Read in October 2015

The Tiger’s Wife: A Novel by Tea Obreht ~ 3/5 ~ This was an audiobook read, which I think made the prose even more beautiful. I had had this book on my “to read” list for a while and actually totally forgot what it was about when I started it. I was happily surprised to find that it involved medicine, family relationships, and mythology (all some of my favorite things to read about in books). I ALSO was excited to see that it was based in Eastern Europe as I love Balkan history (although there wasn’t much of that at all). I really enjoyed the stories about the deathless man and the tiger’s wife probably more than the actual plot. Overall, I thought it was good but I wasn’t “wowed”, hence the 3/5 rating.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling ~ 4/5 ~ Guys, I want to be Mindy Kaling’s friend so much. She has such a #realtalk sense of humor. I gorged on this via audiobook, and I had similarly done the same with her first book. I really enjoyed hearing about her relationship with BJ Novak (particularly in reference to her mom’s death), how she “came to be” with her own show, and of course her other tidbits/life advice. I hope she’s writing another book because I would love to hear about her experience with Inside Out! Anyway, one of my favorite quotes from this book- “Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled. Listen to no one except the two smartest and kindest adults you know, and that doesn’t always mean your parents. If you do that, you will be fine.” Love.

Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay ~ 3/5 ~ I enjoy retellings of fairy tales, which this was, and I thought overall it was well-executed. I liked that Aurora was a badass fighter who was actually “male” for most of the book. I thought that the romance was contrived/forced. I was kind of confused with the turn of events later on in the book, but whatever. Again, it was okay. Probably would have been more on a 2.5 star level but it was pretty fast paced and for that reason, I have to give it a slight bump to 3.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell ~ 5/5 ~ UGH, this book! I went into it knowing nothing except that it was super popular, and I can totally see why. This book threw me straight back to middle school and high school, and not in a bad way either. Yes, there were the awkward moments and you see some of the bullying here (as well as some other Big Issues like domestic violence), but this book was so much more too. Reading this reminded me exactly of what a first love feels like, and it hurt and made me so happy at the same time. The prose is just ridiculous — “Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.” and “You look like a protagonist.” and “He made her feel like more than the sum of her parts.” and “But you saved my life, and now I’m yours. The me that’s me right now is yours. Always.

White Cat by Holly Black ~ 4/5 ~ Magical mafia, kitties, boarding school… need I say more?

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater ~ 4/5 ~ I’m curious to see where this goes. Blue is such a spunky main character, and her family is hilarious. I really like Gansey… and Adam… and Ronan. I really enjoy the magic in this series.

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Goals for M4

This is my last year of med school. Probably the last year of official schooling I will ever do. And from here on out, as I was telling my mom, I will likely have at most one month of vacation every year and work long hours. Thankfully, I will also go into the most rewarding profession.

Still, I can’t help but feel like I will be “missing out” a bit. To that end, here are some of my goals for my last year!

m4goals

Read. A lot. — This one was pretty obvious… my biggest hobby is without a doubt reading! I set a goal of 10 books for 2015, and I’ve already more than doubled that. So who knows how many books I can attempt to conquer in the upcoming months. All I can say is I hope to finish at least one, maybe even two, per month until I graduate, which would put me at ~15 books. It seems daunting right now, but I have confidence in myself.

Travel. — My other big hobby, which is unfortunately more expensive (both in money and time). Still, there’s nothing I love more than immersing myself in some place new. Some goals- my friend ES who went with me to Europe before we started med school and I are already planning a two week trip to Japan prior to graduation. I also peripherally discussed exploring Maine with one of my friends here AG. And my family is working on a trip to Nicaragua this winter. That takes up all of my actual vacation days, but maybe I can squeeze in some smaller trips. I already plan on visiting some friends in NYC and Durham in the upcoming month. Here’s to delicious food, amazing views, learning about people and cultures, and some work for my poor camera that has been sitting in the dust.

Purge. — At the end of this school year, I’ll have to probably make another move. It was easy to move across coasts because I knew I could not bring much. This time, I’ve actually bought more things and thus accrued more. Well, I’m not sure where I’ll end up in a year, but I want to start downsizing a bit.

Become a tourist in my town. — Well, I think I’ve done most of the things that my current city offers, but just in case, I’m going to make a bucket list again like I did when I left my college town, and make sure I hit everything before I go!

Establish and maintain good relationships. — A little more nebulous of a goal but just as important as the others. Who knows where we will all end up in a few months, but I know that the friends I’ve made in medical school are friends I want to keep for life, more than just professional colleagues.

Develop good habits. — Follow this: listening to Tim Ferriss’s podcast –> coach.me –> wanting to make myself better one habit at a time. Well, if he can start flossing daily and get off of alcohol with this app, maybe I can pick up some good habits too. Right now, I have largely unambitious goals like meditating, not biting my nails, calling my parents. If this works out, I might add some larger goals.

Wrap-up everything at my medical school. — Even though my residency application is in and up in the air now, I have a few other commitments I need to honor before I leave. These include things like crafting the yearbook for my graduating class and getting a very cool research project started. I can’t get TOO checked out before I finish these other promises!

Here’s to making the last year of medical school the best! :)

Summer 2015 Wrap-Up

What a summer! After Camp Holiday Trails, I went on my two away rotations, both a sizable distance away from my home and from my home institution. While I hoped to have time to explore the cities, that did not end up panning out. Nevertheless, I had a fantastic time at both rotations!

Highlights

  1. Living in a studio apartment for the first time and loving it! I can’t wait to get my own place next year.
  2. Walking a ton… to, from, and in the hospital, I somehow averaged about 3 miles a day. What?! That’s more than I can even begin to comprehend.
  3. Being treated like a “sub-intern” for real — I was so happy that on both of my away rotations, I truly felt like a member of the team, and I had a ton of responsibility. I’m one of those people who prefers to have a lot expected of her because it pushes me to be my best self. I learned more subject-matter during my first away month than I had in probably a year of medical school, and I learned more about being a clinician on my second away. I’m starting to come down from that high now that I am more than one week out, but man, those were the glorious times. And it honestly makes me look forward to residency! (Glutton for punishment?)
  4. Making new friends. I always love meeting new people in general but I was surprised how much I got along with the residents at both of my away institutions. With the first group, I felt like they were really looking out for me, and with the second group, it was like a big family of friends. I hope that regardless of where I end up, I can maintain those relationships.
  5. Surviving a long drive — I detest driving long distances (and I define long as anything more than 30 minutes… hah). It’s just so boring and feels like a huge waste of my time, and my leg always falls asleep. Thank goodness for discovering cruise control this year (I know, I’m behind). Also thank goodness for AUDIOBOOKS! I actually survived an 8+ hr drive (one direction)!

Purchases


Barrington Gifts bag — OMG, I love this beautiful bag. The print is classic, and I feel like I can use this both as a work bag and as my interview bag (although the colorful part of me really wanted a brighter one… oh well, another time). I decided not to get the ever popular St. Anne tote since it seemed too big and I wanted to have one with a zipper closure on top; I’m so happy with the Savannah! After using my navy large Longchamp Le Pliage for years, I love how there are COMPARTMENTS in this bag. I haven’t moved into it yet since I’m scared of messing it up, but it’s so pretty to look at. :) I definitely want to buy more in the future! I had been eyeing these bags for a while since they popped up all over the blogsphere and instagram, and I finally bit the bullet when there was a sale. And speaking of sales…


The mother of all sales — Lilly Pulitzer’s after party sale was when I bought my first ever LP. This year, I was actually awake when it opened because naturally, I was in the OR. I was overwhelmed trying to shop online on my phone so I gave up. But then later that week, I went to the mall for some reason, and I decided to walk by the Lilly store. They happened to still have things on sale, so I eagerly tried on just about everything. I came away with two beautiful dresses that I can’t WAIT to wear.


wet n wild eyeshadow palette in “Walking on Eggshells” — I stupidly did not pack much makeup for my rotations thinking I wouldn’t have much time to deal with that. I was mostly right since I barely had time to do my brows and mascara on some days, but I completely forgot that I was doing an official interview on one of my aways. I quickly bought this very cheap eyeshadow palette on a whim (and TiffanyD‘s and Ingrid‘s recommendation). I was pleasantly surprised by the pigmentation and how natural and easy this palette is! The browbone shade is my favorite I’ve used thus far, and overall it’s perfect for a neutral classic look (that I’ve been wearing every day since I bought this palette!). Who would’ve expected from wet n wild?

Books Read (I think I did pretty well considering I was working my butt off!)

  1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman — my first NG, and what a powerful piece. It was slow throughout most of the book, which is why I gave it a 4/5, but wow, the ending just threw me for a whirl. I think it is one of the most profound things I’ve read, and I’ll have to go back to it someday.
  2. World After by Susan Ee — book #2 in the Penryn series. Love Raffe, love Penryn, not much to say about this YA book except that I just devoured this entire series.
  3. End of Days by Susan Ee — and book #3.
  4. Uprooted by Naomi Novik — first heard about this book from All the Books!, and it stuck in my mind so much that I had to read it finally. What a great read. It takes this turn you don’t expect, the mythology is just beautiful, and like American Gods, I’m still not quite sure I got it all in the end so this will also require a reread.
  5. House Rules by Jodi Picoult — my first JP in a long while (years) after I got tired of her style for a bit. This one thankfully deviates from her norm in that the ending wasn’t totally predictable. I liked the autism angle, but I thought it was a little too preachy at times. This one I actually read on audiobook, and I really enjoyed all of the readers of the characters. I thought that the reader for Jacob got autism perfectly (based on the autistic people I know).
  6. Emma by Jane Austen — another audiobook from Librivox. I liked seeing the connections to Clueless as I read along. :)
  7. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari — this was a fast and interesting read looking into what romance and dating is like in this modern world with texting, social media, etc. I learned a bunch of stuff in here that I did not expect, and dare I say that I used some of the advice already? … #millennial
  8. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd — OMG. I can’t express enough how awesome this book was. This was the audiobook I listened to on my drive back from my last rotation. The language and story was so beautiful. I think in general my favorite *amazing* books are historical fiction that captures real and sweeping characters and relationships through time (Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese is the other one that comes to mind), and this just blew away all of my expectations. The fact that this was based on REAL LIFE was even more delicious to discover at the end. Sarah and Handful are amazingly authentic protagonists.

Now… back to my ERAS application. :(

Audiobooks

I’ve mentioned previously that I love listening to things, especially books. My first foray into audiobooks was via librivox, which I discovered because it was free and I didn’t feel ready to delve into audible yet or anything else that required paying. The first one I “read” was Elizabeth Klett’s recording of Jane Eyre. I’m not even sure how it showed up on my iTunes podcast list, but it did, and I fell down the rabbit hole. Since then, I’ve listened to a bunch of other books to make a dent in my “classics” book list. My favorite readers have been Elizabeth Klett and Karen Savage. So I’m a typical American… I enjoy hearing a female Brit speak, and I’m shameless about that.

Librivox is awesome because it’s free, there are a gajillion readers, and you can enjoy a HUGE collection of books. I totally recommend it!

Once I jumped into the audiobook world, I of course had to sign up for Audible. I got my first book free from one of those sponsor links that basically everyone has (it shouldn’t be hard for you to find one). I like that I can set the speeds to finer calibrations than that of the Apple Podcast app that I have to use for everything else. Yes, I listen to everything sped up. Yes, that probably “ruins” the reading, but I am an impatient gal, and after years of studying to at least 2x recordings for school, I just can’t stand the normal pace a person talks at. I’m currently listening to The Count of Monte Cristo, which is a massive endeavor (my app says there are 52 hours of recordings, yikes!). I’ve started and not finished this book so many times, and it’s my mom’s favorite book, so I always keep giving it another go unsuccessfully. Well, on my uber long road trip down to Florida for my current away rotation, I figured that this was the time.

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

I give this book a 2/5, and that might even just be generous. I know this is an American classic, and I think on some level I did enjoy reading it. But I absolutely despised Holden. I found him so whiny, narrow-minded, judgmental, and immature. I could not sympathize with him much at all. I wonder if I feel this way because now I am an “adult” (okay, sorry, I still don’t feel “grown-up” yet even though I am legally and developmentally) as opposed to a teenager reading the book (supposedly, a lot of adolescents identify with Holden’s angst). Perks of Being a Wallflower is commonly described as the modern version of Catcher, and I’m not surprised why. But I enjoyed Perks so much more. On some level it’s probably because I read it when I was younger and in the proper mindset. But I also think it’s because the main character in Perks was just not as annoying. Sure, he cried a lot and was a little oversensitive and clearly not socially adept, but I find that more excusable than someone who passes fast and harsh judgment on everyone they see.

I will say that one thing I liked about the book was the whole metaphor of the catcher in the rye and trying to catch children in their innocence and idyllic field before they fall off into the dark world of adulthood. As a third year medical student now, I feel even more separated from my youth because I’m finally “almost a doctor”. I finally almost have a full-time job, and not just a job but a career. My friends are getting married (!), my younger sister graduated college, and people around me are moving on and growing up. I might not be fighting it as much as Holden was, but it does make me feel sad, like time is passing on too fasts, and I’m not sure if I’m ready to step into that stage of my life yet. Like I always said with medical school and my initial fears the months before I started, I now feel like I’m on a train that’s just going to keep going without making stops anymore. I know I want to get to that end destination (I want it more than anything else in my life), but looking outside the window, I kind of wonder if I’m missing out on playing in those fields, and sometimes I want the train to stop just for a little while.

Steve Jobs

Just about anyone I’ve spoken to knows that I was reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson because I raved about the book to EVERYONE. I finally finished it last night. I was reading the Kindle version so it’s hard to approximate how much of the book was devoted to references toward the end (according to the %, it should be ~25%), but I was definitely reading the book non-stop for at least a week and it still took me that long to finish it. Regardless, I loved the book.

Disclaimer: I am NOT an Apple fan (I don’t own a single Apple product). I am not a techie person at all. And I definitely hate biographies. What honestly convinced me to read it was the insanely high # of positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and the fact that it was already loaded on my Kindle.

So you can assume that the fact that I loved this book says something either about the subject matter himself or about Isaacson’s writing style (gonna go with the latter since the main reason the book was great was due to its almost gripping/dramatic/cliff-hangery style). Some people think that this may all be some great marketing ploy, but Jobs never even got to read the book let alone make edits to it before it was published (the only part he played was in deciding the cover, which is hilariously quintessential Jobs). I think Isaacson did a brilliant job in gathering numerous resources to present an unbiased view of Jobs. I loved reading about how Apple and its products came to be, the development of Pixar, and Jobs’s way of managing a company and how he saw the future. I think all of it in itself was very inspiring. For example, I’d say here are some life lessons I picked up myself:

1) Do something you’re passionate in. Seriously. You’ll never achieve the same level of success if you’re just doing something for money — as was shown by Sculley’s leadership of Apple in addition to Microsoft’s downfall. As Jobs repeatedly mentioned in the book, he was trying to create a lasting legacy of a company and great products, not a profit. He also wanted a team of people who were equally passionate about the product, and as he said, when you put A players together, they like to play together to make great things.

2) The reality distortion field — if you think and believe and act like something will work, it will. Probably this follows point #1 in that when you really put your mind behind even the craziest ideas, you can make the impossible possible.

3) Focus. This goes back Apple’s rise to power, which was generated because Jobs realized that he had to focus on only a few products to make them excellent. I noticed that other companies are doing something similar now — for example, much to my chagrin Google decided to boot out Google Reader because they wanted to focus on other products (they also eliminated Wave, etc). I think we all know deep down that when you focus on a few things, you’re better, but it’s nice to get that refresher once in a while.

4) How you present yourself and behave is important. That includes Jobs’s strong eye contact, the way he could turn on charm when he wanted to (and equally turn it off to get you to beg for it back), the way he built his company and himself on design and simplicity and perfection and sophistication. It also includes some of his flaws. Be honest (like he was) but you don’t need to be nasty or rude to achieve your goals (as he learned later). Don’t abandon your family either. Take time for what’s important.

5) Take time for yourself. Maybe this wasn’t something Jobs was good at, but it’s definitely something I picked up as a lesson. He took walks all the time to think and discuss and tried to eat healthy foods (albeit to the point of crazy sometimes). And he admitted himself later that it was probably when he was taking on the role of CEO of Apple again plus running Pixar that he overworked and began to experience health problems. In America’s capitalist society we’re trained to be robots, keep pushing, be better than everyone else, sleep less, do more. But the thing is, we’re humans and unfortunately (as I also learned the hard way), eventually we get sick, and you HAVE to stop. If only we could all learn that lesson before it was too late.

I also noticed I have a weird connection with the guy. We love perfect things. We like white. We like clean. We like obsessing over fonts. It’s great! (however I prefer sharper edges and not rounded rectangles… and that’s why I don’t like iOS)

Personal updates — I know I’ve been MIA. Med school does that to you, I guess. I finished my first year. It was incredible. Long, stressful at times, but amazing and exactly what I wanted. I’m happy with where I am. I love my friends and my peoples and I’m enjoying exercise (!!!) and I love my kitty and I feel so calm and blissful. It’s great!

20/20: A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin

A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin
Category: F
Rating: 3/5
Date finished: November 25, 2012

Summary: Continuation (book 4) of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. (can’t come up with a better description)

My thoughts: So GRRM decided to split the same time interval into two books to give more room for character perspectives. This book mainly seemed to focus on Sam leaving the Wall, all the politics going on at King’s Landing and with the Lannister family (except Tyrion), the Stark sisters (both of whom took on new names), and some other random stories (like about the House Greyjoy and Arianne at Dorne). I’m not sure if this was the best decision on his part because it seems that most people disapproved of this book and the next one. I can see why, because I often found myself wonder what was happening to everyone else, especially Dany and Tyrion, among my favorite characters of the series. Also, with the time lapse until the next book comes out, I think we will have forgotten a lot of what went down in this timeline, especially since I have to read yet another 1000 pages on the other half of the cast of characters.

My overall thoughts are pretty boring. I was annoyed that Asha didn’t get the Iron Throne because I felt that was extremely sexist. I don’t care much for what Brienne is doing right now… or Jaime for that matter. Cersei’s chapters were interesting because she was clearly going more and more insane and paranoid throughout the book, and it was great to see that GRRM finally tied up a knot in that plotline in the ending. Let’s just say that she had it coming! And good on Jaime for sticking to his guns and not coming back to save her. Margaery is a BAMF, and I want to know more about her. I’m so sad Maester Aemon died!!! :O Sam’s involvement with Gilly is SO boring… she needs to become more interesting or he needs to drop her. I also like Arianne — go female power! I’m hoping she’ll play a bigger role in the upcoming books.

The Stark sisters were my favorite perspectives. I had always liked Arya, and it’s cool that she’s really off making her own existence. I promise somehow that GRRM’s going to find a way for her to come back and own everyone at King’s Landing because he’s kept her alive (no small feat for this author), she’s off doing really awesome things, and she’s the arguably the strongest Stark remaining (not counting Jon Snow, but he’s not really a Stark and his character didn’t have a POV this time around). I also used to despise Sansa, and then I started to pity her, but now I can see that she’s also growing into a stronger character, which I like. Although Littlefinger remains creepy as usual….

I thought it was funny how he ended by saying that since he had already written the chapters for Dance, GRRM was hoping the next book would be out in a year. Nope, try six years. Well, that gives me time to attempt to squeeze in book 5 during medical school before Winds of Winter comes out. (PS, I’m already excited for that book. He’s clearly paving the way for the big epic battle(s), potentially involving the Others at the Wall but also definitely a battle for King’s Landing. QUEEN DANY!!!)

** And with that, I’ve finished my reading new year’s resolution for 2012. :)