Book Review: A Walk in the Woods

Author: Bill Bryson
Published: 1997
Genre: Travel Memoir
FLW Rating: 3/5

First things first: I’m currently participating in the Unread Shelf Project 2018, hosted by Whitney at @theunreadshelf. This post reflects on the June Challenge, but you can look back at all the posts here


The June Challenge for the Unread Shelf Project was to read a book about TRAVEL. I’m not usually a travel memoir person, but I do want to stick with this challenge and I did have one travel-y book on my unread shelf, so I  decided to read A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.

A Walk in the Woods is about Bryson’s experience on the Appalatian Trail. He sets off without much knowledge of the trail or of backpacking, but decides to give it a go. What follows is the comical story of his mishaps and misadventures, but also a well written history of the trail. Like his other books, this book is packed with classic Bryson wit and humor which makes for an entertaining journey!

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Two things went wrong for me in this book (both of which are unrelated to the book)…  The first is that the day I started listening to it (I used my Scribd app for this), I met someone who had hiked the trail. I told him I was listening to the book and he spoiled two major components for me. I didn’t think a book like this could be spoiled, but trust me it can.

The second is that it was deleted from the Scribd app while I was listening to it. No bueno. You may be thinking, “but this is the unread shelf project, so you own the book – no big deal!” But I ended up not finishing this book because of it. I just never felt like sitting down to finish it because switching mediums felt discouraing to me.

REVIEW TIME:

My favorite part about this book were the historical components. I noticed particularly during this book that any passage that was strictly factual, I LOVED. Bryson has an amazing way of telling a story, or creating a story out of facts. That section about the National Forest Service – amazing! Hearing about the town in Pennsylvania that’s had a fire burning under it for several decades now – fascinating! But hearing about the daily life of him walking on the Trail and finding food to eat – not for me. It just lacked originality or excitement, particularly compared to the more historical/political/scientific parts.

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Just a photo of my boyfriend enjoying the outdoors – taken by me, also enjoying the outdoors

Despite these laments, I have loved some Bryson books in the past, so I wanted to share those here. My absolute favorite is At Home – he tells the history of each room in the house dating back from when most people lived in single room halls. Even the development of a hallway was monumental! And book people will enjoy that there’s a chapter on libraries and he tells the story of Thomas Jefferson and Monticello. So good!

Others I’ve enjoyed are In a Sunburned Country, A Short History of Nearly Everything, and my boyfriend’s favorite (which I have not read) One Summer: America 1927.

Have you read this — or anything else by Bill Bryson? Let me know what you thought!

 

Road Trip Across America with These Great Books

Last summer my boyfriend and I road tripped across the US as we moved ourselves and our stuff from New York City to San Diego. Going in to the trip, I wanted to read books about places we were traveling to, but, unfortunately, life got in the way. Over the past year I’ve discovered several books about places we traveled through and I wanted to share them! Since the 4th of July is all about Sea to Shining Sea (and is shockingly coming up next week), I thought now would be a great time to share this list with you.

Road Trip

New York City

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

As someone who lived in New York in their early twenties, I absolutely loved this book! When people ask me if they should read it, my response is always “Do you love New York?” because if you don’t this book is not right for you. Sweetbitter is very New York-y but also a great coming of age novel full of amazing passages. I read this one on my kindle and highlighted so many paragraphs full of beautiful prose. This is the only fiction on this list – I thought it would be best to start with something light!

Synopsis from Goodreads: Newly arrived in New York City, twenty-two-year-old Tess lands a job as a “backwaiter” at a celebrated downtown Manhattan restaurant. What follows is the story of her education: in champagne and cocaine, love and lust, dive bars and fine dining rooms, as she learns to navigate the chaotic, enchanting, punishing life she has chosen. As her appetites awaken—for food and wine, but also for knowledge, experience, and belonging—Tess finds herself helplessly drawn into a darkly alluring love triangle. In Sweetbitter, Stephanie Danler deftly conjures with heart-stopping accuracy the nonstop and high-adrenaline world of the restaurant industry and evokes the infinite possibilities, the unbearable beauty, and the fragility and brutality of being young in New York.

Pittsburgh, PA

Playing Through the Whistle by S.L. Price

If there’s one thing I want you to know about Pittsburgh, as a native Pittsburgher, it’s how much we love our football team. While the Steelers are the life of the city, our football culture actually starts much younger — particularly in the neighborhood of Aliquippa. Playing Through the Whistle is a book about that team and sheds light on a lot of Pittsburgh history!

Synopsis from Goodreads: In the early twentieth century, down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh, the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company built one of the largest mills in the world and a town to go with it. Aliquippa was a beacon and a melting pot, pulling in thousands of families from Europe and the Jim Crow south. The J&L mill, though dirty and dangerous, offered a chance at a better life. It produced the steel that built American cities and won World War II and even became something of a workers’ paradise. But then, in the 1980’s, the steel industry cratered. The mill closed. Crime rose and crack hit big.

But another industry grew in Aliquippa. The town didn’t just make steel; it made elite football players, from Mike Ditka to Ty Law to Darrelle Revis. Pro football was born in Western Pennsylvania, and few places churned out talent like Aliquippa. Despite its troubles—maybe even because of them—Aliquippa became legendary for producing football greatness. A masterpiece of narrative journalism, Playing Through the Whistletells the remarkable story of Aliquippa and through it, the larger history of American industry, sports, and life. Like football, it will make you marvel, wince, cry, and cheer.

Oklahoma City

Boomtown by Sam Anderson

OK, I admit it, Oklahoma City is not directly on the route. When we drove this route, we cut through Kansas City, but I don’t have any books on Kansas City, so I’m going to ask you to take a slight detour on this trip!

Boomtown is the FANTASTICAL SAGA of Oklahoma City. The subtitle highlights “its chaotic founding, its purloined basketball team, and the dream of becoming a world-class metropolis. What more do you need? (This one is out 8/21 from Crown Publishing)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Anderson reports on the amazing revitalization that has occurred over the course of the last 20 years, starting with Oklahoma City’s adoption of the MAPS program; he’ll show how the city’s colorful leaders–its mayor, police chief, and  a few local celebrities–have built up an unassuming city into a thriving urban center, full of artists, musicians, and, of course, sports fans. Anderson will track the dramatic story of how a consortium of business leaders purchased the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics, brought it to Oklahoma City, and renamed the team the Thunder. Sam Presti, the charismatic young GM of the Thunder, has turned the team–which includes Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook–from scrappy underdogs to elite champions in less than five years.

Boulder, Colorado

Where the Water Goes by David Owen

Little known (or maybe this is just me) fact: The Colorado River starts in Boulder, CO. On our trip we spent a day in Boulder, a couple days in Denver, and then continued through western Colorado where the I-70 took us across the Colorado river multiple times.

Where the Water Goes was hands down one of my favorite books of 2017 and a book I reference frequently in daily life in Southern California. There is so much to learn about the way the Colorado River’s water is utilized and how it affects so many facets of society. Owen does a great job highlighting the politics – between the farmers and the city dwellers, between Arizona and California, and between the US and Canada – and also the natural side of taming the waters. I enjoyed this book from start to finish and have such a better understanding of the environment from Colorado to California!

Synopsis from Goodreads: The Colorado River is a crucial resource for a surprisingly large part of the United States, and every gallon that flows down it is owned or claimed by someone. David Owen traces all that water from the Colorado’s headwaters to its parched terminus, once a verdant wetland but now a million-acre desert. He takes readers on an adventure downriver, along a labyrinth of waterways, reservoirs, power plants, farms, fracking sites, ghost towns, and RV parks, to the spot near the U.S.–Mexico border where the river runs dry. 

Water problems in the western United States can seem tantalizingly easy to solve: just turn off the fountains at the Bellagio, stop selling hay to China, ban golf, cut down the almond trees, and kill all the lawyers. But a closer look reveals a vast man-made ecosystem that is far more complex and more interesting than the headlines let on.

The Hoover Dam

The Profiteers by Sally Denton

While we’re on the topic of the Colorado River, why not make a stop at the Hoover Dam? The Hoover Dam is still one of the largest infrastructure projects in US History and while I may have picked this book up for the engineering aspect, I ended up learning so much about international relations. In my humble opinion, this book is a must read for all Americans.

Synopsis from Goodreads: The tale of the Bechtel family dynasty is a classic American business story. It begins with Warren A. “Dad” Bechtel, who led a consortium that constructed the Hoover Dam. From that auspicious start, the family and its eponymous company would go on to “build the world,” from the construction of airports in Hong Kong and Doha, to pipelines and tunnels in Alaska and Europe, to mining and energy operations around the globe.

Today Bechtel is one of the largest privately held corporations in the world, enriched and empowered by a long history of government contracts and the privatization of public works, made possible by an unprecedented revolving door between its San Francisco headquarters and Washington. Bechtel executives John McCone, Caspar Weinberger, and George P. Shultz segued from leadership at the company to positions as Director of the CIA, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of State, respectively.

 Los Angeles

The Mirage Factory by Gary Krist

YOU MADE IT! The Pacific Ocean! Your sentiment is not unlike that of the early pioneers reaching Los Angeles for the first time 🙂 … which leads us to our last book, The Mirage Factory. This book tells the history of LA, predominantly from 1900 – 1920, by following the three pioneers who shaped LA in to what is today. Mulholland brought water to LA through a series of viaducts, Griffith brought the movie industry, and Aimee Semple McPherson brought the missionaries and created the identity of LA as a “spiritual” city. There is so much to learn here and amazing that it all happened in the same few decades! This book is a must if you’ve ever spent some time in LA — or even just dreamed of it!

Synopsis from Goodreads: Little more than a century ago, the southern coast of California was sleepy desert farmland. Then from it, nearly overnight, emerged one of the world’s largest and most iconic cities. The birth and evolution of Los Angeles–its seemingly impossible, meteoric rise–can be attributed largely to three ingenious but deeply flawed people. D.W. Griffith, the early film pioneer who first conceived of feature-length movies, gave Hollywood its industry. Aimee Semple McPherson, a young evangelist and radio preacher, infused the city with its spiritual identity as a hub for reinvention. And William Mulholland, an Irish immigrant turned ditch-digger turned autodidactic engineer, would design the massive aqueduct that made survival in the harsh climate feasible.

But while Mulholland, Griffith, and Semple McPherson were all masters of their craft, each would self-destruct in spectacular fashion. D.W. Griffith, led by his ballooning ego, would go on to produce a string of commercial failures; Semple McPherson would be crucified in the tabloids for fabricating an account of her own kidnapping; and a dam designed by Mulholland would fail just hours after he gave it a safety inspection.

Spanning from 1904 to 1930, The Mirage Factory is the enthralling tale of an improbable city and the people who willed it into existence by pushing the limits of human engineering and peddling fantasies.

 I hope you liked this trip across the US! And for my US readers, enjoy the holiday next week!

My Top 4 Favorite Authors

This past week I was in a conversation with my boyfriend and Tana French came up. To emphasize my love for her books, I made the claim that she was in my top 5 favorite authors — and then felt the need to justify that with a formal list. By the time I was done listing favorite authors I only had 4!

Here’s the criteria: I must have read more than one book by the author, and must have recommended them to everyone I know. I have a ton of favorite authors of whom I’ve only read one book, but that didn’t seem fair.

 

Tana French

Of course this list had to start with Tana French. Tana French is my true favorite author — she’s the author who got me back in to reading after my high school and college slump, probably, honestly, the only author I read during college! A few years ago when that “send one book, recieve thirty-six” book chain was going around, In The Woods was the book I chose to send to my recipient — it’s just that good that I had to share!

Tana French is the author of the Dublin Murder Series. What I love so much about her books is how she focuses so much of the plot on the character development of both those involved in the crime and also the detectives. They are truly engrossing mysteries!

Start with: In the Woods

David Sedaris

David Sedaris is a true comic. His books crack me up without fail. Besides that he’s a reliably funny voice when he’s on the podcast, This American Life, and his shows make for a great night out — or even weekend away. David Sedaris is one of my favorite authors, one of the first things my boyfriend and I ever bonded over, and the inspiration for one of our best weekends away – we went to Poughkeepsie to see his show! I recently purchased his latest book, Calypso, and I can’t wait to read it!

Start with: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls or Naked or Me Talk Pretty One Day (there’s no order!)

Fredrik Backman

Fredrik Backman is another author who has come in to my life in many forms. I first was introduced to him through a random Goodreads recommendation — I cannot tell you how strange that is for me. But it worked!

At any rate, I told my boyfriend about it and when I got home from work that day, a copy of it was on my bed! I LOVED it so much and it became my favorite book. A few months later, we spent a date night at a boutique theatre in New York City watching the Swedish version of the movie based on the book.

I thought I couldn’t love the book or the author any more, but then I bought his short story The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and lovingly cried through the whole thing. Recently, I made my way through Beartown and it’s sequel, Us Against You, and attended the book tour when Backman visited San Diego yesterday. To say I’m a fan is an understatement!

Start with: Beartown

Erik Larson

Rounding out the book genres, my absolute favorite nonfiction author is Erik Larson. My favorite book of his is Dead Wake, which came out back in 2015. 2015 was really the first year I got back in to reading, so diving in to this book was such a treat. I couldn’t believe how readable and detailed it was for a nonfiction of events occurring 100 years ago. I discovered Erik Larson back in highschool when his Devil in a White City and have been singing his praises since. While I didn’t enjoy In the Garden of Beasts quite as much as the other two, I’m looking forward to reading more of his books in the future!

Start with: Dead Wake

Do you have any favorite authors you’d recommend? Let me know!

Book Review: Ghosted

Author: Rosie Walsh
Published: July 24, 2018
Publisher: Viking Books
Genre: Mystery
FLW Rating: 4.5/5

“WHAAAAT” – me at the first of oh so many twists in this book. Have you ever been so shocked you literally have to read outloud for a few lines to make sure you’re reading it right? That was me when reading Ghosted, a debut novel by Rosie Walsh coming out next month.

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Ghosted is a mystery told primarily from the perspective of Sarah, an almost-40 year old, who lives in LA but is home in England for her annual trip back. Sarah spends the month on June in England every year, and this year she meets a man named Eddie, who sweeps her off her feet as they fall in love over the course of six days. When he never calls her back, her friends tell her to move on, but she knows she can’t. And so begins her search for answers.

I must admit – when I read the title I was skeptical, and as I started to read the book, I remained skeptical. Is this just a stupid novel about a guy who won’t call and a girl who needs to get over it? Or a murder mystery taking advantage of the new millenial phrase “ghosted” as a catchy title to a book? I prepared myself to be unimpressed. But as the book went on, I found it harder and harder to put the book down. It was so thoroughly enjoyable to read and satisfyingly unpredictable that I turned the pages quickly and finished it in just about 24 hours.

What I enjoyed the most was the twist – I won’t say too much more but it was a twist that stopped me in my tracks. I reread a few sentences out loud. I stopped to reconsider all the pages I had already read and what this would mean for them. And then I continued ahead anxiously needing to know more. I’m not sure if the formatting will be the same in the finished copy, but in the review copy “the twist” came at the first line when you turned a page. My eyes tend to wander around the page if I’m expecting a big revelation and the location of the twist on the page was so perfect for dramatic effect. A+ to whoever’s role that was!

As far as mysteries go, this one is standalone to me. It doesn’t follow the trajectory of all the Gone Girl, Girl on a Train, Emma in the Night style books that have been so popular recently. If I had to compare it, I’d put it closer to a Liane Moiarty style mystery, but I truly think it’s in its own category.

I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a fun summer mystery so feel free to preorder it for its release next month!

Book Review: Spying on Whales

Author: Nick Pyenson
Published: June 26, 2018
Genre: Nonfiction – Science
FLW Rating: 5/5

[Thanks to Viking Books for the free review copy!]

This book was truly everything I wanted it to be. Since it’s so up my alley, I set my expectations high and was so nervous to be let down. I’m here to tell you this book is immensely readable with equal amounts of technical knowledge and layman terms, something I always worry about with a sciencey-nonfiction.

Spying on Whales is a book about the past, present, and future of whales, but also about what it’s like to be a paleontologist studying whale fossils. Pysenson does a great job building the intrigue of whales, even for someone like me who is already a serious whale lover. He reminds the reader of how little we know about whales and how elusive whales really are. As the largest animal on earth that never stays in one place and never goes on land, they are incredibly difficult to study and scientists are still actively discovering new things about them.

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Besides learning about whales, I loved the tone of this book in relation to science, being a scientist, and the future of the planet.

Pyenson demostrates through his own actions and his writing how much there is to learn in the world of science. This is a personal comment of mine, but growing up I never wanted to go in to science because through the way things were presented to me in school, it felt like the whole world was already figured out. (I went in to engineering so that I could put science in to action, so I didn’t stray too far, but I’ve always felt like I was duped in school!) I love how the writing style of this book encourages curiosity in the reader. I feel like that’s how science should be viewed at all ages!

In terms of being a scientist, Pyenson references funding a couple times and I totally understand that that is a huge part of being a scientist, but he never dwells on the struggles of the lack of funding. (If you’re interested in that check out Lab Girl by Hope Jahren) I loved that he stuck to his research topics and didn’t dwell too much on personal hardship, especially since the book wasn’t pictched as a memoir.

And finally, I loved that Pyenson’s view on global warming wasn’t super apocolyptic. I really thought that that was where the “future” section would go, considering whales live in our warming oceans. I enjoyed how Pyenson acknowledged climate change while also not making the book about that.

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Overall, I learned so much from this book and had my already great interest in whales renewed! I’ll also note that this book is only about 230 pages, so easily readable in a few long sittings (I read the first section while on an airplane and it was great airplane reading!). An overly long nonfiction can quickly turn something fascinating to something that will never end – so I appreciated the concise nature of this book!

5 Stars to Pyenson and this great book – walk, don’t run to get it when it comes out next Tuesday — and then take yourself on a whale watching tour! 🙂

Book Review: The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

Author: Cherise Wolas
Published: August 29, 2017
Genre: Literary Fiction
FLW Rating: 3.5/5

I have been hearing praise about this book non-stop for the last year – yes since before it was released. One of my favorite book bloggers sang its praises and made me extremely curious, but with a length of over 500 pages I wasn’t willing to commit.

After all the build up, I’m a little bummed to say that in regards to my feelings on the book, I’m conflicted.  It 100% met the hype with its thoughtfulness, diverse plotline, and prose, but there the structure and formatting felt jumpy and forced me to feel distracted and disinterested.

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The Resurrection of Joan Ashby tells the story of, you guessed it, Joan Ashby, or Ashby as she prefers to be called. By the time Ashby is 21, she has already had two best sellers and is known around the world for her short story collections. She has plans to write indefinitely and not be distracted by love, marriage, or children, until exactly that happens. But this isn’t a story of someone who falls in to the sociatel norm of loving that path – this is the story of a someone struggling with their loss of identity — hence the preference to be called Ashby.

As I reflect on this story, it strikes me how much I connected with Ashby and care about the life that I was able to enter in to, if only for a short time. I am someone who wants children one day, but this story highlighted how “normal” that is, and how that normalization would be hard for someone who does not. And that’s why I think this book is so important. It does what it can to legitimize Ashby’s emotions in a world that doesn’t understand.

Is motherhood inescapably entwined in female life, a story every woman ends up telling, whether or not she sought or desired that bond; her nourishment, her caretaking, her love, needed by someone standing before her, hands held out, heart demanding succor, commanding her not to look away, but to dig deep, give of herself unstintingly, offer up everything she can?

So with such a strong connection to the plot and the characters, I felt frustrated to feel disinterested for most of the middle section of the book. The bottom line for me is that the writing format did not flow the way it needs to in such a long book. The book is primarily written as a typical novel, but it begins with a magazine or newspaper article about Ashby and her successes, then intermittantly throughout the book her work is inserted in to the novel, and in the middle of the book there is a long sections in the format of “recordings”. While it was interesting to have a book-within-a-book, it took my brain a long time to transition in and out of these sections. This may be a personal preference, but particularly when the book is long, I find it important to get in the groove of the author’s writing and be able to read easily. 530 pages of struggling in and out of unexpected formatting and a variety of stories was tiring.

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If you remove the exerpts from Ashby’s writings and the some of the other oddly formatted sections, I think the book could get down to a very hard hitting 350 pages. I would read this book and recommend it to everyone I know. At 530, it’s too long, too jumpy, and although I kind of hate to admit it, still pretty good by the time it’s all said and done.

Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments.

Scribd Unlimited – Real Talk

It’s no secret I’ve been singing Scribd‘s praises for the last three months – so I want to talk now about the downfalls – the glitches, the frustrations, the WHYS, everything.

To be clear – I still think Scribd is a fantastic value. For $8.99 per month you can have unlimited audiobooks at your fingertips – on and offline. With select new releases available on pub day. To say I’m always impressed to see that so many highly publicized and new books are available is an understatement – I literally thank my lucky stars that I don’t need to purchase, pine over, or library-hold-wait for a chance to read these wonderful books.

However, I’ve noticed some serious pitfalls that I want to highlight if you’re starting to fall for all of my praise. Also I’m not a programmer, but I don’t think these things would be too hard to achieve. Just saying… 🙂

There’s no way to tell how much time if left in a book.

This is seriously so frustrating for me. There are, of course, a few ways to kind of tell but nothing legitimate. On the home screen it will round to the nearest hour but, to be honest, I don’t even know if it’s rounding up or down.  The player screen will also tell you the time left in the chapter, and in the Table of Contents area you could theoretically add up all the time left in future chapters – but seriously, who has time for that? (computer algorithms, that’s who.) I’m a major countdown person when I read books (even books I love!) so I find this super frustrating.

There’s no Google Cast function.

All I want to do when I’m doing housework / cooking is listen to my audiobooks! It makes the time go faster and makes me less upset that I’m not doing exactly what I’d rather be doing – reading. It drives me crazy that I need to use headphones – I know, I know, this is a major first world problem – when I can “cast” every other app to my smart speaker. Most of the time I don’t even have to cast, I can just say “Hey Google play 99% Invisible” (the best podcast). Google has been advertising that that’s how Google Books works works, so please Scribd, pay Google whatever they’re asking and get a freaking cast button in your app. (Thanks!)

MAJOR ISSUE: They delete books from the library with no warning!

So here I was, thinking I got away with “cheating” on my Unread Shelf Challenge for the month and enjoying listening to A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, when all of a sudden, I open my Scribd app and it asks me if I’d like to “continue listening to the sample”. THE SAMPLE?! I was 75% of the way through (or so I estimated because there’s really no way of knowing). Low and behold my book was gone!

I started noticing this pattern when I first got the app – I immediately “saved” Spineless and Beartown, two books high on my TBR, only to discover later that they weren’t available in the library. This one feels so much worse – I was literally in the middle of listening to it! If you had told me yesterday that it would be unavailable today, I would have finished it! It really bugs me that I got no warning, and if I didn’t own the hardcopy I would have no way of finishing the book without paying additional money (to someone else, not even Scribd).

So there you have it, all my Scribd frustrations. Have you experienced something similar? Do you love another audiobook app I should try? Lemme know!

Let’s Grab Coffee

So – I’m currently in the middle of four books. I hate getting to this point, but it is what it is! So in lew of a second review this week, I thought I’d just let you know what’s on my mind. I also love the idea of getting coffee with all of you book lovers, so I thought I’d use this premise as a start for this post.

If we were getting coffee, we’d briefly cover some life stuff.

What I’m Looking Forward To

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Cannot wait to start this one! Honestly, one of my most anticipated books of the summer.

 This weekend I’m heading to Savannah, Georgia for a bachelorette! Of course I’ve planned my books more than my outfits, so I’ll just quickly mention that 🙂 . I’m planning to finish The Ressurection of Joan Ashby and take Spying on Whales in case I have extra time. I can’t wait to get to Savannah – I’m excited for the architecture, the sunshine, and of course my friends!

This trip also signals the start of summer travel for me! I’ve historically been a big fall traveler, but this summer we actually have so many fun plans! Between now and mid September I’ll be traveling to Savannah, San Francisco, New York, Baltimore, as well as some camping and backpacking in Southern California.

What Else Is New

Not too much – life has been great but busy in San Diego. I started a new job about six weeks ago so that has been taking up a ton of my time (we’ll get to that). I had my book club last week and was reminded of how much I love all those girls and having a group like that in a new city!

and then we’d get down to serious book talk..

 

New Routines

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With my new job, I’m almost exclusively only able to read on weekends. With my previous job, I had a lot more time in the mornings so I was able to do some housework and exercise before work. On top of that, I’ve also noticed that I’m much happier to sit down for long periods of times than short, so during the week when I’m tired and can only read for 20 minutes, I usually opt to read for zero minutes.

I’m mentioning my new habits because they’ve seemed to put a hard limit of 1 book per weekend on my reading quota. And my takeaway is this: I should stop overstuffing my TBRs. I’m just putting pressure on myself and until something changes in my routine, I won’t be able to accommodate more books.

Spoilers! (Not actual spoilers)

This one is in two parts. I’m currently reading A Walk in the Woods – in which Bill Bryson takes on the Appalachian Trail – and I met someone who had walked the Trail and also read the book and he literally spoiled the WHOLE book. Ugh. I thought I didn’t mind, but then I started reading it again and it’s not as enjoyable. UGH.IMG_20180604_080202_648

Additionally, I’ve been thinking a lot about spoilers in my reviews. When I read a review, I typically most enjoy hearing about the structure of the book, and so I try to include that in my reviews. Whether its an alternating narrator, written through a series of letters, or… an unreliable narrator, I usually think it’s good to know going in to it. However, I recently read a book with no knowledge going in to it except that a friend enjoyed it and lent it to me, and I slowly discovered the unreliable narrator component for myself. It made me think that maybe knowing the narrator is unreliable is a SPOILER! I posted a poll on my instagram and most people disagreed with me, but I’m still on the fence (let me know what you think!)

Bookish Home Improvements

I’m writing this post from…. my new reading spot! It’s about 2′ away from my desk, so not to worry, I haven’t traveled too far from my normal spot. My house has a third floor attic area that we haven’t really known what to do with. I thought it had potential for a loft space so besides putting my desk up here, I bought this amazing beanbag from Urban Outfitters and found a TV stand on craigslist. I need so many decorating touches, but it is now functional, and I’m loving my new spot!

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One other (semi recent) addition to the loft area is a book cart – or just a utility cart if you please. I saw these all over instagram and wanted to have my own. I’m using mine for books related to my job, or other a typical books, like a guide to photoshop and coloring books.

ARC’s

I recently recieved some fantastic books from publishers and I’m so excited to read them without any expectation and share them with you guys! These include:

I also have some netgalleys but honestly, I’m just not as excited about kindle books! Is that bad? I think I’m going to stop requesting Galleys.

Ok! I hope I didn’t talk your ear off! And definitely drop me a line with your bookish updates as well 🙂

Book Review: Love With A Chance of Drowning

Author: Torre DeRoche
Published: February 14, 2013
Genre: Memoir
FLW Rating: 3/5
Format: Audiobook

Love With A Chance of Drowning was brought in to my life very…. haphazardly.  As someone who meticulously plans what I’m going to read next, I was so surprised to open my email to Tracy, my IRL book club host for May, announcing the book and saying “What’s that you say? It wasn’t on the selection list … I know, I should’ve put it on the list and forgot. It’s a travel memoir that I think we all need our lives. And since there was a book tie, I’m going rouge and hoping you love it” Keeping an open mind, I wrote back “I like the initiative you took there!” and then searched and was pleased to find that it was available on Scribd! For the next two weeks, my walks across downtown San Diego (to work and back) took me on a journey from San Francisco, to Mexico, Tonga, Australia, and everywhere in between!

The book is narrated by Torre, who tells the first hand account of how she came to travel across the Pacific Ocean in a sailboat with one other person and no crew. At the outset of the book Torre arrives in San Francisco for a one year OE (Overseas Experience for those who don’t live a carefree Kiwi/Aussie lifestyle where this is common enough to need an acronym). Her only self-and-family imposed rules are “Return to Australia in 12 months” and “Don’t fall in love with an American”. Well, luckily she meets a wonderful Argentinian man, but he still jeopardizes her 12 month plan when he invites her to join him on a sailing trip across the Pacific Ocean.

While the book had an interesting premise, I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t really enjoy travel memoirs (unless they’re by Bill Bryson – that’s another story). Torre is a self proclaimed worry wart, which contrasted strongly with her unfailingly calm counterpart. It definitely made for an interesting dynamic! My reaction to the book, however was that they both were a little too haphazard with their safety and the safety of those around them – which really got to me after a while. They are honestly so lucky to be alive considering the amount of close calls they got themselves in to! I can appreciate a good near death experience, but the ones in this book seemed a little too repetitive and not caused by random events, but by very preventable conditions and poor choices made by Torre and Ivan.

I did really appreciate seeing Torre’s growth and her descriptions of the scenery were was probably my favorite part, but couldn’t help feeling frustrated with Ivan, and feeling like she had hitched herself to a sinking ship (literally and figuratively!)

This book may be more enjoyable if you have experience sailing and could relate, but to me I just couldn’t put myself in their situations and say I understood! The other girls in my book club said they found her really relatable so I definitely encourage you to pick if up if you enjoy travel memoirs or just spending the day in a sailboat!

What I’m Reading: June 2018

If you’re anything like me, a new month means a whole world of new books to read! A planned TBR (to-be-read list) kind of stresses me out and who needs that. Instead, I thought I’d share with you some books that I would love to read this month, but with no pressure associate with them.

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Books I’ll maybe read this month 😉

Most Anticipated Title

First things first, Us Against You by Fredrik Backman comes out Tuesday, June 5th and I preordered myself a copy — Us Against You is the sequel to Beartown – second in a trilogy – and I couldn’t be more excited. I also am planning to meet the author in the end of the month, so this is a must read! (So much for no pressure..)

A Planned Buddy Read

First in order, though, will be The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas. Jamie from @jamiereadsbooks offered to buddy read it with me, and after enjoying my first buddy read for The Great Alone, so I’m excited to try this strategy again.

The Unread Shelf Project

As always, I’ll be participating in The Unread Shelf Challenge – The Challenge for June is to read a book about travel!  I’ve had the idea in my head for a while that I would read Modern Lovers by Emma Straub in June. However, when I looked up the description of the book, it sounds like its about people who all live close to each other in Brooklyn. So I’ll either choose this book because it’s the one I’ve been saving to read while traveling, or I’ll follow the prompt and pick up A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson! I love his travel writing. Whichever makes me more excited when it comes time to choose!

The Rest

Right now I have two unfinished books that I’d like to finish next month – The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner and The Mirage Factory by Gary Krist. The Mars Room is a novel about a woman who grew up in San Francisco and through a series of difficult life circumstances and poor choices, ended up with two life sentences. The Mirage Factory is a great history of Los Angeles set between 1900 and 1920, following three pioneers who helped shape the city in to what it is today!

And a friend recently lent me two books and I’d like to read one of them next month! I think my first choice will be Ghosted by Rosie Walsh which is a thriller coming out in late July!

In terms of audiobooks – both of my Unread Shelf Project (potential) picks and one of my unfinished books, The Mars Room, are both on Scribd so that will definitely help me make it through those! (Thank God for Scribd)

Oh and my wish came true!! I wished that Calypso by David Sedaris would be a BOTM selection in May but it turns out it’s a BOTM selection for June! So of course, that was my choice this month. If you want to join (and receive a copy of Calypso or any other the other great choices), use my referral link for a free book!

Here’s to June!