Thursday, December 29, 2016

Jumping on the Bandwagon

Have you ever avoided reading a book just because it's popular?

I'll admit, I do this all the time. 

I hadn't really noticed this about myself until I started to reflect on some of the books that I avoided for long periods of time and then loved, and to be honest, I couldn't really come up with a reason why I avoided them. Maybe it's too-high expectations, or maybe it's not wanting to go with the crowd, but In the past year I picked up a few fan-favorites, and though I think they've been reviewed enough to not warrant one of my own, I wanted to say a few words about each of them.

Anne of Green Gables is apparently a childhood favorite of just about everyone, and I've had it on my shelf since I was about ten years old. I never read it because I kept thinking it would be like Little Women, which I attempted to read at that age and found excruciatingly boring. I finally plucked it off my shelf to kick-off my summer reading (and fulfill my classics category) and I fell head over heels for it. I loved everything about this book -- the setting, the characters, the writing style. I don't often laugh out loud when reading a book, but this had me giggling at regular intervals. If you haven't yet read this, I absolutely recommend it. Since reading it over the summer, I've also listened to the latest audiobook version, narrated by Rachel McAdams. One word: amazing. Spoiler alert: you'll be seeing this pop up again next week on my top ten list. It's convinced me that I need to try more classics in 2017, including giving Little Women another chance.

Outlander was another one that I avoided for a good long time. I finished the first over the summer, sprinted to the bookstore, stood frowning at the shelves when I discovered that they didn't have the second, and then proceeded to text my bestie in all caps about the ending. Allie urged me to read this for months (she's on the third? fourth? already) and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. Ten pages in, my thoughts mostly consisted of scolding myself for not reading it sooner (seriously, what a waste) and obsession over its main characters.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Word Worship {L.M. Montgomery}

"Look at that sea, girls -- all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn't enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds."

 L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Just a reminder in a season of coveting that we are better off feeling grateful for the things that cannot be bought; among them, family, friends, and kindred spirits.

Happy Holidays

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Review: Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader

You know that feeling of wanting to read a quick, relatively cheerful, and enthralling book? I tend to feel that at the end of each November, after I've spent two to three months knee-deep in gothic literature. I love fall reading, but when December arrives I'm always in need of a breath of fresh air. Enter my new bookclub! Anne Bogel, our fearless (bookish) leader, chose Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader for our December book and it was the perfect antidote to all my fall reading.

I flew through this slim collection of essays in just a day or so and reveled in the bookish-ness of it. Like myself (and you, dear reader), Anne Fadiman has been a bookworm for her entire life. Unlike me, Anne reads the heavy stuff. She speaks of Chaucer and Dickens with ease and has such an intense love for the English language that reading her prose made me feel smarter by proxy. I love her enthusiasm for all things literature, and I remarked recently that her tone reminded me of a grown-up Anne Shirley (if you know Anne of Green Gables, then you know that's high praise).

Fadiman's essays range from thoughts on marrying her library with her husbands (a huge milestone), to her family's background in being grammar snobs, to her thoughts on "You-Are-There Reading," plagiarism, and the inheriting of libraries. I can't help but think this book would make a perfect stocking-stuffer for the bookworm in your life. It's one that I'll certainly return to throughout my reading life.

Bottom Line Rating: 5/5

Title: Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader
Author: Anne Fadiman
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998
Price: $8 on Amazon
ISBN: 0374527229
Format: Paperback
Source: Amazon

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Currently Coveting {December}

Oh my goodness. I'm ashamed to say that it has been months since I posted a Currently Coveting list.
Not that I haven't been coveting -- and buying -- books in that time.

My most recent purchases have been this and this for my December book club reads, and I am so excited for our book club discussion at the end of this month.

I've recently started cooking almost all the meals in my family (I just headed up my very first Thanksgiving this year) and I've become really interested in how to use spices to flavor healthy, fresh food. Since I started eating mostly clean a few years ago, I have found spices to be my biggest resource in the kitchen. This exploration of the eight flavors that unite American cooking seems like a great way to learn more about the cultural history of the country, in addition to being a resource for great recipes.

I'm craving a good story about fascinating, intelligent women and this seems to be just the right fit. It just came out yesterday and tells the story of the women who worked as "human computers" for the Harvard Observatory. Those women went on to make significant contributions to astronomy. 

Are you tired of hearing me talk about Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series? I have been working my way through them since the summer. Shown above is the tenth in the series, which is on my to-read list for this weekend. I have been lucky so far in that my library was fully stocked with every volume in the series except this one, so when I went to snatch it from the shelf I was so disappointed to find that I would have to wait for a hold copy to come in. I'm telling you, this is one of the best series that I have ever (ever) read.

This has been recommended to me several times (most recently by my grandmother), and I've heard that it is lovely as an audiobook. It's in the same category as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. I'm looking forward to picking it up soon.

Sadly, I haven't been reading much middle grade lately. Sometimes (okay, often) being in school all day makes me want to read only adult fiction when I get home. I'm hoping to reignite my love for children's lit this month. Penny Dreadful looks like a great place to start.