Monday, February 23, 2009

BBC's book list meme

In April 2003 the BBC's Big Read began the search for the nation's best-loved novel, here are the top 100 nominated books. Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of them. I've read 24, not that bad... Which ones have you read?

1) Look at the list and put an 'x' after those you have read.
2) Add a '+' to the ones you LOVE.
3) Star (*) those you plan on reading.

1. The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien x+
2. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen x+
3. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman
4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams x
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling x+
6. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
7. Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne x
8. Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
9. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, CS Lewis x+ (I read the whole Narnia series)
10. Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë
11. Catch-22, Joseph Heller
12. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
13. Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks
14. Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
15. The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger
16. The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame
17. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens (started 3 times, can't remember if I finished it... partial credit?)
18. Little Women, Louisa May Alcott x
19. Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres *
20. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
21. Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
22. Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, JK Rowling x+
23. Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets, JK Rowling x+
24. Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, JK Rowling x+
25. The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien x+
26. Tess Of The D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy
27. Middlemarch, George Eliot
28. A Prayer For Owen Meany, John Irving
29. The Grapes Of Wrath, John Steinbeck
30. Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll x
31. The Story Of Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline Wilson
32. One Hundred Years Of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
33. The Pillars Of The Earth, Ken Follett * (I've read World without end first)
34. David Copperfield, Charles Dickens
35. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl x
36. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson x
37. A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute
38. Persuasion, Jane Austen x+ (My favorite Austin novel)
39. Dune, Frank Herbert
40. Emma, Jane Austen x
41. Anne Of Green Gables, LM Montgomery x+ (I've read the whole series)
42. Watership Down, Richard Adams
43. The Great Gatsby, F Scott Fitzgerald
44. The Count Of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas * (I read the 3 musketeers)
45. Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
46. Animal Farm, George Orwell x+
47. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
48. Far From The Madding Crowd, Thomas Hardy
49. Goodnight Mister Tom, Michelle Magorian
50. The Shell Seekers, Rosamunde Pilcher
51. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett x
52. Of Mice And Men, John Steinbeck
53. The Stand, Stephen King
54. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
55. A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
56. The BFG, Roald Dahl
57. Swallows And Amazons, Arthur Ransome
58. Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
59. Artemis Fowl, Eoin Colfer
60. Crime And Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky
61. Noughts And Crosses, Malorie Blackman
62. Memoirs Of A Geisha, Arthur Golden *
63. A Tale Of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
64. The Thorn Birds, Colleen McCollough
65. Mort, Terry Pratchett
66. The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton
67. The Magus, John Fowles
68. Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
69. Guards! Guards!, Terry Pratchett
70. Lord Of The Flies, William Golding
71. Perfume, Patrick Süskind
72. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Tressell
73. Night Watch, Terry Pratchett
74. Matilda, Roald Dahl
75. Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding x
76. The Secret History, Donna Tartt
77. The Woman In White, Wilkie Collins
78. Ulysses, James Joyce
79. Bleak House, Charles Dickens
80. Double Act, Jacqueline Wilson
81. The Twits, Roald Dahl
82. I Capture The Castle, Dodie Smith
83. Holes, Louis Sachar
84. Gormenghast, Mervyn Peake
85. The God Of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
86. Vicky Angel, Jacqueline Wilson
87. Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
88. Cold Comfort Farm, Stella Gibbons
89. Magician, Raymond E Feist
90. On The Road, Jack Kerouac
91. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
92. The Clan Of The Cave Bear, Jean M Auel
93. The Colour Of Magic, Terry Pratchett
94. The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho x
95. Katherine, Anya Seton
96. Kane And Abel, Jeffrey Archer x+ (The prodigal daughter is great too)
97. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez
98. Girls In Love, Jacqueline Wilson
99. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot x (I've actually read the whole series)
100. Midnight's Children, Salman Rushdie

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The paranoia of motherhood

I always thought I was a rational person, at least most of the time. However, I came to appreciate the fact that motherhood has made me quite fearful and paranoid with respect to the well being of my kids. I thought I could blame my early symptoms on the pregnancy hormone changes, but unlike my weight they have not receded much even after the "9 months up, 9 months down" period.

It all started with the fear of miscarriage in the first trimester, the never ending expectation of an unexpected bleeding. In my case, I did actually miscarry my first pregnancy, but it was discovered with a sonogram at 10 weeks. Hence my anxiety during my subsequent pregnancy over the first ultrasound appointment. As uneventful as my first pregnancy was, I was still in a state of constant dread of something going wrong. The second pregnancy was more difficult, and the anxiety was exacerbated. Spotting, possibility of twins, early contractions and pre-term labor scares... but my imagination was even more fertile than real life itself.

Then came the fear of giving birth and the well being of the child. The sleepless nights at the hospital under extensive medication for my cesarean made me paranoid about whether he was eating enough or breathing at all times. I even had my husband wake up the baby because I was worried he was sleeping too long. Hearing for his breath became an obsession from day one, and a cause of many sleepless nights through the first year. That is how I discovered my otosclerosis problem, I could hear or not his breathing depending on what ear I had on the pillow. Only afterward did it occur to me that I could not always hear the rain either...

As the first year of my second child comes to a close, the paranoia about autism creeps in once again, regardless of the milestones the baby has accomplished ahead of the curve... the lingering feeling that something might go wrong is always there and so I worry. I know there are many more years ahead and many more fears and paranoia... grade school, the teenage years, independence. Most of the issues are things I cannot control, all I can do is prepare my children for what they might encounter in life. And hopefully without passing on my worries to them, at least not in a debilitating way.

When my first child was born my brother asked my grandfather, who is in his mid nineties, whether now that his kids have grandchildren does he worry less about them. The question was pondered on for less than a minute before he shook his head and said no. I hope I have as many years to worry about my children...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

25 random things

I got this meme through one of those social networking sites. You are supposed to write 25 random things about yourself then tag others to do the same. I won't impose on anyone here, but if you write one let me know in the comments... it will be fun to read yours.

Here they are, the 25 things that I could think of, no specific order of importance.

1- I think to much, mostly about random things (like these). My thoughts keep me up at night, and the best thing I can do is write them out. I got tired of journals so I started this blog.

2- A very dear friend inspired me to write by letting me read his short stories. I've written a few short stories, but very few people have read them. Most are dispersed among my many journals.

3- I started writing two novels, one in college and one in grad school. They are both unfinished, even though I know how they end. I keep thinking it would be easier to find the time to write if I was writing on the computer, but I can't bring myself to type them up. I find it much more fun to write on paper.

4- Scrapbooking is the only activity I found that can keep me from thinking too much. I had an easier time during my second pregnancy's mandatory bed rest and maternity leave because of it.

5- As biased as it may sound, I think my kids are beautiful and (mostly) well behaved. But as a good Jewish mother I'm more than ready to point out their flaws to whoever compliments me on them.

6- As much as I've been enjoying motherhood, I could never be a stay at home mom. I felt like I was going crazy by the end of two months on maternity leave.

7- I actually enjoy going to the gym, but I haven't had time for it since I had my first son. If I had a few extra hours a week I would probably get more work done in the lab, straighten up the house and/or try to get more than 6 hours of sleep a day.

8- I hate my mommy tummy, but I couldn't expect less after 2 C-sections. The worst part is the number of people asking me if I'm pregnant again. I keep wanting to have a T-shirt made saying "The bun is out of the oven, these are leftovers". get one here :)

9- I had 2 C-sections because the babies were too big to come out on their own. Part of me wanted to have experienced a normal delivery, but most of me did not want to take the risk of harming the baby or myself.

10- I find personality tests, IQ quizzes and astrology very amusing. They occupied most of my procrastinating time during my Ph.D., along with the chick flicks that I dearly miss watching.

11- My sun sign is in Gemini, my rising sign in Pisces and my moon in Sagittarius... all the duality signs. I guess it explains why I thought I had multiple personality disorder in high school... or why I have a hard time making up my mind.

12- As far as I can tell, my astrological map has no earth signs, not even in minor positions. I guess that is why I married the most grounded person I have ever met.

13- My wedding dress cost 1/3 of my wedding budget, mostly because I wanted something simple. I'm very glad I got to wear it twice... It is now "preserved" in a box under my husband's bed at his parent's house.

14- If I could change one day of my life it would be the day of that party in second grade that I refused to slow dance with all the boys that asked me. I'm sure I would have had an easier time in middle & high school...

15- In total I have lived by myself for two months, while I was doing an internship after college. I was hardly at home though, as I was taking swing lessons and dancing every night of the week.

16- This town is growing on me, even though I hate the 9 months of Florida summer. As my husband once pointed out, we get to travel more living here than if we lived somewhere really nice. And I don't think we could afford a 3000 sq ft house with a pool anywhere else either...

17- The weirdest scold I ever received was from my mother. She reprimanded me for only taking challenging classes in college and no "easy A" class to boost my GPA. I still don't understand why I should have wasted time on those...

18- The best advice I ever received was from my dad. I was freaking out because I didn't know any successful female professors with kids & family, and I was in desperate need of a role model. He told me to ask him again in 20 years and he'd show me one.

19- I joined a social network site to keep in touch with my family in Brazil and found most of my grade school friends there. I joined another one to keep in touch with my grad school friends and found most of my college friends there.

20- I'm proud to have breast fed my first baby until he turned one year old and I'm close to doing the same with the second (3 months to go!). I guess it's my way of mothering them without worrying if I'm spending enough time with them.

21- As much as I complain about not having enough hours during the week, I still manage to pump at work and make baby food from scratch. Probably for the same mothering reasons as in #20.

22- I came to the USA convinced that I was only spending a year here. Deciding to stay the second year was the hardest choice I felt I had to make. All the other ones just happened while I was making other plans...

23- The most outrageous thing I have ever done was to fly to England with an expired student visa, not knowing if it could be renewed there or if they would send me back to Brazil. That is how I solved the dilemma in #22...

24- I'm a believer of positive thinking, and I'm sure that's how I got my kids to be born with their father's eyes. I thought my grandfather had blue eyes, but it was actually my great grandfather. It is easier to work the positive thinking thing if you think the odds are more in your favor...

25- When I feel blue & think that life sucks the last scene from Monty Python's "Life of Brian" pops into my head and I start singing "you gotta look at the bright side of life" to myself. It always helps...