Thoughts on Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt

Thoughts on Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha HuntMr. Splitfood
by Samantha Hunt
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
on January 5, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Horror
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Friend
Goodreads
Amazon
five-stars
A contemporary gothic from an author in the company of Kelly Link and Aimee Bender, Mr. Splitfoot tracks two women in two times as they march toward a mysterious reckoning.

Ruth and Nat are orphans, packed into a house full of abandoned children run by a religious fanatic. To entertain their siblings, they channel the dead. Decades later, Ruth’s niece, Cora, finds herself accidentally pregnant. After years of absence, Aunt Ruth appears, mute and full of intention. She is on a mysterious mission, leading Cora on an odyssey across the entire state of New York on foot. Where is Ruth taking them? Where has she been? And who — or what — has she hidden in the woods at the end of the road?

In an ingeniously structured dual narrative, two separate timelines move toward the same point of crisis. Their merging will upend and reinvent the whole. A subversive ghost story that is carefully plotted and elegantly constructed, Mr. Splitfoot will set your heart racing and your brain churning. Mysteries abound, criminals roam free, utopian communities show their age, the mundane world intrudes on the supernatural and vice versa.

You guys. I am so gullible; I mean; it really doesn’t take much to talk me into trying out a book. I tried this book because:

  1. Andi told me to
  2. It’s compared to Kelly Link in the first line of the book description
  3. There are orphans. And a road trip. And religious fanatics.
  4. But basically because Andi told me to.

Do you ever read a book that you just totally loved, even though you know you didn’t totally GET IT? This is me with Mr. Splitfoot and it’s also why I know I’ll be rereading it in a year or so. I just know there is so much I missed. Yet I loved it. Basically, all I can say is that. I loved this book and I don’t know what else to say. Andi said that was perfect, so, there you go.

I loved it and I just don’t even know. It’s just so goooood. Read it.

That Time When a Book was More Than I Thought….

That Time When a Book was More Than I Thought….The Penguin Lessons: What I Learned from a Remarkable Bird
Narrator: Bill Nighy
Length: 6 hours 6 minutes
Published by Random House Audio
on October 27, 2015
Genres: Memoir
Pages: 240
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Goodreads
five-stars
I was hoping against hope that the penguin would survive because as of that instant he had a name, and with his name came the beginning of a bond which would last a life-time.'

Tom Michell is in his roaring twenties: single, free-spirited and seeking adventure. He has a plane ticket to South America, a teaching position in a prestigious Argentine boarding school, and endless summer holidays. He even has a motorbike, Che Guevara style. What he doesn't need is a pet. What he really doesn't need is a pet penguin. Set against Argentina's turbulent years following the collapse of the corrupt Perónist regime, this is the heart-warming story of Juan Salvador the penguin, rescued by Tom from an oil slick in Uruguay just days before a new term. When the bird refuses to leave Tom's side, the young teacher has no choice but to smuggle it across the border, through customs, and back to school.

Whether it's as the rugby team's mascot, the housekeeper's confidant, the host at Tom's parties or the most flamboyant swimming coach in world history, Juan Salvador transforms the lives of all he meets - in particular one homesick school boy. And as for Tom, he discovers in Juan Salvador a compadre like no other... The Penguin Lessons is a unique and moving true story which has captured imaginations around the globe - for all those who dreamed as a child they might one day talk to the animals.

Okay, I admit it. I picked this book for the cover. So sue me. In my defense, LOOK at that cover. Is there anything cuter than a penguin wearing a long scarf? Okay, I could probably go for an owl or a fox wearing a long scarf, or a Doctor (wink), but not many animals, or people, can pull off this look.

Judging by the cover, I was expecting a sweet, slightly whimsical, and completely charming story of a man and his penguin. I got all of that. But I also got so much more, for during the time Michell owned his pet penguin, he lived in Argentina and it was an Argentina in turmoil. It is the post-Perón years and it is a time period I absolutely knew nothing about. So, intermingled with adorable stories of a penguin who rules a boarding school in Argentina are stories of coups and all the problems of living in an impoverished country where violence, deprivation, and uncertainty run rampant.

Now really. Is there a better way to learn some history about a time period and place you know little about? Surround any history lesson with stories of a cute penguin (or an owl, fox, or octopus to name a few others) and I think one could teach anybody anything.

The absolutely icing on the cake, for me, was Bill Nighy’s narration. Yes, ole Davy Jones himself reads the book and he reads it masterfully. He can read to me, anything, anytime. Loved it.

Reading Notes: On a Long Walk with Stephen King

Reading Notes: On a Long Walk with Stephen KingThe Long Walk
by Stephen King
Published by Signet
on July 1979
Genres: Horror
Pages: 370
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
four-half-stars
On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as The Long Walk. If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying...

100 boys. 100 boys, assembled on a hill in Maine. They are from all over the country. They don’t know each other, have never even seen each other before. But they are about to embark on a journey, a journey where only one will come out alive, for they are to walk. Walk until there is only one boy left standing. Along the way, profound things will be learned, friendships will be made, and at the end…does anything really change?

I’m so take it or leave it with King. And it’s not because I don’t think he’s a fantastic writer. I do! I looooooved The Stand. I’m so terrified of The Shining that I am 99.9% sure I will never touch it, even with that proverbial 10-foot pole. I thought Misery was tolerable (I was a teen when I read it, so I really barely remember it). I adored his book On Writing. The movie Pet Sematary threatened my relationship with cats for quite some time and I am a cat. lover. In short, I’m never quite sure where I stand on the guy. Basically he warms by belly in anticipation and chills my blood with apprehension.

So, when I read this book was compared to The Hunger Games, I was unsurprisingly interested and wary.

And, as these sorts of comparisons usually go, I found it remarkably different from The Hunger Games and I was completely okay with that. In many ways, The Long Walk isn’t as political. The reader is never told exactly why these boys walk every year. There is no feeling that they are a sacrifice. There is no visible government, other than the Major and the soldiers who follow the boys, and kill them when they fall. There is obviously a winner and the winner does win a prize (seemingly of a large sum of money). The focus of The Long Walk is more on the boys, their thoughts, their feelings, the process of the long walk and what it does to their minds and bodies. I’ve never really thought about it, but walking, without stopping, at a certain speed, for a long period of time would wear on your body and your mind.

In short, I know I would go completely nuts.

This book was more thought-provoking and interesting than I anticipated and I’m actually really glad I read it. I’m glad Uncle Stevie and I are starting to see things the same way. I appreciated that nothing really changed. No governments were overtly challenged, no minds were changed (except those boys), and the reader can imagine that the same thing will happen next year, and the next, and the next. Sometimes things don’t have to be all wrapped up in a bow and I love the occasionally ending that embraces that. Way to go Uncle Stevie!

 

 

 

Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin

Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance RubinDenton Little's Deathdate
Series: Denton Little #1
by Lance Rubin
Published by Knopf
on April 14th 2015
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
three-stars
Denton Little's Deathdate takes place in a world exactly like our own except that everyone knows the day they will die. For 17-year-old Denton Little, that's tomorrow, the day of his senior prom.

Despite his early deathdate, Denton has always wanted to live a normal life, but his final days are filled with dramatic firsts. First hangover. First sex. First love triangle (as the first sex seems to have happened not with his adoring girlfriend, but with his best friend's hostile sister. Though he's not totally sure. See: first hangover.) His anxiety builds when he discovers a strange purple rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? And then a strange man shows up at his funeral, claiming to have known Denton's long-deceased mother, and warning him to beware of suspicious government characters…. Suddenly Denton's life is filled with mysterious questions and precious little time to find the answers.

Debut author Lance Rubin takes us on a fast, furious, and outrageously funny ride through the last hours of a teenager's life as he searches for love, meaning, answers, and (just maybe) a way to live on.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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You know, I’m not sure what’s wrong with me. I’ve been going through something of a book identity crisis. You see, I used to LOVE young adult books. Then I didn’t love them quite so much any more, but I still read my favorite authors. And then, I wasn’t feeling the pull to read my favorite authors (of YA that is) either. Yet, somehow, inexplicably, this book called to me from the shelf of NetGalley and I was like sure. What the heck. It might be good.

It was good.

But, just good.

In the world Denton Little lives in, everyone knows when they will die. Down to the very day. And everyone celebrates their death day, because, why not? Denton’s death date is, tragically, early. He will die on prom night, in his 17th year. Dude has been busy. So many firsts in his last days! As the book opens, Denton has his first hangover. Upon waking he discovers he’s had his first sex (and totally missed it because booze) which leads to his first love triangle (because dude has a girlfriend and sex was not with her).

Things are dramatic.

Then he discovers the beginnings on a rash making its way up his body. Is this what will kill him? He’s disappointed. Because teenage boy.

If things don’t seem dramatic and crazy enough, things are about to get worse, when a strange man shows up at his funeral. Since you know when you’re going to die, you go to your own funeral. Fun times.

Thoughts:

  • It’s funny. Very witty. Lance Rubin is quite the funny, witty, guy.
  • It is fast paced. I can see kids (boys especially) appreciating the quick action.
  • There’s a mystery. Mysteries are always fun.
  • The characters are fun. I’m saying fun a lot, am I not?
  • The sex isn’t handled lightly. The cheating isn’t either, which I appreciate. The drinking kind of is.
  • The adults are present, which is nice. Adults tend to go missing in YA.

All in all, it’s a fun read. Kids will love it. I finished it, which I think says a lot. I may even make an effort to read the next one. And, if I had a kind old enough for it, I would push it off on them.

Recommended, for those younger than me.

Audiobook: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Audiobook: The Buried Giant by Kazuo IshiguroThe Buried Giant
by kazuo ishiguro
Narrator: david horovitch
Length: 11 hours 48 minutes
Published by Random House Audio
on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 317
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
You've long set your heart against it, Axl, I know. But it's time now to think on it anew. There's a journey we must go on, and no more delay..."

The Buried Giant begins as a couple set off across a troubled land of mist and rain in the hope of finding a son they have not seen in years.

Sometimes savage, often intensely moving, Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel in nearly a decade is about lost memories, love, revenge, and war.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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You guys, I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I’ve never read a book by Ishiguro, prior to The Buried Giant. It’s not that they haven’t appealed to me either; it’s that he intimidated me. To me, he’s up there with Atwood, Auster, Murakami, and Eugenides. And lots of others. So, yeah, I’ve steered clear of Ishiguro.

Until now.

The Buried Giant pushed all the Must-Read-Buttons.

  • The writing is impeccable. Even during the slow parts, the writing was gorgeous and atmospheric.
  • The many themes: memory, love, betrayal, forgiveness, religion, loyalty. The facing of reality. And they are all dealt with so richly and with compassion.
  • The characters and their story. Axl and Beatrice, an elderly couple living just after the time of King Arthur, are struggling with memory and acceptance. In their village, they are outcast from the rest of the villagers and missing their son. One day, they decide to leave to go visit their son, whom they miss very much. They know something is wrong, something is very off, and the hope they can find out what it is along the way. There is a mist, covering the land, and it is affecting memory.
  • The supporting characters are just as interesting. A knight, a foreigner, an orphan. A dragon. Some devious monks. Pixies. And the mist. That dangerous mist.
  • It’s such a serene story. It puts you in mind of a fairy tale or a fable. That feeling of magic, lying over everything, is prevalent.
  • The feelings. I could feel Axl and Beatrice’s pain, love, confusion, everything. I came to love them and hated to leave them at the end of the book.
  • The ending. It was…not what I expected and I love it when a book can surprise me.
  • The reader. David Horovitch. His voice was the perfect match for the book and his accent lovely.

I knew reviewing this book properly was beyond my skills, but I hope I have conveyed just how much I loved this book. It was a surprise, a lovely surprise, and I hope I can find more from Ishiguro soon.

Som favorite quotes:

But then again I wonder if what we feel in our hearts today isn’t like these raindrops still falling on us from the soaked leaves above, even though the sky itself long stopped raining. I’m wondering if without our memories, there’s nothing for it but for our love to fade and die.

But God will know the slow tread of an old couple’s love for each other, and understand how black shadows make part of its whole.

When it was too late for rescue, it was still early enough for revenge.

Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey

Girl in the Dark by Anna LyndseyGirl in the Dark
by Anna Lyndsey
Narrator: Hannah Curtis
Length: 7 hrs and 9 mins
Published by Random House Audio
on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Autobiography, Nonfiction
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
five-stars
A gorgeous memoir of an unthinkable life: a young woman writes of the sensitivity to light that has forced her to live in darkness, and of the love that has saved her.

“Something is afoot within me that I do not understand, the breaking of a contract that I thought could not be broken, a slow perverting of my substance.”

Anna was living a normal life. She was ambitious and worked hard; she had just bought an apartment; she was falling in love. But then she started to develop worrying symptoms: her face felt like it was burning whenever she was in front of the computer. Soon this progressed to an intolerance of fluorescent light, then of sunlight itself. The reaction soon spread to her entire body. Now, when her symptoms are at their worst, she must spend months on end in a blacked-out room, losing herself in audio books and elaborate word games in an attempt to ward off despair. During periods of relative remission she can venture cautiously out at dawn and dusk, into a world that, from the perspective of her normally cloistered existence, is filled with remarkable beauty.

And throughout there is her relationship with Pete. In many ways he is Anna’s savior, offering her shelter from the light in his home. But she cannot enjoy a normal life with him, cannot go out in the day, and even making love is uniquely awkward. Anna asks herself “By continuing to occupy this lovely man while giving him neither children nor a public companion nor a welcoming home—do I do wrong?” With gorgeous, lyrical prose, Anna brings us into the dark with her, a place from which we emerge to see love, and the world, anew.

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Imagine a world that is dark. So dark that light doesn’t even shine through the cracks. No glimmer of light through the blinds. No shimmer beneath the door. Complete. Total. Black.

This is the life Anna Lyndsey lives every day.

Burns? Burns like the worst kind of sunburn. Burns like someone is holding a flame-thrower to my head.

Anna has an extremely rare and terrible form of photo-sensitivity. At her worst, she stays in complete darkness. At her best, she is able to go out after dusk or before daybreak to take a walk. Sunlight, indoor light, computer light; all of it burns her skin. This means no reading, no television, no work, no cooking, nothing. Nothing. Nothing. And the pain can be unbearable.

How she shares her journey through this debilitating illness is nothing short of beautiful. Her prose is clear and captivating. Reading (or in this case, listening) to her story and how she has made it through is nothing short of inspiring. Being invited to witness her private thoughts on her life and her feelings throughout (is she being selfish, living with the man who loves her, but can’t have her as a normal companion? Does she want to live out her life this way? How does she keep her sanity?) feels like a privilege.

You guys. This book. I mean, this book. You guys. Seriously. It feels kind of horrible to say I loved it, but I loved it. This is the first book I’ve listened to that was narrated by Hannah Curtis and I hope it isn’t the last. Her narration was perfect. As I’m discovering, I love memoirs in audio and this one is no exception.

Highly recommended.

Favorite quotes:

Friendship plants itself as a small unobtrusive seed; over time, it grows thick roots that wrap around your heart. When a love affair ends, the tree is torn out quickly, the operation painful but clean. Friendship withers quietly, there is always hope of revival. Only after time has passed do you recognise that it is dead, and you are left, for years afterwards, pulling dry brown fibres from your chest.

My ears become my conduit to the world. In the darkness I listen—to thrillers, to detective novels, to romances; to family sagas, potboilers and historical novels; to ghost stories and classic fiction and chick lit; to bonkbusters and history books. I listen to good books and bad books, great books and terrible books; I do not discriminate. Steadily, hour after hour, in the darkness I consume them all.

Most of the time, I do not want to die. But I would like to have the means of death within my grasp. I want to feel the luxury of choice, to know the answer to “How do I bear this?” need not always be “Endure.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell; Review and Giveaway!

Landline by Rainbow Rowell; Review and Giveaway!Landline
by Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
Length: 9 hours, 3 minutes
Published by Macmillon Audio
on July 8, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 308
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Amazon
five-stars
From the New York Times best-selling author of Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, comes a hilarious, heart-wrenching take on love, marriage, and magic phones.

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply - but that almost seems beside the point now. Maybe that was always beside the point. Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her - Neal is always a little upset with Georgie - but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go without her. When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything. That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts. Is that what she’s supposed to do?

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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To say Landline, or any new Rainbow Rowell, is highly anticipated by me is a VAST understatement. I fell in love with Rainbow’s writing with Eleanor & Park and AttachmentsFangirl sealed the deal.

Landline was the nail in the coffin.

Landline was everything I expect from a Rainbow Rowell book. Heartfelt. Witty. Real. Yes, real. Rowell writes some of the realest characters, in my opinion, that I’ve ever read. And Landline may feature the realest ones yet.

Unlike her three previous novels, Landline isn’t about new love. It’s about old love. It’s about the love that has stood the test of time, maneuvered through all those unexpected changes the newly-in-love think will never happen to them. It’s about the love that has changed, grew, shrank, and stuck through thick and thin. But then, it’s also about the love that isn’t sure it’s going to make it. That isn’t sure it will last. The love that may just not be enough anymore. 

Georgie McCool is on the edge. On the edge of making it. A successful sitcom writer, Georgie is finally selling HER SHOW. All she has to do is stay home from the family vacation and write a few episodes to give to the producer. The only problem is that family vacation is the family CHRISTMAS vacation. And her husband, Neil, is none to happy about it. A stay-at-home dad, Neil is used to Georgie not always being there. Their two little girls, are used to it too, and so go off with Neil to see their grandparents. Without Georgie. Things haven’t been great for awhile now, and now Georgie is left with not only the stress of writing 5 shows in one week, but the stress of seeing that her life may be irreparably broken.  Dozens of unanswered calls later, Georgie finds an unusual way of reconnecting with Neil.

It’s, well, it’s a magic phone.

In her mom’s house.

That let’s her talk to Neil.

The Neil of 1998.

Look. I know it sounds weird. It IS weird. But Ms. Rowell does some amazing things with this. I mean, imagine if you could talk to your spouse 10, 15, 20 years in the past. What would you change? What would you leave the same? I love how Rowell uses the phone as a device to the let Georgie examine her life and her love for Neil. Because Georgie still loves Neil. It’s what a normal person would do anyway in this situation, but he or she would only do it in their head. I, personally, as someone who enjoys fantasy anyway, loved it.

The audiobook, which is what I read, was fantastic. Rebecca Lowman is a phenominal reader. I have a new favorite reader, that’s for sure. Her performance, especially of Georgie and Neil was funny, emotional, and lovely. Even her readings of the side characters; Georgie’s bizarre mother, Georgie’s 4-year-old daughter who wants to be a cat (I loved the way Lowman said “meow”), and Neil’s placid mother were all lovely. Lowman really brought the story to life.

Luckily, the publisher sent me a finished copy of the audiobook! So, I decided since I haven’t had a giveaway in awhile, that’s what I’m going to do with it. Give it away! So, sign up below and I’ll post a winner next week! Good luck!

 

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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars by E. LockhartWe Were Liars
by E. Lockhart
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Goodreads)
Published by Delacorte Press
on May 13th 2014
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 240
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
four-half-stars
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
 
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. 


Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Wow. Just…wow.

Go into it blind. Get it right now. Before it’s spoiled for you. Just read it. Since I AM NOT going to be the one to spoil it, that’s all I’m going to say. Except to say, pick a time when you can read it straight through. You are NOT going to want to put down this study of wealth, priviledge, love, hate, prejudice, greed, and mystery.

About E. Lockhart

E. Lockhart is the author of We Were Liars, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, The Boyfriend List and several other novels.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan CainQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
by Susan Cain
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)
Published by Crown Publishing Group
on January 1st 2011
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Goodreads
Amazon
five-stars
From GoodReads:

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.

Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts--from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a "pretend extrovert."

This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.
Clicking the above affiliate link, will provide me with a small sum of money, which is used to fund my blog and my book habit.

Rather than gush and gush and gushy gush over this book, I’m going to try something different. I’m going to give you my top ten favorite quotes (trust me, there are more) from this book and let it gushy gush gush for itself. And yeah, I’ll probably talk about the quotes a bit. Don’t never know, now do ya?

“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. They listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”

Can I just get this tattooed on my forehead? I always wish I were home in my pajamas. Social awkwardness for the win. But really, it’s just so much more…comfortable…for my brain and spirit to devote those “social energies” to those I am close to. Anyone else is just exhausting.

Also, I love that she calls small talk a ‘horror’.

“Spend your free time the way you like, not the way you think you’re supposed to.”

All I have to say about this is WORD.

“The highly sensitive [introverted] tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions–sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments–both physical and emotional–unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss–another person’s shift in mood, say, or a lightbulb burning a touch too brightly.”

This is me to a T. (Also, what does that even mean, “describes me to a T?” Where did that come from?!)

“Or at school you might have been prodded to come “out of your shell”—that noxious expression which fails to appreciate that some animals naturally carry shelter everywhere they go, and that some humans are just the same.”

I still get told to come out of my shell.

“Don’t think of introversion as something that needs to be cured.”

I just love everything about that sentence.

“I worry that there are people who are put in positions of authority because they’re good talkers, but they don’t have good ideas. It’s so easy to confuse schmoozing ability with talent. Someone seems like a good presenter, easy to get along with, and those traits are rewarded. Well, why is that? They’re valuable traits, but we put too much of a premium on presenting and not enough on substance and critical thinking.”

How many people do you know like this? Cause I know tons. TONS, I tell you.

“The purpose of school should be to prepare kids for the rest of their lives, but too often what kids need to be prepared for is surviving the school day itself.”

Made of gold. That whole sentence is made of gold. I often felt like I was just trying to survive, especially in classes with teachers who expected class participation. I would break out in a cold sweat anytime a teacher called on me. Come to think of it, I still do this with my manager in meetings! I need to get him to read this book.

“I had always imagined Rosa Parks as a stately woman with a bold temperament, someone who could easily stand up to a busload of glowering passengers. But when she died in 2005 at the age of ninety-two, the flood of obituaries recalled her as soft-spoken, sweet, and small in stature. They said she was “timid and shy” but had “the courage of a lion.” They were full of phrases like “radical humility” and “quiet fortitude.”

Not long ago I listened to The History Chicks’ podcast on Rose Parks. It is fascinating. She was fascinating. The above was completely true. She was a shy, soft-spoken woman, with a lion’s share of courage, and truly inspiring lady who didn’t let her introversion keep her from fighting for what she believed it.

“We know from myths and fairy tales that there are many different kinds of powers in the world. One child is given a light saber, another a wizard’s education. The trick is not to amass all the different kinds of available power, but to use well the kind you’ve been granted. Introverts are offered keys to private gardens full of riches. To possess such a key is to tumble like Alice down her rabbit hole. She didn’t choose to go to Wonderland — but she made of it an adventure that was fresh and fantastic and very much her own.”

I love this analogy. One thing this book taught me is that introverts have their own special powers. We just have to learn how to use them, something that school, work, and often life itself fails to teach us. It’s almost like it’s something we have to teach ourselves.

“we have two ears and one mouth and we should use them proportionally”

My other tattoo.

Gosh, I could just keep going. So much wisdom from such a wonderfully written book. Whether you are an introvert, an extrovert, or are somewhere in between, there is a lot to learn from this book. I highly recommend it to, like, everyone in the whole freaking world.

About Susan Cain

SUSAN CAIN is the author of the instant New York Times bestseller QUIET: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking, which has been translated into more than 20 languages. Her writing on introversion and shyness has appeared in the The New York Times; The Dallas Morning News; O, The Oprah Magazine; Time.com; and on PsychologyToday.com. Cain has also spoken at Microsoft, Google, the U.S. Treasury, and at TED 2012. Since her TED talk was posted online, it has been viewed almost two million times. She has appeared on national broadcast television and radio including CBS “This Morning,” NPR’s “All Things Considered,” NPR’s “Diane Rehm,” and her work has been featured on the cover of Time magazine, in The Atlantic, Wired, Fast Company, Real Simple, Fortune, Forbes, USA Today, The Washington Post, CNN, Slate.com, and many other publications. She is an honors graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School. She lives in the Hudson River Valley with her husband and two sons. Visit: www.thepowerofintroverts.com

Thoughts on Rereading The Historian

Andi and I hosted a read along of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova in conduction with Carl’s annual Readers Imbibing Peril or RIP challenge. I had already read it, a couple of times in fact, and looked forward to reading it again.

Oh, yes, and hello. Spoiler warnings. I’m going to discuss quite a bit of my feelings on this story and spoilers will pop up. Please continue if you have read the book.

I love rereading, for the most part. It is like revisiting old friends and catching up. I always discover something new in the story. And oftentimes, it’s comforting. However, the older I get, the more I’m finding that it isn’t always the best thing. Sometimes it’s better to leave a book back there, in the past, because things aren’t always as good as the first time. Sometimes, it’s a disappointment.

The first time I read the book, I read it in print. And even back then, I recognized that this book wasn’t for everyone.

I loved this book. I loved it, loved it, loved it!! THIS was the perfect time of year for me to read this book. It was cozy, it was suspenseful, it was wonderful. I loved every word, every page, every minute with it.

But I can see where others would hate it. It’s long. It has a tendency to wander. For the wrong person; it would annoy them. For the right person; it would delight. At another time, it might have bothered even me. This is one book where you absolutely have to be in the right place at the right time to read it and enjoy it. I am so glad it worked out for me.

The second time I read this book, I listened to the audio production. Justine Eyre and Paul Michael brought the characters and the story to life in such a delightful and suspenseful way. That “tendency to wander” still didn’t bother me. It was still “the right place at the right time” for me. I found the book just as time-consuming as I did the first time.

This third time, in the interest of time, I listened to the audio production again. Justine Eyre and Paul Michael are just as delightful in their performance, but that tendency to wander reared ITS UGLY HEAD. I found myself finding reasons to listen to something else, anything else. I turned the speed up to 1.25, then 1.5. I avoided the book like the plague, listening to music and podcasts instead.. Finally, in a last ditch effort to finish the book, while doing chores, I turned it on and just let it go, letting my mind wander as I worked. I finished, finally, eager to move on to something new.

The third time was not the charm. It was the killer.

Still, there are things I respected this time. The young girl, the daughter with no name (this also bugs me, names are important and this feels like a lack of respect to me) stood out more to me this time. In the first readings, and even in this one, she seemed too innocent and protected. She IS innocent and protected, but I admire how despite this sheltered existence, she didn’t hesitate to strike out on her on in search of her father. She is brave and clever (even if she failed to recognize the Helen of her father’s story as being the Helen she knew was her mother. I had a big WTF moment there). I also loved that the vampires are not romanticized. They are as cruel, cunning, and horrifying as they should be. No sparkles here!

Well, all the visible – in the story – vampires, that is. I didn’t appreciate how Dracula was held at arm’s length throughout the book. He’s hinted at in so many ways, he haunts the edges of the story, but it takes most of the book for him to finally make an appearance. In my mind, it really hindered his creepiness. It’s hard to be scared of something that isn’t there.  And honestly, what was the point of the “little book(s)” so many people so conveniently got and so conveniently met up to discuss? I also didn’t understand the way Kostova chose to tell Paul’s viewpoint. The “letters” did not read like letters but like novels. The seemingly endless detail weighed the book down. I know Kostova is a historian, so I know she probably felt all this detail was important, but I think the book would have moved much faster and would have been much more engaging if it had been trimmed a good 1/3 of its prose.

All in all, it’s still a good book, it just needed a heavy handed editor. I doubt I’ll be reading this again, at least not anytime soon. I’ll need a good bit of time to let this one seep back out of my brain, that’s for sure.

Have you read The Historian? What did you think? Did you love it? Hate it? Fall somewhere in the middle?