Thursday, September 6, 2018

September Goals

I'm trying out monthly goal posts; we'll see how these go. I'm more into wrap-up posts, but it might be fun to compare monthly goals and wrap-ups. Or not. We'll see.

Books I Want to Read This Month

1. I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel (aka Modern Mrs. Darcy).

I preordered the e-book, which came out yesterday, along with my free audio copy, which I'm looking forward to!

2. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

I haven't managed to get my hands on a copy yet (my local Barnes & Noble is out!), but I really want to finish the series!

3. The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper

I've always been interested in May Alcott, and the relationship between Louisa and May, so I'm looking forward to this novel. Just checked the audiobook out of the library.

Other Goals This Month

1. Relax and enjoy Rosh Hashanah at my new synagogue, maybe do some baking, like Smitten Kitchen's apple cake. 

2. Go to the Baltimore Book Festival.

If I don't post again before Rosh Hashanah, have a sweet New Year!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

August Wrap-Up

I'm starting out my first monthly wrap-up, so the format may change as I write these. Right now, I'm basing it loosely on Jamie's Monthly Rewinds at The Perpetual Page Turner as well as a sense of other wrap-up type posts I've read.

Books I've Read This Month

  1. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
  2. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  3. Provenance by Ann Leckie
  4. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
  5. Beauty in the Broken Places by Allison Pataki
  6. Blue Iris by Mary Oliver
  7. Let the Whole Thundering World Come Home by Natalie Goldberg
  8. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Oh August! I doubt I'll read this many in September, but we'll see.

Favorite Top 3 Books I've Read This Month

I was going to choose a favorite, but...I can't. Honestly, they were all so good. For pure enjoyment value, I'm going to pick...

1. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

Obviously, read this after the hype of the movie, which was also great, but I loved the book. It had a catchy writing style and even though romance is the focus, it was really character and family-centered, which are both aspects I tend to go for in fiction. Complicated characters and family relationships, that's my jam.

2. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Omg, it was like reading Harry Potter all over again, but better and for grownups and for 2018! Trust me, a school for wizards featuring a Chosen One boy wizard and his gay vampire/worst enemy roommate and superbrilliant witch best friend is exactly what you grownup HP fans want!

3. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This one will hit you right in the heart, especially as a newlywed. After 18 months of marriage, Roy is convicted of a crime he did not commit and sentenced to 12 years in jail. The story is told from Roy's and Celestial's and their friend Andre's viewpoints, including letters between Roy and Celestial. I saw Tayari Jones speak at the National Book Festival on Saturday, and she shared her story of how the book came to be. She studied black male incarceration at Harvard, but still didn't have a story, until she went back home to Atlanta and heard a couple arguing in the mall:

"You wouldn't have waited seven years for me."
"This would never have happened to you."

She wrote a story, she said, where both people were right. And both people were wrong. It's a scary, well-written story that hits home and makes you think about the impact on African-American couples and families, in a way I'd never felt so viscerally before.

4 Posts This Month

I had 4 posts in August, not too bad!

1. Library Haze

Basically, just a list of all the books I read in my week off!

2. Top Ten Favorite Book Blogs/Bookish Sites

I loved reading everybody else's and added some new blogs to my roll!

3. Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

Rent the Runway, back-to-school shopping, and gushing about Carry On!

4. Top Ten Books for a College Student

Back-to-school freebie with book recommendations for college seniors and recent graduates!

Favorite Post This Month

I really enjoyed writing about my favorite bookish sites and reading yours too!

3 Things That Happened In My Life This Month

1. I went "back to school"! I never left, but the school year has started and now it's time to put into action what I've been working on all summer.

2. I went to the National Book Festival! I go almost every year (missed last year since I was sick), and it's more crowded every year. This year, they had to close the building to new guests at one point. There were huge lines for every author. I got to see Tayari Jones, Min Jin Lee, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Jon Meacham, all of whom were fantastic, so you couldn't go wrong. I couldn't get in to see James McBride (so glad I saw him in 2013!) or Roxane Gay, and Isabel Allende ended up dropping out due to an emergency.

3. I had my first (and hopefully last) ride in an ambulance. I'm totally fine, but man, do they take it seriously when you faint in the doctor's office!

3 Favorite Links This Month

I've read a lot of cool articles around the web, so let me try and remember a few:

1. 13 Birthday Ideas for Adults

I love this concept, although it comes too late for my birthday this year. Taking the day off and doing whatever I want has been what I've been doing the past few years, but I definitely want to throw myself a party next year! (Maybe my house will even be ready..)

2. Advice for New Bloggers

I'm not a new blogger, but I started blogging before there was much stuff like this out there, and standards, especially aesthetically, have definitely changed!

3. Problematic Classics: Four Questions to Ask When Beloved Books Haven't Aged Well

I feel this, more so with, say, Diaz than Tolkien, but. Yeah.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Happy 10th Blogiversary To Me!

Ten years ago last weekend, I started this blog. More accurately, I started a personal reading record that evolved into something...more.

Although I still talk mainly about books and often about science fiction, I've enjoyed branching out to read others' book, baking, and lifestyle blogs, and it's becoming more of a virtual space for me to reflect on life as well as reading.

I've gone from my initial representative space station to pictures of my TBR stacks and bookshelves.

Back when I started this blog in 2008, I probably never would have guessed that in 2018, I would be:

  • Married
  • a NaNoWriMo winner
  • Still blogging!

I wonder what my life will look like in 2028! *crossing my fingers for transporters or at least driverless cars*

Going forward, I'm going to try some updates around here, like:

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Top Ten Books for a College Student

Happy Top Ten Tuesday over at That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Books for a College Student

Today was a back-to-school freebie at That Artsy Reader Girl, but I was inspired by Sorry, I'm Booked's post about top ten books for a college student, so I'm going to follow her lead, but with a twist, books for college seniors and books for recent college graduates!

Also, I feel like I should note that I went "back-to-school" yesterday at the college where I work! It truly is amazing stepping back on campus and having all of that student energy after our quiet summer!

Top Five Six Books for College Seniors

1. Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

These books weren't around when I was in college, but I've since recommended them to students I work with. Before you graduate, I think you should have a sense of what it's like to feel systemically oppressed, preferably within the novum of a fantasy novel. Plus, definitely fun for thought experiments (what if I could control the weather?) and book groups, with plenty of people on campus to talk to.

2. Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

3. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

I read Woman on the Edge of Time and The Dispossessed for a utopian science fiction class in grad school, but a couple undergraduates were in our class, and I think these are great for senior year. Both play with ideas of utopia and how that affects gender and language (and vice versa), and neither have a perfect solution, but both books inspire you to create a better society--definitely something I want college seniors to think about!

4. "Sultana's Dream" by Rokheya Shekhawat Hussein

A short feminist utopian story with a similar aim to above, except I also love that this story is from a female Muslim Bengali writer from the late 19th/early 20th century, so, no, utopia does not have to be from a Western-centric perspective.

5. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

I read this as an adult, but it really shifted my perspective on life, and I wish I'd read it earlier.

6. "The Soul of Man Under Socialism" by Oscar Wilde

I did read this in college, in my Literary Theory class, which I'd put off till senior year. It's just a different perspective, and I love the idea of machines running everything so people are free to pursue their artistic callings.

Top Five Books for Recent College Graduates

1. Dispatch from the Future by Leigh Stein

These poems just get what being a millenial is all about, and as the last millenials have just graduated, maybe this won't resonate as much with future generations, but for now, highly recommend.

2. Best American Travel Writing 2013, edited by Elizabeth Gilbert

I loved this book, and read it during my Birthright Israel trip, post-grad school. Each essay tells a true story from a different part of the world, from dressing in a burqa, to running with the bulls, to a potential kidnapping by Bedouins. I particularly loved the stories from this year, although a new edition comes out every year.

3. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

These are based on Strayed's Dear Sugar columns from the Rumpus (back in the day...), but I enjoyed having it in book form, and I find many of the stories in the columns inspiring (but not preachy).

4. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

I'd especially recommend this for writers, but I think the idea that your work doesn't need to be your passion is important for anyone, and also the idea that your 'art,' whatever it is, is its own spirit, coming and going as it pleases, is freeing. It takes the pressure off to be 'original' or to be ridiculously productive. It comes when it comes.

5. The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz

This book just made me laugh aloud so.many.times. And although he's living in Paris (I think he would argue because he lives in Paris!), there are plenty of relatable adulting foibles, including paperwork catch-22s and tiny kitchen "solutions." 

Bonus: Books I Would NOT Recommend for Recent College Graduates, Especially If They Don't Have a Job Yet

1. What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Boles

2. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

No matter how well-intentioned, these books will feel like a slap in the face to the unemployed recent graduate. Ask me how I know.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts is hosted at Bookishly Boisterous.

1. I'm trying Rent the Runway for the first time. I know Meg at A Practical Wedding is a huge fan, and it's always recommended in the APW comments. I'm going to a friend's wedding in September, so it seemed a good opportunity to check it out. I wasn't overwhelmed by the choices, but it's better than going to a store and basically you can rent a $495 dress for $40ish AND you then return it after the event, which appeals to me hugely in terms of money and space saved. Not that I would spend $495 on a dress, but I could easily spend $100-$200 and then have few occasions to wear it again. If you're interested, try my referral link, which will give you and me $30 off:

2. Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner inspired me to go grown-up back-to-school shopping! I always LOVED buying school supplies: notebooks, Post-Its, colored pencils, paper clips--it all made me so happy. My sister and I used to dump everything we'd picked out in the hallway and then 'trade' if we decided we liked the other's stuff better, which always worked out well for me, because she would pick the cutest notebooks and then decide she didn't want them all! This year, I actually need to buy clothes, shoes, and a haircut, but I'm branding it as 'back-to-school' shopping, and, as an educator, I am literally going to school anyway :-) AND I'm buying myself a cute notebook. Because.

3. I just finished Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, and I don't know why it hasn't blown up in popularity? It's purportedly the last canon book of Simon Snow, which Cath writes her fanfiction about in Fangirl. Simon Snow is clearly based on Harry Potter, but Harry Potter with a gay vampire, lots of other cool twists, and better writing (please don't shoot me). It clearly owes a debt to Harry/Draco Malfoy slash fic, but the World of Mages is completely its own, as are the four main viewpoint characters: Simon, Baz, Penelope, and Agatha--variations on Harry, Malfoy, Hermione, and Daphne from Scooby Doo, respectively. Everybody who likes Harry Potter and fanfic should be reading Carry On...I wish there were more books coming!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Top Ten Favorite Book Blogs/Bookish Sites

Happy Top Ten Tuesday over at That Artsy Reader Girl!

Top Ten Favorite Book Blogs/Bookish Sites

I'm excited to share my favorites and see all of yours too! There are so many great book blogs and bookish sites out there!


Tor has my favorite bookish newsletter. I love their book recs, articles on important SFF topics, and ongoing commentary on SFF TV and movies, like the new Picard Star Trek!


I subscribe to their newsletter and love their 'Visiting Scribes' articles, by authors with recently published books. They also introduce me to a lot of Jewish interest books I might never have found on my own.

3. Electric Literature

I actually found Electric Literature on Facebook, mostly when they have grabby headlines like The Secret Origins of Amy March or other bookish candy clickbait. They also publish some really hard-hitting and insightful looks at the literary zeitgeist, like We Need to Start Taking Young Women's Love Stories Seriously

4. BookRiot

BookRiot has a lot of fun content, and I read a lot of their book recs and lists, like the 45 Best Feminist YA Books

5. Modern Mrs. Darcy

I'm a fan of Modern Mrs. Darcy's posts about books, life, and especially  "Links I Love," often on bookish/writerly topics. 

6. The Perpetual Page Turner

I love Jamie's chatty and cozy posts, like the recurring "If We were Having Coffee."

7. That Artsy Reader Girl

I've been enjoying getting to know Jana's personal book blog, outside of the Broke and the Bookish and Top Ten Tuesdays. I especially enjoy the interviews with new authors, like this one!

8. Biblibio

I've enjoyed Biblibio's reviews for many years, and I've especially enjoyed the #WITMonth (Women In Translation) posts the past few years, like this most recent one!

9. Fantasy Cafe

I've also followed Fantasy Cafe's Leaning Piles of Books for many years, and especially Women in SFF Month guest posts, like one from Elizabeth Bear!

10. GoodReads

I'm late to the party on Goodreads, and I don't love everything about it, but it's got solid book-counting and tagging tools, a decent newsletter, and avenues for bookish discussion. I count on it for crowdsourced, volume-heavy reviews.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Library Haze

Last week, I took off from work, especially to finish (finally!) moving the last items out of our apartment and get a head start on unpacking in the new house. So, that's what I did the first part of the week. Then, I got a notification that a book I'd put on hold at the library had come in, so I had to go get it, and then, I was like, well, might as well look around...and I left with a stack of about six books, even though I figured I wouldn't get past the first one this week. Then, of course, like you do on vacation, I got sick. I'm still not feeling well despite planning to return to work tomorrow, but here are the books I finished this week (along with half a season of Queer Eye on Netflix).:

p.s. a lot of amazing books came out in 2018! Besides these, I'm looking forward to Becky Chambers' Record of a Spaceborn Few, which is next up!