BBAW Day 3 – Unexpected Treasures

Welcome to Day 3 of Book Blogger Appreciation Week!  The goal of Unexpected Treasures is to highlight a book, genre of books or author that you tried because a book blogger recommended it and what that experience was like.

I’m going to start big and broad and go smaller, so the first one might be a bit of a shock to people who read my blog regularly, but the first thing that bloggers really influenced me on was… bringing Young Adult fiction back into my life.  Yes, that’s right.  Before I started blogging, I was reading exclusively literary fiction.  Once I finally kicked that habit (thank god), I realized what I had been missing.  I loved YA fiction when I was a YA (not all that long ago), so why was there some mysterious switch that flipped as soon as I turned 18?  You’re in college now, so put those silly books away!  Well, clearly that’s ridiculous.

Now, about 40% of the books I read are Young Adult oriented and I’m perfectly satisfied with that number.  I’m not sure I can ever imagine going back to reading just literary fiction ever again.  It was a little depressing, if I’m honest.  And I would have missed such great books!  There are the obvious ones, like The Hunger Games and The Knife of Never Letting Go, but what about Fat Cat and Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature? Those are amazing novels and I would hate to have missed them.

Thank you book bloggers, you have saved me a lifetime of monotony!

Next I’ll talk about two authors that seem to be wildly popular in the real world as much as the blogging world, but that I had never heard of: Neil Gaiman and John Green.  I know!  Now, I had unknowingly heard of Gaiman through the movie Stardust, but other than that both authors were completely unknown to me.  With both of them, it is like I have discovered an entire world of literature that I didn’t even know existed.  Even though my experiences with Gaiman have only been so-so, what I liked about the novels I’ve read (American Gods, Coralineand Good Omens) I liked a lot.  I think one of my next goals should be reading another Gaiman novel!  Now, for John Green, not only did I have plenty of very charming YA books to read (An Abundance of Katherines and Paper Towns so far), I also was exposed to Nerdfighteria.  Now, I exist only on the outskirts of this amazing group of young people, but it’s fun to sit back and just watch them be amazing.

Finally, most specifically, is a book that I probably never would have picked up if I hadn’t seen a review on a book blog: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  I don’t have a specific link to the first review or second review that made me pick this book  up and I don’t think my review really does justice to how I felt about this book.  I loved it, loved it, loved it.  It recalled everything I loved about literature as a child, literally with its references to A Wrinkle  in Time and more basically with its delightful characters, structure and plot.  I probably never would have picked up When You Reach Me and I’m so grateful to book bloggers for making that happen.  I’ve already given this book to one of my sisters as a gift, with a copy of A Wrinkle in Time, too and I plan on giving it to my younger sister as well.

So there you have it, wonderful books and genres and authors that I never would have tried if it hadn’t been for fabulous book bloggers.  Thanks, everyone!

Sunday Salon – Back ups.

There used to be a time in my life when I read only one book at a time and I finished every single book I read.  There were no DNFs, ever.  Unless I lost the book or had to return it to the library before I finished it, I was determined to read a whole book no matter how long it took me or how much I hated it.  I have since changed my ways.  Now I might be reading several books at once and if a book doesn’t keep my interest, I will gladly put it away and try again later (or get rid of it for good!).  I love having options when I’m reading.  If a book just isn’t doing it for me, but I think it’s something I’ll want to return to, I put it in a pile and it becomes a back up.

Sometimes I go straight back to the back up after a short break, but I have a small collection of books that are good, but don’t always keep my interest for long.  I don’t want to quit them, but I don’t seem to want to read them for extended periods of time.  When the mood strikes me, I pick them up right where I left off and haven’t had too much trouble remembering what’s going on. I  have two back ups that I’ve been reading for over six months in one case, and closer to 8 months in another.  One is The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler and the other is Looking for Alaska by John Green.  Both are fine books and I like reading them, but I also like having them in progress.  I like having them there to read when I need them and I don’t really feel the need to  finish them anytime soon.

What about you?  Do you keep a couple back up books around?


Quick question!  I really want a great fantasy or science fiction series to read.  All kinds of fantasy and science fiction series, but I’ve really been in the mood for one and haven’t found a great one.  I appreciate it!

Looking Back at 2009

2009 is on its way out and 2010 is about to usher itself into the world.  Things changed a lot in 2009, in the world and in my life and I know that the coming months and 2010 are only going to bring more changes.  One of the  biggest changes in my life was Regular Rumination and my introduction to the book blogging community was on December 28th, 2008, a date that is approaching quickly and I can hardly believe it.  It has been wonderfully enriching to get to know all of you by talking about books and I’m looking forward to another wonderful year!

It’s too early still to put up my favorite books, but there are a few that I know will already make my list.  The Things They Carried was the first novel I read in 2009 and I really can’t think of a better way to start off the year.  It’s not only the best book I’ve read this year, but one of the best books I’ve ever read.  To round off the year, in September I got to meet Mr. O’Brien and see him speak.  It was an incredibly moving experience and one I’m not likely to forget any time soon.

Book blogging brought Young Adult fiction back into my life and like reacquainted best friends who stay up all night catching up, I read a ton of it.  Some of my favorite finds were Scott Westerfeld, John Green, Patrick Ness, Justine Larbalestier, Suzanne Collins, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Olive Kitteridge was a beautiful novel that not only won the Pulitzer but completely won me over, too.  Like The Things They Carried, it has staying power, at least on my top ten list.  2666 might have changed the way I read and my focus of study for my master’s.  The Grapes of Wrath and Something Wicked This Way Comes are two classics I read this year that lived up to their praise and also changed me as a reader.  Even though City of Thieves isn’t perfect, it ended up being one of my funniest reads of the year that still has me chuckling when I just think about some of the jokes included.

Graphic novels were big for me, especially graphic memoirs and non-fiction like Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco and Stitches by David Small.  I made the commitment in 2009 to read more books by women and people of many different colors and nationalities; through that goal, I discovered two new favorite authors that I can’t wait to explore more: Tayari Jones and Octavia Butler.  I hope to make this an even bigger priority in 2010, with authors from around the globe.   Poetry made a comeback in my life and will only continue to become a bigger focus for next year.  I ditched all my challenges a couple months ago, but don’t worry, I’m making up for it in 2010.

Keep an eye out on my blog for a post that looks ahead to 2010 and as we get closer to the New Year, a final year end list that will be nearly impossible to put together.  Thanks everyone for making 2009 spectacular!