Attention fellow bloggers, readers and fans — this Just a Little Bit of Clairity post is a significantly special one to me this week. Last year, I made a promise to myself to start a blog focusing on all things food, fiction and furnishings. I set out to share a plethora of recipes, DIY home projects and captivating books. And on March 4, I conquered my resolution of blogging for one year. No worries to my followers out there; I’m not about to lay the computer down and walk away. It’s been an incredible boost to my creative juices, allowing me to try things I would never imagine before. So in honor of this accomplishment, here’s a look back at some of my favorite and popular blog posts of the year.
Apologies fellow bloggers for my delay in this next installment of the 2015 Reading Challenge. Time seemed to get away from me this month, which makes sense since it’s the shortest month of the year. But fear not as I’ve finally completed another book on my long list of categories. If you’ve been following my challenge, you’ll remember my latest “Jurassic Park” post with A Book That Came Out the Year You Were Born. However, this next theme takes a complete 180 in its subject matter: the classic romance. I meant to post this closer to Valentine’s Day but at least it’s still within the month of February. When I first started thinking of classic romance novels, several came to mind instantly: “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë, “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë. But above all the other classic romances, one author outweighs them all: Jane Austin. It was with this conviction in mind that I decided to read “Pride and Prejudice” for the first time.
I’ve had a copy of this novel in my bookcase for what feels like a decade now, and I’ve never read the entire thing. I’ve seen the movie version with Keira Knightly of course, but never read the novel itself. When I was younger, I had a difficult time understanding the old-fashioned language and felt myself constantly needing to look up terms and phrases to get through it. Let’s just say it wasn’t fun at all. Fast-forward years later, and I finally felt it was time to overcome my past difficulties. While the language was still tricky at times, I just kept reading and found myself having quite a hard time putting it down. There were even times that couldn’t stop talking with a British accent in my mind. So as I go forward with this review, the biggest lesson I want to pass along is this: when you open your mind to trying new things, you can accomplish anything.
Last week, I celebrated a somewhat significant milestone in my life — my 25th birthday. Now, as my Dad put it, I’m a quarter of a century old. If I put a little too much thought into it, it’s crazy how much time has passed since good ‘ole 1990. And as it turns out, another book challenge presented itself that fit perfectly with my birthday: “A book that came out the year you were born” (see my latest post: A Book with a Number in the Title). When I began researching books published in my birth year, I unfortunately couldn’t find much of anything that I’d be interested in reading. While I’m trying not to be too picky with this challenge, I couldn’t help but feel I needed to read something special for my birthday. And that’s what led me to choose “Jurassic Park” by Michael Crichton. Despite already having read this in the past, it’s one of my favorite books that just gets better and better with each read. When I was little, I was absolutely terrified of the movie (and rightly so) but after getting over my fear of being eaten alive by dinosaurs, it’s become one of my favorite movies. And while the book and film have many similarities and differences, there are merits to each of them that make it a timeless classic. Either way, the message remains the same in both: the ethical impacts of scientific discovery.
Presenting the second edition to my 2015 Reading Challenge: “A Thousand Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini. I’m proud to say it’s been a pretty quick turnaround from my last but first book challenge post covering A Book with More Than 500 Pages. I can only say I hope this momentum continues as I try to tackle 48 more books within this year. There are many similarities between this book and the one from my previous post “The Book Thief.” Both take place in foreign countries, both center around leading female character(s) and both are slightly depressing. However, for “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” the word “depressing” is putting it lightly. Without giving too much away, I can only say that as the title implies, there is a light of hope and happiness for the ending of this tale. While it takes a little time before the real gut of the book is reached, I did read though a good chunk by staying up until 3 a.m. one night simply because I desperately wanted to know how this story was going to conclude. As a “#1 New York Times Bestseller” I can say this one book your sure to let lost in. So without further ado, here’s my take on “A Thousand Splendid Suns.”
Attention readers, bloggers, fans and resolution enthusiasts. I’m happy to report I’ve finished my first book in my 2015 Reading Challenge conquest! For those of you who don’t know about this year of literature, check out my previous Book Worm post at Taking a Page from ‘Julie and Julia’ and find out more about my New Year’s resolution to read 50 books by the end of 2015. Starting right with number 1, “A book with more than 500 pages” seemed like a good way to kick off the challenge and get my reading juices flowing. And after doing a little bit of research, I found the perfect book to match not only the category but this challenge as a whole: “The Book Thief.” Written by Markus Zusak, many of you may recognize this title after its motion picture version came out in 2013. The title of the book clearly spoke to my renewed desire to read more, and I must say it’s one of the fastest books I’ve finished in a while (and not just because of the sake of the challenge). With that said, here’s a little taste of what “The Book Thief” has to offer and what makes this book such a fantastic page-turner. Let’s begin . . .
With 2015 fast approaching, plans for New Year’s Eve parties are set, the Christmas trees and decorations are getting ready to come down, and I think the majority of us are hunkering down to withstand the remaining months of winter. With so many things to reflect on this past year and look forward to next year, the tradition of setting new year’s resolutions is well in hand. Many of us are setting new dietary goals or hoping to overcome personal habits, but for me, I’m hoping to accomplish something else entirely. Recently, I had the chance to read “Julie and Julia” by Julie Powell. Some of you probably recognize this title from the acclaimed movie staring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I’d been wanting to read this book ever since I saw the film and especially since I started this blog. The challenge Julie takes of completing 524 recipes from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in 365 days is a huge feat, turning the story into something far beyond just cooking.
So what does any of this have to do with new year’s resolutions? Inspired by the trials and tribulations of Julie Powell, I’ve decided to accomplish my own goal: the 2015 Reading Challenge. Throughout the next year, I’ll be taking on the task of reading 50 books with a wide range of categories. Funny books, books from a beloved author, movies based on books, books more than 100 years old and the list goes on and on. Each book I finish, I’ll share on my blog with the hope of sparking interest in all you book worms out there. By no means is this the same as cooking more than 500 recipes, but for me this is significant since I’ve been meaning to read more lately. With the encouragement from family, friends and all you readers out there, I think this resolution will be one of the best.
With that said, here’s my reflection on “Julie and Julia” and what I took from reading this inspirational story.
A couple months ago, I happened to stop in the Books-A-Million store at our local mall to browse some new reading material. It’s been a while since I’ve gone into a bookstore without a specific book in mind to purchase. When I was younger, that’s how I’d spend my Friday night (I know: nerd alert), but as I got older, it got to be too busy to spend more than 15 minutes looking for something new to read. But, seeing as I had the day off, I stopped in after running an errand and walked through aisles upon aisles of bookcases in pure joy. As I was going through fiction and biographies, I found a cover that caught my eye right away. It showed a dog peeking over the bottom of the cover on a dark blue background, with the title reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” I wasn’t quite sure how a picture of a dog and racing related to one another but — once I brought the novel up to the cash register and walked out the door — I looked forward to finding out.