Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A Bloggiversary!

bloggiversary texas wildflowers

I started this blog three years ago this month (it's still May, so this counts). How time flies!

Last year I celebrated my bloggiversary with a much needed blog redesign, and I wanted to do some sprucing up again this year (backend things tend to get neglected during the school year), but alas, this May was filled with other preoccupations. Perhaps that will be a project for later this summer. For now, I will celebrate with taking a look at some of the highlights of this past year of blogging.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Book Blab: "Mini Book Club" (Episode 6 Show Notes)



Okay guys, this just in. It seems that Blab is requiring a Twitter account just to watch the videos we post here, but there seems to be issues with the sign in. So just in case you're having trouble viewing this video, here's a YouTube version. Show notes below!


Episode 6 show notes and links

0:50 - Suzanne finished her master's degree!
1:54 - This month's topic: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
3:25 - Spoiler-free plot summary
5:54 - What is your favorite funny moment?
  • 6:28 - Saab references
  • 8:36 - Ipad scene
10:40 - How did you feel about the structure of the novel? How did it influence the way you thought about Ove?
  • 12:00 - Brilliant emotional manipulation
  • 13:05 - True to real life
13:45 -  Does Ove's personality change during the course of the story? Is it influenced by Sonja or, later, Parveneh?
  • 14:43 - Ove's personality doesn't change, but our perspective of him does.
  • 16:08 - His friends learn how to interact with him.
17:45 - There are several interesting marriages in this book. What makes them work?
  • 17:55 - Ove and Sonja
  • 20:00 - Parveneh and Patrick
22:27 - How did you feel about Parveneh's character? Was she rude and invasive? Or should more people be like her?
  • 23:28 - Is their friendship realistic?
  • 25:40 - Introverts and extroverts
26:58 - What was your takeaway from the book?
  • 27:30 - "We can busy ourselves with living or dying."
  • 28:45 - You can't judge people when you don't know the backstory.
30:20 - Two similar recommendations to A Man Called Ove
  • 30:46 - Suzanne's recommendation
  • 33:00 - Amy's recommendation
36:05 - Conclusion

Links from the show:

Suzanne's review of A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Suzanne's review of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
Amy's review of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Thursday, May 19, 2016

A Student Mom: I Don't Know How You Did It


With all the congratulations I've been getting from people over my recent graduation, I've been hearing this a lot lately:

"I don't know how you did it, what with raising your two little boys and going to school full time! It must have been so hard! You are amazing!"

One of the hopes I had with chronicling my adventures as a student mom here on the blog was to show just "how I did it," and hopefully let other mothers (or women in general) who are interested in grad school see how it could be possible for them too. What I've hoped to communicate is that with developing the right skill set (prioritizing, time management, efficiency), any woman can be there nearly full time for her small children, get dinner on the table every night, and earn a graduate degree on the side. There is time in the world for all of these things.

However...

There is a however. As I've been reflecting on just "how I did it," I feel the need to acknowledge that yes, there were some very special circumstances and privileges I enjoyed that made this whole motherhood/graduate school thing not only possible, but a whole lot easier for me than it would be for someone else. Here is an incomplete list of those special circumstances.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

You May Now Refer to Me As...

What do I have in common with the people/characters pictured below?





That's right! It's official! I'm a Master! Graduation was this past Saturday, and even though I chose to attend my brother's wedding rather than my own graduation ceremony (priorities), you better believe I've let everyone know that from here on out, you may refer to me as Master Suzanne.

My auspicious colleagues:
1. Master Yoda
2. Augusta Tournament Golf Master
3. Chess Grand-master Bobby Fischer
4. Dharma Master

Friday, May 13, 2016

Magical Realism: a (Theoretically) Love/(Actually) Hate Thing

magical realism

Let's talk about magical realism. How familiar are you with this genre? Very? A little? Not at all?

In case you've never heard of it, here's the Wikipedia definition (which, as we all know, is the definitive source of wisdom): "Literature, painting, and film that, while encompassing a range of subtly different concepts, share in common an acceptance of magic in the rational world."

Okay, so, like that definition admits, magical realism can look like a lot of different things. But, in general, what I understand magical realism to be is a book (art, film, whatever) that is set in what feels like our current, rational, non-magic world until all the sudden something "magical" (irrational, unexplained, etc.) happens, and everyone just kind of goes with it like it's no big deal. No one is really put out that irrational things are happening, even if they admit they are irrational.

On the surface, I love this concept. I love the possibility of it. I love the freedom it gives to the wideness of human experience. I love that it allows for an exploration of life beyond the rational and mundane. It feels like the kind of definition of life that I believe in, that not everything is explainable by rational processes and rules, that there is space for things that we are just not capable of explaining, but it's okay. So, when I talk about it theoretically, I'm all on board with magical realism.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

FREE! AUDIO! BOOKS! (Did I Mention Free?)

I had 39 items checked out from my school library. Books with titles like Adulterous Alliances: Home, State, and History in Early Modern European Drama and Painting, and The Antitheatrical Prejudice, and Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein. Real page turners, let me tell you what. These hefty tomes have slowly been collecting in neat stacks on my bedroom floor, desk, and bedside table throughout the semester, and today was the day! The blessed and glorious day when they all got returned! The sign that all my papers are turned in and the semester is finally over!

But let me tell you, it's a lot easier to check books out three or four at a time, than it is to return 39 in one go. I had to take my stroller, sans baby, loaded up to the brim in order to get them all back without multiple trips. I'm sure I was quite the comical sight pushing that conveyance across campus.


Anyway, that was a tangent. The real point of this post is that SUMMER IS HERE! And that means it's time for another season of FREE AUDIO BOOKS courtesy of audiobooksync.com. Those of you who've followed my blog for a while know that I make this public service announcement every May, because I love this service so much. I mean, free audio books! What's not to love?



Monday, May 2, 2016

Books I Read in April

Well, hello from the land of end-of-term paper writing. May 9th, guys. That is the day. The final day, when all these papers will be finished and the library books will be returned and the pain and torture and late nights will be over. One week from today. I just have to survive one week, and then I'm done. (And by done, I mean done-done. As in, I'm graduating! Who-hoo! But more on that later.)

Until then, this is probably the only post you're going to get out of me. But hey, look at that! Despite the torture of the past few weeks, I managed to read (and by read, we all know I mean listen-while-I-commute) a decent number of books in the month of April. And there were some good ones too, so let's jump in.

Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

This was my first Wendell Berry book, but sign me up for more, please! I would put this book in the same category as Peace Like a River or Gilead, which is a type of book I love but can definitely see is not for everyone. This one is definitely character driven, heavy on thoughtful reflection and light on plot. Oh, but it is beautiful. This is the fictional auto-biography of Jayber Crow as he reflects back on his life as the barber of a small town in rural Kentucky, his rejection and later re-engagement with God, and his completely chaste one-sided fantasy marriage to the already-married love of his life (sounds weirder than it is, I promise). This was slow and lovely and I thoroughly enjoyed it.