Beyond the Pages: Musings On Internet Life

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

The Status Of All Things

The Status Of All Things by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

What would you do if you could literally rewrite your fate—on Facebook? This heartwarming and hilarious new novel from the authors of Your Perfect Life follows a woman who discovers she can change her life through online status updates.

Kate is a thirty-five-year-old woman who is obsessed with social media. So when her fiancé, Max, breaks things off at their rehearsal dinner—to be with Kate’s close friend and coworker, no less—she goes straight to Facebook to share it with the world. But something’s changed. Suddenly, Kate’s real life starts to mirror whatever she writes in her Facebook status. With all the power at her fingertips, and heartbroken and confused over why Max left her, Kate goes back in time to rewrite their history.

Kate’s two best friends, Jules and Liam, are the only ones who know the truth. In order to convince them she’s really time traveled, Kate offers to use her Facebook status to help improve their lives. But her attempts to help them don’t go exactly as planned, and every effort to get Max back seems to only backfire, causing Kate to wonder if it’s really possible to change her fate.

What It Got Me Thinking About:

social media and how it is so embedded in my life..everyone’s life really, how social media isn’t always an accurate representation of who a person is

Image1fdsfI’ve been feeling very on again off again with social media lately. Reading this book reminded me how much social media affects my life and how it has permeated into my daily routine in such a huge way without me even realizing it. I grew up before the internet. I grew up before social media. I know how to live life without it all….but why does it feel like sometimes I don’t?

I’m going to preface this with: I LOVE SOCIAL MEDIA. I LOVE THE INTERNET. It is glorious. I have met some of my very best friends. I’ve grown as a person. Have found an amazing outlet. Learned a lot. I love how it has allowed me to have PEOPLE to connect with who I wouldn’t otherwise.

Here’s 2 things it made me think about:

 

If you don’t post it on social media, did it really happen?

In the book, immediately when Kate finds out that her fiance was breaking up with her, her first thought is basically, “what will social media think of this? How will I break the news on Facebook?” At first I thought, “how silly” but then I was thinking about how I’ve struggled with this so much. I go to social media immediately to announce life things.  I can’t go a day without thinking about how I can photograph it perfectly for Instagram. How immediately when I do something fun I need to post it. What will my followers think if I get too personal about my bad day? Will people like this? Will people think it’s lame? Social media is the first thing I do when I wake up and a lot of the time the last thing I do before I close my eyes.

I’ve been better with it lately because I’ve just felt so TIRED of sharing and curating my whole life. I try to be authentic and open as possible when I do share but lately I just want to keep things to myself. I don’t want to live my whole life out on social media. I’m tired of putting so much of myself on display and caring too much about what social media thinks. And I’ve been finding life a bit more fulfilling by enjoying those moments without sharing them. Sure, some of them were super share-worthy (like how beautiful the sun and the leaves look from my reading spot here at the park) but it’s kind of nice to not immediately reach for my phone and be like, “I need to tweet/snap/instagram/ that.”  Sometimes it’s kind of just nice to admire it and feel the sun on my face and appreciate the moment. I’m still a work in process but I’m finding that life is more fun without over-documenting it.

[Keep Reading]

Perception, Reality & Our Super Reader Community

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I was on Twitter the other day and I saw a conversation, not at all a bad one, and there was just a random comment along the lines of “oh yeah that author is so popular and probably doesn’t really need the buzz like others do.” Totally understand the sentiment of wanting to support the authors that might not get as much buzz or that might be debut authors or under the radar! TOTALLY. I love doing that and do it all the time. SO MUCH. That’s not at all the point of this post.

What this comment made me think about is perception vs. reality. They aren’t always aligned. I knew this statement that was made about this author wasn’t necessarily fact as I know the author and know a little bit about their publishing journey. They are totally ~popular~ within our circles but outside of it they just aren’t as well known/have struggled. But I could see how this person who made the statement could think this given what they see online and in this particular community of ours! I really could! Especially in relation to how well loved they are IN our community. And I think this sort of thing happens a lot  — these innocent misperceptions based on what we see online vs the actual reality. (Especially since as readers, pre-social media, I don’t think we really HAD much of a look into ANY of this).

I think in our book blogging community, which is comprised of super readers and people who are really IN the KNOW when it comes to all things books, it doesn’t always reflect the reality of how a book does on a grand scale or how popular an author actually is. I know authors who are super popular in the book blogging world and I don’t think they’ve quite reached that level outside. It’s been jarring to me to think in my head how super popular and hyped a book is in this community and then talk outside of our community and realize it’s not as big at all. Or how I can talk to a librarian about a super popular book I see embraced by our community and they tell me it doesn’t move off the shelf ever. I’m like “WAIT NOT EVERYONE HAS HEARD ABOUT THIS AND AREN’T CLAMORING TO GET THIS ONE COPY?”

It’s so interesting to me sometimes how our reality in our community doesn’t always accurately reflect sales numbers or popularity out there in the world. Sometimes it makes me really sad. I’m like “LOOK. WE ALL LOVE THIS. WHY CAN’T THE WORLD?” And sometimes our reality totally align with the rest of the book world and, hey, maybe we even helped champion it. I wonder if it’s just that sometimes, despite how big our community feels and has gotten, it still is just a small sampling but we are passionate and loud and we see what feels like a lot of people talking about and reading certain books. It looks popular to us. We are just in this community where everything is amplified because we are so saturated with conversations about all sorts of books that it kind of skews our perception a bit. It’s a little bit like an echo chamber but not like in a negative sense. (Does that make sense? Maybe I’m looking for another metaphor?).

The other thing it made me think of, regarding perception and reality, is of authors themselves. I know that before I joined this community I automatically thought published author = successful and rich and being an author is their only job. That’s true sometimes but I know a whole lot of authors who have other jobs and being an author isn’t the only thing they do at all. There have been authors who have shared about the realities of being a mid-list authors and it definitely was one of the things that opened up my eyes to how off perception vs. reality can be.

I don’t really have a point to this post. Just a whole lot of musings on something that’s kind of fascinating to me. But I think, in thinking about this, it has just reinforced how super important it is to leave reviews for books I like and love on sites that might reach the non-book bloggers and people who aren’t saturated in this world like we are — Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble because every little bit counts and we are already championing these books so why not make sure our love for the book is heard outside of our community? (not saying you are awful if you don’t…god knows I am SO behind in cross-posting reviews).

It makes me want to think about what other avenues I can spread the word and how I can use my platform BETTER to help further champion the books I love. How can I better be a resource to people like teachers and librarians who are reaching people that I might not? We do an amazing thing by creating buzz and talking about these books and writing reviews but I’m asking myself how I can do better with just even a little more effort on my part personally to reach beyond this community.

Thoughts on this? Even if you don’t agree with me or think I’m totally wrong, I’d love to hear them! How can we reach beyond our community to make a difference for books we love?

Beyond the Pages: Friend Breakups

Beyond the Pages is my way of sharing the things books make me think about and interact with and want to talk about shared experiences with people. Some of my best conversations have happened because of something that came up in a book. I’m pretty personal in my reviews but I’d like a way to not bog down my review with a huge paragraph of personal experience so this is my way to be able to share it. Some times it will be serious and sometimes just random and fun but I hope we can connect! PAST Beyond the Pages here!

 

 

The book that inspired this conversation:

A Sense of the Infinite Hilary T. Smith

A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith
(Goodreads // Amazon)

What It Is About:

It’s senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn’t prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe’s new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she’s been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe. But most especially, she isn’t prepared to lose Noe. For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don’t involve Annabeth. Without Noe’s constant companionship, Annabeth’s world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she’s really meant to be—with her best friend or without.

What It Got Me Thinking About:

friend breakups, how friends grow apart, how friendships change over the years

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I think when I was younger I thought one of the most painful experiences you could go through was a unrequited love or a breakup with your 6th grade boyfriend but it wasn’t until I hit high school and beyond that I realized two of the most heart-wrenching things in my life would be friend breakups, shifts in friendships and growing apart from friends to the point where you they feel like strangers to you.

I think that’s one of the things A Sense of the Infinite did so well — it chronicled these shifts and that slow drifting apart we can have with even our best friend. It showed how sometimes you realize that a friendship doesn’t quite fit anymore but nobody wants to make a move. I think it was poignant in how the rose colored glasses come off when you recognize the first real crack and how you see things for what they really are. I have definitely experienced all that.

When I was in middle school I had just moved to a new school and new town and I met my best friend in 8th grade. We were THOSE type of best friends who did everything together and preferred to be with each other to everyone else. We had the most inside jokes and it was like a head over heels love affair those 2 years of our friendship. And then I went to high school and she was still a year behind in middle school and, even though we lived 6 houses down, everything slowly shifted to the point that when she finally came to the high school the cracks were far too large. It ended with her dating a boy I knew was trouble and her doing things we swore we would never do — differences I couldn’t get over at the time. That friend breakup was the hardest. SHE WAS MY EVERYTHING. My partner in crime. We were ~friendly~ the rest of high school but it was SO different and that was almost the hardest part. We’ve since seen each other once as adults and we are cool. I’d love to rekindle that friendship but we live so far apart now it doesn’t make sense. I’m happy that she’s happy and I can look at our good memories with fondness rather than bitterness.

More recently as an adult I did a friend breakup with a whole group of people that were a mix of a core group from high school and then some college friends we met and brought into the group. I still get sad about it sometimes but honestly I’m more relieved than everything despite the fact my former bff and college roomie and I have drifted so far apart as a result of me not being part of the GROUP anymore. It was one of those things where they were sole people that I hung out with. It was a mix of guys and girls and I had the most fun with them. But there were THINGS that I think I always recognized even in the height of my friendship with them but just ignored for years and years. After we graduated the drifting really happened even though we all still mostly lived near each other and hung out pretty much every weekend.

[Keep Reading]

Ten Diverse Books I Love

Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Ten Diverse Books I Love

I think one of the biggest things I’ve gained from joining this online book community is a better perspective and awareness of my privilege as a straight white woman from the middle class. Before I joined I had no idea, as I was reading and finding myself in almost everything I read, that non-white kids and teens were reading lots and lots of books where who THEY were wasn’t reflected anywhere — maybe a side character but rarely ever the main character. It’s so easy for me to pick up a book that features a white female and I never knew how much I took that forgranted. It made me so sad that young people who weren’t white or straight would have such a hard time finding literature that reflected who they are. Sure, they can relate to the things happening on the page but why should it be so hard for them to find a black or lesbian or disabled main character? The world is so diverse! There are a lot of reasons this is the way it is and I highly recommend checking out We Need Diverse Books — an organization dedicated to diversity in publishing along with educating and advocacy.

At the end of the day I want a good book. But I also found that I’ve been trying to also make it a point to seek out books that are good AND are written by/feature a marginalized person. I want publishing to know that YES WE WILL READ THIS. THESE STORIES ARE IMPORTANT TOO.

So here are some books I’ve really enjoyed that feature diverse main characters:
(diversity for me: POC, Quiltbag, religious minorities, cultural, disabled, socio-economically)

diverse-books-YA

Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed: I could not put this down at all! The main character is an American Pakistani. Part of culture is arranged marriage but she’s secretly had a boyfriend who is a family friend. Her parents find out, are beyond furious and take a family trip to Pakistan that ends up being more than just a family vacation. I loved how it explored arranged marriages and I definitely learned a lot/squashed some per-conceived notions I had about arranged marriages. (My review)

 
Boy In the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds: I loved this book so much! The main character is a black teen living in Brooklyn and his story resonated so much with me. He is grieving the loss of his mother and it’s just such a beautiful, quiet novel. I dog-eared so many pages! (My review)

 
None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio: This book made me cry along with teaching me what intersex is. I honestly didn’t quite know what it was and learned right alongside of the main character, a teen girl, who finds out that she is intersex. It was so hard to watch her struggle with this new part of her identity and all the crap she got from people at school who were so, so cruel and misinformed. (my review)

 
Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee: OH MAN. OREGON TRAIL. I loved this historical fiction novel featuring a Chinese girl (two things that make life hard for her here in 1849 in Missouri and seemingly impossible on their journey) and a runaway slave. (my review)

 
Far From You by Tess Sharpe: I couldn’t put this one down! A great mystery! Great writing & character development! A bixsexual main character! (my review)

 
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen: The main character, previously a runner, loses her leg in an accident and adjusts to life as an amputee. This one was a happy feeling inspirational kind of book even though you felt how hard it was for her. There was another main character, Rosa, who was my favorite. She had cerebral palsy and she teaches the main character a lot about not just seeing someone’s disability but seeing them in addition to being an amazing friend. (my review)

 
Like No Other by Una LaMarche: This was the first time I’ve ever read about a person who is a Hasidic Jew in YA lit. I really enjoyed learning about a sect of religion I didn’t know anything about. Not to mention this love story, a forbidden one, was just so easy to get tangled up in. It was so complicated and I loved the end and GAH it was just so good!!  (my review)

 
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley: This is another historical fiction novel! It was so heart-wrenching. It’s set during the 60’s when the Civil Rights Movement was happening and it follows two girls — one who is being integrated into this previously all white school along with a handful of other black students, and one who is white and doesn’t want this integration to happen. I loved how two people who are pit up against each other SEE each other as humans plus there is a romance involved that definitely wouldn’t have been approved by the majority for two reasons. Such a powerful read! (my review)

 
Made You Up by Francesca Zappia: Made You Up was an interesting book as it is from the perspective from a character who has schizophrenia and so it makes it had, as a reader, to know what is real and not real as the main character struggles with it. (my review)

 
Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: One of my favorite books I read last year!!! It’s so delightful and wonderful and GAHHH HEART EYES FOREVER. The main character, Simon, is gay and hasn’t come out yet and has this email relationship with growing feelings with a boy who goes to his school but they have remained anonymous behind their screennames. There is black mail and great friendship dynamics and the romances is the CUTEST EVER.  Plus Simon has some really poignant and funny thoughts about the whole idea of coming out. (my review)

 

So tell me…what are some books featuring diverse characters that you’ve loved recently? Always looking for good recs!

Status: Overwhelmed & Fatigued

Lately I have been quieter on the internet than I normally am. True, some of it is because of summer time fun and travel. Some because of aspirations to ~disconnect~  a little more and ~be more present~ in my life. But honestly? I just feel plain overwhelmed and fatigued.

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I mean, when I open my computer and descend on the internet it’s like being a kid in one of those huge candy stores with a billion options. HOW CAN ONE EVEN CHOOSE WHERE TO START OR WHAT MAKES THE CUT TO FIT IN YOUR MOM-APPROVED PORTION OF A BAG??

It’s like: okay, let’s check my email. DEAR GOD NO WHY. Twitter instead. Okay I should do some blogging stuff — write posts, try to respond to comments, clean out that spam, etc. Ah okay I’ll try to read some blogs. OMG WHY DO I SUBSCRIBE TO SO MANY BLOGS? WHICH ONES TO CHOOOOSE? Hehe funny animal video. Omg miltary brother surprising his little brother SOB. Okay back to my email. OOH THIS LOOKS LIKE A GOOD EMAIL. Newsletters, newsletters, newsletters. I AM SO INSPIRED. I AM GOING TO LIVE MY LIFE BETTER. Gets on Twitter. Hour of passive scrolling happens. Okay I’d really like to: find some new music, listen to podcasts, catch up on what is going on in the world, find some new recipes for this week, HAIR TUTORIALS BECAUSE I AM THE WORST, oooh I want to learn things, should I film a video?, ehhh hey Facebook why do I even still have you, OOH LET’S START A NEW BLOG, ugh I really need to respond to these emails like a grown a$$ adult, google “how to not get overwhelmed by the infinite possibilities of the internet” *shuts computer, cries and swears off the internet for forever*

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I’m just overwhelmed. There are so many things to consume…and that I WANT TO CONSUME. So many things out there I don’t even KNOW I want to consume (internet clicking and spirals YO). I want to read all the blogs that interest me and spread the comment love. I want to know what’s up in the world. I want to be entertained. I want to chat with all the people I think are cool on the internet and be present on Twitter. I want to learn. I want to be inspired. And that’s not even like the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things that I want to do outside of the internet — read all the books, watch all the tv/movies, do all the fun life things. A PART OF ME WANTS TO DO IT ALL. A PART OF ME, THE ONE CONSOLING THE PART WHO WANTS TO DO IT ALL AND IS OVERWHELMED, RECOGNIZES I CAN’T DO IT ALL.

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I’m just so overwhelmed by all my options. I mean, hey, I get I’m super lucky to have all this at my disposal and that this is even a problem for me. But right now I just feel so overwhelmed and also a bit fatigued from all the noise & opinions and the constant barrage of things I’m being inundated with.

I’m trying to create better habits for myself for consuming the internet. But it’s so hard to curate. I’m trying to figure out what things are most important and worthy of my time. I’m trying to not feel bad or guilty when I can’t do it all and support all the things or when I’m feeling behind. BUT I WANT TO LOOK AT ALL THE THINGS ON THE INTERNET. But I also want to know my limits and the signs that tell me I need to step back because of fatigue.

Soooo I have no grand conclusions or plans or anything but mostly I’d love to hear from YOU all. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the internet and its infinite possibilities and avenues you can go down? What do YOU do to combat internet/social media fatigue? How do you curate your internet consumptions? WHAT IS YOUR INTERNET ROUTINE LIKE? Tell me allll the things, people!!

Podcasts I’m Listening To

So, if you saw my If We Were Having Coffee post recently I mentioned I was wanting to get into podcasts and asked for suggestions from you all while I was searching for other podcasts. OH MAN I think I’m addicted already and, like anything I’m newly addicted to, I’m just diving in and adding way too many to my list.

I typically listen to a lot of audiobooks in the car or while I’m cleaning or making breakfast or getting ready but I was just feeling like I wanted something different sometimes. So my car time and getting ready time and so on is now this constant Sophie’s Choice between music, audiobooks and podcasts.

So I think my issue with podcasts as of right now is when they have HUGE feeds of past episodes because I’m like OMG WHERE DO I START? DO I just jump in with the current one? Start from the beginning? I’m so the kind of person that gets twitchy if I don’t start something from the beginning but also I want to be on the current episodes. How do you all deal with this?? HOW DO YOU PODCAST?

So here’s the ones I’ve listened to as of right now (like a substantial amount of episodes) and some of my thoughts:

 

Call Your Girlfriend podcast

I randomly came upon this one in my searches and oh my god I love these girls! They are two long distance besties and I just want to join their squad, k? They are so funny, smart, interesting and like cool feminist chicks that have just really entertained me so far. I love how balanced they are — they give us a glimpse into their personal lives, talk about the silly and frivolous and also the important things like feminism and diversity and such. It’s a great mix of pop culture, politics, current events, awesome rants, etc. I’m so amused by them and I just feel like I’m chilling on my bed and painting my nails while on a three way call with my besties (which was so fun back in the day amirite?). Two besties catching up and talking about everything and anything. Definitely my entertaining podcast fix. I started at the beginning with their pilot episode and I so want to keep going and catching up but I also want to like be listening to their current episodes because of all the current events and stuff they talk about. But but even already there are “inside jokes” from other episodes I’ve noticed and I’ve only listened to like 7 so far.

Official about on their website: “Call Your Girlfriend is a podcast for all the long-distance besties out there, brought to you by Gina DelvacAnn Friedman and Aminatou Sow. Every other week, tune in as we discuss Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the beauty of caftans, menstruation news, Kimye, Pitbull, Hillary Rodham Clinton, casual racism, emoji, straight people, California, rom-coms, Lorde lipstick, and so much more.”

(Website/Listen)

 

Stuff You Missed In History Class podcast

I mentioned in my If We Were Having Coffee post that I missed learning, like school learning. So a bunch of people mentioned this podcast in that same post when I asked for podcast recs so I thought it was a good fit for the learning AND the podcast need. I’ve enjoyed it so far and have learned some interesting things. Definitely great for history nerds like myself! I love learning about obscure things I might not have really heard about or that I didn’t know much about. I’ve found myself wanting to go research afterwards or even thinking, “OH MAN I WANT A YA HISTORICAL BOOK WRITTEN ABOUT THIS.” They have been doing podcasts since like 2005 so there are A ZILLION. The first episodes were super short like 4-8 minutes but now the more recents are like 30-40 minutes. I’ve been listening to just the most recent ones because you don’t really need to follow them in order at all. However, sometimes when I’m getting ready in the morning and only have like 10 minutes I’ll listen to two of the older episodes for a quick history fix. I also have been skipping some when they really just don’t interest me at all but I’m mostly open to learning about random things.

(Website//Listen)

PodcastHappier

My friend Ellie was talking about this at book club and I was like OMG I AM SO ON BOARD. I really loved Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project so I really wanted to give this one a try. It’s about happiness and ways to add happiness to your life! I could always use that. I love the format and I love that it is Gretchen and her sister doing it. I typically listen to this one to start my morning off on an inspiring and good note. I started at the beginning just because they didn’t have THAT many in as they just started in April of this year. They are about 30 minutes each and I just find them to be a good way to start my morning. Nothing like EARTH-SHATTERING but I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed starting my day off this way and thinking about some of the things has boosted my mood and started my day off right.

Official description:

Gretchen Rubin is HAPPIER, and she wants you to be happier too. The #1 bestselling author of The Happiness Project and Better Than Before gets more personal than ever as she brings her practical, manageable advice about happiness and good habits to this lively, thought-provoking podcast. Gretchen’s cohost and guinea pig is her younger sister, Elizabeth Craft, a TV writer and producer living in Los Angeles, who (lovingly) refers to Gretchen as her happiness bully.

(Website//Listen)

Other ones I subscribed to but haven’t started yet:

Serial
Totally Married
Stuff You Should Know
Tranquility du jour

Do you listen to podcasts?? Let me know what I should listen to!

Ten Hyped Books I’ve Never Read

Top Ten Tuesday, as  always, is hosted at my other blog — The Broke & the Bookish

This week’s topic: Top Ten Hyped Books I’ve Never Read

 Being immersed in a bookish community such as this online one that I find myself in there is the tendency for books to get super hyped up here and then sometimes even outside our little bubble. There are a lot of hyped books I plan on reading but just haven’t yet. LET ME KNOW IF YOU THINK THEY ARE WORTH THE HYPE. Here are 10 I haven’t read yet!

 

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The Wrath & the Dawn: This one is a new release but I’ve seen a lot of buzz for it before it was even released and even since then I’ve heard a lot of “favorite book of 2015” declarations. I own it and plan on reading it!

The Girl on the Train: This one is one of those books I first heard hyped in the adult fiction book community and then it spread and now I’m even seeing it on my personal Facebook mentioned by people I didn’t even know read books most recently a girl I went to high school with and haven’t spoken to in like 10 years.

Red Queen: OMG THIS ONE HAD SO MUCH HYPE AND BUZZ EVEN BEFORE IT CAME OUT. I wanted to read it at first but after hearing from some people whose opinions I trust I’m not sure it’s high on my to-do list right now. It’s a maybe.

Dorothy Must Die: Oh man, sooo much hype for this one. Harper was pushing it so hard last year and it seemed to be loved by a lot of people. The package the ARC came in was really cool though. That’s always how I can tell a book is going to be the “one” of the season.

A Darker Shade of Magic: This is a newer release but OH MAN were bloggers going nuts for this one! And I’ve literally only heard good things. I definitely plan on reading it soon!

Insurgent: I know I know. I haven’t read book 2 of this super hyped series. One day maybe.

The Night Circus: This is one of those again that it seems like even my random Facebook friends have even read. I feel like I’m always so behind on the ones that become huge deals outside of this community!  Definitely plan on reading it though!

Me Before You: ALL THE HYPE FOR THIS ONE. Even a lot of YA bloggers who don’t read a lot of adult fiction read this one and it’s all praises for it. Plan on rectifying that soon!

The Dream Thieves: I KNOW I KNOW I KNOW. I loved The Raven Boys but I just am awful with series especially when they are hyped and I am behind. Planning on binging Blue Lily Lily Blue along with this one soon!

The Selection: This series has taken the world by storm and is definitely one of the most hyped series in recent years. I’m not sure if it’s my thing but it looks really fun!

So tell me…what hyped books have YOU not read? Which of these do you think is worth the hype??

Why I Am The Way I Am

 

Well, I really don’t have the answer for the overarching reason of why I am the way I am in general. That’s another topic for another day. More so, I had an encounter this weekend that reminded me why I blog, why I do it the way I do  (read: probably way too open and emotional and sappy for most people). It was definitely one of those life-affirming things for me.

So Will had off on Friday for the 4th of July and we kept throwing around ideas for things to do. We finally decided just to stay around our area. We took a four mile walk (2 miles to this cute neighborhood we love with lots of shops and food stuff and 2 miles back). One of my missions, besides getting coffee, was to find this Little Free Library (which I think is the COOLEST concept ever) that I knew was in the area so I loaded up a backpack with a couple books and we went. It was an adorable street off the main road and when we walked up there were two ladies outside in front of it actually picking out paint colors for it — one being the owner and the other her neighbor. I’m a chatty/friendly person (clearly you know this) and so we got to talking to them for a little bit. Learned that the owner of the LFL used to work with Laurie Halse Anderson who I love so that was pretty cool but then she talked about WHY she decided to put up a Little Free Library. And here comes the life/blog-affirming part.

Little Free Library

She shared that she had gotten the Little Free Library when she was caring for her husband who was diagnosed with ALS. They felt closed off as it got harder to go places for him and so she got one in hopes that neighbors and the community would come use it. It became such an uplifting thing for him (and for her) to have neighbors and others come visit and exchange books and interact with them in such a hard time. I haven’t really talked about it on the blog as much as I’ve talked about losing my mom to brain cancer but Will’s dad passed away from ALS about 5 years ago. So this story really, really moved me and I was so thankful that she shared it.

Here’s the thing. I’ve always believed that reading and books are a special sort of magic. They are there when you are lonely, when you need to feel connected to other humans, when you need to escape, when you need something to uplift you or energize you or don’t want to feel alone in whatever you are dealing with. They have the power to transform and save and do all sorts of things. Words and stories are so powerful.

It reaffirmed for me about how much reading and blogging about what I read is about connection for me — connecting with other readers, hearing their stories and just connecting with humanity in the pages of the books I read. I think that’s why I’m so willing to share the personal things. Why I hope you will trust me with your stories when I share whether that be in the form of blog posts of your own, in my comments or in my inbox. That’s why I might talk more about my experiences related to a book or how a story moved me personally. It’s just important to me. It’s just how I’m wired. Maybe it was losing my mom when I realized how much CONNECTING with other people who went through something hard/similar and hearing their stories made me not feel so alone. How certain books were there for me at the right time.

It reaffirmed why I run my blog the way I do.

 

And this is not to say that it’s the right way (I’ve said it a zillion times before…no right way/no better way). It’s just the way that makes me feel content and makes it fulfilling and worthwhile FOR ME. It’s why I’m okay that I’m not naturally the blogger who can do a wonderful critical analysis and point out all the technical things that just don’t come so easily for me. It’s why I’m okay with featuring books in different ways even though it might not be flashy and get a whole lot of attention. It’s why I’m okay writing more personal posts in favor of  promo posts. All those things that I don’t do are great and needed and important… but the things that I do are the things that align with ME and what I care about/what interests me and the blog gives me an outlet to do that. I’m so thankful for that. When I DO the things that make me fulfilled it’s what keeps this blog going (and everybody’s sense of fulfillment comes from something else!).

Sometimes I’ll get down on myself that maybe I should do this and that and what not. Maybe my blog should have more of this. Maybe it should look more like this. Maybe I should do less of this. But at the end of the day, I’m really happy with what I do. I’m happy with what I put out here and what I focus my time on when I do this. I’m so thankful for all the ways I’ve connected with people who became shoulders to cry on (metaphorical but whew you don’t have to endure the snot on your shoulder), who gave me advice or inspired me, who I may have helped with my words, who reached out to me and shared their stories, who may have felt inspired by my openness, etc. etc.

Today just really reaffirmed why I blog, why I do it the the way I do and why I am the way I am — no matter how the trends shift or what becomes cool. At the heart of this blog will always be the things that are important and fulfilling to me and I sincerely hope, for my fellow bloggers, that it’s that way for you — no matter how that looks! It also reminded me just how vast this book community is outside of my little corner of the bookternet and how wonderful it is.

Thank you for being vulnerable with me these 5 years. Thank you for sharing your stories on your blog, in the comments of my posts/emails or by the books that you write. It’s what has kept me around for the past 5 years — not the ARCs, not the “cool perks”, not the ad money, not the spotlight or anything else.

I’m Not Too Old For That!

I feel like all my favorite reading related discussions on this blog happen from conversations with non-reading people or non-YA reading people (this, this and this for sure). This discussion is certainly a product of such a conversation.

I was catching up with an old friend and the topic of reading came up and I definitely read different things than I used to. I explained some of the stuff I’m into now and she, totally not trying to be disrespectful, said something along the lines of, “But how do you read about teenagers so often? I feel like I’m so past all that and like it’s not at all relevant to my life anymore. Plus I like more literary things” And I mean, her right to read what she wants and I do understand WHY adults might not be into YA. Totally, I read adult fiction too because I can’t ONLY read YA. Anyways, I explained a little of why I love YA and gave her a couple books to try out because I am very confident in their relevancy to people of all ages. (I’m not even going to tackle that literary comment because HAHAH some of the YA books I love are way more ~literary~ than some adult books I’ve read).

But that encounter got me thinking… I will be 30 in October. My 10 year high school reunion happened last year. I AM SO FAR PAST HIGH SCHOOL. Why does YA speak to me still? I mean, I still read adult fiction and other things but I am so, so into YA and don’t see a switch being turned off anytime soon.

I mean, aside from the fact that YA has some of the most innovative and creative and exciting stuff coming out and AMAZING writing/storytelling/characters…what IS IT about YA that attracts me to it still? I really thought about it and I’ve come to the conclusion it lies in these two areas:

1. There is something really appealing to me when I read YA because of the lens I read it through as an adult and how I can reflect and process my past.

I honestly think there are so many things that I’d experienced as a YA that makes so much more sense to me now as an adult. I am a very reflective person by nature and I’ve found that reading YA has helped me to do that and also has made me more self aware as an adult because of it.

2. THERE ARE SO MANY UNIVERSAL THINGS IN YA THAT DON’T GO AWAY ONCE YOU HIT ADULTHOOD.

I mean, SO many of the things I read about in YA are actually relevant to me. I might not be in high school or be falling in love for the first time as an old married lady but what I find about a lot of my most favorite YA books is that when you strip away that kind of stuff that isn’t applicable to me, I still find things that are so, so relevant to me. That are these universal THINGS that most humans — young and old — deal with to some degree. And I have found that YA has explored these things in such a raw and honest way that really clicks with me.

Here’s just a small sample of things that have been so, so relevant to me in YA novels (in a thought-provoking and meaningful way) despite being past that ripe YA age:

grief and loss and tries to work through that. My mom might have passed away in 2006 when I wasn’t reading YA but there is still so much to work through even years later and reading YA stories about grief has helped me process a lot. It’s given me new eyes to what I experienced as an actual young adult when my mom was sick and then passed away. Read: Why I love reading stories about grief

–  friendship: I’ve read books about losing friends, making new friends, the ups and downs of friendship, etc. etc. As a 30-something my friendship landscape may have changed but friendship at 16 and friendship at 30, while different, relies on a lot of the same core things. And a lot of those friendship issues that you have at 16? YOU STILL HAVE THEM AT 30 BUT JUST IN DIFFERENT WAYS. It’s still so hard to deal with friend breakups or growing apart, the difficulty of making new friends, opening yourself up to new friends (getting over your initial judgments to make room for a friend) and there is still so much JOY in having girlfriends. I think I appreciate those relationships EVEN MORE NOW.

–  finding yourself/growing into your own as you grow up/becoming the most REAL version of yourself/figuring life out: I’m sad to report to 16 year old Jamie that you don’t figure your shit out when you become an adult like I thought would happen. I think, as a approach 30, I’m more myself than I’ve ever been before as I’ve waded through a lot of versions of myself that were only half true to my heart. But I AM STILL FIGURING IT OUT. I don’t think you ever truly figure things out. I still doubt myself. I’m still growing and learning (about myself and the world). I learn SO MUCH about myself and my own journey through YA characters of all genres. Things that inspire me, things that make me want to be braver and better and kinder, things that make me want to live more boldly and take more chances. I STILL don’t know what I want to do with my life despite knowing what I want to BE ABOUT and HOW I want to live. I’m still figuring it all out.

And honestly these are just A FEW of the things that my last couple reads made me think about and were so RELEVANT to my life (I could go on — family issues, identity issues, living more fully, figuring out what you want to do with your life, fighting for what you believe in or what is right, life disappointments, feeling lost, dealing with depression, heartbreak, etc).

And sure, I’m not saying reading YA as an adult is something that everyone has to be into or is their thing. I can understand not WANTING to read about high school/teenagers, being picky about what kind of content you read in YA or even finding SOME stuff in YA eyerolly as an adult (I do sometimes!) but to say that YA can’t be or isn’t relevant to the life of adults is simply not true.

 

I’m curious…if you are an adult reading YA..what draws you to it? If you have a different feeling about this, I’d love to know!

A Sentimental Value

Recently I talked about books that changed your life and are important to you — like the words on the pages, the story, the characters — but the other day I started thinking about books that are just important to you, for what is inside, but also just the actual physical book itself.

I was thinking about it when I was working on  a prompt for a daily Instagram challenge. The prompt was “favorite childhood book.” I have quite a few childhood favorites (ones that I still own) but immediately I thought about my beloved Nancy Drew books.

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I will never forget the day my mom gave these to me. I was pretty young and I remember she climbed through our creepy attic while I waited at the door because I was afraid of mice being in there. I HATED OUR ATTIC. She rummaged through a couple of boxes until she found them. They were hers. And before that they were her mom’s. I don’t remember why exactly she grabbed them for me. Maybe I was looking for more material to read? Maybe I had already been into Nancy Drew? Maybe she wanted to introduce me to them? I can’t really recall the why but I will never forget the memory for some reason. (I have the strangest memory because I remember the most random things but can’t remember things Will told me yesterday).

I remember feeling like I was part of a secret club now that I was grown up enough to read my mom’s Nancy Drew books. My sister didn’t read so I felt like it was truly something JUST my mom and I shared. They felt so old to me. So fragile. And I remember handling them with great care. There’s some sort of magic that just comes with something that has been passed down from grandmother to mother to child.

I devoured that whole series and bought many more of them but the only ones I still have in my possession are actually these ones. Most of you long-time readers know that my mom passed away in 2006 and so these books have a value that I can’t ever put on them. I mean, I seriously would probably grab these in a fire (along with the blanket I have them sitting on which is made of some of my mom’s most iconic t-shirts I remember her wearing) because THEY MEAN SO MUCH TO ME. They were my mom’s. We shared a love for reading and I know that her giving me those helped me to be the reader I am today.

I’ve talked before about how I’m pretty ruthless about getting rid of books after I read them (only favorites or books that I would reread or signed books FROM beloved authors even if I didn’t LOVE the book). I don’t collect books or ARCs or different editions. But sometimes books stay on my shelf for sentimental reasons. I don’t have many books that stay for that reason but the ones that do really mean a lot to me.

When I think about what other books mean a lot to me a couple signed books come to mind. Books personalized to me from favorite authors. (MY GAYLE FORMAN BOOK FROM MY BIRTHDAY) Things like that. And as much as they mean so much to me, they just can’t ever come close to my beloved Nancy Drew books.

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There’s just something about having a piece of my mom that comes with a vivid memory of being given those books and knowing they were hers and she wanted to give them to me. To look at those worn pages and know that once upon a time she flipped through them (because sometimes through the years you get so used to someone as being NOT ALIVE that you have to remind yourself of all the years of living they really did). Of the connection those books brought us because there were very few ways I felt like I truly understood her but her love for reading was one of those things.

 

So what about you guys? Do you have any books that have sentimental value to you? That are important to you in a way that isn’t JUST about what is inside?

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