With the weather warming up, I’ve been loving taking the L downtown and working at Northwestern’s Chicago campus. There is a nice little courtyard with tables and benches that is perfect for getting some thesis editing done. It is right across the street from the Museum of Modern Art, a cute little park, and the Hancock building. Does the view get any better than this?
Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is allow yourself an hour or two of complete relaxation time. I love taking bubble baths because it is a time with no screens, no distractions, just fluffy bubbles and warm water. I’ve been using the “Dorothy” bubble bar from LUSH lately, and I adore it. It’s fresh and relaxing, and the perfect way to pamper myself a little bit when I need some “me” time.
Today I was so saddened to learn of the death of writer Eduardo Galeano, but when I saw the news of his passing, I was inspired to pick up his book The Book of Embraces and give it another read. I was first introduced to this book by a professor in my very first master’s workshop. It is one of the most unique, beautiful, and affecting books I have ever read. It is just lovely, and is a book that invites the reader to think and ponder and reflect. I absolutely recommend it, if you are open to non-traditional styles. I am sad that Eduardo Galeano is no longer with us, but happy to have been reminded of how fantastic his words are.
Spring has officially come to the Second City. How gorgeous are these blooms? It’s so nice to see all the flowers with buds, and leaves beginning to sprout. Going outside, the air just smells so fresh, and the temperatures have been divine. The last few days, I’ve even woken up to birds chirping outside my window. It makes me so happy to see Chicago out of winter and so see all the pretty colors beginning to pop up.
I am about 3 years late to the party on this one, but what can I say? This week, I finally got around to reading J.K. Rowling’s first novel after the Harry Potter series, The Casual Vacancy. It was published in 2012, and I remember receiving it for Christmas that year, sticking it on my shelf with the intentions of reading it within the month, and well, here we are in 2015. I honestly couldn’t remember what the book was supposed to be about when I plucked it off my shelves last week, so I dove in completely blind, which sometimes is the best way to approach a book.
The Casual Vacancy centers around the small town of Pagford, which seems very idyllic at first glance. Underneath the thin veneer of cobblestone streets and cozy shops is a feud that is splitting the town apart (almost literally). Politicians are feuding, families are feuding – it’s not a particularly happy time for anyone who lives in this town. Now that I think about it, I can’t recall one truly happy character. They all have small moments of joy, but overall, it’s a pretty depressing lot.
The novel opens with a death that sends ripples through Pagford, where everyone really does know everyone else. Honestly, after the opening salvo, not a lot happens in the first half of the book. There are daily lives being led, a few smaller plot points, but nothing major really. That’s not an entirely bad thing. The character development in this novel is insanely brilliant. All the characters felt like real, tangible people, and all the characters (though glum) were readily distinguishable and unique. There are so many characters to keep track of in this novel, but it never feels unmanageable. The second half of the novel really ramps up the action; lots of things happen in the final 70 pages that impact the major families of the novel in heartbreaking and devastating ways. I was absolutely stunned by the ending. Rowling gave no hint as to what was going to befall one of the harder-to-like families. My only complaint is that so much happens at the end and we don’t get to spend nearly enough time with the characters in that aftermath. Perhaps a sequel is in order? Yes, please.
You know, I have to say, it’s funny the way people reacted to this novel. I went on Goodreads and read some reviews after I’d finished. I loved the book. Seriously could not put it down during those rare moments when I got to read for fun. I had to laugh at how many people had given the book one star because it was not similar to Harry Potter. It certainly isn’t. This is an adult novel, with lots of sex, drugs, and some violence, and I’ll admit, I did have a moment in the beginning of the book where I went, wait…JK Rowling writes about wizards and magic duels. she can’t be writing about teenagers having sex and heroin addicts… but she does it so well, in a way that is endlessly effortless to read. If you are someone who is drawn to books that focus a great deal on developing characters, I’d highly recommend this book. It’s a bit of a long one (my cloth copy is 503 pages), but so worth it.
As an aside, I’m thinking of making Sunday book “reviews” a thing. I feel a little silly calling them reviews, though that is what they are, when basically I just love telling you all about what I’ve been enjoying. I’ve noticed that I usually tend to start books on Sunday and finish them on Friday or Saturday, just depending on how my week has gone, work wise. I might not always have a book finished, but I think it could be fun (and motivating) to share my weekly reads!
Don’t you just love weekend days where you are completely lazy? I suppose I don’t truly mean lazy; I mean days when you aren’t accountable to any schedule and can be leisurely. Today was one of those days. I slept in, whipped up a big breakfast of bacon, pancakes, and coffee, and spent the afternoon finishing my book, drinking coffee, and watching the Braves game in the background. Perfectly lovely.
I am a huge baseball fan. I’ve followed the Atlanta Braves for almost my entire life. It’s become harder and harder now that I’m in Chicago, where naturally all they show on TV are Cubs and White Sox games. This year is supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Braves; they dumped pretty much all their known players. I was apprehensive about their chances at first, but wouldn’t you know, the Braves are always a scrappy team and have started the season 5-0. It’s so fun and exciting to catch a game when I can. Love that the boys of summer are back!