How to Manage Your Reading Slump

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Oh goodness. I’m in a pretty awful reading slump right now.

For those of you who don’t know, a reading slump is when every book you pick up feels like a lead weight. You definitely want to read that book, but it’s not on the top priorities list. You read the words on the page and all you want to do is watch that episode of the Kardashians you missed last week. You’re just not interested in reading.

What usually takes me about a week to read a book took me nearly a month. Yup. One book in a month. As an avid reader, that’s some pretty slow reading especially for something less than 400 pages and pretty easy to read.

I’m here to tell you that reading slumps do suck, but that it’s also all okay. There’s some ways to manage it and I hope it relieves your slump as well as mine.

Reassess the books you’ve read this year – I don’t know about you, but I think I’ve got a threshold for the number of books I can read in a year. It’s not only about reading the books but also remembering what these books are about. Instead of putting another notch on your proverbial bed book post, take a look back at all the books you’ve read this year. See if you can remember what the basic plots are about. Make it a game!

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Write! – Again, with the many books that I’ve read this year, if I can’t remember what the book is about, I’m going to try and write about it. Or if I remember it having some profound effect on me, then I’ll try and write about it. Writing about books almost feels like you’re dumping out those thoughts from your brain. You’re making space for other books to occupy your mind. And if you’re a book blogger, you’ve got a line up of blog posts for the next few weeks.

Organize your TBR – When I say “organize your TBR,” I really mean take a look at each book you’ve been wanting to read and realistically tell yourself if you’re going to read it. TBR piles are always so daunting especially when you’re buying books faster than you’re reading books. It could cause you to stress out and stop reading. Organizing those books allows you to manage them and maybe you won’t feel intimidated by that ridiculous pile. Konmari those books. Ask yourself if this will definitely be a book you’ll read. If not, then maybe think about donating it to someone or putting it up on the shelf. Out of sight and out of mind.

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Do something else – Yes, the best thing you can do in a reading slump is not to get down on the fact that you can’t read. Just go ahead and do something else. Is there a craft project you’ve been wanting to do? Is there a tv show you need to catch up on? Don’t let reading become another chore. If you can’t do it, don’t force yourself to do it otherwise you’ll end up resenting it.

The last thing you should always remember is that there’s no goon standing over you watching you read. There’s no pressure to read a book when you don’t want to. When you’re not reading, you’re still a reader so enjoy yourself! Be you! And always remember to give yourself a break because you most definitely deserve it.

October 2016 Book Wrap Up

 And like that, October is over. I’m going to miss this sweet month of warm/cold weather, good Fall vibes, and even greater reads.

September and October feel like the same months. It’s getting a little bit colder, but not enough to necessitate a heavy coat or many layers. In fact, the weather has been so erratic this month that just yesterday my boyfriend was wearing shorts outside. This morning we woke up to the chill that comes with winter. We’re still a ways away from that and I hope it doesn’t arrive for quite some time.

Anyway, onto the books. I love that I create these TBR lists or book hauls with full intention of reading them all within the month, but the truth and reality of it is that I’m a slow reader with a changing fascinating with genres. I can’t stick to what I set myself out to read!

Here’s my reads from October 2016:

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The Girls by Emma Cline (3.5/5 stars) – Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

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The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia (4/5 stars) – Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

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Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (4/5 stars) – One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (5/5 stars) – Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

The Girls by Emma Cline – Book Review

26893819Synopsis (from Goodreads.com) – Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

My thoughts – If you know anything about the Manson family or the murders they committed in the 70s, understand cults, or were a confused young girl on the verge of adulthood, then this is the book for you.

Emma Cline’s prose are almost like reading poetry. Her attention to detail in each moment makes you feel like you’re absolutely there. However, there were moments throughout the story where I felt the language got in the way of the pace spending time describing the expressions of a drugged out girl to explain that yeah, she’s going to do something drastic.

However, I think what really drew me to this story was the fact that this was me and this is a lot of young women the main character’s age. You find Evie Boyd at the precipice of high school. She’s not friends with the kids she knew when she was younger, but she hasn’t decided who her new friends would be. She needed adventure, but more importantly she needed to seek out the adventure on her own.

More importantly if you were the girl who thought you had it all until you realized you were just background noise to another person’s life. How do you break away? How do you find your own voice and sense of self when the world revolves around someone else?

“That was part of being a girl–you were resigned to whatever feedback you’d get. If you got mad, you were crazy, and if you didn’t react, you were a bitch. The only thing you could do was smile from the corner they’d backed you into. Implicate yourself in the joke even if the joke was always on you.”

Evie is on her way to a life designed by her mother. She ached for something different than what she’s come across. Then, she sees this group of girls around her age who’re stealing toilet paper from a drugstore and dumpster diving for dinner. As someone with an open mind, this may be the kind of scene you want to learn more about. This may be the group of friends that will help define who you are for the next ten years.

And you see that for Evie it did. Granted her circumstances are a little bit different than most girls her age, but that’s not the point. The point is that there are moments and people that affect you. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. While she never really prescribed to the philosophy Russell, the group leader, was spewing, she found it fascinating that other people did. She was the anthropologist to this little group of rebellious teenagers and maybe she fell a little too inline with their thoughts.

“Poor girls. The world fattens them on the promise of love. How badly they need it, and how little most of them will ever get.”

As adults, we forget that kids don’t know much of anything. And this is much more prevalent to girls than to boys, sadly. It’s only from exposure to other cultures do we know there’s a life outside of the bubble. I think it’s extremely important for people to reach out of their safety zones and explore the world for a little while. It might be something small like a group of kids living off the land and the means they were provided. It could be that these teens were being bred for something bigger than themselves, but that’s for the youth to decide. You can’t shelter young people forever. You an either guide them through the harshness of life or you can watch them walk blindly into the lion’s den.

“She was lost in that deep and certain sense that there was nothing beyond her own experience. As if there were only one way things could go, the years leading you down a corridor to the room where your inevitable self waited–embryonic, ready to be revealed. How sad it was to realize that sometimes you never got there. That sometimes you lived a whole life skittering across the surface as the years passed, unblessed.”

All of this to say that life isn’t going to be perfect and sometimes you need to try something different for a little while before you find your true self.

How to become a reader

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-11-57-39-amI was thinking about this over the weekend while visiting my boyfriend’s family. His sister has three kids under the age of three, which makes life a little more challenging. While talking with her, she asked me for some book recommendations. “I just have these times when I read a bunch of books at once and then stop reading for a while.”

I thought that was great and proceeded to provide her with a few of my favorite books from over the summer. But our conversation made me think a little bit about readers and reading. What constitutes a good reader?

Do you need to have a bookshelf overflowing with books?

Do you have to carry a book with you everywhere you go?

What does it mean to be a reader? How can you become a reader?

Some people believe readers are intellectual people who mutter random quotes at you and tries to find the metaphor in everything they do. They read “hard books” like Proust or Faulkner or Tolstoy. However, I don’t like to see readers in that light. We’re not this exclusive club that you need to prove yourself by reading 80 books a year or written a dissertation on Barthes theory. If anything, we’re the most inclusive club you can join because every reader promotes reading to everyone everywhere.

It’s important for humans to read. There’s so many worlds and cultures and histories that you can learn from books that to not read is almost like holding yourself back from your fullest potential. It’s a disservice and even one book can break you from that shell you’re hiding in 😉

If you’re only reading a book every three or four months, that’s ok! We all have busy lives and different responsibilities. It doesn’t discount you from the readership. However, if you just can’t seem to get yourself into reading, here’s a few tips for you:

Read what you loved

Don’t go all crazy and try to read Jonathan Franzen right out the gate. You’ll end up burning out and giving up. Instead, read something that you’ve read before and you remember loving. Perhaps it’s a middle grade or children’s book, but that shouldn’t stop you. My favorite book growing up was The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. When I first started reading more books, I started with this one because I remembered my enjoyment when reading it as a kid. Reading something you remember loving helps you find your groove. What was it about the book that you loved? What can you find in other books that follow that same line of thinking? It’s a good way to get that imagination revved and ready to read.

Find what works for you

Haters gonna hate like readers gonna read. Don’t worry about what the haters are going to say, just read for the love of reading. I never would have thought myself as the type of person to love reading romance and YA. Even silly books like Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey were enough inspiration for me to find similar or even better books than those. Yeah, these books get a lot of flack amongst other human beings (let alone the book community), but they’re books nonetheless and they sparked a readership in me that other books weren’t able to find. If you love romance novels, then love romance novels. If you love YA, then love YA. If you’re scared to read these genres out in public, get an e-reader. They’ll never know 😉

Challenge yourself

Now that you’ve gotten into the groove of reading, challenge yourself. See how long it takes you to read that book in your hand. Start a Goodreads account or even buy yourself a journal to not only keep track of what you’re reading, but also keep track of what you think. Books will do that even if you don’t want them to. They’ll make you think about things in a different way or see a different perspective.

Don’t get too caught up in the details of a character, but understand and appreciate who this character is and what they contribute to the story. Form some opinions around what you like to see when you read. Reading can almost mimic data analytics. If you’re a business person or work in operations like I do, then you’ll find patterns in the books you like. You’ll find the areas and traits that really grab hold of you and you can use that to help you to read even more.

And that’s it! Reading isn’t about how fast you can do it or how many books you can read. If you end up reading one book this year, that’s more than other people have in the last five years. If you love books, you’ll find yourself gravitating towards them. It’s like a love story. Some people have short bursts of relationships with books while others it’s a constant affair. There’s no judgments. Open your heart and read a little today!

So what do you believe makes you a reader?

October 2016 Library Book Haul

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I started loving books or going to the library, but I did. I don’t even think it had anything to do with the books, but the fact that there’s this public place you can come to and study, rent books, and escape from reality. Because the truth is that only a certain kind of person goes to the library and those people are the dreamers.

Scratch that, the truth is that homeless people go to the library because it’s warm and there’s a free bathroom.

But I go to the library or a bookstore or any place you can patron that has books because I’m just your typical book lover. I love to read books, be around books, and generally want to be a book.

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There’s a magic when you arrive. The air is musty from the older reference books and the temperature is cold to keep the publicly used computers nice and cool.

My childhood library was amazing. There were three stories of books all ranging from children’s to research and I remember spending my time from when I was really young (maybe 6-7) to when I graduated from high school there. I’d be a part of the reading program every summer and at one point wanted to work at the library. I ended up spending my lunch periods in high school helping out in the school library and putting books back on the shelf. I was that lame.

It took me a while to get back to the library mostly because there was a scene in the movie The Squid and the Whale where the young kid masturbates in the stacks and then wipes his semen on the spines of the books. That swore me off from those books for a few years. I didn’t want to touch nasty books especially when I live in the same city as the characters from that movie.

But I’ve managed to quell my OCD thoughts from what might be on those books and started to take advantage of the library system again.

All of this to say, I’ve got some great reads from the library and I’m sharing them with you now.

272461151. Siracusa by Delia Ephron – New Yorkers Michael, a famous writer, and Lizzie, a journalist, travel to Italy with their friends from Maine—Finn, his wife Taylor, and their daughter Snow. “From the beginning,” says Taylor, “it was a conspiracy for Lizzie and Finn to be together.” Told Rashomon-style in alternating points of view, the characters expose and stumble upon lies and infidelities past and present. Snow, ten years old and precociously drawn into a far more adult drama, becomes the catalyst for catastrophe as the novel explores collusion and betrayal in marriage. 

Ephron delivers a meditation on marriage, friendship, and the meaning of travel. Set on the sun-drenched coast of the Ionian Sea, Siracusa unfolds with the pacing of a psychological thriller and delivers an unexpected final act that none can see coming.

I was going to read this right after I finished Commonwealth, but I’m starting to see that maybe this one is a little too close to what I’m reading now. I might hold off while I get a palate cleanser in there.

268938192. The Girls by Emma Cline – Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

I’ve been going back and forth with this one. In fact, this is my second time borrowing this book from the library because I haven’t made up my mind if I should read it or not. It’s because I like stories about Charles Manson, but I don’t want to read about the horrendous acts he made those people do.

Coincidentally, my office decided to have a book discussion on this read in a few weeks, so I figured I’ll read it with the intention of going to this book discussion and see how I feel about it.

286868403. Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven – Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Ugh, I can already tell by the looks of this novel that it’s going to thrash my soul. I love Jennifer Niven and I was a huge fan of All the Bright Lights. Jennifer Niven has a tendency to hit some serious issues as well (depression, suicidal thoughts), so hopefully this won’t throw me into a panic.

274144344. The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia – Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

I think this one will be the book I read next since it’s a little bit more light-hearted (ish) and not too close to Commonwealth’s plot. I’m actually really excited because I loved Beautiful Creatures and sometimes I guiltily re-watch the movie.

What about you? Do you love the library?

In the Mood to Read

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Have you ever had those moments when you’re reading a book and you wonder to yourself why you’re reading that book?

Let me give you a scenario:

You’ve been interested in a book. It’s been on your TBR for a while and finally, you pick it up. You start reading it, but something triggers in you that makes you realize you don’t want to read this book right now. Is it the book? Is it you? Who knows! Something about it makes you want to put it down and pick up something else instead.

9/10 times, for me, it’s usually my anxiety. I have pretty negative thoughts in my head that tend to also perpetuate even further with the book I’m reading. This is why I haven’t read anything by Ransom Riggs because I don’t need photos of creepy kids giving me anxiety attacks every other page.

But for others, it could be a myriad of reasons. Maybe it’s Autumn and you decided to reread Harry Potter. Maybe it’s just a boring story (feasible scenario). Or maybe it’s because you’re just not in the mood for it.

It took me a really long time to understand that what I’m feeling is a lack of interest in reading, I’m just not in the mood. Reading books is like trying to figure out what you want to eat for dinner. If there aren’t any obvious choices, you’re going to go for the cheapest, most convenient thing in front of you. Halfway through the meal, you realize that this isn’t what you wanted in the first place and then the meal is in the trash or put in the back of your fridge.

If you haven’t done that with your books, then your fridge must look pretty barren.

I hate leaving a book in the middle of the story, but sometimes when you’re not in the mood to read that particular story and that’s OK. I think the key point to understand here is that reading is subjective. Either you want to do it or you don’t. If you don’t want to do it, there’s no mark against you. Yeah, you’ll get put back a little bit on your reading challenge, but it’s not the end of the world. Unless it is the end of the world and even then there are bigger things to worry about than not being able to finish Anna Karenina.

So, in summation, be kind to yourself. Read what you want to read when you want to read it. And if you’re just not in the mood, then put down the book. There’s no one watching. Go ahead. Put it down.

 

 

I love the Fall and my 2016 Fall TBR

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It’s mid-September and the cool breeze of autumn started to settle amongst the crevices of the city. Soon it will be so cold you need several layers to sit comfortably in your home before the landlord decides to turn on the heat.

Fall must be the designated season for reading. It must have something to do with going back to school and opening new notebooks and fresh pens and buying books for class. It might have something to do with the cool weather and cuddling in close with a good read.

I thought I would prepare myself for the cozy comforts of Fall with a few books to nourish my heart and my mind. I’ve never planned out the books I’ll be reading and I know I won’t be reading all the new books that just released because I’m always behind with what’s trendy (in my book life and my real life). So here’s a quick list of some of the books that sound interesting to me and I’d love to read this Fall:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoingtraces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson

29429875Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of the cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and one of the few former child actors who has never been in jail or rehab. Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being “cute” enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young woman’s journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Exquisitely crafted, revelatory, and full of the crack comic timing that has made Mara Wilson a sought-after live storyteller and Twitter star, Where Am I Now?introduces a witty, perceptive, and refreshingly candid new literary voice.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

Running into a long-ago friend sets memories from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.

But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.

32 Yolks by Eric Ripert

25937923Before he earned three Michelin stars at Le Bernardin, won the James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Chef, or became a regular guest judge on Bravo’s Top Chef, and even before he knew how to make a proper omelet, Eric Ripert was a young boy in the South of France who felt that his world had come to an end. The only place Eric felt at home was in the kitchen. His desire to not only cook, but to become the best would lead him into some of the most celebrated and demanding restaurants in Paris.

 

 

 

Shrill by Lindy West

From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

22299763Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

 

Swear on this Life by Renee Carlino

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J.Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

I wonder if within the three months of Fall I’ll be able to read all of these. Will I give up at some point? Will I want to move something to the next season? Will I end up reading another book from my endlessly growing pile of novels? I think it’ll be interesting to see what I end up reading even if I planned it all out ahead of time. I guess my interest in a book just comes with my mood (who would have thought?)

I do know that I will be enjoying the cool breeze and a warm cup of tea as I go through these. What does your Fall look like?

Every place a book and every book in its place

There’s no need to finish reading books that you only got halfway through. Their purpose was to be read halfway. So get rid of all those unread books. It will be far better for you to read the book that really grabs you right now than one that you left to gather dust for years.

I’ve never read The Art of Tidying Up because I honestly don’t hold a lot of things for sentimental reasons. If I had my way, my entire apartment would look completely different, but when you live with someone, those rules change. You make compromises and sometimes those compromises become a part of you that you didn’t know existed.

When I was younger, I was very organized. A place for everything and everything it’s place. I still believe in that. Even in the chaos of my living situation (I live with my boyfriend), there’s a place for everything and everything it’s place. This is why I never let my boyfriend clean or put away the dishes.

The one part of my life where I feel completely chaotic is books. I have books everywhere. I don’t think I can describe to you the severity of the issue. I have only one bookshelf that is three rows deep with books. There are books holding up my couch right now because we broke one of the screws when we first got it.

I even have a book sitting next to me.

Something about this quote really resonated with me. I look down at the books surrounding me and I’ve somehow created a fortress of paper and ink. It’s a beautiful fortress, but living in the city doesn’t allot you a lot of space. There needs to be a purge.

Perhaps Marie Kondo is right. If books had a purpose, they are either there to be read or to sit on your shelf. I have so many books I’ve told myself that I would read and eventually let go because I know deep down in my heart that I won’t ever read it. When I first bought it, it seemed like a good idea and that was the extent of my relationship with that book. If only a relationship with a book can be lasting and eternal.

However, I think the quote can be used in any situation when it comes to books. If you’re reading and you stop halfway, then that’s where your journey ends. When you feel guilty for not finishing a book because you just didn’t like it, well, that’s the journey you had with that book. It feels more sane and less stressful to believe that buying a book and having it sit in my TBR pile for years is a sign that that was the extent of my journey. It brings me joy to watch it collect dust, but now the joy is knowing that perhaps someone else will pick it up and their lives will change.

I’ve got to clean my bookshelf.

Let’s All Stop Being Book Bullies

At work, my coworkers and I bonded closely by sharing our mutual love of Harry Potter. We’ve all made plans at one point in our lives to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We hope to read the books to our kids and have them obsessed with the fandom as well.

Sadly, there’s only one person on my team that doesn’t like them. She’s only read one book and made up her mind that this isn’t something for her. She’s just not a fan. She didn’t even know a Wizarding World of Harry Potter existed until we recently told her that it existed.

Our initial reaction is always the same, “what! how can you not like Harry Potter?”

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The person takes a moment to explain why they don’t like Harry Potter.

At this point in the conversation, there’s always a fork in the road. Some people will turn and ridicule this person for not liking Harry Potter and never reading the books. Others will be accepting of the fact and move on to another topic.

I’m not a fan of “book bullying.” Basically, it’s when you look down at someone because they read a genre or a kind of book that you don’t like. Or they don’t like a type of book that you love.

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Books provide a unique perspective to the way we look at life. If you’re like me and look at numbers all day, you want to do something creative. I like to read books and write about books. I like them to be diverse and different, but sometimes I read what everyone else is reading. It allows me to think in different and more creative ways and it’s because books show you many different ways to think, perceive, and grow.

I recently came across a situation that I’ve encountered a number of times and I want to address it here. It’s important that people understand that not every book is going to be the book you want to read. However, that doesn’t give a person license to bully them for not liking something they love.

You might be wondering if a book bully slaps your book out of your hand and musses your hair because you’re reading it. It’s not. It’s the constant repetition of phrases like:

“How can you not read that book?”

“You’re totally crazy for not liking it. It’s a classic!”

“You’ve got to be kidding me! It’s like an essential read!”

“OMG YOU HAVE TO PUT THAT ON YOUR TBR NOW. NOW! NOW!!!!!”

You might think this isn’t bullying because someone isn’t getting pushed around and told they’re an idiot. However, it instills a sense of fear and embarrassment when the book they don’t like is up for scrutiny. It makes the person feel like their taste is bad. Their likes are bad. They, themselves, may also feel bad.

Humans are extremely unique creatures because they can think for themselves. They can create their own opinions and thoughts. It’s impressive the number of books you can read about Shakespeare all expressing a different take on Romeo and Juliet. So, why can’t that existence be prevalent in reality?

We should foster a world where books are objective points of life and the subjective reader likes it or not. If anything, we should foster a world where these kinds of conversations are debated and everyone comes out of it with a different perspective.

So let’s hug out our differences, understand that our first reactions may not be the best when it comes to these differences, and take a step back and know that we can always learn something new from each other.

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On reading LGBTQ books

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There’s a lot of books in the world. Like, a lot.

However, I’ve probably only read 2-3 books with LGBTQ themes. And I’m not talking about some Boys Don’t Cry stuff that makes you pity the community or The Danish Girl a poor adaptation of a real trans person’s struggle. I’m talking about characters living their lives with real feelings and real relationships. No haters, please.

I mean you can say the same about books with POC, but this is about pride and I want to talk about that right now. I know there will be people who don’t like what I’m about to write, so you can see yourself to the door if that’s the case.

Here’s a list of the books I’ve read with LGBTQ themes:

  • Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
  • I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
  • Select stories from Summer Days and Summer Nights

That’s it. Any other book I just happen to pick up features predominantly straight couples. And it’s not like I’m choosing these books because of that, it just happens to be that way.

But I strongly believe that if we want worldwide acceptance and understanding, we should all be exposing ourselves to stories. I think that it’s bigger than a trans person wanting to read a story about another trans person struggling with the same issues. I think that’s one point, but ultimately us as a society still need the education in order to come out of our ignorant fog.

I think about how nervous and afraid some people are to discuss coming out to their parents or friends. If we lived in a society that fully accepted that everyone may have their own sexual preference, then people won’t have to make a huge production over coming out. It would just be another normal thing. You bring your partner to dinner to introduce them to your friends and no one bats an eye. You bring your partner to meet your parents and they make their opinions on the person based on whether or not they will treat their kid well.

But we aren’t there yet. Not everyone is all accepting that you’ve come to an epiphany about yourself and discovered a part of you that you didn’t even know about. Ultimately the struggle is real and that’s where stories come in.

If there were more stories about gay relationships or the struggle to feel comfortable in your own skin, not only will people feel comfortable coming to terms with themselves, but it will be an education to those it doesn’t apply. Being a straight woman, I don’t know much about questioning my sexuality and being comfortable has come super easy for me. I can’t imagine what it’s like. I want to know more. I want the education.

Granted not everyone is a reader and going to accept that, but the reading community is large and as someone has quoted before, it only takes a small spark. There’s new readers born every day. If I could encourage any LGBTQ writer out there, I would say write those books. Write your feelings. Bear your souls so that we all can benefit from what you’ve learned. Life is short, but knowing yourself will make the journey longer.

I think I’m going to make it my next book move to read more about the LGBTQ community. Ultimately it comes down to this; there’s no ignorance in reading. There’s only love and that’s what we should all remember. That love is love is love is love is love.

That Hamilton speech made me cry.

Finally, I apologize if the acronym I’m using is wrong. Again, I’m ignorant to these things so if you know the more accurate one, please let me know so I can adjust it.

Love you always,

Simone