Category Archives: General

Guidelines for gifting books

So November has flown by and we’re already past Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. As a book lover, I tend to give books to people as gifts for the holidays. However, I suggest the following guidelines for gifting:

1. Read the book. You wouldn’t suggest a restaurant to a loved one without eating there first, right? Same goes for books. If you can’t read the book (no time, it’s checked out of your library, etc.) try and find a good review. The New York Times is good, and they just came out with their 100 Notable Books of 2011. Other resources are Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist. For the kiddos, look at The Horn Book or School Library Journal. Or ask your librarian. Librarians love to suggest books.

2. Spy on your loved one. Does your mom have a stack of romance novels? Is your boyfriend a horror fan? Peek at the bookshelf of the person you are buying for, or ask someone else to peek if the person doesn’t live with you. For example, my dad fancies himself a mariner, so I got him The Devil’s Teeth, about sharks. He loved it! Epic gift win. You can also look up a title they’ve enjoyed on Amazon, which will then suggest other books that are similar. You can also see if your local library subscribes to NoveList, or use free services like GoodReads or LibraryThing.

3. Shell out for a nice copy… Go for the hardcover, people. It’s easier to wrap, first of all, and just seems more gift-y than a paperback. Inscribe the book with a note. Cut off the corner that has the price on the dust jacket. “But then I can’t return it if they don’t want it!” you exclaim. If you successfully completed steps 1 and 2, you shouldn’t worry. They will love it!

4. …but don’t go crazy. Unless the person you are buying for is absolutely totally 1000% into a topic, you don’t need to go overboard. If your favorite uncle is a Shakespearean scholar and you found a first folio with Billy Shakes’ autograph, and you have a zillion dollars to buy it, then by all means go for it. However, if you go to your local library, they usually have an ongoing book sale and you can get very very gently used hardcovers for five dollars or so. This is also a great resource for buying children’s books.

Be merry, and be bookish.




Celebrate the Freedom to Read!

This week, September 24-October 1, is Banned Books Week—an annual celebration of intellectual freedom. It also serves to educate about the dangers of censorship. The American Library Association, and librarians in general, are pretty vehement about the freedom to read, asserting that it is up to the patron (or, in the case of young kids, the parent) to determine what they want to read. Librarians—superheroes of the First Amendment!


Here are some great, often challenged books that I personally recommend:

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

ttyl by Lauren Myracle

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


More info about Banned Books Week:

Question: What do you think about book censorship?

Do you remember what you were reading?

Today is the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Ten years seems like a long time, but it goes by in the blink of an eye. I’m sure a lot of people remember that day, but do you remember what you were reading at that time?

It seems like a silly question…almost “Who CARES what I was reading when 3,000 people died?” I think it’s important to reflect on past reads, though, because they shape us, no matter how subtly.

My grandmother kept track of what she read, and so I started to do so as my New Year’s resolution in 2001. And so, in the beginning of September 2001, I read 1000 Acres by Jane Smiley and Shakespeare’s King Lear (I was in high school AP English). Looking back, I remember how sad these two particular stories were and how there was a sense of hopelessness around them (they are essentially the same story, Jane Smiley’s is an updated version of Lear.) I remember finishing 1000 Acres and just sitting there like a lump, like, how much more sadness is there to bear?

I’m not trying to be a downer, I just find it interesting that what we read often reflects our environment at the time.

Do any of you keep a list of what you read? Do you remember what you were reading?

Introducing… Marissa Antosh!

For the past year or so, I’ve run all by my lonesome. Planning an international event by one’s self is, to say the least, difficult. Additionally, when I write about books, I usually write about books that I love, and I’m only one person with one set of preferences. That gets boring for you out there!

When I planned the first DNBRD, in 2009, I made a friend on Twitter named Marissa. She and I wrote back and forth, sharing our passion for books and libraries. We’ve never met in person, but I consider her my friend.

And so, a few weeks ago, I invited Marissa to be a part of I’m really excited about this partnership! Marissa is super sweet, intelligent, and lovely. Her contributions will add another perspective to the site.

Please join me in warmly welcoming Marissa! You can learn more about her by clicking this link.

I’ll be on the radio this Friday!

Hey everyone, I’m excited to announce that I’m going to be on At Issue with Ben Merens on Wisconsin Public Radio this Friday (8/5) at 5pm Central! You can listen online or, if you’re in Wisconsin, on your local WPR station.

Listen in!


In addition to awesome shirts, hoodies, and infant onesies (available in my Spreadshirt shop), you can now buy Do Nothing But Read Day mugs, travel mugs, and SIGG bottles!

Brandon Werner, the awesomely talented designer of the DNBRD crest, created a special mug logo for us. I can’t wait to drink some coffee out of mine!

Click here to get your very own DNBRD mug!

It's a mug with a crest with a mug with a crest with a mug...

Do Nothing But Read Day Shop

Are you sad that June’s DNBRD is over? (I am!) If you want to relive the magic all year round, and help spread the word about Do Nothing But Read Day, head on over to my Spreadshirt shop.

You can get DNBRD hoodies (zip-ups and pullovers), baby onesies, and buttons… and that’s just the start. I plan to have a full shop full of DNBRD stuff for you to buy for yourself, give as gifts, or get for your reading friends for December’s event.

Profits from the shop will go towards maintaining, improving, and upgrading, and towards prizes/giveaways/events, etc.

Click here to go to the Do Nothing But Read Day Shop!

Women's zip-up hoodie: crest on the front, motto on the back. I want one!!