My Favorite Reads

46430830_895924280797219_6282832384274464768_n.jpgThese days I am often busy reading long, esoteric texts for school, but when I have the chance to read for fun I always relish it! Below are a few of my favorite reads, both recently and throughout the last few years. Have you read any of them? Please let me know in the comments below, and make your own suggestions!

Originals by Adam Grant
The subtitle of this book is “How non-conformists move the world.” It is all about how to foster and apply creativity, originality, and progress both in your personal life and in a larger setting (i.e. societal movements, corporations, etc.). It may sound dry but I promise it is far from it! Grant draws on lots of studies and research but his tone is super conversational and engaging. My boyfriend (this is not a drill folks! I have a real life boyfriend) read it aloud to me via Skype the past few weeks and I ate it up.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
I finished this about three months ago and am still thinking about it. The story revolves around a young Pakistani man who studies at Princeton and is recruited to work at a large firm on wall street. He is succeeding and doing well for himself in America, until 9/11 happens and everything changes (but not necessarily in the ways you might think!). I finished this book in three days.

Back Talk by Danielle Lazarin
A collection of short stories about girlhood, coming of age, and womanhood. They are sharp, witty, and quick to read. I loved the character development and related to many of the women in the stories.

Self-Help by Lorrie Moore
One of my favorite short story collections I’ve ever read! I love the second person POV she employs in some of the stories and drew a lot inspiration from her for a few of my own stories.

The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
Main character Greer Kadetsky is a quiet college freshman when she meets Faith Frank, the striking woman who has been a central pillar of the women’s movement for decades. She idolizes Faith and is drawn to work for her. She must also learn how to balance her love life, and try not to loose herself in the process. I devoured this book up! It is very modern and relatable.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Hamid’s fifth novel, a finalist for the Man Booker Prize for fiction, deals with the
experience of modern-day refugees. But unlike many refugee novels, which focus on the journey itself, Exit West revolves around the struggles and realities of life before and after said journey. Main characters Nadia and Seid decide they must leave their war-torn home for a safer, albeit uncertain, future. They find a smuggler who shows them a ‘magical door’ that leads to an unknown Western country. They walk through and instantaneously emerge into an alien land, where they fight to cling to their love, their past and their sense of self. This was President Obama’s favorite book last year.

A Girl I Knew by JD Salinger
This is one of Salinger’s lesser known short story published in 1948. It is about a young man’s trip to Austria to learn German to be of use in his father’s company. There, he meets and befriends a beautiful, jewish girl who teaches him German. They are separated during the war, and I won’t spoil the ending but it is, well, a little heartbreaking. You can see why I love this one– I relate to the struggle to learn German!46387093_755016484845773_7015624886680813568_n.jpg

 

A Happy List

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  1. The sun is shining. People, that is a big deal here.
  2. Rumor has it that Wednesday will be the first snow of the season
  3. The Christmas Markets start on the 26th!
  4. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 4 is on Netflix. Gold.
  5. This article.

Enough.

On Wednesday night, a gunman shot and killed 12 people at a line dancing bar in Thousand Oaks. I have been to this bar. One of the victims was a student from Pepperdine, my alma mater. It’s finally up close and personal. It was only a matter of time.

People have been saying, “I can’t believe it could happen here. I never though it would happen in a community like this.” But that’s the thing. It does. It will. It’s always someone else until it’s you. Your family. Your friends. Your life. No community is immune in this country, and we have to stop feeling like we are.

We need to stop sympathizing for ‘the others’ and start doing something NOW, because we could be next. And I don’t just say that to scare people, although it is scary. I say that because it’s the absolute truth. The cold, hard truth about our daily lives as Americans.

I’m tired of the cycle: outpouring of sympathy on social media, the president’s condolences, then sitting back and waiting for the next shooting in a week or two.

It’s not right. I don’t want more posts or more prayers. I want gun control. I don’t want to live in a country where I could be shot and killed at any second for no reason at all. Currently, I don’t live in a country where that happens. I remember someone saying to me before I left for Germany, “Are you sure it’s safe over there?” HA! It’s not safe in America, and it’s foolish to think otherwise.

Regardless of how you vote– we should all be pro human life. And we are losing human lives left and right. We lost 12 on Wednesday in Thousand Oaks, 90 per day, 35,000 per year to gun violence. This phenomenon won’t just go away. We can’t just wait it out. What’s it going to take to change? 100 lives lost in one setting? 200? 1,000? At what point does out government stand up and fight for its citizens? At what point do they say ENOUGH.

I am tired. I am disillusioned. I’ve heard every side of every pro-gun argument and I will never be convinced. I am in mourning for my university community. But most of all I am angry. And ready to do something.

My Favorite Quote

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“You don’t have to get a job that makes others feel comfortable about what they perceive as your success. You don’t have to explain what you plan to do with your life. You don’t have to justify your education by demonstrating its financial rewards. You don’t have to maintain an impeccable credit score. Anyone who expects you to do any of those things has no sense of history or economics or science or the arts. You have to pay your electric bill. You have to be kind. You have to give it all you got. You have to find people who love you truly and love them back with the same truth. But that’s all.”

-Cheryl Strayed

My relationship with the German language via GIFs

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For the last five and a half years I have been sitting in German classes with this exact expression on my face. Grammar and syntax and vocab– oh my! Although I keep progressing up the official ‘levels’ of German class, I have yet to wipe this wide-eyed terror off my face. I sit in the back, certain I will soon be found out as the imposter I am, and stare at the blank sheet before me in hopes that the answers will appear before me in magic ink.

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Then I walk out of German class and go to the local bakery to buy a pastry. The interaction starts off well. I am puffed up with confidence from the last few hours surrounded by other on-native speakers, and I ask for my croissant. The lady stares at me as if I have just proposed marriage and frowns. WAS? 

I repeat my question, confidence faltering like a middle schooler at a dance. CAN I HAVE A CROISSANT? Things are rapidly deteriorating. I finally point– THAT ONE! The lady begrudgingly gets it for me and I rush out, swearing to myself I will give up bread from this moment forward, amen.

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Later that night at a party, someone in the group makes a joke. Everyone is laughing hysterically, and I follow suit out of self preservation instincts. I don’t want to look like the dud who doesn’t think their home-run joke is funny. But then they turn to me and ask a follow up question. Busted. My only options now are to admit I was faking it or run to the bathroom.

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In an attempt to broker peace after the joke catastrophe, I begin speaking in German to someone. But a few sentences in, she can no longer bear the pain of my murderous grammar in her ears, so she switches to English. I am both relieved and insulted.

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By the end of the night, I am as dead inside as Michael Scott. I crawl home and Skype someone in sweet, sweet English.

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But hey, at least there’s always copious amounts of coffee to cheer me up and energize me for another day of adventures in German.

Ps. Some people have accused me of being dramatic. No idea why.

Pps. German, don’t be upset. You know I secretly love you very, very deep down.