Out and About in Southern California with Little Kids

Recently, a friend asked me for ideas of places to take her young daughter in Southern California, since it’s no secret that I get out and about quite often. After a lengthy email that she probably regretted asking for, I decided to turn it in to a blog post, in case anyone locally (or in the area visiting) needed some ideas. A few disclaimers:

-    I have one child- this makes things far easier for me, since, well, there’s one of me and one of him, as opposed to one of me and more of them. He is also extremely flexible, as am I (for the most part). He’s gung-ho to try pretty much anything out and does fine if his afternoon nap gets pushed back an hour or two (and he sleeps well in the car).
-    I’m a teacher, so I am fortunate to have a few breaks throughout the year, plus summers off. This also means that it’s just usually he and I, but once in a while my husband tags along it it’s something cool on the weekend. Sometimes we meet up with friends, but we also have a lot of fun on our own and are able to go at our own pace.
-    I am all about convenience, even if that means spending a few wasteful dollars (sorrynotsorry). I don’t pack lunches, I don’t shy away from buying an overpriced bottle of water, I’ll pay for parking instead of driving in circles, etc… I prefer spending money on experiences rather than toys and other junk that clutters up my house, so this works for us. But again, buying lunch for one kid is different than many and I totally get that.
-   I loathe the stroller. Absolutely, positively loathe it. It’s great for walks around the neighborhood, but I have pretty much quit taking it anywhere else. Sawyer walked six miles once at the Wild Animal Park before he was two- we got it handled.
-   I don’t mind driving and I have basically accepted Southern California traffic. I do try to hit most places when they open, though, so that driving isn’t happening during super-peak times and so that we miss crowds.
-      I tried to not include many seasonal things on my list, but a few snuck in.
-   We do plenty of sitting the house playing with blocks and cars, don’t worry!
-     I live in Corona, which is Western Riverside County. Most places on the list can be reached from 30-90 minutes, depending on traffic, of course
-  Most of these are things that we have done since Sawyer was about eighteen months and on. I've always made it a point to take him places, though, since he was tiny. It helped me mentally and I think it helped with his willingness to go places. 

I struggled to find the perfect way to organize this, so I sort of went from cheaper/quicker/closer outings to more expensive/longer/farther ones.

1.  Local Baseball Games- We went to an Elsinore Storm game last July and it was cheap, easy, and there were fireworks. Most cities have local teams that run great deals to promote attendance, plus night and afternoon games.

2.  Yorba Regional Park (Yorba Linda)- I love this large park– there are countless playgrounds, a huge duck pond, miles of walking paths, and free parking if you head down west, towards the baseball fields. It’s crazy that the freeway runs parallel to it, since most of the time it feels pretty secluded (this is also a great place to catch the Santa Ana River Trail for all you bikers).

3.  Irvine Regional Park (Orange)- This park is located off the toll road and I think is actually closer to Orange and Anaheim Hills, than Irvine. They have train rides, a small zoo, pony rides, bike rentals, paddle boats, and miles and miles of trails (paved and unpaved). There are playgrounds, snack bars, and seasonal activities for families, as well (their pumpkin patch is great). Nothing costs too much, either, and you can get buy just spending the couple bucks for parking. There’s definitely plenty of free things to do there!

4.   Sky Zone- I only include this because it is SUCH a hit with Sawyer and it tires him out like crazy. I also have a ton of fun and get  a good workout.  The two of us jumped a few Sunday mornings ago for less than $12 and basically had the place to ourselves.

5. 5 Mile Wilderness Loop (Claremont)- For just a couple of dollars to park, you can spend all the time you want walking this loop. Sawyer can do about a mile and a half uphill and then back down, so we aren’t able to do the whole thing quite yet (I have a few times with friends, though, and it’s beautiful and not too hard). It does get toasty, so I suggest going in the morning. Also, FYI: only porta potties. 

6.  Back Bay Trail in Newport- If you head over behind the yacht club in Newport, on Back Bay, you can park for free and walk the portion of the trail that’s located there (we usually do four or so miles, I think). I do take the stroller for this one, though, since I am generally there with friends to exercise. The path gives you a clear view of the bay, plus some of the awesome houses nearby. Sprinkles Cupcakes is about five minutes up PCH for your post-walk reward!

7.   Pretend City (Irvine)- Pretend City is a huge building set up like a city, where kids can try out different jobs and participate in countless hands-on activities. Sawyer loves to shop at the Trader Joe's, work on the computer at the library, and play with the boats in the water tables. It is a little pricy, but they keep it really clean and he loves it (teachers get a membership discount, which pays for itself in about five visits).  The Spectrum is a few minutes away, which we usually visit for a quick snack and walk afterwards.

8.  Lunch at Ruby’s on the Huntington Beach Pier- Last month Sawyer and I went to Ruby’s on the pier for lunch and then spent awhile walking at the beach (he just wanted to walk in the lifeguard’s truck tracks, because he thought they were from a train). Parking is pricy, but you can blame the government for that.

9. Downtown Disney (Anaheim)- We don’t plan to take Sawyer to Disneyland until he’s four or five, but we do go to Downtown Disney a few times a year to walk around and visit the LEGO store and whatever else catches our attention. Parking is free for a few hours and a lot of times there is live music.

10.  Taking the train to Zoomars (San Juan Capistrano)- We have taken Amtrak twice from Orange County to San Juan Capistrano to go to Zoomars and walk around the surrounding area. The train itself makes Sawyer incredibly happy (do you notice a trend with trains and my kid?). Zoomars is this crazy little petting zoo with five million guinea pigs, plus some goats, cows, and horses. There’s also a pretty great playground and a corn pit (as opposed to sand), and you can often find a deal on Groupon. If you walk around a bit there are some neat restaurants and little gardens close to the spot where the train lets you off.

11. The Living Desert (Palm Springs)- If you want to interact with giraffes you must go here. This zoo is the home to countless desert animals that have NOT been taken from the wild. We got to feed the giraffes (for only $4!), see cheetahs run for food, pet goats, and observe many animals and gardens. There’s also a huge model train set up that Sawyer could have spent the entire day watching. I don’t remember quite what it cost, but I was pleased (and surprised) with how affordable it was.

12. UCLA (or any college campus)- Sporting events are usually cheap, there’s plenty of space for kids to run, there are typically cool gardens and buildings to look at, and you’re exposing your kid to collegiate life.  UC Irvine would also be a great place to visit!

13.  Huntington Library (Pasadena)- This place is absolutely beautiful in the spring, although it’s worth the visit year round. There are acres and acres of gardens plus several art and rare-book collections (I have visited the museums several times before, so when I took Sawyer we stayed outside). The food options are pretty pricy, though, and you can’t bring food in (allegedly). There’s a children’s garden with some water features, plus an indoor greenhouse that’s pretty neat.

14. San Diego Zoo- I have serious reservations about any place that houses animals, but we received a free membership to the San Diego Zoo and Wild animal Park when we had our solar panels installed. They do a good job, though, of taking care of the animals and participating in conservation efforts. It gets incredibly crowded, so go early.

15. Wild Animal Park (Escondido)- I actually like the Wild Animal Park better than the zoo, part of the reason being that it is located a bit off the beaten path in Escondido. The whole place is less crowded, more mellow, and there is more room for the animals.

16. Long Beach Aquarium- This isn’t a place I’d go super often, but we took Sawyer for his second birthday and he really enjoyed walking around and seeing the fish. The area surrounding the aquarium is fun, too, since there are boats and plenty of restaurants.

17. Balboa Park (San Diego)- We have only been the botanical gardens and the Fleet Science Center (well, and the zoo, since it’s there too), but enjoyed both. We will definitely be back (I know there are some gardens, a train museum, a sport museum, and a few other places that seemed like they’d work for us).

18.  The LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)- I love museums, but I will admit that some are better for kids than others (I’m not taking Sawyer to The Broad). The LACMA is pretty family-friendly; there are these cool “noodles” for kids to walk through, an enormous boulder they can run through, and, the best part, Metropolis II, a huge exhibit of speeding Matchbox Cars. We also spent some time walking through the modern art, which apparently my child is a fan of.

19. The California Science Museum (Exhibition Park, Los Angeles)- The science museum itself is sort of subpar, as far as museums go; I find the tech a bit outdated and the place in general in need of some TLC. BUT, they have a space shuttle that you can walk under and around, which is reason enough to go. They’ve also been running a Science of Pixar Exhibit that was pretty neat. There are rose gardens outside that Sawyer likes to run through, as well.

20.  The Carlsbad Flower Fields- This is a seasonal activity, but the flowers are so beautiful that I have to mention it. Sawyer didn’t really take the time to marvel at the ranunculus, though, as he was more taken by the tractor rides around the fields, the playground, and the live music.

21.  Major League Baseball Games- We are Giants fans, so going to San Diego when they play the Padres works best for us scheduling-wise. Sawyer ate his body weight in pizza and M&Ms and walked seventy laps around the stadium- needless to say, he had the best time.

22. Sawdust Festival (Laguna Beach)- This collection of local artisans is a lot of fun to walk around. There's a variety of art, a waterfall, live music, and a decent snack bar. It's also right down the street from the beach (there are free trolleys during the summer).

Places We Still Need to Visit (this summer, hopefully):

The Natural History Museum and the Museum of Flight (Exhibition Park, Los Angeles)- These are right near the science museum but we have yet to make our way over to them. 

The Getty (Los Angeles)- I am a little hesitant to take Sawyer here, since I do feel like it’s a bit more of a serious museum (I have been a few times), but there is a lot of space outdoors for him to run around if he gets antsy (plus I think he’ll like the tram you take from the parking lot up to the museum).

Pennypickle’s Workshop (Temecula)- I have purposefully waited on this one, but I think this summer he will be old enough.

Farm Sanctuary (Acton)- This is a pretty far, located in Northern Los Angeles County, but I love the idea of seeing the rescued farm animals and getting to interact with them.

Peterson Automotive Museum (Los Angeles)- Sawyer is pretty obsessed with vehicles in general, so I plan to take him up here to see what they’ve got (I believe that have a Batmobile, so I’m sure that will rock his little world).

Skyline Trail (Corona)- I actually hiked this a few years ago, but I have never taken Sawyer and I know they’ve done some work on the area.

After publishing this post, Eventbrite shared some info on their cool new event registration software that you can use to help plan and attend events in your own city. I've actually used their site before to book tickets for events here in Southern California, and can vouch for the ease and accessibility of their site. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. After my comment last week about giving Elizabeth Warren a vacation it turns out that she is... sort of... or at least a book tour. And I have a ticket to go see her later next month with a friend! I'm excited. 

2. I listened to all six of the Missing Richard Simmons podcast episodes last weekend and I am legitimately saddened by what has happened to him. I'm with the narrator- I don't buy that he's just laying low. Nope. 

3. Sawyer is in a big-boy-bed now and he picked out Moana and Batman sheets. I love that kid. 

4. Most of the prints I wear are subtle and geometric, but Boden has the cutest sunglasses dress that I might have to snag... 

5. Tomorrow is our English department book club to discuss After the Parade by Lori Ostlund. Honestly, it fell a little flat for me. I thought there was way too much context, the pacing off a little, and some of the characters lacked depth. It was her first book, so I'm sure her follow-ups will be a little smoother (there is potential). It will be interesting to see what everyone else says.

6. Tomorrow is also parent-teacher conferences, which are generally exhausting but satisfying. I really appreciate it when parents come down to chat about their kids and it's nice to either see the kids get to have a moment of pride or squirm a bit. 

7. The day after is our last day before spring break! The teachers are just as anxious as the kids....

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. The UCLA Women and Men made it to the Sweet 16! Go Bruins! 

2. Mac is coming to Ulta- like I need to spend more money on makeup.

3. I was supposed to have an MRI of my hip last Saturday, which I scheduled nervously since I am quite claustrophobic. I woke up early that morning and said "nope, not gonna happen" and didn't go. I need to reschedule for the open MRI machine, but I know they are pretty backed up. This sort of refusal from me is really irregular, as I am typically one of those annoying rule-following, get-the-job done asap, kind of people. But apparently Saturday morning I knew my own limitations and decided to be a rebel (and to make the matter worse I couldn't reach anyone in the office so I was a no-show- THE HORROR). 

4. I am obsessed with checking the weather for Yosemite and Fish Camp, where we are staying, now that our departure day has entered the ten-day-forecast. I can deal with rain (just ordered Sawyer same rain boots, haha), but snow not so much. 

5. You can customize Sperrys. How long will I be able to resist?

6. As soon as the Democrats control the Senate, or better, someone has got to make Elizabeth Warren take a vacation. Or a nap. That woman is relentless and I love it. 

7. This Lemon Almond Pudding Cake looks absolutely amazing, but I'm not sure if anyone in my house will help me eat it. 

8. I finished the cross stitching project I have been working on for the last few months and am really pleased with how it turned out (pictured above). 

Top Ten Tuesday: One and Done

This Tuesday the Broke and the Bookish ask up for books we can read in one  sitting (or close to). I love this topic because my students commonly wait until the last minute to finish up their Outside Reading, so I'm frequently throwing titles like this their way, come December and May. 

1. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

2. We Should All be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie

3. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

4. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (I read this over a few days, but if I was on vacation or child-free I could have knocked it out very quickly) 

5. Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding (the format makes it read so quickly)

6. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald (it just reads fast!)

7. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

8. A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

9. The Awakening by Kate Chopin 

10. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel  (graphic novel)

Lemme Tell You a Story (3)

Every once in awhile I like to pop in with a few of my Instagram Stories, just for fun. I want to sit down and write my thoughts on the collection of Ann Patchett essays I finished a few days ago, but I'm currently shoulders-deep in baking a Cinnabun Pie and prepping an Easter craft for Sawyer when he wakes up (holy domesticity!), so that ain't happenin'. So for now, happy Sunday:

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Gah! It's Wednesday! I almost forgot (hence the brevity). Anyway, link up, link back, say hey!

1. Weekend plans: have an MRI on my hip. I saw the doctor last week and she doesn't think it's muscular or soft tissue, so off to get I scan I go. This would be totally fine if I wasn't claustrophobic (their open MRI has a tight schedule that didn't work with mine).

2. Pet peeve: magazine articles that continue their articles on pages in the back.

3. I am seriously considering a trip to Nashville just to visit Parnassus, Ann Patchett's bookstore. I just finished her book of essays and started following them on Instagram and I just need to go. 

4. It's Ruth Bader Ginsburg's birthday! Stay kickin' for four more years, lady! 

5. My child is obsessed with Moana. Help. 

6. Speaking of Sawyer, I cannot decide if it's time to get him a regular bed or not. He still doesn't always sleep through the night, although he goes right back to sleep when he does wake up (I do not, though). Maybe he needs more room? Maybe it will make things worse? I just don't know.

Top Ten Tuesday- Spring TBR

This week The Broke and the Bookish ask us about our current reading plans for the spring are. I have a love/hate relationship with these posts: I love to make plans and get excited about books to come, but I hate the fact that I know I may not follow the plan (I am a planner, so this is sort of a set up to fail, which I also hate). Nonetheless, let's focus on the love part:

Antigone by Sophocles: I am teaching this play next, so I have to reread it (for the fourth time...). If I was really ambitious I'd read the two plays that come before again, but I don't think I'm feeling that much Sophocles right now. 

After the Parade by Lori Ostlund: I honestly don't even know what this book is about, but it's our next department book club selection so I'll be starting it soon!

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid: I have read one of his other book, How to Get Filthy Rich in Asia, and loved it, so when I heard this new one had some magical realism I was all about ordering it. 

Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson: I loved Family Fang, so I am excited to see if his new one is as good. 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman: I hear this one is an easier read that's incredibly endearing. I could use some of that.

The Tempest by William Shakespeare: I want to reread this before I read Margaret Atwood's newest. 

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi: Finally! I am the last one on the planet? 

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett: I am currently enamored with Patchett and am resisting reading everything she has written that I have not yet gotten to. 

The Women by TC Boyle: I made a new best friend in line at Target the other day and for some reason Wright's name came up in the best four minute conversation ever and I remembered this book (this guy was probably seventy-five and we totally bonded over chocolate cereal, UCLA v USC, Bass Lake, and whatever else we crammed into the conversation).

The Restrain of Beasts by Magnus Mills: I have no idea what this is about except a friend brought it back from Greece for us last year and it's supposedly hilarious. 

The Huntington Library- Pictures

Yesterday Sawyer and I went to The Huntington Library, which is also home to several art galleries and acres and acres of botanical gardens. Since it was such a beautiful day out and there was nothing on display that I was dying to see and hadn't before, we stuck to the grounds (they do have a Gutenberg Bible and some Canterbury Tales work that I have seen before and is worth the time). Here in Southern California we have moved from a rainy, cold (for us) winter to 80+ degree spring in a matter of about a week, so everything was in bloom, including the cherry blossoms. We walked over 9,000 steps and Sawyer was so tired that he crashed before we made it out of the parking lot (he also had the best night of sleep in weeks). The pictures don't do the place justice: 

It's definitely worth the drive to San Marino (near Pasadena) if you live in the area. Adults are $25, but kids 4 and under are free! 


[sun! warmth!]
 It's a weird time of year, at least for me. The holidays and their madness are over, summer vacation seems a little too far away to get excited yet, and there's nothing seriously big looming on the horizon. Sure, I have a trip up north planned for spring break and some little things here and there, but I've just been feeling this general sense of... ennui. I sort of hate this word and think it sounds pretentious, but it perfectly articulates the not bad, not good, state of being I've been in lately. Dissatisfied. Uninspired. Frustrated. Stunted. Stagnant. I know that a lot of this is can be attributed to not having a restful night of sleep in two months and the doom and gloom in the news every.single.day, but still. Blah.

[I am always impressed, and inspired, by his complete happiness]

[getting more technical and scientific about cooking- a challenge]

But over the last week or so, the weather has gotten warmer and the days longer. I have been hyper-efficient at work and don't feel as inundated there as I normally do. So slowly, I've been feeling more inspired. Inspired to make improvements, pursue hobbies, and relax. Inspired to bring about little changes here and there. It's been good, and even better considering the little things that have gotten me to this point. 

[Ann Patchett has made me truly want to be a writer again]

[Sawyer has a book that says "nature is magic"- it's so right]

I don't regret these transitional times, though. Sure, they're frustrating and make me feel lazy (laziness is my arch-nemesis), but this sort of feeling is so important. It's akin to my belief that kids should feel boredom, regularly. It's motivating and serves as a catalyst for change, whether in attitude, schedule, or environment. Obviously for some people it's a sign of something a bit more serious, but for me it's a wake up call that I need to take the bull by the horns and mix things up a bit, or just reconnect to what's important. 

So I am, and I will. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. I have thoughts about International Women's Day and all that accompanies it, but I feel like articulating them would take pages and pages. Basically, I think the idea is good in spirit, but the problem is that so many of these "_______ Days" are just token gestures that really don't accomplish much. People wear red and post a few things on social media, but then what? And the strike is complicated because it really is just for people who can afford to miss work and don't have to worry about losing their jobs. And so on and so forth. We just need to work harder, collectively, and we need to remember that there are women in places that have it far worse than us who we need to help.

2. Scott and I played Pandemic for the first time over the weekend and it was pretty fun. I thought I wasn't going to like playing cooperatively, but I survived. It does have a lot of pieces and procedures, but I think after a few times playing it'll be a breeze.

3. We also bought Candyland for Sawyer and played two games of it with him. He's a little young, but it was fun and good for him to wait his turn and practice his colors.

4. I just started Ann Patchett's This is the Story of a Happy Marriage and I am so inspired by this collection of essays already. 

5. Last night I was on the verge of losing it due to lots of little things and then a big thing that ended up fine (after a visit to the children's dentist... sigh). I was at the grocery story buying Sawyer Motrin and just, well, on the verge of losing it, and a friend texted me ON CUE "Hey, how's your week?" The timing was like from a movie or something. We chatted, made plans for the weekend, and I felt so much better (also because of the Reese's Peanut Butter Egg I bought, if we're being honest).

6. Friday- Sunday should be a welcome distraction and source of relief (knock on all the wood). Friday I have to take the day off for a doctor's appointment and I am going to get a few things done for myself since Sawyer will be at daycare for most of the day still. Saturday we are going to the Huntington Library near Pasadena, Sunday I am seeing a friend, and then I am FINALLY having a massage. And it's going to be in the mid-80s (shorts weather... gulp...). This week has definitely called for a good weekend.

7. I bought an oil diffuser, finally. I don't really believe in the healing aspects, but I want something more natural to make my house smell lovely and whatnot. If anyone does know a magical combination for "makes everyone in the house sleep for ten hours straight without making a peep" I'll take it.

Eight Days a Week...

If there were eight days in a week (preferably the eighth day being an extra weekend day...) life would be so much easier. Granted I do start getting sort of technical about things- does that mean we'd have fewer weeks in a year? Or would years be longer? Can we do that, given the whole movement around the sun thing? Alas, you get the gist: if I had more time. 

The reason why I don't:

[oh, just the bird's eye view of a weekly to-do list]

If I had more time there are many, many things I'd love to do, some book-related. For example, I'd love to really be a Goodreads participant. I log much of my reading here, but it would be neat to be part of the community and to see the stats and whatnot at the end of the year.

I'd also love to start a blog Instagram account, for just book-related pictures and thoughts. Unlike my personal one, it could actually be public and I'd have the opportunity to interact with people on the more visual side of reading. Plus, what bibliophile wouldn't love an excuse to take my book-ish pictures?

If I had that extra time I'd finally order a huge piece of corkboard so I could mount the map I've had for a few years where I'd track how globally I was reading. I'd be able to choose a space and figure out a system. At that point I could properly chastise myself for not adequately expanding my horizons. 

I'd do more rereading! The other day I was talking to my students about Isabel Allende's House of the Spirits and it occurred to me how darn long it's been since I read it (1999, as a pre-IB sophomore in high school). While I do tend to lean towards the "life's too short to reread" sort of mentality, there are some titles I'd like to revisit. 

I would also start accepting review copies again, something I've basically stopped doing completely. It was of course fun getting free books, but I found myself feeling really guilty that I wasn't getting to galley copies in a timely manner. I'm a ruler follower (well, at least sometimes), and I also tend to lose motivation when I feel obligated to do something (at least this sort of thing). I liked reading first time-novelists and being able to post positive thoughts on their hard work. 

I also might consider some blog server or visual changes- maybe move to Wordpress and maybe pay a designer to do a facelift (this is what I did for this current look several years ago- it was affordable with a premade template and while I still love the current look, sometimes it's nice to have a fresh do, ya know?). 

Alas, there will never be eight days. Sure, eventually I will have more time, but for now I'll just keeping doing what I can. 

February Reviews

A little behind, but better late than never (please note that this is NOT what I tell my students when they try to turn in late work, haha)! February's reads:

The Wangs vs The World by Jade Chang
368 pages
Charles Wang loses it all in the recession and decides that he will move his wife, teenage daughter, and college-aged son cross-country (road trip style in the car they have to take back from the housekeeper, since they've lost everything else) to his adult daughter's home. Along their way there are serious moments and plenty of light-hearted ones. Each character has a great deal of baggage and we see how relationships change, grow, and how the family must come to terms with their new future. 

Verdict: I thought the first three-fourths of this book was darn near perfect in terms of pacing, the humor:serious ratio, and character development. The last quarter felt a little rushed and a tiny bit contrived, though. I think this will definitely make a lot of literary "beach" read lists this summer, since there is still a great deal of merit there, just a few rough edges.

Difficult Women by Roxane Gay
272 pages
This collection of short stories deals with pretty much every major "female" roadblock you could think of- miscarriage, abuse, heartbreak, and professional challenges. Gay's feminist lens lends a different sort of tone to the stories, though, and while the reader will still hemorrhage sympathy for many of the characters there's still a spirit of fight that permeates throughout.

Verdict: This book was heartbreaking and just plain hard to get through. Nonetheless, I am still glad I read it and find Gay's messaging important to the movement and times.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
120 pages
Angela Vicario has gotten married, but she forgot something sort of crucial: to tell her finance that she has lost her virginity. Oops! Given the culture and times, he's pretty mad and returns her home on their wedding night. Angela's mom beats the crap out of her and her brothers demand the name of the man that stole her purity. They then proceed to murder the poor guy, a fact we learn within  the first few pages of the novella. Touches of magical realism, a non-linear format, and rich Latin American cultural elements make this book true Marquez. 

Verdict: This is the fourth time I've read this book (once in high school and now teaching it for the third time) and I still love it. If you haven't read his other books and have "always meant to," this is a great Marquez book to test the waters with.

The Clothing of Books by Jhumpa Lahiri 
80 pages
This lengthy essay turned paperback talks about Lahiri's relationship with book covers. She muses about her experiences as a child wearing a uniform, the role of the cover, and her own books.

Verdict: This quick read was insightful and interesting. Lahiri turns something that some people may not think much about into a something digestible and thought-provoking. She also adds a great deal of depth to the subject that I personally hadn't anticipated or considered. 

840 pages