Sunday, April 15, 2012

Book #9 -- The Dirty Life

I had the pleasure of reading The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball over spring break. I say pleasure because it seems appropriate. This book was a complete delight. Especially for someone who is completely enamored with  fresh food, farming, and raising farm animals. I'm inspired and in awe of the business model for The Essex Farm, which you can read about here.

I was forced to confront my own prejudice. I had come to the farm with the unarticulated belief that concrete things were for dumb people and abstract things were for smart people. I thought the physical world - the trades - was the place you ended up if you weren't bright or ambitious enough to handle a white-collar job. Did I really think that a person with a genius for fixing engines, or for building, or for husbanding cows, was less brilliant than a person who writes ad copy or interprets the law? Apparently I did, though it amazes me now.
Kristin Kimball, The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Are You There, Readers? It's me, April.

I haven't fallen completely off the grid! It seems a blog direction change prompted a full on book block. A lot of changes happened in February and March. I applied to a new school, went through that whole process in just a couple of weeks time. Got accepted. Registered. And finally, I began classes for my master's degree! I'm pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching with a middle school emphasis. If all goes as planned I'll be certified to teach social studies or english. I had been leaning toward high school but when I found out my program allowed you to pursue certification in two subjects at the middle school level it was too tempting to resist. I had enough credits through my English minor to add that to my plan without taking extra courses. I'm excited at the thought of teaching a unit around The Hunger Games or any of the other YA books I love.

The result though is that for whatever reason I haven't read a single book since the very end of January. My goodreads account says I'm only 5 books behind on my 52 book goal which is great. It's been difficult to focus enough to read a book. I'm half convinced I've got adult ADHD or something.

I promise though, when I do start reading again I'll update. Hopefully soon!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What I'm Reading This Week

I had lofty plans this week to knock some more books off my growing to-read pile but life got in the way. My aunt was hospitalized last week and had heart valve replacement surgery on Tuesday. Although I packed several books to the hospital where we sat for a solid 17 hours during her surgery and recovery I managed to read maybe 5 pages the entire time we were there. I forgot how distracting I find hospital waiting rooms to be. Probably because I'm an incessant people watcher.

This week I'm hoping to wrap up the two books I have going right now.

Starting book #8 before bed. I want to be Sarah Dessen's best friend.
Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen

and Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly.

I have to confess I have trouble getting into books sometimes because of distractions. Most of the time the distractions are of my own doing. Like the desire to check my phone or watch something on tv. But I'm also not the type to read during my lunch break or pick up a book in a crowded waiting room. I need a quiet space, a candle burning or cube of wax melting in my warmer, and all of my electronic devices turned off in order to really enjoy a good novel.

Do you struggle with distractions while reading?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Book #8

I decided to take a tiny little peek at this book this morning and now I'm pretty sure I'm going to be late for work.

John Green, the author of The Fault in Our Stars, would prefer I not spoil too much of this book. So instead I'll stick the script:

"Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel.

Did you ever read books by Lurlene McDaniel? I did. In fact, just the other day when I was digging around in my boxes of old books I found an entire stack of them. In case you aren't familiar, Lurlene McDaniel wrote Cancer Books. Capitalized for emphasis. Sappy sob stories of teenage love surrounding some horrific deathly disease. They were awful.

So initially when I heard the premise of The Fault in Our Stars I thought of Lurlene McDaniels and I just wasn't really sure I wanted to go there. But you guys, let me tell you right now. This book is not a Cancer Book. It's a book about cancer, yes. It's also an amazing novel full of witty dialog about a couple of kids who fall in love. It's funny, heart-warming, heart-breaking, thought provoking, and wonderful. And it's very much the kind of book that mocks the entire genre of Cancer Books.

It was also, easily, the best book I've read in a while. It doesn't hurt that Augustus Waters is one of the most swoonworthy male characters I've ever encountered. Or that John Green is such a wonderful writer whose fast paced dialog made me swoon all on its on.

“May I see you again?" he asked. There was an endearing nervousness in his voice.

I smiled. "Sure."

"Tomorrow?" he asked.

"Patience, grasshopper," I counseled. "You don't want to seem overeager.

"Right, that's why I said tomorrow," he said. "I want to see you again tonight. But I'm willing to wait all night and much of tomorrow." I rolled my eyes. "I'm serious," he said.

"You don't even know me," I said. I grabbed the book from the center console. "How about I call you when I finish this?"

"But you don't even have my phone number," he said.

"I strongly suspect you wrote it in this book."

He broke out into that goofy smile. "And you say we don't know each other.”

Friday, February 3, 2012

TGIF: Book Appeal

When you're browsing goodreads, the library, or another blogger's reviews, what grabs your attention to make you want to read it?

I know I'm not supposed to judge a book by its cover but when browsing the library shelves the covers are what most often what grab my attention and make me want to read it. When I'm reading a physical book I love having a relatively new copy in my hands and I also like to read the books people are buzzing about so I tend to stick to the new arrival shelf.

Through goodreads I add a lot of books that friends have given high ratings to. I might not have read Divergent last year were it not for the excellent word of mouth on behalf of many of my internet friends who were raving about it. I also utilize listopia searches a lot by genre, especially when I'm looking for good romance reads since that genre can be rather hit or miss sometimes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Think Would Make Great Book Club Picks

In order to come up with a list of ten books I think would make great book club picks I had to first envision the kind of book club I'd be picking them for. I mean I know people (my mom's boss for example) who have really stuck up and pretentious book clubs where they read the latest Thomas Friedman books and then debate politics for two hours. If I had a book club it would probably involve lots of wine and appetizers and gossip. The books would be fast reads, YA or contemporary fiction, nothing that stresses out book club members to get finished in time for a meeting.

It would also involve books I have not read. Just because.
  1. Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close
  2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  3. Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn
  4. Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen
  5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  6. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  7. The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation by Elizabeth Berg
  8. Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich
  9. Heft by Liz Moore
  10. Big Girl Small: A Novel by Rachel DeWoskin

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A blog reboot, I think

It's no secret to the four people who read this blog that all I ever post about over here are the books I read throughout the year. It used to be a sort of scrapbook of my life. I started an iteration of this blog years ago at the start of my college career to document my life and attempt to be some kind of Dooce or Amalah. Which is laughable to me now. Since then the personal aspect has fallen apart.

Then I started a blog on tumblr and that was all she wrote. The politically slanted, sometimes pop-culture-y, occasionally personal blog is truly the one online venture I really care about. If you want to know more about my life the tiny little personal vignettes I post over there are probably more telling than anything I share here on blogger. And the political stuff is what I'm most passionate about. Any other life updates are found on twitter.

In an effort to simplify my online existence and avoid sounding like a broken record in too many locations I've decided I like the idea of posting more about my reading habits on this blog since I'm already sharing my 52 books goal. I'll be re-naming, and re-vamping, and heretofore will be sharing all of the bookish things on my mind in this internet location. I hope to share what I'm reading, books I'm looking forward to, and I'd like to post longer reviews on occasion. I'll also participate in bookish themed memes a couple of days each week.

I hope you'll read along as I start this new chapter!

Book #5, 6, and 7

Books #5, 6, and 7.

I'm hoping this year that my reading goal will be completed long before the January 1st deadline and so far I'm making great progress! I started all three of these books a week ago but managed to finish them all this weekend. Two of them are expiring on my Kindle this Monday and Tuesday so I was desperate to get them finished in time.

Swept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne -- This was my least favorite of the books read this weekend and, honestly, the entire year so far. I'm planning to read a few more contemporary romance novels (or 'Chick Lit'--a term I despise) this year because it's a genre I do generally enjoy. This was severely disappointing though.

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan -- I thought I was going to love this one and while it was better than the previously mentioned novel it wasn't as enjoyable as I expected. There were so many characters that I had trouble keeping their names and stories straight. The entire novel felt very chaotic and I couldn't really connect to anyone in the book.

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell -- I really enjoyed this novel. From the Goodreads description:
The Bigtree alligator-wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, formerly #1 in the region, is swiftly being encroached upon by a fearsome and sophisticated competitor called the World of Darkness. Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, has just died; her sister, Ossie, has fallen in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, who may or may not be an actual ghost; and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, who dreams of becoming a scholar, has just defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their family business from going under. Ava’s father, affectionately known as Chief Bigtree, is AWOL; and that leaves Ava, a resourceful but terrified thirteen, to manage ninety-eight gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief.
This book was a bit haunting, definitely sad, a little mystical, and thoroughly well-written. I've mentioned before about my love of books set in Appalachia. The same applies to books set in Southwest Florida. This no doubt contributed to my love of Swamplandia.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book #4

Book #4

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
It’s a small point of pride that I was a six-pound baby, because from my limited understanding of baby weights, that’s on the skinnier side. I flaunt my low baby weight the way really obese people must flaunt their dainty, small feet. It’s my sole claim to skinny.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Book #3

Book #3 for the year. I can't put this one down.

I've gushed about this book a lot over the last two days. I loved it. Because I read the Laura books and because I identified so much with the author of this book, Wendy McClure. I want to be her new BFF.

“Sometimes, Laura World wasn't a realm of log cabins or prairies, it was a way of being. Really, a way of being happy. I wasn't into the flowery sayings, but I was nonetheless in love with the idea of serene rooms full of endless quiet and time, of sky in the windows, of a life comfortably cluttered and yet in some kind of perfect feng shui equilibrium, where all the days were capacious enough to bake bread and write novels and perambulate the wooded hills deep in thought (though truthfully, I'd allow for the occasional Rose-style cocktail party as well).”

I’ve never really regretted being childless, but it started to feel different after my mother died, in a way I couldn’t describe. But here in Walnut Grove I knew what it was: I felt invisible sometimes. Not ignored, but anomalous and ghostly. I wasn’t the girl anymore, and I wasn’t the ma.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Book #2

Book #2
Aftertaste by Meredith Mileti

I've been really excited about lending books for my Kindle through the library lately. As someone who loves reading on the Kindle but also loves the free price tag on library books it's the best of both worlds.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Book #1

Book #1 for the year. One of the literacy groups I work with is starting it this upcoming week. I squealed when I found out. I love Judy Blume!

Book #1 for the year is Otherwise Known As Sheila the Great. One of the literacy groups I work with is starting it this upcoming week. I squealed when I found out. I love Judy Blume!

But this means I've already broken my resolution to read 52 new to me books this year. Oh well, that was probably a terrible idea (and stifling goal) anyway.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My 2012 New Year's Resolutions

  1. Make a decision about furthering my education. This goal may or may not include signing up to take the appropriate exams for admission, getting reference letters together, and turning in an application.

  2. Drink less soda. In the past I've tried to make resolutions about cutting cokes out of my life completely but the truth is, I can't. I need to enjoy them in moderation. Less coke, more tea and water.

  3. Read 52 new to me books this year. I'd like to cut out re-reads. Luckily there are lots of older books I skipped as a kid.

  4. Organize paper clutter. I stole this one from my friend Karen but I love the idea. I'm notoriously bad at throwing out receipts I don't need. Or keeping a huge stack of disorganized mail just laying on my bookshelf or desk. All of that clutter is out of control.

  5. Grow pumpkins. I've grown pumpkins on accident in years past but this year I'd like to plant them on purpose.

  6. Be more diligent about giving away eggs.

  7. Cook more; eat out less. I hate eating out but that doesn't mean I don't fall into the pick up something on the way home from work because I'm too tired to wash dishes tonight routine. I want to start making more of those recipes I keeping pinning on Pinterest.

  8. Take the time to schedule posts for my other blog the night before. Since I'm busy all day with stuff at school I rarely have time to check tumblr. But y'all, the president is following that one. I need to be on my A-game.

  9. Keep to the maintenance schedule for my car. I was so lucky to get a brand new car in 2009. I was so diligent about oil changes and all of the stuff the book tells you to do for the first year and half that I owned it but over the last several months I've really slacked off. I need to stop letting time get away from me in between service visits.

  10. Attend a Kentucky game. It's been entirely too long. I miss Rupp Arena and Commonwealth Stadium.

Complete List of the 52 Books I Read in 2011

  1. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks
  2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  3. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  4. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  5. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
  6. Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
  7. The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani
  8. The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall
  9. Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann
  10. The Island by Elin Hilderbrand
  11. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
  12. Matched by Ally Condie