I am utterly fascinated by the people who have elaborate bullet journals. They are so creative and use their journals as their form of art and creative outlet. I watched many videos and saved many-a-pins and tried to get into it. The truth is, I’m too much of a perfectionist to have the type of bullet journal I see online.

Bullet journal:  [source: tumblr]

The truth is I envy these creative people who can spend hours on layouts and spreads. They are quite impressive and I wish I could do it. I tried. I gave it a solid effort, but I have to give up the bullet journal ghost.


IT IS VERY TIME CONSUMING


The layouts online take a very long time. I worked on one that wasn’t even close to the detail as the one shown above and it took me over an hour. All I did were a few lines using a ruler and some attempts at calligraphy. It still did not turn out the way I wanted it to and I wasn’t inspired by it.


NOT GOOD FOR MY PERFECTIONIST MIND


Ever since elementary school, if I made the tiniest mistake on anything I had to scrap and start all over. I would try to salvage the project, but my inner perfectionist was not having it. I see some bullet journal spreads with crossed out pages, but I cannot deal… it’s either perfect or it is not.


I COULD NOT FIND THE RIGHT LAYOUTS


There are a billion layouts out there for every possible thing one may want to track.  I tried a few and no matter how much I tweeked it, combined ideas and methods the concept never quite fit my style. Combine that with the above quest for bullet journal perfection and you have a recipe for failure and frustration. Going back to reason number 1, this became a time-suck; wasted time I could have used on other hobbies that bring me happiness and joy.

 


ATTEMPTED TO TRACK TOO MUCH AT ONCE…AND FOR WHAT?


Tracking everything you do, spend, eat, read, sneeze, or drink can be a mindfu*k.  I am exaggerating, of course, but once you start down that daily tracking road it is hard to turn back.  Yesterday, I turned back. I tore out my failed-attempts at creative, Tweetable, Instagramable layouts and popped them in the garbage.

The primary reason? I already have a planner. In fact, I was tracking my spending on a note page on the opposite of the last week of April’s weekly layout. Breaking with my perfectionism, I tore that page out leaving me without a daily sheet for April 27-30th.

My inner critic screamed as I tore out the page, but I ignored her. Not having three days in my planner would not ruin my existence. I already track my spending in an old-school checkbook ledger.

[Favorite post by Cait Flanders that inspired me to move beyond tracking: http://caitflanders.com/2016/10/11/stop-tracking-start-making-intentional-decisions/ ]

I already have a planner with the best pre-designed layout that works for me. A lot of people get into bullet journaling because pre-printed layouts did not fit their style. I am one of the lucky people who these work for. I have the monthly calendar and a weekly breakdown with lots of space for to do lists and notes.

So while I have deep admiration for those of you who can do this, I am walking away and giving up the ghost of the bullet journal.

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Hello Readers,

March was a long month! My reading felt a bit slacked and that is because, well, it was and still kind of is. I find that by the time I finish up at the office, come home and do wifely things, workout and clean up the house it is 10pm before I know it. I haven’t had a chance to have some solid reading time and I am behind in my podcasts! Oh what to do…

Last month I had a chance to listen to my first audiobook that was fiction. I have mixed feelings about it, mostly because I am not an experienced audiobooker but I will give more a chance and see what makes a good and bad fiction on audio “read.” But that is another post.

 


BOOKS READ IN MARCH


1. Chocolat – Joanne Harris (Re-read Project) – 5 stars! I love this book & read it every year.

2. By Gaslight — Steve Price – 2 stars – Disappointing ending for such a massive book.

3. Columbine — Abandoned read.  I was a teenager when this happened and while I wanted to read it to understand more about it, it was a little too vivid for me and opened a memory box I no longer wish to visit.


BOOKS TO READ IN APRIL

My to be read list is growing and at a fast pace than I can read.

I bought the books in the photo above except for “Special Topics…” That book I bought a while ago and during my Minimalism decluttering I popped this into my give away box. I regretted it a few weeks later. I kept hearing it suggested on the “What Should I Read Next” podcast and thought I’d just rent it from the library. A few weeks later my husband comes in with it in his hands and says, “I found this in my trunk. It must have fallen out of the giveaway box.” It was meant to be!

For April, I need to finish Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I am about half way through and while I love it so far, I just have not had solid time to read more. April I plan to set aside time for reading again. In February, I actually marked “Read – 1 hour” in my daily to do list. It was not because I did not feel like reading, but scheduling it in was necessary to make sure I set dedicated time aside to do so.

I will also begin reading Agatha Christie’s Poirot short stories collection:

 (Roses – thanks to my husband)

And now for some madness…

I have read several Stephen King books and he is a brilliant story teller. I know his name is thrown around but he really is one of the best writers of all time. He is a best seller for a reason. Next on my list is this gem:

 

 

As for the Re-Read Project, I believe I will revisit “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde.

Here I am with Mr. Wilde in Dublin, Ireland. We had a nice chat, though I did most of the talking.

 

 

Image result for and now for something completely different

For someone who reads long books, there are those reads where I take my time because I do not want the story to end or to leave the characters behind.  On the other hand, there are those that keep me reading but I still have a mental demand for something new. The books that come to mind for the former are The Passage and The Twelve (City of Mirrors is next!) Image result for the passage trilogy and Anna Karenina.Image result for anna karenina It is quite a gift for an author to slam out 500+ pages and leave me wanting more. Those are the long books I love. For a long book to be gripping, the characters have to be well defined to the point where they feel real and the story has to be equally compelling. Usually authors get one or the other right.

I am not someone who has to read a book all the way through. If I am no longer engaged, I have no issue sending it to the bookshelf graveyard. But once you get into page 530 of a 720 page book and you’ve finally hit something of a climax, I don’t know if that speaks to my patience or the author’s ability to build up a story.

Two books fall into this category:

Image resultThe first is “The Meaning of Night” by Michael Cox. I do not remember much regarding the details or the characters names; however, I do remember a very strong story that you read for the end/final show-down. I remember the feeling of reading the last page. While the book was very long – at 700+ pages – the feeling at the end made it worth while. In the same vein, I am reading “By Gaslight“. Another clunker of a book at 721 pages. This one has a grip and with a little over 100 pages to go, I am hoping to have the same feeling at its conclusion that I did with “The Meaning of Night.” Although it has kept my attention, I find myself thinking ,”Are we done yet?”

 

 

There are a lot of ways writers get creative with style and they way they use fonts, spacing, etc. to tell their story. It can enhance the reader’s experience by pulling them into the story even more and give a direct visual. One example that comes to mind is when an author is describing a telegram, funeral announcement, or an invitation. Another example is adjusting font for a letter from one person to another. Those things are excellent if they are used well.

On the other hand, an author can use a style method and over do it to the point where it pulls you out of the joy of reading.  I am not a huge fan of italics and when an author over uses them to convey a character’s thoughts or to show that a character is emphasizing every other word he or she is speaking drives me insane! Of course, these are up to authors and their respective editors, but there are certain things, in my opinion, that shouldn’t be messed with. One prime example is the omission of quotation marks for dialogue….for the entire length of the book.

There are books I’ve read where the dialogue is rapid fire or it’s sort of like everything is a haze and the author “let’s the dialogue go” to show the uncertainty or instability.  A recent example is in Justin Cronin’s “The Twelve” and even in Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence.” Like anything else, when used well – and sparingly –  it works.

Last year I attempted to read “The Queen of the Night” by Alexander Chee.  I had heard rave reviews over this one; someone even said it was the most perfect book ever written. That is quite an expectation for a book to live up to and I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be THAT great, but I was interested. I got about 50-70 pages into it before I got very frustrated and popped it in the give-away bin.

“Dude,” I screamed. “Where are the quotation marks?!

[Disclaimer: I am not a grammar police officer. I do not pretend to know the ins-and-outs of it. This is my Point of View.]

 

Image result for the queen of the night

I have read many more books since then and all have followed this very basic, first grade grammar rule of using punctuation to indicate when a character is speaking. I cannot speak on how other languages indicate dialogue as I am only able to read English, but I can imagine they too have some sort of symbol saying, “Hey! I’m talkin’ here!” Right now I am reading a book called “By Gaslight” by Steve Price and he too completely omits the quotes. The difference between “The Queen of the Night” and “By Gaslight” is the latter is more readable. I must admit I had a bit of an eye roll session when I saw this style is continued throughout the book, but there is something about the way Price writes that makes his use of this stylistic choice easier for me to read.

Image result

 

Let’s to back to “TQofN.” I searched google to see if the author gave any insight on this. Had he has! [From BookoftheMonth.com] There’s a discussion this exact concept and some people are OK with it, others were annoyed:

I chose not to use quotation marks for this novel because [the main character] is recounting dialogue that she remembers from several different languages, but she is not recounting it in those languages–she’s translating it into English because that is how she remembers it. Quotation marks would have drawn attention to that–and then a French person speaking in English or a German person speaking in German would, to my mind, look simply ridiculous. I can appreciate that it isn’t to everyone’s tastes. But it was not done to be trendy. And as it is a choice made by writers like James Joyce, I felt like I was within a tradition. –Alexander Chee

 

I appreciate the author’s desire to be loyal to his characters by not making them “quote” memories or even to quote when they are speaking another language. However, there may have been a way to do just that without confusing readers or making them work to understand. I have read many books where characters are speaking other languages and the author uses quotes but indicates the language. For example, “I am so happy,” she said in French. “I wish I could stay like this forever!” or they simply write it out in the language the character is speaking and, in a round about way, translates it or does not. Admittedly, when an author neglects to translate in English it is frustrating but you can kind of figure it out based on the context. Kind of like learning what a word means based on the sentence it is in.

For me, TQofN was not reader-friendly for me. I’m a very well-rounded reader and I am always willing to give stylistic choices a chance. While I am thoroughly enjoying “By Gaslight”, it has been a slow go. Yes, it is a 700-pager, but the speed at which I could be reading is not as fast as I would like. Perhaps that is the goal? I cannot say for sure. Personally, it is a style choice I am not a fan of. For future reading options, I think I may have to flip through pages to be sure the author has used his or her quotation marks.

This weekend was the most perfect weather! I get very inspired when the weather is warm, the sun is shining, and the windows are open in the house.  I finished The Age of Innocence for the second time (See: The Re-Read Project) and equally gushed over it as I did the first time after reading it in 2015. There is something about that book that sits right in the middle of my heart… I will need to do a post on it, complete with spoiler alerts because I cannot write about that book without giving things away as to why I love it so much.

Drawing from the inspiration from the beautiful weekend weather, I started 2 bullet journals: one for my finances and another for books/reading. I have just a small number of pages started. Including: To Be Read, Read, and an Unofficial TBR – which will be a list of books I am curious to read but not officially on the TBR list for 2017.

I created an entire spread for my Re-Read Project.  It is broken down by each month and under each month I will write the book read that is a part of the project. So far, I’ve only finished two books. My plan is one book per month, but I am open for more!

 

 

I also created an “appendix” which, sadly, I did not leave enough pages for, but I have these sections:

  1. Books Read 1990s-2010 (Remembering the 90’s reads will be a fun project. I wish I kept track, but I have a pretty solid memory.)
  2. Torah Reading Plan (I need to find one!)
  3. All-Time Favorite
  4. Book Rating Code (This started with the intention to use the code on the Read list but I do not have room… I may use smiley/frown/mediocre faces instead)

Below is the little drawing I made to capture my all time favorite book. I only added a few so far:

 

Thank you to Jessica from Pretty Prints & Paper  for the handwriting prompts.

I will be practicing!