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52 Books: An Update from 3 Months In

5 Apr

Okay, I will admit it: this sh*t is hard, yo! Turns out that reading a book a week can be tougher than I imagined, what with trying to maintain a 40+ hour a week job, commuting to said job, spending the odd moment with my husband, family and friends so that they don’t thing I’ve become a total book hermit, sleeping, eating, shopping for “fat” pants and all the other things that cut into my reading time.

(P.S. I think there is a definite correlation between increased reading time and my increased waistband. Enough said.)

Here’s where I stand on this day, Saturday, April 5, 2014:

my april book tally

my april book tally

It’s actually not too bad: only 2 books behind (which I still can’t believe – really?? I’m behind 2 books?? How the hell did this happen??), and I’ve read some really amazing stuff.  Continue reading


Endorsement Monday: Cozy Classics Does “Pride & Prejudice”

29 Jan

I have a quick endorsement for this Monday, January 28th: the super adorable series of kids’ books by Cozy Classics.

I first discovered them in the pages of Poets & Writers Magazine, another thing I wholeheartedly endorse, though my success ratio of read to unread magazines is quite low (I can never keep up! I suspect you suffer from the same problem – so many good, interesting things to read and not enough time (and too much television getting in the way) to read them).

But back to the Cozys:

wooly miss elizabeth bennett

wooly miss elizabeth bennett

Is this or is this not the coolest thing you’ve seen today? (No fair answering if you are A) not a book fan or B) not a Jane Austen fan. This post is not for you. Go look at some food porn.)

It’s hard to describe, but basically these two brothers (the Brothers Wang – Jack and Holman…they’re Chinese Canadian) decided to reinterpret the classics like Pride & Prejudice and Moby Dick, but this time for babies and toddlers. They hand make needle felted representations of the main characters and photograph them on tiny sets/scenes that they also create. These sets/scenes  tell the story of the whole book in about 12 words.

seriously, how can you resist this whale?

seriously, how can you resist this whale?

I know, I suck at explaining, but trust me, this is the coolest thing for babies of geek friends since iPhones were created. I’m stocking up for all the baby showers I’ll ever be invited to. I might cuddle up with a Cozy or two myself.

My 101 Things: 5% Done, 95% to Go

24 Jul

Woohoo! There is money in the Money Pot, ladies (and gentlemen).

the Money (Tea) Pot

As part of my 101 Things in 1,001 Days challenge, I pledged to put away $5 for every Thing I completed. We’re now up to a whopping $30 USD, thank you very much, for crossing off such great challenges as:

– Getting a library card (hello, Alamitos Library!)

– Setting up an emergency fund (hello, Istanbul – I am nothing if not single-minded)

– Revising 10 poems

I’m actually super delighted by this last one. As part of my unending list of neuroses, you may remember that I freaked out on Google Docs (or Google Drive, or whatever new madness those wacky Googleites are concocting next) a month or so back, when I couldn’t print any of my poems from my account. Instead of going back to the manual typewriter, as I sometimes dream about (god, remember that beautiful click-clacking of the keys, the jingle bell satisfaction of the return lever), I settled on the next big thing: retyping all my  manuscript poems as good, old-fashioned, single-computer accessible Word documents.  Continue reading

Bookstore Daydreams: It’s All About Location, Location, Location

17 Jul

As you probably know, my current Big Picture fantasy is to someday open my own bookstore. It’s on my 101 Things list, and it’s my mental Happy Place when work or family or The Boy is driving me nuts. I picture walking past the shelves of books, the comfy seating areas, the big display tables laden with books I love. I think about the things I’ll do to make reading exciting to others. If you’re talking to me and I seem out of it, that’s where I am, in my Bookstore Daydreams.

I’ve started, barely, to look into what it would take to make this a reality, and it is daunting, amazing really, how actual people, not corporations or franchises or conglomerates, become business owners. There is so much to do and learn and plan for, so much money to be saved up or gotten (somehow), so many things to think about.

I know I’m not anywhere near the stage of starting a small business. As someone who wants to open a brick-and-mortar store, not just sell my wares on the Interwebs, I know there are a lot of hurdles to jump, messy seas to navigate.

Which is why I like to dream. One of the things I like to imagine is where this Bookstore Daydream might someday live, in the real world of Long Beach, CA. So you won’t believe what I found the other week as I was out on one of my long perambulations around my neighborhood. Continue reading

Look what the mailman brought me!

27 Jan



My next batch of reading materials:

John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead

Dana Spiotta’s Stone Arabia

Aracelis Girmay’s Teeth

Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son

A couple of these (Stone Arabia and Pulphead) are nominated for this year’s National Book Critics Circle Award. The reading is this March, to which I will happily drag CityBoy and afterwards enjoy a delicious dinner at Da Andrea (if I get my druthers).

Aracelis Girmay’s second book, Kingdom Animalia, is also nominated, and it turns out she’s a Santa Ana girl, just like me, which makes me positively proud and green with envy. If this first book is as good as I’ve heard, she can count on another purchase at the awards reading.

And who doesn’t want to read more about wacky North Korea? Since I can’t stand non-fiction or the news (most of the time), I get all my historical information from novels. I know, not always the most accurate, but infinitely more interesting. So I’m counting on Adam Johnson to enlighten me.

To the page, people!

Book Culture: Where to Find It in NYC

18 Jan

I’m routinely asked how I like living in New York City. If it’s by a New Yorker, this is usually phrased as “Don’t you love it here? I mean, I love it. I could never live anywhere else. Could you imagine? God!” or something to that effect. I think this billboard sums up this attitude best:


And while I have loved parts of the city, especially the (often) perfect months of May and October, those parts haven’t added up to enough to allow me to respond with a resounding “Yeah, I love it. It’s amazing.”

My commute crosstown to work each morning  is enough to make any sane non-New Yorker break out in a machine-gun-toting killing spree. Especially in the winter, when it’s 20 degrees out (okay, quiet already, you Midwesterners, I know it could be colder but you have to remember I grew up in Southern California and my peoples are a tropical peoples), and the wind makes that feel like 12 degrees, and you’ve taken great care in dressing so as to not allow one chink in your cold-fighting layers only to have something ride up or ride down, usually where you just can’t reach, and winter’s icy fingers jab you right in the back or hairline or across your presumably boot-bundled toes.

Sorry, I digress. But one of the main things that always, always delights me about New York is the plethora of art/culture offerings, especially for someone like me who is obsessed with the written word. There are book readings, discussions, panels, festivals, award ceremonies, performances – all highlighting that great and magical thing.

Continue reading

Literary Happenings: Colson Whitehead at McNally Jackson 10/20/2011

24 Oct

I love attending a reading at McNally Jackson in SoHo. It’s clean and bright and staffed by loads of smart young things, and they make a mean currant scone (although this time I had to branch out and try a cheddar cheese and chive scone, since they were all out of my fave – hallelujah! new fave!). I always overspend when I’m there, since I feel like my hard-earned dollars are going to a good cause (and I get a bright, shiny book or two or three out of the bargain).

McJ's gorgeous storefront

I’m not sure how they do it, something to do with Sarah McNally  having worked in publishing and it being the It Bookstore of NYC that is not a Barnes and Noble, but they always have the top writers reading from the top books the Internet is all aTwitter over. Continue reading