I learned a ton in journalism school that I often sprinkle into my blog posts — much more than the curriculum promised. For example, I finally recognized why, as a kid, I always asked the million questions that annoyed my family. I was and always will be a curious person, which is a direct reflection of my passion for school and learning. I’m grateful to have realized it’s possible to make a career focused on asking questions and discovery.
Another realization I had that wasn’t directly taught in lectures or in textbooks but by my professors through on-the-job training is that writing and reporting without bias is impossible. No matter how hard we try, our experiences always find a way to creep into the things we feel and by extension what we say and write. Even the profession itself has bias. If you’re a journalist, that means you care about people, storytelling, and the truth. Those feelings catalyze bias too.
This is basically a long way for me to get to my main point here: Bias reflects our opinions of and experiences with books too. I’d wanted to read Here Comes the Sun for quite some time. I mean, look at that cover. It’s gorgeous — though don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a sunny read. It tells stories of disenfranchised and disadvantaged yet strong women living in a world most of us could never imagine. It’s a book to which someone like me — a former journalist, a curious cat, and a storyteller — would be drawn.
But if we are constantly being influenced by our surroundings, then my initial opinions of this book stemmed from the four walls of my apartment and constant news reports of the COVID-19 pandemic, which coincided with my start to this book. My emotions have been on the most intense and terrifying roller coaster, and every time I picked up this novel, its hopelessness engulfed me. At times, I thought about not finishing it. Once I realized, though, that my personal experience in the present was affecting my experience with the novel, I could appreciate it for all it was professing: This world has suffering so great and people have to make choices so tough that they can’t be comprehended.
If you’ve ever read my to-do list, you may have noticed that some books have been on there for a long time. I admit I love to keep up with the times and read the hottest books at that moment, which means I often never get to literature that’s been knocking at my door for some time.
A Gentleman in Moscow had previously been first on that list because, yes, I’ve been wanting to read it since before I started this blog three years ago. So many friends have claimed they loved this book, many of whom I share similar literary tastes. It’s also historical fiction and takes place in Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution. After reading The Patriots, this time period has become one of my obsessions. I need to know more and travel to Russia some day. C’mon, Amor Towles’ novel is perfect for me.
So why hadn’t I ever picked it up? *sigh* Words evade me, though I can tell you the gentleman was worth the wait.
In terms of literature, I haven’t had the best start to 2020. I’ve read some meh books, some I didn’t like, and also quite depressing ones. I vowed to change that about a month ago. With my birthday and a trip to San Diego on the horizon, I needed something fun.
Elizabeth Gilbert met my needs. I mean, how could she not? In her latest book, Gilbert combines two of my favorite genres with my favorite city to produce effervescent characters, stellar voice, a captivating story and plot, and wit beyond belief — and relief. I can’t tell you how many times I laughed out loud while reading of City of Girls, and I really was smiling throughout this entire book. Now that is some high praise and exactly I what I needed.
- What: Supper Club
- Who: Lara Williams
- Pages: 292, hard cover
- Genre: Contemporary fiction
- Published: 2019
- The lit: of 5 flames
Next to reading, food is my favorite hobby. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering, “Food? That’s not an activity.” I assure you it is. Food, as a hobby, comprises cooking, baking, eating, trying new restaurants and dishes, eating, reading about decadent meals, looking at food blogs and Pinterest recipes for hours on end, scoping out the best places to eat while you’re traveling, and then eating some more.
Yes, I love food, and I love it as a hobby.
I was looking forward to indulging in a book recommended to me by How Not to Die Alone author, Richard Roper, that incorporates this favored activity of mine: Supper Club by Lara Williams. Women getting together to eat and talk about food sounds like my kind of party. But while I certainly read some mouth-watering descriptions of food, this party fell flat for me. Maybe food and fiction just don’t mesh that well.
Back in January, I alluded to a new project that I had in the works. After months of working on it, I’m ecstatic to finally share that news with you all.
I’ve started a podcast!
That’s right, Big Little Literature officially has a podcast, The Biblio Files, where I provide “real lit feels for real lit lovers.” Cheesy, I know, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
At the end of January, while reading The Overstory, I took a vacation to Turks and Caicos with my best friend. I didn’t know beforehand, but the island actually has the third-largest barrier reef in the world (behind Australia and Belize, both of which I’ll visit someday). After a relaxing first day on the beach, we decided to book a boat tour the next morning to go snorkeling.
Talk about being worth it.
I had decided at the beginning of the year that my non-literary resolution for 2020 would be to go green; I want to do my part to help this beautiful world that provides me such experiences as snorkeling in Turks and Caicos. With all of the colors, beauty, awe, and insight into so many life forms I could never understand, this adventure not only reinforced my resolution, but it sparked a need to do my part. Ironically, at the same time, Richard Powers’ The Overstory, a fictional tale about nine characters who become obsessed with saving the world’s trees, bolstered this new-found desire. Sustainability was no longer an option for me after reading this novel. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: That’s the power of literature.
No filter needed.
Sometimes I struggle to watch TV and movies with my partner, Kyle. He’s a skeptic and negative Nancy, especially when I watch mindless television. He likes to mock characters and make comments about how unrealistic things are. This generally leads to glares and eye-rolling on my part. Just let me enjoy it (even if you are right 90% of the time)!
Recently, I’ve noticed a shift. I’m the one calling out anachronisms or impossibilities and making fun of characters’ dialogue and thought processes. It’s like his craving for logic and reason has rubbed off on me — something he declared a few weeks ago with slight horror on his face.
It’s even filtered into books. In the most recent novel I read, The Dancing Girls, I found myself judging the detective skills of the main character and questioning if certain actions were even possible. If you’re wondering how a book that provokes those thoughts can still obtain three flames, I understand your confusion. Fortunately, for me, M.M. Chouinard kept me intrigued enough to not let my critical and skeptical inclinations completely influence my opinion.