The Liebster Award, Or Me Talking About Myself

So I’ve been nominated by Anna from The Tsundokist for the Liebster Award, which is a fun blogging honor/meme that I’ve seen pop up from time to time on other blogs.  You should check out Anna’s blog – I very much enjoy reading her reviews!  Thank you, Anna!

liebster2The Rules: 

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the 11 questions they’ve written for you.
  3. Nominate 11 other people (preferably those with under 200 followers)
  4. Give your nominees 11 different questions to answer.

The Questions:

1.Do you read one book at a time or multiple?

I read multiple books at a time – I usually have a fiction and a nonfiction going at any given time, and sometimes will throw audio books or another fiction in the mix.  I tried the one book at a time thing and it just didn’t work for me!

6147RXZYV3L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_2. Favorite Childhood Book?

I particularly loved Grover and the Everything in the Whole Wide World Museum.

3.  Which author do you think is totally overrated and why?

I hate to say mean things about authors…  I will just say that I do not see the appeal of the Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, having read the first one.  Not my thing.

4.  What was the last book you read that made you laugh a lot?

I’ve been rereading Lois Lowry’s Anastasia Krupnik series lately (a favorite from childhood) and they are laugh out loud funny.anastasiaagainloislowry

5.  What was the last book that made you cry?

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.

6.  Are you a fast or slow reader?

Medium.  (Seriously, I don’t know how to judge these things.  I’m no speed reader, I know that.)

7.  Name a book you DNF’ed recently.

My most recent DNF was More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera.  I intend to try it again, though.  I just wasn’t in the mood.

8.  What is your go-to genre for long-haul flights?

I don’t fly very often or very well, but I MUST have two things for reading materials:  Gossip magazines, and an Anne Tyler novel.  It’s a weird superstition of mine.

sense-and-sensibility-bicentenary-edition-penguin-classics-2012-x-2009. What is the most recent classic you read and what did you think of it?

Right now I’m listening to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility on CD and it’s MARVELOUS.  I’ve read it twice before and it’s one of my favorite books anyway.  But this version, read by actress Juliet Stevenson, is really well done!

10.  What is next on your TBR?

I’ll be reading Donal Ryan’s All We Shall Know for Reading Ireland Month.

11.  Do you have a favorite bookshop?  Why is it your favorite?

I have a particular fondness for Malaprop’s in Asheville, North Carolina.  My husband and I go there whenever we’re in Asheville.  It’s just marvelously quirky.

So that’s it.  This was great fun!  I think many of you have already done this meme before, so I’ll just nominate five bloggers who I think may not have participated and who I enjoy reading:

Valancy @ Blue Castle Considerations

Jackie @ Death By Tsundoku 

Katie @ KatieGilley

Sarah @ Reviews and Read-a-thons

Marie @ Book Chatter

Questions for Them to Answer:

  1. Name a book that’s been on your TBR for more than three years.
  2. If you had time to grab one book from your shelf before fleeing your home (and your family is safe) what would you choose?
  3. What’s the most recent book you gave someone as a gift?
  4. If you could have coffee with any writer, living or dead, who would you choose?
  5. What time of day do you do most of your reading?
  6. What do you do to get out of a reading slump?
  7. Do you have a favorite bookmark?  If so, describe it.
  8. Do your IRL friends read your blog?
  9. Name one of your favorite “comfort reads.”
  10. Name a bookstore you’d like to visit.
  11. Name your favorite book-to-movie adaptation.

Thanks again, Anna.  This was great fun!  For anyone else who may or may not have done this book tag before, feel free to answer any of these questions in the comments below. I’d love to hear your picks.

 

 

 

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2017 Reading Goals

Here’s what I want out of my reading life in 2017: MORE MORE MORE.  More time, more focus, more diversity, more discovery, more fun.  That’s not too much to ask, right?

More authors of color – my goal is 35-40% (this year it was 26%.)

More authors in translation.  (Besides Elena Ferrante!)

More LGBTQ authors.  I’ve not yet made this a priority and want to rectify that.

More YA and middle grade books.  Six of each.

I want to read the book The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson.  After hearing her speak with Krista Tippett on the On Being podcast a few weeks ago, I knew I had to finally take the plunge and read this highly-acclaimed book.cover_book

I want to read books by and about body-positive people.

I want to make room for the random picks, even if they’re not on my Goodreads TBR. Again, shooting for six random picks.

I want to explore and deepen my spirituality in 2017, so that’s another reading goal.

I want to read more nonfiction in general – more science, more history, more social justice/current events.

I want to reread three books:  Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  It’s been far too long since I’ve read any of these.51gbhsui1jl-_sx334_bo1204203200_

Do you think my goals are a bit too ambitious?  I actually don’t think they are.  I am excited to start fresh and tackle my TBR with renewed energy and purpose!

Please offer suggestions if you can think of any titles that fulfill my reading goals.  Tell me some of your own goals for the coming year!

 

The Rapid Fire Book Tag

Greetings!  Happy December, readers.  I’m slowly getting back into the reading groove after my mediocre/distracted/busy November.  Right now I am reading Michael Connelly’s latest Harry Bosch thriller, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, as well as a reread of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.  And I just started a nonfiction book about weight and body image called Body of Truth: Change Your Life by Changing the Way You Think About Weight and Health.  So far I’m enjoying all three!519rtaeemkl-_sy344_bo1204203200_

I saw this tag on Naz’s awesome blog (Read Diverse Books) last week and thought it looked like a fun way to get back in the swing of blogging.  Two book tag posts in a row?  Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll finish a book soon and write a proper review. So here we go (I warn you, it’s a long one!)

Ebooks or physical books?  Definitely physical.  I stare at a a screen all day at work and don’t want my reading to be one one if I can help it.  I’ve read a couple of ebooks and appreciate their availability and convenience, but I am almost always a paper reading fan.

Paperback or hardback?  Don’t care.

Online or in-store book shopping?  In-store is my preference, but with a young child and a husband who works an almost opposite schedule, my time to browse is almost nil.  So I’ll take whatever book shopping I can get at this point!

Trilogies or series?  No preference.  I read whatever suits the narrative.  I do tend to read mystery series, which can go on forever.  This latest Harry Bosch is the 21st!  But as long as the quality doesn’t go down, I’m in for the long haul.

Heroes or villains?  I want to read characters who are realistic to me in their emotions, thoughts, and actions, regardless of whether or not they’re likeable.  I like flawed characters; they “ring true” to me.  That said, I need at least a shred of goodness in a main character to really love a book.

bn-oc968_gyasi__jv_20160520165430A book you want everyone to read?  I’m going to echo Naz’s answer and choose Yaa Gyasi’s brilliant first novel Homegoing.  It just blew me away.  I didn’t want to put it down and made me reconsider what I thought I knew about the after effects of slavery that resound to this day.

Recommend an underrated book:   I did a Top Ten Tuesday post about this very topic back in July.  Check it out!

The last book you finished?  Mrs. Malory Investigates by Hazel Holt, the first in the series.  (See?  I told you I read mysteries!)  It was lovely and I have the second one on my bedside book stack.

3867811-_uy200_Used book, yes or no?  I don’t know how a reader could say no to used books.  I like to support authors of color (and hopefully help influence how the industry chooses to publish authors in the future) by buying new hardcovers sometimes, but I take books any way I can get them.

Top three favorite genres?  Mystery, Literary, Speculative.

Weirdest thing you use as a bookmark?  My bookmarks are pretty standard/boring.  I get them free at the library!  🙂

Borrow or buy?  I do both, but most of my reading is borrowed, since I work at the library!

Characters or plot?  Both please!  But I do love a good novel where “nothing happens.”  🙂  I love getting inside characters’ minds and I love books about the foibles and ordinary interactions among families and relationships.

Long or short book?  Short, if I have to choose.  Although I want it on the record that I’ve read Middlemarch TWICE, so I can read long books!  Ha ha!

Long or short chapters?  No preference.

Name the first three books you think of?  Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and Beloved by Toni Morrison.  I loved the first one, and I intend to reread the last two soon, because it’s been FAR too long since I’ve read them and I want them to be fresher in my mind and look at them from an adult perspective.2540302-m

Books that make you laugh or cry?  Right now I probably need some more books that make me laugh!

Our world or fictional worlds?  How about something that resembles our world but is just a little bit off?  I like those kinds of books.

Do you ever judge a book by its cover?  Yes, initially.  But it’s certainly not my only criteria.

Audiobooks?  Yes, but I don’t do them very often.  I only listen to them occasionally in my car because most of my other listening to things time is taken up by a million podcasts!

Book to movie or book to TV?  Movie.  I don’t have a lot of time for TV these days – I’ve about reached my max on what I’ve got time to watch.

A movie or TV adaptation you preferred to the book? Mary Poppins.  The book and film are VERY different. 51jbvwtdx-l-_sx320_bo1204203200_

Series or standalone?  Standalone.

I hope you guys enjoyed this tag.  I like doing these things from time to time and I especially like reading them – it’s fun to see how our individual preferences match or differ.  I’m not going to tag anyone else, but feel free to do this if you like or if you’re stuck on what to write about next!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Is My Genre – Tell Me Yours Tag

I was tagged by Jackie at Death By Tsundoku yesterday, and it couldn’t have come at a better time – I’ve been a real slacker here lately.  In between bingeing on new Gilmore Girls, the Thanksgiving holiday, and my family being sick, I haven’t felt much like blogging.  This is the kick in the pants I need to get back on track!this-is-my-genre-tell-me-yours

Drew@TheTattooedBookGeek created this tag.  Check out his blog!

Question 1:  What is your favorite genre?

While I enjoy many different genres, my go-to favorite is mystery (with a special shout out to British mysteries.)

Question 2: What is your favorite author from that genre?

Nope, no way, can’t pick one favorite.  Some of my favorites include Ruth Rendell, Michael Connelly, Agatha Christie, and Robert Galbraith (A.K.A.,  J.K. Rowling.)

michael_connelly_lincoln_lawyer-_v170342485_
Michael Connelly

Question 3:  What is it about the genre that keep pulling you back?

I love the challenge, to see if I can solve the mystery before the detective/main character does (I usually can’t!) I also love the page-turning, immersive quality of mysteries.  I love literary fiction but I can more easily put a novel in that genre aside, while with (good) mysteries I am so caught up that I don’t want to put them down.  I love the sense of resolution and tidyness that mysteries can (usually, but not always) provide.  And with long-running series, I love seeing how a beloved character develops and changes over time.

Question 4: What is the book that started your love for the genre?1036967

Well, I’ve written before about how the Nancy Drew series and Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game were integral to my  love for mysteries from a young age.  But I also fell in love with mysteries early on by devouring the Nate the Great books by Marjorie Sharmat, the Cam Jansen series by David Adler, and the Encyclopedia Brown books by Donald Sobol.

Question 5: If you had to recommend at least one book from your favorite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading that genre, what book would you choose and why?

Oh man, this is tough.  I’ve got a few picks that I think are good places to start for a mystery newbie.  For a more literary take on mystery, you can’t go wrong with Kate Atkinson’s terrific Jackson Brodie books.  The first one is Case Histories.  It’s one of my all-time favorite reads.  410dvepm1dl-_sy344_bo1204203200_For a classic British mystery, go with Agatha Christie’s Murder On the Orient Express or The A.B.C. Murders.  For a lighter/cozy-ish spin on mysteries, try Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series.  the_sweetness_at_the_bottom_of_the_pieThey feature an 11-year old precocious British girl with a passion for chemistry and tempestuous relationships with her sisters.  Oh, and she happens to help solve murders.  The first one is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  And for a grittier, more violent detective series, try Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch books.  Set in Los Angeles, Harry is a Vietnam vet and a maverick detective, often fighting corrupt government officials and fellow policemen.  The first one is The Black Echo.

Question 6:  Why do you read?

I read to learn, to connect, to vicariously experience, to empathize, and yes, to escape.  I read because it’s a central part of who I am.  I read because books are “uniquely portable magic,” as Stephen King said.

Thanks, Jackie, for tagging me.  This was fun!  I’m going to tag a few people because I’d be interested in their takes on it, but if you don’t have time to participate, no worries!  And if I don’t tag you but you’d like to participate, please do so!  Or tell me your favorite genre in the comments below!  If you also like mysteries, tell me some of your favorites.

Tag:

Katie @ Never Listless

Sarah @ Reviews and Readathons

Tara @ Caffeinatious

 

 

 

 

 

Browsing

the-lost-art-of-browsinghappy-1Yesterday my son and I went to our local library, the one in the county in which we live, not the one in the next county over, where I work.  I like to take him to the library and let him pick out some things himself, as opposed to me bringing home items from my workplace library (which I do regularly.)  He chooses books and dvds rather quickly, almost haphazardly, although occasionally he will plop right down in the floor in front of the stacks and read a book to himself.  (That brings me no end of delight, as you can imagine.)

My husband asked me to choose a book or two for him.  He’s a reader, but not voracious (obsessive?) like I am.  He’ll read a book over a couple of weeks, and when he’s finished he may not pick up another book for a month or more.  (I know, it’s hard for me to fathom!) He doesn’t read fiction (!) but instead enjoys biography, memoir, history, and sports books.  It’s hard to find a book about baseball that the man hasn’t read.

While I was looking for a biography for him, I kept finding things that appealed to me. And I was struck by a feeling of nostalgia for something that I hadn’t even realized that I was missing.  I miss browsing.  I almost never browse anymore.  Between my library holds list, my massive TBR, and the books I own but haven’t yet read, I don’t make time to wander the stacks and choose a book on a whim.

I realize that part of this may stem from the fact that I often have a busy and impatient five year-old with me, but I don’t blame it on him.  It’s my own fault entirely that I’ve let browsing go by the wayside.  Years ago, I didn’t have a massive TBR list.  I didn’t keep 15 items on my library hold list and constantly fiddle with it in order to ensure that they don’t all come in at one time.  I allowed myself the pleasure (and the risk) of selecting books based on the jacket copy and my mood.

I’ve found myself thinking about my reading goals for next year, and chief among them is making room for browsing and random picks.  I have even considered erasing my Goodreads TBR, but I can’t quite do it yet. ( I have this fear that I’ll forget about these great sounding books and then where will I be??  Oh wait, I’ll be browsing.  I’ve got to ponder this further.)  But I was thinking that I could set a goal to read a random whim pick once a month.  Wait – that sounds funny.  Set a goal to be more random!  Clearly, I’ve got control issues, but I didn’t even realize how it extended to my reading life.  You can see why I’ve not yet let myself request ARCs.  I’ve got enough issues already!

Do you browse libraries or bookstores regularly and select items based on mood?  Or have you forgotten that you used to enjoy it, like me?  Can you imagine getting rid of your TBR list, or does the thought make you panic a little bit?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

Books With Happy Endings

I’ve been mulling over this post for a few days now, ever since a regular library patron of our branch asked me a seemingly innocuous question.  “Have you read any good, happy-ending books lately?” I was completely stumped.  So many questions swirled in my brain. Had I read any good happy-ending books lately?  Had I ever?  What was wrong with me that I couldn’t think of a single book to recommend to her?  Why do I only read sad books? Would I be a happier person if I read happier books?

I know that I used to read happy-ending books.  I went through a huge “chick-lit” phase in my 20’s.  (Yes, that term is problematic, but I do find it an apt way to categorize a large chunk of my previous reading habits.)  These were books about young women in their 20’s, mostly looking for love, a good job, and their identities in big cities like New York and London.  I was in a medium-sized Southern city, with a job I wasn’t sure about, but I still felt a kinship with these young women.  Most of them eventually found what they were looking for, or at least got started on a path that they liked, and it was comforting to read.

garden-spellsI’ve read and adored authors like Elinor Lipman and Sarah Addison Allen, who both write smart, charming fiction about love, family, and relationships.  They’re mostly happy in the end, usually.  I read The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion last year and thought it was adorable and fun.  (Although I don’t feel compelled to read the sequel, The Rosie Effect.)  Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl and Attachments were pretty happy and funny.  So I know that every once in a while I do read on the lighter side.

Looking at my Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge, out of 62 books read thus far, I’d classify only 7, maybe 8, of them as “happy-ending books.”  That equals about 11%.  No wonder I totally blanked when my library patron asked me to recommend something.  I am often attracted to messy, bittersweet, or downright sad books because I read to experience and learn and feel.  I want my reading to teach me something – an emotional truth, the reality of a person’s life on the other side of the world or someone totally different from me in my home region – I want to experience it all, the good and the bad.  I look for connection, for understanding, for enlightenment.  That said, sometimes I just want a thrilling page-turner!

9780007161195-us-300I don’t mean to say that because I seek emotional realism and complexity in my fiction that I am better than someone who reads mostly for escape.  I have already wrestled with book snobbery years ago and I won.  I thankfully left that crap behind.  I know that people read for many reasons, all valid.  These just happen to be my preferences and habits, most of the time.

I know that there is room in my reading life for both the emotional texture I crave and the restorative practice of escape. I saw that patron a couple of days after she asked me my question, and I told her that she’d really gotten me thinking about my reading habits.  I said that I am going to start mixing in more happy books, taking a chance on authors or books I may have previously not given a fair shake to.   Besides, I want to be able to help the next person who comes in looking for that sweet, feel-good story when they’ve had a rough week.

So this is where you come in, dear readers!  Give me your picks for books with happy endings.  I need some inspiration!  My library patrons and I thank you.

Going Back To One Book At A Time

For most of my reading life, I was a one book at a time reader.  It’s only been in the last couple of years that I’ve started reading multiple books at one time.  It seemed to be working for me… until all of a sudden it didn’t.

Multiple Books (1)I started feeling unsettled and anxious about having 4 or 5 or 6 books on my nightstand in various states of being read.  (I am an anxious person by nature, so that this minor thing would cause me anxiety is not surprising.)  My focus has also been horrible this summer.  I know there are other factors involved (only child starting kindergarten, the ridiculous, disgusting, horrifying,but-I-can’t-look-away news cycle) but I think having too many books going at once is part of the problem.

So I’m going to try to go back to what used to work for me.  I’ll try reading one book at a time, with the exception of an audio book.  I am going to try to control myself with my library holds so that I don’t have too many things coming in at once and become overwhelmed. (The modify holds function on the online catalog is the best!)  I am going to try and PUT DOWN THE PHONE when I’m home.  I might put it on top of the fridge, that seems like a nice out of the way place!  And that nightstand of mine could use a good cleaning out anyway, regardless of what I happen to be reading.

These are my ideas.  Basically I just want to slow down.  Settle.  Breathe.

Are you able to juggle multiple books well, or do you find that it makes you scatterbrained and crazy?  Are you feeling like you need to find ways to gain more focus?  If you’ve experienced what I’m describing I’d love to hear your ideas about how to recover one’s attention span.