Note: For a full analysis table of my readings, click here.
Dear Lord! I have been gone for quite a long time, haven’t I?
I was so busy with my school work that I was forced to take a very LONG hiatus. There were so many exams, assignments, tests, and presentations that I needed to put something aside to finish it off. But now that everything is FINALLY over, I can at last return with a massive reading update.
Reading helped to keep me afloat during this crazy semester. Over the last four and a half months, I surprised myself by just how quickly I was able to blaze through the first half of my reading challenge. Thus far, I have completed 17/30 of my pledged books, moving so fast that I have had to slow myself down a little by re-reading three of them.
I suppose you’re wondering how I was able to pull such a feat. My semester was, after all, pretty hectic and I was often so tired and frustrated at the end of the day, that I didn’t have the patience to sit down with a book for a straight, solid read. So, I would immersion read when I could or just listen to the audiobooks whenever I didn’t have the chance to read at all.
I would read at breakfast and dinner, while doing chores, during my nightly “wind-down” ritual or while waiting for classes to start. Filling idle times in my day with immersion reading or audiobooks has become a habit now, and it has helped me to finish books as quickly as possible. It’s actually become a kind of therapy. I drown out the noise of my world and my world and mind and just relax and enjoy the misfortunes of the fictional characters at hand.
However, I didn’t always enjoy my audiobook experience. For example, I hated the reading for Sleep Donation. The narration was lethargic, breathy and somewhat nonchalant as if the narrator didn’t really want to do the reading. That, coupled with the overly descriptive nature of the novel itself, just killed the book for me a little. However, I am still debating on whether or not that was the narrator’s intention. The book was about a worldwide sleep crisis. I suppose I, too, would be exhausted if I were caught in the middle of that situation.
In other cases, the narration added volumes of depth, character, and emotion to the words, thus capturing the raw essence of the story. I didn’t read a single word of The Things They Carried, and I don’t regret it. I believe that book was meant to be listened to. I think that if I had read it alone, without the aid of the audiobook, I would have been a bit disconnected to the nuances Tim O’Brien wanted his readers to experience. Some of the grit, horror, and fear would have been lost on me, and some of the wonder and awe as well. Bryan Cranston was a superb narrator. His deep voice and incredible voice acting added that edge needed to make the book come alive – to make Vietnam real.
When I sat down to write up my analysis of my readings, I was pleased to discover that through these last 17 books, I have traveled to 22 different countries from my mapped regions. I do admit that I cheated just a little by reading Bill Bryson’s Neither Here, Nor There. Bryson is a travel writer after all, and a single reading of Neither Here, Nor There took me on a grand tour of ten European countries, including the now-disbanded Yugoslavia.
Further, I noticed that most of my books were connected to the United States in some way or another. Either the authors live in the US (by birth or immigration), or the stories are set – at least, in part – in America. I think the only exceptions were The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Love in the Time of Cholera, Me Before You and Toward the Sea of Freedom.
Therefore, as I continue my literary journey, I will try to read more books from an even more diverse pool of authors. That will be difficult with my current reading plans, but we shall see where it all goes.
Nevertheless, the books I have read so far have brought me immense joy. There were ups and downs in these readings, and I am still ashamed to admit that I am TEN reviews behind. Either way, I have still learned a lot from all of these books, and I will expand on my experiences in each review over the coming weeks.
Right now, I’m finishing up my reading of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend (Finally!) and I’ve just started reading American Gods. Who knows where this will take me! We just have to wait and see.