Congratulations So and So.” This piece of paper will in no way validate my existence as I thought it once would. It is likely that I will not enter the field in which I’ve spent six years trying to attain a degree in. I will most likely end up staying at my two serving jobs because I make enough to get by comfortably. So why am I doing this? I realize that this insight may have spawned from this education, so the irony is not lost on me.

This insight into the bureaucracy and pointlessness of the university degree has been brought to you by a rant on Chaucer… maybe we should be studying him after all.