Posted in Chatty

When all else fails…

Lose yourself in a book

I happen to work in the travel industry. And if you haven’t heard, there’s a pandemic that has countries shutting down, mandatory quarantines being imposed, and generally is making travel a pretty bad idea. So you can probably guess that our industry is not doing so great.

Today was a really tough day at work, after last night’s instituted ban on travel from Europe to the US (more or less). The impact was significant, and piled on top of everything else, my company is starting to take some critical measures.

Instead of hiding under my desk, I went to read a book at my favorite cafe which has blessedly not yet closed with the fear of Covid-19. My current book also happens to be Moloka’i, which is great for giving some perspective. My company may be in shambles, but I wasn’t banished to an island of lepers to slowly die. Realistically, things could be much worse. 👍🏽

Posted in Book Talk

What to Read on a Beachy Vacation

SO! By the time you are reading this, I am in a wonderful place of warmth and sunshine that is about fifty degrees warmer than my usual spot in New England. My primary responsibilities are:

  • eat as many desserts as I can find
  • lounge in the sun
  • read to my heart’s content
  • apply sunscreen every hour

I think I can manage that. This is the first time I’ve ever been able to do a relaxing beach side vacation, as I tend to do more adventurous trips with lots of trains to catch and signs to try figuring out. So it’s also the first time I’ve had to consider what, exactly, will fit this beachy time to read for a week?

The Haul

Last weekend I did what any reader does and bought a lot of new books when I was already in the middle of reading five-ish books. My two picks are coming from that pile. This is partly to make sure I actually do read the books I just bought, but also because I won’t be that mad if they get sandy or wet or forgotten or something. If I truly had to give them up, I probably could. I’ve got a few books in mind for this trip!

The Girl On The Train

Yeah, I’m super late to this. I started to read it almost immediately when it came out via a librarian friend, but didn’t get far before I had to return it so actual patrons could check it out from their holds. I think having a mystery sort of read will suit the beach well. I can dive into a world of intrigue and lies, and then just pop back out into my sunny sandy reality if/when it gets a bit too intense. (I often need breaks from that stuff.)


This is probably a bit lesser known that the above book, and it was also originally published in 2004. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert is about a young girl in Hawai’i who develops leprosy and is sent away from the main villages. That’s pretty much all I know, and frankly, that is DEFINITELY enough to catch my interest. I love learning about things I have no insight into, and being sent to a leprosy colony in Hawai’i is definitely one of those (thankfully).

A Year of Biblical Womanhood

The actual full title is SUPER long: “A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband Master, by Rachel Held Evans.” Which, frankly, is probably enough to tell you about the book. I was completely delighted to find this book (which I have as a digital copy) because it sounds like the most perfect complement to one of my favorite books, The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs. I am really interested to see the female-side perspective of living the Bible’s commands completely and literally. Especially because so much of that sh*t is absolutely crazy. I also think the author is genuinely religious, so her insights might also have a more personal note to add some further depth to the experience.

And, of course, I always have a load of digital books on my Kindle should I ever need something else new. Backlist books, here I come! I’ve got 2015, 2012, and 2004 to travel back to! What kind of books would you take to the beach?

Posted in Book Talk

Have you heard of the amazing Book Boats of Laos?

Ready to be inspired?

Since so much of the population of Laos lives along rivers and in valleys nearby, river travel is often much easier for them than land travel. Community Learning International has capitalized on that by creating traveling libraries called Book Boats.

The boats will arrive at a village in the morning, and school is let out for the day so that the children can visit the boat. They take turns going aboard to choose books, read, and play some learning activities. They’re allowed to take the books home for the day, to read onshore or by candlelight after dark. Once all the book are returned the next morning, the boat takes off to greet the next village.

It always seems to me that communities with low access to reading materials appreciate reading SO much more. The people I know, who have libraries in every neighborhood, still can’t be bothered to go. And this is including my friends who love to read! It’s baffling.

One easy thing we can do is to donate to CLI, who runs the book boat program as well as many other programs to help those in poverty. (And yes, I put my money where my mouth is and made my own donation already — plus my work will match it!) They help people learn marketable skills like weaving, and provide access to rounded education through learning centers. Their Facebook page is updated more regularly than their website, so if you’re interested in more updates, check them out there!

Eagerly waiting their turn!

Signs of change

The literacy rate in Laos has improved substantially since the 1990s, with rates improving from 60% to 85% literacy. My guess as to what may have happened between 2005 and 2011 would be a significant immigration out of the country by educated adults, as Laos struggles with brain drain. They’ve bounced back well, though! And while I would never say that one program has made that change, I think it’s clear that the existence of this program and others like it are a fundamental change signifying a new focus on the importance of education and literacy’s role within that.

Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: Loveboat, Taipei

In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I’m using Fast-Forward Friday to drool over books that I’m waiting on to come out! This one is a romance / self discovery focus via traveling, which is a hard combo to beat when done well. Let’s see, shall we??

Expected Release: January 7, 2020

Why wait on this one?

  • I was disappointed by Again, But Better and I think this could do that story again, but better. (I’m way too proud of what I did there…) Then I can satisfy that craving that was left wanting before!
  • Anywhere that lets me experience a tiny taste of culture from somewhere I’ve never been is automatically getting points in its favor.
  • Those decisions made when free from parents for the first time are rough in real life, but great for a book. Plus it’ll probably resolve happily with lessons learned!
  • The author’s super cute happy dance when she held a published copy didn’t hurt, either. Who can resist such joy?! 😁
Posted in Reviews

Review: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

Again, but Better by Christine Riccio – ⭐⭐

Recommended: no
Not recommended because this book promised big things and didn’t deliver. Stay away if you like romance, likable characters, or critical plot points that aren’t so gaping with holes they look like Swiss cheese.

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that? Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. She needs a change, so signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to fix all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure! She is soon faced with the complications of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart. Shane finds that with courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.

The more I thought about this book, the less I liked it. I had a fairly unique experience because I was reading it as an ebook in an app that doesnt show progress in the book, so I had no idea when I was getting close to the end. WELL, for anyone who has also read this book, that becomes fairly critical. It’s also really hard to talk about this without spoilers so I’ll have to be a little vague in some places.

Continue reading “Review: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio”

Melk Abbey is GORGEOUS

No photos are allowed in the Melk Abbey, so I’m not sure where these photos came from, but the library is amazing!! The library was completely gorgeous and I wanted to stay there forever. Even without heating. Fun fact: all the books were rebound in the 1700s (I think) to make them all look very similar for an aspect of harmony and to make it pretty for showing to guests.

Posted in Book Talk

Things you can read while traveling

The emergency preparation card.
Swiss magazine about recyclable products made of rice husks. I can get into that. Good translation practice too!
The emergency card again, because what? You’re not supposed to wear your shoes if you have to evacuate??
The magazine full of expensive stuff they want you to buy. This was JUST mentioned in the book I was reading by Jessica Pan!
Stores in the airport that are significantly different from stores you’re used to. I’ve never seen a store dedicated to caviar, I didn’t know there was a term for a seller of prunes, and gastronomy will never sound appealing no matter how fine the food is.
The gate departures sign, every two minutes, to see if your delayed flight is here yet. /Sigh
Find a bookstore! It’s like a real life version of the cover roulettes 😊

And I’m Off!

So a quick update here, I’ve managed to snag a week long cruise through Germany and Austria for my mom and myself, and we’re leaving tomorrow! I’ve got some posts lined up, but I’ll likely be busy eating lots of desserts and shopping at the Christmas markets so there won’t be much response until I get back. Our ship has wifi, but I’m going to disconnect and enjoy the time with my mum on our little adventure. ☺

Also using this trip for more fodder for a special post coming up once I’m home, which may or may not include ART. We’ll see how ambitious I’m feeling. At most, stick figures and venn diagrams. I’m on my way to becoming Randall Munroe!

Posted in Reviews

Tokyo Mindscapes: Where to Go, When to Go, What to See by Misaki Matsui

Tokyo Mindscapes: Where to Go, When to Go, What to See by Misaki Matsui – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: sure
For a short guide with ideas for a trip to Tokyo, for seasonal ideas, and for photos to get you excited and choose which you want to prioritize. This probably won’t be the only guidebook you use, though

Traveling to Tokyo? Be sure to see some of the most iconic sites in Tokyo and nearby cities—from gorgeous skylines and jaw-dropping nature to hidden treasures. With this photo/guidebook, visitors can explore both the cutting-edge and traditional parts of the city like a local. Misaki Matsui, the photographer and author, introduces the beauty of the four seasons of Tokyo and surrounding cities that Japanese residents love. The collection showcases more than 100 beautiful images of Tokyo including Senso-ji, Roppongi Hills, Todoriki Valley, Mt. Takao, the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, and more. 

As a traveler, one of the most annoying things I face is what to do when heading somewhere in the off season. Usually this means winter, when it’s too cold to be outside all the time, which is what I usually want. Each place has it’s own issues with a season or two though, and it’s hard to decide what do when you hit a less-than-ideal day. This book is a great cure for that, as it addresses great options for things to do and places to explore for every season in Tokyo! I wish I had more guides that did this.

Continue reading “Tokyo Mindscapes: Where to Go, When to Go, What to See by Misaki Matsui”