Category: Family

Novel Goes to Spain

As I briefly mentioned before, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Jonathan in Spain for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation. I’m still getting over the jet lag (ugh), but I’m so excited to share some of my bookish and not-so-bookish travel essentials.

First, let me say that Spain is amazing. I would endure any amount of jet lag to go back, even tomorrow. It was that great. We did a whirlwind trip with stops in Madrid, Seville, Málaga, Granada and Barcelona. Each city had its own merits, but I was captivated by Seville most of all, and the Gaudí sights in Barcelona.

 

Seville, Spain

 

Because this was my first European vacation (hopefully of many!), I did a lot of research about not only our travel destinations, but also on how to survive international flights. I’d love to share some of my travel learnings with you.

  • If you can afford it, spring for business class tickets. For someone like me who has trouble sleeping on planes, having a fully reclining seat made all of the difference in me not only getting sleep, but starting my vacation off on the right foot.
  • Even if business class isn’t in your budget, small things like a sleep mask, ear plugs and compression socks will make your life much easier. Also, even if you don’t like to wear pajamas or workout clothes in public like me, I highly recommend changing into something more comfortable on the plane before going to sleep.
  • Don’t skip your other nighttime rituals on an overnight flight. Taking the time to remove makeup, take out contacts and brush my teeth before settling down made me feel ready for sleep and also more refreshed upon waking.
  • Bring snacks. While airlines will provide snacks, they’re not always healthy or appetizing. Packing a few key snacks like trail mix, peanut butter, crackers and granola bars will keep you full and happy on a long flight, and they’re also great to have on hand between meals on the entire trip.
  • Charge your Kindle or bring a book. (You knew there had to be a bookish twist.) My international flights did not have wifi, so I made sure to download several books before leaving. Check with your local library to see if they have ebook lending. It’s been a huge bonus for me to be able to “check out” free Kindle books. I’m a big fan of paper books too, but as a quick reader, the number of paper books needed to sustain a ten day vacation would have taken up all of the space in my bag.
  • Find a travel guide you like, and bring it along. My phone didn’t have service in Spain, so we relied heavily on our travel guide and the included maps. I looked at a lot of different books before going to Spain, but the one I brought with me was from PBS legend Rick Steves. His books rank sights in order of priority, provide sample itineraries, and give practical advice about crowd-beating and cultural norms. While there were one or two misses (no one’s perfect), overall we found this book to be a lifesaver. When we go back to Europe, we’ll be bringing Rick with us again.
  • If you’re not a native speaker of the destination’s language, make an effort and look into language apps. We found everyone to be very gracious and helpful, especially when we made an effort to communicate in the native language. I also downloaded SpanishDict before our trip. Their in-app dictionary doesn’t require wifi, so it was great for looking up random words in the moment.
  • Just go with it! We were lucky to have minimal travel delays, but as with any vacation, there are always surprises or things that don’t exactly go your way, especially if there’s a language barrier. Having a positive attitude and not sweating the small stuff allowed us to make the most of this incredible vacation.

What are your international travel tips? I feel like we learned so much on this vacation, and I can’t wait to do it again!

 

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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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Novel Links

Novel Links are a little late this week due to some crazy life happenings, but we’re back on schedule and missing our world traveler husband/dog dad very much. Here you are:

 

Oh, if only I were in New York today for the Random House open house. Swoon.

 

Barnes & Noble’s book nerd problems are great. I was going to call out my favorites, but there are just too many.

 

As my friend Katie said, “Somebody give this girl a scholarship!”

 

I’m Dumbledore, and I’m totally good with that.

 

Let’s go to all of the coolest bookstores in the U.S.

 

Are you a fan of the shelfie?

 

On a final, more serious note, these familiar men are taking a stand against sexual assault. Bravo.

 

That’s all, friends. Also, we’re on official baby Reagan count down! Squeeee!

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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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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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Deep Breath

Sometimes I need little reminders like this to get myself through the day. This one is courtesy of my husband in the form of a coat check tag he received at a restaurant in Vladivostok, Russia last week. Word.

Coat Check

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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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Texts from My Mom

I feel like this could be a blog in itself. So now, the first installment of Texts from My Mom. She may not be a reader, but she embraces my bookish tendencies.

 

Text from Mom

 

And yes, this text did result in the purchase of a Hermione Granger wand at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. And it’s awesome.

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