The Reading Rush 2020 TBR |A Very Ambitious List Of Very Short Books For A Very Slow Reader

It’s July, which means it’s time for The Reading Rush!

I’ve never participated in any kind of reading event (frankly, because I’m super intimidated by how slow I read and setting myself up for disappointment from the start), but I’ve been seriously lacking on my reading. 10 pages here, 40 pages there. I’ve just been pushing it to the side.

Once I saw Ariel Bissett and Noelle Gallagher upload their TBRs (along with organizing my own staggering TBR pile), something sparked inside me, and now I’m ready to read everything!

Check out thereadingrush.com for more information about the event!

Without further ado, let’s get into the books!

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1. Read a book matching the color of your birthstone.

I love this idea for a reading challenge because it’s unique to the reader. Plus, I just really love birthstones. I’m an October baby (shoutout to all of my libras!), and my birthstones are Opal and a pink gem called Tourmaline.

As someone who adores bright and exciting colors, I’m shocked to see how DULL my TBR pile is. The trend seems to be black and orange books, at least for now, which does not work in my favor at all.

But alas! I found the one book with pink or rainbow on the cover, and that would be Victoria Redel’s Before Everything.

I don’t know much about this book other than it has a stunning cover. I don’t know what it is, but the colors and figures just speak to me. Ironic for the challenge, huh?

I’m pretty sure it’s a drama involving a family? group of friends? I’m not too sure (I should probably look into this kind of stuff before writing instead of repeatedly typing variations of “I don’t know”), but it fits the challenge AND it’s short (you’ll notice short books as a trend throughout this post).

2. Read a book that starts with the word “The”.

This challenge was a little difficult for me; not finding a book that started with “The”, but trying to decide on one!

I have at least 5 books that I can see right now that start with “The” on my shelf, but, in true Reading Rush fashion, I opted for the shortest book, which is Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.

This tiny book maxes out at 55 pages! And let’s not even get started on this creepy, yet intriguing cover that I found at Books-A-Million. It’s also one of those stories that gets referenced time and time again, and I selfishly want to be included in those conversations. Sometimes you just have to feed into your ego’s desires.

3. Read a book that inspired a movie you’ve seen.

Another great challenge! I’m a very big stickler in reading the book before watching the movie adaptations (unless I don’t know about the book, of course), but this challenge flips that tradition on its head.

Now, this could be a controversial pick, but I don’t really care because I have been trying to find a reason to make myself read another Shakespeare play (plus, they’re short!). Here’s my moment to shine, as the Shakespeare nerd that I am, and I chose Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

(I’m sorry about the blandness of this photo; I need to invest in some copies of Shakespeare pronto!)

After some Googling, I noticed that 10 Things I Hate About You (Heath Ledger… That is all.) was inspired by Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, which I know nothing about. Since 10 Things is one of my favorite childhood movies, I have a feeling I’ll enjoy Shakespeare’s play.

Fingers crossed!

4. Read the first book you touch.

You all are going to have to trust me on this one.

I’ve seen variations of this challenge, such as Noelle’s technique of touching all the books and blindly choosing one, but I wanted to take this challenge for what it is.

After I picked all of the books for the other challenges, I turned away from my leftover pile of books and simply reached back. Since the enormous Anna Karenina is placed in the middle of the stack, I was a teeny tiny bit nervous.

And would you believe that I almost touched that gigantic 800+ pages monster?! Exactly one book away, the mere distance of a fingernail!

What I ended up grabbing was Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sandition.

Another short book! We love a good trend, no?

I love Austen, as well as a short collection of stories, so I’m excited for this read. I’ve tried starting this one a few times, but I always got busy and ended up never picking it back up. Here goes nothing!

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5. Read a book completely not in your house.

The sun has finally come out to stay here in the Appalachia’s, which means plenty of time to read on the porch and let the sunshine soak into your skin.

Seasonal depression? Never heard of her.

For this challenge, I chose Kate Chopin’s The Awakening.

I don’t know if it’s the theme (I think) of self awareness or finding your feminine power, but Chopin’s book deserves to be read outside. Perhaps it’s the cover art of the woman, hopefully, enjoying a sunny day. Whatever it might be, I’m here for it. Another tiny book for the win!

6. Read a genre that scares you or your least read genre

As we’ve all probably noticed, I’m a reader of classics mainly. I’ve read my fair share of contemporary and supernatural books, but I typically stick to my beloveds.

However, I recently got quite the stack of books from my mom of different genres, so what better time than now to give a new style a try?

Shari Lapena’s A Stranger in the House, an adult thriller, was one my mom pointed out in particular and said she really enjoyed. Since I’ve never read a thriller (that I remember, at least), now’s my chance to try it out.

My mom said she read this is just a few days, so I’m hoping it’ll be the perfect book to speed through. This is a reading challenge, after all.

7. Read a book that takes place on a different continent than yours.

This challenge is probably my favorite of them all. It allows readers who typically pick up books that resemble their own lives and learn about another culture! (My anthropology minor really comes out when discussing different cultures because I thrive on that shit).

I love reading about how people live in different parts of the world; their religions, food, family traditions, societal behaviors, and all of the enriching aspects that different cultures have to offer.

Anyways, back to the books. That’s what we’re all here for.

For this challenge, I chose Adèle by Leila Slimani, which is written by a French author and takes place in Paris, France.

I’m a little skeptical about this book because I remember hearing a review that it was kind of a disappointment, but I’m trying to go in unbiased and take it for what it is. (I’m terrible at letting people persuade my opinion of a book).

After reading the back of the book, it seems to be about this woman (I’m assuming Adèle) who seems to have the perfect life, but she’s apparently coocoo for sex.

Let’s just say this book is either going to be eh material, or it could end up being one of my favorite books of all time. We shall see!

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Please Send Good Vibes And Lots Of Coffee

Do I think I’m going to finish 7 books in a week? Absolutely not because I have no hope in my slow-reading self, but what the hell. Let’s give it a shot!

I have a feeling I’m going to be drinking quite a bit of coffee to get as much reading done as I can.

Hopefully, this reading challenge will get me more into the habit of picking up a book rather than my phone. It is also possible that reading so much is going to make me view reading as a chore, which it never should be, and I will fall back into that wretched slump of mine.

Sending hopeful wishes and great books your way!

The Rum Diary – Hunter S. Thompson | A Glass Of Rum With A Side Of Suckfish

First and foremost, what a guy!

I’ve seen countless interviews of Hunter S. Thompson, as well as the film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas starring Johnny Depp, but not once have I read any of his works. (Well, not until a few days ago, that is.) I was once a poser fan, but no longer!

If you plan on reading this book, I hope you’re in the mood for a glass of rum on ice because it will definitely have you craving one.

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The Details

Hunter S. Thompson’s The Rum Diary is a piece of “gonzo journalism,” a type of journalism where the reporter is a part of the story and often told in a first-person narrative, making it very personal. Thompson lead the gonzo journalism movement in the 1970’s, making him the O.G. of the style.

The Rum Diary tells of “Paul Kemp,” a young journalist, and his time working at a drowning newspaper in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the late 1950’s. Once Kemp arrives in San Juan, he’s thrown into a whirlwind of drunken, sexual, and sometimes violent events with his friends and coworkers (while consuming a plethora of rum, of course).

Even though The Rum Diary was not published until 1998, Thompson first began writing this novel in 1959 when he was 22 years old, making The Rum Diary his first novel.

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The Review

I don’t know if it was just my reading experience (aka working a full-time job and moving), but this book was pretty forgettable to me. It could be because my mind was focused on more important things, but the first 2/3 of the book have completely left my mind. I can recount the somewhat big events that happen, but I definitely wouldn’t put money on my Rum Diary trivia, if you know what I mean.

Thompson’s simple and captivating writing style kept drawing me to pick up the novel whenever I had 20 minutes of free time. I suppose you could argue that I wanted to pick up the book because I wanted a distraction from my actual responsibilities, and you would probably be right (I can’t even begin to express the hatred I have for moving), but Thompson’s prose definitely gave me an excuse to keep reading.

Another thing I enjoyed about The Rum Diary was the characters. I’m not sure if they were people that Thompson actually met, or if they were dramatized in a certain way, but I absolutely loved that the characters were FLAWED (we love some good humanism) in more ways than one. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy loveable and pure characters every now and then, but let’s be real, they’re boring. Thompson seems to make it a point to show the faults and lows of characters rather than their highs and achievements, and I admire that more than words can express. I’m all for complex, loveable-but-broken characters, much like Alex from A Clockwork Orange (my fav <3), and it just makes the story that much more engaging.

Even though Hunter S. Thompson’s prose and characters were intriguing, I decided to rate the book 4/5 because it’s pretty forgettable. Again, like I previously mentioned, it’s probably because of my reading experience, but it is what it is. I am interested in picking this book up again some time in the future and see if I enjoy it more because there are SO many reviews praising this book.

Are we surprised that I tainted my own reading experience? Absolutely not. I seem to be the queen of self-sabotage.

Another problem I had with Thompson’s novel was the outdated language and concepts, so Trigger Warnings for racism and rape. They definitely are not at the forefront of the novel, but I did feel uneasy when one of Thompson’s characters use the n-word, as well as the same character trying to take advantage of a drunk woman. However, Thompson does kind of save himself by having Kemp speak up or change the subject whenever these events occur. But still made me uncomfortable, nonetheless.

Thompson’s The Rum Diary is an enjoyable read, minus the aforementioned uneasiness, and would be a perfect summer read for the right person. Perhaps with a side of rum.

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Extra Thoughts and Spoilers

I don’t really have a lot of extra thoughts on this novel because I, you guessed it, can’t remember enough to actually compare. Well, that and I don’t really have anything to compare it to, much like the unique and eccentric Hunter S. Thompson himself.

BUT I had to touch on perhaps my favorite quote of all time: “I’m tired of being a punk–a human suckfish.” Kemp then explains that he latches himself onto bad things, much like suckfish latch onto sharks.

As someone who also tends to be attracted to all things bad for me, this metaphor of the suckfish resonated with me in more ways than one. Rather than being the suckfish in my life, I’d prefer to swim in my own stream. I often have the energy sucked out of me (pun intended) when it comes to my job, family and friends, but it’s time for a change.

I think everyone can resonate with not wanting to be a suckfish, whether you apply it to your friends or work or anything. We all deserve to treat ourselves with kindness than letting some shitty shark determine our route.

Swim free my little fishies!

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Finding Good Things In Bad Times and Gushing Over Dante Alighieri

I don’t know if it’s the abundance of Vitamin D, the depletion of my seasonal depression, or my inner introvert thriving during this self-isolation, but I have been feeling pretty damn good lately.

Minus the constant anxiety of a rapidly growing pandemic, of course.

Since this time can be very stressful and panic-inducing, I’ve been trying hard to stay physically and mentally busy.

Physically, I’ve been cleaning and rearranging the hell out of my apartment.

After working 48 hours a week while having a major depressive episode, it was safe to say that my apartment was absolutely disgusting. The dishes piled in the sink looked like a picture out of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, and there was enough dog hair to make at least one wig. And don’t even get me started on the amount of dirty laundry scattered in every nook and cranny.

In short, it was horrible.

So, I took all of this new free time to finally finish chores, as well as move around some furniture and organize a bunch of clutter that I’ve been putting off since we moved in at the end of November.

Nothing feels better than a clean house.

Well, it’s next to taking your socks off at the end of the day. That shit hits hard.

But I digress.

Mentally, I’m happy to say that I am ridden of both my reading and writing blocks!

It all began when I picked up Dante’s Inferno to reread for the third time, and now I can’t get enough of it. I’m currently reading the Robert Durling translation that I used for my Dante class a year ago, and I’m completely enveloped in Dante’s fictitious world.

I find myself incessantly highlighting and making notes on every page. While I was taking the course, I never really dedicated the time to fully analyze everything this divine epic has to offer because I was trying to also get assignments and readings done for my other classes. But even when speed reading it, I still loved it, and it became one of my all time favorites.

Now that I have the chance to interact with Dante’s Inferno intimately, it’s almost become a part of me, as cheesy as that is to write out (it physically pains me to, tbh).

By following Dante along his journey of self-loss, as well as literally facing his demons and enemies in Hell, he invokes the reader to follow and learn from his metaphorical journey.

And trust me, there is PLENTY to learn from Dante Alighieri. Rereading wise, I’m only on Canto 9 (and I’m already gushing about it this much), but the amount of wisdom within each canto is abundant, for sure.

This poem sparked a new found inspiration that was apparently buried deep down. Now, all I want to do is write, read, and ponder these philosophical questions of morality and humanism. Hopefully I’ll be able to practice my essay writing skills and bust out a few discussions on Dante’s truly divine epic.

Even though I have to go back to work in a week, (apparently liquor stores are essential in a pandemic?), I’m going to try and enjoy my small amount of free time as much as I can.

Much like every other person online, I’m going to try and make more content for everyone to enjoy during these isolating and scary times. I hope you all are staying safe, staying hopeful and staying home!

Thank you for coming to my Dante TedTalk and allowing me to gush about literature. It makes my bookworm heart very happy!