Blue Zones

Recently for a project, I read Blue Zones by Dan Buettner that discusses how to live longer. Everyone wants to live life to the fullest, and to do that you have to live for a very long time, or so some think. The author traveled to some pretty remote regions of the globe to find centenarians, or people that were 100 years of age or older. The four places discussed were Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, Nicoya, Costa Rica, and Loma Linda, California. These places have a high concentration of centenarians and Buettner set off to discover the secrets to these people’s longevity and to see how they’ve managed to stay alive so long. Overall, he discovered nine basic things in life that help you live long: 1.) Move a little everyday, get your muscles working 2.) Find your purpose 3.) Find a routine that helps you distress 4.) Stop eating when you’re 80% full 5.) Eat lots of veggies 6.) Drink wine in moderation 7.) Belong and believe in a faith 8.) Keep your family close 9.) Establish a group of close friends who encourage good habits and lifestyles. These nine things were all found to be a part of centenarians lives around the world, recurring habits that they all practice in their own way. More information about Blue Zones can be found at their website http://www.bluezones.com/ which has tips on how to make your life more like on of a centenarian along with quizzes and checklists that you can do for further life improvement. One thing I didn’t really like about the book was the author’s style of writing. To me, the book should’ve been presented as research, but the way the author wrote made it sound like he was trying too hard to write something like a memoir. Other than that, the book was interesting, especially knowing there are a small number of people who have had the privilege to live for so long.

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Past, Present, Future

The other day in my English class, we touched on a topic that really intrigued me (and no, it wasn’t food). We were discussing an excerpt by Barbara Ehnreich about television in the 1980s and how it has turned society into couch potatoes. She says that you never see people sitting and watching TV on TV. This makes sense, who would like to watch a show about someone who watches a show? It just wouldn’t be popular or worth watching. Watching TV, Ehnreich says, makes people lazy and it has only gotten worse as the years have gone by. However, my teacher brought up a point that people were saying the same things about paperback books when they became popular. This made me think about what happened in the past, what is happening now, and what will happen in the future. As I said before, in the past paperback books were all the rage because technology hadn’t advanced far enough for us to have the electronics that we do today. People would spend hours reading and getting lost in them, causing others to call them lazy because all they were doing all day was reading, not at all contributing to society. Later on, radio in the 20s and then television in the 50s took the place of novels and became all Americans ever did. Nowadays, it is cell phones, specifically social networking. This all makes me wonder what will happen in the future; what will people be addicted to next? What great new thing can scientists and inventors create that becomes a social phenomena? My only hope is that it will be something that can’t be constructed and controlled by technology. Hopefully we revert back to the basics and realize that this is what we needed all along: face-to-face human contact.

Mysteries of History

419px-Johannes_Vermeer_(1632-1675)_-_The_Girl_With_The_Pearl_Earring_(1665)After you’re done shaking your head at my really lame title, you can read the rest of this post about one of my favorite paintings. You may be thinking that this blog is all about books, and that’s where you’re wrong! History is my favorite subject and I’m playing on going to college and majoring in secondary history education. The book I’ve been reading is based off of the mysterious painting by Vermeer called Girl With a Pearl Earring. It was painted in 1665 and the figure depicted is unknown. No one knows if she was related to the artist, or if he even knew her at all. Vermeer’s infamous color scheme of blue and yellow stand out in the painting. The book by Tracy Chevalier is based on this well-known painting, her mind creating a story surrounding the origin of the painting. The mysterious girl is now Griet, a simple Dutch villager who is called upon to be a maid for Vermeer and his family. Vermeer takes a liking to Griet and paints her for a patron that lives in the area. What I love about this book is that it is historical fiction. To create a story out of just one painting takes a special kind of talent. To give curious readers a glimpse into the past is a gift. What I love about this painting is the mystery behind it and the simplicity of the figure. Chevalier’s novel put my curiosity to rest and I am satisfied with the story she has created to put meaning to this painting. Vermeer himself was mystery: he never let anyone into his studio and he only painted thirty or so works. He is well-known for his blue and yellow color scheme that colors the simple figures doing household work in his paintings. He is known to have implemented the technique of camera obscura to create his realistic paintings, with the light always coming from the left, the colors blending to look real. The device is actually a small, dark room that projected an image through a small opening upside-down, showing an image that the artist can clearly see and trace. It was this technique that made Vermeer’s paintings realistic and he himself a master of color. I think more stories based on paintings should be made to give us an idea of the time period and the people that lived then. It would help us understand and appreciate art more as well as history.

Jellicoe Road

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Photo credit: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/272256739943836661/

 Before I start this post, I want you to do something. Say ‘jellicoe’. Say it a few more times. Now say it with an Australian accent. Wasn’t that fun? Now that you’ve gotten that out of your system, you can continue to read this post. This book has raving, all-praising reviews on Goodreads, which I read before starting the novel. Here’s a challenge: go find one review of this book other than mine that is negative. Once you come back, whining about how it was impossible, I’ll let you in on a secret- you can’t find a negative review about this book. It honestly sounded like this was going to be the next big obsession of mine and I started to read the first few pages. That’s when things began to go downhill. The parts of the book that people admittedly stated were confusing were not confusing to me. I don’t know if I just wasn’t reading with devoted attention or if the book was really that bad, but I don’t see what all the fuss was about. Fans of this book should probably not read this post, for my safety and yours. I have some specific issues with this book, number one being that it was based in Australia. Of all places to have a book, you pick a giant, barely inhabited island that was colonized by prisoners. I have nothing against the people of Australia, however. Your accents are gnarly and I probably miss Steve Irwin as much as you do. Now that we’ve got stereotypes out of the way, we can get back to the important topic of the setting. I have read a grand total of two books that were based in Australia now and I didn’t like either one of them. Personally, I think it’s time for me to stop reading books based on the huge island of kangaroos and koalas and other creatures that start with ‘k’. My second problem with this book is the characters. Everyone on Goodreads said these characters were believable and awe-inspiring. I felt that they were underdeveloped and just out of nowhere, if that makes sense. The main characters are ensued in a territory war. Why highschoolers are fighting with rich people from town and military cadets in training over land is beyond me. This war wasn’t really explained well, all that I got from it was it’s been a tradition since people can remember. The people are very strict about the territory boundaries; some girls from the Jellicoe school accidentally crossed over borders and the cadets took them hostage in their tent. A little extreme, if you ask me. There was also a story within the story about five teenagers and their experiences on the Jellicoe Road and the beginning of the territory wars. This added to my problems with character development because the people in the story turned out to be real people in the bigger story. That’s the part most people found confusing. I just didn’t see much change between the way they were and they way they became. Overall, the only things I enjoyed about this book were the cutesy quotes that most everyone likes and trying to read it in my head with an Australian accent. The latter proved to be quite difficult. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as everyone said I would but we all have those books every once in a while. Now that all the people of Australia have completely lost their respect for me, I might go watch Finding Nemo in the hopes that that will somehow make up for all I’ve said. Happy reading.

On Obtaining Books

When it comes to being an intense book blogger, or just an avid reader, you have to have sources that you can trust to provide the books you want to read. Most try their local library but sometimes even that doesn’t have what’s on our lists. So what’s a bibliophile to do? Well, we have resources. Other than the library, we can borrow from friends, buy books at Barnes and Noble, and my personal favorite- iBooks. However, I’m the kind of person that only buys books I’ve read before and know I’ll read again. I also have a lot of trouble reading on my phone. I want to check Twitter every five seconds and it just feels better holding an actual book. There actually are a lot of books you can get for free on iBooks, especially if you are a fan of the classics, all of which are usually free. Some people use Kindles or Nooks to get books but from previous posts, you can already tell I’m not a fan of those either. Personally, I think if you’re already paying a large sum of money for a virtual library, some of the books (if not all) should be free. But that’s just me and I’m not really up on my research with tablets used for reading. In order to accomplish a large list of must-reads, readers like me have to have resources. It’s like a life necessity. Air, water, shelter, ways to get books. I want to find more ways to get the books I want. If you know of any websites or places that have the books on my list, let me know! I would love to have that sense of security knowing I have those books available to me. How do you obtain your books to read and finish your lists? Or do people even have lists nowadays? Happy reading.

An Abundance of Katherines

If you haven’t noticed by now, I am a big fan of John Green. I love his books because they relate to teenagers on so many levels, and him being a young adult just makes it easier for him to understand what we go through and all that life throws at us. Recently, one of his books, The Fault in our Stars, has been made into a movie that will be in theaters on June 6th of this year. As an employee at the theater, we get to see a free movie every week, but it can’t be a premiere. Considering how much I loved this book, I will pay the money for the ticket and wait in the queue line with all the others anxiously waiting to bawl their eyes out. Frankly, I feel that other books by John Green are overlooked. For example, millions of people have read The Fault in our Stars but have they even read Paper Towns or Will Grayson, Will Grayson? An Abundance of Katherines is one of these books. It is about a teenage guy named Colin Singleton (ironic last name, but will get to that shortly) who has dated nineteen girls over the years all named Katherine. Not Catherine, not Kate. Katherine. Nineteen times he has loved, nineteen times he has been dumped. Colin is also a prodigy, or a child genius who loves facts and is very smart. He drafts up a mathematical theory that predicts the course of relationships and when they will end. John Green actually got one of his close friends to do all the math that was in the book and there is an appendix explaining it all. Anyways, Colin and his best friend Hassan decide they need to go on a roadtrip after Colin’s recent breakup with K-19. They end up in Gutshot, Tennessee and hilarity ensues, along with some sadness. That’s all I’m going to give away about the book because I think everyone in the world should read at least one John Green book. Now that I think of it, go buy a box set! I will most likely be blogging about the TFioS movie in June so stay tuned for that post! Now go read some John Green and join the ranks of the Nerdfighters.