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Book Review: The Last of the President’s Men

Woodward reveals another side of Alexander Butterfield, the Nixon aide who disclosed the secret White House taping system, in forty-six hours of interviews with Butterfield. This is the first book I finished in 2017, which was interesting to follow, especially in today’s political atmosphere.

It actually took me a while to finish, the start of January 2016, because of all the political drama, but I think this is a really good start for people who are interested in the Watergate scandal. I like that Woodward focused more into the mind set of Nixon and how the White House operated during his time, under the watchful eye of Butterfield. I felt his novel provided a great visualization by showing me what it was really like for Butterfield to take down Nixon.

By the end, I felt a better understanding of the how the White House responds when it comes to political scandals. I recommend this book.

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Book Review: South of the Border, West of the Sun

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My least favorite Murakami novel. The ending was dull.

To me, the story is about a person’s meditation on moving on, learning to live with your decisions, learning to change and to adapt with the current. Themes I am very well familiar with.

His words are haunting, yet also matter of fact. I felt this to be a very insightful portrayal of a person, who is always in love with one person, lost from his life and unrequited. The type of question I found myself deliberating was if given a second chance, what would you do? Would you throw away a comfortable happy life/marriage?

With all it’s mundane activity, Murakami does do a beautiful job of presenting the interior landscape of the protagonist’s turmoil and decision process. Just not with his final decision, and consequently, understanding the woman who almost brought him down.

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Book Review: Modern Romance

 
 I saw Aziz when he came to do a show in Washington, DC for his book tour in July. His flight was delayed so he ended up being an hour late but what was cool, is that he stayed extra time to answer our questions.

What I was really excited about this book, is that Aziz worked with a sociologist to look at love in the modern age. He covers many topics, from texting to online dating to how romance/love has changed due to technology. I loved that the book took an academic approach with references to graphs and other scientific data with the intent of understanding why we make certain decisions when it comes to our love life.

My three favorite takeaways from the book:

What I loved most about this book was learning the simplicity that dating can be, if given an appropriate amount of time. How the things that really make us fall for someone are their deeper and more unique qualities. How these unique qualities come out during sustained interactions. I agree, that there is something uniquely valuable in everyone, and we’ll be so much happier and better off if we just invest the time and energy it takes to find it.

Dates. When we go on dates, I know that we’re all just trying to find someone who excites us, someone who makes us feel like a genuine connection has been made and can be sustained. Someone who understands us, accepts us and wants to make us be the better version of ourselves. One of the interesting date ideas mentioned and to my utter delight, is to take someone to a monster truck rally. I found this refreshing, exciting and different! I would be thrilled to attend something like this, in hopes of getting a sense of our potential rapport. Invest more in people and spend more quality time with one person.

The chapter on International Investigations of Love proved to be hilariously insightful. Aziz mainly wants to visit Japan because he loves ramen but it ends up working out because Japan is going through a decline marriages and birthrates because people are not showing interest in romance. At one point, Aziz masturbates into a weird egg-shaped thing to make a point about the value of forming a connection with another human. “No matter what happens, you get a lot more out of it than you get from blowing your load into a cold, silicone egg,” he says.

Now, people want more from a long-term relationship than just security and companionship. We dream of finding “the one”, a person who can be a friend, lover, co-parent and soulmate – and we are prepared to keep looking for longer period in order to find that person.

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Book Review: One Day

Dexter and Emma meet on 15 JULY 1988, the night of their graduation, for a brief romantic night. young and wondering what the future entails. It’s within the first few pages of this book that you are drawn into these two characters trajectories. It is fascinating to see the consequences of their pride, carelessness and miscommunication inspire the wedge of separation as they let time and distraction guide them. However, they never lose track of each other and for “One Day” in a year, play catch up.

On the side, Emma writes poetry in an “expensive new black leather notebook with a stubby fountain pen.”

My favorite “One Day” ends up being a disastrous night out on 15 JULY 1995, when Emma tells Dexter that she loves him but no longer likes him. I think we can relate to this. There’s someone out there right now. We  love the person dearly but cannot stand to be near due to their despicable belief of no belief and/or personality.

Again and again, Emma and Dexter nearly come together. But it’s not until 1999, 11 years after their first “One Day”, that Emma finally tells Dex, “When I didn’t see you, I thought about you every day, I mean every day, in some way or another.” “Same here,” he replies. Unfortunately, the belated confession accompanies the announcement of his engagement to another woman.

“Love and be loved,” Emma tells herself, “if you ever get the chance.”

Among many other things, this story is a very persuasive and endearing account of a close yet far-away friendship – the delight of being cared about, the flirting and the banter that hides resentment and yearning, the way a relationship can shift and evolve as a human being goes through life.

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Book Review: The Alchemist

Santiago, the Shepard boy from Andalucia, has a dream about finding treasure in the Pyramids of Egypt. He encounters an old man, claiming to be a king,  who advises him to pursue his dream. “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation,” the king says to Santiago. “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” Encouraged by these words, Santiago sells everything and travels to Africa., where he meets a merchant, an Englishman, the Alchemist and his love.

On his journey, Santiago is expose to the greatest and eternal alchemy of all–love–Santiago thinks he has found the treasure. My favorite part of the novel was the experience Santiago has with the elements of the world, in order to convert him entire being in the wind.

My greatest take-a-way is about the Personal Legend. The king brings an interesting perspective concerning a person’s Personal Legend, in that “people’s inability to choose their own Personal Legends.” The king says this idea is common because people come to believe “the world’s greatest lie“–that we all lose control of our own lives and must let them be controlled by fate. And that basically, alchemy is all about pursuing our spiritual quest in the physical world as it was given to us. It is the art of transmuting the reality into something sacred, of missing the sacred and the profane. This was a deep, deep novel. I highly recommend it.

Favorite quote: “When you are loved, you can do anything in creation. When you are loved, there’s no need at all to understand what’s happening, because everything happens within you, and even men can turn themselves into the wind. As long as the wind helps, of course.

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Book Review: Not That Kind of Girl

For my birthday, my brother bought me a copy of Lena Dunham’s autobiography, Not That Kind of Girl. My dear sibling knew how Lena had recently become a new favorite writer and most of all, a voice of a generation (agreed, in my head). Just finished it today, there were some parts I liked and some I didn’t but overall, I enjoyed getting to know why she is the way she is and how she processes things. For example, to me, Lena seems more than a little self-obsessed and neurotic. Which I’m totally okay with because I find that relatable and welcoming. This book is so readable because of Dunham’s writing style. It has a conversational feel. 🙂

Written in the wake of the tremendous success of her HBO series Girls (unfortunately, I still haven’t seen the show), it is subtitled “A Young Woman Tells You What She’s ‘Learned.'” The chapter that tackles Dunham’s sexual assault and rape is brutally personal, highlighting some of less spoken of parts of the process of dealing with the trauma of rape while still remaining respectful. My favorite section, ‘Love and Sex’, documents her past relationships. Finishing this section, reminded me a lot about the experiences some of the girls in my high school and university were going through.

I wasn’t a fan on the section of Friendship. I didn’t glean any meaningful and trustworthy interactions with any of the people she mentioned. Felt more like passerby’s in an underground party scene, that I know nothing about nor ever will. Which is okay, that I don’t fully appreciate this section. I was hoping to read about “testy” friendships being all about unconditional love.

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Book Review: the Namesake

My dear friend in another country mailed me a copy of The Namesake about two years ago. Every once in while, she would ask if I had gotten some spare time to read the novel. I always said no and stated the reason was either school or not “the right time” to start the novel. A couple of days ago, I was re-organizing my book shelf and came across it. I finished it in two days.

I instantly connected with Gogol and his struggle for acceptance. Torn between two worlds. Especially, Chapter 7 (my favorite), which had a deep and profound impact on my being. The themes I picked up were alienation, loneliness and identity. Even after death, as Gogol’s mother explains to their friends what happened, she refuses, “even in death, to utter her husband’s name.” To me, this is the chapter where everything changes for Gogol; where his life is drastically changed by death.

To think, how stupid to have ignored my friend for so long. The Namesake finds me at a moment in life where I am, like Gogol, torn by what my name means and represents to the outside world, especially in the midst of my first full year after graduation and way from my family and culture.I felt the many parallels between Gogol’s family and my own. Ultimately, Gogol comes to appreciate his parents’ true bravery, the world they left behind and the new one they created.

I am now on the hunt to find Lahiri’s, Interpreter of Maladies. Below are some quotes I liked:

“You are still young, free.. Do yourself a favor. Before it’s too late, without thinking too much about it first, pack a pillow and a blanket and see as much of the world as you can. You will not regret it. One day it will be too late.”  

“Pet names are a persistant remnant of childhood, a reminder that life is not always so serious, so formal, so complicated. They are a reminder, too, that one is not all things to all people.” 

“Will you remember this day, Gogol?” his father had asked, turning back to look at him, his hands pressed like earmuffs to either side of his head. “How long do I have to remember it?” Over the rise and fall of the wind, he could hear his father’s laughter. He was standing there, waiting for Gogol to catch up, putting out a hand as Gogol drew near. “Try to remember it always,” he said once Gogol reached him, leading him slowly back across the breakwater, to where his mother and Sonia stood waiting. “Remember that you and I made this journey, that we went together to a place where there was nowhere left to go.”