Archive | September, 2016

Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (2/5)

13 Sep

I saw an interview with Marie Kondo on Goodreads a while back and thought her little book on tidying up sounded like a cute little self-help book. I had lost the hold on an audiobook I was really enjoying and needed something to fill my time. This seemed like the perfect choice. I really really didn’t like this book. It was very detailed and violated a lot of the beliefs I hold dear. I do see the point to some of her advice, but others left me reeling.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

Summary from Goodreads:

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international best seller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home – and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

This book did not win me over. There were parts of it that made sense to me and others that made me angry. I liked her idea of only keeping the things that make you really happy and of throwing everything else out. I thought about throwing out and donating a lot of things I don’t need or use (socks that I don’t like or a 2015 calendar I just found) and to some extent, I’ve done these things. I was able to thin out my closet and I have a little space in there now. I even have some space on my desk now that I’ve gone through and gotten rid of some old checkbooks. However, I think Kondo takes things too far. I have a stash of sticky notes, a product I use frequently but not as quickly as I go through other things. Should I throw them away because they don’t make me happy and I bought a bulk package? I don’t think so, but Kondo does. Should I never buy in bulk again? Kondo thinks so. Should I ditch my yarn remnants? She thinks so. There are some things I can’t see myself parting with but her argument is to toss them all. While I appreciate the urge to look at my things in a different light, I’m not going to thin out 2/3 of my possessions anytime soon.

 

I understood why some of Kondo’s clients held on to things. Some things I own might seem like garbage but make me happy. I have a collection of turtle figurines that seem silly and are a pain to move. More than half of them are gifts and I treasure them. People have brought them to me from all over the world and I love looking at them. I understood why some people wanted to hang on to things that made them happy or that they stocked up on. I don’t see a problem in buying in bulk and having things that I don’t need frequently but I need once or twice a year. I’m not going to get rid of my hiking gear because I don’t use it in February. I found it hard to think of parting with so many things. Looking around my office now, I see some things I could part with, but I also see some things I would have a hard time giving up.

There were some helpful things in this book to be sure. I’m not sure about folding my socks the way Kondo described, but I see the point in storing clothes the way she describes. It would help me keep better track of what I have. I found a pair of jeans in my drawer one time I hadn’t worn for two years and they were my favorites. I see the point in going through all of my clothes and in taking a hard look at what I’m keeping.

For me, I stopped listening to Kondo when she talked about thanking your possessions. I’m not going to thank my shoes every day for keeping my feet safe or my bed for a good night’s sleep. I don’t want to talk to my apartment when I get home and tell it I’m glad we’re together again. This, for me, was way too far and I couldn’t take her seriously after this.

The audiobook was narrated by Emily Woo Zeller. I thought Zeller did a good job. It’s hard to really critique for a non-fiction book. She pronounced the Japanese words with an accent but as I don’t speak Japanese, it’s hard to know if she did it right. This isn’t a very exciting topic so really, her neutral inflection fit quite well.

Kondo’s theory is that once you’ve experienced a space that is tidy, you’ll never want to experience life any other way. I get that, I do. Once I’d had cream cheese for the first time, I never wanted a bagel any other way. I just didn’t like that she had the single answer for how to organize a space. I was kind of offended that she was the self-declared expert on tidying. I see her point, but I didn’t agree with it. I think a tidy space would leave me more time to focus on things I love to do but I don’t see how her way is the only way to be able to focus my time on things I love.

Writer’s Takeaway: My biggest problem with the book was when (I felt) Kondo went off track and talked about appreciating your possessions more than she talked about tidying. Some parts of the tidying process she explored in-depth such as sock folding and handbag storage. She didn’t talk very in depth about how to organize a bookshelf. I felt it was inconsistent and off topic and that took me out of the book.

While I didn’t like the book, I found some of the information useful. I’m shedding possessions left and right now. It feels kinda good, I won’t lie, but I’m unlikely to throw out bags and bags of things. Two out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Getting Rid of Stuff: Marie Kondo’s ‘Life Changing Magic of Tidying’ | Cultural Life
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo | My Messy World
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo Book Review | Dre Reads

Happy 3rd Birthday to Taking on a World of Words!

12 Sep

3Well, shoot. I had no idea this was going to ever happen. After three years, you all STILL care what I have to say? And you’re reading this now? I’m honored. For fun, I always look up what this blog could do if it were a person. This way I can use it as an argument against my mother. (“I know if I had a kid it would be able to XXX but I have a blog and it’s way cheaper!”)

  • Dress itself
  • Show sympathy for those crying
  • Take turns in a game
  • Talk well enough for strangers to understand it
  • Turn the pages of a book
  • Pedal a tricycle

It looks like my blog is really gaining some ground! It will be school aged before I know it. I better get a good camera and start taking pictures before it’s all grown up and I missed EVERYTHING! At least your comments will be here as long as the internet exists. I can always take that walk down memory lane.

I’ve used numbers to show my blog’s age before and like last year, I’ll do that again and show growth with the numbers. I’ve been hosting WWW Wednesday for over a year and I’m so glad to have gained followers and friends through that experience. I’m hoping these numbers show that great growth. All numbers are as of the 6th, one day after the actual blogoversary.

I really need to see The Light Between Oceans movie as it seems so many of those posts have been big hits here on the blog! I’ve been wanting to see it since it came out last week. Maybe next week, when I have my ‘down time,’ I’ll be able to catch it.

I’m so happy to see the uptake in followers and views! You all make me so happy by participating in WWW Wednesday and sharing your thoughts on books that we all love. It’s so great when someone new joins us or finds WWW Wednesday after it’s been gone for a while.

Going back to school and keeping up the blog has been a challenge. I’m so thankful to have you all backing me up while I attempt it and make the stress and time worth it. You all rock.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 2

8 Sep
Image via Atlanta Black Star

Image via Atlanta Black Star

I’m really starting to understand this obsession with Game of Thrones. My husband and I flew through season 2 and upon writing this, we’ve watched the first three episodes of season 3… in one day. We’ll probably watch one more before we go to bed tonight.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

 

The Red Lady. In the book, I loved the descriptions of Melisandre. She was cunning and beautiful and terrifying. I thought the TV show did a great job of bringing her character to life. I thought she was crazy, to be sure, but I understand why Stannis is so taken with her and her powers. Kudos.

The Tyrells. I will admit I didn’t understand the importance of the Tyrells when I read the book. I didn’t realize Margaery and Loras were siblings and I didn’t understand that Joffrey’s new wife was Renly’s old one. Seeing the actress (and I love Natalie Dormer) helped me make the connections. Also, Googling characters so I spell their names right here is ruining the series for me. I’m going to have to stop writing these.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Pushing back the Reeds. I was nervous at the end of season 2 when the Reed siblings hadn’t shown up. As I said, I’m now a little into season three and I’m relieved they showed up. I get why they were pushed back. There was a lot to convey in the last few episodes of the season and introducing more characters doesn’t make it any easier.

Robb’s wife. I’m either completely blanking or this was added to the show. I don’t remember Robb taking a wife though there might have been some kind of a flirtation? I don’t recall, really. Anyway, seeing him with a woman has helped humanize him. I think he was very much the warrior in the book and he felt kind of cold.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Sansa’s escape. In the novel, Ser Dontos was trying to help Sansa escape for the better part of the novel. Though, he didn’t seem to be making much progress or really doing anything to help. The quick remark by the hound about helping her get out was a lot less convincing than Dontos had been. I don’t get why this was taken out.

Things That Changed Too Much

The House of the Undying. I was so upset. I waited the whole season for this because it was one of my favorite parts of the book. Daenerys had to use her wits and figure out the puzzle of the house rather than escape a trap, which is how it felt to me in the book. It was such a drawn out ordeal with so many intricacies and I loved it in the book. The show made it a quick ordeal in my mind and I was really let down.

I’m beyond what I’ve read now so I won’t be posting these for other seasons. I’m looking forward to not knowing what comes next. Is there any dissenting opinion? Do you all like the TV adaptation of A Game of Thrones?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 7-September-2016

7 Sep

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


TidyingCurrently reading: After all of your encouraging last week, I made a point of getting some reading done on In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I don’t think it amounted to very much, but I made a small dent!
Unfortunately, I’m currently at a loss with World Without End by Ken Follett. I lost the audiobook hold from the library! I went to renew it a few days before it expired and saw that there are two people in front of me on the hold list! I’m really upset because I was enjoying this book a lot and now I’m having to put it on the back burner. Super sad face.
I’m making good progress with Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi. My book club meeting is next week so I’m hoping to finish it over the weekend if at all possible. It shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
While I’m waiting for my audiobook problem to resolve, I picked up a short one. I heard a lot about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and I was intrigued enough to try it. Unfortunately, I’m not a huge fan. Kondo seems to have no respect for someone who collects anything (even if it brings the person joy) and her minute details about properly folding socks so ‘that they can rest’ isn’t making me want to resort my sock drawer. It’s short, so I’ll get through it but I’ll have to find something fun next.

Recently finished: Nothing new! I’m so saddened by this. I didn’t post any reviews either. I need to start reading shorter books.

Henrietta LacksReading Next: I still plan on reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot next. I wanted to add another book to this list, probably an audiobook, but I realized I don’t know what our book club’s October selection will be. I’ll try to get that figured out soon.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Club Reflection: In One Person by John Irving

6 Sep

After taking yesterday off to enjoy the holiday weekend, I’m excited to come back to you today with a book club discussion of John Irving’s In One Person. This is a book I was excited to read because I really enjoyed so many of Irving’s novels and this was one I hadn’t had time to open yet, even though I’d bought it as a Bargain Book from B&N for $7. I always try to exert some minor influence over my book club’s choices and it worked swimmingly this time.

I didn’t realize that one of Irving’s sons is gay. Another reader brought that up and we wondered if his son was part of the influence for Irving to write this book. He could have been exploring, as writers do, his thoughts and feelings on having a gay son. We wondered if it was difficult for Irving to accept his son and if writing this book helped. Others felt the book felt almost autobiographical. A lot of Irving’s characters share characteristics with him and Billy was no exception. Perhaps he was considering some feelings he repressed growing up. Either way, we felt Irving was very understanding of LGBTQ people and the emotional discomfort his characters went through.

One of our members didn’t finish the book and didn’t intend to. She stopped reading it early on because she felt there was too much sex and that it was too detailed. Having read other Irving books, I guess none of this surprised me as he’s always very graphic when it comes to sex. I shared with our group one of the reviews I read when writing mine. It suggested that he had done so much research about gay culture and was so excited about it that he couldn’t help but include each little detail, down to the origin of the ‘top or bottom’ question.

We felt there was a lot of Shakespeare in the book and that most of it weren’t tied in well, falling flat for many of us, especially those who didn’t know all of the plays as intimately as the characters. The one thing we gleaned from it was that many of the plays had a character like Billy, someone with a ‘mutable gender.’ We guessed the point was that there had been LGBTQ people since Shakespeare’s time.

Billy’s family was very understanding of him and who he was with the exception of his mother. We thought the others were more comfortable with him because of Grandpa Harry. It was hard to understand why his mother was so intolerant and angry until the end of the book

Billy father and Bovary hand one of the best and longest-lasting relationships in the entire book. Richard and Martha had a very positive relationship as well, but we found it odd that two people we didn’t meet until the end were so admirable. I felt that Billy was being compared to his absent father for a lot of the book but when we met him, I almost liked the father better than Billy.

Many of the women in the book were depicted as weak or stupid. Billy’s mother was never portrayed well and many of Billy’s girlfriends turned out to be bad people. Martha was the only woman any of us liked the whole way through. Even Elaine had times when she was hard to like. However, she was a good friend to Billy. She was consistently there for him no matter what he was going through.

We felt there were many ways men dressed as women in this book. Billy would always comment on how ‘passable’ a man could be as a woman. Donna was passable to the point that many didn’t realize she was born a man. Others, like Grandpa Harry, dressed as women because it was comfortable or that’s how they wanted to be seen. Whereas Billy’s father dressed as a woman for entertainment, the type of entertainment that annoyed Donna so much. It was hard to find a point in what Irving was saying about cross-dressing and transgendered people because of how differently all of his characters treated it.

As with many Irving novels, the side characters are many times more interesting than the protagonist. Tom Adkins appeared frequently and most of our readers were really annoyed by him. He was clingy when he was a boy and when he was grown up, he asked Billy to look after his son, which we found ridiculous. Just because he thought his son was gay he thought Billy was the only one who could look after him. It didn’t seem like a fair or smart thing to ask.

None of us were big fans of Larry, either. He reminded us of those college professors we didn’t like that always insisted they were smarter and knew better than everyone else because of their experience. In this case, it was Larry acting like he knew more about love and loss than Billy because he was older and lost his boyfriend. It seemed unfair to make that a competition with Billy.

Kitteridge fell flat to a lot of us. One member who couldn’t make it to the meeting emailed me to say how frustrated he was with Kitteridge’s resolution. Having his son come and represent him wasn’t enough for us. There’s a quote on page 188 of my copy (second page of Chapter 8) where Billy is reading Giovanni’s Room and a passage makes him think. “I immediately thought of Kitteridge- how my dislike of him was completely entangled with my dislike of myself for being attracted to him.” This thought persists for so much of the book that not bringing the character back was a huge let down.

Irving’s hints about Miss Frost at the beginning of the book didn’t trick one of our readers. Aunt Muriel says that Miss Frost ‘used to be very good looking’ and that ‘the available men in the town used to fall all over themselves when they met Miss Frost’ (page 2). Not many of us figured this out but upon learning about Big Al, these lines came back to our minds and we had an ‘Ah ha’ moment.

One reader thought at first that it was Miss Frost on the cover. The hips are very straight and the hands are quite big so many of us thought it was a man. I thought it was Billy wearing Elaine’s bra and many others think this might be the right answer (if there is a right answer).

The title has a great meaning as well. It appears in the epitaph of the book, “Thus play I in one person many people, And none contented.’ It’s a quote from Shakespeare and like Shakespeare’s character Ariel, Billy had a more fluid sexuality, almost mutable. We were also reminded of the wonderful quote from Miss Frost and memorably included in the last line of the book. “My dear boy, please don’t put a label on me- don’t make me a category before you get to know me!”

I’m not sure I created any more Irving fans but I’ll see if I can try again! We’re reading a non-fiction next month and I’m very excited for a short fiction break. Hope to have you all reading again then.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Challenge Update, August 2016

1 Sep

Unfortunately, August couldn’t keep the momentum of July going. It was a bit of a slow down for me, but I’m venturing into a long audiobook so that’s to be expected. My class started yesterday so I don’t know how September will be, we’ll have to see. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in August:

Peace Breaks Out // John Knowles
The 5 Love Language // Gary Chapman
In One Person // John Irving

Quite the boy’s club for this month! I’m reading a female author now so I hope next month can balance that out a bit.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

11/12
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. No further update for this month. I’ll see about finding a 1600s audiobook I can listen to, but I know this period is always a challenge. Any suggestions for a good book in this time period?

Goodreads Challenge

33/45
Still ahead of schedule! I was hoping this would be the case so I could feel comfortable with my long audiobook. It’s been a while since I listened to such a long one and I’m hoping to be able to finish it without loosing my progress toward this goal.

Book of the Month

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Yikes, a hard choice this month. I really liked Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles. The book was short and delivered a punch with its theme and characters. It was exactly what I was hoping for with another Knowles book and I enjoyed it.

Added to my TBR

Only one added! Awesome. This means my TBR is down 2 overall (three read, one added). I’ve been making a point of trying to topple this monster at least below 100 in the near future.

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re killing it. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!