Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ask Me Anything Answers.

Since I was not feeling particularly well on Sunday, I asked for my readers to leave me questions in the comments for my post. I got some great questions, and now I am going to do my best to give you some answers! If you would still like to ask me a question, feel free to leave it in the comments below. I'll edit/update this post if I get more questions. :) And pretty much anything is fair game!

My answers will be in italics. I apologize in advance for being long-winded.

From Jillian:

1. What do you plan on doing after you finish your 250? Will you make a new list and continue the blog? Will you continue the classics?

To be honest, I'm still not sure what approach I am going to take. I have debated a few different ideas; from creating a new list of 250 titles, to giving myself free reign, to doing a mash-up of both. What I do know is that classics have become a permanent part of my "literary diet," and it is highly unlikely I will give them up. What I think I might do is start working through lists of books by author. Sure, there are some authors that I don't think I'll revisit again, but there are many others who I am curious about. I even starting planning a Future Projects page where I have begun to list some authors and their work for future exploration.

I do want to mention that I will probably read MORE of the other things I enjoy-like YA, Fantasy, and science-fiction.

And yes, I imagine I will still blog. My only worry is that if I move away from the real purpose of this blog, I will be come a book reviewer. I don't want that title. And I don't want to be pressured into reading things "just because."

It will be interesting to see what happens.

2. Do you have any plans for grad school someday? (Unless you've already gone to grad school? I'm not exactly sure, so really this is several questions.) :-P

I haven't gone to graduate school yet. :) I've thought about it numerous times in the last few years. Part of the problem is that if I earn a Master's before landing a teaching job, I won't get hired in. Why would a school pay me more if I have no experience? That has prevented me from applying and starting.

However, I have thought more and more about biting the bullet in recent weeks. I am looking into programs now with hopes of being accepted to a program and starting in the fall. I am about 80% sure that I am going to go for a Master's in English. The other option I am toying with is a Master's in Counseling. I still have some time to think about it. I'm sure I'll be talking more about it as due dates draw nearer.

From O:

1. Is there a book you wish you hadn't read? A book that really depressed or upset you, or disturbed you a little? If so, how do you look at it now? Can you say, "well, at least I've read it" and put it down as good experience and widening your horizons a little, however unpleasant it was at the time, or do you think it was utterly futile?

Interesting question. I can think of a few books where I was so disappointed that I was angry afterward for wasting my time reading them. I actually have a bit of that anger towards the series I spent the last WEEK reading (The Inheritance Cycle by Chris Paolini). It is very rare that I don't finish a book. I always push through. But that usually leaves me feeling angry when I finish-I don't like wasting reading time.

As for whether there is a specific title I wished I hadn't read...I can't think of anything. While there are certain titles I wish I had wiped from my memory, I am of the opinion that each book has some kind of purpose for each reader. Many of the books I have disliked have shaped me as a reader, so I can't be too upset with their lingering unpleasantness.

I hope that made sense.

2. Which book are you most proud of for having read? What is, in your eyes, the most "impressive", that makes you kind of chuffed to say, "yes, I've read it"? Or are you completely unfazed by people saying, "gosh, that's impressive!"? Like, I'm not showy-offy about books because firstly, my real life friends aren't interested and I could say I read the handwritten manuscript of War and Peace and they'd be like, "why?", but at the same time, when I think of some books I've read, I think to myself, "maybe I am a little bit clever for having read that"...

I had an interesting conversation with my Student Council kids about my reading habits shortly before I left. When I was talking to them about what I read on a regular basis, one of my students asked, "Do you read those books because it makes you feel smart?" I don't think she believed me when I said no.

On one hand, not everyone has the stamina and courage to take on some of these titles, you know? They get built up as being monolithic tomes that only the "most intelligent" can conquer and understand. I think that is kind of a silly attitude, and I try not to come across as being a bit snooty for having read all of this (and future titles to come). I have always maintained that people should read what they enjoy. Some people enjoy classics. Some enjoy romance novels. Does it really matter?

But on the other hand, I like to give myself a big pat on the back when I finish something particularly challenging. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment this year for finishing War and Peace, Atlas Shrugged, and Moby-Dick. All three of those have reputations and it feels pretty darn good to say I've read them (and mostly loved them).

From Softdrink:

What is your favorite book to teach?

Of the books I have taught so far, my absolute favorite was The Crucible...which is actually a play. The kids really got into it, and we had some amazing moral discussions that really challenged them. It is a great play, and I hope to teach it again!

I also really liked teaching The Hound of the Baskervilles when I was student teaching. It was my first foray into the Sherlock Holmes world, and it was a fun mystery with the kids-we did some fun sleuthing activities!

What is your favorite breakfast? Lunch? Dinner?

Breakfast: pancakes. I LOVE pancakes. There is a restaurant nearby that makes the most amazing pancakes with apples, dried cherries, and walnuts in them. YUM.

Lunch: Give me a good grilled cheese sandwich, and I am the happiest girl alive. Or mac and cheese.

Dinner: I love fish. We grew up eating fish from staying up north at my grandparent's cottage on a lake, so some lovely pan-fried perch, green beans, and rice is my idea of a perfect dinner.

From Caro:

- What are your plans for 2012? Both bookish and family/work related.

I'm actually crafting a bookish plans for 2012 post that will go up next week, so I am going to dodge that part of the question for now. :)

As for family, Matt and I are doing pretty awesome. We have no plans to start a little family of our own, so that will not be happening in 2012. ;) We are planning on spending more time with our families. His step-dad is still battling lymphoma (he has two more chemo treatments to go) and his mom battled breast cancer last year. My parents are both healthy, but we want to make sure we are being there for all of our parents.

As for work...things are kind of up in the air. I am planning on subbing as much as possible, and while I am not too happy about it, I will be going back to the park I work at once the spring season hits. It isn't that I hate the park job...it is more about me wishing for a "big girl" job. I am hoping that through the rest of this winter I find some answers about what I want to do when I "grow up."

- What books are you the most grateful for having read?

Many. :)

Okay, one of the first classics I read on my own was Silas Marner. I picked it up when I realized that for an English major, I was woefully uneducated in regards to the classics. Eliot's novel spurred me on to reading some of my first novels by Austen, Wharton, etc. If I hadn't decided to start somewhere, and with Silas Marner, who knows where I would be?

I also need to mention The Odyssey. Yes, again. It is the book that inspired the name of my blog, and I like to think of myself following in Odysseus' footsteps. I guess you could compare Ayn Rand to the cyclops. ;)

From Ioana:

-Have you ever felt that your social/work life is interfering with your reading? How did/do you balance them out?

My husband often jokes that my reading interferes with my social life. ;) I am a homebody by nature. While I like spending time with friends, I am not a big "partier," and I often feel uncomfortable in crowds. He will drag me out if I have been too sheltered.

When I get really busy and stressed out, I have to carve out time for reading-it becomes mandatory. While I always read an hour/day, I sometimes have to remind myself why that's important. It gives me time to de-stress and "soak" into a good book. Reading keeps me calm and happy.

-What is your fondest memory of being a teacher (book related or not)

This is a really hard question, and I have a lot of memories I could share. But I'll share a recent one...

On my last day in my most recent position, a student came over after the bell rang to end class. He handed me a card, said he would miss me, gave me a quick hug, and bolted out the door. When I finally had the chance to read the card, he said thank you for helping him with his college essays. He had asked if I could take a look at them outside of class, and we sat down for an hour after school to do so. His card was sweet and very touching. I'll keep it always.

-Have you ever tried to convince someone to read a book? (aside from your own students haha)

I try and convince my husband all the time. :) He doesn't cave in. My mom is the usual recipient of my book convincing these days. Many of my "literary" friends from college live out of state, so I really don't have anyone in person to talk books with. Something I have come to love about blogging is the opportunity to shove books on other people. :)

-Could you imagine an alternate life in which books wouldn't be such a huge part of your existence?

Not at all.

I have been a reader for as long as I remember, and I don't think it will change. The real test will come when Matt and I start a family, but while I may slow down my reading, I don't think I'll ever stop.

From two anonymous noters:

1. Tell us a little more about your husband-what's he like?

Matt is...my best friend. We met when I was 15 and he was 14 and became fast friends. We've been together since I was 17 and he was 16 (ten years officially in July). He has been there for me through a lot, and I can't even begin to describe how much I love him.

In regards to personality, Matt is more outgoing than I am. He is a funny guy and likes to crack one-liners. He doesn't read, but spends a lot of time working on mechanically inclined things. He likes to work on cars and spent part of this summer restoring a Mustang with his brother. He also wired and built a distortion pedal for his electric guitar! He definitely has a talent for taking things apart and putting them back together-something he learned from his step-father.

He is also one of the most caring people I know. He takes on a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. He works very hard and while he sometimes gets down on himself for not being where he thinks he should be professionally, he busts his butt. I can think of no other person i respect more than my husband. He is a wonderful man.

2. Favorite bands?

I really listen to everything. :) The only genre I'm not a huge fan of is rap, but you can see me busting out some country, pop, or heavy metal any time.

A long-time favorite is the band Muse-we've seen them in concert 5 or 6 times going back to 2002. We also went to see Josh Groban in concert this summer (our first dance at our wedding was to a Josh Groban song).

-What is the scariest thing you've seen or that has happened to you?

I'm a huge chicken, which I have mentioned before. One of the scariest things I can remember is going to a haunted house in high school and having one of the characters follow me around whispering things in my ear. I cried I was so scared.

In regards to real-life things that are also scary...Matt was out of town in the summer of 2008 for my brother's bachelor party in Las Vegas. My mom woke me up at 3:30 in the morning while on the phone with my brother Eric. Eric had found Matt passed out in the bottom of the shower and they couldn't get him to wake up. They had to call the ambulance to come get him and spent 5 days in ICU out in Vegas. Matt was diagnosed as being diabetic earlier in the year...turns out, the doctor misdiagnosed him with the type. His blood sugar went super high due to the altitude change, the heat, and the trip in general.

When he came back to Michigan after being released, he had lost a lot of weight (he's already a skinny guy). He almost died. It was the scariest experience of my life to know I almost lost him.

-If you were allowed to have a book written for you by any author (dead or alive), who would write it and what would it be about?

Oh MAN. What a question!

I would have to say...Homer. Yep. I would want him to compose an epic poem about my own odyssey. ;) I jest...

I would actually have to really go with Jane Austen. She died far too early. And I would ask her to write whatever she wanted-whatever she felt she didn't have the time to write before.

-What does your family think of your blog and project (if they are aware of it)?

Well, of my family members, the only person who reads it on a regular basis is my mom. My sister also comments on occasion, and I know that one of my aunts reads it from time to time. As far as I know, my dad, brothers, and Matt have never read a post. They all know about it, and I talk about it some, but I don't think it interests them. My brothers have never been readers, and neither is Matt. My dad is too busy with work.

I don't mind. Sometimes it is kind of nice to have another place to go to and talk freely. :)

-I think I remember seeing that you also write. What style do you write? Any hope of getting anything published?

I do, but not as much as I used to. To be honest, writing blog posts takes up a lot of my writing time. But, I have been working on two new pieces in the last few months. In the past, I have written a lot of fantasyish novels. Right now I am working on a YA-styled piece, as well as a piece of literary fiction inspired by my own unemployment.

I would love to be a published author one day, but frankly, I'm not sure I have the skill set or the drive. That could change, but I mainly write for myself. I am very wary of letting others read my work. The one time I had Matt read a novel, he started attacking it, and that was too much for my fragile ego (I have since realized that the writing was crappy and deserved his attack). Perhaps one day...


  1. This was really interesting :)
    It's nice to see that we've got quite a few things in common, Muse for example (I adore them!) or The Crucible. I do understand why you love to teach it, it is a great play and impressed me very much.

    I just wish I had your determination to push through every book even if you don't like it... I give up way to quickly! May I ask why you didn't like Paolini? I am curious :)

  2. Just wanted to let you know how PROUD I am of you and your blog. I love reading it and the comments from your bloggers. It has inspired me to read books I otherwise would never have read. Life will take you where it want's you to. Just try and enjoy the ride. Sometimes those twists and turns can be so much fun.

    Love you, Mom

  3. I love the comment from your mom. That's something my mom might say. :-)

    I actually thought after I left my questions the other day, that I should have asked about Matt, so I'm glad someone did. I've been curious about him.

    Also, I had fun scrolling through your list for your future reads!

    Thanks for answering my questions! I hadn't thought about the grad school conflict: lack of experience vs. education. Something for me to think about...

  4. Some really interesting questions and answers. I like the idea you have about going through the works of different authors. There's so many great books out there, I'm sure you can find plenty of future projects!

    The graduate school problem is a real issue. I've had people ask if I could go back to school and get my Masters (which I already have) as if that is THE solution. In architecture it doesn't really hurt you as much as lacking experience does but I'm sure it's difficult with teaching. Right now I'm facing my own debate of whether I should start over completely in the fall if I haven't found something by then. It's hard to know what to do... Best of wishes as you make your decisions.

  5. I love getting to know you a bit better through your Q&A. Your relationship with Matt sounds a lot like my husband and I. We were friends in high school and started dating when he was 17 and I was 16. It's been 11 years since then and we've been married for two. He's not a reader and I'm always trying to push books on him.

    I've struggled with the grad school dilemma as well. In the field of journalism you don't make a lot of money and experience is valed much more than education. I've thought about getting my Master's degree, but I don't know if the cost is worth it.

  6. Love this post. I've been reading your blog for almost a year, so it's really nice to know more about you :)

    I want you to know how much I admire you and Matt for the strength and courage you're facing his parents' health issues with. It's so often one hears about people realizing how much they love their family when it's too late to let them know, so it's particularly touching to know of people who value them without being prompted by tragedies. I'll be praying for them.

    So The Inheritance Cycle didn't pick up after all, huh? Sorry to hear that :(

    Great post!

  7. I love mac n cheese! And the story about the student who gave you the thank you note...so sweet.

  8. aw, I loved this! It's fun to get to know you better!