thenerdreports

reporting all things bookish

Archive for the tag “reading”

Library Loot: January 2 to 8

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky found at The Captive Reader. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

In my post just yesterday, I mentioned that  I would be limiting myself to two library books per visit. Well, dear reader, I have missed that goal completely in my very first visit to the library….but only by one.

Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez has been on my to-read list for quite some time. After a rather complex procedure that involved picking the books off my Goodreads list that most interested me and crosschecking it against availability at my local library, I decided on the Kabul Beauty School.

Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni jumped out at me as I scanned the biographies shelf this evening, so I decided to give it a try.

Trespassers Will be Baptized by Elizabeth Emerson Hancock is the third memoir on the list. This one I found while scanning the shelves in the religion section. My hope is that it is a more an encouraging remembrance of faith with some amusing anecdotes and less a bitter memory of the religion of childhood…but I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

 

Weekend Recap: the one where I am late posting again…

I’ll be honest: I seriously considered writing this post Saturday night so I would remember. But that didn’t happen, and so, I am of course posting it Wednesday instead of Monday. Blogger fail.

Moving on…this past weekend was mostly about rest. I would up heading home early on Friday from work, feeling mostly awful and knowing part of the solution was a good long nap. The nap certainly helped, but I also knew I would need to function a notch down this weekend in order to be ready for Sunday and Monday.

Saturday I didn’t manage to sleep it. It was my great hope to be able to do so, but I woke up at 6:30 amazingly ready for the day. After sending out some emails, reading, and a few cups of coffee, I headed down for brunch at my favorite french patissere. Why would a gluten free girl enter a french patissere? Well, they have some pretty amazing coffee…and gluten free crepes. There is no concern of cross contamination with the crepes because all of their crepes are gluten free. So I had my favorite crepe filled with Banana Nutella with an iced decaf coffee. It was lovely to sit and read and enjoy a breakfast that I did not prepare…a rather rare treat.

After breakfast I went to the library. It seems like every time I am in the library lately I am in a hurry, and need to get in and drop off books, grab my reserve items, and head out. There has been very little time for browsing or just appreciating the quiet and cool of the library. This changed on Saturday, when I opted to just wonder. I looked through the new books, I browsed the biographies, and I picked out a few movies. It was lovely and quiet and relaxed, and I spent the afternoon reading.

Sunday was busier to start, but not the usual full tilt of meetings. J. is in town visiting, and Sunday was one of the days we were slated to hang out. After a mad dash of muffin baking, printing very necessary paperwork, and preparing to head out the door, J. and caught up for breakfast before heading to church. After church, there was sushi, a bit of time to just chill, and then dinner prep and baking. When J. lived in the area, we would spend Sunday afternoons cooking lunches for the week, and it was fun to momentarily re-establish our old routine, especially in my spacious kitchen.

Overall the weekend was relaxing and enjoyable…which made it much easier when I came to Monday morning. 🙂

Austen in August Announcement

Having finally completed Anna Karenina, albeit just a bit late, I have decided in August to participate in the Austen in August Reading Event, hosted by Roof Beam Reader. After failing to make my last three Anna Karenina posts in a timely way, you’d think I would back off from participating in reading events for a bit, but I saw this one and I just couldn’t resist. The good news is that its a fairly loose structure, and I think I can manage at least two Jane Austen novels, even if August is incredibly busy.

According to the Roof Beam Reader,

“…the goal is to read as many of Jane Austen’s novels as you want/are able, during the month of August.  Biographies and re-reads also count. “

So, I’m in for the following books:

Emma (this one is on my Summer Reading Challenge list…that’s right…bonus)

Sense and Sensibility

A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz

Possibly Northanger Abbey

If you are interested in joining the reading event, head over to Roof Beam Reader to sign up.

Reading everywhere

I almost always have a book on me. If I am carrying my backpack, I am pretty confident I have several. And I find I read everywhere. At the bus stop, in the doctor’s office, on my lunch break, waiting to pick up a friend, on the train headed into the city, and of course, while waiting for and while on the NYC subway system.

The Underground New York Public Library is an amazingly fun blog that captures images of people reading on the subway. The pictures capture and share images that are common and uncommon at the same time, and to those of us who read, whether we live in New York or elsewhere, understand the sentiment because we often read everywhere.

 

Weekend Recap: Reading, writing, & resurrecting baking

Friday afternoon turned out to be a bit on the rainy, cold, and slightly yucky side, but that actually worked in my favor. After finishing up some errands  I went home, plopped my laptop on the dining room table, made a pot of tea, and then spent much of the afternoon sending out emails, working with an online survey, and finishing up the remains of a lesson plan for Sunday. After I finished my work for the afternoon, I headed down to the french patisserie downtown and met a friend for coffee.

Saturday was again quiet. I did the normal practical things that are part of a weekend- a bit of cleaning and some laundry, but I spent alot of my day just reading. I wasn’t feeling well, and although it was absolutely beautiful outside, I was reluctant to go out to run errands. Since it was one of the rare occasions when my schedule was blank AND the house was empty, I opted to take a nap on the living room couch, and I found afterwords I felt a ton better.

I felt good enough, in fact, to attempt baking. Now, for a little practical background, you should know that I LOVE to bake. Or I did, until this past September when I was diagnosed with Celiac disease (an inherited autoimmune disease in which eating gluten causes an immune system reaction in the small intestine). When baking became complicated, if not seemingly impossible because of my inability to consume wheat and later, corn, I quit baking.

My family and friends, not completely content with the fact that I’ve just given up have been trying to encourage me to get back into it. And honestly, I miss it. I miss having fresh baked muffins on Sunday morning, and creating something new for dessert when friends are coming for dinner. I miss Christmas baking, and looking for random cookie recipes to try. I miss knowing that I can turn the bananas going bad in the kitchen into banana bread.

So this weekend, armed with a peanut butter cookie recipe containing only three ingredients – peanut butter, sugar, and an egg, I gave baking another shot for the first time in awhile. And I loved it.

The cookies were good, although incredibly rich. And while they may not be my biggest victory, they are certainly an important start on my journey back to baking.

 

Mailbox Madness

With my new membership on Paperbackswap.com and two recent purchases on Amazon (something that is incredibly rare for me these days) I have found myself with a mailbox full of books which is, in my humble opinion, a happy problem. (Although I am not sure my roommates would agree, considering the incredibly large pile of books in our living room that are waiting for me to finish re-constructing my bookcase.)

In any case, I’ve had quite a few books come my way recently, and I thought I’d share. Here’s the madness:

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

from Paperbackswap.com

I don’t remember exactly how I discovered Lisa See…but I think it was the suggestion of Shanghai Girls on Amazon that I subsequently purchased and then inhaled before buying the sequel Dreams of Joy. See is a fantastic writer, and reading those two made me want to work through a few more  all of her novels.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

from Paperbackswap.com

I honestly can’t explain my recent obsession with the Lost Generation writers. Maybe its my viewing of Midnight in Paris and the sheer number of literary references I missed. Maybe its my recent brush with World War I literature, and my interest in the way it subsequently shaped the thinking of those impacted by it. Either way, I found myself ordering a few of Hemingway’s novels, and that first that arrived was A Farewell to Arms. I also received a copy of The Sun Also Rises last week.

          Inescapable by Nancy Mehl

from Amazon.com

I read a review of Inescapable over at www.5minutesforbooks.com and found myself curious, however, it was not available at my local library, nor coming soon, so I took a risk and ordered a copy. The premise is interesting: the story is about Lizze Engel and her daughter Charity who return to Lizzie’s hometown of Kingdom after losing her job, hoping to escape a man stalking her. What awaits her in Kingdom is her incredibly strict father, an Old Order Mennonite resistant to change, and a flood of memories. In spite of Kingdom’s off the map status, Lizzie’s stalker manages to track her down.

I must confess: as soon I opened this one I knew I would end up reading it immediately, casting aside the six other books I am reading…and I did. So far, I feel sadly disappointed though. I am about a third of the way through, and it has not been nearly as gripping as I had hoped. I will continue on, however, and let you know what I think.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

from Paperbackswap.com

In case you didn’t believe me about my obsession with writers from the Lost Generation, I present to you further evidence in the form of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I would be a little bit of a liar, however, if I didn’t admit that part of my reason for reading The Great Gatesby which I somehow managed to avoid all the way through middle school and clear through high school, is in anticipation of the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.  I am curious to see how it would be adapted on screen.

The Elusive Mr. McCoy by Brenda Baker

from Amazon.com

This is another book I just couldn’t help but purchase after I found out it would not be at my local library any time soon. I was fascinated by the double life presented, and by the idea that the “offender” as Jennifer from 5 Minutes for Books refers to him, is decidedly absent from the story as it focuses on his families. I am looking forward to reading and reviewing this one.

As always, I have so much to read and so little time. 🙂

Blogging: Changing the Way I Read

I must confess, before I started The Nerd Reports blog, I wasn’t necessarily an avid blog reader. My only exceptions were a few cooking blogs I was completely addicted to, and the blogs of close friends. I would collect a bunch of posts to read and sit there with my coffee catching up on blog posts. But I never read book review blogs.

Often, if I wanted an opinion on a book, I would try Amazon comments, or more likely, the New York Times Sunday Reviews. Both have yielded some great books, but also some complete duds. It never even occurred to me that book review blog existed until I did a bit of research because I wanted to start one myself.

These days I actively read about 10 book review blogs. Why the change?

Honestly, because I’ve enjoyed finding a community of readers. I like to see what other people’s take is on the classics. I like the straightforward reviews from real, down- to- earth people. Its inspired me to tackle books that felt daunting, like Anna Karenina, and read new ones, like Arranged. Everyday I get new book recommendations from people who live all over the world, and I have a place to dialog about them. There is community across the miles as we all work through a chunky book together, or as we peruse the new releases, or as we talk about the new loot from a library visit.

And I find that because I get so excited about reading new things, I want to talk about them. I want to comment on others blogs, I want them to comment on mine, and I want to review books.

It’s fun to realize that blogging and blog reading has transformed the way I read.

Ode to a Library (or the value of not owning every book you read)

I always admire pictures of these massive in-home libraries that I come across on pinterest. Visions of first editions and beautiful rows of leather bound books dance in my head as I gaze longingly at the photos. But alas, my reality check comes as my eyes settled on my own home library- a strange collection of paperbacks acquired from library book sales, used from half.com, and friends stacked haphazardly at best on mismatched Ikea bookshelves. While I would like the custom built-ins chock full of beautiful first editions, who would dust them, and really, would I read them or just admire how pretty they are?

I am also realizing as time passes that there is value in not owning every single book I read- collecting more intentionally instead of so haphazardly. Some of it is simply a matter of practicality- if I am being honest, I cannot afford to purchase every book which I desire to read. But even if I could afford them all, would I want them all? Not every book I read is a home run for me. I find at times I will get half way through a book and need to quit reading for varying reasons. Then I am left with a book taking up valuable space on my shelves that I have no intention of finishing which I don’t want to pawn off on someone else for fear they will think I actually recommend it. Thus, the incredible value of the public library.

When I think it through a little, I realize that it is easier and much less expensive to be a faithful patron of the local public library, where I can pick up a book, get a half –way through it, and simply return it and be on my merry way without thought of my own shelf space. I can read a wide variety of books from all genres, and really, there are endless choices. I even have the ability to request a book from another library if my library doesn’t have it.

Yes, at times I have to wait for a best seller. And yes, the book I will read will have been through the hands of many by the time it reaches me, but for two weeks, it is mine to read and enjoy and interact with before I deposit it back at the local library, and I am finding that that is enough.

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