How I Live Now

DocumentHow I Live Now
Meg Rosoff
Published April 1, 2006
194 pages

This is one of those books that, if you were to read the jacket blurb in the bookstore, you would have no idea what you were getting yourself into. Here’s the blurb:

This is a story about love. 

It’s also a story about hate, which is why I left New York in the first place. You don’t fly halfway across the world to live with a bunch of people you never met, just for a laugh.

I guess if I’d known where it was all going to lead, I might have thought twice about stepping onto that plane. I might have worried a little more about Edmond being my cousin.

And me being fifteen.

But I didn’t. And in the end, those things didn’t matter as much as you think they would.

In the end, the world had bigger things to worry about than us.

So, you’d think: Ah, yes. This is another angsty teen romance about forbidden love. An unhappy girl with problems at home gets shipped off to live with her distant relatives in the UK (His name is Edmond. It’s a dead give-away.). Pretty standard stuff, right?

Well . . . Continue reading

Mark Your Calendars for the 10th Annual Decatur Book Festival!

One of the greatest things about being a book nerd and living in Decatur, Georgia, is the annual (free! open to the public!!) Decatur Book Festival. Last year, I attended several panels and volunteered at the kitchen stage (you can read about it here). The year before that, it was POURING rain, but I still managed to make it to a couple readings (one of which I wrote about here). It is always a good time with fabulous authors, informative panels, and fun readings.

Naturally, I was thrilled when a new hashtag popped up in my Instagram and Twitter feeds last week in celebration of the announcements of the 2015 festival’s keynote speaker (Erica Jong, who will be interviewed onstage by Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay) and full author lineup.

This year’s theme is #READdifferent: “Get out of your comfort zone, get out of your routine, and read something different. With hundreds of authors, tracks, and stages to choose from, how will you #READdifferent at #dbf2015?”

readdifferent-template copy

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The Girl on the Train

91lUeBR2G1LThe Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins
January 15, 2015
336 pages (hardcover)

A couple months back, I got all up in arms about memoirs and vowed never to read another one (at least for the foreseeable future). Today, I have something new to gripe about: vapid, inconsistent, silly, stupid, annoying, and weak female characters . . . especially when they’re written by female authors. And this book has them in spades.

The Girl on the Train is told from the perspective of three highly annoying female characters. You have Rachel (the titular girl on the train), highly annoying female character #1, who tells about 80 percent of the story. She is clearly an unreliable narrator. She is a raging alcoholic who was fired from her job several months ago for getting sloshed at lunch, losing an important client, and coming back to the office drunk. She is divorced from her husband and living at a friend’s house. She hasn’t told her friend that she was fired from her job, so she still takes the train to London every day and spends the hours wandering around, going to the library, and getting wasted. On the train, she watches people on their patios and terraces, imagining lives (and names and personalities) for them. In the evenings, she calls her ex-husband and professes her undying love for him, despite the fact that he’s clearly moved on.

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The Thing Around Your Neck


The Thing Around Your Neck
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Published June 16, 2009
240 pages

Last September, I wrote an ode to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (you can read it here). Since I wrote that post, Adichie has given me more reasons to love her. Just a few weeks back, she was Wellesley’s commencement speaker. Her speech was about “gender and justice” (“Class of 2015, please go out there and make feminism a raucous, inclusive party.”) with little tidbits of advice thrown in for good measure (“Please do not twist yourselves into shapes to please.”). It’s short (about 20 minutes) and worth watching in its entirety: Continue reading

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Published February 21, 2012
368 pages

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of YA books. I love The Hunger Games trilogy. I devoured Libby Bray’s The Diviners (and am anxiously awaiting the August release of the next book in the series, Lair of Dreams). I enjoyed Rebecca Stead’s homage to Madeleine L’Engle, When You Reach Me.

But the YA books that always get me the most are those that I know will help kids navigate the rough waters of adolescence. Because, let’s be honest: being a teenager (and a “tween,” for that matter) isn’t the best.

Looking back, I had it relatively easy. I was pretty happy, school was easy, and I had a lot of friends. But I was super awkward, my family was not well-off, and my parents had recently divorced. Also, I looked like this: Continue reading

How to Start a Fire

how-to-start-a-fireHow to Start a Fire
Lisa Lutz
Published May 12, 2015
352 pages (hardcover)

I was talking the other day to someone about how hard it is to make new friends as you get older. You rely on your kids (if you have them) to help you forge bonds with their friends’ parents. You keep your fingers crossed that your new neighbors will be normal. If you’re feeling especially chatty, you strike up conversations with random people in your Pilates classes. Making friends when you’re in the throes of adulthood takes a lot of effort. And, sometimes, it makes you long for the days of college.

In college, you make a new friend every day. The girls in the dorm room next to yours? Friends for life! The dude who randomly sits next to you in your econ class? Study buddy! The chick you meet at your first-ever frat party? BFF! Friendships are forged at the drop of dime and, despite moves and life changes and differing careers, often stay strong for years and years to come. This book highlights that easy college-friend trajectory.

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Mario Alberto Zambrano
Published July 1, 2014
304 pages (hardcover)

This book begins with an explanation—the “Rules of the Game”:

Lotería is often described as Mexican bingo, a game of chance. The only material difference between bingo and Lotería is that bingo relies on a grid of numbers while Lotería relies on images. 

There are fifty-four cards and each comes with a riddle, un dicho. There is a traditional set of riddles, but sometimes dealers create their own to trick the players. After the dealer “sings” the riddle the players cover the appropriate spots on their playing boards, their tablas, with either bottle caps, dried beans, or loose change. 

There is more than one way to win depending on what is played. You can win by filling a vertical line, a horizontal line, a diagonal; the four corners, the center squares, or a blackout. 

An important rule to remember is that a winner must shout his victory as soon as his winning image is called. If the dealer calls another riddle before the winner declares ¡Lotería!, the player can no longer claim the prize.

What follows are fifty-four chapters, one for each card in the Lotería deck. Continue reading

The Happiest Baby on the Block

UnknownThe Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer
Harvey Karp, M.D.
Published May 28, 2002
267 pages (paperback)

When you’re visibly pregnant, you get bombarded with lots and lots of unsolicited parenting advice. At my last visit to the dentist, my hygienist tucked a post-it into the little baggie with my free toothbrush and floss that told me I had to read a certain sleep schedule book (a little independent research showed that the practices suggested in that book are a bit extreme and not condoned by most pediatricians).

But not all advice you receive is unsolicited and unhelpful. As I’ve gotten closer and closer to baby time, there’s one resource that keeps getting mentioned by parents I trust and respect: The Happiest Baby on the Block. The title is cheesy and, frankly, so is the presentation of information . . . but many young parents I know swear by its practices. Continue reading

Funny Girl

UnknownFunny Girl 
Nick Hornby
Published February 3, 2015
456 pages (Kindle e-book)

I have suffered from some unfortunate insomnia during pregnancy. When I wake up in the middle of the night, if I read for about an hour, I can usually manage to get back to sleep. But when it’s 4:00 in the morning, and you’re wide awake, you’re not looking for anything particularly deep or thinky or heavy. You want something fluffy and brainless. And, recently, this book fit the bill.

Nick Hornby is probably best known for authoring books that have led to some pretty good movie adaptations (like High Fidelity and About a Boy). His stuff tends toward light, funny (in a witty, Brit-humor kind of way), and fast-paced, with just the right amount of sentimentality. These are fun books—perfect for summer reading (or middle-of-the-night reading, as the case may be). Funny Girl isn’t his best book, but it doesn’t stray from his signature style.

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