Category: Books

Another Austin Summer

It’s June, which marks my third summer back in Austin, and also the start of 90+ degree days and slightly cooler nights. I’m not complaining (yet). The heat reminds me of that great moment in Atonement (movie, not book, in this case) where Leon says, “What do you say, Cee? Does the hot weather make you behave badly?”

Birthday Cake Macaron and Topo Chico from Walton's Fancy and Staple.

Birthday Cake Macaron and Topo Chico from Walton’s Fancy and Staple.

The heat does bring a little bit of mischief, even if it’s just staying out a bit later due to those extra daylight hours, sneaking out for gelato once or twice… a week and slightly smaller clothing to combat the increasing temperatures. In a few weeks I’m sure I’ll be hiding indoors, thanking my lucky stars for air conditioning. But for now, I’m going to picnic like my life depends on it. And eat more gelato.

Breads from Easy Tiger, Cheese and Salumi from Antonelli's Cheese Shop and Barbecue from Rudy's Country Store.

Breads from Easy Tiger, Cheese and Salumi from Antonelli’s Cheese Shop and Barbeque from Rudy’s Country Store.

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Banned Books Week

Once again, it’s Banned Books Week! This issue is super important to me, as evidenced by my post last year. Lest you think this is a silly topic that has no relevance in today’s world, check out this completely tone-deaf (and poorly timed) move from Highland Park, just down the road from my hometown. Yes people, we are still banning books in 2014.

BannedBooks_RedBadge

So, in honor of Banned Books Week, check out the list of frequently challenged books (Harry Potter! Captain Underpants! The Catcher in the Rye! Of Mice and Men! You’re killing me, people!), and GO READ ONE!

Hooray for books! Hooray for freedom! And hooray for Banned Books Week, which has been fighting censorship since 1982.

 

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What I Read 2013

I’m finally updating what I’ve read for 2014, so I decided to move 2013 over to a post instead. I’m sure I’m missing a few, but this will at least give me a good idea of my literary journey for the last year.

Any standouts? I have to say, for sheer joy of reading it, I loved The Night Circus. Other favorites include The Name of the Star and the Ruby Red trilogy. Any recommendations for this year?

 

Fiction:

Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski

Mao II by Don DeLillo

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magician King by Lev Grossman

The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

 

Young Adult:

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Torment by Lauren Kate

Passion by Lauren Kate

The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

The Elite by Kiera Cass

 The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

 The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Defiance by C.J. Redwine

Deception by C.J. Redwine

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Ruby Red by Kerstin Geir

Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Geir

Emerald Green by Kerstin Geir

 

Memoirs:

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche

 

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An Announcement and Gifts for Tiny Readers

Things have been quiet on the blog front lately, and for very good reason. My brother and his dear wife welcomed a sweet baby girl to the world. Her name is Reagan, and she has stolen our hearts.

 

Reagan

 

As the only aunt to this precious pumpkin, it’s my job to turn her into a little reader. I already told her I’d buy her all of the books she could ever want, but I rounded up a few more things I’d love to give to any future tiny reader.

 

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A onesie with a simple message, Read To Me.

 

As I’ve mentioned before, I love these board books of classic literature for baby.

 

Another favorite brand, Out of Print, also makes adorable book cover onesies. Is it weird to have matching clothes with a baby?

 

Ian Falconer’s classic Olivia in board book form.

 

And her very own Very Hungry Caterpillar.

 

 

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Bookish Finds

Here in Austin we’ve bypassed spring and forged full speed ahead into “Holy hell, it’s hot outside” weather. The current temperature is 85 degrees, with the threat of 97 degrees on Sunday. Is it too soon to cry mercy? Because I’d love to have those two days of spring back from last week.

I’d like to say this weekend will be spent in air conditioner, or by the pool, but alas I have crawfish, country music plans. I’m also hoping to catch up on all of Jonathan’s Russian adventures, take Lola for a long (hot) walk and get some laundry done. I know, exciting stuff.

This shirt, one of my most recent bookish finds, will likely make an appearance. I love the heck out of this shirt, and also love people’s reactions to it. Some people just. don’t. get. it. Which makes me smile. I’m kind of wishing I had it in tank top form, based on the current weather forecast.

Ain't No Party Like a Gatsby Party

What are you wearing lately? Anything bookish? Happy Friday!

 

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To Read, Or Not To Read

At the recent APLFF New Fiction Confab (more on that later), an interesting question came up, one that I think most of us readers have considered. If you start a book, and you just don’t like it, do you soldier on or do you cut your losses and walk away?

I used to be the former reader, trudging through all number of terrible books, and there were many. In the last few years, I decided that my time was worth more than that, and I’ve started putting books down.

 

Books & Books by Jeremy Piehler

 

So what kinds of books do I put down? Two notable ones come to mind, only because they’ve received lots of love from friends, family, bloggers, etc. The first, The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls, I just couldn’t finish. I saw Jeanette speak at a charity event, and she was utterly charming. But for some reason, the book was just too much for me to stomach, and I had to walk away.

Another book I put down earlier this week was the second book in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone saga, Days of Blood & Starlight. I don’t know if it’s too much fantasy for me, or if it was the transition from Prague to some other world, but this book just did not keep my interest. And when I start skimming, I know it’s time to reevaluate my choice.

What about you? Do you ever walk away from a book? I must admit, I find it a little liberating.

 

*Photo by Jeremy Piehler

 

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Novel Links

Here’s another round of novel links that have entertained me this week:

 

Books and cooking! Here’s a post about being inspired to cook by a great novel.

 

An interesting post about being an inaccessible author from Shannon Hale. They’re not super heroes, people. They still have to do laundry and stuff.

 

Genius book marketing for John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. Thank goodness the preparedness kit includes tissues.

 

These introvert stories get me every time. It’s like they can see inside my brain!

 

I recently saw the trailer for Le Week-End, and it looks like it has the potential to make me both laugh out loud and become a bit weepy. Definitely on my list to see.

 

I’m all about these simple wine tasting projects from The Kitchn.

 

And just because, baby elephants.

 

That’s all, folks.

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Bookish Finds

As a reader and a writer, I like to infuse a little bit of the bookish into my everyday life. I even had a book-themed wedding! For the new Bookish Finds series on Novel, I’ll highlight items I find that are perfect for bibliophiles.

First up, something bookish for the wee babes. I’m thrilled to pieces to be welcoming a niece in May, and I’m attending a baby shower this weekend in celebration. I’ve already purchased a precious onesie from the Paddington Bear line for Gap Baby, but my gift for the shower is my favorite bookish baby gift yet! (Briann, if you’re reading this, now is the time to go to a different page.)

I can’t wait for baby Reagan to get her hands on these adorable, beautifully illustrated board books from BabyLit by Gibbs Smith.


BabyLit by Gibbs Smith

BabyLit bills itself as “a fashionable way to introduce your toddler to the world of classic literature.” And if I’m being completely honest, I’ve even eyed some of these prints for myself. What are your favorite bookish gifts for baby?


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New Year, New Resolutions

Life is back in order after a very hectic holiday that included some very high highs (finding out I’ll have a niece, Reagan, come May!) to some very low lows (a death in the family on Christmas Day). As such, there wasn’t a whole lot of time for reflection or resolutions.

My plate is full, as always, but as an introvert, I have to carve out time to do the things that are important to me, or run the risk of terrible burnout. Knowing that, I’ve created some new resolutions, and revisited some old ones.

1. Dedicate time to writing at least five days a week, whether it’s a blog post or a writing project.

2. Record all of the books I read throughout the year. This was a fun one for me last year, so I’ll be doing it again. You can follow my progress under “What I’ve Read.”

3. Continue renovations on the condo. Things are moving right along, and I have even more big plans for this year.

4. Cook more often, and try new recipes. This remains on the list. I tired a few new things last year, but it’s time to test out all of that fancy kitchen equipment from the registry.

5. Be open to new friendships. This is always a goal for me, but I want to be more intentional about the people I spend time with, especially since I’m so protective of my time.

6. Make healthier choices. I’m never going to be a health nut. I have too many guilty pleasures for that sort of lifestyle. But I do want to make healthier choices, even if it’s just drinking more water and getting on a regular schedule with barre classes.

7. Achieve balance. Overall, this is what I’m going for. More play, less work. More quality time with the people I love. More calm, less stress.

So that’s it. And my motto? Here it is, courtesy of Emily Ley.

 

EmilyLey_StandardOfGrace

 

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Writing Conference Tips for Introverts

If you’re anything like me, the thought of a writing conference is both exhilarating and terrifying. I love to learn from the experts, so a weekend with authors, agents and editors is ideal. However, having to talk to said authors, agents and editors is fairly intimidating for an introvert, considering I’d rather be reading at home on a Friday night than, you know, interacting with people.

DFW Writers' Conference 2013

Still, a writing conference is a great opportunity, so I put my fears (and social awkwardness) aside for one weekend to attend the DFW Writers’ Conference in June. It was a great experience, and I learned a whole lot about writing. I also learned what to do (and what not to do) next time. If you’re an introvert like me, check out the tips below for ways to stay sane in an environment that might otherwise be incredibly overwhelming.

1. Attend icebreaker sessions. If you’re like me, the thought of attending an icebreaker session is somewhat akin to the threat of water boarding. However, it’s a great way to meet a few people that will become friendly faces throughout the conference. Who knows, you might meet someone from your town or exchange email addresses with a potential critique partner. It also sets the tone for a weekend of getting out of your shell just a bit to really experience what the conference has to offer.

2. Sit at empty tables. Too intimidated to approach a table full of people, especially when they’re already in the middle of a conversation? I feel your pain. Choose the less daunting option of sitting at a table with only a few people. Chances are, the other people are introverts just like you and will be relieved to have a new friend. Or, pick a completely empty table to catch up on your conference schedule. You likely won’t be alone for long.

3. Ask people what they write. The great thing about a writing conference is that there is already a common interest inherent to all attendees… writing! It’s a built-in conversation starter, and a great way to get people talking. Likewise, know your answer to this question before you arrive, because you’ll get it over and over again. It also helps to have a few comparable titles in your back pocket to help explain your interests.

4. Use social media. Social media is a great way to connect with other conference attendees. If you’re on Twitter, follow the authors, editors, agents and other writers. Tweet tips from the conference, share photos on Facebook and interact with other attendees without the intimidation of face to face conversation. Also, make sure your social media icons are actual photos (not your cat), so your fellow attendees can recognize who they’ve been tweeting with in real life.

5. Take a break. Everyone needs a break, but especially introverts. No panels catching your eye? Take that time to grab a coffee and read, catch up on emails or just relax. No one wins a prize for attending the most events and panels at a conference, and you’ll be much more open to learning and meeting new people once you’ve a little time to recharge.

6. Bring a sweater. This is less introvert-related and more comfort related. If you’re always cold like me, bring a sweater. Conference rooms are notorious for being air conditioned to an extreme degree, and you’ll have a much easier time listening if your body isn’t fighting off the first stages of hypothermia.

Any other tips for introverts at writing conferences? I need all the help I can get sometimes.

And on a somewhat related note, a guide to the care and keeping of introverts from Fast Company, via up A Cup of Jo. I’m tempted to post this on my office door as an instruction manual.

 

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