Just for Fun, Meme, TBR Pile

Roof Beam Reader in Books

I saw this little meme at On Bookes (originally from Fictionophile) and thought it looked fun. I also realized it has been months and months since I’ve participated in a “meme,” so why not?

The rules

  1. Spell out your blog’s name. 
  2. Find a book from your TBR that begins with each letter. (Note you cannot ADD to your TBR to complete this challenge – the books must already be on your TBR.)
  3. Have fun!  






Rabbit & Robot by Andrew Smith; On Liberty and the Subjection of Women by John Stuart Mill; Once There Was a War by John Steinbeck; Fury by Salman Rushdie.






Becoming by Michelle Obama; Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover; Armadale by Wilkie Collins; Mythos by Stephen Fry.









Release by Patrick Ness; Every Word is a Bird We Teach to Sing: Encouters with the Mysteries and Meanings of Language by Daniel Tammet; A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine; Diary of an Oxygen Thief  by Anonymous; Enchiridion by Epictetus; Reality is Not What it Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity by Carlo Rovelli.

What did I learn from all this? First, I have a lot of awesome books on my TBR. Second, Goodreads bookshelf navigation really needs to be easier – especially when one has more than 2,000 books on a shelf.

Meme, Top Ten Tuesdays

Ten Books “On Tap” for This Winter

857226Aloha, Readers!

I very rarely participate in blog memes (or, let’s be honest, in blogging at all, lately!), but this one caught my eye when I saw it posted over on O’s blog, Behold the Stars. The winters here in the Midwestern United States are cold, long, and brutal. We tend to get buried in snow and bitter sub-zero temperatures for days on end.

So, what better way to prepare, to spark a little internal flame, than to think about the books I’m looking forward to cozying up with in the coming months?

This week’s topic, from The Broke and the Bookish, is: Top 10 Books on My Winter TBR.

  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
  • Trifles by Susan Glaspell
  • Ariel by Sylvia Plath
  • Studies in Classic American Literature by D.H. Lawrence
  • I Could Tell You Stories by Patricia Hampl
  • Like People in History by Felice Picano
  • Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran
  • The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer
  • Playing the Game: The Homosexual Novel in America by Roger Austen
  • The History of Sexuality by Michel Foucault
Favorites, Meme, Top Ten Tuesdays

10 Best Reads in 2014 (So Far)

toptentuesday2It’s been a while since I’ve participated in a “Top Ten Tuesday” meme. These are hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and they always have great topics.  This week’s topic is “favorites of the year so far.” Since I like to keep track of my own personal favorites, and share them with others (what else is a book blog for, anyway?), I thought this week’s topic was a good one to post.

According to my records, I have read 40 books so far this year, which puts me a bit ahead of schedule (I only had a goal of 60 for the whole year).  I’m also reading A TON of books for my summer independent reading (preparation for doctoral exams in January), so I’m sure I’ll be way ahead of schedule come mid-August. If I manage to keep up with the reading list, that is. HAH.

Now, the folks at The Broke and The Bookish say, specifically, “favorites.” Not best books, not top rated etc. So, “favorite” being the only qualifier, I have chosen 5 works of fiction and 5 works of non-fiction that I really enjoyed in this first half of the year. I could have included a poetry section, too, as I’ve read some great poetry in this first half of the year, but I spent too much time trimming each of these sections down from 10 works to 7 and, finally, to 5. So, yay for poetry but, no, it’s not making the list this time!


  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • Imre: A Memorandum by Edward Prime-Stevenson
  • The Stand by Stephen King
  • Ulysses by James Joyce


  • Eminent Outlaws by Christopher Bram
  • If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? by Kurt Vonnegut
  • This is Water by David Foster Wallace
  • The Lavender Scare by David K. Johnson
  • Gay New York by George Chauncey

Have you read any of these? If so, what did you think?  And what are some of your own personal favorites so far this year?

Meme, Top Ten Tuesdays

10 Books to read this Fall

The folks over at The Broke and the Bookish have come up with another “Top 10” list that I couldn’t help but think about.  With the start of school last week, and with my tendency to be over-organized and list-happy in the first place, I found this week’s topic not just interesting, but appropriate and helpful. 

I will be reading far more than 10 books this Fall (because I need to read 20+ just for school), but I thought I would choose 5 books from my required reading that I’m most looking forward to, plus 5 books that I hope to read for fun.  Here we go!

Required Reading:

1.  The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford.  I have never been particularly excited by or interested in reading this particular book; however, I have never read anything by Madox Ford, so when I saw him on the syllabus for my Narratology course this Fall, I thought: “Cool!”  I’m always happy to add new/more authors to my bucket.

2.  The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction by Frank Kermode.  Another text for my Narratology course.  I imagine this one will be rather dense (just like the one I’m currently reading, Narratology by Schmid, but it is a fascinating subject for anyone studying literature at an advanced level, so I look forward to it.

3.  White Noise by Don DeLillo.  This one is for my American Lit seminar course, and I am very excited about it.  DeLillo is another author I have yet to experience, and this specific book of his has been on my “wish list” for a long, long time.  I now own a copy & will finally get to read it and discuss it in an academic setting. Stoked!

4.  Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King.  Another for my American Lit seminar.  I know absolutely nothing about this author and I know absolutely nothing about this book; BUT, my experiences with Native American fiction, so far, have all been fantastic.  It’s a particular sub-genre of American Lit. that I find very interesting and appealing, so I can’t wait to delve a little deeper with this one.

5.  From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature by Malcolm Bradbury and Richard Ruland.  This is the only non-fiction text listed on my syllabus for American Lit, and it is “optional.”  Optional texts, as far as school syllabi are concerned, tend to become “required” reading for me, personally.  I feel that the professors put these texts on their syllabi for specific reasons (1. They add to the content of the course; 2. They aid understanding of the subject matter; 3. They are resources when it comes to writing research and analysis papers, etc.), so I may be the only one in the class who actually reads this one, but considering I’m a student of American Lit, how could I not?  And how could I be anything but excited to get started?!

Pleasure Reading:

6.  The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens.  This is book #2 in the YA series, Books of Beginning.  The first book, The Emerald Atlas, came out last year.  I was lucky enough to receive an ARC and I fell in love with it.  It really filled a void for this Harry Potter-loving reader!  I can’t wait to get this book in October.

7.  Passenger by Andrew Smith.  This is the highly anticipated sequel to Smith’s The Marbury Lens, which I just recently read and reviewed for our Andrew Smith Saturdays event.  I really enjoyed The Marbury Lens, and I have enjoyed every Andrew Smith book so far (I own and have read his complete works), so I’m definitely eager to read this one in October as well.

8.  The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan.  Another October release! Wow – it’s going to be a busy month.  I’m not sure I’ll actually be able to read all of these in October, but I know I’ll be buying this one, as well as the other 2, on their release dates.  Mark of Athena is Book 3 in the Heroes of Olympus series, which I have loved so far.  I am a big fan of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, as well as The Kane Chronicles, both by Riordan.  So, this one is a must.

9.  The Good Book: A Humanist Bible by A.C. Grayling.  I’ve had this one on my shelf since it released quite some time ago.  I keep wanting to read it, but keep putting it off (something I am forced to do far too often, with far too many books!).  I really have been itching to get it done, though – so I’m going to try to read it in pieces over the course of the next few months.

10.  Cannery Row by John Steinbeck.  I have just a few books left on my 2012 TBR Pile Challenge List to complete (I’m almost done!), and this is one that I most look forward to reading. Every time I read something by Steinbeck (fiction or non-fiction), I fall deeper and deeper in love with him.  There are a few books left on my list (Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream and Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend, for example) that I very much look forward to, but I think Steinbeck will be up next!

There you have it.  10 books, required or otherwise, that I’m really looking forward to reading this Fall!  What’s on your “to read” list for the coming months?? 

Blog Post, Just for Fun, Meme

My Life in Literature (Meme)

Jillian posted this a few days ago, and I always have fun with these types of things, so I thought I’d participate.  According to her post, the original seems to have been a “year in review” type thing, but I’m just going to choose any book that suits the answer, based on everything I’ve ever read.  Mainly because it’s easier but also because it allows for more options.  I like ease and variety, man.

  1. Describe yourself: The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart
  2. How do you feel: Lost in the Funhouse
  3. Describe where you currently live: Little Chicago
  4. If you could go anywhere, where would you go:  Death in Venice
  5. Your favorite form of transportation: The Wings of Merlin
  6. Your best friend is: A Lost Lady
  7. You and your friends are: It’s Kind of a Funny Story
  8. What’s the weather like: Inferno
  9. You fear: The Vast Fields of Ordinary
  10. What is the best advice you have to give: Lust for Life
  11. Thought for the day: Nothing Like the Sun
  12. How I would like to die: The Once and Future King (hehe)
  13. My soul’s present condition: The Realm of Possibility
Blog Post, Meme

How to Be a Perfect Reader

Roof Beam Reader

Now, I receive e-mails, Tweets, comments, and other inquiries from people all the time, asking how to be a “good” reader or a “better” reader.  I have kept rather mum on this subject, in general, because I like to keep these secrets to myself so that I can appear better than you all.  With the shadow of Valentine’s Day stretching toward us, though, I thought I would spread the love a bit and spill the beans on my cherished secrets, in the interest of improving the lives and abilities of my dear readers.

Instead of telling you how to be a “better” reader, though, I’ve decided to share my thoughts on how to be a perfect reader.  Being a perfect reader, to put it simply, means reading exactly the same way as I do.  You need to choose the books I choose, sit in the same positions I sit, drink the same liquids, eat the same solids.  Heck, you better even time your bathroom breaks and sleep patterns to coincide with my daily cycle.

Essentially, you have to be little bookish clones of Yours Truly.  Are you prepared for that level of literary liability? If not, then get lost – go carry on with your life as a sub-par reader.  We don’t want your kind here, anyway.  But, if you’re ready, then here we go!

Alright, enough.  If you’ve gotten this far and haven’t yet figured out that I’m being facetious, there are probably one of two things happening: A) You’re totally thinking I’m this egomaniacal jerk or B) You’re so passionately obsessed with me already that my self-lauding pomposity makes you feel all tingly.  Either option is a bit scary, so let’s just say I was channeling the satirical spirit of Jonathan Swift and move on.

In real news, though, the above charade was inspired by the below bookish-survey, which I found over at Curling Up By the Fire.  It’s all about my reading process – hope it’s interesting to some. I’m sure I’d like to hear some of your answers too!

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack:

I almost always have something to snack on while I’m eating which, as I get older, is turning out to be a not-so-good idea.  I’m not talking pop-tarts or pasta, though.  It’s usually crackers or pretzels – I like the “crunch, crunch” noise in my mouth, as I’m reading.  It’s a bit weird, because I’m the type of reader who needs virtual silence to really sink into and enjoy my reading – I guess internal noise-making does not bother me so much.


What is your favorite drink while reading?

I almost always have a bottle of water nearby (and I’m learning this is surprisingly standard for people who read often).  I guess reading is an exercise, after all, so one must stay hydrated.  I do also drink iced mocha coffee quite a bit while reading, and sometimes change it up with juice.  Usually water, though.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

Are you kidding?  Writing in books is a must!  I am very big on annotations, though I never used to be.  It would have been impossible to survive college and graduate school as an English/American Lit student without annotating, though, and I learned it really does enhance the experience.  I love to loan out copies of my annotated books, too, and get feedback from friends/family members who would read my notes and call me to say things like, “Wow! I didn’t know birds could be symbols!” So much fun.  But, I will qualify this by saying, I do not mark-up important editions of books. If I have a collectible or first-edition, I’ll purposely set that aside and buy a “to read” copy, which I can mark up and bend and earmark any which way I choose.


How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

I do not ever lay a book flat open to keep my page – this is the best and quickest way to irreparably break the book’s spine, which annoys the heck out of me!  I always have a bookmark.  I loan those out too, though, so I’m always in need of new ones.  I must buy one bookmark for every ten or so books that I buy, which seems unnecessary because I only ever read one book a time.  I guess I just like variety. Oh, and I like to match up larger bookmarks with large/fat books (or hardcovers) and smaller/thinner book marks for paperbacks and smaller books.  I’m so much fun.


Fiction, non-fiction, or both?

I think I have a 90/10 fiction to non-fiction ratio. I enjoy fiction much more (particularly literary fiction), but I do read non-fiction from time-to-time, typically when I read something in a book or hear about it somewhere and want to actually learn more about it.  Example: I heard about Lincoln’s inclusion of his bitterest rivals into his own Cabinet on some t.v. show, thought that was amazing and interesting, so picked up the book Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.


Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?

I do not like being interrupted in the middle of a chapter, but sometimes there’s no choice.  If I can, I always read chapter-by-chapter (or chapters at a time), but in books with insanely long chapters (as in The Golden Mean), you have to stop where you have to stop.


Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?

The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade by Herman Melville, which is now one of my all-time favorite books.  It wasn’t so much that the author irritated me, but that he was so good in doing what he was doing, which was confusing the reader and interweaving plot-lines to distract us from what was or wasn’t really happening. I love it now, but I hated it then, when trying to pin everything down so I could go explain it to a graduate seminar filled with people who probably hadn’t bothered to finish the book.


If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

Only if I can’t figure out its meaning from context – it doesn’t happen too often, but I love having a “smart” phone with dictionary and thesaurus applications on it. Yes, I’m that much of a nerd. I also get a “word of the day” sent to my phone every morning. =/


What are you currently reading?

I’m reading Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens.  This is my 5th Dickens, and I plan to read at least one more this year (David Copperfield).

What is the last book you bought?

Well, the last books I bought were purchased at the same time. Want a list? Okay:

Fire from Heaven – by Mary Renault

The Symposium by Plato

If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho by Sappho

Nicholas Daneby Melvin Burgess

Oresteia by Aeschylus

The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card

So, I was obviously in an Ancient Classics kind of mood during my last book buying binge. I’ll soon post a picture of this stack (plus four others not mentioned) on my Facebook Fan Page.


Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?

Now that I’m out of graduate school, I find it much more enjoyable to read one book at a time.  The only time this changes is if I happen to be taking part in a read-along or multiple challenges at the same time.  I don’t do that, though.


Do you have a favorite time/place to read?

I like to read when I’m alone and things are quiet.  This tends to happen only on weekends, because I work late and don’t usually have the apartment to myself when I get home (at least not for long).  I will sometimes read on my lunch break at work, but it depends on how stressed I am for the day.  Sometimes, instead of reading on my breaks, I’ll go to a bookstore and pace around until all the day’s frustrations leak out. Then, I go back to work. Joy!


Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?

I am doing a series completion challenge this year because I don’t tend to finish the series’ that I begin. I guess this is a solid indicator that I prefer stand alone books, and that is probably because I prefer literary fiction or classics to any other genre (and most classics don’t have sequels).  I do like some series’, though, and I enjoy them – they’re just not my top priority.


Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

Authors: J.D. Salinger, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Irving Stone, Mark Twain

Books: Harry Potter series, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Lust for Life, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

How do you organize your books? 

Most of my books are currently in boxes in storage, but the ones I have out are in two bookcases. The first and largest case (5 shelves) is my “fiction” set, which is organized alphabetically by author.  The second, smaller bookcase (3 shelves) is my “non-fiction” set, which is also organized alphabetically by author, within genre (History, Literary Theory, Reference, etc.).  I also have piles of books behind the books on my bookcase, and on top of the bookcase, which are just the most recent purchases that have nowhere else to go yet. Oh, and I keep all of the books I have been sent by authors/agents/publishers or those that I have won in giveaways on top of a cabinet which houses my DVDs.  There are currently 15 books there, waiting to be read.

Okay, wow! I guess that’s the end of the line.  Thanks for stopping by – and feel free to share your thoughts on my answers to these questions, or give me some insight into your own bookish life.