Tag Archives: Reading

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.

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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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Literary Pennants From Out of Print

Just when I think I can’t love them more, Out of Print goes and creates these adorable literary pennants. I’m already looking for a place in my office to hang the Pemberley version, though Pencey Prep is also calling my name. Out of Print is my online retailer spirit animal.

Out of Print Pemberley Pennant

 

Which one is your favorite?

 

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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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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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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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In honor of Banned Books Week

It’s Banned Books Week, the time to celebrate the freedom to read and also the freedom reading can bring. There are a lot of bad things happening in this world, and censorship might seem far down on the list of things to worry about, but we should all remember that banned books have the power to shape the world.

 

Kurt Vonnegut Self-Portrait

 

As is fitting, a quote from our often-banned friend, Mr. Vonnegut:

“There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.” -Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater

 

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Literary Wedding Readings

I’ve tried to keep the wedding posts to a minimum, because there are lots of other blogs out there that do it better, and frankly, wedding planning is not my favorite thing. However, it was a challenge to find non-traditional wedding readings from literature, and if this post helps someone else keep their sanity during the wedding planning process, I’d feel good about that.

Obviously, the Bible is one of the most-read books in the world (I’m sure there are statistics about that somewhere), but I wanted to go with something a little less traditional to fit with our book-themed wedding.

We looked at everything from children’s books like The Velveteen Rabbit and The Little Prince to Shakespeare. We wanted something that resonated with us and also with the audience. Although I’m a big fan of Shakespeare, it didn’t have a universal appeal and can be difficult to read aloud. Some readings, particularly The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, really conveyed the struggle and deep commitment that a marriage entails, but were perhaps a bit serious.

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In the end, we chose two readings, each from one of our respective favorite books. Mine, naturally, was from Jane Eyre. I can’t get enough of Jane and Mr. Rochester, and this reading conveyed a depth of feeling that seemed fitting of the occasion.

“I have for the first time found what I can truly love – I have found you. You are my sympathy – my better self—my good angel—I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to my center and spring of life, wraps my existence about you—and, kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one.” – Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

And Jonathan chose a lovely reading from The Alchemist. One of these days I’ll get around to reading the book.

“When he looked into her eyes, he learned the most important part of the language that all the world spoke – the language that everyone on earth was capable of understanding in their heart. It was love. Something older than humanity, more ancient than the desert. What the boy felt at that moment was that he was in the presence of the only woman in his life, and that, with no need for words, she recognized the same thing. Because when you know the language, it’s easy to understand that someone in the world awaits you, whether it’s in the middle of the desert or in some great city. And when two such people encounter each other, the past and the future become unimportant. There is only that moment, and the incredible certainty that everything under the sun has been written by one hand only. It is the hand that evokes love, and creates a twin soul for every person in the world. Without such love, one’s dreams would have no meaning.” -The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Every wedding decision is an invitation to feedback and input from all involved parties, at least in my experience. Thankfully, everyone was supportive of our non-traditional choices, including my southern grandmother.

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Open Letters from McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

Call me a snob, but I appreciate McSweeney’s, not only for the work they produce, but also for they way they encourage young writers. I’m pretty much on board for anything that comes from the mind of Dave Eggers. And have you seen their packaging? Divine.

McSweeney's #19

On Friday afternoon, they hooked me with a tweet that said: “An Open Letter to the Mix Tape Made for Me By My College Boyfriend, Now Deceased.” Intrigued, I clicked through, only to learn about the long-standing column “Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond.” Naturally, I proceeded to read no less than eighteen of the submissions.

I’m still picking my favorites, but if you’re looking for a quick read, I recommend the following:

And just for good measure, a  post about the “lovable, comic-book inspired, sans-serif badassery” that is Comic Sans.

 

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