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In the Spotlight

My Bookish Bucket List

I’m fascinated by the concept of bucket lists. Few things fascinate me more than hearing what other people consider to be must-have life experiences, mostly because the range of “must-have” encompasses so much.

I have a general life bucket list (see the Northern Lights; go sky-diving; walk the Camino De Santiago), but I also keep a more specifically bookish bucket list, stocked with book-related experiences I’d like to have during my lifetime – everything from reading specific books to getting more bookish body art to attending conventions.

Recently, I got to put a checkmark next to a huge item on my bookish bucket list: visiting The Ripped Bodice, an all-romance novel bookstore located in L.A. I discovered the store via their excellent Twitter last year and had been sadly pining away from afar. (You know that whine-and-paw-at-the-ground thing that dogs do when they’re sad? That was me, every time someone posted photos of The Ripped Bodice.) Read More..

Three Favorite Books I Am Dying to Reread

Okay, so “dying” is quite an exaggeration, but sometimes hyperbolic language is necessary when you’re really really excited to crack open one of your favorites. Lately, more and more, I have been inspired to revisit some old friends of mine, rather than discovering new books. There is something ultimately comforting about starting a book already knowing how much you love it.

The types of books I am talking about are the ones that whenever I see them on display for my Staff Picks, I want to selfishly snatch them up and check them out before anyone else gets a chance to read them. I just can’t help myself – these books are so good. Here are three of my all-time favorites that are all at the top of my “To Read Again” pile. Read More..

YA Backlist: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Whatever happened to Steampunk? According to some sources, this subgenre of science fiction that incorporates industrial steam-powered machinery from the 19th-century in alternative histories was “over” in 2010. Others might say last year.

In this YA Backlist post, I’m taking a look back at Scott Westerfeld’s YA contribution to Steampunk, Leviathan. To be honest, this was one of three or so Steampunk novels I read – but that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the subgenre or Westerfeld’s novel. I do always find something fascinating about a “what if” premise. Read More..

Don’t Forget the Bootleg Series

There’s no dearth of Bob Dylan’s music. Last year the septuagenarian nobel laureate singing  songwriting extraordinaire released yet another LP. That brings him to a total of 37 studio albums, 58 singles, 11 live “albums”—some of which, like the 32 disc The 1966 Live Recordings defy any conventional definition of the word album—another 31 compilation albums, and a whole mess of collaborations. And that’s not all, as any Dylanologist worth their salt will tell you, don’t forget TheBootleg Series. Read More..

Is a Book a Sandwich? Super Extra Grande Edition

Just over 100 miles separate The United States and Cuba. Yet, as history would have it, the two nations have carried on a messy and surprisingly limited relationship. Setting aside the geopolitics of the real world—for now—leaves us with a sadly restrained amount of cultural cross pollination. Stateside, Cuba’s strongest association is almost assuredly cigars, followed by pressed ham, pork, and Swiss cheese sandwiches, and in a distant third, there’s Ricky Ricardo, I’m guessing.

For as familiar and adoring as I am of Cuban sandwiches (let me emphasize: extremely), I had never read—or even knew of—any Cuban authors before this summer, which speaks to the unfortunate priorities of our cultural knowledge of our island neighbor. Great art can not be kept back for long, though, and a shiny new copy of Super Extra Grande fell into my hands one day as if it were fate. Read More..

The Stuff of Life: New Book Looks at Hoarding and Humanity

What compels a person to keep and collect every scrap of paper they come in contact with? Don’t we all have odd, sentimental collections – things we simply can’t part with, even though they have no practical use? What’s the difference between someone who collects and someone who hoards? Randy O. Frost and Gail Steketee explore these issues in their book Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. Read More..

The End

There is nothing more satisfying for me as a reader then reaching the end of a book that has a fist-pumping + “YAASS” ending. Read More..

Our New Friend Libby

It’s no secret how much I love Hoopla. I’ve been known to chat to anyone about it at the library and in my book clubs (and at the grocery store, the bar, the laundromat… pretty much anywhere.) It’s just so easy to use and I’m a bit of a give-upper when it comes to confusing technological processes. That’s why I was SO excited when I heard that Overdrive (something I shied away from in the past) released a brand new user-friendly app to use! Meet my new friend, Libby. Not only does Libby offer amazing audiobooks and ebooks for free with your library card, but it does it with a way more visually appealing and easy-to-navigate interface than before.

Because Hoopla offers content constantly without holds (yay!) it sometimes means that there are titles that aren’t available in that catalog yet (boo.) Libby, on the other hand, offers access to some of those hard-to-find hits, and the occasional holds list is usually super short (or nonexistent.) It also gives you the option of previewing audiobooks, whether or not they are immediately available, which is AWESOME for those of us who judge a book pretty quickly by its narrator.

If you’re tech savvier than I am, feel free to just head to your preferred app store and get going on Libby. If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s a little walk-through for browsing for, checking out, and opening content…

Read More..

Reading Water, Hearing Trees

It’s Henry David Thoreau’s 200th birthday! In honor of the man who’s mostly famous for sitting by a pond, here’s a look at a few recent books that might be of interest – whether or not you choose to go to the woods, build a cabin, and live deliberately. Read More..

I See London, I See France

Is brevity the soul of wit, or just briefs?  I should have asked my 8th grade English teacher Mr. King, the seat of whose pants ripped wide open as he sprinted toward first base during our annual kids-versus-teachers softball game.

Like all great teachers, he was a master at problem-solving on the run: rather than hold up at first and face down scores of us 8th graders yucking it up at his expense, he never broke stride after he hit the bag, but made a beeline straight for the teacher’s parking lot, jumped in his car, and drove off. Read More..