Tournament of Books 2017 | My Bracket

I came. I (tried to) read. I did not exactly conquer. And here we are. The Tournament has arrived! I had reasonable intentions, but just wasn’t feeling many of the books this year for one reason or another. Despite my lackluster reading, I’ve managed to get through 7 of the titles, which is plenty to keep up decently enough with the ToB chatter.

I had filled out my bracket a week or so ago, and had selected Sudden Death as the winner of the Play-In round. Turns out I was right, despite not having read any of the three sports-related books. With that out of the way, the official Tournament kicks off tomorrow!

My bracket selections mostly reflect what I *think* is going to happen, versus what I actually *want* to happen. I see decent potential for an upset or two on the horizon, which I may or may not be okay with.

Are you following along this year? How many titles did you make it through? Which match-up are you looking forward to, or alternatively dreading, the most? Who will take the coveted Rooster?

 

 

It’s Monday, March 6th | What Are You Reading?

I’m coming down off of a pseudo-relaxing weekend. I didn’t have to work. We didn’t have anywhere we had to go. No big things absolutely had to get done. Just some regular, old chill-time, play-time, me-time, and it was GREAT. I have a miles-long to do list, but honestly, ignoring it was totally worth it.

I’m finally feeling somewhat healthy and back to myself again (after strep throat and the worst-cold-ever), and am ready to hit the gym this week! My goal is to go to CrossFit three times this week, and maybe even try to squeeze in some at home yoga on at least one in between day. This is me anouncing my intentions, and attempting to be accountable. We’llllll seeeee.

In reading land, I’ve recently starting a bunch of new things. Rabbit Cake is a March release I’ve been highly anticipating, and a few chapters in, so far so good. I needed a “phone read” for those random downtime moments, and decided to pick up Rebecca Solnit’s newest The Mother Of All Questionswhich comes out later this month. She’s smart,  I like the way she presents ideas, and I need another highlighter for all the note taking. K, thanks.

Lastly, I’ve picked out my next audiobook adventure, but haven’t quite started it yet (dang those interesting and important Crooked Media pods!). I’m feeling a little nonfiction-y, and am going to roll with it and listen to Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. I was already intrigued by this one, but have since realized it discusses families and neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (which is where I live), so now am even more interested in digging into this one. I think it will nicely complement a new local NPR series called Project Milwaukee: Segregation Matters, which discusses the origins of this issue and why it continues to endure.

That’s enough chatting from me today, but what about you? What’s new? What are you reading?

 

What I Read | February 2017

I read a whopping three books this month, which isn’t awesome, but is better than none at all. It was a super busy month with lots of life stuff happening, and the days just kept clicking on by. Also, I’ve been taken down hard for the past week and a half with strep throat and a cold, and finally am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, now that I’m on an antibiotic. Luckily this illness didn’t get to Baby E, which is the biggest of silver linings, for sure.

Read

Homegoingby Yaa Gyasi

SO. F-ING. GOOD. I wanted MORE MORE MORE. First five star book of the year. (Sorry for the caps lock situation, but that’s just how I feel).

Heard

Big Little Lies, by Lianne Moriarty

This was nothing more or less than an enjoyable romp. It’s been a minute since I’ve ingested an “easy reading” kind of book, and this was exactly what I needed this month. It was light and fluffy, while also being kind of depressing and pretty biting at times, and I happily gobbled the whole thing right on up.

Men Explain Things To Meby Rebecca Solnit

Speaking of rage (was I speaking of rage? maybe just in my head), this essay collection made me all twitchy. I look forward to reading more of her stuff, including a new release later this month.

DNFed (for now)

Version Controlby Dexter Palmer

I haven’t completely ruled out coming back to this one eventually, but it totally wasn’t working for me in the moment. I wasn’t really in the mood for something like this, but was hoping to get through it for ToB reading. But alas, it just didn’t happen. And that’s fine.

I have big stack of books I’m hoping to get to in March, and am going to attempt to be more mindful of my time in an effort to squeeze in more reading (among other things). I, along with many of you I’m sure, waste way too much time scrolling through Instagram and fueling my rage on Twitter, and it needs to stop.

I’m great at ignoring my phone when I’m with Baby E, but when he’s down for a nap or off to bed, I tend to flush these hours down the toilet by investing time in these pointless endeavors. Instead I want to focus on all of the positive things I could and should be doing instead, like: self-care activities, reading, cooking, relaxing, exercising, connecting more deeply with those around me, and so on.

What say you readers? What’s up with you this month?

 

New & Noteworthy | February 2017 Edition

Wow, ya’ll, wow. The month is pretty much over, whoops. In any case, I’m coming at you with the next (late, late, late) installment of New & Noteworthy, highlighting five frontlist titles releasing this month.

Necessary disclaimer: I’m incredibly unlikely to read all five of these books this month, or even this year. This is an exercise for me to (attempt to) chill myself out and focus a bit on the books I want to prioritize the absolute most. This month we’ve got a rocky marriage or two, hidden letters, missing mothers, comparison woes, and a whole lot more.

Abbreviated synopses courtesy of Goodreads. I got my life together this month (oh how I make myself laugh), and will bring these to you in chronological order, because I’m organized like that (but not *so* organized I can get this post out in a timely fashion).

A Separation, by Katie Kitamura (Riverhead, February 7th)

A young woman has agreed with her faithless husband: it’s time for them to separate. For the moment it’s a private matter, a secret between the two of them. As she begins her new life, she gets word that Christopher has gone missing in a remote region in the rugged south of Greece; she reluctantly agrees to go and search for him, still keeping their split to herself. In her heart, she’s not even sure if she wants to find him. Adrift in the wild landscape, she traces the disintegration of their relationship, and discovers she understands less than she thought about the man she used to love.

Swimming Lessons, by Claire Fuller (Tin House Books, February 7th)

Ingrid Coleman writes letters to her husband, Gil, about the truth of their marriage, but instead of giving them to him, she hides them in the thousands of books he has collected over the years. When Ingrid has written her final letter she disappears from a Dorset beach, leaving behind her beautiful but dilapidated house by the sea, her husband, and her two daughters, Flora and Nan. Twelve years later, Gil thinks he sees Ingrid from a bookshop window, but he’s getting older and this unlikely sighting is chalked up to senility. Flora, who has never believed her mother drowned, returns home to care for her father and to try to finally discover what happened to Ingrid. But what Flora doesn’t realize is that the answers to her questions are hidden in the books that surround her.

The Woman Next Door, by Yewande Omotoso (Picador, February 7th)

Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbors. One is black, the other white. Both are successful women with impressive careers. Both have recently been widowed, and are living with questions, disappointments, and secrets that have brought them shame. And each has something that the woman next door deeply desires. Sworn enemies, the two share a hedge and a deliberate hostility, which they maintain with a zeal that belies their age. But, one day, an unexpected event forces Hortensia and Marion together.

Harmless Like You, by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan (W.W. Norton, February 28th)

Written in startlingly beautiful prose, Harmless Like You is set across New York, Connecticut, and Berlin, following Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and Yuki’s son Jay who, as an adult in the present day, is forced to confront his mother’s abandonment of him when he was only two years old.

Everything Belongs To Us, by Yoojin Grace Wuertz (Random House, February 28th)

Two young women of vastly different means each struggle to find her own way during the darkest hours of South Korea’s economic miracle. Seoul, 1978. At South Korea’s top university, the nation’s best and brightest compete to join the professional elite of an authoritarian regime. Success could lead to a life of rarefied privilege and wealth; failure means being left irrevocably behind.

 

What February release are you most anticipating, or read already and can recommend?

 

It’s Monday, February 20th | What Are You Reading?

This past weekend I went to my nephew’s first birthday party. What!?! How is that even possible. My sister and I were pregnant together, which means my sweet Baby E isn’t too far behind, and will be celebrating his own first birthday in less than two months. WHAT!?!

Due to being busy, distractable, and otherwise unfocused, I’m reading the same things as last week. However, I am flying through Big Little Lies on audio. It’s incredibly compelling, with some biting social commentary I’m enjoying. I think it’s just the kind of book I needed in my life at the moment.

I’m feeling a little worn out on Version Control, to be honest. I’m liking it well enough, but am just kind of… bored. I’m going to give it a little bit yet, but if it doesn’t pick up, I’m probably going to move on. There are a few March releases I’m hoping to get to, and I’ve also really been pulled to pick up Kindred, by Octavia Butler, although haven’t yet done so. We’ll see what my reading has in store for me this week.

I hate talking about the weather, but it is supposed to be 62 degrees and sunny this week Wednesday. In February. In Wisconsin. This aligns perfectly with my day off, and I think Baby E and I are going to go on a little outdoor adventure.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

 

It’s Monday, February 13th | What Are You Reading?

Sorry for the unexplained absence. Stress, and stuff. At least I’ve been reading! I flew through Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, which was nothing short of amazing. Is it sad that I feel like I flew through it, when in reality it took me ten days to read? Ahhhh, new realities.

I’m still going to try to get through another few Tournament reads, but honestly, am losing interest in the short list a bit. Many of them I’m just not feeling right now, which is fine. I’ve made it through seven titles so far, and in my opinion, that’s not too shabby. I don’t plan to force any of them on myself, as I have been known to do in years past. With that being said, I decided to give a stab atVersion Control, and so far so good one chapter in. Mostly, I’m giving this beheamouth book a chance, because Julianne told me to. That’s reason enough, amiright?

I also started listening to Big Little Lies on audio, and am utterly delighted by the narrator. I find myself weirdly smiling while driving and listening, and I suspect it’s completely because of her flawless delivery. I have enjoyed Moriarty’s writing style in the past, and I’m hoping to watch the HBO release in a (somewhat) timely manner.

I hope your week goes as well as can be expected these days, and you find time to cherish and enjoy little things of high significance. For me, it was my son belly laughing continuously yesterday, my super-strong cup of black coffee this morning over an impromptu delicious breakfast date with The Hubs, and my dog currently sleeping with her cold snout in the crook of my elbow.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

 

What I Read | January 2017

Go me! I read five books this month! Well, if we’re being technical, and I guess we can go there, I *listened* to three books, and *read* two books. But whatever, it’s all good to me.

Read

The Vegetarian, by Han Kang

Not as weird as it was sold to me as, but I liked it a lot. The ending kind of just petered out a bit, but it didn’t ruin the experience for me all that much. I say, read it if you haven’t yet, but manage your expectations.

All The Birds In The Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders

Speaking of weird… not sure what to make of this one. Still processing, I’ll get back to you.

Heard

Dreams From My Father: A Story Of Race And Inheritance, by Barack Obama

You guys. I think I’ve said this a million times already, but the way to ingest this amazing story is to LISTEN to it. Obama narrates it himself, and I was a puddle of tears by the end of it. Obvs.

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead

Alternatively, I definitely feel like I missed out on an integral part of the experience of this story by audiobooking versus reading it in the traditional sense. I still really loved it, wholeheartedly agree with the mad praise, and think it is certainly worth the hype.

My Name Is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout

Blerg. This one just didn’t do it for me. I think I said it best on Goodreads: “it was fine, I’ve already forgotten.” That about sums it up.

DNFed

The Man Who Shot My Eye Out Is Dead, by Chanelle Benz

There was nothing really wrong with this, I just wasn’t feeling it. I liked the first story well enough, but then when moving on to the second I could barely make it through a sentence. I definitely think this was a case of “it’s me, not you” so don’t necessarily take my word for it.

What were the best and worst books you read this month?

 

It’s Monday, January 23rd | What Are You Reading?

Love, love, LOVED seeing all of the photos of those of you who marched this past weekend. I desperately wanted to go myself, and just know I was there in spirit. Good work, my friends.

In reading news, I’m still reading much of the same as I was last week, although I have made steady progress in both. The Underground Railroad is really starting to heat up, and I’m finding myself wanting to drive around the block a few times to get in a little extra listening.

I was seriously debating giving up on All The Birds In The Sky at around the 50 page mark, but trudged forward a bit, and am really glad I did. It’s a weird book, and I’m not sure I really understand what’s happening… but in a good way. Like… robots, talking to birds, dead dogs… and some other stuff… yeah, not sure, but I’m down.

I’ve got a busy week ahead, and am *really* looking forward to getting my hair done, which is at least two months overdue. Grey hairs abound, and dull, mousy roots, anyone? Also, four hours worth of audiobooking (yes, I drive nearly two hours each way to get my hair done, I’m loyal like that), a glass of wine in the middle of the day, and a relaxing hour or so to myself… a rare bit of bliss.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

 

Tournament Of Books 2017 | Prepping, Planning, & Strategizing

Ok, folks. It’s time. After obsessively refreshing (and refreshing, and refreshing) The Morning News site, impatiently and anxiously awaiting the short list announcement, I find myself overall quite tickled by the results.

Last year was honestly a bit of a disappointing line-up, and I found myself loosing interest, and never even ended up posting final thoughts, or really much of anything along the way. This year promises to be a different story, I’m hoping.

I apologize in advance for the excessive use of parentheses, but… whatever, get over it. I have.

At the time of the list announcement, I have read a whopping grand total of three of the short list selections (The Mothers, The Vegetarian, and Grief Is The Thing With Feathers). I own one additional book (Homegoing), and am currently listening to one (okay, two) other(s) via audiobook (The Underground Railroad and My Name Is Lucy Barton).

My strategy going forward is to focus on reading the ones I wanted to read back when I first heard about them (i.e. Homegoing, All The Birds In The Sky, Version Control, We Love You Charlie Freeman). Depending on how quickly, or not, I get through those will determine what others I end up picking up. And, let’s be honest, I’m at the mercy of my library holds list and my mad skills in working the system in my favor. (Insert evil laugh track here).

The “play in” this year will be between the three sports related books (Sudden Death, The Sport of Kings, and The Throwback Special). Barf, not really my thing. I’m not going to even consider reading any of those until I know which one makes the final sixteen… and honestly, probably not even then.

There are also one or two I’m just not digging, and will pretty much 100% for sure not be getting to, which is cool by me. Lastly there are some real chunksters on the list this time around (The Nix, Version Control, The Sport Of Kings), although they could have been realllllllly mean and included the over 1,200 page Jerusalem, which I *NEVER* would have even considered trying to pick up at this time in my life… or ever.

So, I have a plan, let’s put it into action! Any of you out there reading along for ToB17? I’d love to chat about it, and hear your reading strategy.

 

It’s (Late) Monday, January 16th | What Are You Reading?

I’ve been book hopping like a mofo lately. I got into a bit of a funk waiting around for the ToB short list, and have since abandoned everything I *was* reading either to DNF-land or later-land. I’m starting to get back on track. Whew.

I’m a ways into The Underground Railroad audiobook, and so far so good. I’m taking a quick detour to listen to My Name Is Lucy Barton, since my ticket came up at the library, and it’s short at only four hours. I’m getting the feeling Elizabeth Strout and I just don’t get on well, because I can’t bring myself to care one iota about any of the characters. (Which is the same problem I had when I listened to The Burgess Boys). So you had a rough childhood, so you and your mom have been estranged, so you’re sick… meh.

In print I’ve just started reading All The Birds In The Sky, and it’s definitely too early to tell. The story is intriguing so far, but the writing feels a little stilted. We’ll see how we get on once I’m into it a bit more.

At the last minute, I was invited by my bestie to a bookish event at my favorite local indie bookstore, and I’m so glad I went! Clinton Kelly, after releasing many “lifestyle” books, has recently come out with a book of personal essays entitled I Hate Everyone, Except You. I haven’t read it yet, but thought it would still be fun to go see him, especially since What Not To Wear got me through my college years (even though it sounds like he didn’t really love being on that show all that much, and I can certainly agree that the show has problematic features). I managed not be *too* terribly awkward during the book-signing-and-photo situation.

This past week also brought us Obama’s farewell speech… anyone else cry like a baby? I know I can’t be the only one. The only time he let the audience go on and on in a fantastical display of clapping and cheering, was for Michelle. What a guy.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?