Scratch that Book-Buying Itch (but for a Good Cause)

 Buying is fun, right? 

When the pandemic struck in March of 2020 we found out fifth period that we were shutting down- that day. Many of my classroom library books were with my seniors at their homes, and, since we aren't allowed to have visitors on campus and many have since gone to college, my books never found their way back (understandable!). 

I set up an Amazon wishlist for my class that I use to purchase from, but also decided to recently share it in case anyone wanted to scratch that book-buying itch. No pressure, of course, but if you are so included please see the list below and thank you for your consideration!

Five Things About... On All Fronts

Five thoughts on Clarissa Ward's On All Fronts:
I learned a ton about the Middle East- Ward is informative without being boring. She doesn’t weigh anyone down with excessive history or data, but instead provides the right amount of context for her various experiences.

Along with her own personal perspective, she works to bring voices to different people in areas like Syria, Georgia, and Libya. She refrains from making sweeping judgements, instead focusing on explaining why cultures and individuals may be the way they are (I heard her on NPR’s Fresh Air the other day doing the exact same thing, when explaining why in rural Afghanistan there is more of a concern for survival as opposed to women’s rights).

Her writing is solid- she strikes a good balance between being personable, descriptive, and informative (which is why she’s such a great journalist).
While I don’t have much of current desire to travel to many of the places she discussed, it was fascinating to feel so immersed in travel. I have some major wanderlust lately, so this was a treat. 

So often with reporters we see them on camera, but her discussion is more behind-the-scenes moments seemed so honest. She talks about withdrawing from loved ones after tough trips, being concerned about what motherhood would do to her career, and how exhausting being in war zones was. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

I'll post more about it soon, but I finished Clarissa Ward's On All Fronts yesterday and was so sad to be done. It will be a contender for my top ten list of the year, I think. I just started Murakami's Kafka on the Shore, which I am sure will be excellent, but I find it slightly hysterical that I thought now would be the time to begin something challenging.

Twenty of my fifty-four books so far this year have been non-fiction! That's nearly half! I think last year I tapped out around fifteen, and I'm assuming I'll probably read 5-10 more nonfiction before my January, so that's a pretty large increase. 

My son started getting homework this week, and, traditionally, a second grader should get around 20-30 minutes a night. He's been getting closer to an hour... sigh. I think the issue is that his teacher adds a lot of video content before the actual work and maybe doesn't realize how much time it's taking. I don't want to be the annoying teacher-mom who says something, but it's making the time between work and dinner pretty miserable. He is good about sitting down and doing it, but after a full day of school and knowing he's missing out on play time, it's a lot towards the end. Hopefully the kinks get worked out. 

We have for the first time EVER Back to School Night at the high school were I teach (done virtually). Here's the thing- parent contact is important and I know the lower grades do theirs every year. I am pretty sure turn out will be extremely lackluster, since it's also the first home football game, so I am screwing up my entire evening because of it. Luckily my husband works at home right now and can help with my son, but still. Anyway, we'll see how it goes. 

I have fallen back on the single-use K-Cup train again and I am so ashamed. I have been using the reusable ones you fill with ground for years, since it's cheaper and better for the environment, but now that I am in such a hurry and I have a Keurig I am using in my classroom, I caved in and bought some. Global warming is all my fault, I'm sorry guys. 

I listened to the Armchair Expert with Quentin Tarantino the other day, and, I kid you not, he claimed that he "punctured the consciousness of the zeitgeist." First of all the phrase is brilliant and the English teacher in me practically crashed her car swooning. Second of all, could his head be further up his own ass? 

I need a new audiobook, since I have a long, solo (!), car trip ahead of me soon. I'm so picky about what I will listen to, since it can't be something I'd read. But if I deem it inferior it can't be that bad, since I can't stand to listen to something that's complete crap. There's a fine line. 

I've been doing a lot of daydreaming lately about paying off all debt, including the house early (Dave Ramsey has a great calculator). I paid off my student loans earlier in the year, my car will be next, and then the HELOC. I still fantasize about getting a little RV, but then once in awhile I daydream about investing in a little condo somewhere in Tahoe or towards Yosemite (obviously this is all under the guise that our financial situation and health stays the same; I've been in plenty of situations where it's all about staying on top of the current bills, so this is not me coming from a place of being spoiled). Honestly, this is what it feels like to be old. 

It's Not That I Hate Babies

Sawyer picture 3,208 of 17,325,555 

A lot of my friends are moms and a pretty consistent refrain I'll hear on social media is, "I miss my babies" or "I wish they were small again" or "just you wait until they're older." I feel like with so many moms this starts when their babies are like nine months and I'm guess will continue until they have grandbabies or pop another one out in the final quarter (ie early forties). Recently, though, I saw an old high school friend talk about how every stage her kid is at is her favorite and I was like "ME TOO!" Finally. 

It's not that I hate babies, because babies are super cute. The cheeks, those little sweatshirts with animal hoodies, all the firsts, and how sweet they feel when they nap on you. Don't forget, though, the total and complete incapability to control their bodily functions, their lack of concern about sleep, and the fact that they really don't communicate all that effectively. 

Toddlers? My toddler was a gem- never once did he throw one of those nightmarish fits and he was capable of doing very quiet, tedious activities like putting stickers on paper for hours. Watching them learn so much about the world is absolutely delightful and hearing them talk is the best. But, still. They need help with EVERYTHING. I mean, sometimes I don't want to put shoes on another person. Put on your own shoes. It's not that hard. 

Then, they become tiny people! Hooray! They're housebroken, then dress themselves, they put cream cheese on their bagels, they have conversations with you, their hobbies start emerging, and you can rationalize with them (most of the time). It's great.

I've worked with all ages of elementary between teaching, student teaching, subbing, and whatnot, and I've been at the high school level for more than a decade. I know that aging doesn't make kids void of flaws, and there are always hiccups along the way. There are many inevitable, uncomfortable things headed my way in the years to come, I know. 

But still.

I'm glad I don't have a baby anymore. Maybe it's because I waited until I was thirty to have a kid and had a good, long taste of comfortable adult life while not being responsible for a human. Maybe it's how I'm wired? It's not that I'm not maternal, because I think I am, and it's not that I hated pregnancy, because mine was fine. I just love not being responsible for an super tiny creature and I thoroughly enjoy seeing my son become more grown up. 

Ultimately, it's a commentary on motherhood, and out society's expectations of women. We're supposed to make comments about our ovaries aching at baby showers and get weepy when looking at old pictures of our little munchkins. Taking it a step further, we're supposed to want babies in the first place, and at least two, since we'd never want our first o be *gasp* not have sibling (please, so many people don't even really like their siblings, ever- not me, I love mine). Don't even get me started on whether we're supposed to do crying it out, institute allowances, fight with our spouses in front of our kids, or any of the other seven million things people have such strong opinions on. 

(If I was grading this, I'd give it an abysmal score for staying on topic and being organized)

I love my son and he was the cutest baby I've ever seen in my life, but I'll take a conversation about Harry Potter, an afternoon of him playing upstairs with LEGOs while I read, or (when COVID is "over") an easy travel partner any day over those pudgy little cheeks. 

Five Things About.... The Vegetarian

Five thoughts on Han King's The Vegetarian:

This is not a happy book, not that books have to be happy. Just be prepared- the characters are all completely miserable.

There have been many comparisons to Kafka and his abstract existentialism, and I definitely concur. As a reader we’re constantly questioning the characters’ distortions of reality, all the while forming conclusions about their identity. 

The narrative is told in four parts, with another character’s dreams and thoughts spliced on. I typically don’t love this style, since it makes me feel inevitably detached from characters, as there’s no return to their thread for closure. It worked for this novel, though, form and function coinciding. Detachment is such a crucial thematic concept, so it’s parallel to the structure was appropriate. 

I appreciated the glimpse into South Korean life- the food, setting, gender roles, medical system, etc…

There’s this interesting portrayal of this sort of decay of natural beauty, specifically flowers. At one point an artist paints beautiful floral designs all over another character, but soon the beauty fades, the flowers symbolizing something much darker and almost grotesque

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

All I'll say about work and having an unvaccinated kid in public school right now is that it's really stressful. I cannot imagine working in the South where there are no mask mandates. We have them and still... yeah... My students are awesome about wearing them, and Sawyer is too, but, still. Stuff to say but probably shouldn't here...  I have decided, though, that for every month my family and I stay healthy I will make a donation to Doctor's Without Borders. It's my way of being thankful and trying to put SOMETHING back into the world, I guess. If you're financially able, might be something to consider!

Happier things! Sawyer and I went to a big park with our books and a bag of excessive gas station snacks and read under a big shady tree for nearly two hours last weekend. It was the highlight of my week, for sure.

I am currently reading The Vegetarian by Han King for book club, and it's a bit of a trip. I'm not quite done, but I can totally see why people were making connections to Kafka. 

If being helpful and nice is being done to make yourself feel better, does it detract from your intentions? My students and I were talking about this today, and it's good food for thought. On the flip side, if you're willingly doing nice thing for people and it makes you feel worse what kind of person are you?

My son has one of those "question a day" books that lasts for three years, and today's question was "what is your favorite restaurant?" Every single year he has chosen Panera. I have failed. 

As of tomorrow my students will have finished reading their first book of the year, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold. I'm so proud of them! Two weeks, one book already. It's a novella at only 117 pages, but, still. Way to be off and running. 

I didn't assign summer work this year, which is usually not the case (well, last year I didn't either, but that's a whole other story, since we started virtually). It has been amazing to start the year and not have a billion papers to grade. It does mean we have to hustle to get through everything (see above), but I am so thankful that I made that call. The kids needed it, too. 

I listened to the Kate Beckinsale episode of The Armchair Expert and I want to be her best friend. I had no idea I loved her so much! She is so smart, so funny, and seems so down-to-earth. Love her. 

I am trying really hard to just lay low this weekend, since I have lots going on the following two. The weather is absolutely amazing right now, though, so it's hard to fathom not getting out and about somewhere... (it's like in the 80s- usually we're triple digits in August). 

Five Things About.... Real Life

1. Taylor captures Wallace’s inner rage so perfectly- his emotional imagery left no uncertainty. Honestly, I was terrified at some points that he would end his own life, not because he was weak, but because he was surrounded by such selfishness.

2. The examples of racism and homophobia, both big and small, were painful and uncomfortable, as Taylor intended. How many times have you stayed silent? I am asking myself the same and know that we have to do better. 

3. I really wish this had been a book club book, since I feel like the relationship he has with Miller needs some collaborative unpacking. I understand that they both have so much trauma to cope with from the past, but the violence scared me on Wallace’s behalf. 

4. The scientific setting was such an added bonus for me. I loved reading about the lab, his research, and academia (although his perception of the dysfunction was not exactly inviting).

5. The female characters were fascinating- the woman who seems to just want a gay friend, the woman who tries to use feminism as a weapon, the woman in power who is way too steadfast in her support of other women, and the woman who is a loyal friend.

Intentionally Bad

Teacher confession: I make my students write bad analysis. I give them a short excerpt from what we're reading and I tell them to just blow me away with ineptitude. It's a challenge. Make it horrible. The absolute worst they can muster up. Read-it-and-cringe kind of analysis. It can't be nonsensical, but it has to be abysmal. Come up with some sort of point, but don't you dare develop it. Don't explain, don't elaborate, don't dive deeper. Surface level only, guys.

Then, we make it better. I have them pick a few ways to bring it up a notch. Can we add some textual support with a mediocre explaining sentence? Maybe toss in a literary device? Or an element of style? Wait! Can we connect to a theme, a symbol, or maybe a character? Awesome. Do, say two of those things. Make connections, though, we don't want it too disjointed. But don't do too good of a job. Keep some tricks in your back pocket. 

Then, we give it a final whirl. How can we make one or two super solid connections between the writer's choices and their content? What's really going on? Channel your inner literary critic. Can we connect it to the work as a whole, maybe thematically? Gimme that quote again, but really pick it apart this time. Dissect that sucker (and please, please, please provide the page or line). Now you're done? Are you sure? Read it through one more time, make sure to correct those mistakes and tighten up those sentences. There ya go. Submit. 


But really, it works. I created a template for this exercise late during second semester last year and I made students do an assignment every week with whatever we were reading. They don't love it, but their analysis started improving. I score it out of fifteen on an informal rubric (fine, it's in my head, but they get it, I promise), and once they get a coveted thirteen they can skip the first two columns of bad and mediocre analysis and just wow me with their best attempt. If their score ever falls below that benchmark they have to start writing the bad stuff again, so there's a incentive to do well. I add plusses and minus to let them know what direction their headed in, as well. 

Think about it. Let's say someone told you to paint a room and do a really, really bad job (but don't get it on the floor). There'd be tons of white spots left, maybe some paint on the shutters, and areas where you could see through to the original color. You could look around and just see where you'd gone wrong, and then you could verbalize what needed to be done to get it looking better. While analysis might not be quite as obvious, and the student's current ability does matter, it's the same idea. Every single kid can improve from their intentional mistakes and there something confidence-boosting about it. They can look at their two beginning efforts and realize they didn't bring in the author's writing style or their ideas are disjointed, especially as we practice. 

I found that after several weeks of this their writing was improving as well. Sure, we're nowhere near perfection, but all I'm interested in is it getting steadily better. I have the same students this year and we're starting this exercise this week and I know that they'll all groan, but on the inside they love it. 

Five Things About... Chronicle of a Death Foretold

This was my sixth time reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez's novella and will be my fifth (I think?) time teaching it to my IB students. Here's why I love using it in the classroom so much:

1. It is the perfect introduction to magical realism. The examples are plentiful, delightful, and useful to understanding the text as a whole, as well as Marquez as a writer. 

2. There are so many thematic concepts to cover that really get the gets involved in analysis- honor, family, violence, authority, gender issues, etc...

3. Marquez's writing presents so many opportunities to dive into several stylistic elements, including foreshadowing, irony, imagery, and more

4. Sex! Violence! Scandal! My students are seniors, so they can handle maturely talking about these issues, which obviously interest them.

5. This novella serves as a great vehicle for discussing form and function, since it's narrative style is a bit untraditional.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Yesterday was Sawyer's first day of second grade and it went very well! It was the first time we had to deal with the childcare-school-childcare switch off and I was really anxious. He did great!

Honestly, the first day of school is pretty rough for most parents I know this year. We have to deal with our kids returning to full in-person days again, the threat of COVID, normal "do you know anyone in your class?" sorts of fears, and childcare logistics. On top of our own jobs! It's been a stressful few weeks and I can't wait for September, when everything will be a little bit more routine.

I just started Brandon Taylor's Real Life and so far, so good.

Do people in California realize that if you vote "no" on the recall election you are automatically voting to have a Republican run the state? I feel like recalls are really confusing to many, and I don't think people understand that the last time we had a conservative in charge education funding was pushed way down as priorities. Now, in a time of issues of race, public health, etc... I can't begin to believe what a disaster it would be.

I keep wanting to make these big proclamations about people not wanting to get the vaccine on social media, and how they're threatening the health of small children, and then I remember that basically everyone I talk to things the same way. BOOM. Birds of a feather flock together and all that.

I made the annual trip to the bookroom with my students and they were a little taken aback when I had them pick up eight books, four for each semester. Our load was a little lighter last year, but, luckily for them, many of what we read senior year is on the shorter side. We started Chronicle of a Death Foretold yesterday and the first reading quiz is tomorrow! We're off and running!

I know this is really unpopular, but I just an not Team Kristen Bell. I am listening to her on The Armchair Expert and there's just something about her tone or attitude or something that I find condescending and a little self-righteous (I'm going for it, I guess). She did make a funny pun about an "acowtant" at the beginning and I almost changed my mind. But I did not. I try not to make judgements on people I don't know, especially since I think public figures tend to get misrepresented so often. But I've listened to her on so many episodes now, and I just... don't want to be friends with her (not that she's over here knocking on my door, haha).

One thing we're definitely up against this year with students is this idea of easing them back into full time school, but also not allowing them to use their year off as a crutch. The push seems to have been "just get through it, just survive" so long that we have to teach them to really thrive again. It's hard, but I'm up for the challenge. 

Recent Acquisitions and Preorders

While I haven't been on a book-buying spree lately, I have definitely not halted my purchases either. I read nearly twenty or so books over the summer, so I definitely am reading faster than purchasing, which is always a win.... Someday I'll get my unread books back down to under 100. 

Well, maybe.

Here's a few that I've either added to my collection lately, or will be soon:

Guide to a Well-Behaved Dog by Zak George- Ellie is your typical one-year-old Golden Retriever, but I would like some more structured training tips without having to take her to classes or hire someone. 

The Vegetarian by Han Kang- I honestly have no clue what this about, but we're reading it next for our English department book club, so I need to get on it!

A is of Activist by Innosanto Nagara- I buy my brother's unborn baby a book a month, so this was the one for August

The Silence by Don Delillo- This recent novella received horrible reviews, so I want to see why (and it's short and was less than $5, so I'm even more intrigued) 

How to Be More Tree- This is a novelty sort of book, but I love the idea! So many things that are fundamental to trees would make for good habits for humans. 

We Are the Babysitter's Club edited by Marisa Crawford and Megan Milks- I saw this collection of essays about the impact of reading BSC and new I needed it. 

The Molecule of More by Daniel Lieberman and Michael Long- I have some pretty complex theories on my need for constant productivity, and I think this book about dopamine will help me understand, and explain, more 

Knock Knock! by Highlights- This is for Sawyer, since he is horrible at making up knock knock jokes and I thought this would help. It has not. 


Matrix by Lauren Groff- I have no clue what this is about, to be honest, but I'll read whatever she writes (get ready to hear this refrain a lot...)

Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead- see above

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett- see above

Between the Lines by Uli Beutter Cohen- I love her Instagram account in which she photographs and interviews readers on the subway, so I can't wait to support her by having the book version!

Bibliophile Diverse Spines by Jane Mount- I love Jane Mount so much, so I can't wait to see what her newest book holds. 

Cat Kid Comic Club Perspectives  by Dav Pilkey- This is for Sawyer, although I'm sure I'll be given a page-by-page run down

Five Things About... Bird by Bird


Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
  1. Anne Lamott’s humor is so quirky and delightful.
  2. I love her complete lack of pretentiousness, her focus is on writing consistently, no matter what the quality. 
  3. I’m not currently working on any sort of writing project, but I found so much of her advice applicable to life. The ideas of being flexible, working with defeat, salvaging things you thought were worthless, can help us through so many of life’s challenges.
  4. I earmarked so many pages for use with my students. I love finding things to bring into the classroom
  5. I appreciated her honesty about her own experiences as a writer and how she’s dealt with her ego and expectations. 

Five Things About... The Pull of the Stars

 I have always been opposed to doing book-by-book reviews, but I'm a bit burnt out on the lengthy monthly posts, so I'm going to try something a bit different for a bit and see if I like it! I also posting the same reviews on Instagram under @bookishlyboisterous 

Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue 

1. The book is set during the Great Influenza, which was both unsettling given current circumstances, but also made me feel so grateful for how far we’ve come in medicine (GET. YOUR. VACCINE.)

2. The book is set in a Labor/Delivery Ward for infected mothers, which was fascinating and a bit heartbreaking. 

3. Politics and religion lurk in the background, but are never the main focus.

4. The power and ability of women is a major thematic concept- I’m here for it!

5. The main character, Julia, is admirable from start to finish- I don’t want to give anything away, but I really enjoyed watching her develop. 

All in all, this was a solid read. The writing itself was solid but nothing necessarily unique or innovative, but I thought the story kept me quite invested. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

I started my school year yesterday (we have three teacher work days before the kids start Friday). We haven't had a normal school day since March of 2019, so it all feels so different, but also the same. I have the same students from last year, so I kind of get a redo, which I am so excited about. I haven't met over half of them in person yet, so I truly can't wait. I hope everyone stays healthy- thankfully my district and my son's require masks! I am absolutely exhausted, though, since I am up at 5 to walk the dog and then get myself and Sawyer ready. It will get easier...? Sawyer has to spend five whole days at the place where he will be doing before/after school care, since he doesn't start until Tuesday. He too is so tired, since he hasn't had a full day away from home since before COVID. Lots of adjustments happening!

I get to teach EIGHT books this year, which sounds like a ton, but many are on the shorter side, like The Awakening, Chronicle of a Death Foretold, and Antigone. Two are new to the curriculum, Persepolis and The Namesake. I am big fans of both and can't wait to shake things up a bit. I'm a big fan of most of the books we read, but it will be nice to have a change. 

I am yet again reading three books, Emma Donoghue's The Pull of the Stars, being the one I most gravitate to. The fact that it's set during a pandemic is a lit bit unnerving, though. We have enough of that to contend with in real life.

My husband bought the board game Villainous and we tried it out the other night- it's definitely a lot harder than Chutes and Ladders or Trouble with Sawyer! I think the problem was was that I watched a video first and it confused the heck out of me. I'm more of a "read the directions" kind of girl, so once I did that and we started playing it was pretty fun! Lots of little things to do and get used to, but if you're a Disney fan (I really am not) and like board games I definitely recommend it.

If you listed to The Armchair Expert, I just have to say how happy I am for Monica getting to interview Matt Damon. I haven't listened to it yet, but I like her more than Dax, so yay for her. 

Summer 2021- What I Did, What I Didn't Do

It's really summer for quite a long time, but once I go back to work it sure as hell doesn't feel like it. This summer was so much better than last year- I am so thankful. It wasn't exactly as productive as I thought, either, but my whole life philosophy is about setting the bar really high for myself so that I can miss it and feel humbled later (or something like that). 

What I Did Do:
- I saw lots and lots of friends, both with kids and without, and it was so great. I don't have close family where I live, so the fact that I have hit the friend jackpot is beyond lucky. 
- We went to Lake Tahoe for five days, which I hadn't planned on but am insanely glad I decided to do. Sawyer and I had the best time, while being super covid-safe.
- I read something like 19 books so far or something like that
- I taught Sawyer to swim
- I made sure that a few times a week Sawyer practiced his math facts, telling time, and did some comprehension questions (he is a huge reader on his own, but I just want him to practice some skills like summarizing, predicting, inference, etc...)
- I kept exercising and tried to add in more strength training and yoga
- I made sure I didn't lose my kid to screens... he probably played his Switch a little more than he did during the school year, but that's okay! 
- I worked on dog training Captain Energy McChewer. She has a long ways to go, but, as long as I don't give her away first, we'll be okay eventually (kidding, kidding)
- A few house things, including a new dishwasher, new shower heads, some tree trimming (done by yours truly), replaced a pool vac, and the shutter guy is coming tomorrow to fix a few broken... shutter parts? I'm sure they have a name.
- Cleaned out closets, went through some cupboards
- Ignored prepping for next school year (that's what the teacher work days are for!)
- Managed to get to some of the fun places we missed, like The Zoo and Knott's before they got too crowded. One of my favorite day trips was down to Torrey Pines to hike and then La Jolla for lunch
- I spent hours a day outside, whether it was twice daily dog walks, almost daily afternoons by the pool, hiking, friend dates, or parks, I got plenty of Vitamin D.
- I finished my Lego Tree house!
- I made some progress on my symbol-a-bool embroidery hoop
- Started feeling better about saying no... No, I don't feel comfortable hanging out with this person and her friend I don't know inside... No, I don't need to feel guilty about initiating contact/dialogue with people I shouldn't have to... No, I am not going to drop everything right this second to go do X, Y, or Z for someone... No, I'm not going to reply to work emails the second they pop up... No, I'm not going to stay in touch with people from the past on social who I think are disrespectful to others... you get the gist. Because I can be opinionated I think people don't realize that I let others take advantage and make me feel guilty, but I do. I have a long ways to go, but I feel tougher.

What I Didn't Do:
- Join MasterClass
- Blog more
- Clean every square inch of my house
- Create new hoops for my Etsy Shop
- Help my son be a better bike rider
- Catch up on my year-in-review book 
- Sleep more
- Watch more (seriously, I still haven't finished the Friends Reunion or The Flight Attendant... all I watch if maybe 2 hours a week of The Office so that I can listen to The Office Ladies Podcast)

June Reads

Oh, hey there, stack of twelve books that were read in July. This month was super busy (friends! Travel! Family stuff! House stuff!), but I also spent hours and hours out by the pool with a book in hand. Honestly, minus some anxiety I'm feeling here the last few days of July, it was the best month since... 2019? Whoa. 

I feel very much in a rut with monthly reviews. I used to do a paragraph for each book, and then I switched to sort of a more conversational bopping from topic to topic format, and now I am thinking about doing a quick "five things about this book" post for everything I read (it would work with what I do on Instagram, too). I also am welllllll aware that with work starting thing are going to get real crazy, real fast, so I don't know if this is the time to take on a new, self-imposed, blog obligation. But, maybe. 

For today, it is what it is...

For Fun:
Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary and Steven Rowley's The Guncle were both perfect, delightful travel and pool books. Neither took themselves too seriously, but weren't total fluff, either. 

Delightful Nonfiction:
Charles Wheelan's We Came, We Saw, We Left was a great travel memoir about his family's time spent traveling around the world on a tight budget. Scott Jurek's North about his time traveling the Appalachian Trail was motivational and inspiring. 

Social Issues:
Isabel Allende's short memoir about feminism, The Soul of a Woman, was pretty interesting, and her shining personality was prevalent throughout. I learned so much about intersectional feminism with a focus on back women in Ijeoma Oluo's Mediocre and How to Be Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi was extremely thought-provoking and led to a great book club conversation. 

Reserved Narration:
Jhumpa Lahiri's Whereabouts and Rachel Cusk's Outline reminded me of each other, in a way. The narrators in each are both reserved middle-aged women in Europe, each struggling with their present states. Cusk focuses more on interaction with others, while Lahiri places. Nonetheless, both are so deliberate and precise in their style.

Short Stories:
I read two short story collections this month, Brandon Taylor's Flithy Animals and Elizabeth McCracken's The Souvenir Museum. Taylor's was much stronger, exploring sexual identity throughout. I thought McCracken's was much more unbalanced, the first part being a bit lackluster.

A Disappointment:
I loved Save Me the Plums by Ruth Reichl, but I was so disappointed by her novel Delicious. It was like a bad Lifetime movie or something...