Books I Read This Summer:
Being an English major, I’m ashamed of how few there are. Lists behind the cut.
1. Stern Men by Elizabeth Gilbert
I picked this up at Goodwill for a buck and thought I’d give it a read. It was a Penguin Book, which is awesome, and I’d heard good things about Elizabeth Gilbert’s hugely popular “Eat, Pray, Love,” and I saw a talk she gave somewhere about being a writer that really opened my eyes to a few things regarding creativity and creative people. So, that was enough to convince me to try it. The story was intriguing: a girl lives on a tiny island in New England, where everyone is involved in the lobster business. There’s another island nearby, and these two islands are kind of rivals. The girl, Ruth Thomas, is trying to figure out what to do with her life after graduating from school on the mainland. There’s a little bit of a love story, and lots of little side plots. The characters were complex, and Gilbert does a great job of setting out this little world for the reader, giving it a history and a population and a very specific feel. As an added bonus, it was surprisingly funny, and a quick read.
I loved the way Gilbert wrote the women in the book; the title mentions the men of the island, but this book isn’t about them. The lives of the women on the island revolve around the men and their very masculine business of lobstering, but ultimately the women are the strongest, most intricate characters. The universal theme of what it means to be a woman is explored quite successfully throughout the novel. The fact that the publishers seemed to want to sell this as a romance novel (this is obvious from the cover and the summary on the back, which makes the book out to be about some “Romeo and Juliet”-esque romance) is disappointing; it takes away from the truly admirable qualities found in its pages. My only qualm is that the writing isn’t particularly breathtaking, though ultimately that’s excusable (in this case, anyway).
2. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
(I won’t talk about this one as much, since I’ve written about it in a previous entry). This book, Joshua Ferris’ first novel (and an astounding effort, considering it’s his debut), is, in short, the literary version of “The Office” as imagined by the Coen Brothers, with a splash of “Mad Men” thrown in for good measure. For me, it was a page-turner, which is surprising because it’s set in an office filled with cubicles and drama involving desk chairs. There’s a huge cast of some of the most strangely interesting characters ever. It’s funny, sad, and even a bit suspenseful and (dare I say) violent towards the end.
3. The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe
I became interested in the ’60s counter-culture this summer, and this was the perfect read to supplement that interest. It’s a non-fiction (although I feel strange calling it non-fiction) book about the Merry Pranksters and their leader, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” author Ken Kesey, and their quest to open the minds of others through hallucinogenic drugs like LSD, morning glory seeds, pot, etc. Tom Wolfe writes in a style that almost mirrors an acid trip: fragmented, loopy, shards of thought. There’s a very rhythmic aspect to the writing, and it ranges from frantic and fast-paced to dragged out and peaceful. Drugs aren’t glorified all that much in the book; Wolfe lets us see the “fun” or “enlightening” aspect of the drugs that keeps us coming back, but he also clues us in on the aftershocks of that lifestyle. Definitely a worthwhile read.
I also re-read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Again, I wish I’d read more.
Things One Could Find On Me at Work:
I held down a job at a hospital this summer, which is one of the reasons I didn’t read more or update this blog as much. There are lots of cool stories I could tell about the hospital and the patients, but I’m wary about putting stuff like that on here. Instead, a list of things I always packed around at the hospital will have to suffice; I think it paints a pretty good picture of my job.
1. Orbit Wintermint Gum
This is a bit of a cheat because I always have it on me, but at work I found it particularly useful when I was too busy to go get a drink, but my mouth was super dry. Also, patients and nurses are all miserable enough without my stinky breath clouding up their day.
2. Pilot Retractable Pen (in black)
I was always writing down pager orders and filling out tags and information sheets, and taking notes on how many IV pumps went where, so the pens were a necessity.
Nurses (or unit secretaries, or whoever) could page us and order pumps. I wanted to jump off the top of the hospital every time this freaking thing beeped, but it can never be said that I wasn’t friendly every time I called them back. Seriously, that was my thing. I wanted to be “Friendly Girl.”
4. Spectra Phone
The Spectra Phone is a little black cordless phone that is synced into the hospital phone system and works almost anywhere in the building. We used this to make calls if we were out and about, or cleaning.
5. Bouffant Cap
I would keep the hat (not the chick wearing it in this picture) in my pocket all the time. They were to be worn in any sterile area. Plus, they’re super sexy.
6. AloeTouch Gloves
They’re teal(ish) and didn’t dry out my hands. A must-have for any fashionable hospital worker.
We used two types of scanners. Neither looked like the one pictured above, but if they had a baby, it might look like that. Too bad that’s not possible.