Posted in Chatty

What kinds of things push you to read outside your comfort zone?

Hey y’all! I just started a book for my book club this month and it was making me think about reasons that I’ll read a book I might not usually try. In this case, it’s a book that I had my eye on when it originally came out, but I was on the fence with.

On the one hand, Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi intrigued me with its basic premise of a time-traveling cafe with very precise rules. On the other hand, I’ve read other literary works by Japanese authors that weren’t really my favorite (looking at you, 1Q84!) and worry this might end up in the same vein (though I don’t want that to come across as generalizing all Japanese authors of course — it just seemed like this might have the same kind of vibe).

But here I am reading it, because my book club chose it for a pick! I actually voted for it as well, because I wanted to have a reason to give it a chance. When we were debating if we should do just book one, or the first two since they’re fairly short, I was super blunt and said I’d just read the first and if I liked it would try the second, but no guarantee. Everyone laughed and agreed and we settled on reading the first for sure and maybe the second.

So here I’m thinking about other reasons that I might try a book outside my usual and wanted to see if y’all had anything that’s pushed you as well (and if it was worth it or not!!).

Book club(s)

Of course! The in person one that started all of this is an example of course, but I also have Aardvark Book Club as a subscription that has had me try some I would not otherwise have tried or maybe even heard about. Most recently, I finished How to Turn Into a Bird by María José Ferrada and while my first impression upon finishing was just ?????? I did enjoy it and am glad I read it. And there’s some interesting discussion about it in the Aardvark app! Anyway, that’s just an example.

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Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

Discussion: “a book isn’t worth reading once if it’s not worth reading twice”

This quote was included in this week’s newsletter from BiblioLifestyle HQ. It was just a small inclusion, a visual to break up some text, but it gave me pause. My initial reaction after reading it was defensive disagreement.

I definitely don’t agree with this… depending on how it’s intended. There could be so many shades to this that I wanted to think about it some more and see what others thought!

But he could mean…

At first I read this very literally, in that any book you haven’t re-read is probably not a good book. And that idea is what got my hackles up. However, he could also have been saying that with more of an intention like:

  • advocating abandoning books that aren’t working for you. Don’t waste your time on something you’re struggling to get through once, let alone any subsequent reads! A book should be engaging, useful, or enjoyable in order to bother reading it at all.
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Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

Do you abandon books if you think you wouldn’t like the author as a person?

I ran into an unusual problem yesterday. I started a nonfiction book that I’d been considering reading as part of a sequence of books, and while reading the sample intro chapters from the book, I realized I really hated the author’s attitude.

The premise was that he wanted to take his family on a trip to France, but didn’t have quite enough money. The solution was to allow others to choose what he would have to do while there if they donated to the trip, and he would then write a book about the experiences. The response was great; people donated plenty of money, came up with an amazing range of ideas, and generally his goal had been accomplished!

And yet. The author at one point noted that someone had generously donated A THOUSAND DOLLARS for him to do this. That’s amazing. The author’s response?

“I hate this person.”

Seriously? Dude — someone just gave you a thousand dollars to go to France. What the hell are you complaining about? This was the moment I was totally turned off. The attitude shown here was astonishingly ungrateful.

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Posted in Chatty

The glory of footnotes

The first book I ever read that had footnotes was The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud and I LOVED IT. In the chapters featuring perspective from this handsome fella to the right, there would be occasional little footnotes with explanation, insight, jokes, or other standard musings of a demon.

I liked the story itself, but man did I really love every time there was a footnote. And a footnote that was like a whole bonus paragraph on the page? Heaven.

Besides research items, I don’t see them used much. One of my other favorite uses of footnotes is by Jenny Lawson in her books. I originally picked up Let’s Pretend This Never Happened at a used book store, because I saw a tiny Hamlet mouse on the cover and obviously had to check it out. I read the first few pages and died laughing at the footnotes, and immediately bought it and fell in love. In fact I also just went out and bought a copy of her other book, Furiously Happy, because I was having a bad day and I knew that book would be the perfect one to help pull me out of it. Also, how did I not have a copy already? I must have borrowed it when I first read it.

I digress.

I’m probably in the minority with my love of footnotes, here. It seems like it might be something that just annoys some people completely, especially if you’re a digital reader because clicking back and forth to read footnotes IS super annoying. Have you read a book that used footnotes before? What’d you think of it?

Posted in Book Talk

Gifting Books to Non-Readers

Happy Whatever-You-Celebrate!

Creative, but possibly unsafe??

Or nothing at all, whatever you want, but for me it’s decorating a tree and buying gifts for family. And one of my constant struggles is whether or not to buy books for my friends and family who aren’t really readers. By that I mean that they might read a few books a year, at most, and generally wouldn’t have a book in mind that they wanted to read. (Side note – if anyone ever asks me what book I’d like to read next, they get a list. Not sure what life is like for other people…)

But sometimes, I find a book that I think that one person who doesn’t read would actually love! And then it’s a question:

Do I give them a book anyway?

It’s actually a lot of questions, usually in a sequence similar to this:

Pictured above: possible entrance to paradise

Do I give them a book anyway?
Will they be insulted if I give them a book, since they know I know they don’t like to read?
Screw them if they’re insulted, I got them a gift!
But I don’t want them to hate my gift…
Maybe I’ll get them another gift that’s more of their standard, too, just in case.

And that’s typically what happens: I get the book, hope they like it (or at least that they attempt to like it and not just put it on a shelf and never even try), and give something else that I know is an active interest of theirs. Then everyone wins!

What’s your method?

There’s been a lot of social attention this year on Iceland’s jólabókaflóð, which is the tradition of giving a book on Christmas eve and then the family staying in and spending the evening reading together. (Note – reading together is a weird concept. More like reading near each other? It’s lovely, anyway.)

This is a completely impossible idea for me, because I 100% cannot imagine my family reading; most of them probably haven’t finished a book in years. Iceland is a pretty incredible place though, and the amount of books they have published in Icelandic or written by Icelanders is incredible.

So are you using the hype to convince your family to try this out? Or maybe just as excuse for you to be able to spend a day reading? Do you ever gift books, comics, or other reading materials to people who aren’t ‘readers?’ Please tell me how it goes.

PS – I totally bought my boyfriend The Batman Who Laughs and I have no idea how it’ll go…

Posted in Book Talk

Do you re-read?

I’m not sure where the majority of people fall on the topic of re-reading. My general impression is that most people don’t particularly re-read, because they still remember a story and wouldn’t have that same feeling of discovery and surprise when reading it a subsequent time. Or maybe for some people, they just can’t stand to spend time on something they already know when there are SO MANY OTHER GOOD BOOKS that are always coming out!

However, I’m definitely a re-reader. I usually borrow my books from the library (cost effective and saves space – my S.O. appreciates that!), so if I deliberately go out and purchase a copy of a book you better bet I freakin’ love it and will want to read it again!

Reasons I will re-read something

I want something wholesome and familiar

This is a common reason for me. Books I’ve already read and enjoyed become like a comforting blanket. I already know what to expect, more or less, so I know I can just relax and read it as quickly or slowly as I want, and look forward to my favorite moments. This is common with romance novels and the first books in a series. Romance because I love the feeling of falling in love, and the first book in a series because I get to see the character when they were still clueless and the moment they first discover The Inevitable Secret About Themselves is always so good!

I’m having a bad day and my favorite comic will cheer me up!

You can probably tell even just by the artwork that this comic, Roar Street Journal, is unfathomably wholesome, and yet what you can’t see is that it’s also funny, relatable, sweet, and addresses some unexpectedly difficult topics in very approachable ways (ex: our reasons for living, adoption, growing up in a warzone, struggling to run a business, navigating a negative relationship with your parents). The author and artist, Bonnie Pang, has acknowledged before that she writes this comic in part because she’s so cynical about the world and it’s state, so she creates something positive because it’s something she can do to help.

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