Regular Rumination

Goodbye 2013, hello 2014!

Posted by in Books


Happy New Year! I hope you have a safe and happy holiday. With only a few hours left in 2013, here is my End of Year Book Survey, hosted by the lovely Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner. I’ll see you next year!

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

I obviously do have to cheat.

Fantasy - Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones – Holy cow, friends. I know you’ve been telling me for (literally) years to read Diana Wynne Jones and I don’t know what kept me away for so long. I loved LOVED loved this book. Everything about it.

Middle Grade - The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly – I want to give this book to every man, woman, and child that I know and love, it was that good. I’m so glad I received this for my birthday. Alyssa knew I would love it.

Nonfiction - Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer – SO GOOD. This is the kind of book that sticks with you long after you read it. So so good.

True Crime - People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry – I totally admit to cheating right now. This is the only true crime book I read this year, but I wanted a reason to talk about both Parasite Rex and People Who Eat Darkness. This book is so interesting because not only is it a story of a crime that shocked two countries, but an in-depth look at the Japanese justice system and how it works.

Comic - Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire – I read so many comics this year, it was hard to pick just one. This one, though, is brilliant and I still think about it all the time. It shows up in my dreams. It’s drawn in Lemire’s signature style and there are many things about it that feel familiar – cold landscapes, absent families, innocence shattered by the real world – but it is set in a disease-ravaged future where mutant children are either a sure sign of our destruction or our only hope. It’s just perfect.

Poetry - Dear Darkness by Kevin Young – Perfect, perfect, perfect. I wrote about this one for a BookRiot Buy, Borrow, Bypass post.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

The Dinner by Herman Koch. I love literary thrillers about bad people behaving badly. I also love books that are contained in a short time period, so the framing of the story in one meal appealed to me, too. But overall, this really fell flat for me.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 

Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham. This is definitely not the kind of book I usually read, but Someday, Someday, Maybe is funny and nostalgic in the best way.

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

I’m desperate to get non-fantasy readers to read Seraphina. I’ve also recommended the audiobook of The Raven Boys more times than I can count. Will Patton’s voice makes that book sing.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

Definitely Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire. And, of course, The Raven Boys.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

Kelly Braffet. I read and loved Save Yourself. I can’t wait to read her other two novels!

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I read a regency romance for the first time this year and I had a blast reading it. Nine Rules to Break While Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean is ridiculous and charming and fun, just as advertised.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

I didn’t love everything about Night Film by Marisha Pessl, but I still could not put it down, especially the last third. I just had to know what happened.

 9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I listened to the audiobook and it was a good audiobook, but I do feel like I missed things. I want to read this one again before the sequel comes out. 

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?


You just need to see this in person. It’s stunning. The cover actually looks water damaged and the front and end papers are full color photographs of the hospital during the flood.

11. Most memorable character in 2013? 

Sophie, Howl, and Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot. I don’t know that there are any books that have really changed my life or made me think about something in a new way. I’m hoping that I do have a book like this in 2014!

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? 

Howl’s Moving CastleThe Great Gatsby. I Capture the Castle.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

I wish I had been better about keeping track of quotes from the books I read this year, but I did really love this quote from the poem “Ode to Catfish”: “Remember the day, po boy,/you fried up catfish/with grits for breakfast, your mother/& sisters surrounding us/& you declared it/perfect? Sweet Jesus/you were right./Fish hooks in my heart./My plate full of bones/I’m scared to swallow.”

And this one from Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter:

Weren’t movies his generation’s faith anyway — its true religion? Wasn’t the theater our temple, the one place we enter separately but emerge from two hours later together, with the same experience, same guided emotions, same moral? A million schools taught ten million curricula, a million churches featured ten thousand sects with a billion sermons — but the same movie showed in every mall in the country. And we all saw it! That summer, the one you’ll never forget, every movie beamed the same set of thematic and narrative images — the same Avatar, same Harry Potter, same Fast and Furious, flickering pictures stitched in our minds that replaced our own memories, archetypal stories that became our shared history, that taught us what to expect from life, that defined our values. What was that but religion? (21)

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Shortest book: Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra and Double Shadow by Carl Phillips (both 80 pages)

Longest: A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin (1177 pages)

 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

The ending of Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet. Ugh! Can we talk about this SOMEONE PLEASE? I also squealed a lot about dramatic turns of events in Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Sassmasters Sophie and Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle. Franny and Dan from Someday, Someday, Maybe.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Locke & Key by Joe Hill. I’m really excited to continue reading this series.

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones recommended by the entire blogosphere. Even though I loved the movie, I don’t know that I ever would have read this book if you hadn’t told me how much you loved it.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

I’m actually surprised by this: it’s adult contemporary fiction. But really not by much. Next up after that was fantasy.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

I totally have a friend crush on Lucy Knisley after reading Relish. Lucy, can we be friends? And we can cook and you can teach me how to draw? Ok?

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

I didn’t read a ton of debuts, so I’m going to pass on this one!

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

I know, I’m sounding like a total broken record here, but the world-building in Howl’s Moving Castle was just spectacular. Also Seraphina. And The Raven Boys. 

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

Honestly, one of the most fun books I read in 2013 was the absolute worst book I read this year. My coworker and I have a book club of two, and we decided to read Indiscretion by Charles Dubow. We spent the whole time we read it texting each other about how unbelievably bad it was. I nearly threw it across the room when I finished it, but I was in the subway and I probably would have hit some poor commuter. It was only fun because there were two of us reading together and, fortunately, we both agreed about its terribleness. Otherwise I never would have finished!

As for more traditionally “fun” I’m going to go with Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah MacLean and Cinder by Marissa Meyer.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

The only reason I didn’t outright sob my way through the ending of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is because I was on the subway and I didn’t want people to have to do the awkward “is this girl in serious trouble or is she just crying because of her book?” glance.

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

I really want more people to read Save Yourself by Kelly Braffet. It’s a beautiful, dark, suburban tale that I loved. I read it because Joe Hill recommended it on tumblr, but I haven’t really heard much about it other than that. Go out and read it!


5 Years Later

Posted by in Blogging

Five years ago today, I was a sophomore in college and without a thing to read over my winter break. I wanted something new to read, so I got online to find book reviews and discovered that there was such a thing as a book blog. I knew that this was how I wanted to spend my time and a baby blog was born.

Since then, a lot of things have changed, but one thing is still the same. I feel so fortunate for that day, because book blogging has changed my life in more ways than I can count. I have met amazing people, been fortunate enough to have many opportunities, and hope to be a blogger for a long time.

Usually, I don’t do much for my blogiversary, because there is just so much going on. It’s the end of the year! There are year-end surveys and book lists, New Year’s Resolutions, and holiday posts. But lately I’ve felt the blogging bug and I thought I might share some of my blogging resolutions.

  • Blog at least once a week. I know this won’t happen every week, but I’d really like to try to make this a priority in 2014.
  • Blog about books, but not necessarily reviews. I like my book lists, my conversations about books, but I’ve been tired of writing reviews for a long time. I think it’s time to just let them go.
  • Post a quote from every book I read. Weekly post about this, maybe?
  • Blog about other things. I’ve thought about blogging about NYC, crafting, recipes. I’d like to find a way to do this consistently. I want my blog to reflect my life.

And that’s it. I want resolutions that are doable. I want 2014 to be the year of getting it right in all aspects of my life. Or at least trying my best. Will you join me?


Parasite Rex

Posted by in Books

parasite rex

After reading Parasite by Mira Grant, I couldn’t help but be curious about the real science behind the story. She even mentions Parasite Rex in her author’s note. When Aarti mentioned that she had Parasite Rex on her shelf and wanted to read it sooner rather than later, we decided to read it together. I’m so glad we did! This is a fascinating book that I think I’m going to be thinking about for a long time. The first portion of our discussion is featured here and the second part on Aarti’s blog.

Aarti:  I’m so glad to be doing a joint review of Carl Zimmer’s Parasite Rex because there was so much information in this book that was BIZARRE and I feel like both of us talking about it together will make it easier for people to believe that these things are true.

I think what made this book so interesting to me is that we know SO LITTLE about parasites at all!  Here we are, amazingly complex beings who can get to the moon and map the genetic code, but we can’t quite grasp how these tiny, super-simple organisms live and get around.  I love that.  I love that we are completely flummoxed by these things.  Part of the reason, of course, is that they change form so many times in traveling from one host to another, one life stage to the next.  But part of it also is that science neglected to understand the impact that parasites can have on an ecosystem for so long.  Since they are basic, simple creatures, they can’t possibly have a huge impact on life, right?  But they DO!

What did you think of the book?  Anything that stood out particularly to you?

Leslie: I really loved it, especially the final half. One of the things I really look for in a nonfiction book is the desire to sit up and say to the person next to me, “You’re not going to believe what I just read.” Not that every nonfiction book I read has to be shocking, but I want to learn things so cool, so fascinating, or so surprising that I want to share it with everyone I meet. Parasite Rex was definitely that kind of book. It even came up at Thanksgiving! My family started talking about peanut allergies and allergies in general and I got to share one of the theories in the book that one of the reasons so many more people have allergies in the developed world is because we don’t share our guts with the same parasites that were once so common. There’s even a study mentioned in the book where parasites were reintroduced to people with Crohn’s disease and a lot of their symptoms went away.

I was much less interested in the biochemical ways that parasites work, but I think that’s because a lot of it went over my head. My only real complaint about the book is the structure – the first third was so heavy on the minute details of how each parasite worked that it was a little difficult to get through. I was very happy when the book took a broader view of the parasitic world and how it interacts with daily life for plants, animals, and humans. The book would have been incomplete without the how, and it was definitely important for explaining the parasites later, but I wish it had been spread a little bit more evenly throughout the book. I bring it up mostly just to warn other readers like me: don’t give up! I might have if this weren’t a buddy read with Aarti and I’m so glad I didn’t.

Was there any fact that you kept sharing with people you talked to you?

Aarti:  I completely agree with you.  It was tough going through the parts that explained the development of one species vs another and where exactly in an animal a parasite wants to settle down for a particular life phase.  I admit that I skimmed those probably more than I should have so that I could get to the parts that were more interesting to me.

I think what really stood out to me was that parasites, without really having any thoughts of their own are able to so completely manipulate another creature’s thoughts and its free will.  They can lead beetles to their death, castrate caterpillars and eat them from the inside, cause crabs to mother completely foreign animals and so much more.  It was so easy to imagine them as evil masterminds when, in reality, many of them really don’t even have minds.

I also was really interested in the way that scientists now are trying to solve ecological problems with parasites; introducing them in the wild to fight invasive species, for example.  It seems like an idea that could go really well or horribly wrong, similar to your comment above about Crohn’s disease.  What do you think of this type of “natural” medicine?

To continue this discussion, head on over to Aarti’s blog BookLust!


2013 Was the Year of the Audiobook

Posted by in Books

Sometime this year, in an effort to save money, I tried really hard to cancel my Audible membership. “Libraries have audiobooks!” I reasoned. But when I went to cancel, Audible gave me $20 to spend to stay on… and well, that was saving money, right??

All in all, though, I really like the ease of Audible and the excitement of getting a new credit and their deals and I’ve so far been very pleased with my membership. Did you know that you can return audiobooks that just aren’t doing it for you? This has been my favorite feature so far, because I’ve been really disappointed with a few books I’ve started and I just sent them back.

Plus, having an audiobook always ready to go makes my commute in the morning so much better. I would say that most days I get a seat on the subway, but there is the occasional particularly crowded day when I am standing all the way to Midtown, which is about 40 minutes. It can be really difficult when the train is crowded to hold a book, especially if I’m reading  a hardcover. Audiobooks have saved me on days like that! Plus audiobooks just make the elliptical so much more appealing.

audiobooks in 2013

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton: I’m not sure I’ve talked enough about this audiobook? It was my absolute favorite so far. Will Patton’s voice is so smooth and relaxing and wonderful. When The Dream Thieves came out and I read the physical book, but I read the whole thing with Will Patton’s smooth, dreamy voice in mind. And I used one of my Audible downloads on the audiobook anyway, because I’m sure I’ll want to reread this series when the third one comes out, but also because I’d just like to listen to Will Patton talk to me some more. Also, this series is just amazing even without Will Patton’s voice. 

Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement that Shattered the Party by Max Blumenthal, read by William Hughes: This book is so far out of my comfort zone. I don’t really read about politics, but my good friend and I wanted to know more about the current political landscape and the modern Republican party and this was the book we settled on. It, honestly, wasn’t the right one, but it was an interesting read about how corruption among Evangelical Christian leaders infiltrated the party at large. It is a book with a very very narrow scope that was not quite what I was looking for. I don’t think it’s the kind of book you would want to read if you had never read a book about US politics before. Narration by William Hughes was great, but I had a hard time distinguishing between when quotations began and ended, which left me feeling very confused for much of the audiobook. I think it’s also much more obvious when authors overuse obscure words when you listen to the audio and I cringed every time he used the words cadre and scion.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, read by Mandy Williams & Justine Eyre: I loved this book as much as you promised I would, though I don’t know that audio was really the way to go. It was a lovely audio, the narrator was great, but I think it would have really helped me visualize this world to read the book. With the audio, I had a harder time understanding what was going on. I’m definitely going to be rereading this one in print, but if you have already read it and you are interested in the audio, I do recommend it. I have to say, this was the kind of book where I was finding excuses to listen.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, read by Tim Robbins: I listened to this right before the movie came out, because I had somehow never had to read it in school and then never picked it up after. I really liked it! Everyone knows the story by now, so I don’t think I really have much else to say about it. The narration by Tim Robbins was a little odd at first. I can’t remember what I didn’t like about it, but I do remember it being off-putting at the beginning. By the end, though, I couldn’t imagine it being read by anyone else. Then there were the delightful “I’m the greatest” letters from Fitzgerald at the end. Those were a lot of fun to listen to.

Shadow & Bone and Siege & Storm by Leigh Bardugo, read by Lauren Fortgang: This series is not perfect and I have a lot of qualms about it. Some of it is structural: the pacing is downright awful in some parts and the main characters we are supposed to be rooting for are frustrating and not in a complex character kind of way. Some of it is cultural: the location and characters are based on Russian/Eastern European/Chinese cultures and they often feel like caricatures. I would have appreciated a much more nuanced and well-researched fantasy world. I do think the magic itself is interesting and I wanted to like this series so much that I kept listening. The narrator is great and makes me care about Alina in a way that I don’t think I would have if I were reading it on my own. I don’t think I’ll be continuing this series for the third one. The more I think about it and the more I read about it, the more disappointed I get.

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, read by Paul Ansdell: This was a perfect spooky read for Halloween! I listened to it during October and it really set the perfect mood for a creepy read. Plus, it is on the shorter side, so it was good for a time when I didn’t have any long car trips to get a big chunk of listening in. It was also good for dipping in and out of the story and for occasional distracted listening. There was one scene that definitely scared me when I was walking home in the dark! Paul Ansdell was a good narrator and I think what stands out to me is his way of sounding completely terrified during his narration. This is a very traditional ghost story, so don’t expect to be blown away by what happens, but it was a fun, seasonal read.

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, read by Jenny Sterling: Saving the best for last! There are so many of you who have recommended Howl’s Moving Castle to me a hundred times and I just never got around to reading it. AND WHAT WAS I WAITING FOR? This was amazing, absolutely everything about it. I really loved the movie, so I didn’t even think it was possible to love the book more, but I did. A lot more. Calcifer is great, Michael has a much larger role, and Howl is just so fussy and wonderful. But best of all was Sophie. Lovely Sophie. How soon can I listen to this book again? Plus! I just had no idea about the world building. I thought it made the story so much more interesting! Jenny Sterling is a dream and completely brought Sophie to life. I love this book to pieces.

Eight audiobooks is definitely a lot for me, but I am planning on listening to a lot more in the next year. I already have The Shining by Stephen King, The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan, Horns by Joe Hill, Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway, Feast of Souls by CS Friedman, and The Golem & The Jinni by Helene Wecker waiting for me.

Did you listen to audiobooks in 2013? Which one was your favorite?


Translations I Want to Read in 2014

Posted by in Books

translationsOne of my primary goals in 2014 is to read more translations. I barely read any this year – I think I counted one. So for the past few days, I have been researching translations and deciding which ones are high on my list for 2014. Here are a few options that have me wishing I had a bigger book budget!

The Light and the Dark by Mikhail Shishkin - Two lovers separated not only by space, but also time, exchange love letters. Shishkin is the only writer to have won all three of Russia’s top literary prizes. This Guardian review convinced me that this is a book that I will fall in love with.

Atlas: The Archaeology of an Imaginary City by Kai-cheung Dung - A fictional world with a lost city called Victoria and the future archaeologists who try to reconstruct it. Dung has been compared to Umberto Eco, Jorge Luis Borges, and Italo Calvino.

Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino - When I mentioned my quest to read more translations, Aarti suggested Italo Calvino and her favorite of his, Invisible Cities. It seems like there are some similarities between Atlas and Invisible Cities, so I think it might be fun to read them side by side.

If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino - This has been on my TBR for so long! It also happened to be the Kindle Daily Deal the other day, so obviously the universe wants me to read If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler.

A Dictionary of Maqiao by Han Shaogong - The reviews of this one sound amazing, so it breaks my heart a little bit that I’ve never heard of this 2005 novel set in a fictional Chinese village. The novel is organized like a dictionary of the dialect of the town, with each entry a vignette.

The World of the End by Ofir Touche Gafla - This post over at has been a great jumping off point for finding science fiction and fantasy novels in translation. For once, I am recommending you read the comments. Ben is destroyed by his wife’s death and is determined to find her, even if that means joining her in the afterlife.

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma - This book looks like so much fun! Here is the copy from Goodreads: “Set in Victorian London with characters real and imagined, The Map of Time boasts a triple play of intertwined plots in which a skeptical H.G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and to save lives and literary classics, including Dracula and The Time Machine, from being wiped from existence.” Obviously I will be reading this.

I’m hoping to read  a lot more translations in 2014, though, so if you have recommendations, please share!


How I Read

Posted by in Blogging, Books, Life

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.


ABCs of Thankfulness

Posted by in Life

abcs of thankfulness

My favorite holiday blogging tradition is here! Happy Thanksgiving (or Thursday, if today is not a holiday where you are!). Originally started by Trish way way back in the day.

Andes Mints. When I was little, my amazing, wonderful, missed grandmother kept a box of Andes Mints in her dining room. I remember spending most of Thanksgiving sneaking Andes mints before dinner started and trying to stay out of the way. I thought it was a memory all my own, something that no one else really remembered. Then, when my family and I got together for an early Thanksgiving a few weeks ago, my aunt pulled a HUGE box of Andes Mints out of her purse. I realized then that the memory wasn’t only mine, it was shared with everyone, and that made it all the more special.

Blog. Okay, so I haven’t been the most consistent at this blogging thing this year, but I’m thankful that Regular Rumination is always here for me when I need a place to write down my thoughts.

Crochet. There are a lot of reasons I’m thankful for crochet, but my number one reason is because it is the only thing that will really calm me down when I am in an airplane. I’m a nervous flyer, but the repetition and focus required for crocheting keeps my heart rate down.

Dear Michael, You are someone I am forever grateful for. 

Evenings. The day is winding down, I don’t have to worry about work, dinner has been cooked, there’s just a book to read or a tv show to watch or some sleep to be had.

Feasts. How many times a year do you get to have a feast?

Ghost stories. I’m realizing that these might be some of my favorite kinds of stories. Why did I ever stop reading them?

Health. I am, for the most part, pretty healthy and I am always grateful for that.

Ice cream. So, Michael and I got our own ice cream maker about a year ago and it’s amazing! I love making ice cream at home. I’m thankful for the ice cream, but also for trying out new recipes.

Jam! This year, in addition to making our own ice cream, Michael and I have experimented making our own bread and our own peanut butter. Next on the list? I think it should be jam. So I’m thankful that I still have some homemade goodies to try out and learn how to make, but also because PB&J is just so so good.

Kickstarter. I’m thankful for Kickstarter, among many other things online, to remind me that there are amazing, creative people out there doing new things every day. I’m also really excited for the Veronica Mars movie and for this hot sauce. 

Love. I try to choose different things every year, but I can’t help but give love a special shout out every year. I’m so thankful for all the people in my life whom I love and who love me in return.

Mail order catalogs. I haven’t talked about this much here, but my job in publishing is as a sales rep to mail order catalogs. So, for keeping me gainfully employed, I’m very thankful to mail order catalogs!

November. You are just such a great month.

Oatmeal. Breakfast of champions! I can’t wait to make my first big batch of oatmeal for the season.

Pho. My favorite cold-weather food, not feeling great food, who-am-I-kidding-every-day food.

Quilts. Nothing better than curling up on the couch with a big, warm quilt someone made with love.

Raven Boys, The. This was such a fun book for me this year, but it really represents any book I can get lost in. I’m so thankful for those books that make my commute melt away into nothing.

Siblings. You guys don’t even know how much you mean to me. I love you and I’m so thankful for you!

Too Cute! Guys, have you seen this show? It’s amazing. I can’t have a puppy in my real life, so I’m thankful for Too Cute! to give me my puppy fix.

Unexpected, The. I’m thankful for the times when life throws me something unexpected, whether it’s a new friend when I wasn’t expecting it, a book I didn’t think I was going to love but do, or when something totally surpasses all my expectations.

Variety. I’m thankful for the fact that I relish in variety: I’ll read any genre, try any food, watch any TV show once, etc. etc.

Winter. I’ve always thought I loved every season except winter, but every year I like winter a little bit more. It’s just so nice sometimes to sit in a warm room while the snow is falling outside and you have a hot drink in your hand. Bonus points if there is a fireplace involved.

Nan Xiang Dumpling House. One of the best places to eat in NYC. I’m thankful for you!

YOU. If you’re reading this blog, I’m thankful for you!

Zillions of books. No matter how much I read, I’m always thankful that there’s another book on the shelf waiting for me!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May it be full of family, food, warmth, happiness, and, of course, a good book.

What I was thankful for in 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009.


Nonfiction November Week 4 – New Additions to My TBR

Posted by in Nonfiction November

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In a lot of ways, Nonfiction November was a very selfish endeavor for me. Sure, I wanted to read nonfiction this month and I wanted some folks to join in, but mostly, I found, I really  wanted to find out what nonfiction you were reading. And you delivered! My nonfiction TBR, once manageable (a single shelf!) has quadrupled in size and probably deserves it’s own Excel document to keep track of. Some of the books, though, that I am most excited to read are listed below.

Cold: Adventures in the World’s Frozen Places by Bill Streever - I can’t even quite explain to you why I want to read this book, but I do. Ana’s short commentary on this one in her Nonfiction November post and her review made excellent points as to why I should want to read this, but so did all of her suggestions. There’s just something about this I keep turning back to.

The Story of Charlotte’s Web: EB White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic by Michael Sims - I truthfully never gave much thought about EB White before reading bookmammal’s recommendation this past week. Apparently EB White did a massive amount of research to make sure all the tiny details about the characters in Charlotte’s Web was accurate and this is fascinating to me. I must read more!

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls  - My friend at work has been telling me to read this for forever, and Andi reminded me that I really do need to get a copy of this for my own. Fun story: one time, I waited in line to see Tim O’Brien for like 2 hours (worth it) and Jeanette Walls’s line was next to mine. So I got to see her! In person! But that’s the whole story, so I’m not sure it’s really a good one.

The Juggler’s Children by Carolyn Abraham - This book just sounds so good! Tanya at 52 Books or Bust said what originally drew her to the title was the fact that the publisher described it as a cross between The Man Who Mistook His Wife for A Hat by Oliver Sacks and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us by Jesse Bering - Perv was already on my radar, but I just wasn’t quite sure. Thankfully all I needed to ensure that I read this is a recommendation from Melissa at The Feminist Texican Reads. This book sounds absolutely fascinating and like it covers topics that are entertaining and interesting, but doesn’t shy away from the more difficult topics either.

Thank you all again for participating in Nonfiction November! I have such a great month and I just cannot believe it is almost over! Just a reminder: this week is hosted by Kim, so head on over to Sophisticated Dorkiness to leave your links!



Nonfiction November Week 3 Round Up

Posted by in Nonfiction November

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When I thought up Nonfiction November, it was really on a whim. I asked Kim if she wanted to join me because Kim is wonderful and I love working with her and brainstorming with her and just generally having an excuse to talk to her more. And, also, she is the resident nonfiction pro. When she agreed and we put this together, and then subsequently didn’t announce it until the end of October, we thought we’d get a couple of folks to join in, but mostly have a fun reading month for ourselves.

All I know is that Kim and I are just blown away by everyone who has participated this month! All of you have such insightful posts and what I love best is that everyone seems to have very different interests. I’m learning about such a wide range of books from so many different bloggers that as much as this month was about trimming down my TBR, it’s really only grown and grown.

This week was a particularly difficult topic and everyone’s posts were just so impressive! For each participant, I pulled out one pairing, so you should definitely check out their blogs to see what they had to say about their pairings and also to check out any others they might have made!

Andi @ Estella’s Revenge: If you like Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier then you should read Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell.

April @ The Steadfast Reader: If you like The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, then you should read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer and This Way for the Gas, Ladies & Gentleman by Tadeusz Borowski.

Julz @ JulzReads: If you like Bringing Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, you should read The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir.

Bookmammal: If you like Charlotte’s Web by EB White, read The Story of Charlotte’s Web: EB White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic by Michael Sims

Nupur @ One Hot Stove: If you like Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Waterson, you should read Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud.

Hillary @ ahorseandacarrot: If you like To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, you should read Race by Studs Terkel.

Valerie @ Literanista: If you enjoyed The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, read Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas.

Melissa @ Fans of Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan should read And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts.

Shannon @ River City Reading: If you liked Elders by Ryan McIlvain, you should read Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer.

Tanya @ 52 Books or Bust: If you liked The Hive by Gill Hornby, read Queen Bees & Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman.

Katie @ Doing Dewey: If you read and loved And Then She Fell by Stephanie Laurens, then read An Elegant Madness by Venetia Murray.

Cindie @ nonfictionado: If you liked The Godfather by Mario Puzo, then read The Valachi Papers by Peter Maas.

Melissa @ Feminist Texican Reads: Fans of Perv: The Sexual Deviant in All of Us by Jesse Bering should also read The Tale of Raw Head & Bloody Bones by Jack Wolf.

Karen @ Candid Diversions: If you enjoyed Enigma by Robert Harris, you should read The Secret Lives of Codebreakers by Sinclair McKay.

Stacy @ stacyverb: If you liked The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, you should read The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman.

Joy @ Joy’s Book Blog: If you like Rose Under Fire and Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, you should read Brave Genius by Sean B. Carroll.

Cohost Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness: If you enjoyed Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, you should read Extra Lives by Tom Bissell.

Miscellaneous Posts from this Week

Katie @ Doing Dewey reviewed My Beloved World  by Sonia Sotomayor.

Tanya @ 52 Books or Bust reviewed Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink.

Shannon @ River City Reading reviewed The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean.

Sophie @ Paperbreathers reviewed Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

Ana @ things mean a lot has an amazing post about her favorite nonfiction that made my TBR triple in size. You have to check it out!

General notes: 

  • The final week of Nonfiction November will be hosted at Sophisticated Dorkiness, so be sure to leave your links at Kim’s blog.
  • It’s an easy topic, since we know it will be a busy week for everyone in the US with the holiday: Name one book you learned about through other posts this week. Be sure to link back to the blog where you read about it, if you remember where you saw it!
  • If you’d like to talk about Nonfiction November on Twitter, please join us using the hashtag #nonficnov.

I think that’s it! Happy nonfiction reading everyone!



Nonfiction November: Book Pairings!

Posted by in Nonfiction November

final version 3Phew, what  week! I was in Kentucky this past weekend for business and I expected to have plenty of time on Sunday once I got back to do this post, but I ended up asleep in bed all afternoon. I came down with a cold that finally seems to be wrapping up, thankfully, because I have a lot of things to get done! Thanksgiving is next week! I have projects at work! And, obviously, Nonfiction November!

I knew that this week was going to be tough, but so far there have been some fabulous suggestions. I can’t wait to go through and link up to all of them later this week.

Coming next week, you’ll see a post about my reading of Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer along with Aarti – when I was tweeting about my creepy reading month and picking up Parasite by Mira Grant there was some confusion about which book I was talking about. Aarti mentioned having the former on her shelves for years and I thought it would be fun to read Parasite Rex so soon after reading Parasite. So a buddy readalong was born!

And so far that is the best example I can come up with of books I’ve read, but it felt a little bit like cheating! After all, I haven’t quite finished Parasite Rex and For this post, I decided to take a look at a few fiction books I really enjoyed and pair them up with nonfiction books I would like to read.

One of my surprise favorite reads of the past year was definitely The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle (who I got to meet at the Kentucky Book Fair this weekend!). It is a book about an Amish girl who lives in a world that becomes overrun by vampires. It’s terrifying and is a story that uses religion in such an interesting way. It made me very curious about the Amish religion in general and while my dad has lived around the Amish in Pennsylvania and I’ve met a few practicing Amish, I don’t really know a lot about the religion. It doesn’t seem like there are actually a lot of books about the Amish, but I did find one I’d like to read: Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler. It’s a memoir from a man who was born in the Amish community, but ultimately decided to live an English life.

I am sure that The Hallowed Ones is based in some truth, I know that Bickle did a lot of research, but it is still a fantasy novel. I’d really like to know more about what the community is actually like. So on the TBR it goes!

This was actually a very difficult challenge!! I thought I would have a lot more options, but I had a hard time. I’m so impressed with all the amazing pairings you guys put out there.


Nonfiction November Week 3: Book Pairing

Posted by in Nonfiction November

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Good morning, Nonfiction November participants! This week, your challenge is to come up with a nonfiction book to pair with a fiction book. So, if you like FICTION BOOK, then you should absolutely read NONFICTION BOOK!

I was traveling this weekend for work, so I don’t have my post quite ready to go. You’ll see it up later this week, but please leave your links either in the linky below or in the comments. I can’t wait to read your recommendations!

UPDATE: You can read my pairing here!


Nonfiction November Week 2 – Become the Expert

Posted by in Books, Nonfiction November

farming tbrOn Monday, I talked about food and farming nonfiction and the three books that started the bug. All three got me thinking about what it means to grow food, whether it’s for your family, your immediate community, or the larger world. But I know there’s more out there! Here are the books that are on my farming nonfiction TBR!

This Life is In Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone by Melissa Coleman – In the same way The Blueberry Years did not sugarcoat the small organic farm lifestyle, it sounds this is an important memoir about what it is like to grow up on a homestead.

The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentleman Farmers by Josh Kilmer-Purcell – Excuse me? Michael Perry meets David Sedaris? Sign me up.

Coop: A Family, A Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg by Michael Perry – Speaking of Michael Perry…. Also, if nothing else, I desperately want chickens.

Fair Food: Growing a Healthy, Sustainable Food System for All by Oran B. Hesterman - Tomatoland exposed what is wrong with the tomato industry while offering a short chapter on what is being done to change it and what needs to be done. I think Fair Food will expand on the topic.

Kitchen Literacy: How We Lost Knowledge of Where Food Comes From and Why We Need to Get it Back by Ann Vileisis – I think this title explains enough about why I am interested in this book! It is definitely more on the food side of the equation than the farming, but I imagine that farming plays a big role in it.

A Farm Dies Once A Year by Arlo Crawford – Part memoir, part examination of a local crime. This book sounds so good – but we all have to wait five more months to read it!

And now it is my time to Ask the Expert! Have you read any farming/food memoirs or nonfiction that you think I should add to my TBR? Let me know!

Don’t forget to include your Nonfiction November posts for week 2, whether they are reviews, answers to this week’s prompt, or other musing’s on nonfiction, in this week’s linky at Sophisticated Dorkiness!