Mari's Notebook

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Friday, August 30, 2013

summer reading

This week we started classes--my long summer has finally come to an end.

I'd like to say that my summer was busy, but that's only partly true. I spent lots of time with family and friends. My amazing internship had sane hours and I spent nights barbecuing, watching HGTV with my mom and shamelessly aww-ing over how cute Will and Kate are.

It was busy in the sense that I did a lot of thinking and planning. I was mentally busy, for lack of a better way of explaining. I feel like my alone time was hectic and fast-paced -- I was firing off emails, making new plans for my major and course of study, starting new exciting projects, and planning for the year ahead. My head was filled with to-do lists and new ideas, but it was all set for the future. Now I'm finally able to really start putting things together--mental preparation is finally giving way to physical action. It's so exciting.

One of the exciting things about summer for me is the time I get to read. The books I choose are not from a syllabus, some of them are certainly far from academic, and they are definitely not Kant.

I thought I'd do some quick reviews of some of the books I read this summer. All in all, I am very happy with the books I curled up with.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

It's a cult classic and with the movie that came out recently, I had to check it out. I loved it--it was the perfect way to start off my summer reading.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

When I like a book, I tend to finish it in a matter of hours. But when I really like a book, I make it last as long as possible. I wait until I am at my most relaxed state, I settle myself into the back patio and I read just a couple chapters at a time. There are only a few books out there that I let the characters and the story unfold slowly, so I can take it all in. The Night Circus is one of those books. I can't get over how beautifully written it was. It was definitely a summer favorite.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

A true introvert myself, I was so happy to find this. Honestly, I think everyone needs to read this book--whether you identify as an introvert, extrovert, or somewhere in the middle (in fact, we're all probably a little bit of both). Quiet provides insight into the minds of introverts and why it's so important to recognize these differences in an increasingly extrovert-biased world. It will change the way you approach your everyday social relationships.

Sins and Needles by Karina Halle

This is the first in a series about con-artist Ellie Watt, our strong protagonist who finally has to confront her past. It was definitely a fun read for a weekend away, and got me just hooked enough to want to read the sequel.

Matched by Allie Condie

No surprise here that I picked up one of the latest young adult dystopian books. I was drawn in by Family Circle's praise: "If you like a ton of romance with your totalitarian government, this novel is for you!" In the end, it was a fine read but did not have me running to the library to get the sequel.

Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Loved! This is a well-crafted series that has a little bit of everything. Action, romance, dystopian turmoil, a strong female lead. Can't wait to read the third!

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Okay, yes, I was in a really big dystopian mood. Across the Universe is the first in a series, telling the story of Amy, a teenager who is frozen cargo on a spaceship traveling to a new planet that will be colonized. She expects to wake up 350 years into the future and assist her parents (also frozen) in helping the spaceship population settle into their new home. However, she is woken up 50 years before the ship is supposed to land, and she finds that human life on the ship is vastly different from life on Earth. Very interesting and fast read!

The Birth House by Ami McKay

This might be my favorite summer read. It's a beautiful story set at the time of World War I, a time of many great transitions in medicine, especially in childbirthing. The feminist protagonist, Dora Rare, is the community midwife, and tries to maintain the sanctity and intimacy of childbirth (and female choice!) in a time of increasingly impersonal and cold modern medicine. It highlights the tensions between tradition and modern advancement.

The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne

Ever since Kate Middleton had her baby, I've been in a royal/princess/fairytale mood. This was a fun, quick read I found at Costco by chance.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I read this for the first time back in sixth grade, and I remember absolutely loving it. I guess I was going back to my dystopian roots when I decided to re-read this one.

It was definitely a wonderful summer for reading! And now that I'm back at school, the reading will continue...

Currently reading: Shooting Scars by Karina Halle (sequel to Sins and Needles, but not as good) and Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.

What did you read this summer? What is on your to-read list?

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Harry, the dog.

Today my family and I said goodbye to our dog, Harry. Harry lived a long and healthy 13 years, and we are fortunate that he passed in a humane and painless way. Harry spent his final hours lying in the sun, eating some of his favorite food and receiving a million hugs, kisses and scratches behind his ear. He was always loving and gentle, and we could not have asked for a better dog.

It's been a few hours since we left the vet's office, and I still can't believe he's gone. I still expect to hear his feet tapping along our wood floor and his insistent bark for yet more treats. Our backyard is left without a king, but I know he is in a much happier place. 

Photo taken by my father, just a few weeks ago.

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

My Summer Internship

A note from one of the kids. His spelling is quite creative! 

This past Friday was my last full day at my internship. And I have to say, it was an absolute blast. I worked as an Academic Advisor for REACH Prep, a nonprofit that helps bright and motivated minority students prepare for and apply to local private schools. The students are 5th and 6th graders, and the program involves fifteen months of extra academic coursework. This kids are in classes all day during the summer and on Saturdays during the school year; on top of all this they are applying to schools and keeping up with their regular schoolwork. As an Advisor, I was in classes with our senior girls, helping them with their studies and making sure they were managing the program successfully. We had our graduation ceremony just yesterday and I almost cried about 203852 times.

Ten years ago, I entered the REACH Prep program as a student myself. Without REACH, I would not have been able to get the education that I received (and am currently receiving) and I wouldn't be where I am today. It is because of REACH that I value education so much, and I'm so glad I was able to give back to this amazing organization as an intern this summer. Our scholars are more talented and enthusiastic each year and I know they are going to do some amazing things. I'm going to miss them so much.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Goals

from our 4th of July trip to Vermont

In August I'd like to...

read more poetry.
give my resume a little face-lift.
buy the new Backstreet Boys album.
read a John Green novel.
wear sunscreen everyday.
go swimming. actually swim.
take lots and lots of pictures. 
drink lots and lots of smoothies.
enjoy my last three weeks at home. 

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