Reading YA Fiction

For all my love of classics and books I believe should be classics… a guilty pleasure is definitely young adult fiction. Although, a recent section in New York Mag is affirming me that this pleasure isn’t quite so guilty, but rather a love for a burgeoning new genre of literature that is perfectly acceptable to enjoy. How lucky.

I’m not sure what it is about these books – but on occasion, after reading a myriad of slightly heavier (or simply less gripping) subjects I find myself craving a good YA page turner.

Given that the characters are all probably 14-17, every love is the greatest, heartbreak the worst, fight the most monumental… for example, Tris and Four in the Divergent Trilogy… have practically Romeo and Juliet level of desperation to be together. Same goes for Hazel and sweet Augustus in “The Fault in Our Stars” although the complexities there are not a dystopian world, but cancer. Something very much of this world.

And the story of Auggie in “Wonder” will cause anyone, regardless of age or maturity to rethink how we approach and treasure those who might not look like us.

It’s nice to read about a place where decisions aren’t rational; challenges are from another world (often dystopian, scary and imagined as the US many downtrodden years from now) and kids find true love at age 14 and fight like crazy for it.

As strange as it may sound, the books are actually quite refreshing.

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A Non-Resolution / Lesson Learned

Yes, I just put a few New Year’s resolutions in writing… but I want to say a few things about non-resolutions, especially related to this blog. I learned something last year about blogging about books.

I’m not going to blog about every book I read this year. It’s a great goal and all, but it’s not going to happen. I tried last year – you can see that on this post aptly named 2013 Reads – and I only made it halfway through, and I spent so much time trying to format a blogroll-like single cumulative post… that it took the enjoyment out of the whole thing.

So blogs on books I read, yes, a post on every book I read in reverse chronological order with bolded subheadings, no. Probably not going to happen.

New Year, new you

I haven’t really taken part in the New Year’s resolution making thing in a while – but I’m going to make a few this year. And I think that part of resolving is telling someone – so you’ve actually put it out there that you want to change something. Or do something.

For perspective, this is where 2014 started –

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And then a few short hours into the new year,I flew back to New York and reality with sand in my shoes and a few things I wanted to do more of on my brain.

1. Birthday Cards

All of you people who send birthday cards every year – especially those that arrive on time, or even early – have the stuff I aspire to . It’s two fold really. I love receiving these cards. So I want to send them, too. I try – I’m just not always that successful.

Secondly, I think it’s part of actually being an adult. Yes, I know when people’s birthday are (thank you Facebook when my memory fails me), and I usually call and text, but real, actual adults – they send birthday cards. Early. Marked “Don’t open until 1/6! xx” Or something.

So stake in the ground for a more adult 2014 – be more concerted about sending birthday cards.

2. Use my phone to call people

Yes, this can go somewhat hand in hand with the previous resolution, but it’s supposed to be more about keeping in touch than celebrating once a year. I live in New York, and a lot of my best friends and family live elsewhere. So I want to talk to them more. I think emails, texts, instagram and snapchat are all great for making people feel close by… but nothing beats a phone call. So I want to keep in touch via phone, rather than apps on my phone, more.

3. Yoga

Sure, there a million great workout classes / fads / ideas, and I’m sure I would like the pilates classes where you are suspended from the ceiling or spin class by candlelight or whatever, but second to running, I love yoga, and I think it’s great for you. I look at my 50+ year old instructors and think I want to be that kind of moving when I’m 50+. I want to be that kind of bendable when I’m 27.

My schedule in the last few months hasn’t really allowed me to go to night classes (my favorite) and my lack of motivation hasn’t gotten me to those 7 AM classes (my least favorite)… so this resolution is about bringing back something that is good in 2014.

There – that’s it! Three whole resolutions. Hopefully, I can keep these and report back that I’m a birthday card sending, phone call making, yogi.

Here’s to that!

Merry Christmas (& we’re back!)

Greetings all,

DSC04565Rather than the obligatory “I got burned out on my blog for a bit” in so many words post…. I’ll leave you with this in time for the holidays.

I was just listening to some Christmas music, and the final lyrics of “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” struck me as perfect…

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor does He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, goodwill to men

So, Merry Christmas!

And also, I’m looking forward to more posts in the New Year and hoping you are too.

2013 Reads

I have tried on at least two occasions to keep a “book log”, or reading journal, or really any sort of record of the books I have read in a year, but I always taper off after a few books / weeks. Since I enjoy blogging about books I have read, I think I’ll try my hand at a book log here, and I’ll update this post as I read more books. Also, it might serve as a quick way to know what books I would recommend, if you decided to ask me.

Ideally I will link the below titles to their corresponding post on the blog. Of course, this means I have to blog about all, or almost all of the books I read, but that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

So to start –

January

Sweet Tooth, Ian McEwan – Recommend. 

More of a character piece than a plot piece, but those might be my favorite. I really liked the heroine, Serena, and for McEwan fans, I would say this is nowhere near as dark as Atonement.

Winter of the Worlds, Ken Follett – Recommend, but read Book One first.

Because it is part of “The Century Trilogy”, the who/what major historical event / where is a bit contrived, but it’s worth it. It’s a wonderfully intricate character web, if you will.

Grace: A Memoir, Grace Coddington – Indifferent on the reco.

As I wrote in my post on this book – it was interesting, and I learned from it, but as far as memoirs go, it was lacking the and this made my life feel ____, or XYZ happened and I was never the same. It was more of a play-by-play than my favorite memoirs – but if you love fashion (check) and pretend to know things about photography (check), you should read it. It won’t take too long.

February

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store, Robin Sloan – Recommend Passively.

Book club book that surprised me by its current-ness. More mentions of Google, Twitter, different generations of Macs than most fiction (that I read), but it was good storyline and a quick read. Perfect for a 3 hour flight.  Apparently, the hardback cover glows, but I read it on my Kindle, so I had no idea!

The Paris Wife, Paula McLain – Wouldn’t really recommend…

Also, a Book Club select, and it was a fiction book that teetered on non-fiction with the thoroughly researched dialogue. The most interesting part of the book – learning about the trip and obsession with Spain that inspired The Sun Also Rises. Mostly, The Paris Wife, made me want to read more Hemingway (not necessarily more Paula McClain).

March

Salt Sugar Fat, Michael Moss – RECOMMEND! 

Salt Sugar Fat is a fascinating nonfiction book I have forced onto almost everyone I know… but the book tells the story of the evolution of the packaged food industry. Written by a former investigative reporter, you can count on lots of facts, substantiation, details… definitely worth reading.

A Song of Fire and Ice, George R. R. Martin – Recommend 

Finished! Finally! I won’t say anything until the TV season wraps – but you should read it. In order.

I know I normally just post the cover of the book, but I found this picture of George RR and thought it was worth posting. He’s so Gandolf/Dumbledore/Peter Jackson-esque, I had to post it.

March

The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman – Recommend

#bizandrob

This weekend were lucky enough to be able to celebrate two of our dearest friends Biz and Rob in Atlanta.

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The whole weekend was filled with joy and excitement (love this sneaky pic)…

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Amazing views and good friends.

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I actually read scripture in their wedding, and it says better than I can what it means to love with the way you live, not just what you say…

We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action. And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.

And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us. – 1 John 3:16-24

We wish you two lived in New York with us… but more than that, we wish you the best as you start your lives together!

Lauren Dombrowiak: Domestic Edifice

When I flew home for Memorial Day, I had a pretty extensive layover in the Philadelphia airport, so I walked it. End-to-end. Through the “hall of international arrivals” and by The Supremes art exhibit.

I also discovered this gem by Lauren Dombrowiak, a ceramic artist.

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I love the use of domestic and lovely items such as cups and saucers to create towering edifices and art. I am also a sucker for China – and love the gold rimmed saucers… which are artful enough on their own.

And while I am no art expert, to me this is about taking something with an expected function and turning it into something much more. Perhaps a more refined version of “when life gives you lemons”. Either way, it says something about triumph and creativity. And I really like it.