A former reading whore discovers books again

The seventh Harry Potter book came out and I spent the day in the hammock at our then-campsite. It took me ten hours to read it in its entirety. A week later, I read it again.

In a time before I had a cellphone and my own personal computer(s), I read. A lot. I had a designated book backpack that I wore while riding my blue Huffy to the library. I read through many a Boxcar Children and Goosebumps. When teen fiction became relevant, I coasted through novels by Ann Brashares and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Lurlene McDaniel was another favorite, as was Laura Ingalls Wilder. I accrued library late fees, but either managed to pay them off or just avoided the library for awhile. The fish obviously weren’t biting on days I only brought home three books to read.

I won an award for reading the most books during sixth grade (52), but that part of me died when college classes began. I can tell you –– thanks to my Shelfari page –– I’ve only read 27 books in the three years I’ve been a metaphorical slave to schoolwork and story writing.

Now I’m trying to reignite my intense appreciation for books.

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Since Christmas, I’ve read seven: “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” “Divergent,” “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” “The Thank You Economy,” “Cartwheel,” “Thirteen Reasons Why” and “The Fault in our Stars.”

I’d like to read more.

My parents rarely said “No” when I shoved a book in their faces as a kid and asked them if they would buy it. Now I’ve applied the same rule to myself. If I want to read it, I’m going to order it on Amazon (I apologize to those lovely small, independent bookstores out there).

Last month, I ordered “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green, “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker and “The Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood. When I saw my professor’s newly published –– and first! –– novel in the school bookstore, I picked it up and purchased it without a second thought.

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Check out “Mapping Utah” in the middle there by Denny Wilkins. He’s been a huge influence on me in terms of personal and professional growth. Gosh that sounds fancy.

While Green’s novel did make me tear up, I think I’ve grown out of teen fiction. I obviously couldn’t relate to Hazel’s situation (though he did make it seem real) or her thoughts on dating and, well, boys. I’m past those awkward teenage years and don’t really care to relive them.

I’ve nearly finished Walker’s book full of characters who have positively sucked me in to their stories. I really liked the female protagonist in “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Atwood when I read it for my post-apocalyptic literature course, so I’m sure I’ll have no trouble with “The Blind Assassin.” It came from a recommendation made by the comedian Rob Delaney:

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People think I’m crazy when I say I don’t have time to watch TV. I’d rather pick up a book and continue from my bookmarked spot than try to follow the excessive cumulative shows on the tube.

The cure

I read a fact on Twitter about a month ago. It concerned Facebook and was something along the lines of: “Women with Facebook profiles tend to have lower self-esteem.”

Needless to say, I deactivated my account later that week.

I’ve been off Facebook for almost a month. It has been a refreshing one. I’m finding that I now spend more time studying, reading and going outside as opposed to logging in to see what my friends are up to. I design more on my computer and blog more. I have more ideas now.

I don’t have low self-esteem, but I wasn’t about to start having it. I built my self-esteem up for years and don’t want anything to bring me down. Facebook brought me down.

The people on Facebook make me angry. One time I clicked on someone I was supposed to have known, via the “People You May Know” tool. Boy, was that an experience. I definitely did not know her, but several of my Facebook friends were friends with her. I decided to check her out. I couldn’t help but screenshot (bet she never thought of someone doing that) one of the statuses this girl posted:

Younger teens like this make me not want to be on Facebook at all. The Facebook profile pictures that popped up on my sidebar showed more tweens than I thought possible, and they’re not mature enough to even have a Facebook account. Kids like this girl on the left are why cyberbullying exists and why thousands of kids commit suicide every year after being harassed on the Internet.

Kids at this girl’s age cannot even spell words or use grammar correctly to get his/her useless point across.

Kids at this girl’s age – including this girl – don’t seem to realize that there are privacy settings on Facebook that he/she might want to look into. Anyone can go in and read what this girl plasters on her wall. If the supposed “dumb bitch” referenced in the status ended up going missing or found dead somewhere, based on Facebook evidence, this girl could be a suspect. The status, not to mention the horrible comments that followed, could be the proof that police need. Yeah, bet she didn’t think of that.

I am disgusted by what people post on a network that was built to help people reconnect. Now it’s just pissing people like me off.

We’re not in high school anymore, fellow members of the Class of 2011, so grow up. What really gets me is when I see photos posted from a party in my hometown in which several college kids are featured. Everyone from my hometown claims that they can’t wait to leave the place and go to college… so why the hell are you going back to party with the high schoolers? It is especially incredulous to me when even older kids still party with kids in high school. Stay at college. Party at a place where you don’t have to think about how you’re going to get home to your parents’ house safely. (Dear Danielle, who the hell are you? Sincerely, Emily.)

Another thing about Facebook: It’s a huge brag fest. Everyone’s trying to one-up everyone else. Parents get involved on Facebook and all they do is brag about their children.

In short, I’m sick of the ever-popular “new hair,” tongue-sticking-out, bathroom pic (oh hey, there’s your toilet!), sky shot (where we can clearly see your arms), “Edited” photos in everyone’s Facebook photo albums. I’m sick of the Iam Anidiot Photography pages, where a kid has instagram on his/her phone and then is suddenly a professional photographer and offers services for senior pictures. I’m sick of living with these people (not necessarily the lovely girls on my floor) and then seeing them in their slutty, “Going Out!” pictures when I log in on Facebook in my bedroom.

I deactivated my Facebook. I’m cured.

Procrastinate no more

All of my classmates are complaining about the Anthology that we got assigned. This massive project is homework for three months(?) and due in May for every sophomore class that passes through my high school. My oldest brother did it, my middle older brother did it, and my youngest older brother did it. It includes reading, analyzing, interpreting, and relating to pieces of literature that you as a reader and individual appreciate. For me? Easy as cake. For my classmates? It’s just another assignment that they can whine and stress over. I’m enjoying every minute of it.

The day it was assigned I went home, dug out my poetry books, and then proceeded to read every single poem in my Emily Dickinson book, my Romantic Poets book, and my Robert Frost book (again). I bought an Edgar Allan Poe (Major Tales and Poetry) novel, and got started on that as well. I made a checklist, and have been in deep thought about every work I want to add in ever since.

I have a good ten or eleven works done already (I have a system where I type in school, copy and paste it into a wordpress draft, and then copy and paste from the draft into a document on my computer – VOILA!) , and they are already compiled into sleeves in the order that I currently want them in and are settled into my draft binder. Just last night I stayed up until three in the AM working on a work that I suddenly had a brilliant idea on. It’s three pages long (and the minimum requirement per work is two paragraphs – hehe) and I am extremely proud of it.

My Anthology is going to be awesome. I can already feel it. I have my title, I know what’s going to go on my title page, I have my chapters named, and now all I have to do is fill in the gaps with  more works. I’m organized, I’ve been looking forward to this for six years, and I believe that I am better off than anyone in my class. Bring it on, Anthology.

Devouring books, one at a time

What started out simply as a goal to stock up my bookshelf on Shelfari grew and grew. I constantly made trips to the library after finishing a big stack of books my mother purchased for me. My goal was to reach thirty. Well guess what? I DID IT!

Books devoured this summer of 2008:

  1. Chicks With Sticks (Knit Two Together) by Elizabeth Lenhard (244 pages)
  2. Peeled by Joan Bauer (247 pages)
  3. How To Be Popular by Meg Cabot (288 pages)
  4. Pretty Face by Mary Hogan (213)
  5. Airhead by Meg Cabot (337 pages)
  6. Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos (227 pages)
  7. Forever by Judy Blume (192 pages)
  8. The Boyfriend List by e. lockhart (229 pages)
  9. Gender Blender by Blake Nelson (182 pages)
  10. A Brief Chapter In My Impossible Life by Dana Reinhardt (228 pages)
  11. Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson (250 pages)
  12. The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks (263 pages)
  13. At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks (277 pages)
  14. The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon (374 pages)
  15. The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld (269 pages)
  16. Dangerously Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (304 pages)
  17. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (214 pages)
  18. Smart Boys & Fast Girls by Stephie Davis (178 pages)
  19. Boomsday by Christopher Buckley (318 pages)
  20. Something To Blog About by Shana Norris (246 pages)
  21. Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (754 pages)
  22. Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt (402 pages)
  23. Briana’s Gift by Lurlene McDaniel (160 pages)
  24. Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson (215 pages)
  25. This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff (304 pages)
  26. Reach For Tomorrow by Lurlene McDaniel (171 pages)
  27. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (374 pages)
  28. Hit and Run by Lurlene McDaniel (180 pages)
  29. The Missing Girl by Norma Fox Mazer (284 pages)
  30. Fly On The Wall by e. lockhart (192 pages)

There we have it. My reading frenzy began in June and did not end until last night. I feel so accomplished now that I know that I can read thirty books in such a short amount of time. My favorite out out of all these was definitely The Catcher in the Rye.

I have read 8,116 pages this summer… And I enjoyed every single one.

It is all coming to an end

Two months ago, I had no worries. Lovely summer days stretched out in front of me and seemed to be never-ending. I went to sleep in the early AMs, and woke up in the early PMs. Every awakening was peaceful with the summer sun shining in my window and the birds chirping happily. It is all coming to an end.

Tomorrow is my last day of summer vacation in the year of two thousand eight. On Wednesday everyone around me will get up between six o’clock and seven (possibly even before then) to get ready for a long day of school. Getting up on a weekday and staying in my pajamas until it’s time to take a shower will not be happening anymore after tomorrow. Sitting around and reading page after page will no longer be possible. Next week at this time I won’t even be home yet. School, cross country practice, home for an hour to eat, and then musical practice until either nine or ten o’clock.

Yes, I am prepared. I am planning on using my Study Hall and lunch period times wisely. Lunch will (once again) be at ten in the morning… No point in eating breakfast, right? I am excited for a new year to begin, but I will miss boredom. No boredom will be allowed once the school year begins.

I am not looking forward to seeing people I don’t like everyday. During the summer I can invite whomever I like over to hang out, and never have to deal with those I dislike. Yeah yeah, you’re saying: “Emily, learn to suck it up! In life you can’t always choose the people you work with.” Yes, I know this (having been paired up to work on projects with several people I dislike), but that still does not make me stomach it any better.

The only thing I am actually looking forward to is wearing some new clothes. I purchased a few new band tees and a skirt from Hot Topic the other day, and I cannot wait to be sporting my new tees that say Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet For My Valentine on them.

Alone

Some people my age might be a little frightened to be home all alone, but I really enjoy it. For a few hours, I can do what I please, which is mostly just writing and reading, but without ANY interruptions. Another plus about being by myself is that I don’t have to fight the urge to burst out in song. I can walk around the house belting my guts out, and not feel self conscious at all. The place I usually sing my heart out is in the shower, but when nobody is around I belt it out wherever. I can sit here at the computer desk, and sing as I type.

Sometimes I feel stupid and wonder if the neighbors can hear my voice, but honestly, who cares if they do? Are they going to come up to me and tell me that they heard me singing? Probably not. I do my best singing when I am all by my lonesome, with only my two dogs and cat to keep me company. They are the only audience that really gets a taste of my voice.

Now, what is it that I sing when I am alone? Well, I belt out whatever meets my fancy. Mostly it’s some Paramore, but we musn’t forget Evanescence, Flyleaf, 1997, Automatic Loveletter, Hawthorne Heights, t.A.T.u., New Years Day, Garbage, and Autumns Monologue by From Autumn To Ashes. I love singing Paramore songs because Hayley’s voice is much like my own, and I love trying to match Amy Lee’s voice whenever I sing My Immortal, Hello, or Lithium. I find it challenging to sing Lacey Mosley’s parts, but I have fun trying.

One of these days, I want to put videos of me singing on YouTube. I like listening to other girls my age singing some of my favorite songs, but I cannot help but think that I could do a better job than they can. Hopefully someday soon, I will be able to prove myself, but I doubt my mother would approve of it. I will probably have to wait until college to begin videotaping myself singing.

Once they pull out of the driveway, I open my mouth and out comes something not very many people have heard. I sing rather conservatively in public, but when I am in the shower, or home by myself, I let it all out. I love getting home from camping because then I can finally lock myself in the bathroom and get all of the singing out I couldn’t do while we were all camping together. I hope to someday make a career out of this little hobby of mine. Only time will tell…

Fast approaching

There are fiery orange leaves scattered on our driveway and front lawn. The air has suddenly grown cooler, and our pool is “too cold” to swim in. My neighbor’s blueberries are beginning to ripen, a delicious result that is usually reached by late August. Yes, summer is inching its way towards the finish line.

It seems like just yesterday that my two brothers came home from college and dumped their belongings in our garage. “Excuse the mess, it’s Trevor and Jordan’s college supplies,” the excuse I used when I led my friends through our messy garage is no longer usable. Today, we dumped Trevor off at SUNY Fredonia, and helped my eldest brother Jordan move into his new townhouse at St. Bonaventure University where he will begin his senior year of college. Yet another sign that summer is dwindling.

Tomorrow begins my 2008 Cross Country season. Tomorrow morning at approximately eight o’clock, I will roll out of bed in order to get ready and be at the school by nine o’clock. No, I don’t take a million years to get ready like most girls out there do, I just need some time to actually get going on eating breakfast and waking up. Usually I just lay and listen to my iPod for half an hour, and then glance at the clock only to find that I needed to be out of bed thirty minutes earlier.

In previous years, I have dreaded the start of Cross Country. I definitely prefer Track, but I have a feeling that this year is going to be my year. I am planning on using practices and meets for letting out stress instead of creating more. I will have a hectic schedule once school starts on September third, and I am going to have to learn to balance all of my activities. Once school begins, I will be waking up at 5:30, getting to school by 7:30, getting let out of school at 2:07, proceeding on to Cross Country practice from 2:30 to 4:30, and then going home for an hour to prepare for getting back down to the school by six o’clock for musical rehearsal. Last year I handled it, but this year I feel like I am more prepared for it. I am still in great shape from Track last June (I have not stopped running), so I will not be sore from CC practices. Schoolwork will probably be the most challenging for I know that there will be more coming my way, along with writing weekly articles for NeXt.

Yes, summer is reaching the end. Yesterday summer began, and tomorrow it is over. It has been a nice two months of doing absolutely nothing other than running every few days and attending a theater workshop for a week. I have enjoyed discovering the wonders of having a bicycle and with it, the ability to go anywhere I want. I have visited the local library on numerous occasions and have devoured over twenty books so far this vacation. My summer reading book for Honors English has yet to be read, but I know that I will not have any problems getting into it once I get my hands on a copy. Though the fiery leaves that have scattered over my lawn make me angry, I am also accepting and looking forward to the upcoming change. Once school starts I won’t ever have a chance to be bored. For these next two weeks, I am going to be enjoying the feeling of having nothing to do.