Sissy: A Coming-Of-Gender Story

Author: Jacob Tobia

Published: March 5, 2019

Publisher: Katherine G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: Memoir, Trans Lit, LGBTQ+, gender studies

My Rating: 3.75

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

A heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing memoir about what it’s like to grow up not sure if you’re (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above.

“When the political reality facing this country seems dark, we need shinier, sparklier thinkers in the public eye. With a signature style matched only by their wit, Jacob fits that bill perfectly.” –Alan Cumming

From the moment a doctor in Raleigh, North Carolina, put “male” on Jacob Tobia’s birth certificate, everything went wrong. Alongside “male” came many other, far less neutral words: words that carried expectations about who Jacob was and who Jacob should be, words like “masculine” and “aggressive” and “cargo shorts” and “SPORTS!”

Naturally sensitive, playful, creative, and glitter-obsessed, as a child Jacob was given the label “sissy.” In the two decades that followed, “sissy” joined forces with “gay,” “trans,” “nonbinary,” and “too-queer-to-function” to become a source of pride and, today, a rallying cry for a much-needed gender revolution. Through revisiting their childhood and calling out the stereotypes that each of us have faced, Jacob invites us to rethink what we know about gender and offers a bold blueprint for a healed world–one free from gender-based trauma and bursting with trans-inclusive feminism.

From Jacob’s Methodist childhood and the hallowed halls of Duke University to the portrait-laden parlors of the White House, Sissy takes you on a gender odyssey you won’t soon forget. Writing with the fierce honesty, wildly irreverent humor, and wrenching vulnerability that have made them a media sensation, Jacob shatters the long-held notion that people are easily sortable into “men” and “women.” Sissy guarantees that you’ll never think about gender–both other people’s people’s and your own–the same way again.

My Thoughts:

It took me a minute to get my thoughts and feelings down about this book. Firstly, I will say this is an important book and one you should grab immediately to better understand yourself, gender, society and the world in general. Books like this one are pertinent in moving the narrative forward and I’m 100% in for all of them!

With that said, I have both things I loved about this book and didn’t so much love about the book. I’ll start with what I didn’t love so I can end on a high note.

DIDN’T LOVE

  1. I could tell Jacob is a lot younger than me and as I was reading this book, I realized just how far away I am from their age. It’s not a bad thing and I don’t think it would bother readers that are more similar in age to Jacob or quite a bit older than Jacob, but as a person turning 40, I found myself slightly irked at times.
  2. There was a lot of religious talk throughout this memoir. I know this is a memoir and Jacob’s religion and relationship with the church is part of their journey, but religion has been the curse of my life with my own coming out journey (and as a kid being forced to participate in something that felt innately wrong to me), so I felt slightly offended by all of the religious talk. In general, I steer clear of religion in books (and life if I’m being perfectly honest) as a rule of thumb, so this was tough for me to see past.
  3. So much Duke talk. But again, this was the closest life experience that Jacob has had, so it’s important to them. It just made me feel a little annoyed reading about all of this Duke talk and how Jacob seemed a bit dismissive of the fact that they were given a full scholarship to a prestigious college and yet still felt they had the right to down talk it. It felt slightly classist and seemed to show a bit of privilege. Again, it might have been that I’m sooooo far removed from my college experience, although I’ll be paying back my student loans until the day I die, so that might have played a role in me being aggravated. Jacob did have a horrific experience at a Duke diversity training that would have turned me off from my college, full ride or not, so I wonder if that played a role and definitely something for me to consider.
  4. I’m starting to learn that I just don’t love all memoirs. There is something innately narcissistic about a memoir (that’s basically the point through, right?) that puts me off. Again, this isn’t Jacob’s fault, but as a reader, I find myself somewhat dismissive by all the me talk. I’ve read memoirs that don’t feel this way, but I felt it a bit while reading this memoir.

THINGS I LOVED

  1. All the jazz hands for writing a book that educates readers in a way that doesn’t feel preachy, that you’re talking down to us, or is too intellectual-based. It was an thoroughly enjoyable read and I appreciated that so much.
  2. We need allll the trans books/LGBTQ+ books/own voices books that we can get and I will read and love all of them that rest in my hands.
  3. I had a similar experience with my dad that Jacob had, but it went to a whole different level where not a single person in my family speaks to me. I felt myself tearing up as they spoke about their father and tearing up even more as they showed the journey their mother took to get to the place that she is at now. It was beautiful.
  4. The White House visit was everything to me and Eleanor Roosevelt is queen 🙂
  5. This book had me laughing out loud at times and I really appreciate it. Especially when there were certain parts of the book that were tough for me.
  6. We got to see a glimpse into what it’s like to grow into a genderqueer identity and I’m not sure I’ve ever read something this honest or real before.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book. Not just because it’s queer, but because books like this need to be read in order to understand society as a whole. With education comes learning and acceptance and I applaud books like Jacob’s.

Have you read this one yet? Let me know what you thought here in the comments or on Instagram (@bookishfolk).

bookishfolk…read instead.

We Set the Dark on Fire

Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia

Published: February 26, 2019

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: YA, Fantasy, Latinx, LGBTQ+, political

My Rating: 4.5

bookishfolk book review

Synopsis (via Goodreads):

At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.

On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

My Thoughts:

I LOVED this book! When I heard it described as a YA version in the same vein as Red Clocks and The Handmaid’s Tale, I knew I was in! BUT it deserves SO MUCH MORE than that comparison. In my opinion, this is a book unto itself. It is is set in a LatinX dystopian world (YESSSSSS) and it’s gay (YESSSS) and deals with societal roles, feminism, fighting societal norms, politics, immigration, patriarchy (and how it needs to be taken down), diversity and so much more (YESSSSS). It’s a fantastic and timely commentary that will have you sucked in from page one. It’s right up my alley and it did not disappoint at all!

Mejia’s writing is fantastic and as I read it, I felt like I was walking the streets she described, eating the foods the characters were eating, and experiencing each character’s every action. When there was tension, I felt it and when there was love, I also felt it. At one point, I was reading outside and on the edge of my seat about a situation happening in the book.  A neighborhood kid yelled and I literally jumped out of my chair spilling tea all over. I was that engrossed and that doesn’t happen to me very often. The writing is that good. And this is a debut novel-I can hardly believe that, but it’s true!

If you’re into dystopian #ownvoices, timly, YA novels-please run and grab this book immediately. But let me warn you…this is the first book in a series, so…you’ll have to wait to see where the plot goes long after you read the last sentence of this book. Just a warning, because I was totally taken off guard and almost wrote Mejia an email or at least DMed her and bunch of angry face emoji’s lol. I can’t WAIT to see what else this debut author has to offer us!

Have you read it? What did you think? If not, are you planning to? As always, find me on Instagram!

bookishfolk…read instead.

National Library Week

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Stuttgart Library in Germany

Libraries have always held a special place in my heart. It was one of the first places I remember visiting as a child. I used to go to “school” at the library (they had a class once or twice a week) and I would go with my brother and cousins. I remember really LOVING it. We would sing songs, work on a craft project, read, listen to the teacher read us a story and have snacks. Basically, it was an one hour preschool class at the library in the 80’s when kids didn’t really go to preschool and kindergarten was only a half day. I think my favorite part was getting to fill my bag with free books to take home and read til my heart’s content. I still get mildly giddy when I think about going to the library. All those books are free for me to read and take home and enjoy?! It still slightly blows my mind. I’ve always made it a point to explore the library first thing when I move somewhere. I even try to search out the local library when I go on vacation or somewhere to visit. It makes me feel grounded and I feel a sense of community around me. Plus, they are oftentimes beautiful places to explore. Einstein was right about a lot of things (you know, science-y stuff) but I think that the greatest words he spoke were, “The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.” Here is a whole Wikipedia article about the history of libraries and I found it fascinating.

So I thought it would be fun to share some ways to celebrate in your own community.

  • Go to your library and borrow books
  • Sign up for a library card
  • Write a note thanking your local library, librarian, or library worker
  • Spread the word on social media (using the hashtags #NationalLibraryWeek and #LibrariesTransform
  • Donate books, time, or money to your local library
  • Participate in the Friends of the Library book sales, or other book sales that your library puts on
  • Listen to audiobooks using Overdrive or Libby
  • See if your library has a book club and join it

Do you love your local library? Are you planning to/did you celebrate your libraries this week? Let me know here or over on Instagram!

“The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.” -Einstein

Killers of the Flower Moon

Author: Davis Grann 

Published: April 18, 2017

Publisher: Doubleday

Where I picked up my book: Book Club (Thank you Friends of the Library for donating)

Key Words: Osage Nation, Native American History, Oklahoma, True Crime

My Rating: 4.5

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

In the 1920s, the richest people per capita in the world were members of the Osage Indian Nation in Oklahoma. After oil was discovered beneath their land, the Osage rode in chauffeured automobiles, built mansions, and sent their children to study in Europe.

Then, one by one, they began to be killed off. One Osage woman, Mollie Burkhart, watched as her family was murdered. Her older sister was shot. Her mother was then slowly poisoned. And it was just the beginning, as more Osage began to die under mysterious circumstances.

In this last remnant of the Wild West—where oilmen like J. P. Getty made their fortunes and where desperadoes such as Al Spencer, “the Phantom Terror,” roamed – virtually anyone who dared to investigate the killings were themselves murdered. As the death toll surpassed more than twenty-four Osage, the newly created F.B.I. took up the case, in what became one of the organization’s first major homicide investigations. But the bureau was then notoriously corrupt and initially bungled the case. Eventually the young director, J. Edgar Hoover, turned to a former Texas Ranger named Tom White to try to unravel the mystery. White put together an undercover team, including one of the only Native American agents in the bureau. They infiltrated the region, struggling to adopt the latest modern techniques of detection. Together with the Osage they began to expose one of the most sinister conspiracies in American history.

A true-life murder mystery about one of the most monstrous crimes in American history.

My Thoughts:

This book gave me all the feels. Mostly anger, outrage, devastation and shame, if I’m being honest. This is a well-written, well-researched and compelling account of a horrific injustice.

First, I will say, I was quite ignorant about this part of history, although that shouldn’t surprise me. Our education system was set up to show white people in a good light, as pioneers and discoverers of lands that we live on and love today. As many of us now know, nothing could be farther from the truth, but that’s the story and schools and curriculum are sticking to, especially when I was growing up. (Side note: I really, really hope that children are being educated to know the real story of Christopher Columbus and what white people did to the Natives that were already living here long before he and his crew came and wreaked havoc. (Here is a pretty cut and dry telling of Christopher Columbus if you’re interested and here is another.)

Second, I have an enormous amount of additional information now as an adult, but I am embarrassed to say, this story of the Osage Nation in Oklahoma fell through the cracks for me. I am outraged and stunned by this history and I’m so thankful that David Grann chose to tell this story. It gives the members of the Osage Indian Nation the energy and attention they deserve and gives us, as readers, a better understanding of the atrocities that occurred in this part of the United States while it was being “discovered.” (Also know as, being taken away from the Osage Indian Nation and other Prairie tribes and being overtaken by white people).

Finally, this is a great book that will keep you riveted while reading and have you reeling for a long time to come. Grann gives voice to people who were murdered for greed, jealousy and pure racism, along with the families that were left wonder in fear as to what happened to their relatives. As a bonus, the book is full of photos throughout that adds that extra layer of understanding. It’s not an easy read, but I would highly recommend picking it up if you haven’t already. And…a movie is being filmed as we speak! As always, let me know your thoughts.

bookishfolk…read instead.

Lights All Night Long

Author: Lydia Fitzpatrick 

Published: April 2, 2019

Publisher: Penguin Random House

Where I picked up my book: Free from publisher for an honest review (THANK YOU!!)

Key Words: Coming of age, family dynamics (brothers), Russia

My Rating: 3.5

 

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Lights All Night Long is the stunning story of Ilya Alexandrovich Ekhlakov and his older brother, Vladimir. Two brothers who live in Berlozhniki, a refinery town on the edge of the arctic circle, where they spend their days watching bootleg American VHSs and their nights sleeping head-to-toe on the pull-out couch in their apartment. Ilya is a lingual prodigy; Vladimir the worst student at School #652 and an avid explorer of Berlozhniki’s seedier side. Still, the brothers are close, their love a careful balance of admiration and jealousy. When Ilya is tapped for an exchange program between Berlozhniki and an American refinery town, that balance is upset and Vladimir disappears into Berlozhniki’s underworld.

That winter, Ilya’s last in Russia, a new drug called krokodil surfaces in Berlozhniki and three women are murdered. Just as Ilya is about to depart for America, Vladimir is charged with the murders. Ilya arrives in Effie, Louisiana heartbroken, and in no mood to assimilate. But with the help of his host parents’ daughter – a local girl with secrets of her own – he embarks on a mission to prove Vladimir’s innocence. Lights All Night Long is a thrilling story of the fierce love between brothers, the sacrifices we make for family, and the power the past holds over the future.

My Thoughts:

There is not much that I love more than a fantastic, debut novel and I’m definitely here to say-this one checks that box! It is a well-written and intense read that will be sure to make you think about this family, and their story, long after you read the last sentence. Although it started a little slow for me, that didn’t take away from how much I enjoyed the book overall. Fitzpatrick has a way with her beautiful prose and character development that can’t help but hook you in as a reader and once that happened, I was in. The story is about brotherhood at the forefront, but it is intertwined with mystery, poverty, murder, a bit of religion, decisions, intentions, role models, drugs, friendship, family, loyalty and so much more. It’s a story full of wins, full of losses and ultimately, about what it’s like to love someone so much that fighting for them is your only option. It’s a story that will make your heart ache, make you think, make you laugh, make you understand humanity a bit better and is sure to bring you to tears a few times. I’m excited to see what else Fitzpatrick brings us. Happy Release Day Lights All Night Long! I think you will be impacting a few hearts with your words.

bookishfolk…read instead.

APRIL WALLPAPER

Hiiii! Another month is here! I love April because, at least here in Colorado, we start to open the windows during the day, my bike gets more action, we start seriously thinking about gardens and making some flower and seed purchases, and we take some small steps to check off our never-ending list of outdoor projects. It’s a good month! But the icing on the cake is….it’s the month we celebrate Indie Bookstore Day! (click here for some more info). It takes place on Saturday, April 27th this year and I’m pumped to see what my local bookstores have going on that day! So I thought I’d make you a wallpaper for your phone to celebrate! As always…use it, share it with friends, spread the word and let me know what you think here or on Instagram!

Happy April!

April phone wallpaper

Queenie

Author: Candice Carty-Williams

Published: March 19, 2019

Publisher: Scout Press (Simon and Schuster)

Where I picked up my book: My first Book of the Month Pick!

Key Words: Contemporary Fiction, Debut Novel, Personal Journey, Dating Life

My Rating: 4

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.

As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.

With “fresh and honest” (Jojo Moyes) prose, Queenie is a remarkably relatable exploration of what it means to be a modern woman searching for meaning in today’s world.

My Thoughts:

This was my first Book of the Month pick and when I saw Queenie as one of the choices, I knew I had to sign up for BOTM. Maybe I’ll give you all my thoughts on the subscription box after a few months of participating, but I just knew this was a perfect choice for my first box and it was!

Secondly, this book is being described as, “Bridget Jone’s Diary meets Americanah” and I think that’s a stretch, to say the least. Bridget Jone’s Diary, although somewhat entertaining, has NOTHING on this novel. Queenie takes it’s readers on a much deeper journey full of frank self-discovery, relationship issues, mental health and emotional struggles, interracial dating, commentary on today’s world, family history, and so much more. I guess the comparison may come when I think of the humor in Queenie, but the difference is, Carty-Williams takes the rom-com plot and turns it into something with some major depth to it. Oh and she’s also British :/ Then to compare it to Americanah seems off to me too. This book is truly on a level of it’s own. I think if you go into it with that thinking instead, you’ll be much happier.

Third, I could relate to Queenie in so many ways. When you read this story, it’s easy to think, wow…Queenie is a wild one who makes poor life decisions. If you come at it from a different perspective though, (without judgement) I think you’ll see her in a different light-and probably see yourself in Queenie-just like I did. She is a strong, independent, honest woman who is political, set in her beliefs and paving her way in this world. Yes, just like all of us, she has some personal flaws and has to navigate some bumps along the way. She makes some questionable choices (who hasn’t?), she can be a bit self-destructive (also…who hasn’t been in their lifetime?). She is prone to anxiety (raises hand) and we catch her while in a personal spiral (again-my friends and I talk about our spiraling allll the time), but through these flaws-she is defining and taking charge of her life, finding herself and paving her own way as a Black woman in today’s society. She is a strong, independent and honest woman on a road to INTENTIONAL self-discovery and I found myself rooting hard for her (and sometimes myself if I’m being perfectly honest), the entire time. I think you will too! Give this one a read, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

Shrill

Author: Lindy West

Published: May 17, 2016

Publisher: Hachette

Where I picked up my book: Audiobook from library

Key Words: Feminism, Women’s Rights, Memoir, Body Acceptance

My Rating: 4

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Coming of age in a culture that demands women be as small, quiet, and compliant as possible–like a porcelain dove that will also have sex with you–writer and humorist Lindy West quickly discovered that she was anything but.

From a painfully shy childhood in which she tried, unsuccessfully, to hide her big body and even bigger opinions; to her public war with stand-up comedians over rape jokes; to her struggle to convince herself, and then the world, that fat people have value; to her accidental activism and never-ending battle royale with Internet trolls, Lindy narrates her life with a blend of humor and pathos that manages to make a trip to the abortion clinic funny and wring tears out of a story about diarrhea.

With inimitable good humor, vulnerability, and boundless charm, Lindy boldly shares how to survive in a world where not all stories are created equal and not all bodies are treated with equal respect, and how to weather hatred, loneliness, harassment, and loss–and walk away laughing. Shrill provocatively dissects what it means to become self-aware the hard way, to go from wanting to be silent and invisible to earning a living defending the silenced in all caps.

My Thoughts:

I read this book back when it came out in 2016, but I thought it would be good to read it again now that the show is out on Hulu. Yep, I’m reallll glad I did. Not only because I wanted to watch the show, but I think I’ve grown a lot as a human in the past 3 years. I love myself more, I call people out more who don’t get it, and I am finding myself more confident in who I am and what I stand for than I’ve ever been in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED it 3 years ago when it first came out, but there was just something that resonated so strongly with me this second time around. I found myself fist pumping the air more times than I can count while listening and wanting to talk about it with everyone I ran into. My wife and I are taking the show slowly (one episode a night), but so far it’s REALLLLL good. And who doesn’t love a good dose of Aidy Bryant?!

In this book, Lindy covers (to name a few) fat shaming, feminism, internet trolls, marriage, sexism, rape jokes (and how they are definitely not funny), death and self-love with sharp and witty writing that is shockingly honest, real and truthful. I would highly recommend reading this one and then watching the Hulu show for an added bonus. This book will make you think, make you cry and laugh; it will empower you, and get you pumped to go out and fight the good fight all at the same time.

PS. Lindy West has a new book coming out on September 17th called, The Witches Are Coming and I’m SO excited to read it! A blurb I read states, “As much a celebration of America’s potential as a condemnation of our failures, some will call it a witch hunt. To which West would reply, so be it: “I’m a witch and I’m hunting you.” Yep…I’m here for it!

bookishfolk…read instead.

Willa and Hesper

Author: Amy Feltman

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Grand Central

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: Romance, LGBTQ+, family dynamics

My Rating: 3.5

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

In WILLA & HESPER, two young women fall in love. When they fall apart, they unwittingly take the same path to heal from their breakup, seeking answers in the lands of their ancestors. From Tbilisi, Georgia to the war sites of Germany, they discover what can break and what can mend when you look to the past to understand your present.

Willa’s darkness enters Hesper’s light late one night in Brooklyn. Theirs is a whirlwind romance until Willa starts to know Hesper too well, to crawl into her hidden spaces, and Hesper shuts her out. She runs, following her fractured family back to her grandfather’s hometown of Tbilisi, Georgia, looking for the origin story that he is no longer able to tell. But once in Tbilisi, cracks appear in her grandfather’s history-and a massive flood is heading toward Georgia, threatening any hope for repair.

Meanwhile, heartbroken Willa is desperate to leave New York that she joins a group trip for Jewish twentysomethings to visit Holocaust sites in Germany and Poland, hoping to override her emotional state. When it proves to be more fraught than home, she must come to terms with her past-the ancestral past, her romantic past, and the past that can lead her forward.

Told from alternating perspectives, and ending in the shadow of Trump’s presidency, WILLA & HESPER is a deeply moving, cerebral, and timely debut.

My Thoughts:

This book had a lot going on and it took me a few days to sort through all of my feelings before I could actually write anything down. First things first, I was ecstatic to find a book that depicts a lesbian relationship without a man involved as a part of the main plot AND, that doesn’t revolve the character’s coming out story. I’m not against a good coming out story (we all had to come out at one point or another and it’s usually not easy, has a story behind it and deserves to be told). BUT…I’m quite a bit past that point in my life and it’s so refreshing to just see queer characters living their authentic lives like the rest of society (fictional or not) does.

My second thought was that this book is a journey and in order to enjoy it, you need to be down for the ride. When I first heard about this book, I thought I was going to read about a pretty straight forward (no pun intended) lesbian romance, and although romance is not a genre I usually lean toward, I was in for a lesbian romance because we don’t see those very often in literature. So I picked it up and oof…I was happily mistaken. The romance that takes place is a relatively short part of the story and seems to only be there to act as the catalyst. It’s really there for each woman to individually explore themselves, their place in life, their faith, their family, their goals, aspirations and their fears. It’s really a sweeping observation of what it’s like to be a queer in your 20’s, just trying to figure out all the things in life. It’s quite a journey and as long as you’re in for that, you’ll love this book.

If I’m being honest, my main caveat with this book was that it was was sometimes hard to decipher between the two main characters, Willa and Hesper. I say this with caution, because I despise when people tell my wife and I that we look alike (we literally don’t look alike at all). Or they say that can’t tell the difference between out voices on the phone. Or they ask us if we are sisters. Here’s a little PSA-don’t do that to lesbian couples. Like, ever. It’s degrading and rude. BUT…this is fiction, so I will say this with a grain of salt. It’s not because it is two women that I couldn’t tell decipher these characters (although I will say that writing lesbian relationships-this is another challenge that we face). But…giving these characters more unique, and individual voices would have been a bit better for me as a reader and lead to a lot less confusion overall. I found myself flipping back quite a bit to figure out which one was which.

Besides that little caveat, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am really looking forward to seeing what else Feltman has to offer us! <<Please more lesbian literature. Please>>.

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

The Dreamers

Author: Karen Thompson Walker

Published: January 15, 2019

Publisher: Random House

Where I picked up my book: Free book from publisher (THANK YOU!!)

Key Words:  Science Fiction, Love, Crisis, Illness 

My Rating: 3.5

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned.

Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

My Thoughts:

From the first chapter, I was completely pulled into the story. Actually, from the description, I was enamored and couldn’t wait to dig in. There is something about a city-wide crisis situation (be in a disease, epidemic, natural disaster, etc.) that completely sucks me in. Now, don’t ask me WHY I like these sorts of novels. I’m terrified of major storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and any major weather-related crisis. And I couldn’t live in California for more than a year due to earthquake panic. Plus, I’m a bit of a germ-a-phobe. So…I guess it’s one of those cases where I like to read about it, but if it were a real-life situation…I’d probably be curled up in a fetal position somewhere waiting the thing out. Anyways…I digress. This book checked that box for me and I was ecstatic to receive an advanced copy from Random House and get reading. Plus, I loved Age of Miracles, so I was doubly pumped and it didn’t disappoint.

First, Walker’s writing is fantastic! I’m starting to learn that I LOVE third person narratives. I often find myself thinking, “Oh…I loved that movie” when in fact, there isn’t even a movie made, I just visualize third person narrative so well in my head. Walker’s writing is concise, visual, descriptive (without being overly descriptive) and pulls you along quickly throughout the chapters.

Second, it was a good look into how a crisis is handled in a small town. I found myself feeling furious with the way the government and city were handling the situation. I don’t want to give anything away, but I just kept envisioning myself being in a town where a major crisis is happening, or myself being one of the people outside of the town, and I would expect there to be world-wide camaraderie to get to the bottom of the problem and find a solution. That wasn’t necessarily happening and it was making me furious. And I don’t think that it was the narration that was off. I think it’s a possible way to handle a crisis where people don’t know what to do.  Is that a larger-picture problem in our society? Maybe so. That’s at least something I kept wondering about.

Third, I kept thinking that it read a bit like YA, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there are different expectations for YA than adult fiction and that kept coming up for me during this book. I was in a buddy-read and people kept questioning why it happened, and aggravated that the author didn’t give us more explanations or reasons. I definitely heard their frustration, but in my head, it just read more similar to a YA novel. Young adult books, oftentimes, don’t need full explanations or reasons-they just exists for the readers to get sucked into the plot and to enjoy the story for what it is. That’s exactly what this book did for me. Plus, I sort of like unanswered questions in books. It leaves me to figure out what happened and it creates a perfect book to talk about with someone else!

My only caveat was that the middle of the book dragged a touch for me and then the ending seemed slightly abrupt, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the book. If you’re into slightly magical, infection-related city wide epidemic books with fantastic writing, pick this one up! You won’t be disappointed!

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

Five Feet Apart

Author: Rachel Lippincott

Published: November 20, 2018

Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words:  YA Lit, Romance, Cystic Fibrosis

My Rating: 4 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Can you love someone you can never touch?

Stella Grant likes to be in control—even though her totally out of control lungs have sent her in and out of the hospital most of her life. At this point, what Stella needs to control most is keeping herself away from anyone or anything that might pass along an infection and jeopardize the possibility of a lung transplant. Six feet apart. No exceptions.

The only thing Will Newman wants to be in control of is getting out of this hospital. He couldn’t care less about his treatments, or a fancy new clinical drug trial. Soon, he’ll turn eighteen and then he’ll be able to unplug all these machines and actually go see the world, not just its hospitals.

Will’s exactly what Stella needs to stay away from. If he so much as breathes on Stella she could lose her spot on the transplant list. Either one of them could die. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But suddenly six feet doesn’t feel like safety. It feels like punishment.

What if they could steal back just a little bit of the space their broken lungs have stolen from them? Would five feet apart really be so dangerous if it stops their hearts from breaking too?

My Thoughts:

I have to say, before I “met” @readwithkat on Instagram, I didn’t know much about Cystic Fibrosis (commonly referred to as CF). When I was little, we had close neighbors who had a daughter that passed away from CF before I was born. They were like grandparents to me, but it was painful for them to talk about what she died from, so we always just talked about HER, what she liked to do as a kid, and they were constantly giving me items that used to be hers. I think they wanted to make sure she wasn’t defined by her disease. My parents just said she had trouble breathing, and that was that. I remember being so curious, but I knew not to ask too many questions. I think CF was a very difference experience 60 years ago than it is now, but the fact of the matter is, even with all the medical advancements that have been made, CF it is a terminal disease. People with CF usually have a shorter life span than the average person, and as of right now, the disease does not have a cure. I’ve learned a lot from Katharine (@readwithkat) and I’d highly suggest you look her up on Instagram to learn more AND to get some rad book recommendations. For additional information, you can also go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website.

In regards to this book, I really enjoyed it. I should preface this with saying, it’s YA and certainly reads like a YA novel. I wasn’t the intended audience for this book (it’s definitely written for middle grade-young adults), but I enjoyed it, learned a lot from it, and was completely sucked into the story from the beginning. And can we talk about that cover?! This book deals with what it’s like to live with CF (from these characters point of view. Let’s remember CF can present itself in completely different ways from person to person). It also deals with what it’s like to feel isolated-people with CF cannot be within 6 feet of another person with CF, what teenage love feels like and the fears that creep in, or in some cases, is constant, when you have an illness. It shows how friendships are affected, how nurses and doctors can play a role in an illness and what it feels like to need regular treatments to survive. It deals with a lot of emotions and situations I remember feeling and experiencing as a teen, but exacerbate it 1,000x’s over by putting a disease in the mix.

It was a whirlwind of emotions for me and definitely worth the read. There is a movie coming out this month and I’m looking forward to seeing it! Have you read it? What did you think?

bookishfolk…read instead.

March Wallpaper

Hello Hello! Welcome to my favorite month of the year! I love the weather that comes with March and that clock change that brings longer evenings. The flowers and leaves start to pop up and check out what’s going on after a long time in hibernation and every living thing seems to have a little more pep in their step. We start to think about our garden again and long walks happen more days than not. And…it’s St. Patrick’s Day, one of my favorite holidays for all sorts of reasons, but mostly because I don’t need to buy anything or do anything special besides wear green, make a corned beef and cabbage meal at home and hang out with my friends who love the holiday as much as I do.

With that all said, here is the free wallpaper for the month! As always, use it, share it with your friends, and let me know what you think here or on Instagram. Enjoy and happy March!

phone wallpaper for march

bookishfolk…read instead.

Annie On My Mind

Author: Nancy Garden

Published: July 1982

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Where I picked up my book: Local Bookstore

Key Words:  LGBTQ+, YA Lit, Romance

My Rating: 5 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

This groundbreaking book is the story of two teenage girls whose friendship blossoms into love and who, despite pressures from family and school that threaten their relationship, promise to be true to each other and their feelings. The book has been banned from many school libraries and publicly burned in Kansas City.

Of the author and the book, the Margaret A. Edwards Award committee said, “Using a fluid, readable style, Garden opens a window through which readers can find courage to be true to themselves.

My Thoughts:

First, I have to say that I’m stunned it took me until almost 40 years old to read this book. As a lesbian, it feels like one of those books we talk about in our circles, we all say we need to read, we all rave about and one that all of our elder lesbians give us for birthdays and holidays and we see it on the ‘top LGBTQ+ book lists’-but somehow, as a lifelong reader, I never picked it up. WHAT?! I knew I needed to remedy this before someone came and took my lesbian card away (completely kidding here. Don’t @ me), so I purchased it back in June- for one of my Pride month purchases. Well…it is now February, but I finally picked it up and oh my gosh, I’m so glad I did. It is relevant (although thankfully, not as relevant as it was in the 80’s), it is magical, it is honest and so sincere, and it is spot on to what a lot of us went through as we were discovering our sexuality. I just keep telling everyone, it’s the book I wish I had read as a teen. It would have saved me from a lot of confusion, sadness, hurt and questions about whether I was “normal” and it would have allowed me to see myself in a piece of fiction. It might not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, but never seeing myself represented in movies, books, television, or if I’m perfectly honest, in real-life situations either, this book would have changed my world. I’m sure it did for many young lesbians and the thought just makes me cry happy tears.

I’m so thankful that more books with LGBTQ+ representation exists now, but this book should still remain right up there with these newer ones. It’s been one of the top banned books and still remains banned in many places today. So make sure you check with your local libraries to see if they have this one (and check it out so it stays on the shelves). Talk to your local schools and bookstores and make sure it is still a book available in your community. It’s a perfectly relatable book for lesbians and I’ll forever be grateful to Nancy Garden for providing the world with this gift, even if it took me a hot second to finally pick it up 🙂

bookishfolk…read instead.

Why I’m breaking up with the TBR list

Do you create a monthly TBR list at the beginning of the month and stick with it? I have so many good intentions to do so, but low and behold, the end of the month comes and generally speaking, I haven’t read a.single.one of the books in that pile. What is wrong with me?! That’s what I think every month when this happens. I see everyone’s TBR piles on Instagram at the beginning of the month and then their checked off lists at the end of the month and I’m all like, welp…another month bites the dust. And that’s not right. In fact, I’ve been reading fantastic books all month. I’ve been talking about books to everyone I see. I’ve been loving what I read. That’s where the focus should be but instead, this TBR piles staring at me from the dresser is where my focus often lands. So…this got me thinking about my personal reading habits, unique personality traits, the way I create intentions and why the heck I can’t seem to stick with a list of books to read to save my life. Here is what I came up with. If you are anything like me, this post might help you feel less guilty about your TBR list and instead, embrace the lack of that pile knowing you’re just doing you!

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  1. I get a lot of books from my local library and I’m at the mercy of the library as to when those books come in. So there are months when I get 8 books ready for me and usually, I only have a few weeks to read and return them. I LOVE MY LIBRARY and am always here to support them in any way possible. Public libraries raised me and they will always hold a special place in my heart. Supporting them in the least I can do. Plus, books are free for the borrowing!! 🙂
  2. I get a fair amount of ARCs from publishers and I try to read and review them before they are actually published. They just show up in the mail so I’m never sure what is coming at me month to month. I COULDN’T LOVE THIS MORE IF I TRIED and feel so honored to receive the best mail a lady could ask for. Literally. Book mail is my love language.
  3. I love to get new books and am always on the lookout for my new favorite read. With that, comes impulsive buys and impulse holds at the library. And then I must read said impulse book. Apparently, I’m slightly impulsive lol. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I stay up to date with books and publishing trends and feel in the know about it (for once in my life I’m in the know because seriously, anything else-that has NEVER been the case for me).
  4. I LOVE to read bookish blogs and follow a TON of fantastic bookstagrammers over on Instagram. I’m always getting excited over another book someone has mentioned and must find a way to read it asap. Seriously, my phone is FULL of screenshots of books I must read ASAP. Spreading the love of book and finding ‘my people’ has been the best gift I’ve ever received and I’m here for it.
  5. I’m a mood reader for sure! I often find myself with a pile of books I’ve brought on vacation with me or think I’ll tackle over the  long weekend, and yet,my mood has me heading to the bookstore or perusing my shelves to find a specific genre that I’m in the mood for. That doesn’t bode well for a TBR list. Following my moods has ALWAYS led me to great reading experiences though, so I would never want that to change. It works for me and I’m so happy about that.
  6. I can often be found perusing my local bookstores and making purchases if I find something I want. And then I must rush home and get down to business (aka reading the book I just bought). My wife and I often go on bookstore dates and it’s our absolute favorite! Again, not great for a TBR pile, but FANTASTIC for my local community! I love to support my local small businesses. It’s the heartbeat of the community and keeping your dollars local is always good for everyone involved.
  7. Lastly, I join a lot of large buddy reads over on Instagram because I love talking about books with other book lovers and those tend to pop up randomly. Some great ongoing buddy reads that I really enjoy happen with @readwithkat (I just read ‘Five Feet Apart’ with her and loved it) and @nycbookgirl (I just finished ’84, Charing Cross Road’ with her and also LOVED it. Books about books and bookstores-yes please). Plus…making more bookish friends is seriously changing my life for the better. I’m in, always, for that!

So…if anyone is like me and can’t seem to stick with a TBR list, here are some possible reasons why but also, the beauty of it. Thinking about it has helped me just acknowledge that I might not be that person who has a photo of a pretty pile of books at the beginning of the month to get through. And after working that out, that’s okay with me. I hope you find some solace with loving however it is that you read. And now…off to read a book that wasn’t part of this month’s TBR list and couldn’t be happier about that 🙂

bookishfolk…read instead.

Fences

Author: August Wilson

Published: June 1, 1986

Publisher:  Plume Books

Where I picked up my book: Thrift store find

Key Words:  play, drama, Black lit, family dynamics

My Rating: 4 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

From August Wilson, author of The Piano Lesson and the 1984-85 Broadway season’s best play, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, is another powerful, stunning dramatic work that has won him numerous critical acclaim including the 1987 Tony Award for Best Play and the Pulitzer Prize. The protagonist of Fences (part of Wilson’s ten-part Pittsburgh Cycle plays), Troy Maxson, is a strong man, a hard man. He has had to be to survive. Troy Maxson has gone through life in an America where to be proud and black is to face pressures that could crush a man, body and soul. But the 1950s are yielding to the new spirit of liberation in the 1960s, a spirit that is changing the world Troy Maxson has learned to deal with the only way he can, a spirit that is making him a stranger, angry and afraid, in a world he never knew and to a wife and son he understands less and less.

My Thoughts:

I, 100%, thoroughly enjoyed reading this play. It explore themes of family dynamics, family values, misogyny, the African American experience, racism, death, love, responsibility and parenting…to name a few, but we sort of see it all through the veil of Troy. He is a character that I loved and hated at the same time. I rooted for him, and I wanted to see him disappear as he spoke the same sentence. He makes questionable decisions in his life, but he’s also a Black man just trying to survive and make it in the world that is not set up for him to succeed. He was real and one of the few characters in literature that I really feel represents what it feels like to be human, and more importantly, what it might feel like to be a Black human. (side note: I am not a Black human, just so we are clear. I don’t ever want to assume I fully comprehend the experiences of a race other than my own-that will never happen. Through this piece and other fantastic pieces of literature though, I am learning to empathize and better understand life through another lens other than my own). And Rose…oh, I couldn’t have loved Rose more or wanted someone to succeed more than Rose if I tried. I think this is an important piece of literature that you should run out and get a hold of asap. Recently, it’s been turned into a play starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis (both of whom I love) and that has just become a part of my weekend plan! Fences has earned its reputation as a classic and remains as relevant today, as it did when it was first performed. It feels like a piece that isn’t meant to be read and put down (or watched and put aside), but instead, it’s a piece that warrants discussion and some deep diving. If you read or watch it, I would love to talk about it with you.

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

Podcasts I’m Loving

BOOKISH PODCASTS

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NON-BOOKISH PODCASTS (BUT STILL REALLLLLL GOOD)

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What are some podcasts you’re loving right now? I work from home and podcasts are a fantastic way to work and listen to something, but not have to pay 100% attention. Sometimes I have trouble listening to an audio book, depending on the task I’m working on, but I always have a podcast in the queue and these are some of my favorites! I hope you enjoy and if you have any I should add to my list-give me a shout out here or on Instagram

  bookishfolk…read instead.

Severance

Author: Ling Ma

Published: August 14, 2018

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: Post Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Dystopia

My Rating: 4.5 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads): 

An offbeat office novel turns apocalyptic satire as a young woman transforms from orphan to worker bee to survivor.

Candace Chen, a millennial drone self-sequestered in a Manhattan office tower, is devoted to routine. With the recent passing of her Chinese immigrant parents, she’s had her fill of uncertainty. She’s content just to carry on: She goes to work, troubleshoots the teen-targeted Gemstone Bible, watches movies in a Greenpoint basement with her boyfriend.

So Candace barely notices when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps New York. Then Shen Fever spreads. Families flee. Companies halt operations. The subways squeak to a halt. Her bosses enlist her as part of a dwindling skeleton crew with a big end-date payoff. Soon entirely alone, still unfevered, she photographs the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost.

Candace won’t be able to make it on her own forever, though. Enter a group of survivors, led by the power-hungry IT tech Bob. They’re traveling to a place called the Facility, where, Bob promises, they will have everything they need to start society anew. But Candace is carrying a secret she knows Bob will exploit. Should she escape from her rescuers?

A send-up and takedown of the rituals, routines, and missed opportunities of contemporary life, Ling Ma’s Severance is a moving family story, a quirky coming-of-adulthood tale, and a hilarious, deadpan satire. Most important, it’s a heartfelt tribute to the connections that drive us to do more than survive.

My Thoughts:

I LOVED this book! Well written, apocalyptic/post apocalyptic books are right up my alley and this one made the top of the list for me! The entire time I was reading Severance, I was in these characters shoes. Would I be one of the people to survive this fever and then what? (side note: I’d probably NOT be one of the ones to survive the fever in the first place, but I like to think about the scenario that way). As I devoured the book, I was mentally collecting supplies, thinking about what necessary items from my home I would grab and what friends would be of upmost importance to my survival. I was (mentally) wandering around my neighborhood thinking about where I would go and where I would go to get water and food. I was planning my route out of town to the nearest city where I might be able to find a thriving community.  I found myself getting excited to survive this apocalypse (wait, is ‘excited’ the right word? Probably not, but you get what I’m saying). I was completely enthralled with surviving this fevered world as I read through Ma’s book.

Let this fantastic plot suck you in, but also be on the look out for Ma’s exploration of  immigration and the immigration system in America, human behavior, the millennial way of living life, capitalism, religion, corporate life, the exploitation of foreign labor and assimilation because those topics are here, loud and definitely worth exploring through this great piece of fiction.

I hope you pick up Severance and enjoy it as much as I did! Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment here or over on Instagram (@bookishfolk).

bookishfolk…read instead.

Book Haul

Our local library sale was this weekend and they are my absolute favorite. One, I volunteer with the Friends of the Library (who puts on the sale), so I get to see all the people that reap the benefits of our sorting, pricing, tagging and hauling. Two, we get to take home some fantastic books for a really low price. And three, public awareness is raised about how important public libraries are to our community. It’s a win, win, win, for everyone! So I thought I’d share my current book haul with all of you. See any good ones in this pile? I’m pumped to read them all, but particularly excited to read The Dog Stars, Witches of East End and Wildwood. I bought a few books that I’ve already read, and loved so it was great to find them and bring them home to be a part of my home library too! Does your local library have a book sale in your community? Have you found some treasures there? YAY for libraries and books!

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bookishfolk…read instead.

 

A Few of my Favorite Bookstores: IRL and on the Internet

I have always, always, always loved bookstores. When I was little, we mostly went to the library for our book browsing, but I can remember the magical moments when we got to go to a bookstore. Most of the time, I wasn’t going there to buy anything, but the browsing was top-notch, the book smells made me happy and the copious amounts of books with the potential to bring one home was enough to make me giddy. Plus…apparently my parents didn’t seem to think I was going to get into any trouble or stolen from a bookstore, so I had the independence to browse on my own, sit down and read in the aisles, and enjoy some first-time independence.

As I got older, I remember that same joy when I got to go to the the Scholastic book fair. If you’re reading this book blog…odds are you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. This was book buying at it’s finest (to a 2nd grader at least). I would bring home that pamphlet with such pride and go through it probably 10 times before I got out the pencil and started circling and making decisions. I’d bring those circles of dreams to my mom and I usually got a few dollars to make them come true. Side note: how did a few dollars get me 2-3 books and a bookmark?!  They were basically giving books away at that price point, but I digress…

Then, when I finally became a working young adult, all hell broke loose. I had a paycheck and I was determined to spend 80-90% of it on books. Man…I miss those days when my only financial responsibilities were coffee purchases, snacks and books. And don’t even get me started on the days when I was old enough to have my own credit card.  The moral of the story is-I have always loved a bookstore. I have always valued books and writers and the idea that I could own a book as my very own. I have always found a peace inside a bookstore where books are a plenty, adventures are ready to be had, I’m surrounded by bookish, like-minded people…and the not so subtle smell of coffee is embedded in the walls.

Bookstores and libraries are truly my love language. So I thought it would be fun to take you on an adventure of some of my favorite bookstores in the US. Some I’ve been to, some I’ve only experienced through online purchases and/or Instagram…but all hold a special place in my heart.

Strand Bookstore (NYC)

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Books are Magic (NYC)

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Parnassus Books (Nashville, TN)

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Tattered Cover (Denver, CO)

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Literati (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

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Women and Children First (Chicago, IL)

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The Last Bookstore (Los Angeles, CA)

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Powell’s (Portland, OR)

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Boulder Bookstore (Boulder, CO)

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Unabridged Bookstore (Chicago, IL)

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Elliot Bay Book Company (Seattle, WA)

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Old Firehouse Books (Fort Collins, CO)

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Busboys and Poets (Washington, DC)

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Avid Bookstore (Athens, Georgia)

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City Lights Books (San Francisco, CA)

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There you have it! There are so many fantastic, independent bookstores in the US and I have a goal to visit them all! In the meantime, I’ll subtly stalk them on Instagram…and dream 🙂

Florida

Author: Lauren Groff

Published: June 5, 2018

Publisher: Riverhead

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: Short stories, Nature, Florida, Human nature

My Rating: 4 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

The New York Times-bestselling author of Fates and Furies returns, bringing the reader into a physical world that is at once domestic and wild—a place where the hazards of the natural world lie waiting to pounce, yet the greatest threats and mysteries are still of an emotional, psychological nature. A family retreat can be derailed by a prowling panther, or by a sexual secret. Among those navigating this place are a resourceful pair of abandoned sisters; a lonely boy, grown up; a restless, childless couple, a searching, homeless woman; and an unforgettable, recurring character—a steely and conflicted wife and mother.

The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida—its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind—becomes its gravitational center: an energy, a mood, as much as a place of residence. Groff transports the reader, then jolts us alert with a crackle of wit, a wave of sadness, a flash of cruelty, as she writes about loneliness, rage, family, and the passage of time. With shocking accuracy and effect, she pinpoints the moments and decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury—the moments that make us alive. Startling, precise, and affecting, Florida is a magnificent achievement.

My Thoughts:

In all honesty, I am usually not a huge fan of short story collections. It’s just my personal taste. I like to get deeply involved in characters and in a plot, and be spit out at the end of 300 pages or so after a saga-esk story has unfolded within the pages. For me, I always find short stories to be too short (go figure) and lacking the depth and descriptions and dialogue for me to become emotionally involved in the character’s lives or story. I’m also a fast reader, to my chagrin, so I tend to plow through a short story and only actually comprehend half of it. (I do this with books too sometimes…I’m working on it).  With that said, when this book became available at the library, for the second time, I almost let the hold lapse without picking it up again. That would have been a huge mistake. Each one of these stories felt like I was reading an entire novel. I was engrossed, I felt a deep connection to each character, I found myself emotionally invested in each plot, and when each story was finished, I couldn’t help but dive into the next wondering where else Groff was going to take me. What was different from other short stories I have read? I’m not 100% sure, but here are a few things that I noticed Groff did brilliantly in Florida.

A. She provided me with a sense of place. A sense of how your surroundings play a major role in your life. In this case it was Florida, but in my case-I kept thinking about how Buffalo, NY (where I’m originally from), played a huge role in my life (for better or worse I’m not sure), how San Francisco played a MAJOR role for me when I lived there, and how Colorado is now a beautiful character in my story. Scenery and place is always so important to me when I read, and Groff wrote that into each story as a secondary character. It was beautiful.

b. With each story, I had a deep dive into human nature. Each character introduced to me showed me that life is about the experiences, both good and bad, and that human nature isn’t always a linear walk. Sometimes it’s messy, sometimes it’s ugly, sometimes it’s calm, sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it’s scary and other times it’s downright devastating. It’s always flawed…but there is a beauty to that.

c. An ambivalence to both motherhood and Florida itself seemed to sweep through almost all of these stories. I have always felt a true ambivalence to both of these ideas myself at different times throughout my life and it was interesting to explore my feelings through the lens of many different characters. (side note: For me, Florida=anywhere hot, sticky, buggy, without major season changes). And motherhood, well…me and motherhood have always had an interesting relationship. If you’re wondering-that dynamic is still going strong.

d. Each of these stories also seemed to explore the sense of danger and fear that women deal with on a regular basis. As women, we are taught to look into the back seat of our car, to always sleep with a phone by us in case something happens in the middle of the night, to always have a buddy with you when walking, to hold your keys a certain way in case of an attack, to dress “appropriately” so you don’t give off the wrong impression…I could go on and on. This has been a discussion in a lot of my circles lately, and I found it so appropriate and current to see it written in a compilation of short stories where I “experienced” that fear from different women’s perspectives.

d. Last, but certainly not least, Groff’s prose is so concise and beautiful, it almost made me cry multiple times throughout reading these stories.

I loved this collection and would encourage you to pick it up and read through it, slowly, savoring every bit. Or…if you’re like me and wanted to devour it as quickly as possible, do that, and then give it a slower re-read 🙂 If you’ve read it, let me know what you thought!

bookishfolk…read instead.

Mary Oliver

We lost a beautiful soul today and I will forever be grateful for her, her words, and the part she played in my life. I will miss you Mary Oliver, but I’m so thankful that your words will always be near.

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(feel free to use this on Instagram. It’s sized to fit).

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

Pachinko

Author: Min Jin Lee

Published: February 7, 2017

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Where I picked up my book: Gifted via my library book club

Key Words: Japanese-Korean culture, family dynamics, Historical Fiction

My Rating: 4 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant–and that her lover is married–she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan’s finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee’s complex and passionate characters–strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis–survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.

My Thoughts:

This book was a fantastic example of how historical fiction can take you on a journey to another place and time, and spit you out after you read the last sentence-with significantly more understanding and knowledge than you had before you started on the journey. It was mesmerizing, heartbreaking, memorable, honest and will be sure to stick with me for a long time. I fell in love with the characters and felt like I was walking in their shoes (Min Jin Lee’s choice to change the narrator’s perspective from character to character may have had something to do with that. To me, this felt genuine and genius). I experienced their emotions, I walked their streets, I smelled their homes, I tasted their food, and I felt their feelings as if they were my own. That right there-that is exactly why I am a reader.

My only caveat was it seemed to fall slightly short in the final bit of the story. Story lines seemed to be left unfinished and the characters came across as slightly less thought-out than the rest of the book. It felt a bit rushed to wrap up. Granted, it is a longgggg book, so maybe a slightly rushed ending was necessary to make it less than 1,000 pages, but with that said, I also felt myself rushing a bit just to finish it up.

Overall, Lee captured what it was like to live a Korean experience and taught me so much about family, Korean an Japanese culture, class structure, female responsibility and parental roles, to name a few. I’m thankful to have been able to read it and I highly suggest picking this one up. Bonus: I read Pachinko for a local book club and I’m pumped to hear what everyone else has to say about it. I feel like it’s a perfect book club book to discuss with a group!

As always, let me know your thoughts about Pachinko, this blog, my Instagram…or anything else bookish! I always love chatting books.

bookishfolk..read instead.

The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation

Author: Jodie Patterson

Published: January 29, 2019

Publisher: Ballantine Books (THANK YOU!!!)

Where I picked up my book: Gifted from publisher

Key Words: non-fiction, LGBTQ+, diversity, family dynamics

My Rating: 4 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

As an African American growing up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the 1970s, when neighborhoods defined people, Jodie Patterson learned early on to engage with her community for strength and comfort. But then in 2009 this mother of five had her world turned upside down. Realizing that her definition of community wasn’t wide enough for her own child’s needs, Patterson forced the world wide open.

In The Bold World, we witness a mother reshaping her attitudes and beliefs, as well as those of her community, to meet the needs of her transgender son, Penelope– and opening the minds of everyone in her family who absolutely, unequivocally refused to conform.

As we walk alongside Patterson on her journey, we meet the Southern women who came before her–the mother, grandmothers, and aunts who raised and fortified her, all the while challenging cultural norms and gender expectations. She shares her family’s history–particularly incidents within the Black community around sexism, racism, and civil rights. We learn about her children, who act as a vehicle for Jodie Patterson’s own growth and acceptance of her diverse family, and her experiences as a wife, mother, and, eventually, activist. The result is an intimate portrait and an exquisite study in identity, courage, and love. Patterson’s relentless drive to change the world will resonate with and inspire us all, reflecting our own individual strength and tenacity, our very real fears, and, most of all, our singular ability to transform despite the odds.

My Thoughts:

This book tackles so many things-from race, to gender, to parenting, to motherhood, to diversity, to living black in this world, to feminism…it touches on all of these ideas, and more, without being overwhelming or scattered. Instead, it beautifully shows what living in a society that isn’t necessarily set up for you, is like.  The first half of the book focuses of Jodie’s life and what foundation was set for her to stand upon. She talks about past relationships, what struggles occur for black families and people of color in this world, her relationship with her father, her jobs, the strong, black women that came before her, and how she grew up and became who she is today. It wasn’t an A to B to C sort of life she led (or leads for that matter) and that is beautifully made obvious for the reader. This made her feel relatable-she showed her truth and it was powerful.

The second half of the book is where Jodie focuses on her relationship with her child Penelope and what it is like to raise a child that is transgendered in this world, raise a family with a member that is transgender, and raise a world that loves our differences. I felt a deep sense of determination while reading this book. A determination to make this world a better place for every person living in it.  A determination to have every child feel loved and honored and welcomed in this world, BECAUSE of their differences, not despite of them.

Here’s where this book felt personal to me: In a nutshell, my parents couldn’t accept the fact that their child was gay. They stopped speaking to me the day I came out to them, and it has been the hardest thing that I’ve ever had to deal with in my life so far. This book showed me what it would have been like to have a mother that fought as hard as humanly possible for their child in a world that might not always be accepting. It showed me what it would have been like to have a father that, although he had a lot of questions and may have not felt completely comfortable with this new life that fell into his lap, was ready to put in the work and do his damn best for his child and family. It showed me what it would have been like to have siblings that acknowledge you for what you are, and love you unconditionally. It was the parenting that I could only have hoped for, and just because it didn’t happen in my life, it brought me SO SO much joy and happiness that it does for some others. If we can just spread this way of understanding and truly be an accepting, loving and supportive society to every member-we are 100% guaranteed to live in a better world.

I would highly recommend this book. It’s an important read and exactly what this world needs more of.

bookishfok…read instead.

 

 

 

My Top Books of 2018

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I read a lot of books and I love a lot of books. Sometimes books touch me at certain times and I find myself obsessed, and other times, I’m just not in the right mindset for a specific book, even though I know in a different circumstance, I might love it. All of that is to say…take this list with a grain of salt. These are a list of my favorite books that I read in  2018, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a ton of other books that I have read and loved, or a bunch other books that missed the mark for me-but that you should definitely read, or a TON of books that I didn’t get a chance to read yet. But here is my list of books that touched me this year, and reminded me of why I read.

1. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

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2. We Were Witches by Ariel Gore

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3. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

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4. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

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5. Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

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6. Well-Read Black Girl by Glory Edim

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7. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

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8. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Gail Honeyman

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9. Summer of Salt Katrina Leno

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10. Toil and Trouble: 15 Tales of Women and Witchcraft by Tess Sharpe

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11. Educated by Tara Westover

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12. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

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13. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

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14. We are Okay by Nina LaCour

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15. Midnight at the Bright Idea Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan

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16. Forever, or a Long, Long Time Caela Carter

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bookishfolk…read instead

The Girl He Used to Know

Author: Tracey Garvis Graves

Published: April 2, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (Thank you!!!)

Where I picked up my book: Gifted from publisher

Key Words: love story, second chances, compassion

My Rating: 3 stars

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

My Thoughts:

Sometimes I crave a book that has some depth, likable characters, and a unique plot that pulls me along frantically flipping pages. This was the perfect book for that! I cried, I laughed, I worried, I rallied and rooted for them and I missed these characters when I finished up the book. Some may call this book slightly predictable or that there was too much packed into one story (I borderline on this one myself), but I loved it and miss these characters now that I have finished their story.

There are some major themes going on in this book, but I don’t want to give anything away. I think it made it more enjoyable to go into this one relatively blind. The one big theme and takeaway from this book for me is…What is love? What does it mean to be in love? People say that it’s loving someone despite their flaws and quirks, but this book reminded me that it’s BECAUSE of these flaws and quirks that we should love someone. Annika and Jonathan reminded me of that and it warms my heart more than I could imagine. I hope you’ll give this quick, sweet story a read when it comes out in April-you won’t regret it.

If you liked Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, give this one a try!

bookishfolk…read instead.

Well Read Black Girl

Author/Editor: Glory Edim

Published: October 20, 2018

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: feminism, women of color, diversity, female empowerment, bookish

My Rating: 5 star

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature.

Remember that moment when you first encountered a character who seemed to be written just for you? That feeling of belonging can stick with readers the rest of their lives–but it doesn’t come around as frequently for all of us. In this timely anthology, “well-read black girl” Glory Edim brings together original essays by some of our best black female writers and creative voices to shine a light on how we search for ourselves in literature, and how important it is that everyone–no matter their gender, race, religion, or abilities–can find themselves there. Whether it’s learning about the complexities of femalehood from Their Eyes Were Watching God, seeing a new type of love in The Color Purple, or using mythology to craft an alternative black future, each essay reminds us why we turn to books in times of both struggle and relaxation. As she has done with her incredible book-club-turned-online-community Well-Read Black Girl, in this book, Edim has created a space where black women’s writing and knowledge and life experiences are lifted up, to be shared with all readers who value the power of a story to help us understand the world, and ourselves.

Contributors include: Jesmyn Ward (Sing Unburied Sing), Lynn Nottage (Sweat), Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn), Gabourey Sidibe (This Is Just My Face), Morgan Jerkins (This Will Be My Undoing), Zinzi Clemmons (What We Lose), N. K. Jemisin (The Fifth Season), Tayari Jones (An American Marriage), Nicole Dennis-Benn (Here Comes the Sun), Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish), and more.

My Thoughts:

I LOVED this book. Like, loved, LOVED this book. First…books about books and reading will always be my love language. It’s always inspiring to see what books helped to shape a person. It’s especially interesting to see what books and authors helped shape a WRITER’S life and work. So right there-I was completely sold. Second, I feel it’s important to read diverse authors to better understand woman as a whole, and not just from my white seat at the table. White seats have been taking up too much space at the table for way too long, and it’s beyond time to move the hell over and give our table A LOT more diversity. Third, this is one of the most fantastic group of writers we have writing today, and they all happen to be complied into one book?! Sold. Fourth, representation is everything, and as a white person, I’ve realized that I’ve never had to think about it. I saw myself everywhere. In movies, in books, in commercials-you name it, there I was. I never had to wonder where my place was in this world or what I was capable of. But for black people, and people of color in general, representation is very limited. This book not only helped me understand that better…but it also lets young black girl see themselves in these stories. This got me thinking-as a lesbian, I get it. I never got to see myself represented anywhere until Ellen came out on tv. And then I saw the immediate backlash that happened when she did finally tell her truth. It wasn’t pretty there for a few years for her. Maybe there was some bullish lesbian as a joke on SNL or on a sitcom, but I didn’t see true, beautiful representation of myself and I remember thinking that I was weird, gross, lesser than and lower than people who were straight (although I wasn’t actually putting any of this into words or even thoughts then, it was more of an suppressed understanding). So, in a way, I see how lack of representation really affects people beyond words. But I had the upper hand in my personal situation-I was white. I had that luxury. People of color do not.

Oh, and the book lists throughout this collection was everything! I was writing every suggested book down, adding books to my goodreads account, snapping photos to remember the lists for later…basically, making my ever-growing TBR list even longer…and I couldn’t be happier about that.

I hope you’ll grab this book and soak it in as much as I did. It is timely, important and necessary. I highly recommend reading it slow and savoring each story-there is a lot more going on than what is simply written on the pages. This book is magic.

Here is the Instagram account too! It’s fantastic. CLICK HERE

bookishfolk…read instead.

December’s Wallpaper

Here is December’s Wallpaper! This was a labor of love and felt so good to create. I hope you enjoy and if you’re using it this month (or whatever month), send me a message and let me know and then share with your friends! I love to see these in the wild 🙂 Also…I’d love a follow on Instagram! (@bookishfolk) PS I’m holding a giveaway for Golden Child by Claire Adam over on Instagram this weekend! Head over and have a look!

WOMEN WHO LEAD

 

Bookishfolk 2018 Gift Guide-Bookish Edition

Last week, I posted a gift guide of all the things that I am loving right now. Candles, aromatherapy, flowers, ice cream, art and more! Here is the link in case you’re interested! This week, I’ve created a collection of my go-to bookish items and places to get bookish gifts! Hope you enjoy AND hope there are some fantastic bookish gifts under your tree this year!

Powell’s

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If I could live inside of Powell’s…my life would be complete (and I would probably be realllll poor).

Hearth & Home

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What’s better than a beautiful candle, a cup of tea and a book? Nothing much! Here’s a great company to get those bookish candles.

Book of the Month

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Books delivered monthly to your door?! Yes please.

Obvious State

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Obviously awesome for obvious reasons.

Books are Magic

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I love everything about this place-but that wall, that wall is everything.

Out of Print

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T-shirts, mugs, socks, hats, pins and more! There is something for everyone here!

Read My Lips Apothecary

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These are fantastic and funny and can often be seen at the front counter of bookstores. I love them!

There ya have it folks! I love books (duh) and bookish presents are my love language. I hope you enjoy this list! Happy Holidays!

bookishfolk…read instead

Bookishfolk 2018 Gift Guide

We’re talking some of the things that I am loving and cherishing this year. These are items I use everyday and love with everything I have. (okay, I’m being a little dramatic, but I really love these products and companies, and wanted to share them with you this holiday season). So without further adieu…here is my 2018 gift guide!


FOR THE CANDLE LOVER IN YOUR LIFE: BELDAMIA.

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These candles smell better than any other candles I’ve sniffed…and I like to consider myself a candle aficionado 😉


FOR THE FLOWER LOVER IN YOUR LIFE: FARM GIRL FLOWERS.

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These flowers are the best. Seriously…THE BEST! They are full and gorgeous and smell amazing and the wrapping is almost as beautiful as the flowers themselves. Almost.


FOR THE ICE CREAM LOVER IN YOUR LIFE: JENI’S ICE CREAM.

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This ice cream is beyond delicious and the flavors are original and one is just better than the other. A perfect gift for the ice cream lover in your life-or for yourself! AND you can order it online! Major bonus.


FOR THE AROMATHERAPY LOVER IN YOUR LIFE: ROCKY MOUNTAIN OILS.

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I use these oils every single day in our home. They are pure, and smell amazing and fix all the things that ail me.


FOR THE SELF-CARE LOVER IN YOUR LIFE: BRAMLEY.

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We took a trip to Europe this summer and these were in the hotel room. They seriously smell ah-maz-ing and every time I use them, I’m brought back to England and it makes me absurdly happy. They are located in the UK, but you can order all of their products online!


FOR THE ART LOVER IN YOUR LIFE: LIGHT AND PAPER SHOP.

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Ali’s work is seriously amazing. I’ve been paper cutting for months now and it’s hard. Like, really, really hard. I am just so so impressed by her work.


FOR THE TEA LOVER IN YOUR LIFE: NUMI ORGANIC TEA.

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This is the tea we use all the time at our house and I love it. I’ve got a thing for drinking only organic, delicious tea, and this one checks both of those boxes! Plus it’s affordable!


FOR THE SCRIPT LOVER IN YOUR LIFE: KAL BARTESKI.

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               Kal is an amazing artist. Not only is her script completely gorgeous, her words are inspirational too.


There you have it…my gift guide for 2018! Stay tuned for next week where I’ll post all of  my favorite books and bookish things for the holidays!

We Were Witches

Author: Ariel Gore

Published: September 5, 2017

Publisher: Feminist Press

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: witchy, feminism, poverty, young motherhood, resistance

My Rating: 5 star

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

Spurred on by nineties “family values” campaigns and determined to better herself through education, a teen mom talks her way into college. Disgusted by an overabundance of phallocratic narratives and Freytag’s pyramid, she turns to a subcultural canon of resistance and failure. Wryly riffing on feminist literary tropes, it documents the survival of a demonized single mother figuring things out.

My Thoughts:

I couldn’t love this book anymore if I tried! I’m not sure if I missed the hype when it first came out, or if it didn’t get the hype it deserved-but jeeeeze it hit every.single.one. of my bookish (and real life) love languages and more.

First, the blending of magical realism, memoir, fiction, non-fiction, fairy tale and feminist history had me jumping up and down (literally) and whooping with excitement at other times. I was never quite sure if I was reading about Ariel Gore’s life or not, but it didn’t even matter because the sentiment was the same either way. I’m not sure I can even find other novels with this blend of genres, but I’ll forever be on the hunt now.

Second, give me anything feminist and witchy and I just immediately feel more empowered, stronger, and ready to take on whatever stands in my way. Do you ever feel that way? Maybe after attending a rally in your city, or after listening to a feminist politician online? Or when your feminist friends gather to figure out how we will overtake the world? Well…take that feeling and imagine it embracing you throughout the entire reading of this novel. I was full of goosebumps ready to tackle the world, and with midterm elections happening today (!!), I was in an even stronger formation than ever.

Third, it brought up all of these feelings that I have about motherhood that I’m not even sure I knew I had. Or at least feelings that I had tucked down pretty deep into my soul. I do not have children, and as a lesbian, it’s a serious choice I’ve had to think about over and over again for so many years. There aren’t ‘accidental pregnancies’ in my world, but there are invasive ways to get to pregnancy, expensive pregnancies and anxiety-ridden decisions about pregnancies – well…for me all of this is true. My wife and I have decided not to naturally have a child, but it was an agonizing road to get to this decision, and I still second guess our decision, practically daily. All of this is to say-reading about someone care for her child and raise her child in such a loving, nurturing, protective and empowering way, despite all the difficulties that surround this parenthood-well…let’s just say my wife and I had another ‘did we make the right decision’ talk. I think we did, but to see someone love a child this much made me second guess that decision but also to just simply see how beautiful motherhood and raising a child can be, despite all odds. oh, and every time she read to her at night, from one feminist theory books for school, my heart nearly thumped out of my chest. It was beautiful.

I could go on and on about this book…but I just highly suggest heading to your local bookstore and picking it up. It is easily on my top 10 books of 2018 and I promise you, if you’re anything like me, your life will be forever changed after reading it.

 

 

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Author: Ottessa Moshfegh

Published: July 12, 2018

Publisher: Penguin Press

Where I picked up my book: Library

Key Words: Mental Health, Contemporary Fiction, Relationships, Alienation

My Rating: 4 star

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Synopsis (via Goodreads):

A shocking, hilarious and strangely tender novel about a young woman’s experiment in narcotic hibernation, aided and abetted by one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature. Our narrator has many of the advantages of life, on the surface. Young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, she lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like everything else, by her inheritance. But there is a vacuum at the heart of things, and it isn’t just the loss of her parents in college, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her alleged best friend. It’s the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

This story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs, designed to heal us from our alienation from this world, shows us how reasonable, even necessary, that alienation sometimes is. Blackly funny, both merciless and compassionate – dangling its legs over the ledge of 9/11 – this novel is a showcase for the gifts of one of America’s major young writers working at the height of her powers.

My Thoughts:

First, “a strangely tender novel” is a great descriptor for this one. It’s strange-yep, it’s definitely strange, but it somehow works and made my heart soft and feel fragile the whole time I was reading it. When I first saw this novel, I was like…hell yeah I need a year of rest and relaxation and I immediately began to think of all the things I would do with that year. Firstly, reading would be at the top of that list. I would read all the book without guilt and drink tea and lay on the couch and enjoy. Second, I’d probably hang out with friends more often than I do now. Third, I’d have a real clean house and the laundry would be done all the time. Fourth, I’d hit up the beach and the mountains and plan a few relaxing trips. Oh, and the dog would go on so many walks, and I’d meal plan and prep and get in shape and so on and so on. But then I read a synopsis of the book and thought to myself…so all these people on Instagram that showed themselves reading this book on the beach in their bikini’s didn’t really know what it was about either, huh?  But I was still intrigued (after all, Bookstagram made me do it), so I put a hold on it at the library and waited a longggg time to have a chance to crack it open. That’s always a good thing though…it means people are reading and I’m a fan of that. I planned to read it slow and steady, but was completely sucked in from the beginning and finished it in a couple days. It was nothing that I expected, but I was completely engrossed and I’m still thinking about it days late.

Second…can we talk about this damn psychiatrist for a second?! If you’ve read this book, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t…here’s the gist. Dr. Tuttle prescribes the narrator pill after pill after pill with zero regard to her mental state, or ever really listening to her whatsoever when they do meet. In fact, Dr. Tuttle blatantly tells her how best to fly under the radar in terms of filling her prescriptions. To say the least, I’ve never felt so infuriated by a character in all my reading life. I was raging and couldn’t help think of the people I know that are in similar circumstances. Not that their psychiatrists or doctors are THIS ignorant, but they have professionals that are not looking out for them regularly and just prescribing pills without checking in regularly with them, making sure the medication is working correctly, and ensuring that the patient is taking the medication appropriately. This book goes above and beyond what happens in most people’s real life circumstances (I hope) but it is a real problem and something that the world doesn’t seem to be talking about enough.

Third, can we talk about friendship, because this book had me thinking about friendships more than I thought I wold have. The narrator has a friend, really just one main friend, who has no regard to her state of mind or her decision to try and sleep for a year straight. Reva comes over to her house, chats with her a bit and whines about her own life, as the narrator is in and out of drooling sleep, and then leaves. What the hell kind of friend is that?! I hope my friends are better people and if I ever dip into this sort of depression, because that’s really what this is, that my friends will help pull me out of it or at least do everything in their power to get me the help I need. And vice versa if I ever had a friend that was in this situation. So between the psychiatrist and the friend, I was reading this book with my fists in their air. And don’t even get me started on the on again, off again boyfriend who totally SUCKS.

This is a book that is dark and deals with hard things, but it also had me looking at my world, my relationships, my mental health and my surroundings in a whole different light. It reads as if I’m in an Ambien haze…which is quite apropos. Sometimes life is hard, and sometimes it feels overwhelming. Sometimes we seem like we have our shit together, but in reality, we are barely holding on and would rather be anywhere but where we’re at. Sometimes we let our past navigate our present and our future. Sometimes we are so sick and tired of struggling that hibernation sounds way better than dealing with another day of the struggle. So I get it. I get this narrator. But can we escape the pain? Can we erase the problems by ignoring them or blacking them out-no, no we cannot.

Also…in case you’re interested in what kind of person Moshfegh is, here is an interesting article about her.  Don’t blame me if you think of her differently now though.

bookishfolk…read instead.

 

 

October’s Bookish Wallpaper

Here is your wallpaper for this month! I hope you enjoy it and as always, share it with me on Instagram at (@bookishfolk) and tag me if you’d like! I love to see these wallpapers being used out in the wild, wild world 🙂 Also…are we friends yet on Instagram? We should be friends on Instagram 🙂

phone wallpaper for october

Friends of the Library Book Haul

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A town close by to us had their yearly Friends of the Library book sale this weekend and I told myself it was probably best to avoid it this year. I have enough books and not enough time in the day to read them all. As it is, I have piles of TBR books all over the house that aren’t getting any smaller and I should get to those first. The sale went from Friday to Sunday and guess who felt compelled to go on Sunday-this girl. Oof…but I promised myself I would only grab books that I really wanted to read and would only buy women, and/or diverse authors. I found some great ones, followed my rules and only came home with 6 books (all for 5 dollars I might add). Here are the books I grabbed and a little bit about each one.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith: Don’t be fooled by the male author. This is J.K. Rowling’s pseudonym and is the second novel in a series (yes, now I have to get the first…but finding this one was exciting and I’m assuming no one realized it was JK Rowling and that’s why it was still there on the last day). It’s a crime/detective novel.

Mischling by Affinity Konar: It’s been described as one of the most harrowing, powerful, and imaginative books of the year (2016). It’s about twin sisters fighting to survive in WWII. Also-seems completely fitting right now, so I might bump it up to read it next month. It’s been on my TBR list for a while now and I was thrilled to see a copy!

Blue Diary by Alice Hoffman: I love Alice Hoffman (hello Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic), so I always grab her other novels when I see them. This one is about the idea of what lies below a “perfect” marriage.

The Bees by Laline Paull: This was just such a unique story that I had to pick it up. It’s told from the perspective of a bee where battles, survival techniques, competition, sacrifice, and more are explored. It sounds imaginative, SO unique, suspenseful and is bound to change the way I look at the world outside my window. I’m excited for it! Plus, this a debut novel and I’m always here for a good debut.

Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen: Nguyen entwines the Asian American experience with the escapist pleasures of literature, in a dazzling mystery about the origins of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic Little House on the Prairie. What?! Count me in!

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert: I saw this one and almost passed it up, finding myself being somewhat dismissive of Gilbert. I picture her being a self-help writer and I’m not into self-help books (that’s not to say that I don’t need plenty of self-help itself ;)). Then I remembered how it affected me when she came out after years of being married to a man and how I saw similarities between the two of us. And then I remembered that her partner died of cancer and I nearly starting crying in front of the ‘critically acclaimed’ book section at the sale. I flipped it open, read what it was about and saw that it was signed copy. Bonus! and put it into my bag. Plus, she’s coming out with a new book this year that looks great. I’m excited to dig into it and it seems like a perfect winter read.

So there you have it folks! I’m slightly embarrassed to say our local Friends of the Library is having their sale in 2 weeks and I’ll be heading to that one too! I’m volunteering at it one the first day, so I’ll be able to get those first day pickings too. I’ll keep you posted on how well I maintain my self-control there too 🙂

 

 

Girls Burn Brighter

Author: Shobha Rao

Published: March 6, 2018

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Where I picked up my book: ARC from the publisher (THANK YOU)

Key Words: Indian culture, Feminism, Friendship, Domestic Abuse, Poverty

My Rating: 4 star

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Synopsis (via Macmillian):

Longlisted for the 2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

“Incandescent…A searing portrait of what feminism looks like in much of the world.” —Vogue

“A treat for Ferrante fans, exploring the bonds of friendship and how female ambition beats against the strictures of poverty and patriarchal societies.” —The Huffington Post

An electrifying debut novel about the extraordinary bond between two girls driven apart by circumstance but relentless in their search for one another.

Poornima and Savitha have three strikes against them: they are poor, they are ambitious, and they are girls. After her mother’s death, Poornima has very little kindness in her life. She is left to care for her siblings until her father can find her a suitable match. So when Savitha enters their household, Poornima is intrigued by the joyful, independent-minded girl. Suddenly their Indian village doesn’t feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond arranged marriage. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend.

Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India’s underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face ruthless obstacles, Shobha Rao’s Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within.

My Thoughts:

Oooof, this was a hard one to read, but so so important, heart-wrenching, relevant and hopeful at the same time. It literally had me sobbing from page 2 if that tells you anything—but as a warning, it’s not for the faint of heart.

My first thought is how there might be nothing more that I value than other females in my life. I have always had close, female friendships (hello mom and dad-you acted blindsided by the whole lesbian thing, but come on). All kidding aside, I have always valued my female friendships and have continuously chosen to surround myself with powerful, smart, supportive women from an early age. Of course, I had friends that were boys growing up and a brother, but my best friends were other girls and there was something in us that screamed…you’re not stopping us no matter what you think! I then went to an all-female high school where I think most of my feminist empowerment came to be. We were taught we could do anything, equally well (if not better :)) than men. We were valued, supported, taught that the world was ours for the taking…it was that foundation and history of women that I stand tall and proud on today. So whenever I read books about strong, female friendships-I know my feminist heart is going to love it. This book is no exception and is one of the most powerful portrayals of female friendship that I have ever read.

My second thought-holy shit this book was hard to read. So hard, that at times, I had to put it down after literally feeling sick to my stomach. I’d like to give credit to Rao’s writing for this visceral reaction to some of what happens in this book (and let this be a warning to you if you are sensitive to intense abuse) but also…I’d like to remember that these sorts of terrible, terrible things happens and just because it’s so outside my understanding, doesn’t mean that it’s not important to know about, read about and acknowledge.

Thirdly, the writing is stunning and filled with description, savoring prose and vivid landscapes that made me feel like I was right there. I didn’t question what a home looked like, what a meal tasted like, or what a neighborhood felt like-it was given to me through Rao’s writing. I was walking where these girls walked, seeing what they saw, and experiencing what they experienced and that, my friends, is why we read. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to read it over again for the first time. Although in hindsight, I’m not sure if that would have been healthy for my mental state.

This book is nothing less than haunting, tragic, brutal, devastating, painful and heart-wrenching, but so poignant, powerful and hopeful at the same time. I was reminded how I have some friendships that I would go to the ends of the earth for and that we, as females, need to always remember to burn bright.

bookishfolk…read instead.