book recommendations

now that i’ve embraced (and publicly so) my love of YA, i find myself often being asked for recommendations. like elizabeth, i find the pressure somewhat daunting. and since i know a lot of you won’t click on that link, i’m going to copy and paste because i agree with a lot of what she says:

“So the official book for October’s reading was my responsibility, and, you guys?  I almost caved under the pressure.  I do not like choosing books for other people unless I know them REALLY REALLY well.  That means the only people I don’t majorly stress over when I’m asked to recommend books are my mom and my best friend.  That’s it.  And “don’t majorly stress over” can be translated into “I’m only mildly anxious.”  And since all of you are readers, I’m sure you know how often people assume that all books are equal opportunity good, and that you, as a reader, must know which ones are the good ones and can share that secret with them so that they don’t have to waste their time or something, sorting through all the other books until they stumble across those gems.  In other words: I get lots of requests to recommend stuff.   And it is total torture.

In my opinion, books are like presents. Everyone likes a good present, right?  The classics are usually like those educational presents that your great aunt gets you for Christmas.  I mean, yeah, it’s probably good for you, and you’ll likely end up appreciating the learning experience or whatever, but they’re rarely truly fun. Science fiction is like those tech gifts that always end up on those magazine lists adamantly declaring that they’re the must-have for men, despite the fact that there’s no reason women wouldn’t like them too (and often do), whether it’s a GPS or Anne McCaffrey’s The Ship Who Searched (the lovely story about a delightful young girl who grows up to become a spaceship).  And romance novels therefore have to be the generic “girl” gifts of nice smelling soaps, either bland, nice enough, and ubiquitous, like a Danielle Steele novel, or delightfully, unexpectedly rich, the fancy chocolate of “girl” gifts: J.D. Robb.  I’m going to go with J.D. Robb over Nora for the fancy chocolate because I think Eve and Roarke are just as likely to appeal to guys as Godiva is.  The key is picking what you know that specific person will appreciate and making sure you label all the boxes correctly.  I mean, your brother is probably less likely to appreciate that Mary Engelbreit pressure cooker, and your mom likely won’t get as much use out of that book on So Gross! facts, you know?

So, back to the book club, and the daunting task of choosing something for everyone to read.  Of course everyone reassured me multiple times that this is about expanding our horizons and you should never try to pick something that everyone will like, and that you should just try to choose something that you think everyone should be exposed to, and of course I promptly ignored that advice because what is this, school?  This is supposed to be fun.  I was all set to choose Robin D. Owens’ Heart Fate when one club member mentioned that she doesn’t enjoy reading any graphic love scenes, so I double checked, and the love scenes were a touch more graphic than I remember, so I nixed that idea.  Though it’s a delightful book, for anyone who really likes a slightly different romance novel, with some unexpected depth to the story.  That particular series is fun, though you don’t have to read them all to get what’s going on, but that book in particular stood out for me.

So now that you guys all have context for why I chose what I chose, and since reading is all about context, I felt compelled to share.  You’re welcome.”

i can usually only remember the BIG, BOOM, I HEARTED IT books off the top of my head at a moment’s notice. it’s a shame because this is the chance to rave about the lesser know, smaller, yet just as charming books. although, that type of recommendation require a knowledge of the person you’re suggesting books to. although, on the other hand, when people ask me for my opinion, it’s a chance for me to spread YA love and i’ve got plenty of that to go around.

and you know what? it’s really fun when someone comes back to you after they’ve read what you suggested and you can gush about it. like last month, a coworker walked into my office with her tween daughter who was carrying CATCHING FIRE.

coworker: i had to bring R by and tell you that your recommendation was spot on.

(bear in mind that despite my insistence that it was appropriate for her age, coworker didn’t like the sound of HUNGER GAMES and so declined that recommendation. i followed it up with a different choice, which i can’t recall at the moment, but see, the lure of HG and CG and MJ hits everyone, even if you try to run away from it. *cough* linda *cough*)

me: *smiles* *nods*

coworker: R found the books on her own and is devouring them, so i should have listened to you. in fact, i think i’m going to start reading the series too.

me: *smiles* *nods*

so i’m going to revise my stance on recommendations. go ahead, ask away! leave a comment at the beep. (i can’t promise i’ll be as amazing as michelle hodkin, but i’ll try.)


convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #2

to refresh your memory, here’s the deal.

i was at my favorite indie book store, porter square books, and i was looking to purchase steven king’s ON WRITING. since i really only ever look at the YA section, i wasn’t sure where this book would be located, so i needed help.

“could you tell me if you have steven king’s ON WRITING?” i said.

“sure. just one moment.” the female employee stopped her task and typed on the computer. “yes, we have one copy.”

we walked over to the reference section (ah ha!) and searched for it. it took some time, but it was a crowded area and there was  a woman studying nearby, so i decided to wait patiently instead of making idle chit chat. (i told you my conversation skills need work, hence this experiment.)

“here it is!” she pulled it off the shelf and handed it to me, delighted. “i’m glad i was able to find it.”

“me too. thank you.”

i followed her back to the register.

“will that be all today?” she said.

“it is.”

“are you in our customer program*?”

“yes, and actually, i have a coupon.”

a male employee walked over and inspected my purchase. “oh! this is a great book. he puts in a lot of biographical information. you’ll like it.”

“i’ve heard many good things about this. i’m excited to read it.”

“with the coupon, the total will be $9.05,” the woman said.

“thanks again for helping me find this book,” i said as i finished paying.

“no problem. have a good day.”

“you too,” i said and walked off into the sunshine amazed at how quickly a book about the solitary act of writing can spawn two conversations with strangers.


be brave by veronica roth

i seem to be happening upon a lot of articles recently about how peoples’ brains work. this one on fear by veronica roth is borderline genius and took an indescribable amount of courage not only to write but to post for the whole of the interwebs to view. it’s important (for me right now) because i need to be brave in writing, in life, and in going to sleep*, so i’m hoping to take a page out of her book (tee hee).

read it.

that is all.

*things i never thought i’d say: sleeping is hard to do (when you’re the only one in the apartment.)

convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #1

i’ve linked to this site before (which is now defunct, so CLICK HERE to meet the original inventor of conversations with strangers), but i can’t stop thinking about it, so i’ve decided to conduct my own “conversations with strangers” research.

without further ado:

i reached the bus stop and stopped outside of the waiting area to enjoy the scare April sunshine. a woman was already there perusing the posted schedule.

a few seconds later, i saw a movement in my peripheral vision, turned, and found this woman looking at me expectantly. “excuse me,” she said.

i removed my ipod ear bud because a really loud song was on and while i could see her lips moving, i couldn’t hear her over the treble. (i was a little worried because she looks lost and frankly, i’m not the girl to help her. i’m horrible with directions on a good day, but also, this shuttle bus is linked to a big name university. i don’t go there, i just work there and so don’t know the ins and outs of the campus like i should or like it appeared i do considering i’m waiting for the bus.)

“i need to get to radcliff quad,” she said. “is this the right place for the shuttle?”

i smiled because YES, I KNOW THIS. “yup. you’ll need to get on the quad express route.”

“great! thanks!” she said.

she still looked a bit confused and i suppose i could have followed up with some questions about where she was going, but i was afraid it would lead to topics i didn’t have answers for and then i’d feel bad i brought it up in the first place. i guess all i could do was leave one ear bud out in case she had more questions as we waited for the same bus.

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–noun, plural -ties.

1. readiness or liberality in giving.
2. freedom from meanness or smallness of mind or character.
3. a generous act: We thanked him for his many generosities.
4. largeness or fullness; amplitude

sure, the technical definition explains what the word means, but this past weekend, i learned what it felt like.

it was in the way my friends listened long enough for me to run out of silly stories and get down to what was really on my mind. it was in the way my parents drove 10+ total hours for me with a couch blocking the rear view window.  it was in the way they continued to look forward, reminding me of the good parts to come. it was in the way the hand-me-downs from my siblings filled up my new apartment. it was in the way my parents opened their wallets. it was in the way my parents, despite their achy knees and backs, lifted and scrubbed and swept and knelt and stood and cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. it was in the way they said “we’re so lucky to see you two weekends in a row” even though this weekend was all about work. it was in the way they pointed out the positive features and ignored the drippy sinks and loose screws. it was in the way the hours slid by, past their desired departure time, but they stayed until i was steady on my feet. it was in the way the smiles were stuck on their faces. it was in the way they squeezed me goodbye – so tight – despite having muscles exhausted from hours of physical labor.

sometimes, to really understand something, you can’t read about it. you must live it.

here’s to living. on my own. (ready or not.)