Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Top Ten Book Characters I'd Love to Be Besties With


Happy Top Ten Tuesday over at That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Book Characters I'd Love to Be Besties With

1. Meg Murry from A Wrinkle in Time

        I've always related to Meg and thought we would be good friends. We could defy the unctuous principal together and go on adventures in space and mitochondria alike!

2. Jo March from Little Women

 I've always admired Jo March, not to mention Louisa May Alcott, and I bet we could have some fun climbing trees and imagining worlds to conquer. 

3. Emily from Emily of New Moon

      Emily and Ilse always seem like they have a lot of fun clambering over the countryside and making up stories. I'd love to romp and talk with Emily.

4. Grace Delarua from The Best of All Possible Worlds

 Besides being a kind, smart person, Grace has contagious laughter! When she laughs, people          around her feel good. That's a friend I want by my side!

5. Anlei from Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon

Anlei can fight off dangerous lunar spirits and demons. Plus, she's a talented gymnast and            performer. I like a friend who can protect and entertain me, plus I think we have a lot in common. 

6. Blue from The Raven Boys
 
I enjoy Blue's sensibility and sense of style. I think we would have a lot in common, plus she could teach me about tarot, which I've wanted to know more about ever since I read these books. 

7. Wren from Girls of Paper and Fire

Wren dances, fights, and looks forbidding in dark dresses. Plus, she has a lot of secrets. I couldn't help being attracted to her as a friend. 

8. Cath from Fangirl

I want to write with Cath! I love how dedicated she is to her writing, but also how collaborative she is, and I think we could cook up something fun. 

9. Amara from Children of Blood and Bone

I'd love to go to restaurants with Amara and have her describe how much she enjoys what she's eating. Amara really appreciates the finer things in life (food!) and we have some deep down commonalities that I think would make us close.

10. Ead Duryan from The Priory of the Orange Tree
Besides being a secret warrior spy, Ead is an especially loyal friend that I'd be lucky to have. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

August Goals and a Giant Book Haul

First, I'm going to take a second to enjoy the fact that it's August and I've already completed my Goodreads challenge of 60 books. This is a first. I read 72 books all of last year, which was my record. I wonder how far I can go this year!
Next, onto August goals!

Bookish Goals for August

  1. Read at least 5 books, including some I already own
  2. Read at least one book for #WIT month (WIT stands for Women In Translation, and if you want to know more, check out Biblibio
  3. See how close I can get to finishing my summer TBR; I'm already well on my way!
A Giant Book Haul

Sunday morning, I decided to go the farmers' market, and then I decided to go used book shopping. I haven't had a really big book splurge for a while (or, well, since the Gaithersburg Book Festival in May), and while I've been getting rid of a lot of books, I've realized that, for me, I'm making room for different types of books in my life: books that are relevant to the person I am now instead of the person I used to be (which aren't drastically different people but for some reason do have dramatically different taste in books...like, you guys, I am actively seeking out poetry and nonfiction...who am I?). Besides, the local Goodwill has a surprisingly robust selection of books for jaw-droppingly cheap...and the local indie used bookstore is more expensive, but I like supporting them. And, still, way less expensive than a Barnes & Noble (which, of course, I also shop at sometimes :-P).

So, I got 16 books, possibly my biggest book haul ever, 9 of them for $4 total. Here's my haul:

Let me know what you think! Have you read and enjoyed any of these? The Red Tent and Eat, Pray, Love are old favorites that I didn't have copies of, but the rest are new to me.

Monday, August 5, 2019

July Wrap-Up

Books Read This Month

  1. Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan
  2. Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart by Carrot Quinn
  3. Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl
  4. The Home Edit by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin
  5. Whiskey in a Teacup by Reese Witherspoon
  6. Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

Favorite Books This Month


1. Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan

Not only does STABD boast an incredible cover and apt acronym, but I just loved, loved, loved the protagonist, Anlei, and the steampunk China fantasy world. Character-building and world-building are the keys to my heart. Anlei is a warrior but she's also a talented performer, close with her sister, has some trouble relating to and trusting other people...she's just such a full complex character and, perhaps obviously, one that I related to. Furthermore, her partner-in-crime and eventual love interest, Tai, has quite a lot going on for him too, and his character is nearly as developed. The two get to know each other while riding in a stolen airship (!). The plot is similarly robust, and the Big Bad isn't quite as simple as it seems. For satisfying genre fantasy complete with a physically and emotionally powerful protagonist and freaking awesome technology, I highly recommend STABD!



2. Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

Sweetbitter absolutely blew me away with the patina of its prose. It seems written by someone simultaneously old and young, as Tess is. The unnamed narrator reminds me of The Stranger but then she evolves into a named powerful woman, taking charge of her own sensuality, life, and identity. This is an odd little gem, and I understand it's a hit show now on Starz, but I would highly recommend the book to anyone addicted to these magical melancholy meditations on coming of age.


Posts This Month


  1. May Wrap-Up
  2. June Wrap-Up
  3. Bookish and Not So Bookish Goals for July
  4. What I'm Reading Lately
  5. My Top (More Than) Ten Auto-Buy Authors
  6. What I'm Reading Now


How I Did On My July Goals

  1. Camp NaNoWriMo-Write 3,000 words!-I probably wrote 3,000 words, but did absolutely nothing with NaNoWriMo, so don't know for sure.
  2. Take weekend trips with friends-July 4th weekend in Ocean City is in the books; next up, visiting friends in Boston!-Yes! I succeeded at vacationing! 
  3. Swim-my parents' new house has a pool, so I've already been swimming more this summer than the past several years combined, and I hope to keep it up! I even bought a new swimsuit for the first time in 15 years.-I did a fair amount of swimming in Ocean City, but other than that, not much. 
  4. Spend a lot of time outside-The beach helped, I've been weeding outside, and walking my dogs. And wearing plenty of sunscreen!-Yes, i have been spending a lot of time outside: walking, taking care of my couple of plants, and reading. 
  5. Read at least 10 books--In previous years, I've averaged 4-5 books a month; this year has been more like 8-9. Since I have some time off this month, I think I can get in at least 10!-Due to unforeseen circumstances, I ended up reading even less this month than the rest of the year, but enjoyed some excellent quality reads and on my way to many more in August!
  6. Meditate-Yes. A lot of this. 
  7. Dance-Some of this. 
  8. Celebrate-have a birthday party! I haven't had a party since my 25th, but a) my 30th is definitely worth a party and b) ANY excuse to celebrate. Seriously. Life is short. We should have fun. -I had a party and I'm proud that I cleaned up my house finally and had some friends over. It was nice to see some people I haven't gotten to hang out with in a while. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

What I'm Reading Now

Just Finished:

I was expecting a memoir cum novel about the restaurant industry, instead I got this profound prose poem to finding one's power against the backdrop of the New York restaurant industry. It begins similar to Camus' The Stranger, with an unnamed protagonist encountering a sensualist paradise, but evolves into Tess claiming her name and her power and her experiences, and I want to recommend this to everyone.












Currently Reading:

I'm having a good couple of reading weeks, because I also want to recommend this to everyone, even though I'm not quite finished yet! The title undercuts the seriousness of this thoughtful memoir. It's not about a "man fast," as Scripture establishes early on, but instead a spiritual journey into becoming the person she is meant to be. A lot of folks have compared it to Eat, Pray, Love. The writing style reminds me more of Elisabeth Eaves, but the subject matter definitely has a lot in common with the Pray section of Elizabeth Gilbert's famous memoir. I got this out of the library, but I'm already 99% sure I'm going to buy it.









Next Up:

And to continue with the personal growth/reading books I already own or got out of the library theme, this one's next on deck.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

My Top (More Than) Ten Auto-Buy Authors

My Top Ten  Fifteen Auto Buy Authors

Classics:

1. Jane Austen

2. Louisa May Alcott

3. L.M. Montgomery

I will read anything by these authors. Although I started with and loved their best-known works (Pride and PrejudiceLittle Women, and Anne of Green Gables, respectively), I find that I often love their more obscure works best. Persuasion is a melancholy gem, Rose in Bloom is probably the book I've reread the most times in my life, and L.M. Montgomery's short stories, like the collection The Road to Yesterday, are pitch-perfect miniatures of her larger novels (and often feature Anne cameos), not even to mention Emily of New Moon and her dreamy writerly ways. Reading the backlist of beloved classic authors, in my opinion, is one of the best ways to find new and sometimes stunningly apropos favorites at just the right moment.

Poetry:

4. Leigh Stein

If I see Leigh Stein's name on a poetry book, I'm buying it. So far, I've only had the chance once, with her achingly, brightly millenial collection Dispatch from the Future, but I eagerly anticipate further anachronistic revelations from her pen.

5. Adrienne Rich

I got turned onto the Dream of a Common Language by Cheryl Strayed in Wild, and then I found Diving into the Wreck in a Little Free Library. Adrienne Rich is now definitely an auto-buy for me.

6. Mary Oliver

I'd read Mary Oliver snippets spread across the Internet for a while before I took one of her collections, Blue Iris, out of the library. After reading aloud to my dogs, I went out and purchased her collected volume.

Contemporary

7. Jen Lancaster

8. David Lebovitz

Lancaster and Lebovitz are both guaranteed to make me laugh with the woes of their contemporary memoirs. Bitter is the New Black and The Sweet Life in Paris are both constant rereads for me, and ever since, I've begun a collection of their works. I think I have at least two or three from each now.

9. Amy Tan

Every Amy Tan book I read is better than the last! I really relate to her blend of family drama, cultural exploration, and myth...and it's funny, but her best known The Joy Luck Club is actually my least favorite of hers, which just goes to show that if you like a book, you should always read the backlist.
Cookbooks:

10. Smitten Kitchen (Deb Perlman)

I've been following Smitten Kitchen's blog for...eleven years?! ever since i became a blogger and way before either of her kids (written or otherwise) were born. I've got both Smitten Kitchen cookbooks and would happily acquire another.

11. Anne Byrn

I fell in love with American Cake so much that I immediately required American Cookie.  I'll peruse Anne Byrn's histories of baked goods any day.

Fantasy/YA:


12. Naomi Novik
13. Maggie Stiefvater
14. Suzanne Collins
15. Rae Carson

All these novelists (except Collins of course) are relatively recent must-reads for me. I flew through the Raven Cycle last month while I winged through the nine Temeraire books in the past several months. I think I've read all of Novik's oeuvre since getting introduced to her last year. I purchased the Girl of Fire and Thorns and read the whole trilogy in a haze a couple years ago and while I have yet to read Carson's other books, I wouldn't hesitate to buy them (once I'm, er, letting myself buy books again). And Collins...I heard she's coming out with a new book, so since I couldn't get enough of The Hunger Games, I'm prepared to be devastated as well as broke.

Monday, July 15, 2019

What I'm Reading Lately

Just Finished:

I don't really know what this book is, but it's an adorable work of art. It's a slightly tongue-in-cheek but mostly earnest manifesto of a certain kind of white Southern womanhood: sweet, friendly, and blessedly frivolous. If you're interested in Reese Witherspoon, it's certainly insightful on her upbringing. However, this is definitely not a celebrity memoir. There's nothing (intentionally) controversial here, and while it feels restful, certain comments can be jarring without context (e.g. if you don't know Christmas carols, you live in a cave). Ummm. I don't know Christmas carols because I'm Jewish and have actively worked not to soak them up. I don't think it's meant to be offensive and I don't take it that way because this book is a very specific portrait of a white Christian Southern culture, but, in this day and age, it may make people feel a bit sensitive. All in all, this book is worth a literal look or two, for gorgeous displays of wallpaper, books, and other Southern decor and recipes. Best served with a shot of sorghum whiskey in your grandmother's best transferware.






Currently Listening To:

So far, it reminds me of Stronger Than a Bronze Dragon, which I also recently finished, and a little bit of Dune. It centers on a fantasy prison and a pair of adolescents who each have a key. We'll see where it leads.














Next Up:

I'm a sucker for kitchen memoirs, so we'll see if I like this type of novel as well.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Bookish and Not So Bookish Goals for July

Bookish and Not So Bookish Goals for July

July is my birthday month, and I've had some plans in place. Due to the nature of my job, fall is VERY busy, so I want to soak up the sun while I can. Here's what I've started (and would like to) accomplish by the end of July:
  1. Camp NaNoWriMo-Write 3,000 words!
  2. Take weekend trips with friends-July 4th weekend in Ocean City is in the books; next up, visiting friends in Boston!
  3. Swim-my parents' new house has a pool, so I've already been swimming more this summer than the past several years combined, and I hope to keep it up! I even bought a new swimsuit for the first time in 15 years. 
  4. Spend a lot of time outside-The beach helped, I've been weeding outside, and walking my dogs. And wearing plenty of sunscreen!
  5. Read at least 10 books--In previous years, I've averaged 4-5 books a month; this year has been more like 8-9. Since I have some time off this month, I think I can get in at least 10!
  6. Meditate
  7. Dance
  8. Celebrate-have a birthday party! I haven't had a party since my 25th, but a) my 30th is definitely worth a party and b) ANY excuse to celebrate. Seriously. Life is short. We should have fun. 
What are your goals for July? Do you set goals for big birthdays (or every birthday)?