Day 17: Books, America, Yeah- Keep Reading!

Books, My 500 Words, reading challenge 2019

It is day 17 of #my500words, and I am in a slump. I have a lot happening in my brain these days, but my day to day feels uneventful. I worked from my apartment all day every day last week and found the experience to be restorative mostly. I welcomed the arrival of my boyfriend home as I am much more likely to get out of my head and into the world when he or other friends are near.

I am reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow still and enjoying it. But, WOW it is so detailed that my library rental might be due before I can finish. I am only 15% finished with a few days left. I like the book a lot but find the material to be so dense that I cannot gulp it in for a few hours at a time. I am disappointed by this. But, there is still time left, so perhaps I will mark my spot in it if I don’t finish and wait a few weeks until I open the book again. That really would not be the worst outcome.

What shall I read in the likely middle time? I would like something fiction maybe, something I can absorb myself in. I have started 2019 with political books mostly, maybe there is a good fiction book that keeps with the unintended theme! I shall commence some research. Ideally, I could read 2 or 3 books before returning to good old “Hammy”, as I affectionately call the book. I am absorbing so much of the book though, that if I were doing this for a history class, I would be crushing it. However, reading it for a reading challenge, I think the choice was not as brilliant!

Last year, I started reading The Handmaid’s Tale and thought it was great. I never got going on it however, so I could restart that! Dystopian novels might fit the bill if I want to stick with my political theme but try some fiction.

There are, surprisingly, a lot of articles about what political fiction one should read and why it is a worthy genre. All The King’s Men comes first in every list, so maybe I will see what this book entails. It does make a little nervous, however, that it will be very dense material. I could use a fun page turner, and political fiction might not exactly produce that. I COULD BE WRONG THOUGH! Alas, I have a few days left of scrolling through Alex Ham’s life, so it doesn’t matter just yet. My confidence might just be a bit down after 2 weeks and not as much progress as I would have hoped.

The bright side to all of this is that I am reading MUCH more intently, challenging myself with the material, and honestly learning a lot. And, as those were my goals surrounding this reading challenge to begin with, I would say that I am and will be a success whether I hit 50 or whether I merely desperately try to hit 50.

 

Becoming by Michelle Obama- A Commentary

Books, reading challenge 2019

I finished Michelle Obama’s recently released memoir Becoming yesterday. It was a great read and held my attention from beginning to end. If you are a fan of Mother Obama, I would highly recommend the read! I was consistently struck by her transparency and honesty. With a characteristically disarming approach, she discusses the pain of losing her father, the missteps of a young professional, her relationship with Barack Obama, and her continued dislike of politics. Obama approaches each difficulty and triumph with a her humanness on display, a steady and purposeful reminder that politicians (and those that love them) are indeed just people.

Mrs. Obama’s prose was easier to pore over than her husband’s early memoir (the subject of my first review 😅). The book did at times feel political, but that might be the cynic in me. After living in the public eye and under great scrutiny for more than 8 years while your husband was indeed THE politician, I imagine it would be difficult to omit politics or political opinions. In any case, she dispels any rumor or hope that she will EVER run for political office. And, she addresses big, bad Donald Trump’s unscrupulous presidential candidacy and the 2016 election that many of us are still reeling from.

The Obama family felt a great responsibility towards perfection during their time in office…sacrificing personal and family freedoms as a result. This is not the suggest they are the first or the only political family to sacrifice and to suffer. Many in public life sacrifice a great deal. However, I was confronted by the great responsibility they felt as the first African-American family in America’s highest office, in a country where race relations are still far from resolved. Michelle Obama never wanted this for her life or her family. She grappled with guilt, exhaustion, and confusion as a mother, while at the same time acknowledging the privileges such a life had provided. Reading her account illuminated that this was not the path of happiest or simplest life, but rather the path of the most meaning, the most impact.

I learned that being the president is lonely and difficult, and being the first family is a sacrificial act. I closed the book feeling immensely grateful for the devotion of all those in public service, from the secret service agents that swear to put another life before their own, to members of the military, and to the journalists seeking truth and accountability.

Michelle Obama’s Becoming– 4.5/5 stars!

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My next book is Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It is a long book (and I am 1 book behind schedule) so I may have to get creative with how I tackle this goal and my free time. But, I want to read what I want to read. Page numbers be damned.

Onward!

Undisciplined Reader, Meet Self Doubt

Books, reading challenge 2019

I am just a few chapters from finishing reading my 2nd book this year… just. a. few. chapters. Yet, here I am writing about finishing the book rather than finishing it. I have been staring at my kindle (brand new Kindle user- it is an amazing little device!) and opting to do almost anything else. This is, I admit, something I have always known about my reading habits. They are crazy inconsistent.

I envy people that lay in bed each night at 8:30 PM and read for 1 hour before sweetly drifting off. Instead, I read for 6 hours until 2 AM on a Tuesday, which leads to inevitable suffering on Wednesday morning, and then I will not read again for 4 days. Does anyone else experience this? Am I just a novice reader? Am I going to regret this goal I set as my undisciplined nature reveals itself?

I am not sure what the coming days and weeks will bring, but I will continue to blog about it and continue the long and improbable slog towards my goal!

1.75/50  🐢

About

About

Thanks for stopping by the blog and taking the time to read more about me. I am a native Ohioan living in Colorado, USA. I love to learn, and I love to read. At the beginning of January, I set a goal to read 50 books over the course of the entire year…a little ambitious, yes! At the end of January, I started a 31 day challenge to write and post 500 words per day! Can you tell I like a nice clearly defined challenge?

I started this blog as a way to write about each book I read and explore blogging a little more. I have loved to write for as long as I can remember, but I haven’t been in practice in recent years. I am hoping that this blog will inspire me to meaningfully read and write much more this year!

Thanks for reading along and for stopping by! If you have any suggestions or recommendations for me, please feel free to use the contact box below!

 

Publication Dates and the Magic of Overlapping Narratives

Books, reading challenge 2019

One exciting benefit of reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming immediately after Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father: A story of race and inheritance is that I am able to cross reference the details of stories and interesting facts, reinforcing the things I would like to take away from both books. Through this process, I realized I had the timeline on the 44th president’s first memoir completely wrong!

As Michelle detailed the details of her husband’s first book, it did not align with what I had thought and posted about previously when discussing my first book of the year. I assumed his book came out prior to his initial entry into politics, but this is actually incorrect. The book was originally published in 1995, long before he became the political phenom that won the presidency in 2008. The book was, however, re-released in 2004 as his political career began to take hold.

It is interesting to read these 2 books in succession. Their overlapping narratives and 23 year publication date difference provides a really fascinating and fun comparison.

Happy Birthday Mrs. Obama!

Books, reading challenge 2019

Happiest birthday to the author of the beautiful memoir I have the pleasure of reading, @MichelleObama!

I am about 1/3 of the way through Becoming by Mrs. Obama and am loving it. You feel like she is speaking directly to you, telling her story. It is really enjoyable, especially if you are already a fan of the woman. What strikes me as I read each page is her level of honesty and willingness to share personal details. As the former first lady, it is fun to see her as a human, albeit an interesting and determined one!

Happy Birthday and thanks for sharing your inspiring story with the world.

Dreams from My Father- Thoughts and Takeaways

Books, reading challenge 2019

I finished Dreams from My Father, former President Barack Obama’s autobiographical narrative of his early years, earlier this week. It chronicles Obama’s childhood and family background as well as his years working as an organizer in Chicago and exploring what it means to be black, or white for that matter, in America.

I found the book to be an interesting look at the 44th president of the U.S. I knew very little about this important man’s background, and how much of that knowledge had come from inflammatory news and media outlets, both defending and defaming him. I knew that his election was historic, and I had even cried when it happened. I didn’t understand the truth behind his humble beginnings or his unique American story.

The book’s exploration of racial themes is insightful. As Obama explores his roots in America as well as Africa, the reader can peek at a new perspective of colonialism and of the inherited pain and struggle of generations past. I would recommend the book, although at times I can admit that my attention faded. I give 5 stars for teaching me to be more aware and critical of the information I consume. I give 3.7 stars for the book itself. Although it was very good and interesting, large sections of the book were a bit lost on me and felt convoluted. If the book was a memoir by anyone else, I cannot say that it would be an excellent book.

Grateful to start the year and the challenge off with a great read.

1/50