Category Archives: The Reading Life

Two Years and Counting!!

As my lovely colleague Marissa reminded me, today is the two year anniversary of the very first Do Nothing But Read Day. I spent a very snowy December 20, 2009, curled up in an easy chair, reading young adult fiction. This past summer’s DNBRD, I lounged outside on my porch, reading some Gary Shteyngart. We’re taking a little DNBRD break this holiday season, but don’t fear! I’m planning for a springtime DNBRD, which will be perfect for breaking in hammocks and picnic blankets everywhere.

 

How have you spent past DNBRDs? Are you having your own DNBRD anytime soon? Let us know! And sincerely, from the bottom of our book-loving, library-obsessed hearts, thank you for reading.

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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.

Marissa

 


So far, a thoughtful read

You guys know that I love Stephen King, so you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I started reading his newest novel, 11/22/63. Yes, it’s daunting at 848 pages, but so far, I adore it.

The pacing is lovely; I’m on page 168 and I still really have no idea what’s going to happen, but I can see a framework being built. The characterization is fantastic. The main character, Jake, is an English teacher from Maine (as are many of King’s characters over the years; write what you know). Jake is still getting over a divorce, but he doesn’t seem bitter or mean. He’s more refined than many of King’s characters, and I don’t see any skeletons in his closet (yet? At all?). That’s sort of nice. While Jake’s character is a big part of the plot, because he has to make a lot of difficult decisions, the plot itself is absolutely fascinating.

It’s that age-old question: what if you could go back in time and prevent something terrible from happening? In this case, it’s the assassination of JFK. Imagine all the implications of JFK finishing that tour of Dallas unscathed. There are probably things in your own life that would be different. Maybe you would have been born 15 years earlier, maybe you would have never been born at all. It’s the butterfly effect with a gigantic butterfly. It’s especially powerful because these are events that really happened; we’ve all seen the Zapruder film.

Since this novel takes place in Maine (at least partly), expect some major integration of familiar names, places, and even plot from King’s previous novels. I love that he does that. Everything feels richer and more real.

I’ll tell you my final impressions of the book when I finish it! Happy reading!


In praise of a good cafe

If you are like me, which you might be, you enjoy reading while drinking warm things and munching on baked goods. Coffee shops and cafes are my favorite places to read when the weather gets bleary and my lovely porch is no longer that cozy. My new place to read these days is the Coffee Gallerie in Madison, Wisconsin. It’s a half block from my apartment and their drinks are delicious. The chairs are pretty comfy, and there’s even a fireplace!

Today I’m reading Skeleton Crew by, who else, Stephen King. (It is Halloween, after all!) What’s on your Halloween reading agenda? Where do you like to read outside of the house?

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Geek Out: Yarn

A more appropriate title for this might be Geek Out: Art and Craftiness, but I chose yarn specifically because it’s been on my mind, like, today.

I LOVE YARN. I have too much of it. I specifically like sock yarn because I love to knit socks. What is geekier than knitting socks? Not much, especially if you sit home weekend nights knitting socks and watching TV. I have so many socks that I knitted for myself that my sock drawer is FULL. If I lived in Alaska, it might make sense to have this many warm, cozy, handknit socks. But I live in Connecticut, where it is temperate most of the year.

I also geek out about sheep. Not in a weird, yucky way, but in a “AWW! SHEEP ARE SO CUTE!” way. Ask my friend Andrea, who made the mistake of letting me into the sheep building at the Big E last year. I think we were there at least an hour? Maybe two? And I pet the sheep and talked to all the knitting and yarn people.

So for knitting books, I highly recommend the always informative and hilarious Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I also (today!) started a book by Catherine Friend called Sheepish which describes her experience living on a sheep farm.

That’s just one of my geek-outs. Any other yarn fans out there?


Speak Out with Your Geek Out!

It’s Speak Out with Your Geek Out week! This event is an effort to make being a geek more acceptable, and to end bullying surrounding geek stuff. Geeks can be positive role models, so this week, a lot of bloggers are “coming out” with their geekiness.

I’ve been a reader and a book nerd since I was 2, and I used to get made fun of a lot. Spending my time reading a book during lunch was, apparently, not the cool thing to do. Now that I’m an adult, I’m the kind of adult who goes to comic book conventions, reads horror novels, and plays video games. Geeking out is about doing what you love, and not really caring what people think about it.

Question for you, Dear Reader:

What do you “geek out” about? What’s your nerdy passion?


Hello Wisconsin…and elsewhere!

First, I want to thank Amanda for inviting me onboard. I feel like the fan who gets to get up on stage during a concert. I love the idea of a holiday that is all about reading, but I also think it’s so important to incorporate reading for fun into every day.

I found out yesterday that my mom has never read E.B. White’s classic Charlotte’s Web. For my part, I never read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn until earlier this summer. My sister and I are working through the 2008 edition of 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, which is what got me to read Huck Finn.

Are there books that you’ve never read that you wish you had, or books that you think people would be surprised that you haven’t gotten to yet?