Friday Five

Five Books for 2012

The Hunger Games Series
I didn’t like this series the first time around when I read it in 2011. You can see that in the poorly maintained book section page. Somewhere along the way of rereading it before our Mid-service conference when I planned to see the movie version with other PCVs, I fell in love. Not ‘rock my world Harry Potter obsessive’ love, but somewhere a few notches below. It quickly became my fall-back read when I would want a short little tryst into reading until I would find half the day gone as I would reread one of the books once again. It broadened my perspective and I tried a few other dystopia, futuristic young adult series (Matched and Divergent) that I enjoyed. I must say though, the first cut is the deepest.

Sense and Sensibility
Oh Jane, you’re just not in my life enough. As with any period novels, I had a few minor troubles with some of the words, but Austen’s story tickled my brain and kept me satisfied imagining my way out of rural Thailand. I knew the general direction of Sense and Sensibility well from my Mom’s and my love for the movie version, but I liked the book even more. I was surprised how much difference there was with the original story, but that’s what always happens when Hollywood gets involved. I think Emma will be next.

Shantaram
Is there any other way to say: a 900 page epic? An escaped Australian convict flees to India becomes a slum doctor, falls in love, is thrown in jail, rises through the ranks of a mob family and goes to war. A fascinating saga just in broad terms, but what really hooked me in to finish was the stories within the story. Getting a ‘bear hug’ and the lessons learned from seemingly simple situations and people. This book forced me to sit back and digest things about my life and the world during and after finishing it. A sequel is scheduled for release in May. I look forward to the feast.

Unaccustomed Earth
A collection of short stories by Indian author, Jhumpa Lahiri, I found amongst Jeff’s things when I hid out for the week at his house. I got so invested in all of the characters, their lives, and relationships, each one had me hoping for more when I turned the last page. I especially enjoyed the last and longest story, which twisted me back to Thailand. I really look forward to exploring more from Lahiri.

The Plot Against America
This was my first Phillip Roth novel and it left me craving for me. Another sort of dystopia/alternate reality type of novel in that Charles Lindbergh wins over Roosevelt’s bid for a third term. Each page is so dense, you feel like you have to reread paragraphs to make sure you caught everything, but not in a ‘I don’t know what’s going on in this book’ kind of way. The only question now is, which of his do I read next?

Friday Five

Five DIY Jewelry(ish) Projects

Cuffs

Cuffs

Chains

Headbands

Knots

Crochet... FAIL

All of my materials are from my local stationery store (except for scraps cut off converting long sleeves into short ones). I’m really looking forward to finding some more project appropriate stuff in Bangkok this week! Sorry about the poor photo quality, my camera is down for the count. Hoping to get that mended in Bangkok as well.

Friday Five

Five Freedoms from Living Alone
It has its ups and its downs, but these are my favorites about living completely and utterly alone.

Food Freedom 
Drinking out of the bottle without a straw, candy eating, odd timing… and it feels so good.

Sleep Freedom 
I can go to sleep at midnight, wake up late (on a non-school day, late = 8 AM), and take naps and no one is around to call me lazy.

Conversation Freedom
This has been my favorite so far. I’ve visited my host family (ies) and really enjoyed it, but went home when I wanted. I chat with the ladies next door, but then cocoon when I’m ready to get back to my crafts. It might be small, but it sure feels big.

Hobby Freedom
Whether it’s pretend slaying orcs, trying new hairstyles, or my newest DIY jewelry obsession, I love that I can do this to my heart’s content without people watching over my shoulder or having to worry about making a mess. And, I can just leave things out until I’m ready to pick them back up again. I love being messy. Sorry Mom.

Hygiene Freedom
Ok, this one might sound weird. I come from America with the typical one shower a day policy (and sometimes going a day without, gasp!) and that is simply not sufficient for Thais. You’re supposed to shower in the morning when you wake up before leaving the house (despite the sweaty bike ride), maybe an afternoon refresher on your extended lunch break (despite your teaching/work schedule), and again before bed (can’t argue there). I remember my host mother in Ayutthaya chasing me one morning until I ‘showered’ (aka I faked it). Now that it’s March, I have creeped up to two a day, but it’s on my terms. And that’s the best part.

BTW, really, really into my crafting lately. Total new obsession, if only I could combine it with LOTR.

Friday Five

Top Books Read of 2011 (in no particular order, though I wish the list were a lot longer, see the rest here)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
The third book in the series, I was both glad and depressed to finish. Rumor is that Stieg Larsson had planned ten books for the Millennium series, but we’ll never know for sure what he had in mind. Though the second remains my favorite, this book made the list for the year because it really took me out of Thailand and immersed into the chilly, brisk streets of Stockholm. When coming up for air, I’d had to blink a few times to remember where I was. I love that feeling.

Sigh, Stieg Larsson

Outliers
I mean, it’s Malcom Gladwell, of course it’s going to be awesome. He explores the idea of the ‘self-made’ man and really how many people and series of events it takes for that to come together. Gladwell covers topics like opportunities (with Bill Gates, the Beatles, Bill Joy, and Chris Langan) and the cultural legacies (explaining why southerners continue to uphold a ‘culture of honor’) that stem from them.

Now with the correct photo cover, Malcolm Gladwell

Zeitoun
Thank you Jeff Jackson for you are the one that introduced me to David Eggers. Through one family’s eyes, I began to understand the disaster that Katrina was both physically and emotionally to the city of New Orleans and its inhabitants. I learned so much about the storm, the city, the people, and the terrible, unimaginable things that happened after devolving into real chaos. This is a must read.

Dave Eggers

Freakonomics
I liked how much this book made me think. The guys that wrote this book took the ‘if a butterfly flaps his wings on one continent, it causes an earthquake on another’ concept and sprinted with it. And I ate it up. Not that I just believed everything they offered, but it changed my perspective of cause/(or what we think is the cause of an) effect.

Steven B. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Glass Castle
A memoir and a worthwhile one of the author’s childhood with her loony parents. There were times that I wanted to jump through the pages and just strangle her parents for the things they did to their kids. Somehow though, they all managed to still love one another through their differences and that’s what made this such a worthwhile read this year. That and it made me appreciate my Mom a lot more.

Jeannette Walls