{ESC} BOOK FOURTEEN: MORE HAPPY THAN NOT

Dear Reader,

This isn’t the fourteenth book I’ve read this year, but I’ve been really slacking on book reviews. So I’m getting back into the swing of things with–I kid you not–the best book I’ve read this year.

If you’re not familiar with the way that I do most of my reviews, I hate spoilers. So, I try to give as little information as possible, while still recommending the good books that I stumble upon. The reason is because I absolutely love indulging in a story with absolutely no idea where it will take me.

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So here’s what I will say: I am in a class this year that is helping us future teachers be able to implement different reading material into the curriculum in order to relate to more diverse audiences. All I knew of this book was that it is about a guy who is coping with his father’s suicide with the help of his girlfriend, but he starts becoming confused when he starts talking to this new guy.

Sounds kind of interesting, right? Eh, maybe not. I even thought it wasn’t the most gripping story before I read it. But I honestly couldn’t put it down and started gasping and making exclamations when things happened–which is how you really know I was lost in the story. I even cried in the suite (discreetly, I might add) because I couldn’t hold back. Who knows how many tears would’ve come out if I were alone.

But I really, really don’t want to say more–not that there’s not more to say, but because everyone gets one chance to read this book for the first time. And I have a problem with over-promoting my recent obsessions to the point where they can’t possibly meet the expectations of those I recommend them to, but I don’t think that’s the case with this. I truly think this is a story that will stick with any reader for a long time. I think it’s shocking and touching, but also heart-breaking as well as eye-opening.

Basically, I’m just really excited to use this in my future classrooms and I can’t wait for the conversation it’s sure to provoke. And I understand that this book deserves a much better review, so I’ve made one. It doesn’t have spoilers necessarily (don’t worry, I won’t give away the ending), but if you don’t want to read a book with such little information, then you can go ahead and check it out here, using the password: esc (I hope this works… I’ve never done this before) 

Anyway, I really, really hope you read this. And I hope you love it as much as I do because I certainly played it up enough.

Sincerely,

Sammy

I’M WRITING A BOOK (LULU.COM)

Dear Reader,

A few weeks ago, I found out about the website “Lulu.com” and I can’t believe I didn’t know about it sooner. So I’m sharing it with all of you.

Lulu is a company that allows you to self publish books and ebooks. You can sell your work through their website and others, but that’s not quite what I’m intending to do.

I started a novel last spring and wrote like crazy for almost three weeks, managing to rack up almost 26,000 words. And then I just kind of stopped. I planned on working on it over the summer, but I kind of forgot about it. And I thought about finishing it up and revising it like crazy and then get serious about getting it published. Maybe I’d look for an agent or start going to writing conventions, I don’t know.

But then I remembered why I wrote it in the first place. I feel like a broken record, but I write for clarity. I take things that happen in my life and try to make sense of them. And last winter, I started feeling really sad. I felt ultimately alone, and I found myself easily aggravated at the few people who I constantly found myself around. And all I wanted to know was why. Why was I, a privileged girl from the suburbs who has the world at her fingertips, feeling depressed?

So I sought out therapy (you can read more about that in my recent post here), but it didn’t help like I thought it would. Then again, I might’ve had unrealistic expectations since I thought there was no way possible that he would actually think I was depressed. Even didn’t think it.

And then more stuff happened and I started to feel better, which made me think it was just seasonal, but then it got worse, which just made me feel helpless, really.

So I started writing a book.

A new book.

I started with a character that I largely based off of myself. She was a freshman in college, at a college very similar to Miami, and she was sad for seemingly no reason. But then the story started writing itself, and the girl suddenly wasn’t me anymore. It was a girl who had a traumatic experience, went through multiple therapists, and finally found one who she trusted–someone who actually understood her. And she fell in love.

So it was no longer my story, but it still helped me to write it. I still related to her, sure, and I loved finally working on something that I couldn’t stop thinking about. It was my own therapy, in a way.

And now I’m back at school, and it’s weird. I have so many good memories from last year, but I had so many bad thoughts as well. And I’ll listen to my playlist from J-Term and feel overwhelmingly sad again. Just because the music will bring me back to that place in my life.

So, long story short, I suppose, I’m going to finish this book and I’m going to publish it using Lulu. I’m going to have a hard copy of something I created, and I’m going to see my own name in print.

I’m going to have this goal I’m working towards–a goal that I so desperately want to reach. Not because I have dreams of being rich and famous and seeing my name in bookstores and signing over rights for the movie version. But because of the whole reason I like writing in the first place–it helps.

So these big dreams can be put on hold momentarily. I’m helping myself first.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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{ESC} BOOK THIRTEEN: NINETEEN MINUTES

Dear Reader,

This book took FOREVER to finish. Yeah it’s almost 500 pages and it’s not always the most action-packed reading, but it’s more than that. It’s a lot different than the books I normally blow through. I mean, if you look at my most recent books, I’ve read about happiness and road trips and memoirs of people living out their dreams.

This book is about a school shooting.

I’m not going to give away more than that, but I’m going to be honest. It was hard for me to get through. If I read it before bed, I’d often dream about guns and violence or sometimes not be able to sleep (this was during my second semester of college, as well). And then I wasn’t particularly eager to make time in my day to read it, but I did want to finish it. Mostly because my sister said she read it and it “messed her up,” but she still highly recommended it.

And I’m glad I finished it. It was a really good story, and the first book of Jodi Picoult’s I read–and I’ll definitely read more. She’s an amazing writer, but all of her books are about such heavy topics. Still, they’re worth it to read. They make you think and figure out more about yourself, as you notice your own reactions and feelings towards these characters and their story.

Most importantly, though, it made me think about how I’m going to be when I’m a teacher. This shooting was done by someone on the inside–a kid who had obviously been struggling. And as someone who’s going into education, I’ve learned about school shootings, and I’ve been taught how to prepare and how to act not “if” it happens, but “when.” That’s how teachers these days must be taught, because school shootings seem to be happening more often these days.

And I know it’ll be my job to teach students about “The Great Gatsby” and prepare them for the ACT, but a bigger, debatably more important, part of my job will be to be there for the students. Every one of them. In the best way that I can.

And I’m determined to learn how to do that to the best of my ability.

So. This book. I say 5 stars, and I say take the time to read it. Make the effort, because it’s worth it.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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{ESC} BOOK TWELVE: THE HAPPINESS PROJECT (and intro to my own Happiness Project)

Dear Reader,

I adore this book. I picked it up at a bookstore in Columbus (post about that road trip coming soon) and immediately started reading it when I got home. And I don’t mark in every book I buy, but about four pages in, I knew I would have to for this.

Whether or not you want to start your own happiness project, I would recommend that you read this book. It’s full of awesome quotes, really cool resources (how did I not know about the website lulu.com???), and good tips on how you should go about making yourself happier. I finished this book last night and I already have a mental list of people I want to lend this to to read, as well as an actual list of resolutions I want to start implementing in my life.

In 16 days, I go back to school. And while I’m extremely excited, I’m also kind of nervous as well. I haven’t talked about it on here yet (though I’m sure I alluded to it), but freshman year was really hard for me. I found myself struggling with feelings of unhappiness and signs of depression–which was very new to me. But this year, I’m determined to be better.

So today, on August 1st, 2015, I am starting my own Happiness Project. I may not be as prepared as Gretchen was when she started hers, and it may seem kind of weird to start a year-long project in August, but waiting until January seems dumb to me. I don’t want to wait. I can’t wait.

So today, it begins.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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3 DAYS, 3 QUOTES | Day 3

Dear Reader,

It is the final day of the 3 days, 3 quotes challenge, and I think I found a new favorite:

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“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

For the past two days, I’ve shared a quote, and then gave my thoughts on it, or told why it’s important to me. But this… this one, to me, is literary perfection.

I mean, I find myself typing to try and make my case, but I’m just quoting him again. Every word in this quotation is perfectly, and it makes me wish that more people in my life were the mad ones. Because I think those are the people for me, too.

Sincerely,

Sammy

 

3 DAYS, 3 QUOTES CHALLENGE | Day 2

Dear Reader,

Yesterday I wrote about how remarkable I find people who can pick out the perfect words, and by combining them in a way that I never see until after the fact, they create wonderful quotes that we repeat and share and even write on canvases and notebooks and posters. Today I have the perfect example to share:

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“I go to seek a great perhaps.” – the last words of poet, Francois Rabelais, read in Looking for Alaska by John Green.

The first time I read this, I thought it was perfect. This is a feeling I have had for as long as I can remember, and it can be summed up in one perfect phrase.

“A great perhaps.”

When I was younger, I constantly thought about moving. I didn’t have a bad childhood by any means, but I always wished I could get away and meet some new people. I wanted to be the new kid. I wanted to experience what growing up would be like in different cities–different states. And even still, I sometimes dream about transferring colleges just to get a taste of something new, even though I realize how lucky I am to be at Miami, and how much it really is my dream school.

But I’m constantly thinking about the great perhaps. And, though I understand now that it is important to be content where you are and be in the now–experience the present–I will continue to dream. I’m going to study abroad and I want to work overseas and, in fact, I want to work a lot of different jobs just to get all of those different experiences. Just to give myself an opportunity to create those stories.

I continue to seek a great perhaps.

Sincerely,

Sammy

3 DAYS, 3 QUOTES CHALLENGE | Day 1

Dear Reader,

A few weeks ago, I was nominated to do the 3 Days, 3 Quotes challenge (you can find the original post here at My Overflowing Thoughts–thanks again!) and I have finally gotten around to doing it. I’ll nominate some of my favorite bloggers at the end of the three days, but here’s my first quote:

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“She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.” – Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

I really relate to this quote because I really relate to this girl (though I have yet to read the book). I have always been obsessed with quotes. I have always been so impressed with people who can perfectly fit words together as if it’s a simple math equation–whereas whenever I try, I always find that something’s off. Nothing I say I ever feel can be quoted. Nothing I say is ever perfectly worded or worthy of being written on a poster or hung above a doorway. Everything can be better said by someone else.

And that’s okay! Because I have these quotes of people before me who so easily conveyed their thoughts with the best words. And sometimes I think that if I study them enough, I’ll figure it out. How to come up with that perfect sentence. And then one day I’ll be able to piece together my own perfect sentences and someone will want to quote me.

But until then, I’m excited to share with you my favorite words that were said by someone else. 

Sincerely,

Sammy

 

 

{ESC} BOOK TEN: A WORK IN PROGRESS

Dear Reader,

I finished this book a while ago but didn’t write a review on it right away, so I ended up forgetting about it. And, actually, that pretty much sums up the experience I had while reading it. It was fine. Some of the advice given might be worth hearing (if you haven’t heard it before). But overall, it was pretty forgettable.

This is the first book I’ve read that was written by a YouTuber, and only because I got it as a gift. But I was a big Connor Franta fan for a while. He’s constantly cheerful and ambitious and is always ready for an adventure, or able to turn something into a good story–characteristics I find admirable in anyone.

But in his writing, I started getting kind of annoyed. Mostly because every chapter ended with a piece of advice–and one that I had already heard before. One that everyone has heard before. Things like “go for it” and “chase your dreams” and “look up from your phone every once in a while.” Not bad advice, by any means, but it was also the way he said it that bothered me. I felt like Connor was the annoying brother who, just because he’s a few years older, feels qualified to pass on all of his wisdom. But he’s only 22, and while he has done more than most guys his age, I found myself annoyed when, at the end of each chapter, without fail, there was some corny sentence along the lines of “What are you waiting for? Start climbing.”

That’s an actual concluding sentence from one of his chapters.

Another is: Time to hop on that high-speed train.

And another says: Start living today, not tomorrow.

And: So what are you waiting for? Let go, my friend.

Do you get my point?

But he knows that he’s young and that he still has a lot to learn–which is part of the reason why he titled it “A Work in Progress.” So maybe I’m being too hard on him. I mean, if was writing my memoirs at this age, I’d have no idea what I would say.

So, I don’t think this is going to be my favorite book written by a YouTuber, and I still have hope for those written by Carrie Hope Fletcher and Mamrie Hart and a lot others (but those two specifically). And if you can get past the lame advice and want a visually pleasing book (the pictures are great) with amusing stories that will take a day to read, then this is probably for you.

But for me, I’ll just sick with giving him 3 stars out of five and continue to watch the occasional collabs with him.

Sincerely,

Sammy

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{ESC} BOOK NINE: DIRTY RUSH

Dear Reader,

I’ll admit it: I love this book. Let me tell you why.

According to Rebecca Martinson, this book “fucking tells is like it fucking is.” Unfamiliar with that name? She’s also known as the “deranged sorority girl.” The one who wrote an email to her entire chapter, threatening to “cunt punt” them for being boring and undesirable to frat boys. You can find a hilarious reading of this letter by Michael Shannon here.

So I was scared that a girl who seems to care so much about such pointless, judgmental things claims that this is a book that actually tells the real truth on sorority life. But, it kind of does.

Now, I’ve only been with my sorority for a semester, and I’ll admit that I didn’t relate to about half of what this “Taylor Bell” experienced, but that’s not saying that it doesn’t happen. I’ve talked to girls in other sororities who have group messages that are dedicated to getting adderall and cocaine. And hazing is still a very prevalent thing in greek life, even though I’m fortunate enough to truthfully tell you all that I was in no way hazed.

But this book actually did have some good morals, and the ending was great. I love that the main character, Taylor, was so nonjudgmental, and even most of the other characters stayed that way, too. Plus, the friendships she made were true and even the clichéd theme of sisterhood was portrayed really well.

So yeah, it’s kind of weird that this book was as refreshing to me as it was, and yeah there are certain aspects of it that I didn’t so much enjoy (like how everything was “crystal cute”), but it was a quick read, and a book that I’ll definitely lend to my friends. And then ask for it back so I can read it again.

Sincerely,

Sammy

{ESC} BOOK EIGHT: LET’S PRETEND THIS NEVER HAPPENED

Some of my favorite books to read are autobiographies–especially those written by women. The ones that shatter the ridiculously outdated notion that women are not funny. To anyone who may still think this way, I’m sure you’ve been encouraged to read those of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Chelsea Handler. Theirs could all gladly prove you wrong. But here’s another suggestion.

Jenny Lawson. Don’t know who that is? I didn’t either, but I continuously saw her book ranked high on the lists, sitting pretty, ahead of some of these greats. So I asked for it for Christmas, knowing nothing more than the fact that this woman is called “The Blogess.”

And now I feel like I know too much. I certainly know more than I had asked for.

But let me tell you: this book may be the funniest book I’ve read to date. I found myself laughing out loud within the first five minutes of sitting down with it. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Lately, I’ve been pretty disappointed with my book choices, so it was great to finally read a 5-star one again.

Lawson’s life has been absolutely ridiculous since her beginning–so ridiculous that I often found myself believing that there’s no way all of this actually happened. But then I thought, okay, if she is making half of this stuff up, I’d still have to give her props, because there’s no one alive with a crazier imagination.

There’s not much I have to say about this book, not because I’m worried about spoiling it, but because you just have to read it for yourself to fully appreciate and try to understand the life of Jenny Lawson.

Yeah, good luck.

Sincerely,

Sammy