Books of My Life

Photo credit: all over tumblr! Via thegeekfey.tumblr

Photo credit: all over tumblr! Via thegeekfey.tumblr

Anyone a fan of Entertainment Weekly out there? Anyone? Bueller….Bueller?

(Please appreciate the 80’s movie reference)

I love the questions EW (and can I just say that I love that their initials are “ew”?) asks authors and musicians right before their next work comes out. They’re published under “Books of My Life” and “Music of My Life.” I love reading them, because knowing what an author you like, likes themselves, helps you maybe discover a new author or two, and understand where your author is coming from. And not that I’m an author (yet), let alone a bestselling one, but I really like some of the questions. So I’m going to answer a few!

My favorite childhood books:
I remember most clearly the books my parents read to my brother and I before we went to sleep. I associate Wishbone novels with my Dad, as we’d go to the bookstore together and pick out the next one and he’d read it to me over the course of a month or two. My mom read us the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman (The Golden Compass, The Amber Spyglass, and The Subtle Knife), of course, most of the mature themes and blatantly obvious religious connotations flew completely over my head. Which is probably for the best 😛

The books I enjoyed most in high school:
I didn’t enjoy most of the classic literature that was curriculum for my classes, although Shelley’s Frankenstein was one I found genuinely interesting and accessible. But I clearly remember the weekly contests my AP Literature teacher had, where if your number was pulled, you received that week’s book, which would be one acceptable to analyze on the big test at the end of the year (they were books of “literary merit” as the committee deemed). The one I received, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, became one of my favorite books of all time. It took my breath away. My teacher, sensing that I was a voracious reader, gifted me a copy of The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I read it that summer and loved it as well.


My favorite movie versions of great novels:
I’m terrible about watching movies of books I’ve read and really enjoyed. I still haven’t seen The Cider House Rules or Chocolat, both movie versions of books I really enjoyed. I’ve been assured by others that both are great, but I still balk at it. The recent movie franchises, and attempt at franchises, are take it or leave it for me. I midnight premiere-d it with the best of them for Harry Potter and will continue to do so for the rest of The Hunger Games films (although I HATE the trend of splitting the final book into two films. Just…WHY?), but there have been some obvious copycats that just haven’t been as successful (I’m looking at you, City of Bones, Beautiful Creatures

The classic I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never read:
Okay, confession time. I’m AWFUL at reading the classics. I cannot honestly recall the last “classic” (or “book of literary merit,” as the Advanced Placement people might call it) that I read after high school. A book has to grab me! It has to take me in with it’s language, it’s characters. It has to not have me skimming, rolling my eyes, or exasperatedly mumbling about why do people like this? So I’m severely lacking in the classic-reading category. You name it, I’ll be embarrassed to say I haven’t read it…

A book I consider grossly overrated:
Most recently? Life After Life (Kate Atkinson). I’m not one for historical fiction to begin with, but this one intrigued me, with it’s sort-of-sci-fi/time-travel twist (the protagonist lives her life over and over again, with all the memories of her past lives every time she starts anew), and I could. Not. Finish. It. And it was almost universally LOVED. People went crazy over it! While I found it tedious, repetitive, and boring. And I’m cringing to say it, but I’m slogging my way through The Goldfinch right now. I find the protagonist too much of a cardboard pushover (that is to say, flat), and I cannot tell what the plot is about! What is the end goal? It’s a fresh Pulitzer prize winner, but I’m not seeing it so far.

The last book that made me cry…and the last one that made me laugh:
I cried at the end of The Forever Watch (and wrote a review about it/that here!) most recently. Before that, Unremarried Widow by Artis Henderson, about a young woman whose new husband dies during a tour of deployment. But the latter is because I’m currently seeing someone who is about to be deployed in a couple of weeks (so really starting to read that one in the first place was a huge mistake to begin with! :P) Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse by Alida Nugent, is a collection of humorous essays having to do with the struggles of getting out of college and into this thing we call The Real World. I giggled to myself in public, and people stared.

A book I read in secret:
I stole away my mom’s Harlequin Romance series books for a while, before she found out and just said I could take them whenever I wanted 😛

What I’m reading right now:
Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia, one I borrowed from work. It’s a creepy murder mystery and ode to band and singing/theater geeks everywhere, at the same time. I LOVE it so far!

The book I’ve read over and over:
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. It’s a favorite of mine, and I just love the way it’s written, the characters, the premise, everything 🙂 And of course, the Harry Potter series!

What’s the last book you bought?
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. I bought the physical copy because I can’t quite finagle footnotes on my eReader, and this book uses them a lot! It’s supposed to be funny/light reading – perfect for a vacation I have coming up!

The books people might be surprised to learn that I loved:
Fluffy, romantic books. Although I have a special dislike for Nicolas Sparks (he has zero respect for reader’s feelings and expectations, and I fully believe he chooses and crafts characters just to throw daggers in people’s hearts when he kills them off. True story. I really don’t like this guy), I love the tried and true storyline of guy meets girl, they overcome obstacles together, and then they go off into the sunset together. My mom and I read the new Jodi Picoult books every year, even though others I know accuse them of being too formulaic. Sometimes you need a writer you know will be solid, a book you might know the endgame, but you’ll still enjoy the time it takes to read it and get there.


The Review-Machine Speaks!


^^That right there is my favorite quote and poem of all time. It’s from Shel Silverstein, that marvelous man (even if his author photo on the back of The Giving Tree is a tad frightening…). The book this poem came from, Where the Sidewalk Ends, was one of the first that got me thinking about the power of words and books to make people think, to make people imagine.

I wanted to do a post that wasn’t a review, because I’d like you to know that I am a person, and not just a review-churning-out-machine. This is a total mish-mash of questions, mostly because I couldn’t even figure out how to search for a standard “Personality Profile” type list of questions. So I cobbled together questions from different sites, as well as a few I thought I’d add just because I had good answers to them 😛 Without further ado, hello there!


I got ’em. One. A brother. Younger.

Favorite Color:
Yellow. And Burgundy. Not necessarily together.

Robin Williams is one of my Five. You know: "The Five People You'd Most Like to Meet, Alive or Dead"

Robin Williams is one of my Five. You know: “The Five People You’d Most Like to Meet, Alive or Dead”

Favorite Movies:
Mrs. Doubtfire, Down Periscope, Moulin Rouge, Pretty Woman, Dirty Dancing, 
and all the Disney movies I can sing along to. Which is all of them.

Favorite TV Shows:
Pushing Daisies was amazing, and deserved WAY more than two seasons! I should be ashamed about the number of times I’ve seen every single episode of Gilmore Girls. But I’m not. So You Think You Can Dance makes me wish I spent my formative years in ballet class and jazz class just so I can express myself like the dancers on that show can (and just an FYI: my favorite routine is still “If It Kills Me” from Season 5 with Jason and Jeanine). The Big Bang Theory, Criminal Minds, and I love me some binge-watching-Food-Network afternoons.

Hobbies (besides reading):
Writing (long fiction and short stories), knitting, watching awesome TV shows, and BAKING. I LOVE to bake stuff. Cookies, cupcakes, cakes, anything really. I’ve tried my hand at cake pops, brittle, and am getting into bread-making. I love the way a warm cookie makes people happy, and a cupcake decorated a certain way lights up someone’s face and day. So I basically have the habits of an 80-year-old agoraphobic woman…

What Chore Do I Absolutely Hate Doing?
Well, first of all, I know some people love doing chores, but I don’t personally know anyone like that. And I am not one of them. So the chore I actually don’t mind doing is sweeping floors, because you physically see what your doing, the result of your labor aka the nasty dust and chip crumbs that magically appeared there on your kitchen floor during the one measly week between sweepings. I love Swiffering stuff. I’m not a fan of nasty dish-washing (when I don’t rinse something right away, getting peanut butter out of measuring cups, stuck on bacon grease, etc.), or cat box cleaning (‘Nuff said).

If I Could Be Any Fictional Character, Who Would I Choose?
Hermione Granger. Duh!

Just look at that cheesy gnocchi...oops, I'm drooling on my keyboard.

Just look at that cheesy gnocchi…oops, I’m drooling on my keyboard.

What is the Best Meal You’ve Ever Had?
There is a looooong story that goes along with it, but to keep it short, I ate it in Croatia, after an adrenaline-filled day in which me and a friend ran up and over a mountain in five minutes. We hadn’t had lunch, and stopped at the restaurant we’d had dinner at the night before. That four cheese gnocchi, and ćevapi (pronounced “che-vap-chi-chi,” who would have thought?!) sandwich was heaven. Beyond heaven. That and the cold water we guzzled down.

Where is the Favorite Place You’ve Ever Traveled To?
I have been unbelievably lucky and fortunate to have been able to travel several places. I have been to Australia, Hawaii, Europe (on a couple different occasions), and I studied abroad in college in the Mediterranean. My favorite place was an accident – while in Portugal during that study abroad trip, my friend and I heard from a fellow traveler that the city of Sintra was absolutely gorgeous and we had to go there. So we did. And it was incredible. I don’t think I could recreate that experience, even if I travel back there someday. (More on Sintra down there under the “Prettiest Library I’ve Ever Seen” question ;))

Two Things I’d Like to Be an “Expert” In:
Baking without a recipe! And knitting something other than a scarf…

My Million Dollar (Book-Related) Idea:
Struck me once after I read this quote:
“We shouldn’t teach great books; we should teach a love of reading” – B. F. Skinner

There should be a college class that gives students a book budget (gift card to the student bookstore on campus/the local bookstore, etc.) to buy the books they’ve been wanting/meaning to read. There would of course have to be discussions about themes and probably papers and tests, but it’d give people a chance to read what they want to read, even if it’s the symbolism of ab muscles in Harlequin Romances, instead of ones they have to read and that have been taught, analyzed, and picked to death.

The Prettiest Library I’ve Ever Seen (In Person):
The Library of Congress is supremely beautiful. When I took a class trip to Washington D.C. in middle school, my camera ran out of film RIGHT BEFORE we got inside. I was so upset that I couldn’t take pictures of that beautiful ceiling at the time, but I think that I remember it better now because I didn’t get a chance to capture it on film. Funny the way memory works.

BUT it’s a two-way tie between that one and the library in the Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra, Portugal. Sintra is gorgeous. It’s like walking through a fairy tale, every place you go. There are five, six castles and grounds (complete with waterfalls and wells you can walk down) within walking distance. And every castle is a different mood, a different fairy tale. ANYWAY. At Quinta da Regaleira, the library is a small, dark room, the walls are bookcases from the floor to the ceiling, and at the base of each case is a mirror embedded in the floor, so the shelves look like they repeat into infinity past the floor. It’s AMAZING.

Mirrors in the floor to make the books go on forever!
Mirrors in the floor to make the books go on forever!
Books to the ceiling!!
Books to the ceiling!!











One Word Would-You-Rathers (No Explanations Allowed!):

Play or Musical? Musical
Theater or a Movie? Theater
Hike or Bike?
Plane, train, or automobile? Plane
Climbing or zip-lining? ZIP-LINE!
Night out or evening in? Evening in
Facebook or Twitter? Facebook
Go on a free trip/vacation, or win a lot of money? Free trip
Win the lottery or find your perfect job? Find my perfect job
Sailboat or cruise ship? Cruise ship!!

Coming Up: More reviews, of course! AND more about me – in an interview ripped straight from a celebrity magazine 😉