Friday Reads

I am so excited for the weekend because my to-be read pile is growing, and since I’ve checked all of these titles out from various libraries and I’m fastidious about turning them back in on time (no renewals allowed on any of the titles I’ve checked out!), I have a lot of pages to read.

First up: Housekeeping, by Marilynne Robinson. I’ve never read anything by this greatly esteemed author, but I’ve heard from lots of people that she’s a favorite author of theirs, and this book fits the bill for one of my reading challenge categories: published in the year I was born.

Second: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. I’ve never read a comic book from cover to cover, so I’m excited to branch out and read this, especially since it was recommended on my favorite podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour.

Third: The Wang’s vs. The World. I’m a huge fan of Chinese immigrant and Chinese-American stories (side note: did you know Kevin Kwan’s next book, Rich People Problems, is coming out this May?!? I’m so excited!!) and this is a comedic take on a rich Chinese-American family’s downfall during the recession.

Fourth: Exit West. This new novel is getting rave reviews and I’m very interested in the timely subject matter in light of Trump’s latest travel ban. The NYT calls it “a dystopian parable about the current refugee crisis.” Anyone else want to read it for a virtual book club?

Happy Friday!

 

Books & Podcast Recommendations for the Easily Distracted Parent

In the six years since I first became a parent, I’ve discovered that my attention span is exactly the length of two Paw Patrol episodes. But due to a recent surgery, a broken wrist and seven (yes, count them: SEVEN) weeks of suffering through various head colds and the flu, I found a newly redeveloped talent: the ability to sit still and pay attention to printed words. However, I realize that not every parent has the luxury of sitting on their couch for hours on end, so the following recommendations can be enjoyed in snippets, too!

Books:

Act Like It When I received the iBooks email with the phrase “free books” in it, I didn’t know I was going down a rabbit hole of romance novels, but this book is well-written and a good read, which I discovered after two shout-outs, one on Book Riot and one on my favorite podcast, Pop Culture Happy Hour. After reading this, I’ve read a lot of BAD romance novels and I’ll tell you, this one is rare: good, an interesting plot with real-life characters. Trust me.

Dumplin’ If you enjoyed Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, you will like this book. It’s YA fiction at its best: it doesn’t insult your intelligence and portrays teenage characters in a realistic way.

Hag-Seed Totally and completely different than the previous two recommendations, this is a highly entertaining book by Margaret Atwood. It’s her reinterpretation of The Tempest and you don’t have to remember the original (or even have read) to enjoy it.

We Live in Water I don’t usually enjoy short story collections, but this one by Jess Walter is so, so good. The first story is probably my favorite – it’s gut-punching, magnificent writing and the PWN is lucky to have such a talented writer.

And if you’re not in the mood for books right now, here are a few podcasts I’ve been enjoying lately:

Podcasts:

Crimetown Go behind the scenes of organized crime in Providence, Rhode Island, with this fascinating look at a larger-than-life mayor and the mob. After each episode, you’ll marvel that this is a true story.

Missing Richard Simmons I didn’t even know Richard Simmons was missing, but that doesn’t matter. Why did he disappear? Why haven’t his closest friends heard from him? And will the mystery be solved by the end of the season? I need answers. NOW.

The 2017 Reading Challenge Begins

My friend C challenged her Twitter followers to a 50-book reading challenge, and I jumped on board, hoping it gives me the motivation to read outside my usual favorite genres. So far I’ve been successful, but that’s likely because my only appointment television this year has been two reality shows that air on the same night. The reading challenge includes books in categories like a graphic novel, a book you’ve started but never finished, and a book set in your hometown. Let me know if you want to join us!

Here are my January reads so far:

Empty Mansions I’m reading this as an ebook from the library and really need this in print for the pictures. It’s a non-fiction tale about a reclusive heiress who spent the last 20 years of her life in a hospital despite being well enough to live in one of her many palatial mansions. Fascinating! 

Hungry Heart This is the memoir of one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Weiner, and it’s about her life as a mom, an author, and as a “big girl”. It’s lovely and she has an incredible reading voice. 

Vinegar Girl This is my first pick of the modern Shakespeare retellings from beloved authors. Based on Taming of the Shrew, I only sort of liked this book, but I admit the original version is troubling so she could only do so much with the characters. 

The Woman Who Stole My Life I love the Irish author Marian Keyes and this book is yet another good read with complexly crafted female characters. It’s not new, but it was new to me. If you’ve never read her, it’s time to start! 

The 5 Best Books I’ve Read This Year

My friend Beth asked for book recommendations, so here we are near the end of National Blog Posting Month, and I’m gladly taking requests! One more day!

  1. Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld. I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen and this was a humorous modern take on one of my favorite books. And while I know the plot of the original backwards and forwards, there were a few surprises in Sittenfeld’s retelling to keep me guessing. Highly recommend.
  2. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. I had read about this book on many blogs and book sites, but what finally grabbed my attention was that Bill Gates had read it and loved it so much he was gifting it to his friends. Definitely worth the read!
  3. Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes. This is by far the best self-help, get up off your ass and seize the day book that I’ve ever read. I recommend this book to everyone. And listen to the audiobook! You will not regret it. I’ve already made a resolution to listen to it at least once a year.
  4. Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson. Before you read this one, read or listen to her first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir. You will laugh and cry and feel less alone in the world, especially if you’ve ever suffered from depression or anxiety.
  5. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini. I became slightly obsessed with scientology after listening to one of my favorite podcast’s 9-part series on the mysterious church. So when I heard that Leah Remini had left the church and wrote a tell-all story, I had to listen. After listening to hours of the podcast and hours of her book, I’m still mystified by scientology and can’t get enough!

What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

2016 Book Lovers’ Gift Guide

I decided to create my Book Lovers’ Gift Guide a little early this year. Here are some of my favorite finds for the librarian, English major, or just general book lover in your life.

 

  1. Podcast Co-Host Top in Bookworm from my new fav, Mod Cloth. Their clothes are made to fit real women!
  2. I love these adult size Very Hungry Caterpillar socks from old fav Out of Print.
  3. Books Turn Muggles into Wizards travel mug from the Harry Potter Alliance.
  4. I love this Emily Bronte quote, and a framed version would look great in my office.
  5. This ideal feminist bookshelf painting would also look great in my office! Can you tell my office walls feel a little bare? libraryprint
  6. I love this print called “I Saw Her in the Library.” slashgame
  7. As soon as heard about this card game, I knew it had to go on my wish list. Now to find people to play it with! Players compete to create the best romantic fan fiction pairing from favorite characters from pop culture, history and literature. A co-worker says it’s like Cards Against Humanity for pop culture nerds. Perfect!

Anything else I should add to this list? What do you get for the book lover in your life (or better yet, what’s the last thing you bought for yourself that you absolutely loved)?

Thanks for reading Day 4 of NaBloPoMo! NaBloPoMo November 2016

Read other NaBloPoMo posts here:
Day 3: Once Upon a Hong Kong Winter
Day 2: Parenting Hacks
Day 1: Created Equal 

What’s on Baby’s Bookshelf?

My kindly coworkers asked if I needed anything in particular for baby #2. Besides the Ergo baby carrier that I’m still coveting, my number one pick is books!

I asked my well-read group of friends what books are on their must-read list for babies and toddlers and they responded with the following titles.

And favorite children’s’ book authors include Sandra Bonynton, Richard Scarry, Mo Willems, and Oliver Jeffers.

I would add Little Blue Truck, Ferdinand, Chu’s Day, A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee, Llama Llama Time to Share, and If Jesus Came to My House. 

What books are on your top 10 list for babies and/or toddlers? 

What Should I Read Next?

GoodReads

Reading List, 2014

I set my GoodReads reading goal to 36 books this year, before I found out I was pregnant. Now my goal is to finish 36 books before baby arrives and I’m 14 books in to finishing my goal. Why must I finish before baby arrives? Well, let’s just say reading and nursing at the same time was very difficult for me the first time around, although I did manage to read Cutting for Stone (and it’s a LONG book) on my iPhone during feedings. So maybe there’s hope after all for my literacy well being.

I’ve read a lot of Young Adult fiction this year. After reading the heartbreaking The Fault in Our Stars, I took a hiatus from John Green but then read his other books in quick succession. None were as good as TFIOS, but all were enjoyable. And I kept wishing books like this existed when I was growing up. I also found mention of A.S. King’s Reality Boy on a book blog, and immediately downloaded it to listen to on my commute. Even though it’s YA, it was amazing. So, so good.

At some point, I will review some of my other recent reads, but I will quickly say this: read the Veronica Mars novel after you watch the movie, and prepare to have your socks knocked off!

Right now, I’m reading The Goldfinch, which is really good (and sad!) but very dense and it’s going to take me a while to finish. So in addition to this lunchtime read, I want to add something lighter to bedtime reading. Oh, and audiobooks. I need suggestions as everything I want to listen to is already checked out from the library.

What’s the best thing you’ve read lately? Is the rest of the Divergent series worth reading? Because let’s be real, it’s no Hunger Games!