Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Currently Reading: The Goldfinch


I just finished reading Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch and it was astounding. My sister's boyfriend, Alex, bought me two great reads for my birthday in June and I finally found the time to sit down and devour this 700-plus pages.

The enormous novel was intimidating at first (the commitment seemed astronomical!) and I was slightly concerned that it would seem I was part of this global book club––it's the novel of the summer and kind of a chit-chat point like TV shows. However, I'm always game for a book about art featuring a Russian supporting character.

The Goldfinch is what you would call a bildungsroman (a story about growing up, usually through a "journey"), so Tartt writes in the voice of a boy spanning at least ten years and both American coasts (and continents!). His travels, battles & triumphs intersect and spiral into the lives of other diverse characters that creates a multidimensional life for Theo and the reader.

While it took me weeks––I'm a slow reader, I'll admit (you can see my progress on Instagram from beginning, middle, and end)––I was melancholic when I finished. I felt some serious pride and also sadness, because it has passages that are just so breathtakingly beautiful. I haven't read something this  popular & lovely in a while.

Donna Tartt only publishes a novel what seems like every decade, and I can see why. The Goldfinch is perfection. I highly recommend carving out a chunk of time to read this stunning novel.

P.S. I heard it's going to be a movie?!?!; here's the actual Fabritius Goldfinch

Saturday, July 26, 2014

J.Crew Wishlist


Readers, you may already know this but . . . J.Crew is an all-time love and classic. I'm here to remind you of two great things:

WISHLIST: J.Crew has an amazing wishlist feature that not only allows you to save products you love for later, but also categorizes them smartly and beautifully. (We all know J.Crew reigns supreme in online shopping curation.)

It categorizes by in-stock, on sale, only a few left (!!), and also by importance. So if you have twelve items in there, it's probably like this: there's one item you need and if you don't get it you might cry/die (that's at the top), four are beautiful but you can't get yourself to buy them just yet, followed by six that you randomly added because you wanted to distract yourself from real work by online window-browsing, and the last one––because you couldn't stand having two rows of four with one row of three.

My wishlist looks like this:



Row 1: Necklace / Shirt / Bag / Shoe
Row 2: Sweater / Rain boot / Cuff

SALE: Seriously and awesome sale is going on right now with an additional 40% off of final sale items. If you know your size well for the majority of the store, you'll be fine (as final sale is non-returnable). Shipping rates are also reduced right now for a limited time. Now is the time to buy!!

Top photos via J.Crew

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Hilarious Read/See


For my birthday, Abby's sweet boyfriend, Alex, bought me two books (he knows me too well!). I just finished the first; a comic, fast read, This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper, is truly enjoyable and a book you want to pass to your best friend the minute you close the cover.

At a little over 300 pages, the book goes quickly as the first person narrator moves deftly from present tense to memories to lucid dreaming to nightmares. While dealing with infidelity and bereavement, This Is Where I Leave You stays lighthearted and witty.

To top things off, it's been produced as a family dramedy for the summer. (It looks great!) It stars some of the top rom-com players including Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda, and Tina Fey. I wanted to read it before I see it, will you do both?

Photo via

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Girl Talk: On Reticence


I was part of the University's English Undergraduate Conference at the end of spring semester, and I had a really thought-provoking conversation with one of our faculty that keeps being relevant every day since. . . .

After attending several sessions throughout the day, Judith and a colleague mentioned the prevalence of modest apologies coming from the women. Without fail, the women presenting prefaced their papers with apologies for language and content. Even if quoting directly as support for their papers, women felt the need to apologize for swearing, use of "crude language," or discussing sex and violence. 

Meanwhile, the men (and I must admit, we attract far less men in the English department) confidently went forth with coarse language and content. There was no obligation, whether real or perceived, to justify what they said. 

Judith said after, "I was stunned by the compulsion to apologize for presenting intellectually provoking idea. And then I realized that they were all women. It's 2014 here; what's the issue?"

And really, what is the issue? I completely understand practicing modesty, and I think being a "class-act" is rarified these days (do I sound old or what?). However, I continually find myself frustrated that women feel as though they must comply to a different set of social/behavioral standards; and on the flip side, I'm appalled that men think they are exempt from polite behavior. 

It would be so nice to see a social setting in which both men and women were playing by the same rules. It would also be quite shocking, no? What do you think you would see that was different? I'd love your thoughts!

Photo via

Friday, May 30, 2014

T-Minus 18 Hours


Tomorrow evening, my flight for Berlin will take off (yikes!) and I'm tingling in anticipation. While I've flown many times before in my life––I've already traveled abroad with a high school class––this will be the first time I travel on my own. That's right, I'll have to go through security, boarding, baggage claim solo, and it's making my heart-beat quicken.

I feel extremely prepared, which is helping, and everyone has been immeasurably helpful and supportive as my departure nears, but I told my mom this evening that I keep worrying about the little, insignificant things like:

What if my baggage weighs 52 pounds?
Will my hair and make-up get gross on the flight?
Do I need compression socks or does the twenty-something-year-old magic apply to international flights, too?

See––little things . . . My time abroad is a quick three weeks, so I already know it will be a whirlwind kind of trip. During my stay, here's what I'm most looking forward to:

Staying with a family so I can experience "real life" in Berlin.
Going to museums and internet cafes when I feel touristy.
Eating chocolate and mentos as I read on the plane.
Listening to music on trains.
Seeing the Brandenburg Gate again––it's just so stunning.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Currently Reading: Non-Fic Royalty


Now that school is out and I've had a minor academia detox, I thought I'd share what I'm currently reading. As you all know, I'm really into non-fiction writing, whether that be essays, journalistic articles, or diaries and journals. I'm really pleased to say that a book I picked up over winter break is just as good as I hoped it would be.

I'll be honest and admit that the initial reason I picked up The New Kings of Nonfiction is because it's edited by Ira Glass and I'm a wanna-be NPR junkie. So far I am about half way through (I've yet to get to my beloved DFW) and it's great. What makes it readable and less daunting than a 400 page novel is that you can read one essay a day and feel like you've made considerable progress because you start and finish a subject. (The Atlantic and The New Yorker seem to be reigning champs of originally published sourcing . . . so there is kind of a specific audience niche implied here, which is slightly smug and presumptuous.)

My favorite essays thus far are:

"Six Degrees of Lois Weinberg" by Malcolm Gladwell

"Shapinksy's Karma," by Lawrence Weschler (this story is incredible!)

"Among the Thugs," Bill Buford

I'm hoping to finish this before Saturday when I leave for Germany, because I want another new book to read for my flights!

Have you been reading any good nonfiction lately? I'd love your suggestions!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Procrastination


Is this a busy time of year for you? All my friends and I are feeling the crunch and rush of finals––it's the dog days. The weather last week was incredibly stormy and moody, which helped keep everyone indoors and forgetting that the year is almost over. Now that the sun is out and the temperature is rising, everyone seems anxious in their classes and libraries.

This year especially, I've fallen victim to procrastination. I used to be insanely regimented, but I keep putting things off for the next day and it's starting to creep up on me. (Yikes!) Some of my friends say that procrastination often leads to their best work. But, I'm a worrier . . . so it just makes me nervous and wacky. Tonight is my night to get caught up and rid myself of this brain fuzz I currently have.

What are your tricks for staying on-schedule. Do you have rewards for meeting deadlines? Do you have any good scheduling tricks? Do you recommend a certain environment for ultimate productivity? I'd love your suggestions!

P.S.
This time of year, I feel my people-pleasing tendencies raging.
Multiple personalities are so essential for me to have a balanced life.
Do you work alone?

Photo: Kurt Vonnegut doodle, via The New Yorker (part of a new publication featuring his drawings!)