Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read In a Day

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

Let me just say that I’m not really good at reading books in one sitting. I’m not even very good at reading one book at a time. If I’ve “lost” my current book around the house, I’ll just pick up another one. This usually leads to a lot of library books nestled in strange corners of the couch or atop precarious laundry piles or hidden under papers I just took off my desk. I’m also not that focused as a reader, reading for an hour before getting up to do something else and then coming back to my book. Or I’ll switch a chapter on and off with one book with another book or another task. So reading a book in a day for me is very unusual. Here are ten (recent-ish books) that overcame all the odds. Or were very short.

 

Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the English Countryside by Andrea di Robilant

I’ve talked about this book before on the blog, but it sticks in my mind. I read it years ago now, but it was one of the first books in a long time that I felt utterly consumed by. If you’re interested in Italy (and why wouldn’t you be), and you like people who chase down weird family history and/or roses, you should read this.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher

I sat down to read a few pages of this at the library, and didn’t look up until the whole thing was finished. Fun and clever.

My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl

I was just captivated by the stories along with the recipes. One of the better cookbooks I’ve read in a while.

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

This book is pretty depressing, but it’s very short and well-written. So that’s something.

Ragnarok by A.S. Byatt

I really liked Possession, so when I saw another book by Byatt at the book sale, I knew I needed to read it. It’s definitely nothing like her other work, but it was really interesting and immersive (even if maybe you didn’t want to be immersed in it)

Butter Celebrates! Delicious Recipes for Special Occasions by Rosie Daykin

I read this book quickly, as there wasn’t much to it besides the recipes. I’ve only tried one so far and it didn’t really work out. This is why I get cookbooks from the library instead of buying a bunch of them. But I have hopes for the next recipe anyway.

Patience by Daniel Clowes

Read it fast to get it over with–I didn’t feel like I could not finish the graphic novel since it takes such a short time to read them, but it wasn’t my favorite by a long shot.

French Milk by Lucy Knisley

Another graphic novel, which I read quickly because it was very good.

A-Z of Wedding Style by Kate Bethune

Another very short book, with lots of pictures and white space. I really enjoyed the illustrations though. A good book for people who like fashion.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I’ve done a lot of ranting and raving about this book, but it definitely deserves it. In addition to being a great book, it was also a very quick read.

 

So there’s 10 recent book I’ve managed to complete in a reasonable amount of time without getting too distracted by anything else. What’s the last book you read in a day or in a single sitting? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: My Experiences with Graphic Novels

 

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My 5 all-time favorite graphic novels to date. All pictures from Goodreads.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish.

What I love about graphic novels is the way they use pictures to evoke mood in a more immediate way than words alone. So much of communication is non-verbal and graphic novels let you experience the importance of a significant look or gesture.  If the story is a memoir, they provide a kind of self-portrait. Like a comic they are guided by pictures, but unlike a comic they are focused on narrative rather than action.

Since I’ve spoken about all of these graphic novels before, I thought I’d spend today’s post talking about my renewed interest in graphic novels and how I’ve become a pretty big fan over the last year or so.

The first, and for a while the only, graphic novels I read were Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Art Spiegelman’s Maus books. I was introduced to Satrapi via the film Persepolis, and it was only from there that I went to read her work. I remember being blown away–not just by the nature of her experience–but by the young woman herself: cool, rebellious, full of conviction but also doubt, intelligent and never parroting. She was the person I had always wanted to be. In an interview with Vogue, she said she didn’t consider her work to be autobiographical because “…normally an autobiography is a book that you write because you hate your family and your friends and you don’t know how to say it to them, so you write a book and let them read it themselves.” Instead her story is a family history, and the history of the 70s and 80s of Iran told through the lens of her personal experience. It was an immensely important work, and even as a freshman or sophomore in high school I recognized that.

Part of me wanted more of this new medium I’d discovered, but I wasn’t sure where to get it. Our library wasn’t all that good of keeping up with the times, and there wasn’t much in the graphic section except for manga and comics. I admire both of these art forms, but they’ve never really spoken to me. So I went back to reading other things that spoke to me instead.

Then in college someone told me (or maybe I overheard someone speak about) The Maus series. I went looking for these specifically, and I was blown away. Art Spiegelman has said in many interviews that “the Holocaust trumps art,” and I think by and large he’s right about this. And yet his graphic novels are so full of emotional power,I cried reading them (which is not something I normally do). Maus II won a Pulitzer prize, the first and only graphic novel to do so.

I came to the graphic novel through other ways too. My brother was in the process of becoming a Bar Mitzvah, and his Sunday school/Hebrew school teacher took his group to see an exhibit at the Portland Art Museum about a graphic novel that depicted the entire book of Genesis. The artwork wrapped its way throughout the room and you could make out both familiar and not-so-familiar stories. It reminded me of the Jewish holiday Simchat Torah, during which the entire scroll is unwrapped (taking up the entire room), supported by the congregation. The end of the Torah and the beginning are supposed to be read in the same breath, showing that it has no beginning or end. It’s one of my favorite Jewish holidays, though I’ve only actually attended a couple of times.

Beyond this encounter though, most of my reading was relegated to school reading and various novels, and I didn’t seriously start looking at graphic novels again until after my fiance and I had moved to Idaho.

In the end, it was a Podcast that got me into graphic novels more seriously. The Bridechilla podcast interviewed Lucy Knisley about her book, Something New: Tales From a Makeshift Bride, and I was already reading all these wedding books, and I knew I’d have to add it to the list. So I read it. And then I read two more of her books. And then I started finding them all over the library in the new books section, in the staff recommended books section, and in the obvious place, the graphic novel section.

Apparently I was ready to embrace this medium. The art felt so immediate, so closely tied to the words on the page. Some of them were heavily researched, others were tales of personal journeys. Beyond the fact that they were often quick to read, making them a bit of a relief from a year largely spent reading books that weren’t all that special, they were a new world you could escape to in a single sitting.

Of course, I’ve also read some that I didn’t enjoy very much, and I’ve found that my favorites are either brutally honest personal narratives or meticulously researched but still lighthearted histories.

I still have a long way to go. But now I’ve gotten better at finding these books, and I’m more open about them finding me.

 

What’s your experience with graphic novels? Have you read any of my favorites or do you have a recommendation for me? Let me know in the comments!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 2016 Releases I’m Really Excited About

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic is all about what 2016 releases we really meant to get to, but weren’t able to read for whatever reason. My reading is almost always at least a year (if not a century) behind, so I actually like waiting for the best-of-the-year lists to come out, and a lot of times I build up my to-read list from these compiled lists by people who do actually read the books when they come out. In particular, I really like NPR’s list because it’s super fun and visual and easy to sort through (I am a huge nerd about good indexing and cross indexing), not to mention the blurbs are written by people like librarians and NPR staffers instead of publishing houses. I like the different perspectives. So here are ten books that I mostly haven’t mentioned yet, but that I can’t wait to read whether that’s this year or years down the road when they happen to find me.

  • The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson–Starts on the brink of WWI in a small English town–a book about manners and how they’re affected by the chaos of war. Sounds like a great read. (in the Book Club Ideas Section)
  • Umami by Laia Jufresa–I love reading translated books (part of the enjoyment being thinking about how the book is different in the native language–pure speculation), and this debut novel about loss and connection in Mexico City seems like a great read. (in the Staff Picks Section).
  • Patience by Daniel Clowes–Graphic novels are so interesting and moving, and I like the change of pace from regular novels every now and again. This book is supposed to be a love story, but also involves time travel. Can you really ask for more than that? (in the For Art Lovers section)
  • Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung–A boarding school story set in Australia with a young woman who struggles to find a place for herself and her heritage, a YA with plenty of nuance–my favorite kind. (in the Tales From Around the World section)
  • The Vanishing Velázquez: A 19th Century Bookseller’s Obsession With A Lost Masterpiece by Laura Cumming–a nonfiction book about a man obsessed  with a work of art. (in the Seriously Great Writing section)
  • The Glass Universe: How The Ladies Of The Harvard Observatory Took The Measure Of The Stars by David Sobel–A group of female astrologists, long relegated to the sidelines are brought to the forefront. This books talks about the women themselves as well as their contributions to science. (in the It’s All Geek to Me section)
  • The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg–A spin on the 1,001 Nights, and that’s all I have to know to be interested in this graphic novel. (in the Ladies First section)
  • The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer–A nonfiction book about brave librarians who risk everything to save books…um yes please. (in the Identity & Culture section)
  • The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman–YA historical fiction that takes the historical part seriously but isn’t afraid to throw a few demons in. (in the Rather Long section)
  • The Book of Magic: From Antiquity to Enlightenment ed. by Brian Copenhaver–I love reading about magic and how the perception of it has changed over time. This book looks like something of an undertaking, but a good one. (in the Eye-Opening Reads section)

 

How do you find new books for your TBR lists? Was there a book you missed this year that you really were looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!

My Reading Challenge for 2017

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So last year’s challenge did not go well. And not because I didn’t read a lot of books. I just sort of lost my motivation somewhere along the way.

I think the real problem had something to do with the nature of the challenge itself. My goal was to read more of the books that were on my shelves that had been accumulating for years, but the problem was they weren’t all winners. With some books, this was obvious right away, and I’d quit the book and throw it in the donation pile. But other books weren’t exactly bad, they just weren’t all that good. And reading a lot of meh books at the beginning of the year (combined with a lot of wedding-related excitement) was just not good for my reading goals.

Though there were some definite highlights, they were few and far between.

So this year, I still want to get through some of the books on my shelves (I have every intention of finishing last year’s A-Z challenge), but I want to look at my reading goal a little differently so that the completion of the goal is a creative process that takes way more forethought than just examining my bookshelves and choosing a book that starts with the given letter. I really liked the idea of fitting my reading to certain criteria over a set list of books, so I chose the Popsugar challenge as this year’s reading challenge. I like that there’s a lot of things on there I don’t normally read on the list, and there’s a lot of diverse criteria. We’ll see how it goes.

 

I’ll be blogging about the books I read, and if you have any suggestions for some of the more difficult/weird stuff on this list I would love them! For instance, does anyone know of some good steampunk writers? Or a book set around a non-Christmas holiday? Let me know in the comments! Also let me know what your reading challenge looks like for the year!

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books About Food I’d Love to Find Under My Tree

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

I’m not sure how many books I’m actually going to be receiving for Hanukkah/Christmas this year (considering that my fiance and I aren’t exchanging our usual bookish gifts–I got a computer instead and I’ve got different surprises in the works for him), but there’s always an insanely long list of books I’d love to have.

To narrow it down a little, I’ve limited this list to cookbooks/food memoirs. Because the holidays always make me hungry!

  • A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer

This is exactly the book I need to take my Game of Thrones obsession to the next level.

  • How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking by Nigella Lawson

I like to think that I’m pretty much a domestic goddess already, but I’m eager to pick up some more tips. Maybe she has an idea of how to trick yourself into enjoying doing dishes…

  • Larousse Gastronomique: The World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia by Larousse

I don’t know how often I’d use this book, but I want to read it from cover to cover.

  • Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing by Anya von Bremzen

Food is memories–even if those memories aren’t always the warmest or most pleasant. Food is still home.

  • The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook: From Cauldron Cakes to Knickerbocker Glory–More than 150 Magical Recipes for Wizards and Non-Wizards Alike by Dinah Bucholz

Our friends actually gave us this cookbook for Christmas and I was so excited! I can’t wait to cook something from it.

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  • Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli by Ted Merwin

Even as delis are beginning to disappear, they’re such a big part of America’s culinary history (and they’re delicious). I miss the deli that used to be close to our house growing up. When it closed I was so sad.

  • Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons

I read some of Gibbon’s work for my food writing class, and I’d love to read his famous work.

  • Sugar Cube: 50 Deliciously Twisted Treats from the Sweetest Little Food Cart on the Planet by Kir Jensen

This Portland food cart has really fun desserts, and I’d love to see what in her cookbook!

  • Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube Presents: The Cake Book by Cupcake Jemma

A book of recipes by my favorite YouTube baker, Cupcake Jemma (I love her Oreo cupcakes)

  • The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime–Comfort Classics, Freezer Food, 16-minute Meals, and Other Delicious Ways to Solve Supper by Ree Drummond

This is the only Pioneer Woman cookbook I don’t own. I love her step-by-step photos and down-to-earth nature.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I’m Eager to Read Next Year

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2016 is drawing to a close, and 2017 is right around the bend (so obviously it’s time to start outlining book choices for the new year). As you will know if you’re a regular reader, I rarely keep up with new releases, which is the theme of this week’s topic. Instead, I thought I’d share with you 10 books that I’m really excited to read in the first half of next year. Many of them were published this year, but some of them are older and I’m just looking forward to finally reading them.

  • The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo–Amy Schumer

I really enjoy Schumer’s comedy, and I’m interested to see how she brings humor to her writing in a longer format.

  • Hag-Seed–Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood + Shakespeare= Happy Dance

  • Swing Time–Zadie Smith

Not only is it named after a great Astaire/Rogers musical, it’s also a book by an author I admire greatly. Can you believe she published her first novel at 24? I’m totally in awe of her.

  • After Alice–Gregory Maguire

My TBTB Secret Santa gave me an ARC of this book, and I can’t wait to dig in. I’ve really enjoyed a lot of Maguire’s work like Wicked and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, so I’m interested to see what he does with this iconic story.

  • The Underground Railroad–Colson Whitehead

I love the cleverness of this idea–a metaphor turned into a literal railroad.

  • The Six Wives of Henry VIII–Alison Weir

Another gift from my Secret Santa, this book has been on my TBR list for an embarrassingly long time.

  • Wolf Hall–Hilary Mantel

I read one of Mantel’s short story books last year and loved it, so when I found a copy of her historical fiction at my library’s used book sale, I knew I had to pick it up.

  • Homegoing–Yaa Gyasi

This is the story of two half-sisters from Ghana and the separate paths their lives take–one becomes a slave and the other marries a slaver. The writing was compared to Chimamanda Adichie Ngozi, so I was on board from the moment I heard that.

  • Paper: Paging Through History–Mark Kurlansky

Paper is so ubiquitous, but I don’t always stop and think about where it comes from and how amazing it is to have it around all the time. I love reading nonfiction about the things I use every day.

  • Wide Sargasso Sea–Jean Rhys

I feel like this book and I have been circling each other in the pool, but it’s high time I caught up with it. This adaptation of Jane Eyre has been on my radar forever it feels like, but I only recently added it to my official TBR list.

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 New-To-Me Authors I Can’t Wait to Read More From

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature from The Broke and the Bookish.

Today’s topic is all about new-to-you authors. I’ve read quite a few books this year, but this post is all about new authors that stood out and that I look forward to reading more from. These are in no particular order (starred authors are those I read more than one book by this year).

Lucy Knisley*–I’ve read graphic novels before this year, but never so many. I really enjoyed my foray into this genre, and particularly enjoyed the graphic memoirs by Lucy Knisley. Her writing is honest and authentic and bittersweet (though never bitter). My favorite work of hers was her memoir about planning her wedding called Something New: Tales From a Makeshift Bride.

Elena Ferrante*–I have one more book before I finish the four Neapolitan Novels, but you don’t have to read much of her work to know that Ferrante is a very important writer. Her books about friendship are some of the most real (and most uncomfortable) I’ve ever read, dealing not only in connection and support but bitterness and jealousy and misunderstandings. I didn’t always find the books easy to get through, but I felt like I accomplished something each time I finished one and that I’d had to confront my own understanding of what friendship is and the many ways it can materialize.

Anthony Doerr–There’s so much I could say about All the Light We Cannot See–the writing is great, the story is spectacular, and there is plenty to talk about from the motifs to the setting. It’s a wonderful book. If you haven’t read it, it should really go on your list. It lives up to all its hype.

Ta-Nehisi CoatesBetween the World and Me won the National Book Award for nonfiction and the prize was well deserved. A father’s conversation with his son, Coates shares his perspective on blackness in America with devastating honesty. It may be a very short book, but it will stay with you long after you finish reading it.

Lev Grossman*–I’m a huge fan of fantasy in general, but The Magicians Series was one of my favorite things that I read this year. Grossman takes some of the most influential writing about magic for children (think C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling) and turns all of it into a book about what happens when you’re a magician and you grow up. Somewhere between a fantasy novel and a coming of age story, Grossman has a talent for making some of the most beloved fantasy books of all time come alive again for adults.

Rebecca Mead*–I read plenty of nonfiction this year, but most of it had to do with weddings. Mead’s take on the subject, One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding, was more serious than most, all about how our society has been influenced (as well as influences) by an industry that makes hundreds of millions of dollars a year. I also read Mead’s take on Middlemarch, which was part memoir and part literary criticism and enjoyed it immensely, having tackled Eliot’s opus last year.

Chinua Achebe*–We read this trilogy in my book club, and without a doubt the first book, Things Fall Apart, is the best of them. It’s an important story about colonialism and human dignity written by a Nigerian author.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery–I don’t know why I’ve never read The Little Prince before now, since it’s been on my list for a very long time. It’s not a book I was familiar with as a kid, but if I ever have children it’s one I’ll be sure to share with them. I love how it deals with imagination, beauty, goodness, and childhood. And I really enjoyed the Netflix movie (the soundtrack is gorgeous).

Kevin Wilson–Has anybody seen the movie adaptation of The Family Fang? I didn’t even know they’d made it into a film until I’d finished reading the book. It’s definitely a weird story about a family who does crazy performance art pieces in public spaces. It’s all about art and family dysfunction and screwing up your kids.

Isaac Asimov–Though I read a lot of science fiction I’ve actually been a little nervous about getting into Asimov. Either I like him and now I have a million books to read or I hate him and then I hate one of the most important science fiction writers of all time. I guess I shouldn’t have worried–it was definitely the former. I’m still catching up with this book club series (Foundation), but I can’t wait to read more.

 

Interested in last years post? You can find it here.

What author discoveries did you make this year? Let me know in the comments!