Posts Tagged ‘reading’

#24in48: Challenge Complete.

January 29, 2018

Wheeeeeeeeeeeew, what a weekend! It was filled with books and reading and social media commenting and more reading and scrambled eggs and library books and still more reading. But I did it! Between midnight Friday night and ending at exactly 5 p.m. Sunday night, I read for 24 hours, well within the 48-hour window. Let’s see how I managed to pull it off.

Keeping track. I used a cool checklist that I mistakenly attributed to someone else (who, it turns out, stole the idea), designed originally by Kristin Isabelle (@FierceFabFemme), let’s give credit where credit is due! Somehow I finished my checklist last night, and then forgot to snap a pic! Gah! And managed to leave my planner on my desk at home. Good one, Katie. Here’s one of my earlier check-ins, though:

24in48CheckIn

Check-ins and Challenges. I had a blast on social media! I participated in 4 or 5 challenges, and checked-in via the 24-in-48 web site, my blog, Facebook, and all. day. long. on Twitter! In fact, I had so much fun cheering everyone on that I asked our hosts if I could help admin the next one. SO MUCH FUN!

Here are two of my challenges:

FirstAndLast

That was for the first and last books on your shelves. No dead white authors on these shelves. (Okay, there are but love that there aren’t that many in the pool.)

Readathon4

Here we have favorite and least favorite covers. I would frame a print of Wolves. But the Rebecca is sooooo bland! Who would want to pick that book up?!

And speaking of check-ins – here’s a picture of me at my battle station. I have about four books open, my laptop booting up, my Book of Books (my reading journal/master list) and my planner with my checklist are all open. Plus a whopping plate of scrambled eggs precariously balanced on top of everything! Love it!

Readathon7

 

Bookish clothing: Yeah, I got myself in the mood by rocking some rad bookish gear. Saturday I wore my Hermione shirt that reads, “When in doubt, go to the library.” (Which is exactly what I did on Saturday.) I had on my blue library card socks, too. On Sunday I wore my red “Read more books!” shirt from BookRiot, and my “Let the wild rumpus begin!” socks, but I didn’t take a picture of my shirt, alas.

 

Mugs. I started out each morning right: with a pot of coffee and a different bookish mug. I have about a dozen bookish mugs (mugs are my weakness), so it was difficult choosing my victims. But coffee was hanging in the balance, so it didn’t actually take me all that long, you understand.

 

Books, pages, and all that stuff. In the end, I read six whole books, most of another, and half of yet another.

  • The Polygamist’s Daughter, by Ana LeBarron (3 of 5 stars)
  • A World Without Whom, by Emmy Favilla (3 of 5 stars)
  • We Are Never Meeting in Real Life, by Samantha Irby (4 of 5 stars)
  • Search and Rescue, by Christopher Van Tilburg (2 of 5 stars)
  • Dream Big Dreams, by Pete Souza (5 of 5 stars)
  • 84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff (4 of 5 stars)
  • Most of Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green
  • Half of My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Bachman (re-read)

That’s…okay, I’m not really going to tally the pages for you. I thought I was going to, but no. Nope. Not gonna.

I had a blast! I read a lot of books. It was great motivation to put my foot up and actually rest it. I don’t know that I would have done that without the 24-in-48 Challenge. Honestly. So thank you, ladies, for hosting, and I can’t wait for the next one! (Seriously…is it this weekend? Huh? Can it be? please??)

Advertisements

#24in48 Check-in (and Challenge!) post.

January 28, 2018

It’s been a night (and a day and a night) filled with lots of lovely reading, so I thought it would be a good time for a check-in post!

(Also, there’s a challenge that requires a bit of photo-posting, so what better place?)

First, the check-in:

24in48CheckIn

That snap was taken this morning, so I am actually 19 hours in, 3 challenges (plus the one to come here in a minute), and 6 check-ins.

I’ve read half of two books – John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down (which I thought I’d finish first) and a re-read of Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry; and all of three others – Pete Souza’s photo-memoir, Dream Big Dreams; Helene Hanff’s 84, Charing Cross Road; and Anna LeBaron’s The Polygamist’s Daughter. I guess this was one of those readathon’s when you read everything except what you thought you would. SQUIRREL!

In between all of the reading, I’ve done a lot of cheering online to keep my motivation up. I’ve also participated in a few more challenges than I usually do, which was another one of my goals for this go-round. Including this one: post a picture of the first and last books on your bookshelves. Keeping in mind that my shelves still aren’t reassembled from Christmas, when I move everything so I can show off the Christmas decorations, here’s what I currently going on right now:

firstandlast.jpg

My top shelf is filled with copies of my All-Time Favorite Reads. Harriet the Spy will always make that list, even if I do rather wish the copy I owned weren’t a movie tie-in. (Lesson: never, ever loan you “real” copy out to friends in a bid to make them read it. Buy loaner copies.) That shelf is pretty static. My last shelf, however, will change after I rearrange my shelves into their usual year-round selves. But right now, my last book is Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. I’m half-tempted to dive into it now, because have you heard about the casting for the movie adaptation?! I am over-the-moon with excitement!

How is everyone else faring? We’re nearly to the finish line, keep your heads down in the books and your spirits up!

#24in48 Readathon Update: Hour 15.

January 27, 2018

I SURVIVED!

No, not the readathon – we’re not even halfway through with that yet. I survived a trip to the library while using my crutches! (I am serious about trying to get this Jones fracture to heal itself!) Not only that, the library police let me live to loan another day. Double score!

And wait til you see my haul!

LibraryHaul_20180127

So many awesome titles! It was one of those weird days when some books I’d been longing for – like Artemis by Andy Weir or 84, Charring Cross Road by Helene Hanff – were finally available, sitting there, just waiting for me. Others, like Search and Rescue and A World Without Whom I didn’t even know I needed.

But here’s the crown jewel, the one that nearly caused me to topple over, because I couldn’t carry it and crutch and carry a backpack filled with all my other books! But I managed. Truth be told, I would have crawled for this:

LibraryHaul2_20180127

That’s possibly the best library book I’ve ever lucked into!

And so now if you’ll excuse me…I’m gonna go try not to drool on it…

It’s here! It’s here! The #24in48 Read-a-thon, that is.

January 27, 2018

Anyone who has been around me knew exactly what I was shouting about at the first “It’s here!” I’ve been drowning everyone with my own excitement for the read-a-thon since I realized how miraculous the timing of the event was. I mean, I’m down for whatever reading challenge you have whenever you have it – yeah, yup, uh-huh, pretty accurate. But a reading event that challenges me to sit still and stay put with my broken foot propped up on a pile of pillows? And the angels did sing, you guys.

The #24in48 Read-a-thon is basically just what it sounds like: participants are asked to read in whatever fashion, at whatever speed, timed together however they want, with the ultimate goal of reaching a total of 24 hours read within the 48-hour parameters of the read-a-thon. The official kick-off happened last night at midnight and I was totally awake and ready for it! HUZZAH! I read for two hours and then decided around 2 a.m. that reminding myself to open my eyes every paragraph wasn’t the point of the game. I still had plenty of time (and I do!) to cross the finish line. Of course then this morning I slept in for the first time in weeks! I love sleeping, I do…I’ve just been terrible at it during the weekends. I pop awake at some ungodly hour and then…just can’t sleep. And so not that I wanted to be sleepless this morning, I was just sort of counting on using those hours towards my reading tally. But now I’m well-rested and ready to slay!
I won’t post every hour like I’ve attempted in the past, or even every few. I’ll make updates on Facebook and Twitter, and probably do an update post or two, so you’ve been warned! If anyone of you are participating, let me know! And if you have any good book recommendations, PLEASE chuck them at me! I’m always looking for the next book that’s going to knock my (bookish-themed) socks right off!
 

Alright. That’s enough jawin’. Time to get back to the books. Let’s do this!!

24in48Coffee

Year-end Catch-Up Posts: Read Harder Challenge 2017

December 26, 2017

Morning, all! I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! Our was filled to the brim with laughter and happy (and maybe a viewing of Stephen King’s IT), and so naturally today I’m feeling all of the productivity. So I thought why not use the day to catch-up on some posts – like letting everyone know how I did with my Read Harder Challenge?

At my last check-in, mid-year, I had nearly finished the challenge, but was bemoaning how I didn’t really want to read at all. The political sludge and general sense of doom and catastrophe was leeching my will to live or do anything enjoyable. I’m happy to say that while I might not have rediscovered (yet) a desire to blog every morning, but my ability to read on the daily came back to me, and I finished the year just slightly north of 200 books.

Still, even with my newly rediscovered joy for reading, it took a while for me to knock out the few remaining challenges. Still – that’s so much better than not crossing the finish line, which is really where I was worried I’d finish the year when I was assessing my lack of give-a-damn earlier this year.

Let’s peek at how things shook out for me. You might recall, too, that I add a personal spin to Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and insist that each book must be by an author of color. I’m consciously trying to raise my overall percentage of AOCs – and I have, from 11% is 2014 to 44% this year. Challenges like this are one of the ways I make it happen. So, what did I read? I’m so glad you asked!

Read a book about sports: Sudden Death, by Alvara Enrigue. This was part of The Morning News’ Tournament of Books. Not my favorite book, but interesting debating it for the brackets.

Read a debut novel: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. Who hasn’t read this book this year? Goodreads reported it was the most searched for book this year. It’s also vying for my favorite read of the year.

Read a book about books: My Soul Looks Back, by Jessica Harris. I cheated a little – it’s about authors more than books, but meh meh meh…

Read a book set in Central or South America, written by a Central or South American authorFicciones, by Jorge Luis Borges. This was my first Borges. I’m not sure if it was because of the short story format, but I wasn’t terribly drawn to his style. I can see the genius; this collection just wasn’t for me.

Read a book by an immigrant or with a central immigration narrative: Lucky Boy, by Shanthi Sekaran. This book was heartbreaking. I have a lot of close friends who struggle with adoption issues and I cried through most of the novel.

Read an all-ages comic: March, by Rep. John Lewis. Rep. Lewis’s three volumes took turns circulating through all three members of my household. And then we bought copies to donate to the girls’ schools. Because yes.

Read a book published between 1900 and 1950: Passing, by Nella Larsen. This was a bit of a cheat – I’d read selections of the novel before, but never the entire thing. If you haven’t, you must. Just thinking about the injustice of racial discrimination and how far we haven’t come has me seeing red and I haven’t even had breakfast yet.

Read a travel memoir: An African in Greenland, by Tete-Michel Kpomassie.

Read a book you’ve read before: The Chaneysville Incident, by David Bradley. One of my favorite books of all time. I cringe at how misogynistic it is, but the brilliance of the storytelling sucks me in every time. And every time I read it, I want to call up my old professor and debate the ending.

Read a book that is 100 miles of your location: Monster Hunter International, by Larry Correia. This is a perfect example of reading outside my comfort zone. I never would have read this otherwise. Not my cuppa tea – I’m picky about crime books and I don’t do paranormal. But finding a book set in Dallas or close to it? Not gonna happen when you also impose filters of “AOC” and “Not previously read.”

Read a book that is set more than 5,000 miles from your location: The Association of Small Bombs, by Karan Mahajan. Another book up for Best of 2017, this one knocked me in all my feels. And that cover!

Read a fantasy novel: Version Control, by Dexter Palmer. This was another Tournament of Books book, otherwise I would have ditched. I’m not much into fantasy, but I couldn’t deny it was well done. Just not my wheelhouse.

Read a nonfiction book about technology: Hidden Figures, by Margot Lee Shetterly. Now this I could read all day long! The girls got the movie for Christmas and I can’t wait to see if it’s as good as the book!

Read a book about war: American War, by Omar El Akkad. This has interesting an apocalyptic, fantasy spin, but the pacing was broken up and hard to follow at times.

Read a YA or middle grade novel by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+: The Inexplicable Logic of my Life, by Benjamin Allire Saenz. I read two books by Saenz after discovering him this year. That’s what this challenge is all about, isn’t it? Finding new-to-us books and authors who become favorites?

Read a book that has been banned or frequently challenged in your country: This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and Jill Tamaki. My daughter read this after I did (she’s a sucker for graphic novels) and she and I were both gobsmacked that this could be challenged. Then we had a great talk about sexuality and how perception of it has changed from when I was a kid to now.

Read a classic by an author of color: Amiable with Big Teeth, by Claude McKay. I wasn’t a big fan, but I recognize the giant contribution of Mr. McKay to his field. I much prefer his poetry.

Read a superhero comic with a female lead: Rani Patel in Full Effect, by Sonia Patel. I make my own definitions of what is and isn’t a superhero. An outsider, a woman, who steps up and finds her voice? Superhero.

Read a book in which a character of color goes on a spiritual journey: When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon. It’s a matter of time before this book becomes a movie and I am HERE for that!

Read an LGBTQ+ romance novel: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe, by Benjamine Allire Saenz. The second of his novels I read, and my favorite of them. I get all the hype – it’s deserved.

Read a book published by a micropress: Fish in Exile, by Vi Khi Nao. Not my favorite voice, but I wanted to read more Asian authors, something I need to do more of.

Read a collection of stories by a woman: Speak Gigantular, by Irenosen Okojie. A quick read, but powerful, filled with jabs and uppercuts.

Read a collection of poetry in translation on a theme other than love: Milk & Honey, by Rupi Kaur. Pretty much my favorite poet at the moment. I will read anything she writes.

Read a book wherein all point-of-view characters are people of color: The Sun Is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon. This is a bit of a stretch. At no point in the novel does the text explicitly state every character is “of color”, but at no point are their clues, context, or straight-up evidence that they aren’t, either. So, by default, I’m saying they are. And who’s to say otherwise?

So there you go! Another reading challenge smashed! I can’t wait to jump in and challenge myself to read bigger and better in 2018. If you’d like to play along, Book Riot already has their Read Harder challenge for next year up and running. I can’t wait to plot out what I’ll read!

30 Days of #Readathon: Best.

October 1, 2017

It’s Sunday night, and you know what’s a good way to put off going to work tomorrow? Talking about the Readathon! As you might have heard, Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is celebrating 10 years of readathoning excellence, and to get us all worked up to read all night, Dewey’s fantastic hosts have decided to launch a “30 Days of Readathon” countdown. Each day has a theme; you get to decide how to tackle each theme. You can post blogs, snap pictures, record videos, host podcasts – you do you! The how is up to you. The what is books, obviously. Why? Because BOOKS!

There are 20 days left before our #Readathon kicks off, which means today’s theme is “Best.” Best what? I decided to re-post a picture from October 2014, one of the best Readathon hauls I ever prepped. I borrowed nearly thirty books from the library, just to be sure I had what I needed when the mood struck. (And, yes, I read or perused most of them!)

IMG_5310

It also counts as one of the craziest prepper moments, too! Ha!

What are some of the best moments from your Readathon-er past? Have you ever done anything totally off-the-charts insane?

30 Days of #Readathon: Places.

September 28, 2017

It’s a rainy Thursday, a small cold front is blowing through, and it feels like Piglet and Pooh and their Blustery Day are about the float past me…even though, to be honest, it’s not even all that windy outside. It’s more of a mood. And that mood is screaming at me to call in and stay home so I can cuddle up with a stack of books!

It doesn’t help that today marks 23 Days Left(!) in our 30-day countdown to Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon extravaganza(!!), and Day 23 is all about places. So when I woke up this morning at 4:30 a.m. and my body was All Done with The Sleeping, I pulled up the countdown, checked today’s theme – for those wee small hours of the morning when my heart wants to sleep but my body does not, they seem to be the only minutes I can steal for plotting blog posts and thinking of such things – and I started thinking of all the fun times the girls and I have had blocking pictures and participating in readathons. Then the rain started beating down even harder, and I swear to god I got my lazybones out of bed only because I had two small humans who had school. Uh…not sure if that’s parenting for the win or a solid loss, you guys.

These are some of the places my mind wandered to while I was lying in my bed, so cozily Not Sleeping this morning…

Barnes-and-Noble-Reading

Bookstores. I always pick up a book and read the first few pages in the store, just to see if I’ll be hooked by the voice. Sometimes the plot can be a bit of a slow boil, sometimes characters won’t show up for awhile, but the voice is my favorite part of the Holy Trifecta, and that I can usually tell right away. Not every book with a catchy voice will keep my attention, but a book that doesn’t have it in those first few pages never will. I might learn to appreciate the book – but, dudes, that’s what libraries are for! (One of many, MANY things they’re for – don’t hate.) The girls and I will also wander out to our local Barnes and Noble during the afternoons of long readathons for a change of pace and to keep ourselves engaged. And maybe for some caffeine and a bakery treat if mama’s feeling pretty flush!

BookNook

The Book Nook. The girls created their own little book nook behind the chaise lounge in the living room. Gracie-girl hasn’t been back there in awhile (don’t even get me started on the hundreds of little ways TeenGracie is leaving KidGracie behind!), but Bee will still bring her graphic novels, or fashion books, or her laptop back there (with as many snacks as she can get away with, usually). It’s not fancy – just a bunch of oversize pillows, an outlet that’s unsightly for pictures but perfect for charging e-readers, and sometimes a blanket or two. Just a girl, her books, and a few comfort items. But it’s enough to make my heart happy whenever I catch sight of her back there in her reading cocoon!

Dinand

The stacks. A few trips ago, my sisters and I took the girls to Holy Cross, my alma mater. There are so many gorgeous libraries on campus, but my heart belongs to Dinand. There are secret stairs, lots of couches and comfy chairs, creaky spots in the floors, that book smell sent straight from heaven, and so. many. stacks. It is unpossible to not feel perfectly happy when reading in such a place! I only get to visit now – and not even every trip home – but it’s a place I used to spend many Sunday mornings and weekday afternoons, even if I didn’t have to study. Why waste library time studying when you could spend it reading?!

Reading-in-bed

In bed. My comfy, comfy bed. Mmm…. Because I’ve been waking so early, I’ve been drifting off most nights after I’ve only squeezed in a few pages worth of reading time, but this is still the place I love to read most! All my life I’ve been a bed reader – hiding in our rooms away from the noisy house, flopped across the bed diagonally, not even under the covers. And reading at bedtime was always, always, always the best way to get sleepy and signal that another day was done. Right now I’m daydreaming about a Jetsons-like device that could magically calculate how many pages I’ve read in bed over the course of my lifetime. I’m pretty hearts-in-eyes-swoony over the number I imagine would show up!

Those are just a few of the places I love to read. I couldn’t find the one of me reading on the couch, or out on the patio (reading in the sunshine=sweetness; falling asleep and getting sunburned=AGAIN, KATIE?!), or a bathtub filled with scalding hot water and a nice topper of bubbles or a bath bomb. Oh, or that one great picture I have of me in my car on my lunch break, with the windows down, the sunshine streaming in, my feet up on the dash and a book in my hands. That’s a great picture.

But honestly the thing that makes them great is the book in my hands. That’s all I really need to carve out a “place”!

 

30 Days of #Readathon: Drinks.

September 27, 2017

It’s been a whirlwind kind of week, and I feel like I forgot to tumble out of the floo about six stops ago, but here I am and here we go!

As you might have heard, Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is celebrating 10 years of readathoning excellence, and to get us all worked up to read all night (ha! like we need motivation!), Dewey’s fantastic hosts have decided to launch a “30 Days of Readathon” countdown. Each day has a theme; you get to decide how to tackle each theme. You can post blogs, snap pictures, record videos, host podcasts – hey, who wants to teach me how to Instagram? The point is, the how is up to you. The what is books, obviously. Why? Because you’re wickedly, wonderful insane, just like the way we like!

Today’s topic is drinks. Had I pre-planned a little, I could have gotten a little sloshy last night. In the name of blogging, of course. Alas.

Instead, when I popped my eyes open, wide-awake at 5 a.m. this morning, I used the time to – well, first check the theme and then to plan my attack. I decided to go with my bookish mugs. Look – all patiently waiting to be filled with The Coffees so I can maybe stay awake later.

BookMugs

A few of my favorites are missing – my orange Penguin Pride and Prejudice; my Mischief Managed; my I like BIG BOOKS and I cannot lie mug… But these are still all of my favorites, too. Who can resist Bartleby? I know I would prefer not to. (Sorry. See earlier comment about waking up at 5 a.m. I can’t help myself.) And the Harvard Bookstore mug that warns I am hot and literate? Literal fire.

So! Now it’s your turn! Go forth and show me your frothy bookish drinks. Oof, I did not mean that to sound nearly as dirty as it did…

30 Days of #Readathon: favorite book.

September 21, 2017

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is celebrating 10 years of readathoning excellence this fall. To get the party off to a rip-roading start, Dewey’s fantastic hosts have decided to launch a “30 Days of Readathon” countdown. Each day has a theme; you get to decide how to tackle each theme. You can post blogs, snap pictures, record videos, host podcasts – hell, start an Instagram channel! The how is up to you. The what is books, obviously. Why? Because you’re deliciously insane, just like the rest of us!

Today’s topic is your favorite book. Can you guess mine? The artwork in my bedroom all centers around one book, and today just happens to be the author’s birthday.

DarkTower

30 more days to go…!

Book Reviews: The MeetCutest, A Book NOT about Wolves, and Black Hair Love.

June 15, 2017

Morning, all! Just a few books to talk about this week, because I had some re-reads not worth re-hashing am thiiiiis close to finishing my daytime book and my nighttime book. (You know I have my reading groove back when I’m making excuses for a low number!)

So what do we got? Let’s look!

DimpleWhen Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon (2017, Simon Pulse, 380 pages, ebook). This book is the book to read this summer and believe me when I say Sandhya Menon is the new John Green – YA Whisperer Extraordinaire! I hope she’s half as prolific because I can’t wait to get my hands on her next story…and I just finished her first! The story is about two American teens whose (uh, somewhat) traditionalist Indian parents have arranged for them to be married – if all goes well when they meet. Dimple kicked herself for not realizing why her parents suddenly caved and allowed her to go to computer programming camp, and Rishi just about wants to kill himself for blurting out his intentions to spend the rest of his life with Dimple the second he meets her. Turns out Dimple wasn’t aware of the deal-io. And on it goes. It’s the meet-cutest, even if it does feel annoyingly teenagery at times, and a little heavy-handed on the foreshadowing. It all balances out, though, because Dimple and Rishi click from (almost) the first moment, and its in the funny, laugh-out-loud moments that Menon’s writing really shines. That, and she really knows how to write secondary characters – not a skill you really hear talked about, partly because not a lot of people really know how to excel at it. All in all, it’s wonderful debut novel and I will definitely be following Menon’s career with interest. 3 1/2 of 5 stars. (That cover, though! 5 of 5 stars for cover art!)

HistoryOfWolvesHistory of Wolves, by Emily Fridlund (2017, Grove Atlantic, 288 pages, used hardcover). Trigger warning for sketchy-as-hell student/teacher relationships, and child abuse. In small town Minnesota (the book flap describes it further as being part of the lakes region of Minnesota, but is there part of Minnesota that isn’t the lakes region? Seriously?), Linda/Maddie lives with questionable parents in a hut that is part of a counter-culture left over from her maybe-parents commune days. History was so hard to read because relationships were never clearly defined – between characters, places, causes, nothing! It wasn’t even clear whether this was by design. So I wasn’t sure if Linda’s blurry AF relationship with her parents and miserable home life was responsible for why she kissed her teacher, or was jealous when a fellow student started rumors that she had gone all the way with their history teacher – an awkward man who later fled because they found out he was fired from his last job in California for pedophilia. As that story line was falling apart, Linda is hired by the weirdo neighbors across the lake to babysit for their toddler, Paul. You know from the beginning that something horrible is going to happen to Paulie – and I thought from the teacher story line that it was going to be sexual abuse – but it wasn’t, and the No Good, Terrible, Horrible Thing was a bit of a let down when I finally found out what happened. I mean, it was awful, sure; it just wasn’t the shock it was built up to be. Yeah, this novel was a hot mess, through and through, in need of a much stronger editor. Solid ideas, they just all fell to the earth and fizzled. 2 of 5 stars.

YouCantTouchMyHairYou Can’t Touch my Hair, by Phoebe Robinson (2016, Plume Books, 285 pages, library paperback). This was nominated as a Goodreads Choice for Humor last year, and YOU GUYS! I am both bummed it didn’t win, and horrified it had to go up as humor! Yes, Robinson is a comedian, and yes, she glossed all her essays with humor, but I think that’s all mostly because there isn’t anything close to “I’m Laughing Because It’s All Funny Because It’s So True It Hurts” – in either an awards category or life profession. There were essays about hair and beauty as the title suggests, but also how Robinson is too black to be white, and too white to be black. She’s the post-Soul aesthetic defined, and I LOVE it. I love her! I can’t believe I hadn’t run across so much as her name before. Bottom line: you should all read her book, see her in person if you can, and help me track down any- every- thing else she has done. 4 of 5 stars.

InvisibleLifeOfIvanIsaenkoThe Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko, by Scott Stambach (2016, St. Martin’s Press, 326 pages). Lauded as the next coming of The Fault in Our Stars, I was so excited to sit down and read Ivan! I knew it was going to be sad, but Holy Moses. Ivan is beset by every mean trick the universe could bestow. He was born without both legs, without his right arm, and with only a thumb and the first two fingers on his left hand. He has a connective tissue disorder, making it hard to talk, and leaving his features flat, making him not only hard to look at, but like he’s even more handicapped than he is. Oh, and when another person at Mazyr’s Hospital for Gravely Ill Children (in the Ukraine that cares for 30 children crippled by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster) dares to fall in love with Ivan, SHE DIES TOO. We know this from the first page – a choice that rankled with me every step of the way. I wanted to hold out hope, no matter how foolish. I needed to believe. Without that bit, even with Nurse Natalya who is the only friggin ray of sunshine in a thousand mile radius, everything was so. unflinchingly. bleak. I’ve read a lot of bleak stories, you guys. I can handle a lot. If I have hope. This…it was interesting. I wanted to change the outcome. So even though it was bleak, there was an undeniable intrigue and sneakery and brilliance that crackled throughout and drew me to the story. I couldn’t put it down because of it, and, honestly, it’s what kept me turning page after page. Without it, I’d have ditched. So…I guess brilliance trumps hope. Who knew? 3 of 5 stars.

There you go! What are YOU reading this week? What do I need to add to my shelves this summer?