It’s almost two months into the new year, which means that it’s time to get a few reviews up, otherwise I’m not going to do it when I have a pile of 15 books to review. I’m doing this chronologically, so let’s start with the first book I read this year.
Affektion, by Martin Jern
This is a Swedish novel that I picked up at the library because I like reading young adult fiction as a way to be able to recommend stuff to students. They’re most often quick and easy to read, so they pass me by quickly and that suits me just fine. Affektion is obviously the Swedish spelling of the word “affection” and I picked up the book before I knew that I was going to do this challenge. After I started the challenge I finally filed this under the category “A book with a love triangle”.
It’s about a girl who is kind of a broken soul. Her mother and father aren’t really there in her life and she has a lot of attitude. The book jumps back and forth in the narrative and we learn pretty quickly that this girl and her best friend use their sexuality as a way to manipulate men and get what they want. It starts when they’re twelve years old and our main character Kate Mess (taken name, obviously) starts drinking and exploring more adult stuff. That’s in the flashbacks. In the “current day” narrative we learn that she’s running from something traumatic and that this experience put a wall between Kate and her best friend. The author also uses Facebook comment threads sprinkled in here and there, mainly by the girls’ circle of friends, to give us an idea of how the others look at them.
I had a hard time reading this book because Kate is just so very unsympathetic. I didn’t care about her at all. Maybe it’s because I’ve worked with my share of broken kids and know how frustrating it can be to see them slip away in whatever chaos they’re in. I know that sounds contradictory, but this girl was the kind of kid who doesn’t even try and who brings it on herself. It’s difficult to explain, but there are kids who try and kids who don’t try, who actively seek out chaos despite having every opportunity to avoid it. She’s like that and therefore, all the bad shit that happens to her in the book doesn’t really make my sympathetic to her. She wasn’t the only broken character in the book. It was a parade of people living on the other side of society.
I also had a hard time reading this book because the narrative was all over the place, in different ways. The time aspect was weird. It wasn’t really clear when the different chapters played out or when the Facebook comments happened. You had to piece that together for yourself and sure, I appreciate novels that don’t hold your hand, but there’s good writing and there’s bad writing as far as that goes. Jern didn’t pull it off with this one. The other confusing thing was that, after some time of reading the book, it became obvious that not only does Kate lie to other people, she’s also lying to the reader, and quite possibly also herself. That made some things pretty inconsistent. I appreciate the creative decision to do that, but considering that the book’s audience is teenagers, I highly doubt many of them will understand it.
It’s a depressing read from start to finish, with unsympathetic characters all over the place, and the narrative choices by the author are annoying. It felt like a waste of time to read this.
I rated this 1 out of 5 on Goodreads. Finished it on January 3, 2015.
So we’re at the end of week seven of the year and I’ve read six books, although I plan on getting done with books seven and eight tomorrow or the day after.
Two of the six books I’ve read have been audio books and I will keep doing that, because it means that I get some reading done here and there, like in the car on the way to and from work. That’s good. As for the physical books, my first targets are books I’ve borrowed at the library. The Famous Five, A Christmas Carol, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Birthday Party, Northanger Abbey and Oryx and Crake are my next challenges, probably in that order too. And I’m probably going for Harry Potter for my next audio book. Or The Disaster Artist, since I want to listen to Greg Sestero make his legendary Tommy Wiseau impression.
Anyway, I’m keeping pace and that’s what matters. Hopefully I can get ahead of the game the next month or so. I’ll get through the library books and two audio books until the end of March and I’ll be ahead. My girlfriend shakes her head at my planning and list-making, but it’s actually what keeps me motivated in something like this, I find.
Oh, I’m also going to write reviews, or something like it, of the following:
Affektion (affection), by Martin Jern
9/11, by Noam Chomsky
Söta pojkar är bara på låtsas (cute boys are only make-believe), by Moa Eriksson Sandberg
Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi
The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
Sex Criminals #1, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
We’ll see when I get my thumb out of my ass to do that. I had this blog post open a day and a half before actually writing anything in it. But I’m excited and motivated and that’s what counts.
Hello again! It’s been a while!
I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon that is the 2015 Reading Challenge that has been circulating here and there on the internet. I saw it linked to 9gag and after talking with my girlfriend about it, we decided to give it a go. Then I got sort of carried away with the planning phase of it all. Now I have a very serious Excel file with all the books, grades, number of pages, genres, formats and whatnot. I like lists, okay??? It’s my coping mechanism…
This is what the list looks like. Click it and have a look.
The following is the list I came up with after A TON of searching, thinking, talking about it, thinking some more and wavering back and forth. It’s by no means final.
A book with more than 500 pages: James S.A. Corey – Leviathan Wakes
A classic romance: D.H. Lawrence – Lady Chatterley’s Lover
A book that became a movie: Gillian Flynn – Gone Girl
A book published this year: not yet, waiting to see what comes out
A book with a number in the title: Haruki Murakami – 1Q84, Part 1
A book written by someone under 30: Jonathan Saffran Foer – Everything is Illuminated
A book with non-human characters: David H. Wilson – Robopocalypse
A funny book: Tony Hawks – Round Ireland with a Fridge
A book by a female author: Alice Munro – Runaway
A mystery or thriller: A.D. Miller – Snowdrops
A book with a one-word title: China Mieville – Kraken
A book of short stories: Ryan North – Machine of Death
A book set in a different country (from which you live): Neal Stephenson – The Diamond Age
A non-fiction book: Jacob Gudiol – Skitmat (Swedish for junkfood)
A popular author’s first book: John Green – Looking for Alaska
A book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet: Neil Gaiman – The Ocean at the End of the Lane
A book a friend recommended: Neal Stephenson – Snow Crash
A Pulitzer Prize-winning book: Cormac McCarthy – The Road
A book based on a true story: Conn Iggulden – Stormbird
A book at the bottom of your to-read list: Barbara Ehrenreich – Bright-Sided
A book your mom/dad loves: Hermann Hesse – Siddhartha (originally a book my mom loves, but she died 20 years ago and I have no clue what books she loved)
A book that scares you: Mark Z. Danielewski – House of Leaves
A book more than 100 years old: Jane Austen – Northanger Abbey
A book based entirely on its cover: Joyce Carol Oates – Karthage
A book you were supposed to read in high school, but didn’t: George Orwell – Animal Farm
A memoir: Greg Sestero – The Disaster Artist
A book you can finish in a day: Noam Chomsky – 9-11
A book with antonyms in the title: Daniel Kahneman – Thinking, Fast and Slow
A book set somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit: Bret Easton Ellis – American Psycho
A book that came out the year you were born: Astrid Lindgren – Ronja Rövardotter
A book with bad reviews: Margaret Atwood – Oryx and Crake
*A trilogy (First): William Gibson – Virtual Light
*A trilogy (Second): William Gibson – Idoru
*A trilogy (Third): William Gibson – All Tomorrow’s Parties
A book from your childhood: Enid Blyton – Five on Finniston Farm
A book with a love triangle: Martin Jern – Affektion
A book set in the future: Joe Haldenman – The Forever War
A book set in high school: Stephen Chbotsky – The Perks of Being a Wallflower
A book with a color in the title: Matthew Quick – The Silver Linings Playbook
A book that made you cry: holding off on this one until I know what book makes me cry
A book with magic: J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
A graphic novel: Matt Fraction – Sex Criminals #1
A book by an author you’ve never read before: John Scalzi – Old Man’s War
A book you own but have never read: Chris Kluwe – Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies
A book that takes place in your hometown: Moa Eriksson Sandberg – Söta pojkar är bara på låtsas (“Cute boys are only make-believe”)
A book that was originally written in a different language: Neil Gaiman – The Sleeper and the Spindle (I’m Swedish and this is written in English)
A book set during Christmas: Charles Dickens – A Christmas Carol
A book written by an author with your same initials: Thomas Jefferson – Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson
A play: Harold Pinter – The Birthday Party
A banned book: Wilbur Smith – When the Lion Feeds
A book based on or turned into a TV show: George R.R. Martin – A Game of Thrones
A book you started but never finished: Tom McCarthy – Remainder
The plan for this is to get it its own blog tag and for me to write about each book that I read this year. I can’t remember a year when I read 52 books, but there’s a first time for everything. I need to average about 45 pages per day to keep this on track, but not all pages are the same. Some go by in a blur and some take forever.
I’m fairly sure about 90% of the list. There are a few books that I could very well be changing along the way. It depends on what I can get my hands on. I have most of them already and I have borrowed a handful from the library, so I’ll be reading those first. I’ve already read three of them and I’ve started a handful more. Reviews/impressions on the first three will be coming up shortly, along with pictures of my book piles, because pictures are always fun.
This is a new kind of challenge for me. When I went to university and took literature courses I probably came pretty close to 52 books in a year, but I don’t think I got there all the way. I’m really pumped about this because I’ve managed to get books that I’m very excited about. I’ll be elaborating on all of my book choices when I read them and write about them here.
The Little Boy and the Old Man
Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”
Said the old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
“I do that too,” laughed the little old man.
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
I know what you mean,” said the little old man.”
― Shel Silverstein
Heh… the last time I wrote a post on this blog was in August of last year. I was really motivated but then it just fizzled out and too many things got in the way. I did a half-hearted try at following the slow carb diet from the 4 Hour Body book, but that didn’t last very long. I don’t really know why I stopped. A few minutes ago I took out my measuring tape and compared it to the numbers I posted here the last time. On a whim I decided to get back to posting about this. Here are the numbers.
Height: 180 cm (5’11’)
Weight: 109 kg (240.3 lbs)
Hips: 117 cm (46.1 in)
Waist: 107 cm (42.1 in)
Chest: 116 cm (45.7 in)
Left thigh: 64 cm (25.2 in)
Right thigh: 65 cm (25.6 in)
Left bicep: 37 cm (14.6 in)
Right bicep: 38 cm (15 in)
One thing that became obvious to me was that I had measured my thighs wrong. I had used the wrong end of the tape. I did it right this time and concluded that these are the numbers my thighs should have been at last year. That means that my thighs haven’t magically shrunk by A LOT.
I’m encouraged by the numbers because I haven’t really made an effort to eat healthy this year. It’s been the same old thing where I limit myself sometimes and go nuts with too much shitty food on other days. A mixed bag, as usual. But I’m still a little bit smaller than in August.
I talked to my brother about motivation and weight loss a few days ago. He had some clothes that were too big for him so he gave them to me. A few running shorts and shirts, a suit jacket and a complete suit. The suit and suit jacket are too small for me right now, but they are definitely within reach. I’ve also gone through some stuff in my own closet just to motivate me. I’ve consciously kept a lot of things that have been too small for me for a couple of years just because I want to have that as motivation. Obviously it hasn’t worked… yet. I don’t know how to get to that point where I’m really going but I think it’s because I have quite a few goals inside my head that I want to reach and sometimes it becomes overwhelming for me. I should just simplify my approach, which is easier said than done, but I have to try.
I’m putting up a few loose ground rules for myself. They won’t be hard rules because I can bullshit my way past those anyway. That means that if I break them here and there it won’t be a big deal, but if I do it consistently I’m going to guilt trip myself.
– No more candy or snack binges. Sometimes I buy way too much shit that tastes good the first few bites and then I associate the rest with guilt even if it also tastes good. So if I’m buying crap I’ll just buy less of it and ride that first wave I get from it.
– More cooking from scratch. I’ve always been pretty good at cooking most of my own food. The last six months I’ve gone back to a lot of premade meatballs and other stuff like that. On my birthday I got a grill pan and a wok pan and I want to use them for more proper cooking because it’s fun and it also tastes better.
– Find good sites and apps that help me on my way. I’ve kinda sorta used fatsecret.com and Runkeeper. I should use them more. I might go back to using Flickr for food pictures again. It’s just a matter of routines.
– More casaual runs. I went out on my first run of the season a couple of days ago. Going for another one tonight. I mapped out my route and apparently it’s something like 3.1 km. Another variant that I’ve done a bunch of times is roughly 5.2 km. So I’m doing the 3k run a few times until my legs are going and I can do the 5k for a while.
So yeah… motivation while keeping things simple. That’s the key, I think. Gotta get into that suit and all the other clothes in my closet, right?
This summer I’ve been dabbling in something called the Slow Carb Diet. I haven’t adopted it fully because I didn’t want to make an overnight change that I wouldn’t be able to sustain. Now I know that I can do it long term because I’ve tried all the stuff that it entails. Then this month I kind of fell out of it and went back to eating fairly crappy.
I’ve been reading the book The 4 Hour Body by Tim Ferriss and he talks a lot about how tracking leads to results. It doesn’t have to be counting exact calories, but as long as you do something you get better results. Something as simple as taking a photo of your meals helps you get more aware of what you eat and how much. So here’s the plan for me. I’ve connected my pretty much unused Flickr account to this blog. I intend to take a picture of every meal that I eat, even if it’s just a snack. I haven’t made up my mind on whether or not I will upload pictures of myself at this stage. I might later on, but for now I’ll settle for measurements. These will be taken every week or more frequently.
According to Tim Ferriss I should be measuring the following things: Hips across the navel, waist at the widest point, mid-thigh and mid-bicep. I’m doing those and I’ve also added chest across the nipples. I’m taking all of the measurements in a relaxed way, except for the biceps, where I bend the elbow but don’t flex the muscle. So here they are.
Height: 180 cm (5’11”)
Weight: 111 kg (244.2 lbs)
Hips: 119 cm (46.8 in)
Waist: 111 cm (43.7 in)
Chest: 118 cm (46.5 in)
Left thigh: 84 cm (33.1 in)
Right thigh: 85 cm (33.5 in)
Left bicep: 37 cm (14.6 in)
Right bicep: 39 cm (15.4 in)
The measurement that is the most interesting to me right now is the waist, since I usually wear 38 inch jeans.
Alright, so this is the start. I already had some success losing weight this summer doing this, but that was on no exercise whatsoever and with only a cursory knowledge of the Slow Carb Diet from reading a quick rundown on a website. Now I’m armed with the book and I’ve started doing some running and floorball during the weeks. I’m also going to review what I eat to make sure I don’t do something stupid that way.