Books and Birthdays

25 Aug

It is hard to believe, but summer is winding down, people.  I have so far spent one of these last perfectly slow and warm Saturdays accomplishing all the little odds and ends I’ve been avoiding for so long. And, more than anything, it’s been great to just spend the day with the old partner and our host family.

This week I was fortunate enough to attend a conference in Baku with fellow PCVs and their counterparts.  I love me some Baku, don’t get me wrong, but its always a trek there and back and I am more than ready to be home when it is all said and done.  Really though, I had a stellar time meeting with fellow PCVs and their counterparts, as well as enjoying more food than I should possibly be allowed to enjoy; burgers, Chinese food, salad, Chinese food again – it was all delightful and greasy and worth the upset stomach.

I felt much more prepared for life in general coming back, too.  My secondary projects are starting to make some-what sense, school is starting up soon, my counterpart is relaxed, my birthday is coming up – life is in motion, friends!

I’ve been thinking about my birthday a lot, too. Not in the lorded celebratory sense nor in a fitfully accepting the impending coming of age manner, but frankly I just really like birthdays. I like getting together with people, I like talking over snacks and drinks and cakes, and I like singing. Also, I like unwrapping things. When I was little, I used to wrap shit up just so I could unwrap it. Like, things I already had – this is completely separate than demanding gifts. What’s more fun than the crisp pulling apart of paper? The smooth slide of the finger across the tape? The thrill of the last tug sending all the remains down to the floor? Birthdays are great .

At any rate, since I am making my way towards being closer to 30 than 20, I found one of those intriguing yet probably b.s. but still fun lists of books one should read in their 20s.  I’ve been working on spending down-time more productively; one of the great things about these four-hour naps my host family takes is all the reading time it gives me. I’ve decided to tackle this list, both as an adventure during Peace Corps, a way to fill some of these slow hours, and as a way to tackle the inevitably growing oldness that I suddenly find myself far more aware of.

The original list from Buzzfeed (SUCH an accredited source, I know – but don’t ruin my fun) can be found here. Some titles, I must say, look very intriguing, while others appear to leave little to be desired, but that’s half the fun, isn’t it?

1. The Emperor’s Children, by Claire Messud
2. What She Saw… by Lucinda Rosenfeld
3. The Deptford Trilogy by Roberson Davies (actually three titles)
4. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
5. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin
6. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
7. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
8. Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid
9. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
10.  White Teeth by Zadie Smith
11. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
12. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
13.  Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
14.  The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
15. Call Me by Your Name by Andre Aciman
16. The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis
17. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
19. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
20. A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham
21. The Sandman Series by Neil Gaiman
22. The Group by Mary McCarthy
23.  Quicksand and Passin by Nella Larsen
24. Pastoralia by George Saunders
25. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
26. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
27. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
28. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
29. His Dark Materials Series by Philip Pullman
30. Generation X by Douglas Coupland
31. The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
32. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
33. I love DIck by Chris Kraus
34. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
35. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues by Tom Robbins
36. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the WOrld by Haruki Murakami
37. Bossypants by Tina Fey
38. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
39. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young
40. The Dirt by Motley Crue and Neil Strauss
41. Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis
42. Just Kids by Patti Smith
43. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn
44. Oh the Glory of it All by Sean Wilsey
45. I Don’t Care About Your Band by Julie Klausner
46. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
47. Lit by Mary Karr
48. I’m With the Band by Pamela Des Barres
49. Dear Diary by Lesley Arfin
50. The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton
51. Actual Air by David Berman
52. The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch
53. Alien vs. Predator by Michael Robbins
54. The Collected Poems of Audre Lord
55. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
56. How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
57. My Misspent Youth by Meghan Daum
58. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
59. Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell
60. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman
61.How’s Your Drink by Eric Felten
62. The Elements of Style by Strunk & White
63. Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens
64. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards
65. He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt and LIz Tuccillo

And there you have it. What a pop-culture website dictates I must read before I pass the limit.   (If nothing else, it’ll be a fun challenge. ) Here’s to birthdays and books, friends. What could be better?


 Women sit or move to and fro, some old, some young,
The young are beautiful–but the old are more beautiful than the young.
– Walt Whitman

5 Responses to “Books and Birthdays”


  1. Dumplings and Meetings | something much more ordinary - August 27, 2013

    […] cousin, making progress on my first of sixty-five books in my lame but totally awesome personal reading challenge, and pretending to study language on and off throughout the […]

  2. Challenge Accepted! [One of Sixty-Five] | something much more ordinary - September 4, 2013

    […] one day past the official start of my self-created, nerdy-but-awesome book challenge, I am pleased to report one book down (and only sixty-plus to […]

  3. Progress! [Two of Sixty-Five] | something much more ordinary - September 10, 2013

    […] During Your Peace Corps Service to Better Yourself and Use Time Wisely Challenge (as pulled from this list, inspired by Buzzfeed) already set and in my Kindle for […]

  4. Moving Fast [Three of Sixty-Five] | something much more ordinary - September 10, 2013

    […] During Your Peace Corps Service to Better Yourself and Use Time Wisely Challenge (as pulled from this list, inspired by Buzzfeed) in nearly an […]

  5. A New Week (and a new book!) [Four of Sixty-Five] | something much more ordinary - September 14, 2013

    […] During Your Peace Corps Service to Better Yourself and Use Time Wisely Challenge (as pulled from this list, inspired by Buzzfeed) in just over a […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: