Most of this month has been spent traveling, visiting family, stocking up on clothes and American food. Still, I was able to get to much more reading than I thought. Because of this, I’ve pushed my reading to 100 books for the year—way beyond what I’ve reached before, though this month is a little rigged as I tackled quite a bit of graphic novels. With all of this in mind, my writing has stalled.
These first five books I read in Korea, stating with: A Scanner Darkly. This was upon recommendation from a work friend of mine. He’s a big fan of Philip K. Dick and I enjoyed his other works so looked forward to this, especially as he said the movie is almost identical. I was obviously shocked at how different it is from Dick’s more famous work. It appears to be an account of his own troubles with addition but with that usual Dick twist on things that makes you question everything. I enjoyed it for the most part, but it was definitely dark with the subject matter.
Then I read Henry James’ Daisy Miller. I always wanted to know what was up with James—an American that threw off his New World roots to embrace England. I’m glad I tackled a smaller read. This book was tough and I’d have to say didn’t age well. His writing is stodgy and stiff. I did not enjoy it and the emphasis on manners was too much.
Following this, I did Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffanys a small book on my list for a while. I know one day I’d like to jump into his In Cold Blood, but as for now this little tome will do. His writing wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, especially after Miller. True, the story lacked that entire draw that I’d like, but it didn’t stall or fall entirely flat. I was surprised at how it varied from the movie.
This one was an audible. It took longer than it would have if I read it, but I like it. It made me think. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was scary, only because you always picture yourself in these situations, wondering what you’d do. All the small connections and near misses get to you as well. The interesting way these Internet sleuths work and can now realize certain passions are astounding. I liked it.
My last Korean read was Fight Club writer’s Pygmy. It’s written in a difficult style that right away turned many off, or so I noticed in the reviews. Personally, I didn’t mind. I’ve read enough to decipher these kind of literary tricks, and actually found the system he made to express his main protagonist’s thoughts not very difficult at all. Many times, it followed the rules of other languages that throw out the present tense ‘to be’ conjunction. It was normal for this author and fun.
Then I was to America and picked up my brother’s copy of Blackhole. This was a reread, but I recalled loving this book so much years ago. Turns out it still has an attractive essence to it, but not as shining and new. The drawings fit it one hundred percent, edging on eerie and scary. The small way all of the stories fit together and the uniqueness that this story provides still makes it a good read.
To get some normal reading done, I read the non-fiction work, How We Learn. This was an impulse buy for e-book and I was surprised. It gave the history of learning but also the common misconceptions. It demarcates many ideas into sections and is very helpful to construct new ways to not only learn on one’s own but also to help build lessons that facilitate students. Well done.
For the next one, my brother suggested I get into BKV—a graphic novel writer that has a big following. The book—Saga—a series toted on many blogs and on many must reads. I got through the first four in this series, with hopes to finish it soon. That adds four total books, but I’ll only mark it as one here on my review. Each book tells one section of the story, and the beginning is a little tough, but catches up fast. It is complex and fun. I highly recommend.
With my discovery of the library here, I found a little book I was wondering about—I Believe in a Thing Called Love. A story about a girl who uses K-dramas to get her love seemed like a fit for my students. It could well be, and compared to its contemporaries, it was okay. So often, these books are hackneyed with poor dialogue. This one wasn’t too bad. It still felt misplaced and it hit all the key aspects to what would be considered rom-com, but I can see this being better than many others.
My brother again made me read this graphic novel—4 Kids Walk into a Bank. He said it was different and unusual and well drawn. It was. The story had interesting ways to jump into each of the five chapters and the characters were very distinct, especially the Jewish kid. I loved the progression of the story and the images, but the ending was a little strange. It felt like Tarantino dialogue in comic form.
I picked this up for a student—James Joyce: A Graphic Novel. It did an amazing job depicting this author’s life and personality. You can really see that to become famous like he did takes a lot of luck and other people. He was a genius, and ridiculous, but the people around him were very important. He would never have become what he was without them, despite him not caring an inkling for those that did help him out.
Lastly, I struggled through Without you, There is no Us. It is the true account of an English teacher teaching in North Korea. It should be compelling, and I enjoyed how much Korean detail she put into it, but a lot of the things she said about her student didn’t click as things solely distinguishing of North Koreans. Their love for their country—almost to a fault—is rampant in all countries. Their belief that their country is the best is prevalent everywhere. Their lack of basic knowledge is common even in America where freedom and Internet does exist. It’s hard to knock North Korea for producing citizens with similar habits to ours. The one thing that is scary is the way the whole country is years behind the rest of the world.
Progress on 2018 goals
1) Finish Brief Lives / Query / Synopsis: Done / 2 letters / halfway: Done
2) Chewy Noh (graphic novel): Done
3) Student workbook: Done
4) Spring Reading:
Quixote: Not started
5) Read 100 books: 79
6) American Snowflakes: 45,000 words done
Next Month’s Agenda
Next month, I will be back at home, to a regular schedule. I hope to get working again to lose my American weight, and toss down much more on my new writing. I am happy with the book load and the library downloads now available to me. My reading list has now greatly expanded due to both.