Fifty Fifty Me: Never Let Me Go

This weeks effort to participate in the 50/50 me project,(you can read more about it here) I finished one book and shocked that it took me 2 weeks to read a single book with 400 pages. Seriously? I had these grandiose ideas that I would read copious amounts on the plane on the way to California. I slept instead. Obviously I needed to sleep. I am reaching full on burnout. Then I figured I would watch a movie or two. Westjet now charges you for movies. WTF? Air Canada doesn’t. So I sulked and read instead. That left me with time for just one and one book in two weeks. Oh well. The movie was disturbing and the book was … not sure how to describe it. Let’s get on with that shall we?

The Book

Cover of "Never Let Me Go"
Cover of Never Let Me Go

I read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Many reviews on this book were stellar. This book is even on the Time 100 best books of the 20th century. The book was a good read for me. But I gave it 3 out of 5 stars on my goodreads book list. First of all it is Science Fiction. I love watching Sci-Fi! Those are some of my most favorite movies and tv shows. As a book genre? Not so much. When I read, I want my book to be plausible. There are books out there – Harry Potter for example – that I love in spite of the plausible aspect. However, I find the characters real end genuine. That is important. They can be involved in kooky adventures that we can only dream of but their character must be realistic. I found the characters in Never Let Me Go to be stupid – literally.

There was a time in the book where I gasped out loud because these characters we not the physical beings I thought them to be. Then the story became very predictable after that. I kept waiting for the author to drop a bomb, something that would shock me to my core. It never happened. What was shocking was the way these characters accepted their fate without question. Who does that? This is why I did not find them believable. I want people to fight for justice. Fight for what their heart wants. Fight for their values. I do not expect them to get what they want, but I want them to try. This is what makes characters real for me. Perhaps there are people in this world that just plod along not reaching for the brass ring, not questioning the way things are done. This is not me. I could not relate to these people.

There were parts of this book I quite enjoyed, but I always felt I had to keep reading it just to complete it, not because I loved it.

Meanwhile, I am still reading Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Mrs. Dashwood infuriates me and I have to put it down because I get so mad. This is what I enjoy about Austen’s books. Her characters make you feel.

As an easy read for the week, I pulled out British Chicklit. I’m feeling Jane Green and her bumbling heroines, I could easily be one of them. They make me laugh and I don’t need to think or be offended at the stupidity of the female leads. They are smart and usually successful. They just make bad choices I can laugh at because “Been there, Done That”.

The Movie

My children both read The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in grade 7. I never had. It was a long time before I could bring myself to watch or read anything in regards to Nazi Germany. I had lived with stories from grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts, and uncles about their experience with WWII. It was just too close to home for me. I feel deeply and could not imagine the pain and heart-break associated with camps all over Europe. Nor could I understand how a human being could do these things to another. Since my various trips to Europe, I have been able to slowly learn more. I find it painful, shocking and disturbing, yet I cannot stop looking.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is about a German boy whose father is in charge of a camp in Poland. Behind his house is the camp. He goes exploring and finds the walls of the camp. He sees a boy, the same age as himself and they strike up a friendship. You get a sense of the ending while watching this. What struck me was the attitude of the father, the Nazi Commander. He said Jews aren’t people. For all the atrocities that happened, this is what disturbed me the most. Karma plays a hand in the end and the emotion is raw. Give this movie a look. I don’t think I could read the book knowing the emotion involved. I feel to deeply. Empathy is a great gift, but in these circumstances it is painful.

My next movie of choice will be Never Let Me Go, The Avengers and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

Fifty Fifty. Me.: When God was a Rabbit

This week in an effort to participate in the 50/50 me project,(you can read more about it here) finished one book and started yet another. I watched 2 movies and mostly did copious amounts of homework. My mind is filled with so much information, I chose drivel to read this week. I shouldn’t have done that. Fluff or drivel wounds my soul and makes my brain feel soft. There is a fine line for me to find a book that is a fun read and a book that is fluff. 50 Shades of Grey is pure fluff, and not all that fun to read. Last weeks enjoyment of A Lover’s Dictionary was fun. I think I need to start carefully assessing why I read as opposed to what people say I should read. Suggestions are wonderful, but I need to read from suggestions of people who like the same type of read as I do. Joining goodreads as been helpful! I invite you to join it as well, and add me as a friend. You can find the link on the left of my WordPress page. Anyways…. on with the words!

The Book

I read When God was a Rabbit by Sarah Winman. This book made me laugh, cry and smile. There was a dark cloud that followed this family yet it didn’t seem to matter, they laughed and lived in spite of it. I think it gave a truer sense into people’s lives when nothing is perfect, yet people live being as happy as they can. I loved following the main character through her life. She didn’t dwell on the painful moments, she moved on. Very british actually, stiff upper lip and all that. She felt emotion but realized life was a series of moments. Each moment builds on another to create the next moment. With that knowledge you can can choose to feel however you want about a situation. I loved that sentiment. I have always felt this way. There is no point in blaming someone else for past crimes against you. Its about taking what we learned and growing from it. The letting go is hard, but in the end worthwhile. This book spoke to me. I hope it speaks to you too.

The Movie

I watched 2 movies this week. Annie Hall by Woody Allen (- this can be crossed of the bucket list!) and the

Film poster for Annie Hall - Copyright 1977, U...
Film poster for Annie Hall - Copyright 1977, United Artists (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Contagion starring Matt Damon on recommendation of my friend Chef. Her delicious blog is here.

Chef is an ex-pat Edmontonian living in Texas and we share a love for all things yummy, heathy and Matt Damon.

I thought this movie might be too much for my Howard Hughes like obsession with hand sanitizer. It does justify my freaky feeling about clean hands, but it was as scary as I thought it could have been. Although people do die at an alarming rate. Famous people kept dropping like flies. Did this help? Meh… So this was not my favorite of the bunch.

I did love Annie Hall. I love Diane Keaton. I loved how innocent she was and her fella Woody Allen encouraged her to give personal growth a try and lo and behold, she out grew him. A very common theme amongst my peers of late.  I do not get the sex appeal of Woody Allen, but I do understand his intellectual appeal. I loved the dialogue. I am coming to realize that Woody Allan movies are definitely for me. Conversation, discussion, and possibilities without a clear cut happy ending. It certainly is not an escape genre, but it fulfills a need in me. Loved this one!

 

This week I am finishing up 50 Shades of Grey and am NOT going to read the other 2 in the trilogy any time soon. I have two books on my list that interest me, Under the Tuscan Sun and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Can you find two vastly different books? I think not. one thing this challenge has done for me is open my mind up to knew genres that I would normally not have considered before. We shall see how I feel after 50 shades, that will determine my next choice.

As for Movies? I am in a De Niro kind of head space. I think I will watch Taxi Driver and cross that off the AFI 100 list. Perhaps there is a movie that my teens wish to watch too. Let’s see what the week brings, shall we?


 

Fifty/Fifty.Me: The Lover’s Dictionary

This week in an effort to participate in the 50/50 me project,(you can read more about it here) I read one book and watched 4 movies. I have a sneaky feeling I will finish the movie portion long before the books. I have watched 7 movies in 2 weeks and will likely watch a couple more this weekend. I wish The Avengers was out. May 4 needs to hurry up.

The Book

I was reading some book reviews here on WordPress and stumbled onto a review about a little book called The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan of 10 things I hate about you fame. After reading some heavy books of late, this was like a sorbet between courses.

This story was from the male’s point of view. I wasn’t a love story, but a relationship story. It wasn’t all romance, wine and candles. It was real. I could relate with the couple on several levels and was captivated with their story.

Because the book format was very unique,it was dictionary format spanning the alphabet from A-Z focusing on a key word that describes the moment in time that pertained to the relationship, the reader was never let into their couples lives on a daily basis. We we allowed to see snipets the dictionary definitions let us see. This chapter or definition under U:

unabashedly, adv.

We were walking home late from a bar- and the term walking is used loosely here, because you were doing something between a skip and a stumble – and suddenly you started singing out your love for me. My name and everything, loud enough to reach the top floors of all the buildings. I should have told you to stop, but I didn’t want you to stop. I didn’t mind if your love for me woke people up. I didn’t mind if it somehow sneaked into their sleep.

You grabbed my hand and twirled me around, two sidewalk sweethearts. Then very earnestly, you stopped, leaned over, and whispered, “you know, I’d get a tattoo with your name on it. Only I want you to have the freedom to change your name if you want to.”

I thanked you, and you resumed your song.

I liked it for its quick read factor. It was a lovely change of pace from the more intense, emotional reads I have been absorbed in. I did find myself wondering about the characters themselves and wishing I had more information about them. Then I realized I may not like the heroine as much. I was surprised by the emotions generated by the man. That was something I did not expect but did appreciate.

Each word and definition was it’s own chapter, so the book moved forward quite quickly. I recommend this book for two reasons, It is likely the most unique format you will ever read and it is interesting. If a book is not interesting I will not keep reading it. Case in point, The Hunger Games. I have read the first Chapter and have no desire to finish it in spite of the hoards of people telling me to keep it up, it gets better. It is not better NOW, that is the difficult part for me. I read so much for university, when I read for fun – I need it to be at least fun, interesting, relatable or riveting.

I was going to read Night Circus, but I read the first page and realized I was not in a Circus Mood. I flipped through the 145 books I have on my eReader waiting for me to dive in and I had a difficult time deciding. I need an easy read. I have a ton of research to plow through and a bit of fluff is what I am needing to turn my brain off. There are a bunch of gals in my reading group that rave about the Fifty Shades trilogy. With THAT said, my next book is 50 Shades of Grey. I understand it to be a Twilight type series for Adults without the stalker bits, vampires and werewolves. I do know it is erotica and not romance, something I havent read since pre-mommy days. I am NOT a romance type gal, so if it turns out to be sappy – I will be outta there! 2 chapters in and I have a feeling this will be … interesting. I may learn a thing or two to spice up my sex life in the process (Hi Mom! Hi Granny!) I will report back once I know.

Now…on to the movies!

The Movie

When I read that I hear ‘Let’s go to the mooooovies, Lets go see the staaaaaaars” from Annie the Musical. I did not go to any theatre this week, all my movies I watched were via streaming.

  1. The Other Woman – mediocre – I hated the kid in the beginning but liked him in the end. I hated his dad too, so this wasn’t a stellar movie for me.
  2. Hugo – How did this win best movie? Are you kidding me? It was too long, too boring and too slow. But it was pretty. The highlight of the movie was the mechanical man. He was in the middle not even the climactic end. Was there a climatic end? I can think of a billion other movies that should have won before this one…snore.
  3. Water for Elephants – Book was better. This was too romancy and not enough of the circus adventure. Meh.
  4. Cabaret – This would be my favorite of the 4. It is also on my top 100 of the 20th century bucket list movies I want to watch. I didn’t think I would like Joel Grey as the Emcee. I had seen Allan Cummings on the tony Awards and on The Rosie Show where he performed parts of his Tony Award wining role. I loved his raunchiness. Joel Grey was goofy. Both very different both excellent. I would have rather watched the Cabaret part instead of having to sit through Sally Bowles weird life. Liza Minnelli is NOT her mother. However, she has great pipes too and I could listen to he perform all night. Singing is her strength – not acting. The story was meh, the music was amazing! I loves me a good musical! With THAT said…let the flaming begin.

The next movie I plan to watch? Hmmm.   I think I will try Annie Hall. I have a had a hard time streaming it. I will keep trying. I LOVE Diane Keaton. I need to see this one. It is also on the AFI 100. That would bring me up to 55 on that list. I think Extremely loud and Incredibly Close is one I want to see especially now that i have read the book. Contagion is another movie that I really want to see. Although with my  Howard Hughes freakiness when it comes to germs, this may have me quitting my job as a preschool teacher. Too many wet orifices that leak. The plus side is Matt Damon is in it. Since I saw him run forever in The Adjustment Bureau, I have fallen deeply for him. He is a close second to my future ex husband George.

Fifty Fifty Me

I started a new challenge! Well it isn’t very new, It is kind of tied to my current goals and that is why I think it is doable.

I joined Fifty fifty me. The purpose is to read 50 books and watch 50 movies this year. I need to figure out how I am doing with the movies, I watch about one a week in an effort to achieve my bucket list but now I suddenly need to keep track. Hmmm, If you saw a movie with me this year, please tell me what we saw!!!

I will set up a page called 5050me. You can find it on the left hand side of my blog along with all my other crazy challenges that I am doing. Can you say “Whoa there ET, Slow down?” Apparently not!

Being March, we are 13 weeks into the challenge. I have read 15 books that are not school related. I am sure I have seen at least 13 movies, but will need to reflect on that. I will commit to writing one blog post a week on books reviews and movies, part of the challenge is to keep it up on my blog. I expect YOU to help me. Share with me great reads and great movies!

Here are the Rules…well they are more like guidelines

Some Guidelines:

  • Recognize you’re doing this for bragging rights (only); although we promise some fun along the way.
  • Join anytime you like, but you only have til the end of 2012 to finish.
  • Read and watch at your own pace, just get to 50/50 before 2013
  • Finish that stack of half-read books, finally! We’ll let you count them.
  • Read/watch in any language. 50/50 is global, yo.

Questions you are asking or should be!

1) Um…What happens if I don’t read 50 books and watch 50 movies this year?
Easy: we send a bounty hunter to your house.

Just kidding- this is for fun, remember? There is no punishment (not this year, anyhow) – it’s your personal challenge, so all we ask is that you try! We know it’s a lot of books, a lot of movies; the point is that it is probably more than you’ve ever consumed in a year. That’s why it’s a challenge and not “The 50/50 Usual”.

2) Do I have to read the books, or can I just skim?
I can see how this would be confusing. Oh wait, no, it’s a reading challenge. Same as fast-forwarding through a movie isn’t the same as really watching one, this is about taking the time to really enjoy. In short, yes, for the avoidance of doubt, please read the book for it count.

3) Do long books count as 2? What about movies?
If your book is over 500 pages, you can count it as 2 books if you like.

However, if the book is 2000 pages, it’s still just two books — not four! We want to encourage you to read longer pieces. This answer has been posted for the benefit of all you Game of Thrones fanatics out there. Go forth and prosper or whatever it is.

Note: A movie is still just a (one, 1, “ONE”) movie. (That said, installments in a series (example: the individual Godfather movies) would each snag an individual point.)

4) What if I’ve read a few pages or seen a few clips of a movie already?
We’re going with the 75% rule on this one. Honor system!

5) Do textbooks count?
You poor thing. Let’s see here: A book’s a book, but are you really reading all of it or just a chapter here or there? Be honest with yourself!

Books you read for school count as well, if you’ve read them in their entirety.

6) Can I rewatch/reread? 
Of course you can rewatch and reread… it just won’t count towards your 50/50 😉

We hope you will use FiftyFifty to inspire you to explore new stuff! Maybe next year we will include a “Reminiscing” theme, but this year around we’re asking you to go fresh.

7) Do I need a blog to do fiftyfifty.me?
You do not need a blog in order to do fiftyfifty.me! We suggest it on the website as an easy way to keep track online of what you’re up to (Blogger and Tumblr offer free blog services, for starters)

This year, we’re working on the honor system- just keep a list on your fridge or in a notebook if you aren’t interested in doing it online. The main focus is on participating- your free time is better spent on reading/watching.

8) What should I read/watch?
Anything you like! We have offered a lot of suggestions and will continue to, on our website; these are called Themes.

For example, one thing we have suggested is that you dive deeper into someone’s work and experience a few in a row (whether it’s an author, director, actor, etc.). What this does is allow you to justify why you stayed home all weekend watching Ryan Gosling’s filmography. It will also allow you to use “oeuvre” correctly in conversation with people (who rightfully probably won’t want to be your friends for long, but that is neither here nor that).

We call this “Majoring” in something (or minoring in it). You can read more about that on this post, and on any posts with the tags “Major” or “Minor”.

9) Can kids participate in fiftyfifty.me?
Yes, definitely! We encourage families and people of all ages to sign up for fiftyfifty.me, although you should prepare because the kids we know will double up and read more like 100 books in the year.

We just suggest you read age-appropriate(ish) material, and if you are under 18, have the oversight of a parent or guardian- get them to participate too.

10) How do I get my school/library involved?
Tell them about it! We are sure your school or library would encourage this adventure. If your library or school does decide to participate, let us know and we’ll be happy to post about it on our website.

While we do not offer prizes this year (other than our respect, membership in the cool kids club, etc etc). Schools or libraries may want to support the fiftyfifty.me with local awards for big achievers, or a ceremony to recognize those who accomplish this huge task.

You might also want to create a club to meet once in a while and discuss what you are reading/watching, and share recommendations in person. Libraries, local independent bookstores, and theaters would be great venues for these – get them involved!

11) How can I find people around me doing 50/50?
We do not yet ask people to identify where they are joining from, but we encourage you to set up a local gathering of 50/50 participants either by setting one up on Meetup or creating a club, etc., luring some of your friends.

12) Are there 50/50 events?
We are based out of San Diego and will be holding a launch event and occasional meetups. We hope to have other events nationwide, so stay tuned! We’ll keep you posted when/if those happen. Please be sure to sign up for our mailing list so we can reach out to you about relevant news and information.

I discovered this challenge from fellow blogger Sheila Hurst She just started too and is aiming for 30 books. Join the challenge!

Meanwhile…I need to go and do a NEW thing for my 52 new things challenge. I am going for contacts. 44 and never wore contacts. UnHEARD of in the 21st Century. I get around to everything eventually.