With a dreamy, far off look. And her nose stuck in a book…

Whenever anyone asks me what the biggest adjustment has been in my life since moving to New York, I always tell them that it’s unquestionably getting used to not having a car. Sometimes it’s a pain (especially when I make big, heavy purchases…), but overall, I really don’t miss having a car at all. When I lived on the north side of Indianapolis and worked downtown, my commute to and from work was easily 40+ minutes each way. And that’s 80+ minutes each day- of sitting in traffic, getting annoyed at other drivers, with only the radio/CDs as a form of entertainment.

But now, my train time to and from work is at least 40 minutes (depending on delays, so sometimes it’s closer to an hour). It’s at least 10 times a week, plus more if I go somewhere in Manhattan on the weekend. So, we’re talking about 7 hours a week of train time- at least. And it’s been blissful.

With no cell reception for most of it, I can either A) Listen to music/podcasts or B) READ. I listen to one 40 minute podcast a week, and the rest of the time- I’m reading. I’ve gone through SO many books this year already, and it’s only March. I try to alternate between getting a new book on my Kindle and re-reading an old favorite, but I’ve already almost made it through my collection of older books since I moved here. I still haven’t gotten a New York driver’s license yet, so a library card’s not on the horizon anytime soon.

You know how Netflix has really specific genres for movies/TV shows based on previously viewed shows you’ve indicated that you like? “Showbiz comedy with strong female lead,” “Critically-Acclaimed Gritty Movies Based on Real Life” “Visually-Striking, Mind-Bending, Sci-Fi & Fantasy” “Critically acclaimed Feel-Good Comedies” “Ridiculous Comedies from the 80s about totally implausible situations” (okay, I made up that last one, but if it existed, it would be full of movies that Andy and I watch all the time.)

I really wish something like this existed for books, because I seem to have a few patterns in books that I love:

1) “Humorous Memoirs by middle-aged gay men with dysfunctional families” (all Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris)
2) “Girl Books about a 20-something who moves to NYC with idealistic career aspirations but gets mixed up with a fast crowd that’s really into designer clothes” (Lauren Weisberger books like Devil Wears Prada and Everyone Worth Knowing, Schooled by Anisha Lakhani)
3) “YA Books about corrupt governments in “the future” that require kids to experience things that are WAY beyond what any kid should ever experience, but the kid can handle it and finds some way to piss off the government” (The Giver, The Hunger Games)
4) “Feminist/sociological books about girls/teens and how society/ pop culture is shaping their lives and expectations” (Pledged, Reviving Ophelia, Cinderella Ate My Daughter)

The last 4 books I’ve read each fall into one of these categories. I seem to have a need to alternate between really heavy books and really light, but I think that’s okay. I like them all.

Currently (re)reading: Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs. Collection of humorous memoirs that I’ve read MANY times. I needed something light and funny after…

The Hunger Games– This book was intended for people at a 7th grade reading level, but I’m having trouble grasping that this book is for kids/teens. It’s been out for a few years, and is the first of a trilogy. Had it been around when I was a kid, I probably would have read it in 3rd or 4th grade on my own (and not processed all of it), then read it in 6th or 7th at school and been upset about it. I’m kind of glad it didn’t exist when I was a kid, because it’s pretty messed up. It’s about a society that sends 24 kids between the ages of 12-18 into an arena for a few weeks to battle to the death (in a nutshell). And the government treats it like it’s a cross between the Olympics and a reality show- only with death. I’ve only read the first book in the trilogy, and it was definitely riveting, but pretty heavy for a YA book. I feel like I need to discuss this book with someone, because I’m still processing it. I bought the second book on my Kindle, but I’m going to wait a few days before I read it.

Before that, I read “Schooled,” a fun book about a teacher at a private school in Manhattan who discovers she can make WAY more than her normal teacher’s salary by “tutoring” (=doing the homework for) students at other schools. She buys lots of fancy designer clothes, shoes, and bags, but then struggles with the ethical issues around not actually educating her students. Yeah, I love the designer brand name dropping aspect of it (even though they referred to my favorite designer bag/shoe brand as “So public school.”)

Before THAT, I read a book I had wanting to read for a while: Cinderella Ate My Daughter. It examines the “Disney Princess” obsession, and why little girls today are more obsessed with the color pink than ever before. It covers everything from princesses, pink, American Girl Dolls, child beauty pageants (my secret obsession!), the social complexity of kid/teen stars making the transition to adults and staying in the spotlight, how girls choose to present themselves online (and why), and more. This book was fascinating to me because it covered a lot of topics that were part of my childhood, or have at least been of interest to me. It was written really recently, so the pop culture references are all still current (as far as I know…).

So, I’ve really enjoyed spending my 10+ hours a week on the train reading. Anyone reading this have any recommendations for what I should read after the Hunger Games trilogy? (Bonus points if it fits one of the above categories and I haven’t already read it!)

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11 Responses to With a dreamy, far off look. And her nose stuck in a book…

  1. Kelly Lang says:

    I tried to post this earlier, but then my screen went blank so I don’t know if it went through….have you read Battle Royale yet?

  2. Kristin says:

    Hi Kelly!
    I haven’t read Battle Royale- I just looked at the summary on Amazon, and it looks like almost the exact same basic plot as the Hunger Games. Is it good?

    • Kelly Lang says:

      It’s really good…it’s over 600 pages but I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a few days. It’s is definitely not young adult, but I’m curious for you to read it and compare the two. I should read the hunger games, it’s blipped on my radar a lot lately now that they’re making a movie, or eonline really wants them to make a movie and speculate a lot about who should be cast as whom. Let’s just say Battle Royale is a bit too intense and wouldn’t show up on gossip blogs.

  3. Kristin says:

    Ooh, I might have to check it out. The Hunger Games was pretty intense too (really violent), and I’m looking forward to the movie. I think it’s of interest in the gossip blogs because the books have been wildly successful for a few years, and the casting directors are looking for “hungry looking” actors, which is causing some controversy. The book’s very well-written, and I couldn’t put it down even though it had more violence than I really want to read about.

  4. Kelly Lang says:

    That’s how it was for me and Battle Royale. They made a movie in Japan and someone gave me a copy but I’m afraid to watch it. Reading about exploding heads and visualizing it in my mind is easier than seeing it on the screen.

    If you want, I can mail you my copy to read. I’d hate for you to have to buy a book since you don’t have a library card, and then if you hated it you would be out some

    • Kristin says:

      Aw, thanks! But you don’t have to do that… I think a 600 page book might be a perfect candidate for a Kindle read. 🙂

  5. For category four, I’d suggest Flux by Peggy Orenstein. Great book.

    I never go anywhere without a book. It’s one of the best things about NY living.

    Maybe you’ll consider adding mine to your list? It’s out April 14, about working retail in a NYC suburban mall after losing my job at the Daily News.


    • Kristin says:

      Hi Caitlin!
      Malled looks interesting! I worked retail in high school college, and I’ve toyed with the thought that I might enjoy it more than office jobs (well, minus the pay difference). I’ll definitely check it out! Congrats on writing it! 🙂

      And I really liked Cinderella Ate My Daughter, so I’ll check out Flux as well. Great suggestions!

  6. Seashell says:

    Have you read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? Not a memoir, but a funny book with a middle age guy as the lead character. The whole 5 book trilogy is fun to read. Having 5 books in the trilogy kind of tells you how strange things get in the story…

  7. melsar93 says:

    Great title for this post. I recently left a job where I got to ride the bus and I haven’t read a book since. I loved being able to read on the way to work.

    For category 3 have you tried GONE by Michael Grant?

  8. Pingback: Updates on things | The Settlers Give it Passion

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