Thursday Thoughts 10.0

The weeks keep on flying by…Today I’m linking up with Sarah and sharing my Thursday Thoughts!

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[1]

Uggg…this week has been filled with REALLY tedious lab work. Basically it involves me taking a 0.025 mm diameter piece of gold wire, painting it with indium via a soldering iron, and carefully (and gently) pressing it to a sample with a wooden toothpick. Oh yea did I mention I do it all under a microscope? While this process is always tedious it doesn’t always give me THIS much trouble. Plus I have about 4 times the usual amount of samples to do. Joy. I made good progress yesterday though, so I’m hoping today will go just as well.

[2]

Speaking of tedious and annoying lab work…in the pursuit of finishing this project up I sacrificed my beautiful manicure that I gave myself last week. Apparently my fingers were a little closer to the microscope lamp then I realized (and probably for longer than I realized as well). All I know is that at one point I sat up in my chair and was trying to take my lab gloves off when I realized that they wouldn’t come off because the polish on several of the nails had melted to them. Yes that’s right…melted.

Since I don’t really need gloves for this particular procedure, I quit wearing them (not surprisingly my dexterity also went up about 150%). I also decided that I’m not re-doing my nails until I am done with this project. If that’s not motivation to get-er-done I don’t know what is!

[3]

Late last week a very traumatic event occurred in my life…I was separated from my beloved coffee thermos for nearly 12 hours. It happened late Thursday afternoon when I had gone to the library to read some journal articles (like the good little grad student that I am), and was interrupted from my scholarly thoughts by a pushy library aide informing me that library was closing (our library has stupid hours during the summer session). I had a few textbooks that I wanted to check out so I rushed down to the circulation desk, and apparently set my thermos down on the floor in front of the counter (and out of my direct line of vision). They were really in a hurry to get me out of the library and so in my haste to get out of there I left the thermos behind.

Once I realized my mistake I was heartbroken. Not only was this thermos a gift from my dad, it also held 8 cups of coffee (and it is surprisingly hard to find thermos’s that big these days). Also, losing this thermos brought back memories of The Great Coffee Thermos Incident of 2008 (in which I lost a similar giant thermos). Luckily unlike 2008, this story has a happy ending…WE WERE REUNITED! The pushy library aide found my thermos and put it behind the front desk for me.

[4]

Friday night I’m going to see Gotye live in concert! I’m very excited! Not only do I love Gotye, but this will also be the first live show I’ve seen in Chicago (other than the Chicago Symphony Orchestra).

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That’s all for now. Have a great weekend everyone!

Top Ten Favorite Books I’ve Read During The Lifespan Of My Blog

Hey there! It’s Tuesday, and today I’m participating in the “Top Ten Tuesday” link-up hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

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Today’s list is the “Top Ten Favorite Books I’ve Read During the Lifespan of my Blog.” Since my blog is still new-ish (launched April 30, 2012!), this list will be somewhat skewed, but I thought it’d be fun to participate anyway! Happy Tuesday!

Top Ten Favorite Books I’ve Read During the Lifespan of My Blog (in no particular order):

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I loved reading this classic book! I was hooked from page one with the descriptions of 1920’s Long Island, to the cautionary tale of unrequited love, and the dangers of believing too strongly in the “American dream.”

2. This Life is in Your Hands by Melissa Coleman

I loved this memoir, and think it is one of the most unique books I’ve read in a long time. I posted my thoughts on it here.

3. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I was not one of Steve Jobs’s disciples before I read this book (and still wouldn’t consider myself one), but I loved reading about his life and the history of Apple. It’s a 5/5 star read for sure!

4. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

There has been “much ado” about this book and Gillian Flynn for good reason! I really liked this book, and will read more Gillian Flynn in the future!

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey

I “read” the audiobook version of this book and it was AWESOME. Tina Fey narrates the book and it was really interesting and funny to hear her read the book. The chapter on her honeymoon was especially hilarious. I also really enjoyed re-listening to the Sarah Palin Saturday Night Live skits in their entirety. I definitely recommend this book, especially the audiobook version, if you can get your hands on it!

6. Night by Elie Wiesel

This was a very moving read, and one of the most important that I’ve read this year. I posted my thoughts on it here.

7. Thunderhead by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

This was a really great thriller. It combines history, archeology, and good ole fashion suspense. I definitely recommend this one if you are looking for a good page turner.

8. The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair

I love reading books set in India and this one really hooked me, especially when you consider the fact that I finished it in like two days.

9. Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier

This was just a fabulous book written by a great author. I plan to rent the movie ASAP.

10. The Healing by Jonathan Odell

This was a very interesting and unique book. I really enjoyed it!

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What have been the favorite books you’ve read during the lifespan of your blog?

Book Review: Await Your Reply

“At a certain point, you must be able to slip loose. At a certain point, you found that you had been set free. You could be anyone, he thought. You could be anyone.” –Dan Chaon, Await Your Reply

Title: Await Your Reply
Author: Dan Chaon
Format: Audiobook
Reader: Kirby Heyborne
Publisher: Playaway
Publication Date: November 1, 2009
Source: My local public library

Synopsis:

The lives of three strangers interconnect in unforeseen ways–and with unexpected consequences–in acclaimed author Dan Chaon’s gripping, brilliantly written new novel. Longing to get on with his life, Miles Cheshire nevertheless can’t stop searching for his troubled twin brother, Hayden, who has been missing for ten years. Hayden has covered his tracks skillfully, moving stealthily from place to place, managing along the way to hold down various jobs and seem, to the people he meets, entirely normal. But some version of the truth is always concealed.

A few days after graduating from high school, Lucy Lattimore sneaks away from the small town of Pompey, Ohio, with her charismatic former history teacher. They arrive in Nebraska, in the middle of nowhere, at a long-deserted motel next to a dried-up reservoir, to figure out the next move on their path to a new life. But soon Lucy begins to feel quietly uneasy.

My whole life is a lie, thinks Ryan Schuyler, who has recently learned some shocking news. In response, he walks off the Northwestern University campus, hops on a bus, and breaks loose from his existence, which suddenly seems abstract and tenuous. Presumed dead, Ryan decides to remake himself–through unconventional and precarious means.

Await Your Reply is a literary masterwork with the momentum of a thriller, an unforgettable novel in which pasts are invented and reinvented and the future is both seductively uncharted and perilously unmoored.

–From the Hardcover edition

My Thoughts:

Raise your hand if you’ve ever gotten one of those spam emails from a person who claims to be from a foreign country asking you to help them recover their lost fortune in America (i.e. “If you give me your bank account number I will have the money deposited in your account”)? Are we all raising our hands now? In these emails the sender usually indicates that they “await your reply,” however most of us know that if we DO reply there is a good chance our money and even our very identity will probably be stolen. We also know that the sender of this email is likely not a down-on-their-luck foreigner from a third world country but a scam artist who could live anywhere in the world.  This fluidity of identity in the Internet age is the basic premise of Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply.

As indicated in the synopsis, this story is told primarily through the view point of three individuals separated by distance (and perhaps even time): Miles, Ryan, and Lucy. I quickly identified with Ryan (I mean he did go to Northwestern and all) and his feelings of  “not-fitting in” during his teenage years (I think we all feel this to a certain extent during this tender time).  He’s naive and optimistic, yet strangely jaded and passive with regards to his own life. Ryan’s story is by far the most strange, mysterious, and action-packed of the book. Honestly it was his story that really kept me interested while reading this longish and very dark book.

It’s not that Lucy and Miles’s stories were boring by any means…they were just slow. Really slow. I especially felt this during Miles’s passages. The prose would go on and on (and on) and never really go anywhere. I felt like I would listen to his story for 30 minutes and NOTHING would happen. Lucy’s story was similarly slow but also had the added element of unbelievability, which I think can be attributed to the fact that Chaon is a middle aged man writing about an 18 year woman. Lucy, as created by Chaon, is equal parts wise and naive. She is maddeningly blind to obvious things right in front of her, yet also possesses the cynicism and world-weariness of someone 15-20 years her senior. Overall, it was a combination that just didn’t ring true for me.

Despite my dissatisfaction with the character development and pace of the novel, I really enjoyed the exploration of identity. There is a school of thought out there that the “self” is immutable, that who you are and what you believe is ingrained within you. Chaon challenges that idea in this novel, and explores how The Internet Age can facilitate rapid changes in identity. It has certainly given me a lot to think about even though it has been several months since I finished the book.

On another note, I thought the narration by Kirby Heyborne was excellent. His voice was well suited to the male characters, and he did a good job with the female characters as well.

Overall, I would recommend this book to others with the caveat that it is a bit slow and has few light-hearted moments. The exploration of identity was very interesting, and the story has stayed with all these months since I finished it. I know I haven’t given this book a glowing review, but I am glad I read it.

What Others Had To Say:

*Let me know if you have a review posted and I’ll post a link to it

My Review In Four Lines:

  1. Rating: 3.5/5 stars
  2. What I liked: The rich character development and the exploration of identity
  3. What I didn’t enjoy as much: The extremely slow pacing
  4. I would recommend this book for: People interested in issues such as identity theft and what constitutes a “self”

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Linking up with Blonde…Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Note: I did not receive any compensation whatsoever for this book review.