The Life of Shinke

Archive for July 2011

Six months ago I decided to take on not one, not two but FIVE reading challenges and in the interest of accountability I am handing in my six month progress report.

Challenge 1: War and Peace Read-Along

For this challenge I’m suppose to be reading War and Peace a couple of chapters per month in the hopes of finishing it by December 31st.

Unfortunately I’ve only gotten to chapter 14 which is nowhere near where I should be in July.

I tried reading it on my iPod and I kept falling asleep and going to shorter more interesting reads. However having listened to Pride and Prejudice as an audiobook I’ve since started listening to War and Peace and will hopefully soon catch up with the reading group.

Challenge #2: Read 50 Books in 2011

Since we’re half way through the year, I should have finished at least 25 books to be considered on pace with my goal. However I am 25% behind as I’ve only completed 12 books this year.

Sad but fixable…I think. I sure hope so. Lol!

Challenge #3: Fill In The Gaps

For this challenge I’m required to read 100 books that have slipped through the cracks in my reading career in the next five years. Out of the possible 100 I have read 3.

#30: A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

#9: Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen

#3: Princess Diaries – Meg Cabot

Not bad so far right?

Challenge #4: Nicholas Sparks

For this challenge I picked the easiest level, First Date where I was supposed to read 1-4 Nicholas Sparks books over the course of 2011. Since January I’ve read 2, A Walk to Remember and The Notebook.

This one I’m certain I can finish, I’m already right on track.

Challenge #5: Harry Potter

Sadly I haven’t read even one of the 7 books that I was supposed to re-read before August 31st. And truthfully I probably won’t get around to them before then. The problem is that I’ve already read those stories and so I know how it ends. When I have a plethora of other NEW material in front of me it’s kind of hard to go back.

I’m sorry I probably won’t do this challenge on time but I do promise to re-read these books at some point in my life.

Bonus Challenge: WordPress Post a Week

I’ve been really bad about posting once a week but I just haven’t had the time. I’m trying to get into the habit of posting a couple of times per week, just having some scheduled and ready to go but we’ll have to see how that works.

At the end of the year I do hope to have at least 52 new posts even if I didn’t post one per week.

So all in all I haven’t had a very good run at my challenges but then school, work and sleep have got in the way. Hopefully the next six months will be better.

How about you? How are your challenges going?

Let me know in the comments below.

For a more in-depth account of the challenges I signed up for and how to sign up these yourself check out my earlier post, A Year Of Challenges.

Until next time, happy reading! 🙂


I love podcasts!

They get me through the boring mundane moments in the day such as the two-hour commute to school or the breaks between classes.

Podcasts keep me entertained and today I’d like to share ten of my favourites.

1. The Totally Rad Show

The Totally Rad Show daily video podcast hosted by Alex Albrecht, Jeff Cannata and Dan Trachtenberg that reviews movies, video games, comics, and TV shows with a bit of games and tom-foolery thrown in for good measure.

Although their reviews are very interesting and well worth listening to the thing I like most about this show is their interaction with each other, the inside jokes, the gags. I just really like watching these guys be really animated about something they love.

Check them out at Revision3.

2. Diggnation

Diggnation is a weekly video podcast hosted by Alex Albrecht and Kevin Rose and they talk about some of the hottest submitted stories found on Digg that week.

I love this show because it cracks me up. Plain and simple. This show is hilarious! Alex, Kevin, Prager, and Hippie Glen are always drinking and hence make crazy bets and doing stupid things. Just imagine having your friends over and then when everyone is tipsy discussing the hot topics at the moment. Exactly! That is Diggnation! I never have a dull moment watching this show. NEVER!

Check them out at Revision3.

3. The Nerdist Podcast

The Nerdist Podcast is a weekly audio interview show hosted by Chris Hardwick, Matt Mira and Jonah Ray. The show has two formats, it’s either Chris and the guys by themselves catching up and regailing us with hilarious stories OR Chris and the guys interviewing some celebrity such as Drew Carey, Jimmy Fallon and Eliza Dushku.

Either format is great. The interactions are fun and I just enjoy listening to it. I recently discovered all the great guests they had in their backlog and have decided to revisit those episodes. Hope you will too.

Check them out at Nerdist.

4. This American Life

This American Life is a radio show on WBEZ Chicago that can be downloaded as a podcast. The show is hosted by Ira Glass and he picks a theme each week and then brings the listeners varying stories surrounding that singular theme.

I love listening to this show because I always feel inspired and more knowledgeable after listening. This show introduces me to things I would never have gone looking for hence broaden my general knowledge of the world and helping me to form opinions and thoughts on each topic.

After every show I’m always like, you’ve GOT to listen to this. It’s that good. So check it out at This American Life.

5. Friday Night Comedy

Friday Night Comedy is a weekly audio podcast where it features either The News Quiz or The Now Show.

The News Quiz is hosted by Sandi Toksvig and is a topical panel quiz show where the questions are taken from the week’s news stories.

The Now Show is hosted by Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis and is a satirical take on the week’s news stories. It consists of a mixture of skits, songs, stand up, monologue and sketches.

Doesn’t matter which one BBC chooses to send out. I enjoy both of these shows. They’re hilarious and even more so when you actually know the news story they’re making fun of. Even if you haven’t been keeping up with world news just listening to these shows would give you a very good idea of what you missed.

Check it out at BBC Radio 4, you won’t regret it!

6. Comedy of the Week

Comedy of the Week is a weekly audio show that presents an episode of the latest comedy show making the rounds on BBC Radio 4. This show has no host as every week you get something new.

Thankfully they’ve all been funny episodes so I don’t have to worry about bad weeks. Unfortunately I want to go and listen to all these new shows they’re introducing me too. Lol!

Go check them out at BBC Radio 4, you’ll laugh your pants off!

7. Books on the Nightstand

Books on the Nightstand is a weekly audio podcast hosted by Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman where they give out book recommendations and give their listeners an inside scoop into the world of publishing and books.

I love this show. Books are my thing, reading is my hobby so to have a show where everything discussed is book related is AWESOME! Every time I listen to this show I have to open up my Shelfari or Goodreads to log their recommendations in my TBR pile.

If you love reading this is the podcast for you. Check them out at Books on the Nightstand.

8. Guys Can Read

Guys Can Read is a weekly audio podcast hosted by Luke Navarro and Kevin McGill where they take turns reviewing a book each week. They focus a lot on the story that the book is trying to convey and really make you think about what you’re reading.

I think they’re very insightful and listening to them definitely opened my eyes to new concepts. Made me not just think “OMG I love this book!” but really dig deep to see what exactly I loved about it, the story, the characterization, the fan service it paid to me?

They’ve started two new side projects that fall under the Guys Can Read Umbrella which are The Aftershow and Off the Page. The Aftershow continues the conversation about the book they reviewed but they suggest you listen to this AFTER reading the book as it is riddled with spoilers. Off the Page is a way for them to review movies, TV shows, comics, etc which they couldn’t touch on the regular episode of Guys Can Read.

I enjoy the side shows just as much as the main one and think you will too. Check them out at Guys Can Read.

9. Pop My Culture

Pop My Culture is a bi-weekly audio podcast hosted by Cole Stratton and Vanessa Ragland where these two comedic talents interview celebrities such as Mindy Sterling, Chris Hardwick and Danny Pudi.

Their interview is far from the normal. They ask them about anything and everything, including a lot of things not related to their career…like how’d the like the season finale of Dancing with the Stars. This show is hilarious and well worth the two-week wait.

Check them out at Pop My Culture Podcast.

10. This Week in Tech (TWiT)

This Week in Tech is a weekly video podcast hosted by Leo Laporte and his friends. Each week he has a different set of tech experts in the studio (affectionately called the cottage) with him where they discuss the top tech stories of the week.

Being the geek I am I love this show because it keeps me up to date on all the big changes going on in the tech world and offers me expert opinion so that my eyes aren’t covered by the pretty words of the big companies. If you’re into technology you should definitely give this show or any of the many others that Leo and his friends do a try. There is a show for everyone trust me.

Check it out at The TWiT Netcast Network.

These are just my ten, there are tons of great podcasts out there just waiting for you to discover them.

What are your favourites and do you listen to any of these?

Let me know in the comments below.

Happy listening! 🙂

I recently attended my brother’s graduation ceremony and while I was there picked up some valuable life lessons I wish I had learnt when I was graduating.

Life Lesson #1: Leave Your Failures in the Past

This is something I wish I had grasped from early on because if I did I wouldn’t have to be dealing with it now.

Failure was never an option in my house, it is highly looked down upon…I mean Bs are highly looked down upon, we were taught to reach for the skies and I was always pretty good at doing this. I mean I’ve stumbled a bit but I’d never outright failed anything…until I got to University that is.

Imagine spending your entire life thinking you could never fail and then dropping the ball so bad you have to repeat a year. Exactly! Scarred me for life. Now I have a crippling fear of exams and their effect on my life. I pray for good grades until I get to the exam door and then I amend it to I’d like good grades but at the very least PLEASE LET ME PASS!

I’m trying to get over this syndrome now. Trying to regain my confidence in my abilities and leave my one time hiccup in academic life behind me so that I don’t repeat it.

I hope my brother learns this lesson now so that if and when he fails something he can move on with confidence and accomplish his goals.

Life Lesson #2: Be Yourself

High school is a very tricky segment of our lives and most people get it wrong. We change our behaviour to conform to these new standards in our lives so that we don’t feel left out.

I was very shy in high school because the first couple times I tried to show people the real me, the quirky, break into song and dance, fun-loving side I was met with a lot of insults and laughter that made me withdraw into myself. Eventually I found some loving friends that allowed me to come out of this shell but I never really lost most of the insecurities until I got to University and even now I still haven’t gotten rid of all of them.

I hope my brother doesn’t have to go through all that and can stay true to himself through all the ups and downs or high school. I hope he finds true friends and doesn’t settle for the ones that just want him to be a copy of themselves. To quote a speaker at the ceremony “It’s better to be a first class version of yourself than a second class version of someone else.”

Life Lesson #3: Don’t Lose Sight of Your Dreams

The final lesson I learnt was not from the speakers at the podium but the staff in the audience. Ten years ago I was standing on that stage at a different church accepting my leaving certificate and prizes and the same people were sitting in the audience cheering me on.

I always thought they picked up the job of cooking, cleaning, selling in the canteen as a side job to get them through a rough patch. I believed they chose those jobs to hold them over until they could get their life in order and then reach for the stars. However ten years later they’re doing the same thing for little more than minimum wage.

Now I might be wrong and they may be happy in their line of work but I believe they got lost along the way. They probably had children or something and thought it better to keep the job they have and support themselves and their families than to leave it in hopes of bettering themselves.

It’s a fine line and this is how most people’s dreams get sidelined but I hope we all remember to reach for the stars and hold on to our dreams, make a leap of faith and NEVER EVER get stuck doing something we hate just to get by.

I hope these three life lessons inspire you to be a better version of yourself and always strive to achieve your goals.

Do you think these lessons would have helped you at 12?

Think they’ll help you now?

Let me know in the comments below.


Posted on: July 4, 2011

After listening to Pride & Prejudice last week and hearing about all the long handwritten letters they sent to one another I began to yearn for letters myself.

When I was a little girl my aunt moved away to the states and so to keep in touch we use to write each other letters. It was such a joy to come home and see that letter on the table waiting for you. The anticipation, the suspense. What will she say, what would your response be.

I lament the passing of those times, because as technology became more prevalent the letters were replaced by emails and if she wasn’t so against text messages, emails would be replaced by that too.

There is still anticipation for what she’ll say but it’s not as high because I know I’ll be answered in a couple of minutes, a couple of hours tops.

I think the world has fallen into this trap of instant gratification. Phone calls, text messages, emails, Facebook, Twitter, the ease of communication that these things provide make us very impatient people. My brother grew up in the computer age and he can’t wrap his mind around people waiting weeks for a response to anything.

It makes me happy that I was born in time to enjoy that type of life. Writing letters, waiting until it was Sunday to call my relatives with a calling card, it made those connections special. It made me slow down and make memories, it made everything special. It made the bonds I have with those people unbreakable.

Everything is so fast paced these days. Things are said fleetingly, words are easily forgotten, connections made and lost within a day, all because it’s so easy you don’t take time to appreciate the bond you’re making.

I’m not saying you should abandon your new means of communication and revert to the past. After all I have nothing against technology, I love technology, but it can make communication a distant and cold endeavor at times.

All I’m saying is we need to appreciate what we have, the wonderful ability to communicate when we want, where we want, whenever we want, day or night.We need to slow down and enjoy our conversations and the people we’re talking to and make great memories just like when we use to write letters.

Were you ever the letter writing type? Do you miss those days?

Let me know in the comments below.

Yours truly,


Title: Pride & Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen

Published: 1813

Description: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners–one of the most popular novels of all time–that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the “most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author’s works,” and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as “irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.” (Taken from Goodreads)

This book has been on my TBR list for ages now…AGES! And I have no idea why I haven’t gotten around to it sooner. Love story of the ages, great characters, and enough renditions to assure me of its awesomeness and it still wasn’t read. What hope is there for the other not so acclaimed books on my reading pile? O.O

Anyway in an attempt to try my hand at audiobooks again I picked up Pride & Prejudice. I downloaded the M4B format from Librivox and uploaded it to my iPod for 10 and a half hours of Old English bliss.

I loved this book, LOVED it! It was an instant favourite, INSTANT I tell you. From the very first chapter I realized there was something special about this book. Something that made me want to read more and experience more of their world.

The ten hours flew by so quickly as I just had to listen to it, every spare second of every day until it was complete. And then I missed it. I missed hearing about their lives. I wish there was more story, more words, more tiffs for me to hear about. *sigh* I suppose since Jane is gone all I can do is read her catalog of books and then revisit her great stories from time to time. Next up, Sense & Sensibility.

Elizabeth was a strong, independent character, she didn’t stand for any bull and Jane was the soft romantic type, always ready to think the best of everyone and find an excuse for the wrongs in the world. I loved them both. The men were equally lovable, Mr.Bingley lovestruck for Jane and Mr.Darcy the secretive lover.

There were so many delectable moments in this book. And even though I’ve heard the story and seen parts of the renditions on television there were still so many surprises. I didn’t know the whole story and for that I was very happy.

Jane Austen does such a good job writing it and the volunteer for Librivox, Karen Savage did such a good job reading it that I have to recommend that everyone give it a listen.

Audiobooks are great for reading on the fly and is a free venture if you use it to catch up on your classics. I recommend Librivox, you can download a zip file of all the chapters in MP3 format, or individually, the M4B file like I did or even the Podcast version which I tried before learning about the M4B format. I’m currently using it to help me get into War & Peace since it puts me to bed when I try to read it on my iPod and it’s going great!

And if you want the newer titles you can check out Audible or iTunes for your next audio fix.

I give Pride & Prejudice a whopping five out of five and a snazzy favourite sticker. If you haven’t read it, pick it up and if you have read it I think it’s time you revisit it. Yeah it’s that good!

Have you ever fallen in love with a book after the first chapter? Do you listen to audiobooks? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading! 🙂

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