A Hopeless Romantic


One day, I was chatting with one of my coworkers in the fiction section.  Absentmindedly looking around at the books, the title of this one immediately caught my eye.  A hopeless romantic?  Well, that sounds just like me.  After reading the blurb, I knew this had to be added to my list because the protagonist of the story sounds just like me: head in the clouds or buried in a romance novel, and a relationship that ends in a disaster and costs her friendships, her job, and her sanity.

Part one of this story lays out Laura’s life.  We learn she is a hopeless romantic who always manages to convince herself that the latest guy is The One.  In this case, it’s Dan.  Laura’s Dan reminds me of a Dan figure I had in my life.  While the end of our relationship wasn’t as dramatic as him getting another girl pregnant, it was still the end of my world.  Like Laura, I had to find my own light at the end of the tunnel, something to inspire me.  Irish dance was my savior.  My Dan figure ended things one afternoon, and that evening, I had dance class.  Without that activity to release my emotions for that instance, and all the other times I felt hopeless following the end of our relationship, I don’t know what I would’ve done with myself.  From then on, she swears to herself that she will never let herself get so wrapped up with her life with a guy who won’t commit fully.  She swears off being a hopeless romantic, throwing away the little trinkets from past relationships, her romance novels, and all the romantic movies she owns.

Something I still need to learn how to do apparently.

Part two encompasses Laura’s vacation, and the subsequent meeting of the Marquis of Raneleigh (Nick).  To a hopeless romantic, this is the ultimate catch. However, since Laura has decided to cut out the hopeless romantic part of her life, she vows not to let this take over her life.  She finally runs away from the situation, after attending a family party among the richer part of society purely because she felt that she didn’t fit in  Being heckled by Nick’s sister didn’t help either.  Subsequently, this is also the part where I lost it.  She’s being stupid and running away from the guy that’s really The One!  Not to mention I was also quite jealous that this would happen to someone.  Get real here.  How many random girls off the street are going to meet this perfect guy who just so happens to have a title and be filthy rich?  So bitter.

Without spoiling the little details that lead to the ending, of course, since it’s a romance novel, the Laura ends up happily in a relationship with Nick.  And this is what frustrates me.  The point of the book is that a hopeless romantic gets a grip with reality and still ends up happy.  I see where the author is coming from here, but this book has such a classic hopeless romantic plot that the theme doesn’t seem as effective.  I myself am going through my own hopeless-romantic-meets-reality journey, and I have not met any genuinely nice, yet fantastically titled men.

Despite the attempts to make this story like real life, it is hands down entirely fictional.  Sad day for me.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This book came to me.  Literally called out my name.  I shelved three different copies of it in one three-hour shift, so I figured it was fate and checked it out.  I did not know the reason behind its popularity until later in the day when I saw a twitter post saying that it will be made into a movie with Emma Watson.

I found this book to be a really easy read.  It is written in a sort of journal format.  I say sort of because the journal entries are supposed to be structured as letters the main character, Charlie, is writing to his “friend.”  Charlie is a freshman in high school, and this book tells the story of his adventures during his first year of high school.  Sometimes he kind of blathers on about life, goes off on tangents as awkward freshmen boys are wont to do.  Sometimes, what he’s writing about doesn’t make sense.  It makes you think, and wonder.  All qualities of a good read.

wall·flow·er (noun): a person who from shyness or unpopularity remains on the sidelines of a social activity; a shy or reserved person

Myself being a wallflower, here are the perks as I have observed, and that can be inferred from reading this book:

  • Above all, you have the power of really seeing people.  Charlie really gets and understand people, as he is sort of on the outside in most cases (that is, not in the thick of things), so he watches and observes a lot about people.  This in turn makes you more sympathetic towards others’ needs.
  • People confide in you, they trust you.  It’s probably because they know you wont be fickle and blabber their issues to someone else.
  • People assume you’re smarter.  As a wallflower, you’re always quietly observing and watching.  Because of this, people think you have excellent thinking and comprehension skills because when you do open your mouth, something well-formed and intelligent comes out.  In the case of the book, Charlie is actually quite intelligent, as is evidenced by his English teacher giving him special books to read and write reports on (like Catcher in the Rye, Separate Peace, This Side of Paradise, Naked Lunch, The Fountainhead, and To Kill a Mockingbird).

I really hope the movie lives up to the book, as some of the adventures are quite funny.  I look forward to seeing it, and maybe get some of those questions I had about things not making sense answered.

“I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons.  And maybe we’ll never know most of them.  But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where to go from there.”

Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian

Library page is the lowest place you can be on the library totem pole.  Besides putting books back on the shelf, the library page is responsible for doing the jobs that nobody else feels like doing, which include, but are not limited to, cleaning up vomit, washing the windows, scraping gum off the tables, moving furniture, and keeping a watchful eye out for male patrons who are jacking off on the computer.  Being a library page also means you are stupid until proven otherwise.

For the past three years, I have been a library page.  About a year ago, one of my fellow pages was shelving in the biography section and came across this book about a page who becomes a full-fledged librarian after getting his MLIS.  Naturally, we passed it around the entire page staff for those who were interested to read it.

It is full of amusing anecdotes about daily library life, from story time, to the odd happenings with patrons, to the ways we librarians have fun when there’s no one around.  What makes this particularly funny to me is that I can relate to the stories S. Douglas tells.  His footnotes and the Acknowledgements page are pretty hilarious as well.

One of the best parts of the book is that each chapter has a “commercial break” in the middle of it, which usually has some random facts, not necessarily pertaining to the library at all.  Among one of my favorite commercial breaks was “Corny library pick up lines, and how librarians effectively shoot them down.”  I have two favorites:

  1. You must have been burning books, because you’re looking hot.  My apologies.  The new “Harry Potter” is coming out and I was in the back burning the Newberry winners to make room for it.
  2. Can you settle a bet? My friend says librarians have no life but I say they’re wild beasts.  Can I take you out to dinner and prove my friend wrong?  Tell your friend he’s right.
If you’re a library page (or work in a library in any way, shape, or form), and you’re looking for an amusing read, you should pick up this book!

Pint-Sized Ireland

Last month, I fulfilled one of my life-long dreams and went to Ireland to compete in the World Irish Dancing Championships.  It was unreal.  It was gorgeous.  It was 40 shades of green (including ‘St. Stephen’s Green’).  It was also dark, bitter, and unappealing.

A few weeks ago, I was browsing the shelves for something to read and let me re-live my Ireland trip.  I was looking for something that detailed someone’s Dublin trip, or maybe get a little fun history of the country.  I was pleasantly surprised when I found this book, opened it, and began reading. It was witty and conversational.  The perfect way to entertain myself and mentally go back to Ireland.

The book stared off with Evan and Twidkiwodm on a ferry to Dun Laoghaire, trying their first Guinness: It was terrible.  It was uber-vile.  And in this opinion, I was not alone.  They eventually go on to meet their friends, go out and celebrate in good Irish fashion.  It’s around this point that  someone mentions to Evan and Twidkiwodm that even though Dublin Guinness is good, the best could be found on the west coast, which spurred a chase around the country to find the perfect pint o’ the gargle.  This is what the book is about: the author’s adventures, mishaps, and findings on the way to the perfect Guinness.

The book made me laugh.
Maybe it’s because the author’s travelling partner was dubbed Twidkiwodm (the woman I didn’t know I would one day marry).
Maybe because of his prose and his interpretation of Irish dialect: “Sure it’s foin.  But ye know, the Guinness here isn’t the best ye’ll foind.  Dere’s dis place in Donegal oive hoard of. Dey’ve a barman…”
Maybe because of the situational humor: how could there not be humor when you’re on a whirlwind adventure in Ireland seeking the perfect pint of Guinness?.
Maybe it’s because I could relate to the funny moments: the term ‘road’ is used in a rather cavalier fashion in Ireland.  When you’re in little more that a country land weaving back and forth around the dry-stacked stone walls that divide the fields, it would be more accurate to say ‘meander’.

At the end of the day, I am not one who likes Guinness, or beer for that matter, but the moral of the story applies to me (and I’m sure everyone else) all the same:
The best Guinness is in the glass, in your hand, in the pub you’re in right now.  Nothing else, but nothing, compares.  The perfect Guinness is really just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.  And what are the chances of that?  Maybe one in four.  But if you end up enjoying yourself so much you forget about all the searching, my guess is you’ve probably just found what you’re looking for.  Slainte.

Elegance of the Hedgehog

I’m counting this as the very first book of the summer, even though it was finished in April.  This book happened to be my first suggestion as well, from a friend who also appreciates a good read.

Upon first seeing this book, I was intrigued.  How can a hedgehog be elegant?  Why is there a picture of a girl on the cover?  To get some answers, I cracked open the front cover to read the blurb and was pleasantly surprised.  I nearly had to pull out my dictionary as I read the few short paragraphs that were doing their job of hooking me in.  Never in my life had I found such wonderful language in only the description.  And to top that, it was translated into English from French.

Overall, I found the plot fairly easy to follow.  You the reader are following the thoughts of a concierge and the musings of a twelve your old girl who live in the same building in France, both of whom are light years beyond what society would deem a normal intelligence level.  Both of these characters are also doing their best to appear of normal intelligence.  My big hook into the book was finding that the twelve-year-old wanted to commit suicide by her thirteenth birthday.  I started off reading because I wanted to know if she did follow through.  That, and her reasons for doing so were interesting.  Without giving too much away, I was most surprised by then ending of the book.  To find out why, hit up your local library branch.

The best part of this book was the lush descriptive language M. Barbery utilized.  Where else would I find such words as eructation, hubris, and my personal favorite, cantankerous?  Having to actually pull up the dictionary.com app on my smart phone gave me a smug, satisfactory feeling inside.  When was the last time I was teaching myself new things while reading for pleasure?

I would like to share my favorite passage, also a good example of the descriptive language utilized by M. Barbery.  And it doesn’t give anything away:

I remember the summer rain.

Do you know what a summer rain is?

To start with, pure beauty striking the summer sky, awe-filled respect absconding with your heart, a feeling of insignificance at the very heart of the sublime, so fragile and swollen with the majesty of things, ttrapped, ravished, amazed by the beauty of the world.

And then, you pace up and down a corridor and suddenly enter a room full of light.  Another dimension, a certainty just given birth.  The body is no longer a prison, your spirit roams the clouds, you posses the power of water, happy days are in store, in this new birth.

Just as teardrops, when they are large and round and compassionate, can leave a long strand washed clean of discord, the summer rain as it washed away the motionless dust can being to a person’s soul something like endless breathing.

This the way a summer rain can take hold in you—like a new heart, beating in time with another’s.

I don’t know if it was because I read this passage as I was flying over the Irish sea and landing at London Heathrow on a misty day, but something about it resonated within me.  As the book does deal mostly with philosophical thoughts and musings, I can imagine other readers will find their own passages similar to this.


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