Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back! 

There is only one book on my mind right now: the yearbook. This year's editing process has been a bit more... challenging than years past, for a variety of reasons. I'm trying really hard not to blow any gaskets, but, well, we have a few more days (Monday!) before the entire thing has to be completely submitted.

[please tell me you remember Out of This World]
I hope everyone is having a great week! I'll be back with a review of an audiobook that I have very conflicted thoughts about soon.

February Reviews

[insert standard ohmygod how is it March comments here]

Another month of solid reads. Here's February:

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
320 pages
I have a weakeness for short story collections that are linked together, as Strout's is. Their link is often Olive, the feisty older lady that isn't afraid to speak her mind. The stories are set in a small Eastern town where we see events, both mundane and catastrophic, change people's lives. 

Verdict: I really enjoyed this collection, but it's not necessarily for everyone. It really is about life, both the small moments and the bigger ones, so I can see how it might frustrate those who like more plot-driven texts. 

The Children Act by Ian McEwan
240 pages
I was really disappointed by McEwan's last novel, Sweet Tooth, so I was more cautious going into this one. The Children Act is about a judge who works in the family courts. This story centers around a seventeen-year-old boy who has leukemia and needs to have a blood transfusion as part of his treatment. The catch? His family is Jehovah Witness, meaning they are oppose to this option. The hospital takes the family to court and the judge must decide.

Verdict: I thought this was much better than McEwan's last few books, as it really hones in on some interesting ethical questions. It also has an interesting sort of twist that I definitely didn't anticipate.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
120 pages
I've read this book a few times before, but I'm teaching it again so a reread was necessary (I always, always reread books before teaching them, even if I've read something three, four, or five times before). This novella tells the story of Santiago Nassar's death, which was a result of Angela Vicario declaring that he had robbed her of her virginity out of wedlock. The horror! 

Verdict: I love magical realism and Latin American literature, so this is a win for me, every time.

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro
323 pages
Two short story collections in one month! I received this one for Christmas and am apparently reading everything I received over the holidays before finishing my older. These nine short stories center around the intimate relationships in our life, and how they change over time. The characters are flawed, but have a level of depth that only a skilled writer could develop in such a short amount of pages.

Verdict: As my first Munro book read, I'm kicking myself for never picking up her works in the past. What I loved most if that none of the stories were bad- a few took me three or four pages to get into, but each spoke to me on different levels. 

monthly total: 1003 pages 

Book Blogging: Relax, It's Just not that Important

Hold on. Just hear me out. Give me a second. I know my target audience is, well, book bloggers, and here I am insulting their craft. Dick move. I know. But just hold on.

[Cue the follower drop off]

Lately there have been some "outings" of plagiarism here in our little community, and while I'll spare you the lecture on how stealing content is a huge sin, the explanation from of at least one of them made me chuckle. She felt too pressured to post. In fact, I hear that resonating on many blogs, that people feel genuinely overwhelmed with ARCs, publishers, book "tours," challenges, memes, guest posts, commenting, and whatever else this hobby entails.

You guys. Did you just read that word? Hobby. For most of us, that's what this is. A rewarding, fun hobby that lets us do something more with our other hobbies, reading and writing. Hobbies are not supposed to stress you out, but instead be something that you can enjoy to escape the things that do cause you anxiety. You know, like work, taking care of families, nurturing relationships, illness, financial woes, or various forms of personal loss. The really, really important stuff. Not that hobbies aren't important, because they are, but, again, they're not supposed to make you feel anything but positive.

Most of our blogs aren't going to pay the bills, and never will. They are an outlet that should fulfill a creative need or perhaps one that craves interactions with like-minded individuals. Our blogs will never cure cancer, bring peace to the Middle East, or solve the poverty crisis.

They do make us happy, though, and happiness is really important to being sane, healthy, and having a balanced life. They make us feel warm and fuzzy, whether we're writing, reading, or commenting on posts. They make us feel validated when we see new followers, complimentary comments, or shout-outs from others. We get on our soapbox when we see people insulting books we love or knocking down our favorite authors (but in a fun way, right?).

I get wanting to do what you do the best you can, since I run that way about 80% of the time. I love that people value their audience, which I see paid-bloggers in other areas totally not do. I even get a little bit of competition.  

So, relax. Calm down. Have a glass of whatever makes you feel better. Read your books. Write when you can. Comment when you have time. Remember: this is supposed to be fun.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. What a mothereffing week. Sawyer and I came down with colds over the weekend and his turned into something a little worse, requiring breathing treatments, steroids, and inhalers. Have you ever given a breathing treatment to a ten-month-old? Dear God, it's horrible. I had to do the one in the office, which meant pinning him down for fifteen minutes while he screamed and thrashed around. A few times he'd completely stop and stare at me with these sad "why are you doing this to me, mom?" eyes and then start up again.  Luckily when we did it at home I was able to distract him with some stupid Mickey cartoon (plus I think he was more comfortable being somewhere familiar). This has also meant that I've missed three days of work, which is KILLING me. Obviously my baby comes first, but being benched is so not my style.

2. I rejoined Audible, which has made driving around better since finishing Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw. I'm now listening to 168 Hours, in attempt to find some sort of hidden time in my week that I didn't know existed. So far it's asked me to keep tabs of how I spend my time each day, which I DON'T HAVE TIME TO DO. Oh, the irony.

3. I wonder what I'd be described like if I was a character in a book. Do I want to know? This would make for an interesting assignment for my students some day...

4. I picked these up for myself last weekend. Since I used the household account it was basically like my husband bought them for me... right?

5. Product junkie: I highly recommend Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel Toner. It was either that or buy a Clarisonic to get all my makeup residue off at night, and this seems to be a much, much cheaper solution.

6. I've been a worse-than-usual (yes! it's possible!) blogger lately- as soon as the baby is well/the yearbook is done/the house looks like less of a disaster I will be back regularly.

7. Friday night I'm supposed to chaperone the Sadie Hawkin's dance from 7-10 outside in the school's quad. I'm all for school spirit and safe Friday night activities, but after the week I've had the last thing I want to do is leave my kid at home and stand out in the cold and watch teenagers dance. Interestingly, it has been canceled before.

8. He's not too sick to (army) crawl (by the way, the quality is horrible... thanks to Blogger)! 


9.  I'm expecting my delivery from Warby Parker today. They allow you five trial pairs of glasses to try on at home, which you then send back and order whatever one (if any) you liked best. This is what happens when I stay at home with a sick kid for three days- I get excited for the postman to come. Like really excited.

10. I have been desperately wanting to get my bike off the indoor trainer and onto the bike trail in this beautiful weather we've been having. My two concerns: remembering how to take off the wheel and whether or not it can fit in the back of my car without putting the seats down since the kid's beast of a car seat is pretty permanently installed in the back.

Children's Books I Need to Write

[we need some new books]

I think I should write a line of controversial children's books, tailored to our beliefs, of course, that will explain tough issues to my child.* Some working titles and synopsis for my (totally hypothetical) series:

Why We Don't Visit Animals in Captivity
Willy the Whale and Ellie the Elephant explain how their friends would much rather be frolicking in the wild (escaping poachers) than cooped up in zoo habitats while people nosily watch them all day (who really wants to be on display while pooping? Spending quality time with a special friend? There's no privacy!). They also explain how frustrating it is that the owners of these places don't believe in profit sharing- they don't see a dime, despite hours of work. They leave their readers with hints of forthcoming unionization. Possible sequels: circuses and aquariums.  

Mommy and Daddy Probably Don't Believe in Organized Religion
This sweet tale starts off examining many worldly religions, emphasizing their views regarding God (or a higher power), the afterlife, and sin. Families all over the globe are shown enthusiastically worshiping, devout in their beliefs. The naive little readers are then asked, "What one is right?" Ethical corruption may or may not be included.

George W. Bush, the Scariest Monster that Ever Lived: A Cautionary Tale
Little ones are warned about the Bush family, learning about what happens when the country is led by someone with a lower IQ than them! This educational, non-fictional story will teach kids about tax breaks, oil dependency, weapons of mass destruction, and setting others up to fail.

Girls and Boys are Equal
Feminists will love this story that shows a little girl growing up being told that she can't do what boys can. She proves everyone wrong, making the baseball team, graduating at the top of her class, earning as much as her male colleagues, and even peeing standing up. She refuses to let her dates pay for her dinners and only shaves her legs when she feels like it.

You Can Marry Whomever You Want (Just Not Animals)
Little Bobby and Susie attend their Aunts' wedding and learn all about different romantic relationships that exist. They meet men that are dating, hear about a cousin that used to date men before he married his wife, discover what cross-dressing is, and even learn the basics of polygamy. Their grandpa gives them one rule, though, as little Bobby stares inquisitively at the Golden Retriever serving as the ring bearer. No marrying animals. 

The Colonists Were Illegal Immigrants
In this short rhyming book, kiddos learn that those coming into this country illegally are often doing it for a reason, like escaping poverty. Or because they want a better life for their families. Or because they don't want the CARTEL TO BEHEAD THEM! They're encouraged to think about how this country was originally started and on what grounds the United States was actually established.

*This is all just meant to be humorous, don't get you panties in a wad, step down off the soapbox, blablabla, etc... etc... etc...