2016 Reading Challenge - June!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

If you know me at all, you know it is no secret that I love (LOVE) Jane Austen. She is my soul sister, my spirit animal -- whatever else the kids are saying nowadays.

In fact, I'm currently lost in Austen (again (again)), and the reason is because of my 2016 Reading Challenge June theme, which is "Book that was published this year."

What?! You are probably thinking. How in the world did Anna relate Jane Austen to a book that was published this year? I'll admit, I pretty much try and relate everything to my girl Jane, but this time, the work was done for me. For this month's read, I chose Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld.

Eligible is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Before I tell you how I felt about the book, I should go ahead and just put out there that I'll pretty much love anything that relates to Elizabeth and Darcy in any way, shape, or form, no matter how precarious the connection.

With that being said, I really liked Eligible! Beware -- this book is a modern retelling, which means there is some profanity, a reality show, and some hate sex all thrown in. Jane teaches yoga, Elizabeth works for a magazine, and the whole thing takes place in Cincinnati. If that's not enough to peak your interest, there's nothing more I can say!

After I read it, I found out that Eligible is part of The Austen Project. Naturally, I am needing to get ahold of the other books that are part of this project as well!

So, Eligible launched me back into Austenland (as if I ever left), and since I read it, I've also discovered and devoured Mr. Darcy's Diary, Mr. Knightley's Diary, and Captain Wentworth's Diary, as well as watched a Jane Austen film adaptation on the daily.

In fact, all I've really been doing this summer is reading, and it's been amazing. I could finish all the challenge themes this summer, but I won't because the whole point is to read the whole year through. I've had a lot of extra time to read lately since I sprained my ankle and possibly tore some ligaments in my foot, but that's a different story for a different day.

The point is -- if you are obsessed with Jane Austen like I am and aren't capable of living your daily life without an Austen-related book or movie involved (truly), then you'll love Eligible.


To read the other posts in the 2016 Reading Challenge series, see January, February, March, April, and May

We (Still) Have To Stop

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I was planning to write this week about my summer obsession with going to the library and all the good books I've read.

But, like everyone else in the world, I've been preoccupied with the recent shooting that happened in Orlando. I have seen hundreds of Facebook posts and read numerous articles like everyone else (This probably the most moving and saddest one. Sob.). I had a conversation with my sister Erin tonight where she educated me on some reasons why most serial killers and mass shooters are males. (Let me know if you'd like her insights, and I'll forward you the texts ... she studied/is studying psychology at university, and she explains things in a way that lay people (I) can understand.) We mostly just talked about how badly it hurts to see our world in the state it's in.

I don't claim to have the answers or the solution, but I do think that that serious mental health care is needed. Erin and I are always wondering about the shape our world would be in if everyone got a yearly mental health checkup like we get a yearly physical exam. It just hurts us to see other people hurting so badly because you do not go and shoot a bunch of people unless you are hurting.

I really don't like political debates or yelling at people on the Internet, so this post is not intended to make any kind of political statement. I just think we all need to start being more compassionate toward each other. I've enjoyed the stories I've read about Chick-Fil-A opening up on a Sunday to make food to give away, and people waiting hours in a line to donate blood. That's so uplifting. It also  made me wonder if we could prevent these types of things by bringing people pizza on a random Wednesday or waiting in line to help someone just because we woke up that morning, you know?

Erin and I basically just concluded that we have to stop. And the more we talked about it, the more familiar it sounded, until I realized that I wrote on that very same topic in November of 2014. To be completely honest with you, I could not remember what horrific incident occurred in November 2014 that would have caused me to write on that issue. :/ Isn't that tragic? These shootings are becoming so common that they're almost expected. A quick Google search reminded me that there was a shooting on the campus of Florida State University, and I'm ashamed to say I had forgotten that ever happened.

I decided to repost my post from November 2014, titled We Have To Stop, today. As I reread it for the first time in a while, it made me sad that we are still hurting each other, and nothing has changed.

We Have To Stop
originally published November 25, 2014

There is something that I've been thinking about that I think we all need to internalize, no matter our religion, our race, our nationality, our socio-economic status, our political party, or anything else about us. And it's this --

We have to stop shooting each other. That can't be okay.

We have to stop threatening each other with any kind of violence.

We have to stop abusing and forgetting about the elderly members of our families and our communities.

We have to stop killing babies before they have the chance to be born.

We have to stop taking drugs and selling them to members of our communities, especially kids.

We have to stop abusing animals and leaving them abandoned to die.

We have to stop abusing our children. Those innocent faces are solely dependent on love from adults to survive.

We have to stop forgetting that there are hungry members of our communities that need our help.

We have to stop neglecting the homeless. Look at their faces, because they are children of God, just like we are.

We have to stop putting ourselves first, and others later. It's YOU first, then me.

We have to stop ignoring that there are real problems in our communities and instead do everything we can to help.

We have to stop forgetting that everyone has a bad day, and even if someone speaks to us in anger it's our choice to respond in love.

We have to stop being afraid of people who are different from us.

We have to stop putting other people down to make a point or bring ourselves up. Single moms, stay-at-home moms, working moms -- aren't you all moms? Doctors who put down lawyers to make a point about student loans and the ability to bring money in during one's career -- is that necessary?

We have to stop making our children think they are little gods. Children have to have rules and boundaries, and it will serve them better to be brought up with loving instruction and discipline.

We have to stop doing everything on party lines -- Republicans hate poor people and don't care children are starving, just like Democrats want everyone to get a free handout. Is this helping?

Imagine if everyone woke up this morning determined to put others first, respond in love, and do something to help. Put down the guns, put down the fists, put down the hate.

Guys, we HAVE to STOP. We have to stop. WE HAVE TO STOP.

"This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another." - 1 John 3:11

"Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

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