Tag Archives: Books

Joy of Books

Joy of Books

If you haven’t watched this little gem of a video, you should check it out!

The same couple did this video:


After organizing our bookshelf almost a year ago, my wife and I (Sean Ohlenkamp) decided to take it to the next level. We spent many sleepless nights moving, stacking, and animating books at Type bookstore in Toronto.

Everything you see here can be purchased at Type Books.

Grayson Matthews generously composed the beautiful, custom music.

New Year, New Resolutions

It is finally that time of year. Time to set my goals for 2012 and then try to keep up with them until 2013. I am very excited about my 2012 goals, as the 2011 goals I set for myself were either met or exceeded. I had a lot of fun trying to meet the goals and I felt that I challenged myself continually throughout the year. This year, I have tried to choose a list of goals based on feedback from friends, family and my readers. I have also taken into account the amount of time each goal will take and the effort I will have to expend to complete it.


My 2012 Goals 

Relationship goals:

Strengthen my personal relationships by spending more time with those I care about. 

This may not seem like that difficult of a goal, but you have to keep in mind that I only have one family member in California, relatively few friends because of the hours I work each week, and a very demanding job. I am hoping that by the end of 2012, I will have solidified my relationship to a certain significant other, made a few close friends, and have a small circle of acquaintances with whom I can have some fun.

Write more letters, thank you notes and emails.

This is one of those goals I always mean to make myself do. Ever since university, I have tried to write more thank you notes and letters, but I always seem to come up short. However, I have written a few emails this year and I plan to keep that up. My goal is to write an email (outside of work) each day. I would like to email my grandmother, mother, father, brothers and friends at least once a week. My family alone will be 6 days!

Take a real vacation with someone.

“Real vacation” does not include: going home to see family for a holiday, traveling for a family emergency, traveling for a work-related reason or medical conference. I will only consider it a vacation if I am traveling solely for relaxing and spending time with my travel companion.

Preferable Destinations: Seychelles,  Dominican Republic, Toronto, Spain, London, Belize

Personal Goals:

– Finish my novel

Just last year I started a novel (no I’m not going to post it on this blog 🙂 ). I wanted to take part in NaNoWriMo, but then I had to travel/get sick/deal with personal issues for most of November and was unable to write at all. I only got around to writing about 10, 000 out of 50,000 words. Will I finish my novel in 2012? Maybe not, but I will try to write for a bit each week.

Learn to sew

I have wanted to learn to sew for some time now. I always see these amazing dresses/skirts and when I ask where they got the dress I get the, “Oh, I made this!,” response. I need to buy a sewing machine and convert the “cats room” into a sewing room. I welcome suggestions on where to buy fabrics in LA/Hermosa, what sewing machine I need to buy and what the best way to learn is (online tutorials, sewing books, classes) .

Read 20 books in 2012

In 2011, I read 30 books. I thought about upping the ante to 40, but then I remembered I want to have a life outside of work. I have decided to keep the goal of reading a set number of books, but I want to read less. I would really like to read the Harry Potter series, but only if I can get them on my Nook.

Make a substantial blog post two (2) times a week or a small post three (3) times a week.

I am looking forward to blogging in the new year! I have some posts I am working on (mostly about my travels), but they are fairly time intensive. I will be posting more often, around 2-3 times a week and I would love suggestions! Anything that you would be interested in me blogging about, I am open to it! 

Goals to Continue

Take more cooking courses (Persian, Latin American, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Spanish)

I enjoyed this goal immensely. I was able to sign up for a few cooking courses and it was a blast! I would like to cook through a few classic cookbooks for each type of cuisine, while also supplementing my cooking with some outside classes.

Run 50 miles a week following Runners World MPW Target Goals or 2700 miles for the year. Try for 3000 miles if possible!

Even though this goal was difficult to keep up with in 2011 (due to work, travel or illness), I loved the way I felt after completing the required 50 miles a week. This year I am shooting for 3000 miles, but hitting 2700 or 2600 would be acceptable. If I can squeeze a few races or marathons in, I will definitely try!

Complete 1-2 detox plans over the course of 2012

This goal was actually a lot of fun for me. I scheduled both of my detoxes after holidays, in hopes that I could rid my system of the toxins I built up eating all that holiday fare. This year, I plan on trying to get in two (2) detoxes, but one (1) detox over the summer will work!

I am very pleased with my 2012 goals. I have already started a few of my goals and will keep everyone updated as I complete or struggle with each one.

Question(s): Have you decided to set goals for yourself in 2012? If so, what are they? Do you have suggestions to help me complete any of the above goals? Would you like to challenge me to complete another goal (I am up for some challenging!)?

Happy New Year!

A Re-Blog: Date a Girl Who Reads

I was just linked this and I thought it was amazing, so I thought I would post it for everyone!

Originally from nonamerah.wordpress


Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.
Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.
Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.

Update: 30 Books Challenge

Since I have been feeling under the weather and I have basically been camping out in bed, I thought I would update my “Books I Have Read” list:

Still To Read 2011
– A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
– The Map of Time by Felix Palma
– Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
– Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake
– Titus Awakes by Mervyn Peake
– Busy Monsters by William Giraldi
– The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities by Ann Vandermeer
– The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
– The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
– Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
– Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
– The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
– A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
– The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
– The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

I can also add to the list:

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

I promise a much more substantial post when I feel up to it!

Personal Challenges: 30 Books

This Sunday, a most glorious event occurred. I awoke at 6:30 am and immediately grabbed Titus Groan and started to read. I carried it around the house with me, read it while waiting in line to get produce from the farmer’s market and curled up with it in bed. After reading it, I was in awe by how amazing it was. I have heard it described as “liquid poetry” and I must admit that it was stunningly written. I have definitely fallen in love with Peake’s writing and I am sad that he passed away without leaving more of his work behind.

After Titus Groan I have begun reading The Family Fang. It has proved interesting and I think it will be a fast read. I stopped reading the Song of Ice and Fire series because I felt like I needed a break from Martin’s style of writing. After reading the first four books so close together, they began to bleed together and I was feeling a little bogged down by the number of characters I had swimming around in my head.

The next book after The Family Fang will either be The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities or Busy Monsters. I think that I will continue to put off A Dance with Dragons until I have distanced myself from the story a bit, I want it fresh when I return to it.

I have also updated my lists to show what I have read this year and what I need to read. There is a sprinkling of YA books, as I knew I needed some quick/easy reads. I still have one spot left, so if there is a suggestion to fill the last spot I would be completely open to reading it.

Books I Have Read 2011:
A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
Embassytown by China Mieville
Saved by Beauty by Roger Housden
Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger*
The Magician King by Lev Grossman
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison*
Code of Trees by Jonathon Safran Foer
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
Ten Thousand Saints: A Novel by Eleanor Henderson
Wicked Bugs by Amy Stewart
Brains: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
not simple by Natsume Ono*

*Do not count towards my goal of 30 books

Still To Read 2011:
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
The Map of Time by Felix Palma
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake
Titus Awakes by Mervyn Peake
Busy Monsters by William Giraldi
The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities by Ann Vandermeer
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson**
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

**May be replaced with A Long Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
Titles that have a strikethrough  them were read and updated on Sept 5, 2011 and Sept 18, 2011.


I love to read. I’m not even really sure why I love it so much. Most people say, “Reading transports you to far off places!” or something just as cliché, but I don’t read because I want to pretend I’m somewhere else. Reading helps me forget, I suppose. It helps me forget that I just worked 85+ hours over the last week, or that I have to scrub in by 5:30 a.m. the next morning. But that isn’t why I read, at least I don’t think it is. For me, reading just feels right and it helps me relax. In addition to its ability to relax me, I also made reading 30 books part of my yearly list of challenges.

Since I like to make lists (I really do, I’m surprised this entire blog isn’t just a series of lists), I keep a list of the books in my reading queue. I thought it might be interesting for those who do read this blog to have the chance to comment on my “To Reads.” I really do welcome suggestions, especially if you have read a book on this list and thought it was terrible. This list is in the order I plan to read them, but if you think I should move a book to certain spot tell me so!

To Read 2011:
A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
Embassytown by China Mieville (I was reading this at the same time as the A Song of Ice and Fire series, but I decided to focus on one book at a time. I am about half way through it at the time of writing this post.)
The Map of Time by Felix Palma
Saved by Beauty by Roger Housden
Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
Titus Alone by Mervyn Peake
Titus Awakes by Mervyn Peake
Busy Monsters by William Giraldi
The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities by Ann Vandermeer
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger
The Magician King by Lev Grossman
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan ellison
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

After all of those, I plan on reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, but I have heard it is a massive undertaking to read in its entirety.

Several of the books are “Young Adult” books, but I decided that I needed to make the goal attainable by choosing some “fast” reads, that way I could actually finish the goal in 365 days.

There are two books from the list that I am not counting towards this goal of 30 books. Since I have already read eight books, I need to read 22 books to complete the goal by December 31, 2011. The books that I am not counting towards the goal are:

The Night Bookmobile
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

The reason these two don’t count is because The Night Bookmobile is a graphic novel (only 40 pages long) and I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is a 146-page collection of short stories. This means that I need at least two books to replace them in order for me to reach my goal.

In order to qualify for the goal, the book must not be a graphic novel (even though I have read Logicomix and Asterios Polyp, which most would consider novel length), it must not be a collection of short stories and it can not be something I have already read.


Literary Intervention

Can someone be addicted to reading? I think I might be and I know that the first step is admitting you have a problem. I keep picturing myself locked away in my room, surrounded by towers of books with my friends and family knocking on the door wondering what I have been up to. I would end up on the show Intervention begging for them to just let me know what happens on the next page. I just need my fix, man!

I have been using the Nook on a consistent basis and have decided it was an excellent purchase. Since I recently finished A Game of Thrones, I have started A Clash of Kings and have found it to be absolutely amazing. It is incredibly imaginative, filled with vivid descriptions of characters and I never want to put it down to do other things. I also finished The Tragedy of Arthur, which was not at all what I expected and thus left a little to be desired. After I finish A Clash of Kings I can’t decide if I want to start A Storm of Swords or try to read something else to break up my George R.R. Martin reading frenzy. I am open to suggestions!

On another note, the detox is going better. I went to the MB Farmer’s market and was able to pick up some fantastic produce and organic fare that has rekindled my motivation to finish strong! I made a most delicious dinner, Moroccan Steamed Salmon with Quinoa and Carrots. The recipe comes from the magazine Whole Living, which I have been using quite a bit lately. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t getting bored with my menu and the farmers market helped out a lot. I have met my goal of running 50 miles every week since the end of April, though I almost missed last weeks. I ran 45 miles, but felt really tired on Sunday and I didn’t want to run. I forced myself to run the last 5 miles, but I felt that it was worth it in the end. Between my work-out schedule and the detox, I have been feeling pretty invincible and even though I have been a little moody lately I still feel incredible.

I went to see Super 8 yesterday after hearing rave reviews for the past week and being excited to see it since the previews. Sadly I was let down, as I found my mind wandering half way through. I felt like I was watching a toned down version of Cloverfield, which I had not really enjoyed either. Out of the 7 of us that went, 5 thought the movie was fantastic. I could not share in the majority opinion and thus they all decided that I was obviously wrong. The rest of the day was fun though and I was able to wear a Halston Heritage dress I recently purchased.

I have today off from work as well, which means that I probably won’t end up doing much besides reading. I will most likely go down to the beach to run later, since it is still a little chilly to swim. I also have yet to decide how I really want to use this blog. I’m sure that my personal ravings aren’t that interesting and I should probably write about something more productive. I don’t want to write about medicine/healthcare as I deal with that enough at work. There are far too many cooking/food blogs for me to try to join that cluster. I could review the books that I read, but that doesn’t seem like as much fun. I don’t know what should be done with this space! For now you will just have to deal with me.

Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?

Wasn’t me. Though I wanted to very badly. I made an amazing batch of homemade Samoa cookies for my cousin on Sunday. They were just sitting there. Calling to me. They said (in their most tantalizing voice), “Look at us dripping with caramel and coconut. You worked so hard on us and you ran 50 miles this week, please try us.” I wanted to try them, oh I did. It was hard not to lick the spoon when I was all done, but I did not! I didn’t! I held out and grabbed flax crackers and avocado. Covering the crackers in avocado I pretended they were matcha green tea cookies and I was happy for a few minutes.

Then I wasn’t and I wanted to eat the cookies, so I sealed them up in a box with some ridiculous bow (so I wouldn’t open it). I told my cousin to pick them up and went outside with a glass of goop. On the way I realized that I didn’t have a new book to read, so I went online to track where my Nook Color was and it isn’t scheduled to be delivered until Wednesday. Then I walked around the house looking for a book to read, one that I had not already read and that would keep my interest until A Clash of Kings arrived. I found Jean-Paul Sartre Essays in Existentialism and since I had not yet read further than page 222, I read pages 223-422.

As far as the detox has been going, I have not been sleeping as well which makes me feel like a zombie during the day. This is compounded by the fact that I can not have caffeine, so it is a never-ending loop of exhaustion. I keep willing myself to push through it and I try to imagine how amazing I will feel at the end of this whole cleanse, but even though I know I have completed this detox several times before it continues to be extremely difficult.

I do know that as soon as I have completed the detox I will be making another batch of those delicious Samoas.