About Sarah

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The ‘About’ page.  I typically associate ‘About’ pages to the foreword or afterword sections of novels.  In my mind’s eye, I classify potential readers in two categories.  The first category involves readers interested only in the content of the novel, consequently they typically skip the aforementioned sections eager to dive into the material or move to the next book. In my formative years I fully related to this first category, whereas upon opening a new novel, I would shrug off slight feelings of annoyance as I quickly flip through a forward to jump head first into the book. Also, once the last page was read, I would toss the book aside, immediately dismissing the book as already providing what it has to offer, thereby ignoring any afterword that might be there. However, thankfully there lies the other style of readers, individuals who are not only interested in the bulk of material, but also in the hand that is attached to the pen.  The foreword/afterword allows a brief glimpse into the mind of the author who is behind the literary world and insight into the thoughts of the writer during the creation of the novel.  I have grown into this second category of readers and still find myself amused during these short, often overlooked sections due to the author’s ability in articulating their presence of mind, while often clearly communicating their personality through their unique style of writing to their devote readers.  The authors use these sections to convey a variety of emotions derived from their literary work ranging from humbleness and humor to even contempt and bitterness.

Thus, I fully expect there to be two variations of blog readers. The ones, which bypass this section of ego grooming and jump directly into the content, being is a perfectly fine route to follow. However, it is the second group that motivates my effort in outlining the motivation behind this blog.

Having been raised in a small rural farming community in south central Michigan, I began my borderline obsession with the great novels from an early age.  My family was relatively poor, however when everyone else you know is poor too it doesn’t quite matter. Needless to say, my travel experiences, as a child did not involve worldly exploits or grand cross continental adventures.  Nevertheless, my world began to grow in the 5th grade. My English teacher assigned The Giver, a book that, at that time, most school children were required to read. For an unknown reason it sparked my imagination, with key details and concepts still resonate with me today. Shortly after reading The Giver, I picked up a Wrinkle in Time, which transported my young self into a world of magic and science, thus becoming an outlet for my imagination being, as it was, vastly fascinated with anything outside of my rural roots. Quickly though, my reading material delved into the likes of Spooksville, The Boxcar Children, and R.L. Stein, whereas my Mom decided to intercede and purchased the Chronicles of Narnia and the Lord of the Rings series. Reluctantly, and much due to her urging I started The Hobbit, which resulted in me quickly becoming enamored, having now read it at least five times. By early high school, I found my way into Dante, The Odyssey, and mythology in general, with the Count of Monte Cristo, Frankenstein, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pride and Prejudice, and Dracula, to name a few, following shortly behind. Despite the lack of travel during my youth, books have offered me an opportunity to explore not only our world, but hundreds of other worlds.  I’ve glimpsed into the minds of a myriad of characters, most of which struggling with situations I, myself, could barely have imagined.

When become immersed in a novel, I truly get lost in the story. Upon asking me questions or attempting to talk to me I won’t respond because I really don’t hear you. This has been a constant source of amusement or perhaps a better term would be annoyance for my family for years.  An anecdote my family is fond of recanting is based on my 16th birthday and upon receiving my drivers license I was unable to drive anywhere, even grandparents that lived 6 miles away, with out step by step directions. My sense of direction was completely lost due to continually having my nose in a book during my formative youth, whether we were getting the oil changed in my parents Dodge Minivan or driving to Grandma’s, which we went almost daily. My time in the car, whether for an hour or just a few minutes, represented a golden opportunity to lose myself, even if it was just for a few minutes, in another world full of adventure.

Far too late in college, I came upon the realization my dream career likely involve reading books for a living and assessing their plots, theories, characters, etc.  Alas, with the age of the Internet and the subsequently bountiful information it provides, I realized that my best move, career wise would involve continuing my education along the scientific route.  At this point I was already accepted into several graduated schools for chemistry, a topic I found fascinating and equally challenging. Therefore the career in literature took a backburner to my studies at hand. Now upon graduating with my Ph.D. in analytical chemistry in December of 2014, I decided to revisit a fleeting idea. Along with several of my coworkers, who share my enthusiasm for literature, we have decided to begin a blog in which we analytically assess the various books we read and formulate the responses in text instead of the lengthy conversations or perhaps debates we had previously engaged. Therefore, this blog represents a bit of my bucket list by affording me an outlet fuel my need to over analyze everything and anything I read.

154 comments

  1. Hi Sarah, thank you for stopping by.
    As I read your “About page” I found myself saying “yes that’s right” and shaking my head as if you could see me agreeing with you. Yeah, I do dumb crap like that a lot but the dogs have grown to ignore it.
    I feel an overwhelming urge to share my latest book with you simply because I feel like you would appreciate the humor and enjoy the stories therein. Or it could just be the beer…
    If you are interested please let me know and I will send you a PDF version. In any event, thanks and have a fantastic weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a wonderful reading life story. I was also raised in the country, in rural Ontario, and found my way into myth at an early age via an elementary school library the size of a broom closet. I also loved The Giver and A Wrinkle in Time, and of course, the Narnia stories and Tolkien. The first book I really remembering loving, in that it had a profound effect on me, was called The Golden Pine Cone. I read it again when I had children of my own and was amazed to find that it was set in BC (where I now live) with faeries (which I write about) and Indigenous people (my BA studies). I believe, as Wordsworth said, the child is really father of the man (or woman in this case). It is lovely to meet you. ~Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

  3. HI Sarah,
    Thank you for stopping by my blog and liking my latest post. Of course I had to see what your interest might be and found that your “about” page basically outlined my child hood experience almost exactly! I too ended up rereading The Hobbit several times and ended up with a Ph.D. in molecular biology. I loved chemistry and almost went that direction (my daughter just earned her B.S. in biochemistry) I love mystery novels and always wanted to go into forensics, but teaching was best for my young family and I am happy with that choice. I am now following your blog and look forward to your next book breakdown!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Let me tell you, as someone with an English degree, you were smart to go the PhD route instead! You know that song from Avenue Q? “What to do with a degree in English…” Well, it’s like that.

    I love how you got inspired by books as a kid, and always had your nose in one. I can relate! I also was fond of “The Giver”, “A Wrinkle in Time”, and the Boxcar Children series.

    Thank you for visiting my blog! I look forward to checking out yours, too. =)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Sarah, Thanks for liking my blog/book review on See How Small by Scott Blackwood. I loved reading your bio and found commonalities between us. I look forward to reading more of your work. Good luck in 2017!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for liking my post on a book review on “Laurinda”. Looking forward to reading your blog. I’ve just started reading Game of Thrones. So will finish reading that, before diving into your blog post analysing the book….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Sarah–Thank you for stopping by my blog and liking one of my newest posts. I just re-launched the blog after what I thought was a “quit.” I’m glad to be back to book blogging again (and following your blog as well). Best wishes for a great year of reading; happy 2017!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, thanks for dropping by and liking my very first post! It’s an amazing coincidence, because I also recently received my PhD in science (biomedical science), and find now that all I want to do for a living is to just read and write books 🙂 This is lovely site here, I’m going to take my time and comb through your reviews. I already see several titles I love in your list, like Game of Thrones, the Name of the Wind, and more!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I never read forewords to novels – mostly because any information I can get from a novel comes through actually reading it. If a novel is compelling enough, and leaves me wanting more, I usually attack the foreword/afterword to scrounge any last bit of juice from the masterpiece. But somehow, despite being like that, I love to read the about pages of bloggers. Knowing who a person is, or what they portray themselves to be, or how they want to be perceived by the world, always adds myriads of depth to the things they write about. There is something to be said for context.

    That being said – I LOVED this about page. I really mean it. Your childhood literary journey echoes mine, almost to a T. I wanted to be a doctor and a writer, but never made it down the scientific route – too distracted by reading to do any studying and although I love science I had to sadly wave it goodbye and embark on a degree in English. No, I digress. This story was thoroughly entertaining, in a really good way. I look forward to reading more of your posts, detailed thoughts on books are always thoroughly enjoyable. And I think your blog title is enticing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I LOVED The Boxcar Children when I was little, and The Giver too! Post-college I rediscovered my love of reading and plowed through 25 books last year. I love your outlook on the foreward and afterward of a book; and admit I usually skip the after unless I was really hooked. I’ll be following along on your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Jacqueline! Isn’t it amazing all the free time for ‘fun’ reading after college! I’d read sporadically since high school but it wasn’t until the second half of grad school that my appetite for reading voraciously really reemerged.

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  11. Hi Sarah! Thanks for checking out my blog. For work, I manage two scientific journals so I spend most days working with scientists. As a person who has a background in English (and is about to do a masters in it), I’m fascinated by people that are both scientific AND possess a love for writing/the humanities. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Hi Sarah

    Thanks for liking my book review – Seven brief lessons on physics by Carlo Rovelli.
    It is great to ‘meet’ someone who is equally at home in science or art. Most people these days seem to say they ‘know nothing about science,’ as if it is something ‘out there’ rather than just having a child’s curiosity to find out about the world around you.
    My main science is geology but, of course, I stray into other areas – I’m fascinated by quantum theory although I don’t have enough knowledge to understand any of the maths. Isn’t it wonderful that we live in a probabilistic universe! I am also an avid writer of short stories and a little poetry now and again.
    Have you done much writing yourself?
    I’ll follow you blog now as I find it fascinating to read what other people think of books.
    Keep blogging!
    I live in South West England BTW.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi Sarah
    Thank you for visiting my blog and liking my review of ‘The Memory Stones’. I can’t recommend the novel too highly – it’s a ‘must read’!
    Strangely enough, I too am a chemist – or, rather, I was a chemist; I’m retired now. And, like ‘Editor’ above, I live in the south-west of England.
    You know, you give an impression that you felt called more to literature than science. If that’s actually the case, it might be worth re-evaluating your career choice, now that you have your PhD (congratulations!) and a record of employability.
    I now write pretty much full time (forty hours a week or so), and I find myself wondering whether I might have written something worthwhile if I’d started earlier. Not that I regret my career – I did all sorts of exciting things – but I think I might not make the same choices if I’d known then what I know now. I shall just have to work hard to have a late-life career!
    All the best
    Penny

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  14. Hi Sarah, Thank you for your ‘like’ and visit to my little planet. I’m ‘the new boy on the blog’ having started up just 75 days back. I have been really exited by the progress I’ve made and the prospects that lie ahead. Reading ‘About Sarah’ is so encouraging, but also a little daunting, when one looks at all you have achieved.
    Well done!
    sirpeterjamesdotcom

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Enjoyed the bio.

    I was an English major because I hoped to be a book reviewer. That was a hard job to get — and live on — in the 1980s. Now even, the best ones like Michael Dirda find it hard to make a living at it.

    But, like you, I have the enjoyment of blogging.

    If I was to do college over again, I would probably get degrees in geology and English and gotten some technical editing job.

    Oddly enough, my Shakespeare professor in college was Peter Murray. He was an ex-chemist who got injured in a lab accident. While recovering, he decided to return to studying literature. (Amongst his other accomplishments, he was the one that established that it was Thomas Middleton, and not Cyril Tourner, who wrote the Jacobean drama “The Revenger’s Tragedy.) As an ex-chemist, he was pretty punctilious about what he wanted in papers and essay exams.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your story! I love hearing about people’s unique paths. Your professor sounds like a fascinating man! One of my boss’ favorite sayings is that a PhD teaches you how to learn and problem solve and isn’t necessarily about what you get your degree in. It sounds like Murray utilized his skills to transition into an amazing career.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Wow! Loved reading your “About Me” page! I’m about to enter a doctoral program in accounting this coming Fall and am an avid reader myself! (In a dream world, I would spend 95% of my time curled up with a fantasy novel and a cup of irish breakfast tea.) I recently started a book review blog with the idea that each of us can be passionate and interested in more than one thing, that I can find stock market research fascinating and also love losing myself in a Sarah J Maas novel. Glad to know there are other people out there who feel the same and am really looking forward to following your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi, Sarah! I really enjoyed reading this About Me’ post and many sincere thanks goes to you for reading and liking my posts, I really appreciate it! It’s actually a great encouragement for me and I even feel privileged to receive likes from you! Thanks so so much and I’m looking forward to your next post!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. A purposeful About page, if there was one. Went through it like a gripping story. Interesting observation you make about “family was relatively poor, however when everyone else you know is poor too it doesn’t quite matter”. Economists would be aghast, but then they miss out on earthy human feelings anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Ankur! I agree, I doubt that economists would appreciate/agree with my observation either. When writing my ‘About Me’ page I speaking colloquially upon reflecting back on my childhood now as an adult. For example, a year or so ago when participating on a Women’s Panel at a local middle school near where I work now, the children went around the room introducing themselves and telling what their parents did for work, whereupon a significant number of these children’s parents were doctors, lawyers, or professors. At that point I couldn’t help but reflect back the responses a similar query would have garnered from my former classmates, e.g., factory worker, farmer, teacher. It is interesting to ponder the impact location has on the variety of jobs and what is considered ‘normal’.

      Like

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