Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Children's Review: The Night Parade

I tend to lean towards European literature, so when an opportunity to read Katheryn Tanquary's The Night Parade popped up, I thought I'd better indulge in a new culture. I'm so glad I did because The Night Parade was among my favorite children's books read this year. The story follows Saki, a typical thirteen year-old girl who's forced to accompany her family on a trip to visit her grandmother for Obon, a three-day festival in which families honor the spirits of their ancestors. That's the first thing that I love about this book: it highlights and celebrates Japanese culture in such an interesting way. Tanquary wove the culture into the book so seamlessly that the reader can follow Saki's journey as she moves from resenting the antiquated traditions to celebrating the unique way in which the small village has remained true to its culture, all while learning an incredible amount about Japanese family structures and traditions. 

Saki carelessly (and accidentally) invites a maleficent spirit into her world with the opening ceremony on the first night of Obon. For each night of the festival, she ventures into the spirit world in an attempt to lift the curse. While she navigates the rules of this strange new world, she is guided by a series of spirits. During the day, Saki must also navigate the social scene in her grandmother's small village-- this is where Tanquary does an excellent job of capturing the young teen mindset and writing from that perspective. Saki's encounters with the other children her age force her to reflect on her friendships at home in Tokyo. From the lessons she learns in both the real and spirit world, Saki has a change of heart and finds herself more in touch with her family and her heritage. I loved the resolution of the book and found that the lessons hidden within were ones that young readers could identify with and reflect on after reading. The spiritual elements of this book place it under the fantasy category, but I felt that it was an unconventional type of fantasy. The connection with the Japanese folklore reminded me a lot of the films by Hayao Miyazaki, so if you've enjoyed those films I suggest picking up this book after it's publication on January 5th!

Bottom Line Rating: 4/5

Title: The Night Parade
Author: Kathryn Tanquary
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Price: Pre-order from Amazon for $12.98
Format: e-ARC
Source: Netgalley
Expected Publication Date: January 5, 2016

Note: Top Shelf Text was provided with a copy of this text by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Books and Beverages, The Shoppe

Hi all, and happy holidays!
No matter how you choose to celebrate, I hope that you've found this season to be full of love and gratitude. I am feeling extra grateful for my family and that we've had time to all hang out before my brother and I are off again (him, on another golf adventure in Georgia, and me, for my last semester of grad school)!

Since we're approaching New Years Eve, I'm inevitably thinking about how to improve my habits in the new year. One of my goals for 2016 is to be better about planning blog content, and thanks to Books and Beverages, The Shoppe, I'm feeling extra prepared.

Let me introduce you to The Book Blogger's Planner.

Gorgeous, isn't it? You can get your own here!
 Jamie, the blogger and genius behind the design, was kind enough to send me one of her new planners (just launched this month!) and I have been obsessing over it. Want to hear me rave about it? Keep reading.

First things first, the planner was made in collaboration with May Designs, my favorite company of all time. I gifted their notebooks to all of my friends for Christmas, and I'm known to hoard them for myself (I can see four from where I'm sitting, no joke). It's the perfect size for tucking into your purse, and the cover is this gorgeous canvas that really holds up well to wear over time.

Inside the planner you'll find a few features:

- Blank, two-page spreads for writing in the months. My only complaint is that these cover only six months (which seems to go by in a flash), but I'm sure six months from now I'll be happy to snag a fresh planner.

- This weekly spread is great for keeping track of posts (in my case, it actually covers more than one week's worth of content), and also for jotting notes or a to-do list to keep things in check.

- A spot to write down all of the books that you read (I keep track of mine on Goodreads but I think I'll track my 2016 reads in here as well).

- And last but not least, a place to jot down all of your favorite quotes! This has to be my favorite feature. 

Obviously if you're a fellow book blogger, you need this planner in you're life. And if you're not a blogger, but you have one in your life, then you obviously need to buy it for him/her. 

Oh, and really quickly, let me point you to the other products you can find in The Shoppe, because whether or not you're a blogger, if you're a bookworm there's something for you too! Find all the products below (and a few more) here!

iPad covers (for iPad Mini & iPad Air)

For the Love of Literature Postcards (so adorable, I'm framing mine!)

Bookmarks! I'm partial to C.S. Lewis's "Do not dare not to dare."

These items were received c/o Books and Beverages, The Shoppe, in exchange for celebrating the launch of The Shoppe. All opinions are my own (and I promise, I really do love them)!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Review: The Brontë Plot

If you're a frequent reader of Top Shelf Text you know that I'm partial to books about books. I had seen press for The Brontë Plot and even though I haven't read more than one of the infamous Brontë works, I knew instantly that it was a book that I'd want to read. 

I loved the premise: Lucy is a dealer in rare books, working for a prolific interior designer. She loves his mentorship and the life that she's built, but she's been dishonest in building his book business, a trait she thinks comes from her con-man (and perpetually absent) father. In the beginning of the story, Lucy meets James, a handsome and wealthy customer who buys one of her rare books. Their flirtation grows into a serious relationship, until the day that James confronts Lucy with her fraudulent deeds. Their relationship has fallen apart when James's grandmother, Helen, invites Lucy on an unusual sort of "business" trip. She whisks Lucy off to London as her buyer and invites Lucy to witness her last great adventure, on which she hopes to make amends for her own guilty secrets. As the two women venture through London, Lucy works to make amends for her own mistakes. 

The story is at times, frustrating -- particularly because Lucy seems to slip so easily into that corrupt frame of mind. For me, it felt like the wall that she put up for the other characters actually prevented me (the reader) from accessing her full character. It's for that reason alone that I can only give the book four stars. That being said, I think Reay created a real, flawed, human character here and I appreciated that the relationships were built slowly enough to be realistic. I also loved Helen's character -- the wise old woman who's unafraid to face the end of her time -- and I felt genuinely heartened after finishing the book. Reay's written two others, both based on Austen's works, and I look forward to reading those in 2016. I'd recommend this one for bookclubs especially, because I think it's a great book for discussions about living a full life and opening up yourself to others. 

Bottom-Line Rating: 4/5

Title: The Brontë Plot
Author: Katherine Reay
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 2015
Price: $12 on Amazon
ISBN: 1401689752
Format: Paperback
Source: Public Library

Monday, December 14, 2015

Winter Break Reading List

One of the things that I loved about college was having that month-long winter break. I relished the fact that my to-do list that had nothing on it, and in anticipation each year I would build up a huge list of all the books that I wanted to read during those weeks. 

This year is a little different for me because I don't get the same extended period for a break. I do have a couple weeks, however, to rest and relax before my responsibilities kick into an even higher gear in January. I'm hoping to make the most of that time by indulging in some of my favorite activities (reading tops the list, obviously) and having quality time with friends and family.

I like to build my stack of winter break reads ahead of time, so I've picked out just a few books that have already made it onto my list. I think a trip to the library is in order...

The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig // Lauren Willig is one of my favorite authors of historical fiction and I can't wait to preview her latest book, written in partnership with two other excellent writers. 

The Interrupted Tale by Maryrose Wood // I've been meaning to continue reading The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series and I need to read both the fourth and fifth installments. I'm looking forward to seeing more of the mystery revealed!

The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran // I love Michelle Moran's writing and I'm so excited to read her account of Nefertari, the niece of the more well-known Nefertiti. (If we're being honest, I already started this one last night and it has me completely enthralled!)

Other People's Children by Lisa Delpit // I think a break is the perfect time to catch up on a little bit of professionally-minded reading. I have a whole stack of education books that I've been meaning to read, so this may not be the exact one that I pick up, but I'm hoping to tackle at least one from the pile while I'm relaxing at home!


Now, no matter how much I add to this list, it's almost inevitable that I'll stray from it the second that I see an interesting book on the library shelf, so stay tuned to see how it turns out! Also keep an eye out for a new review later this week!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Review: The 19th Wife

{On Goodreads}
I'm acutely aware that I buy way more books each year than I can possibly read in the same time period. I bought this book at a library sale approximately two summers ago, (having recognized it among the piles as being on my ever-growing to-read list on Goodreads), but it was left to sit on my shelf until just last week, when I finally decided that the time had come to read it. It was one of those moments where I fell into the book instantly, and then kicked myself for not having read it sooner. David Ebershoff's The 19th Wife first peaked my interest after I read (and loved) this non fiction book, which shared the subject of modern Mormon Fundamentalists and their history in relation to the mainstream Mormon church. In this novel, which is part historical fiction, part contemporary fiction, Ebershoff tells the parallel stories of Ann Eliza Young and a young man named Jordan Scott. 

Jordan grew up in a fundamentalist sect located in the desert of Utah but was ex-communicated as a teenager for the very serious crime of holding a girl's hand. Now, Jordan lives in California, working odd jobs and trying to piece his life together after having experienced a fractured youth in a polygamous household and the dual trauma of losing both his faith and his family. Jordan puts aside thoughts of the place that he's come from, until his mother is accused of murdering his father and Jordan is forced to return to his former home to defend his mother and investigate the murder himself. As he works to uncover the secrets of the elusive community, we learn about the history of the Mormon faith, the tumultuous road to polygamy, and its ultimate renouncement by church leader, all conveyed through the story of Ann Eliza Young. The 19th wife of Brigham Young, she was notable in her day for her very public divorce from her husband and her national campaign to end polygamy in the United States. Her story is told through the manuscript of her memoirs, as well as through letters written by her family members and newspaper clippings from the scandal of her divorce and her subsequent campaigns. 

Because I had a relatively good store of background knowledge about the historical events in this book, I was able to dive into the story itself rather effortlessly. Jordan's character and his fractured identity reminded me of Theo Decker from Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch. The imagery of a desolate plain with manipulative and neglectful adults brought about a lot of connections between the two books. This is one of those stories in which the characters are very....real. There's no sugar coating, there's a lot of tragedy, and it all comes together in an imperfect ending that's reflective of how complicated these situations can be. I enjoyed the mystery aspect (and was genuinely surprised by the reveal), but mostly I loved witnessing how the characters carefully reached out to each other, negotiating new relationships and mending the scars that were wrought by the corruption of their faith. This is one book that I'd recommend for those who enjoy that mix of contemporary and historical perspectives that come with novels of dual storylines. It's a story that tugs at heartstrings and encourages gratitude in equal measure.

Bottom-Line Rating: 4/5

Title: The 19th Wife
Author: David Ebershoff
Publisher: Random House, 2008
Price: Less than $6 from Better World Books!
ISBN: 1400063973
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal Library

Friday, December 4, 2015

Currently Coveting {December}

It's me.
(Adele humor...get it? I'm not very good at making jokes).

Also, happy December! One of my favorite months of the year (the peppermint-chocolate candies, the twinkly lights, the Christmas movies!!) and also one of the busiest for me, what with wrapping up my first half of grad school (can you believe it!) and preparing to enter my student teaching full time in January. While I've been on my blogging break, I've been taking full advantage of jump-starting the holiday season. I may have put up my own little Christmas tree a week before Thanksgiving, but I strongly believe that when the fancy strikes you should go with it. For me that means lots of holiday music, gift preparations, and spreading cheer!

Speaking of my blogging break,  a big thank you to those of you who have stuck around and explored past posts while I've been on hiatus. I had a few weeks where I questioned how much I wanted this blog to remain a part of my weekly routine, so I thought that the best course of action would be to take some time off and see how it felt. After a few weeks, I realized that this blog acts a sort of creative outlet (if you can call it that) for me and that I missed the thrill of sharing great reads with others. 

 Now, let's get to talking about books. The end-of-the-semester chaos naturally slows my reading pace, so I've been in search of some extra captivating reads to keep me enthralled during this busy season (and I'll be needing a stack for my upcoming winter break). This one was my favorite from my Thanksgiving break (a hearty portion of which was spent lounging with my nose in a book). Now that we are back to school for the final "finals" push, I am feeling grateful for the energy that I gained from that extra down time!
Below you'll find just some of the reads that I'm currently coveting:

The Relic Master: A Novel by Christopher Buckley // This one caught my eye because of the cover. It's a new historical fiction novel featuring a relic hunter from the early 1600's. It will be out on December 8th, so if you're into that sort of historical fiction/adventure mix, keep an eye out for it!

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen // Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants was a huge hit a few years ago, but I actually fell in love with her writing after reading Ape House. This latest one from her is on my list to read next time I'm craving some historical fiction featuring high society scandals and strong female characters.

The Bounty by Caroline Alexander // For those interested in non fiction stories, I've found that I'm most interested in ones featuring the sea. This true story of one of the most famous instances of mutiny has me craving a night curled up next to the fireplace with this book in hand. I'm thinking I'll add this one to my winter break reading list (keep an eye out for that next week).

What are you looking forward to reading this month?

Happy Reading!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Blogging Break

Hi all and happy Sunday!

As you may have noticed, the blog has been a bit more quiet than usual lately.
Every once in a while, I feel a lack of inspiration when it comes to finding content for posts. It's kind of like writer's block -- although, I guess blogger's block would be more appropriate -- and when it happens, I try to just go with the flow. No sense in forcing ideas to come forth, you know? 

One of the things I've been working on lately is taking pressure off of myself. Progress over perfection has been my mantra this year so far and it's been working well for me in terms of mitigating my perfectionist tendencies and making for a more peaceful day-to-day experience. Stress can be so harmful to our health, so in an effort to be intentional about the amount of stress that I invite into my daily life, I am making careful choices about my priorities. Right now, I'm choosing to focus my energy on quality time with family and friends and finishing out the semester (and the first half of my year in fourth grade) on a high note. Reading is always my escape at the end of the day, and I never want for it to become associated with an anxiety about blog content. 

So, I'm choosing to take the next couple weeks off. I'm taking that time to consider how I want to shape blog content in the future and how best to make blogging an easier part of my routine when (fingers crossed) my own classroom becomes my priority. That may mean picking up right where I left off, or reconfiguring so that blog posts are more meaningful but less frequent. 

One thing I've learned this year is that life has its busy seasons, and that this is one of them. I'm so grateful for my readers and for the people in my real life who listen to my constant rants and raves about the books I've read or am wanting to read, and I can't wait for all of those conversations to continue in the future.

In the meantime, you can keep up with me via Instagram, where I'll still be posting occasionally, and of course, I'm always available to chat via e-mail at

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Currently Coveting {November}

Can you believe that November is here? Two great things about this month: my birthday and Thanksgiving, two of my favorite days of the year! This month is already slated to be super busy (both personally and school-wise) and I am ready to head into the holiday season at full speed. On the goal list this week? Get my holiday shopping list together, for goodness sakes!

I'm currently reading book two in the Game of Thrones series, and while I love being immersed in the creation of George R.R. Martin, reading one of his books is quite a feat and takes more time than most. So, I'm curating a stack of reads to consider once I'm done, starting with the ones below:

The Brontë Plot by Katherine Reay // A story that combines classic literature, fellow bibliophiles, rare book collecting, and a protagonist who must come to terms with a new direction in life. I'm already on the holds list at the library for this one in anticipation of its release this week!

The Clasp by Sloane Crosley // Crosley's collection of short essays is one of my all-time favorite comedic books, so I'm an automatic audience for her first novel. It's a contemporary premise -- not usually my wheelhouse -- but I can't wait to see how her fiction comes to life and this promises to be full of adventure.

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins // A dystopian novel set in the near future featuring a budding romance and a strange cult that's blossomed from the devastating drought in southern California. These types of stories can be hit or miss with me, but I'm looking forward to giving this one a try.

Jackaby by William Ritter // A more typical pick from me, this combines a Sherlock-type protagonist (my favorite kind) with mystery, suspense, and supernatural beings. 

Black Ships by Jo Graham // I love reading historical fiction that takes place in the time of ancient Greece, and this book promises that and brings it into the fantasy realm. It appeals to my love of the spooky and mysterious nature of the famed oracle.


What are you looking forward to reading this month?

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Word Worship {Markus Zusak}

"I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right." 
Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

What a beautiful way to describe a lifelong relationship with words. There are words that we hate to hear, and those that we love to read, and in the midst of it all we try our hardest to do right by our words. If you haven't yet read The Book Thief, I highly recommend it. It's one of those books that changes the way that you think about life and death -- one of those books that stays with you long after you've read it. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Instagram Updates & Weekend Reading

Happy weekend to you! I've been busy as a bee over here with both my graduate courses and my practicum in teaching fourth grade, both of which are going wonderfully so far! I have to say, you know how sometimes you get the feeling that you're in exactly the right place? That's how I feel about my experience with teaching this year. I have yet to dread a day of teaching, which for me is a sign that I'm on the right path. I'm already looking forward to transitioning to a full time schedule in the spring, but for now I'm working on that careful balance of school, blogging, teaching, and real life. This weekend marks my first without travel plans or company since the summer, so I'll be focusing on employing some of my best strategies for living well and taking lots of time to linger in bed with a good book! I thought I'd leave you with some updates from my Instagram and a few bookish links from around the web!

My children's literature course has been a-m-a-z-i-n-g so far. We've read a spectacular selection of children's books. Surprisingly enough, I haven't read most of the books on our syllabus (our reading list is 36 books long!) and I've been really enjoying both the reading and our discussions so far. You can mark this down as possibly my favorite course of all time ( History of Magic course would come in as a close second). 

We have had the loveliest fall weather so far this year. I swear, the red trees are more brilliant this year than ever before, and every time I go to Trader Joe's (which is embarrassingly often), I can't resist these cute little pumpkins.

Have you heard about the new illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone? I pre-ordered it back in August and it was finally released last week. The coffee table-sized book contains the text of the entire first book, plus 100 gorgeous illustrations by Jim Kay. It's a wonderful tribute to a world that I practically grew up in and something that I'll be poring over for years to come. A great gift idea for any Harry Potter fan in your life!

And finally, here are just a few bookish links from around the web!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review: The Witch's Daughter

Paula Brackston is now high on my list for favorite authors of fantastical historical fiction (my new genre name for fantasy that's steeped in rich historical detail). The first thing that caught my eye was the cover -- for a person whose two obsessions are books and shoes, they sure nailed it on the head for me with this one. The Witch's Daughter is the story of Elizabeth (Bess) Hawksmith, a young girl living with her family in Bathcombe in the early 1600's. Bess's family is struck by the plague, leaving only Bess and her mother alive and well. The villagers fear the disease, and soon bring in a witchfinder, whose duty is to locate the witch who brought the plague to their small village. The witchfinder settles on Bess's mother, and Bess is mortified. Her own mother, a witch? Impossible. But it's true. After Bess sees her mother hanged for her alleged crimes, she escapes into the arms of a powerful sorcerer named Gideon, who transforms Bess into his equal. Fearing her newly dark nature and incredible powers, Bess escapes and plunges into a centuries-long game of cat-and-mouse with Gideon. 

When we next meet Bess, she's living in modern day England as Elizabeth, an eccentric and lonely woman who sells tinctures at artisan markets. She meets a young girl, Tegan, whose admiration for Elizabeth prompts the two to start a relationship as witch and apprentice. Elizabeth tells Tegan the story of her many lives: as a surgeon in the Victorian era and a nurse during the war, and how Gideon has managed to find her in each of those roles. We hear about the heartache and loss that come with Bess's incredible powers, and this was what made me fall in love with her character. 

Brackston wrote Bess as headstrong, as brilliant, devoted to healing and with strong morals, but mostly she wrote her as a flawed, ordinary human (albeit with amazing supernatural powers). That made her heartache that much more potent and made the danger posed by Gideon seem all too real. The villain in this story, Gideon, gave me stronger chills than most because his vengeance was steeped in desire, and that made him all the more dangerous and terrifying. Tegan had to have been my least favorite character, but I'll admit it was because of her immature behavior, which was actually appropriately written. The thing that I loved most about this story was that it could have easily felt like a cheesy fantasy novel, but the historical detail made it rich and sophisticated. Brackston did an excellent job jumping between eras; I fell easily into the different time periods and had no trouble picturing the scenes in my mind as I read. The book reminded me of my favorite October read from 2014, and I've already put several of Brackston's other novels on my library list.

Bottom-Line Rating: 5/5

Title: The Witch's Daughter: A Novel
Author: Paula Brackston
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books, 2011
Price: $10 on Amazon
ISBN: 978-1250004086
Format: Paperback
Source:  Public Library

Friday, October 16, 2015

Library Sale Spoils

If you know me, you know that I do countdowns for my local library sales.
This week I went to the biggest library sale in my area. Over 50,000 (yes, really!) books were put out for this sale, and boy was it a bibliophile's dream.

Long story short, I bought ninety-seven books.
If your mouth is hanging open, I don't blame you. Even the librarians were impressed.

Let me explain...
I went with the goal of building upon my classroom collection, which I started a few years ago but is still only a fraction of size I hope to have in my classroom come next year. Many people have no idea that the books in a classroom library are purchased out-of-pocket by teachers and that schools don't provide teachers with the books for their classrooms. In the fourth-grade classroom in which I'm completing my student teaching this year, we have more than a thousand books for our students to choose from for their daily reading. They often read 2-3 books per week, which means that we need to have a whole lot of options for them throughout the year! There's no way to predict which grades I'll teach in the future, and my teaching license covers first through sixth grade (and up to eighth for special education), so I've been collecting everything from picture books to more difficult middle grade series. This sale was a great opportunity for me to pick up a lot of books for a much lower price than any online seller or local bookstore can offer.

I didn't go in with a list, but I do have a general idea of which authors are really important for me to have (big names like Andrew Clements and Sharon Creech), and which series are most popular and therefore great for buddy or bookclub reads (A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Warriors, etc.)

That being said, I did buy a few books for myself, so I thought I'd share those here.

Needless to say, I have a great stock of books to cozy up with this winter. The sale happens again in March, so I'm already saving my pennies for another round! Do you see any favorites here? Have a recommendation that I absolutely have to look for at the next sale? I'm always up for adding more to my wish list!
P.S. Have a children's book (or two) that you'd like to donate to my classroom library? E-mail me at!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Word Worship {Carlos Ruiz Zafón}

"Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens."
- Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind 

Friday, October 9, 2015

If You Liked That, Read This!

If you liked:

Read this:

If you're a fan of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot series, pick up Charles Finch's Charles Lenox series  the next time you're in the mood for a good old-fashioned mystery! I may have mentioned this repeatedly a few times, but October is such a good month for reading mysteries. Agatha Christie will always be the queen of the genre, but for those who have read all of her books (bravo, by the way), the Charles Lenox mysteries won't disappoint. Though I expect that more people will have read The Mysterious Affair at Styles first, I actually picked up A Beautiful Blue Death last year (the cover hooked me) and loved it. You can read my review of it here, though I have to laugh at myself a bit here because in my review, I said that it wasn't quite up to the level of excitement of an Agatha Christie novel. Well, I must have been comparing it to And Then There Were None, because after reading A Mysterious Affair at Styles last month, I could go on forever about the similarities between the two. (And yes, both are great for fans of Sherlock Holmes as well!) I think some readers may shy away from these types of novels because of their subdued nature -- they're nothing like the action-packed mystery movies that we see today -- but that's precisely why I've fallen in love with them. They're more subtle, the detectives have more exacting natures (it's my favorite trait of theirs) and while there are no high-speed chase scenes, I'm often left shocked at finding out the culprit. I just finished the second in the Charles Lenox series, The September Society a few days ago and am already itching to get the next installment. For those of you who like to follow a series, this is one that I'd recommend. There are currently ten books in the Charles Lenox mysteries (one just recently published), and forty-five in the Hercule Poirot series, if you can believe it. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Books about Books (Or, Bookception)

I recently posted this picture on Instagram with a short blurb about how this book, A Novel Bookstore,  has one of my all-time favorite book covers. I was drawn to it instantly because of that, but the story inside is even more captivating for bibliophiles like myself because the plot revolves entirely around books and characters who spend their lives digging for great literature. The picture prompted a few fellow bookworms to recommend other titles whose stories features books. Suddenly, I realized that there are actually so many books about books (also known as bookception), and that anytime I come across one, I'm almost guaranteed to buy it. Between myself and a few others that feel the same way, we came up with a long list of books that you might want to read, if you're interested in plots of the literary variety.

Books about Books: Read & Recommended by Me

Have a favorite to add to this list? Comment below or shoot me an e-mail at!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Currently Coveting {October}

Maybe it's because I was born in the fall, but there's just something about the switch to fall weather that makes me feel at peace. By the time October gets here I'm craving those crisp days and the sound of leaves crunching underfoot. That's why, when it was eighty degrees here earlier this week, I had a little bit of a scowl on my face. Fall is so fleeting here (it goes from summer to the depths of winter in about three weeks) and I felt like I was being shortchanged on my favorite time of year. Well, Mother Nature saw my scowl and replied with lots of perfect fall days in the forecast.

The best weather for reading, right?

Which brings me to my post for today, the books that I'm currently coveting this month. As you know, October is probably my favorite month of the year for reading. Give me anything with witches, mystery, or spooky settings and I'm hooked. I look forward to jumping into bed every night with a mystery or tale of magic in hand. Sometimes, I even daydream about spending hours in my reading chair with nothing else on my to-do list (emphasis on the word daydream). 

The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero // The inheritance of a haunted mansion, an abundance of secrets, and a mysterious ritual -- the perfect read for evenings spent in a big comfy chair with a cup of tea in hand.

Mayhem by Sarah Pinborough // Not that I need another mystery series to be following (more on that list soon), but this one seems too good to pass up. While Jack the Ripper causes hysteria to ripple throughout London, there's another serial killer on the loose. He's known as the "Torso Killer," and this old-fashioned, gaslit mystery seems like the perfect tale to spook yourself or your bookclub.

The Witch's Daughter by Paula Brackston // I've seen this cover everywhere but have never actually sought it out, and now that I've read the description I'm practically running to the library to borrow it! A tale of a witch over three hundred years old and the man chasing her through centuries to modern day England. 

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson // This has been on my to-read list for a while because every person I know that's read it raves about it. It's the non-fiction account of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and it has all the elements of a good horror story. I hear that the most horrifying thing about it is that it's all true rather than built from the imagination of a disturbed author.

Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi // Another terrifying work of non-fiction, the title of which speaks for itself. Am I brave enough to read this? I'm not sure. Am I going to check it out of the library and stare at it on my shelves until I decide? Most definitely. 

What are you looking forward to reading this month?

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Books on Living Well

If there's one thing I've learned from the combined experience of going through college and earning a degree in psychology, it's that my mental health just as important as my physical health. The combination of graduate school and student teaching can be stressful, but over the course of the last four years I've learned some great strategies for managing my time and for dealing with unsettling situations. The next year holds a lot of big moments for me: I'll be taking over a classroom for a few weeks, earning a second degree, and making some big decisions about where I want to work and how I'm going to transition my life to a new place after graduation.

I've been slowly evaluating my habits and picking up new ones that help me practice self love. This more intentional attitude towards my well being is helping me look to the future with anticipation rather than anxiety. I have a few books that are my go-to when it comes to being conscientious about my mental health, and I've recently picked up a few more to add to that list. These books include meditations on mindset, on materialism, on happiness and on beliefs. They're not spiritual per se, but they give me a boost of energy and a fresh perspective when I need it most.

Do you have any strategies for practicing self love during stressful times? I am always looking for new habits to add to my repertoire!

What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey // I have an addiction to O Magazine; I soak up everything and anything that Oprah has to say. Her column is my favorite part of the magazine but this collection is on my wish list.

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff // Another (new-to-me) one that I'm looking forward to reading!

The Velveteen Principles: A Guide to Becoming Real by Toni Raizen-D'antonio // This is one of my favorites. It speaks to materialism and really putting your attention towards what matters most.

Spontaneous Happiness by Andrew Weil, MD // This is another recent purchase for me. I'm really interested in positive psychology and looking forward to hearing the perspective of a doctor. Plus, this guy looks pretty cheery so there must be some wisdom in there somewhere, right?

Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord // This is one of my absolute favorites. I first read it a few years ago and still adore it. Definitely recommended if you're not a huge fan of self-help books in their normal form.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. // If you're only going to pick up one book from this list, make it this one. I read this book as a junior in college when I ran into some trouble with physics and felt like a complete failure. It speaks to the nature of failure and what it means to approach things as challenges rather than impossible feats. Since then, I've had it assigned as a textbook and constantly refer to it with my peers in terms of approaching this year (which is full of challenges) with a growth mindset. We've even taught explicitly about Dweck's theories in my classroom. This one is a game changer.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin // This is my latest acquisition and my current read. I'm loving it so far. I really like that Rubin took on this project not when everything was going wrong, but when her life seemed just fine. Her whole purpose was to make a good life even better, and she approaches it humbly. It's nice to know that we're all just human in the end. 

Which books do you turn to when your mind needs a chance to reset?

Happy Reading!