Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! Although to be honest, Friday both snuck up on me and didn’t get here soon enough, so I don’t really know how to feel about it. At least I’m hoping to catch up on life stuff and work and sleep this weekend so maybe by Monday I’ll be back to normal. In the meantime, here’s a look at what I’ve been reading in fifteen words or fewer:

As I Descended by Robin Talley
YA lesbian Macbeth is all I needed to hear. Talley’s writing’s awesome; story’s legit creepy.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
A fun take on contemporary vampires–more Buffy than Twilight here, with some great moments.

PS–I’ve also been wanting to change up the Friday Fifteen format a little (again). While I love the book reviews, I think it would be nice to add some other stuff to this. I’ve done writing updates, but sometimes that doesn’t lend itself to fifteen words or fewer (or even fifteen words at all). Maybe you guys have thoughts?

And if you have specific ideas about what you’d want to see, share them in the comments!

An Ode to Audiobooks

Image by Innovate Impact Media

Until recently, I thought I wasn’t an audiobook person. My mind tends to wander and I worried that I’d lose the plot and not be able to follow the book I was supposedly listening to. Then Walt and I went on a fourteen-hour drive and Amy Poehler kept us company with Yes Please, and I’ve been binging on audiobooks ever since.

In case you’re still afraid of diving into the world of audiobooks, are are my top ten reasons why audiobooks are awesome. In no particular order:

  1. You can read while doing other things
    With physical books or ebooks, I mostly read while waiting in offices, getting coffee, or in bed. With audiobooks, I can read while driving to work, working out, doing laundry, or baking up something tasty. When I was training for the Boston Marathon, I really looked forward to my long runs because they meant I could listen to the Tiffany Aching books for a few hours. Audiobooks have also been a fantastic way to get reading in while I’m walking Bodo, because I’m often out with him for at least forty-five minutes, which means so much reading time! Which means…
  2. You can read so many more books
    I’m getting so much more reading done this year because of audiobooks. Right now I’m on like 25% hard copy, 10% ebook, 65% audiobooks.
  3. Having a story read aloud to you is cozy and fun
    Remember when you were in elementary school and your teacher would do read alouds? Why don’t we get to do this as adults. Spoiler alert: audiobooks do that for you.
  4. Audiobooks are read by professionals
    Even better than your second grade teacher? Professional actors who know how to do the voices right and say all the words clearly. Also, sometimes audiobooks are read by the authors themselves, which I find really cool. (I just finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane written and read by Neil Gaiman, who’s got the best voice a writer could ask for.)
  5. You don’t have to carry anything extra
    Okay, so my purse is usually big enough to fit a book. But you can download audiobooks right to your phone/mp3 device, which you probably already carry with you.
  6. You can get them for free from the library
    Caveat: audiobooks can be pretty expensive to buy. They require all the normal work a book requires, plus paying a reader plus studio time plus sound editing/mixing. But you can borrow audiobooks from your local library, via programs like Overdrive or Hoopla.
  7. You might pay more attention to content
    I’m a fast reader, but sometimes that means that, when I’m really into a book, I end up reading too fast because I’m so excited and miss little bits of info or description. With an audiobook, I find myself actually paying more attention to particular phrases or pieces of dialogue.
  8. You can speed up or slow down as necessary
    Audiobook apps I’ve used let you adjust the reading pace to be slightly faster (if the reader is slower than you’d like) or slower (if you want to really appreciate every word) or slowest (to make the reader sound like they’re drunk, which can be hilarious).
  9. Audiobooks do count as ‘real reading’
    Don’t worry, you’re not missing out on ‘real reading.’ Whatever that is.
  10. It’s easier to get through those big books you’ve been meaning to read
    Earlier this year, I listened to The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, which was fascinating, but also almost 600 pages long. It took a while to listen to, but it was so much easier to listen while doing other things and carry around my iPod as usual, vs. having to lug around a huge book or set aside time at the end of the day to read about how the tobacco industry lobbied against cancer research and blamed victims. (I know.) Having a copy on audio meant I could read more frequently and not feel like I had to set aside specific time for a serious book.

Bonus reason: I’ve been reading more nonfiction because of audiobooks. Maybe it’s because of the easier to carry around/easier to listen to longer stuff thing? No clue, but it’s working for me.

And in case you’re still not convinced, here are a few of my recent favorite audiobook reads:

Audiobooks you’d recommend? Favorite things about listening to stories? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! I’m looking forward to a long weekend of reading by a large body of water (my favorite activity), spending time with friends, consuming lots of tasty food/drink, and seeing if Bodo prefers swimming to dozing in the sun. Let’s get the weekend started with some book reviews in fifteen words or fewer:

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard
Started slow, but I didn’t want to leave Pen and friends behind. So many feels!

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
Thoughtful and nuanced look at the complexities of elder and end-of-life care.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
A thrilling adventure through four different (mostly) magical Londons. I’d also like Kell’s coat.

Links Galore

Lots of links I’ve been saving:

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! I’m looking forward to a cozy/productive weekend with Bodo, and maybe binging on some more library audiobooks. (Seriously, guys, check out your library’s digital resources.) In the meantime, let’s check out some book reviews in fifteen words or fewer.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
Finally read this one; it was adorable and fun and I want a Masterpiece adaptation.

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork
Sensitive and thoughtful. My new go-to recommendation for teens dealing with mental health issues.

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen
Not my favorite of Allen’s–too many POV characters, ending felt rushed. Still fun though.

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! This week has mostly been me hacking and sneezing and coughing, and walking around the house telling Bodo the Dog, “Bodo, I’m sick. I’m so sick,” and getting barely any sympathy from him. (He just get confused about why I’m not running around the house with him, squeaky toy in hand.)

But fortunately it’s Friday, which means a weekend of taking it easy. It also means book reviews in fifteen words or fewer!

All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry
Not at all what I expected but in a good way. Berry’s writing is masterful.

Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
Sensitive and touching portrayal of childhood cancer, family dynamics, new friends, and change. Love!

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
Also not what I expected but awesome–sad and literary, combining text and art beautifully.

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! This week has felt like nine weeks long, so I’m super excited to be heading into a long weekend of fun with some great friends. Let’s head into the weekend with a couple of fifteen-word (or fewer) book reviews.

Ana of California by Andi Teran
My favorite kind of adaptation–gets the spirit of the original, but expands the world.

My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind by Scott Stossel
Felt like it went off on a lot of tangents; too personal to be helpful.

Competition and Camaraderie

running-573762_640I’m always finding connections between running and writing. Recently, I was listening to an episode of the Runner’s World podcast, in which they talked about the recent attempt to break two hours in the marathon.

Around 30-minutes into the episode, they talk about how the pacers in this attempt were special in that they were all elite athletes–ie, runners who are used to focusing on their own goals and winning races. For this race, elite athletes were running to support someone else’s goal, in the hopes that one of the three competing runners would break the world record. Runner’s World columnist Alex Hutchinson, who was there for the attempt, talks about how the pacing runners were so supportive of the competing runners, and how this isn’t unusual for the running community. One particular thing Alex says about this:

“Everyone wants to be the best, but everyone wants everyone else to be their best, too.”

This really stood out for me as a great way to frame the idea of professional competition and camaraderie, particularly in the writing world. As much as I love to support my fellow writers, I’m also totally guilty of feeling jealous of other people’s successes (mostly because all you see on social media is SUCCESS SUCCESS SUCCESS over and over and over).

runners-752493_640But I also want other writers to be writing the best books possible–the world would totally suck if only one person got to be the best writer, and everyone else wrote meh books. I’d way rather live in a world where I’m always striving to write the best books I can, and in which everyone else is doing the same. We all end up pushing each other and challenging each other and inspiring each other.

And unlike professional running, there doesn’t have to be one winner per race. Okay, so only one book can win some award every year, but every book can be someone’s favorite. The more awesome books out there, the more everyone wins.

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, everybody! I’m spending some time in an old project today, and trying not to melt in the heat because Boston suddenly realized that spring is almost over so it better hurry up with this warm weather. Let’s get the weekend started with some book reviews in fifteen words or fewer.

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Beautiful take on friendship and first crushes and loss and hope, with Stead’s gorgeous writing.

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy by L.A. Meyer
Fun and historically interesting, but for girl-on-a-ship, Charlotte Doyle still gets my vote.

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
More an exploration into people who love octopuses. Not as scientific as I’d hoped for.

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! It’s been a week of ups and downs, but I’m trying to keep the good stuff in mind–like flower-y raincoats and good friends and long walks and pups and, of course, books. Let’s head into the weekend with a few book reviews in fifteen words or fewer.

The Light Fantastic by Sarah Combs
Aka “Writing So Beautiful It Makes Annie Cry in Panera.” Combs = contemp YA feels.

The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett
A lovely send-off to Tiffany Aching books. Terry Pratchett, I wish I’d known you sooner.

Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
A touching novel in verse about family and art and grief and home.