Wednesday, August 21, 2013

But where are the reviews?

So lately I have been in a bit of a review slump of some kind. A couple of weeks ago I picked up two books to review for Newcity, which is an independent newspaper here in Chicago. Last time I picked up a book to review for them, I was able to read several books at the same time and keep up with reading and reviewing for this blog. This time, though, I started reading The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes which was an intensely visceral read that commanded all of my attention. Currently, I'm reading Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence by David Samuel Levinson, which isn't as riveting, but I'm on a tighter deadline now. As you can see in the photo above, I have a *ton* of notes to keep track of on there.

I'm brainstorming some fun ideas though for posts that can be done in the midst of these weird blog-review slump thingys. I miss posting reviews on this blog all of the time and reading other books. I have a huuuge pile of books taking over my bookshelf that all seem so excited and awesome and I cannot wait to read them. Luckily, I am a little over halfway through with Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence so it is only a matter of time! 

PS: Speaking of getting excited to read, I am about to be MOVING in ten days (ahhh) and my new apartment is only a five minute walk from the library! Books unlimited! I'll keep y'all updated on that, because so far packing books and figuring out how they are going to fit in our much smaller apartment has been a challenge. 

See y'all very soon!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A to Z Book Survey!

Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner came up with this fun, book related A-Z survey that I could not resist! I grew up in the days of MySpace and LiveJournal and was a sucker for anything that gave me an opportunity to answer questions about myself. Especially those really intense 200 question ones that clogged the bulletin boards of everyone's MySpace. I loved those! I still have a soft spot for these kinds of things, and this one is great because, duh, its about books.

Author you've read the most books from:  
JK Rowling, according to Goodreads. But I also read an embarrassing amount of Jodi Picoult novels in high school. 

Best Sequel Ever: 
Shadow of the Dolls by Rae Lawrence. This was a sequel to one of my favorites, Valley of the Dolls, and Rae Lawrence followed the notes left behind by Jacqueline Susann to give me more of Ann and Lyon's twisted relationship. 

Currently Reading: 
Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence by David Samuel Levinson

Drink of Choice While Reading: 
Coffee. If I'm at home, it's Intelligentsia with french vanilla creamer. If I'm at my favorite cafe, it's a white chocolate mocha!

E-Reader or Physical Book: 
Physical! I've written about these two forms of reading multiple times and have even gotten some e-hate, yikes. I'm happy that e-readers makes reading more accessible, fun, and convenient for a lot of people (and reading on an e-reader is still reading!) I will forever love having an actual book in my hands. 

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School: 
I loved Cricket Bell in Lola and the Boy Next Door--his quirky and smart demeanor paired with his gangly body is everything I found cute in boys in high school. 

Glad You Gave This Book a Chance: 
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess frustrated me to no end at the beginning, but ultimately taught me so much about writing and character. Also, As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. I started & stopped this novel several times, but when I finally read it through, my mind was blown.

Hidden Gem Book: 

Important Moment in your Reading Life:
Getting a library card! Also, in elementary school, we would read books and take tests on them for points. At one point, I had the most points in my class, and almost the whole school. My teachers & principals were always commenting on my awesome reading skills. Looking back on it now, I think it's so awesome that my teachers supported my obsessive reading back then. I see some of those teachers now when I go home for holidays and they still always ask, "are you still a big reader?" 

Just Finished:
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. 

Kinds of Books You Won't Read: 
Harlequin Romance Novels have not made their way into my life as of this moment. I cannot really think of anything I won't ever read. 

Longest Book You've Read: 
I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb {897 pages}. I read this book in high school in three days and was obsessed. 

Major Book Hangover:
I'm not sure of what a 'book hangover' is, so I'm interpreting it as a book that made it hard for me to read anything afterwards. That would definitely be Cancer Ward by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. I had to read picture books afterwards. Not joking. 

Number of Bookcases You Own: 
Two overly stuffed six shelf book cases. 

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times: 
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Preferred Place to Read:
In the bathtub, bed, and strangely, the train.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you've read:
"Much of my life had been devoted to trying not to cry in front of people who loved me, so I knew what Augustus was doing. You clench your teeth. You look up. You tell yourself that if they see you cry, it will hurt them, and you will be nothing but a Sadness in their lives, and you must not become a mere sadness, so you will not cry, and you say all of this to yourself while looking up at the ceiling, and then you swallow even though your throat does not want to close and you look at the person who loves you and smile." - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This book just hit way too close to home. 

Reading Regret:
Not having read a lot of classics!! I'm working on it, though. I have just somehow not gotten around to reading all of the greats.

Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series): 
Scott Westerfeld's 'Uglies' series. 

Three of Your All-Time Favorite Books: 
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb.

Unapologetic Fangirl For: 
Patti Smith. Her memoir Just Kids inspired me to switch my major into something more creative and continue working towards living the creative life I've always wanted. She's a fantastic writer, musician, and artist and I just feel like everyone should know who she is. 

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:
I'm very excited for Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. Also looking forward to Night Film by Marisha Pessl, especially after just finishing the thrilling The Shining Girls

Worst Bookish Habit:
Writing in library or loaned books, and reading the last page of the book, which usually holds ALL THE THINGS.

X-Marks the Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book: 
Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

Your Latest Book Purchase:
Oh boy. I think it was The Diviners by Libba Bray? Maybe? Probably? 

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late): 
The Love Machine by Jacqueline Susann.

Woo that was fun (and has been a zzz-snatcher itself!). Luckily tomorrow is my day off and I have nothing planned except a wonderfully well-deserved 60-minute massage. I am living for 11am tomorrow! I will also, of course, be doing lots of reading! Lately a majority of my reading has been for reviews for things not this blog, so hopefully I will have some new ones up for you guys soon. 

Have you done this survey? I wanna see! If you want to do it, just make sure you link it back to Jamie!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Why Books Should Be Abused

When I first started blogging about books, watching Booktube videos, and reading other book blogs, I was somewhat shocked to read about all of the people who take pristine care of their books. Some don't write in their books or underline their favorite quotes. Others fear loaning their books to friends due to worry about the condition their beloved novels will come back to them in. Some readers have mentioned how they don't even crack the spine of their novels, which to me is one of the most satisfying sounds and could almost be as therapeutic as cracking your own spine. When I get a new book, hearing and feeling that soft crack is beautiful. I was shocked to read about this phenomena of keeping books intact mostly because I don't protect my books, like, at all.

I've considered writing a post about my careless book owning habits, some of which would make a lot of people cringe, for a while now, but didn't really think about it until yesterday morning, when I pulled my current read, The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes out of my tote bag. I just got the book, a brand new review copy, not even a week ago. Like everyone, I can't go anywhere without a book, and on Sunday, I went to Lollapalooza after work. I had mostly forgotten about the book in my bag while I was in a haze of post-work exhaustion, excitement over getting to see The Cure, and I'll admit, one too many Lime-a-ritas. So when I got it out on the train the next morning to read, I noticed the busted up bottom of the cover, and the pages that were stained pink from my stashing of Straw-ber-rita cans in my tote when I couldn't find a trash can. Instead of sobbing over the fact that my once pristine and brand-new-looking book had been violated, I just loved it even more and carried on. The Shining Girls has been an intense read full of nausea-inducing violence, so I found it appropriate to be as banged up as the time-traveling murderer Harper Curtis, and it even looks a little bloodstained like the victims he leaves behind.

I buy a lot of books used, so a lot of them look well-worn and very loved, but I found a couple of examples that started out new and each have a memory. My copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by JK Rowling is over twelve years old and it looks as loved as it is. Through the years I've read and re-read it, borrowed it out, and continued loving the world of Harry Potter. The front cover is coming unhinged, and the pages feel more fragile, and it smells amazing, like old, used books should. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins was my first real introduction to "college-level reading" when I was in 11th grade (I think.) It was mandatory reading for my AP Lit class and I hated every second of it. I remember dragging it to the beach and wishing it would be over. I thought it was dry and not engaging enough for me, and the spine is cracked from clutching it and folding it over and over in frustration. Then, there's A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, which started out as frustrating, but ended up being one of my favorite books of all time. There are highlighted passages, barely legible notes scribbled in the margins as I tracked certain patterns and themes, and the spine is cracked from reading and re-reading some of my favorite passages. I have only owned this book for a little over a year and it looks years older.

When I loan my books to friends, I tell them to feel free to underline their favorite parts. If it comes back a little more battered than it was when I handed it off to them, I love knowing that they carried it around with them and it got a little injured in the process. When I get books from the library or a used bookstore, I love reading underlined passages and notes because it creates two stories: the one in the pages, and the mystery of how another person was interpreting the book compared to how I did.

To sound a little cliche for a quick minute: reading books transports all of us into so many different worlds. It gives us new lives to try on and then put back onto the shelf. I feel like my books deserve to be given a life just like they give me one. Now every time I see my pink stained copy of The Shining Girls, not only will I think of the gruesome thriller, but I will think of fulfilling a dream of seeing The Cure and curse Lollapalooza for serving the worse selection of beers ever. I will forever love battering my books and seeing the 'scars' they acquire on their journey with me, much like I've received my scars along the way, too.

Books too full of so much life and story to sit on a shelf with uncracked spines and with no story outside of their pages to show for. So please, don't be scared to abuse your books. Don't be disappointed if a page becomes dogeared or you cannot resist underlining a quote you are certain you could have tattooed on your body. If that makes you love your book less, then feel free to give them to me.