How I Read

In 2008, I read almost exclusively books from the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die list. I read a lot of important books. I also didn’t enjoy myself very much.

When I began blogging, I read books to fulfill challenges, books recommended by other bloggers, and, as I got on a few publishing and book tour lists, galleys.

This past year, I read whatever I wanted, when I wanted.

Those are three very different ways to read. I probably read more translations and classics the year of the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list than any other year – I’m not sure I’ve ever been more well-read, in terms of what society and the canon consider to be important reads. But that list can’t sustain me. I need fun; I crave it.  I need balance between the important because someone else said so and the important because I said so.

I also didn’t read a lot of recent releases. Receiving galleys of books not even published yet really made me feel up-to-date with what is being published now. I read books that ended up on year-end lists! This year I’ve hardly read any. As nice as it was to feel like my reading was current, I didn’t like feeling like I was reading on someone else’s schedule.

This year, for the most part, I read whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and in a lot of ways it was pure bliss. I bought a lot of books and read them immediately – when was the last time I did that? Instead of letting them sit on my shelf waiting for “the perfect moment,” that moment was the day or week they landed in my mailbox. But I found that I only read one translation, not nearly enough books by people of color, or books set in different places around the world.

This is a long way of introducing how I want to read things in 2014. I really only have one goal for next year: I want to learn things. I want to practice things. I want to get things right. There’s not really a wrong way to read, but this year I want to find that sweet spot between new releases, difficult, important reads, and books that I want to read. I want to read more books by women and I want to read more translations and I want to be a lot more well-informed when it comes to what is showing up on year-end lists.

I want to write down at least one quote from every book I read. I used to start out every review this way and I miss having a record of the piece of the book I loved the very most. I want to read more purposefully, but at the same time, not feel trapped by my purpose.

I don’t want to set myself up for failure. I don’t want to say I’m going to read one translation a month or read 30 books from around the world. I just want to be aware of what I want, of the kind of reading year I want to have. I want to keep up with the themed reading months. Comics in February, gardening in March, horror and thrillers in October, Nonfiction November. Those months were amazing and focusing so closely on one topic made me feel like I was really learning something about a genre or a topic or a form. I’m not sure what my themed months will be, but I know I’m already looking forward to them.

2014 is going to be the year of learning, the year of practice makes perfect, the year of balance. Or at least the year of trying for all three.

Nonfiction November – Week 1 in Review!

final version 3Well, the end of week 1 of Nonfiction November is here and let me just say – my TBR list is getting longer and longer and longer. My library queue and my bank account do not thank you. But the reader in me? I can’t wait to get to reading. We had a great turnout this week and I’m hoping to see even more folks participating next week. Don’t forget – if you join in any of the weeks you’re eligible to win one of two prize packs that Kim and I are picking out ourselves!

So what are your favorite nonfiction books?

Masanobu at All the Pretty Books told us about her three favorite topics to read about: Spanish grammar (hey! me too!), nonfiction books about books, history (especially WWII), women, and biology. Head over to her blog to see which of the nonfiction books she read were her favorite in those categories. I love that she included some that are in Spanish!

Joy at Joy’s Book Blog gave us her nonfiction favorite of 2013: Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life by Karen Karbo. You should head over to her blog to learn more about this new-to-me series, which sounds totally awesome.

Hillary at ahorseandacarrot, a big nonfiction reader, picked two history books as her favorite nonfiction reads of all time. I understand where she is coming from: sometimes you just don’t know why a book is your favorite. Sometimes they stick with you and you just can’t explain why. Head on over to ahorseandacarrot to see which books Hillary puts at the top of her list.

Tanya at 52 books or bust reads a lot more fiction than nonfiction, so she chose three narrative nonfiction books that will appeal to the fiction reader in all of us! She included one I really enjoyed, Brain On Fire by Susan Cahalan, so I’m adding the others to my TBR as we speak.

Sophie at Paper Breathers says at the end of her post that she’s excited to start reading some different types of nonfiction, since all of her favorites seemed to touch on ethics. Check out which books join The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot on Sophie’s top list of her three favorite nonfiction books.

Melissa at Avid Reader’s Musings has an amazing comprehensive list organized by category. She also includes my current nonfiction read: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. I’m so impressed by all the amazing nonfiction Melissa has read!

Andi at Estella’s Revenge includes one of my very favorite nonfiction comics: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen  by Lucy Knisley. It’s just so charming and perfect in every way. What else did she say is a favorite of hers? You’ll have to pop on over to Estella’s Revenge to find out!

Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall loves memoirs, so head on over to see which of the memoirs she’s read in 2013 ended up on her list of favorites. I’m also excited to see she’s included some nonfiction for children, like I Came From Water by Vanita Oelschlager.

Shannon at River City Reading has a stunning blog and an awesome duo of nonfiction favorites, including one of my personal favorites – Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. I love Strayed so much, I included her in the button!

Julz at JulzReads has a long list of her nonfiction favorites. The one that caught my eye is The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary. How cool does that sound?

Nupur at One Hot Stove gave us a top ten of her nonfiction reads in the comments section of this week’s post. It’s full of classics, recent bestsellers, and so many interesting choices. Including a cookbook of sorts I have sitting on my shelf: Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese.

Stacy at Stacyverb has just an awesome list. These are all books I’ve been meaning to read forever!! Of the one’s I’ve read, Love is a Mix Tape is definitely one of my favorites, but also one of the saddest books I’ve read. I’ve also been meaning to read On Writing by Stephen King! If these two books are any indication, though, everyone should be adding Stacy’s picks to the top of their TBR! She’s got good taste.

Care at Care’s Online Book Club chose to talk about her favorite nonfiction author: Tracy Kidder. He sounds amazing! You really must go read about Care’s recommendations.

Finally, your two hosts. Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness took the one title approach and told us about her favorite nonfiction read: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman and I just couldn’t pick one, so I listed 10 of my favorite nonfiction reads. It’s a list I already want to edit after seeing some of the amazing titles you chose!

Remember, next week’s theme is Be the Expert or Ask the Expert or Become the Expert: 

Be the Expert: Is there a particular topic you have read a lot of books about? Share that with us so we can all become well-read in your favorite topic!

Ask the ExpertIs there a topic you want to know more about but you aren’t sure where to start? Ask us and hopefully we’ll have good answers for you in the comments sections. Maybe someone can take on your question in a second Nonfiction November post later in the week.

Become the Expert: Do you have a subject that dominates your TBR? What books would you read to become an expert in the topic of your choice?

Pick one, or two, or all three options for next week’s Nonfiction November. Remember – Kim is hosting the linky and the roundup post next week, so head on over to Sophisticated Dorkiness to share your link.

I hope you had a great first week of Nonfiction November. I know I did!

Bout of Books 8.0 Goals!


Today is the first day of the Bout of Books 8.0, which is a readathon that goes from Today at 12:01AM all the way through Sunday. Everyone sets their own goals. As they say on their introductory post, the only “competition” is between you and the amount of books you normally read. When Kim said recently that she was going to participate by challenging herself to give up television for the week and to read during that time instead, I thought that might be a good idea for me too. I need a little less screen time myself.

My challenge will be twofold. I want to knock off a few books from my shelves and to get my book club book read. I usually read for 2 hours on the subway every morning, but I want to spend the rest of my evening time, that’s not spent on dinner or hanging out with Michael, only on reading. I typically read 1-3 books a week, so my goal for this week will be 5. I already finished one this afternoon: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. The other five I read will come from this pile:


1. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
2. The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss
3. Sleep, Pale Sister by Joannne Harris
4. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
5. Nothing by Blake Butler
6. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked is this month’s book club pick, so even if I don’t get to it this week, I’ll be rereading it next. It’s one of my favorites, so I’m excited to revisit it. I’m not planning on doing much reading this weekend, since I’ll be visiting my mom to celebrate her birthday, but we’ll also probably do a lot of lounging in the pool, so there will definitely be some reading. My only goal is to read when normally I would be watching TV and reading Tumblr. We’ll see how it goes!

(I’m uploading this from my tablet, so I apologize in advance if any of the formatting is a little wonky!)

Things I Have Loved Recently

For a few reasons, the past month has been one that has felt like a roller coaster. Good things happen and then bad and in between, a whole lot of smooth and steady. I blog mostly on the weekends, so being out of town a lot makes it difficult, but I’m trying to be more organized. (When am I not trying to be more organized?) I thought I might tell you about a few things that I have loved recently, things that are making my days brighter and better, just because they exist. We all need a few of those, right?


Concerts – I am going to see The xx in September. I am not sure I have listened to any other band or musician as much as The xx in the past few years. I think they are perfect and I haven’t been this excited for a show in a long time. I’ve heard they are amazing live.

Songs – “The Mother We Share” by CHVRCHES, “Pompeii” by Bastille, “Lightning Bolt” and “Note To Self” by Jake Bugg, “Believer” by American Authors, “Breezeblocks” by Alt J, “Faithful Heights” by NIght Beds, “Synesthesia” by Andrew MacMahon

Albums – Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend


So, a few years ago, Michael and I were looking for something to do. How to Train Your Dragon was playing at our local $1 movie theater, so we took my little sister, thinking it would be a fun afternoon. Except I’m pretty sure I loved the movie more than my sister did. I’ve seen it a few times since then and every time I love it even more. It’s funny and beautifully drawn and heartwarming. Anyway, the trailer for How to Train Your Dragon 2 was released this week and I just keep watching it again and again. It’s everything I hoped it would be and more. Just so perfect!

ParaNorman – Did you tell me to watch this? Because if you did, I’m so sorry I ignored you. You haven’t seen ParaNorman yet? What are you waiting for?! I have a predisposition to love ghost stories, and awesome sidekicks who steal the show, and siblings, and autumn, and John Goodman, but honestly. If you like any of those things, or just a few of them, ParaNorman is on Netflix Instant and you are missing out by not watching this.


Gravity Falls – After I watched ParaNorman and stalked the tumblr tags, I noticed a lot of comparisons to Gravity Falls. Michael and I have watched a few episodes now and it is hilarious. Mabel is the 12-year-old I wish I was. See all of the above things that I love (except for John Goodman) and you also have Gravity Falls.

I’m definitely missing the shows that I watched during the winter, especially Supernatural and Nashville. I also finished my first watch of Buffy and Game of Thrones S2, so I don’t really have a show that I’m watching whenever I have a spare 50 minutes. Do you have any suggestions? I prefer something that is available on Netflix Instant or Hulu+!


Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo – I listened to this on audio and I loved it. I can’t wait to read the sequel! It always feels so good to get completely lost in a fantasy world that you buy into entirely and that’s how I felt about Shadow & Bone.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater – One of my favorite listens this year was The Raven Boys and this book was my most-coveted galley at BEA. Thanks to the amazing Memory, I was able to get a copy. I’m reading it now and it is living up to everything, though I certainly miss having Will Patton read it to me. I will be downloading the audiobook as soon as it is available.


It’s true, I’ve been neglecting most other corners of the internet for tumblr, and I’ve been thinking a lot about why. I suppose there might be a whole post in here, but tumblr gives me a space to just love things. I do not need to comment on it, though I can if I want to. It’s just a space that is full of the things I love. Lately, that’s been exactly what I need. I don’t think it could ever sustain me as my only way of blogging or staying connected, it’s too specific for that, but as a tool to share the things I love and discover new things (like Gravity Falls, for example!), it’s just what the doctor ordered.

What have you loved lately?

Wrapping Up Graphic Novels February, Hello to March Food & Gardening!

Thanks to Debi, I spent February reading a lot of comics. You see, Debi is picking a theme for each month of reading and I liked the plan so much that I’m joining her. I know that Chris and Heather are reading, too. February was such a success, that I’m going to be participating in March’s theme, too, but more on that later.

Here are the comics I read in February:

  1. Hicksville by Dylan Horrocks
  2. Blue by Pat Grant
  3. Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
  4. Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
  5. Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes by Mary Talbot and Bryan Talbot
  6. The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra
  7. The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Deomakos, & Nate Powell
  8. Locke & Key Vol 1 by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
  9. The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire
  10. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle and Hope Larson
  11. Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canals and Juanjo Guarnido (finished in March)

I also read these other books:

  1. January First by Michael Schofield
  2. The Raven Boys  by Maggie Stiefvater
  3. One & The Same by Abigail Pogrebin
  4. Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

So of all the comics I read, which ones do I wholeheartedly recommend? Well, certainly Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks, Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire, and Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido, which I just finished today and adored.

It was one of the best reading months I’ve had in a long time! As you can see, I did still read quite a few non-graphic novels during the month and I’d really like to start balancing out my reading a bit more. This has been a great year for me and non-fiction, and now comics, and I’d like to keep it that way.

Speaking of non-fiction, March is all about reading about nature and gardening. Michael and I are doing our first balcony garden this year and we’ve already started planting our seeds in starters in the apartment. We’re going to try and grow broccoli, hot peppers, tomatoes, and a lot of herbs. I also got a strawberry kit that goes in your windowsill. I have high hopes for all of them!

All of that is to say that I’m very interested in this month’s theme, too, so I’m going to keep on reading with Debi, Chris, and Heather! Here’s my list for this month:

march reading


  1. The Blueberry Years by Jim Minick
  2. Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
  3. Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education by Michael Pollan
  4. The Quarter-Acre Farm by Spring Warren

I have been meaning to read Animal Vegetable Miracle for a long time and I found the rest of these books by browsing the “books like” Animal Vegetable Miracle category on a few different sites. All but the Pollan will be available for me on Monday, so I’m excited to dig in (pun intended).

Thank you again, Debi, for coming up with such awesome themes and getting me to read things that normally would have taken a back burner! 2013 is already turning into one of my best reading years.

March Reading – Possession Readalong #readbyatt

byattIt’s officially March, which means two things: spring is almost here and the Possession readalong is here. Kim and I have been chatting about doing a readalong for Possession by AS Byatt for a few weeks now, because we have both tried to read this book on our own, but never made it through. I even convinced my book club to read it, but then I couldn’t go to the meeting that month!

This isn’t a very stressful readalong. You can feel free to join in on your blog or Twitter, using the hashtag  #readbyatt. (It was surprisingly difficult to come up with a short enough hashtag that made sense!) We’ll also post once week about the book. Here’s the schedule we came up with:

March 11: Chapters 1-6
March 18: Chapters 7-13
March 25: Chapters 14-19
April 1: Chapter 20-End

I know March 11 is soon, but we made the first section a little bit shorter, so you can hopefully  join in. As Kim mentioned in her post, we’re not doing official sign ups for this one, but we hope you’ll let us know in the comments (or on Twitter!) if you’re joining in.  If you’re like Kim and I and you’ve had Possession on your TBR for as long as we have, I hope you’ll be able to read along with us!

This week in…


You know what I needed after finally finishing Game of Thrones? Graphic Novels/Comics February! There is nothing like reading comics to boost your numbers self-esteem. It’s also just nice to give into the medium. I’ve two very long, involved fantasy novels the last two months and comics are the perfect change of pace. It’s also hard not to devour them. I try to savor each panel and make sure that I’m really paying attention. So far, my favorite comic has been Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks and Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples.

Fair warning: don’t read Saga on a crowded subway train. People always read over your shoulder when you read comics, and occasionally remark on said comics, and that would have been an interesting conversation. I am going to do a full review of Saga, but I really loved it. I can’t wait until July for the next full installment. Anyone know where I can buy the monthly installments?


Starting sometime in the middle of 2012, I decided to start watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I didn’t really get into it, but would watch an episode here and there. Then something happened about halfway through season one (just like you said it would) and suddenly I was head-over-heels in love. Now I am halfway through season four and still so happy with the show. I just watched one of the best episodes, and possibly one of my favorite hours of television, “Hush” (S4, E10). The episode is almost completely silent, except for some excellent, atmospheric music, because the monster of the week has taken everyone’s voices. It’s perfect and funny and genuinely creepy. It’s an episode that I can see myself rewatching.


It’s the superbowl! But not I’m not even sure I could tell you who is playing. (The Ravens? Right? But I couldn’t tell you who the other team is. I looked it up on Wikipedia and promptly forgot.) Superbowl Sunday is, for me, an eating holiday. I don’t watch the game and right now don’t host or attend any parties, but Michael and I cook yummy finger foods to snack on all day. On the menu for tomorrow? Homemade chex mix, which made our apartment smell like Christmas all day, How Sweet Eats blue cheese potato skins, and spinach artichoke dip.


My sister is in town for the Fun. concert. I’m pretty jealous! We are getting lunch today before she heads home and I’m pretty excited about that! We’re trying a new restaurant near my office, which will hopefully be a possible new lunch place.


I feel like this week was really busy, but I can’t remember what I did. I worked for 6 days straight, but other than that, I can’t really remember what I did in the evenings. I guess it wasn’t very memorable! I have had a bad flair up of migraines lately, so I think I did a lot of going to bed early and relaxing, waiting for them to pass. I get aura migraines, which make it hard to see much of anything. They’re very inconvenient.

I’m excited to get home this afternoon and relax with a comic, a beer, and some delicious Superbowl food. It’s going to be a perfect afternoon, I can feel it. Enjoy your Sunday!