Thursday, June 15, 2017

I Like Friends Who Read

via on Flickr
Five Reasons Why My Best Friend is Awesome:
  1. she is very smart and whimsical
  2. she knows things I don’t, like linguistics
  3. she will go see Captain Underpants with me
  4. one time we boiled an orange
  5. we always talk about BOOKS (or TV)
It’s fair to say that my best friend and I became best friends because we had similar bookish interests. (I mean, it also required a willingness to make significant emotional investments and maintain our core values, but let’s not get technical.) She liked Harry Potter; I liked Harry Potter. She liked Percy Jackson; I liked Percy Jackson. She liked Ranger’s Apprentice; I forgot she lent me the first two books and awkwardly found them five months later.

Friendship, to say the least, is magic.

Elizabeth and I still love reading and discussing books together, and it helps to have a friend with similar reading interests. It helps to have one good friend who approaches conversations about Twilight like a serious person, and not like a person who makes a secret list of reasons why I (might) have bad taste. It is good to have someone who has similar reservations about the newest YA book on the street (Labyrinth Lost, in our case), and who admires Carswell Thorne, and who is a slut for Shakespeare (her words, not mine).

This is not to say we always read the same things—someone, by which I mean me, just bought an armful of Star Trek books, and that’s going to be a solitary march for that person. And I have not read Watership Down, which apparently is so good she'd name her kids after the characters. Still, our interests align enough that we enjoy a profitable overlap in our literary intrigues. According to Goodreads our interests are 82% similar, whatever that means.

We don’t even hate books the other likes… that I can remember. One may like what the other dislikes, but never to an extreme. The only example I can think of is The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. I really like it; she does really not. And we disagree on Shakespeare plays. King Lear is her favorite play. Which is great, because King Lear is legit. I’m not going to betray my convictions by suggesting it’s not. However, Macbeth is where it’s at. So. Sucks to suck.

Overall, though, we get along in our reading lives about as well as we do in our external ones. It’s good. I don’t know if I can imagine having a best friend who doesn’t like reading. Having a friend who likes to read enlivens discussions and provides an emotional outlet.

I am fortunate to have found her.

Do you and your friends have similar reading interests?

Thursday, June 8, 2017

How Do You Keep Your TBR Under Control?

ray bans
via Cherry Darlin' on Flickr
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a reader in possession of unread books must be in want of more books.

I don’t know why we are like this. It doesn’t make sense for us to be like this. We readers will have 378 books we want to read, and then say something silly like, “You know what I need? Twenty-six more books in my arms this instant.”

To be a reader is to be Sisyphus pushing the Hydra up a mountain—for every book we finish, two more spring up in its place.

Thus, I understand people’s motivation when they embark on personal book bans. I am most familiar with the book buying ban, in which you do not spend any money on books, on account of books are quite expensive and tend to pile up around your house.

I get that, and I applaud those who stick to that ban, because I imagine it is hard. In my own experience, I do not buy books as often as all that, so I’ve never felt the need to put intense limits on my book spending.

However, I am finding that my TBR is truly becoming outrageous and unmanageable, so I can see myself partaking in a few book bans in the next few months:

a library-book ban—it is always nice to get the new and shiny library books, but since last summer I’ve obtained a great many books. Unlike library books, they have nowhere to go back to. I’m thinking I’ll go on a library book ban for the rest of the summer (current holds and checkouts excepted) so I can catch up on my own unread books. I need to get my personal library in order.

a paper-book ban—I am fond of eBooks, which is no secret. The thing about eBooks, though, is that no matter how many I obtain, they take up the same amount of space in my room. This is great in terms of clutter, but in terms of getting those books read, it gives me no physical eyesore to challenge. I can see myself going on a paper-book ban once school starts (not counting my homework, of course!).

an owned-book ban—once I get my personal library under control, I want to get my digital TBR under control, too. At this minute, I have 253 books on my TBR spreadsheet, and that does not count most of the things I’ve taken a fancy to on Goodreads. I could legitimately see myself making 2018 about solely reading things I do not own, just to get those lists back down to size again.

Keeping on top of a TBR is hard work, man. But you knew that already. Still, I’m curious to see whether I can stick to these bans—I’m hoping they’ll make a difference. The stability of my room depends on it!

Have you ever enacted a personal book ban?

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Do You Read Nonfiction?

Gocce di pioggia sui vetri
via photographer Mia Felicita Bertelli on Flickr
As we enter the season of mid-year reflections, I want to think about nonfiction. I didn’t expect I’d like to read nonfiction—as a kid, my awareness of nonfiction led me to believe it was all just books on finance and health. Neither of those things interest me much.

Since entering college, though, I’ve found that reading nonfiction can be just as rewarding an experience as reading fiction. In the year of 2017, a little more than a fourth of my reading has been nonfiction. Some of that is my school reading, of course, but more than two-thirds of the nonfiction I read, I read for fun. Odd, huh?

Other fun facts: I’ve read 29 nonfiction books so far this year. Thirteen of those books (45%) were about women’s and gender issues. Nine of those books (31%) were memoirs from people in the entertainment industry. And five of those books (17%) were about race in America. Obviously, I am slacking on my race books, but I still have time to fix that.

Anyway, I thought I’d share a few book bundles to describe the most interesting nonfiction I’ve read as of late.

via Goodreads
The Feminism Books: Faithfully Feminist by Gina Messina-Dysert, Jennifer Zobair, Amy Levin; Virgin: The Untold Story by Hanne Blank; Missoula by Jon Krakauer

It’s a little difficult to highlight the similarities between these books. Faithfully Feminist contains a wide range of memoirs and reflections from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim women, and it is pretty fantastic, man. Virgin might be the most interesting nonfiction I’ve read ever. Did you know there’s no medical definition of virginity? And Missoula is a case study of rape cases in a college town. It is depressing and angering. I guess you could say I ordered these books by the amount of joy they brought me, greatest to least.

via Goodreads
The Race Books: The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander; Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates; Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison; The Crunk Feminist Collection by Brittney C. Cooper, Susana M. Morris, Robin M. Boylorn

These are not necessarily fun books, but they’re all important. The New Jim Crow deals with this as Alexander examines American prison systems; Coates delivers a more personal reflection on criminalization. Playing in the Dark discusses race in literature (#Englishmajor). And The Crunk Feminist Collection is also great: it is a compilation of blog posts that discuss social issues and personal experiences. It was informative, funny, and insightful—I feel like I got a lot out of it, even though I am not in its intended audience.

via Goodreads
The Star Trek Books: Star Trek Memories by William Shatner, Beyond Uhura by Nichelle Nichols, I Am Spock by Leonard Nimoy

The other entertainment memoirs didn’t fit together as well as these ones did. These are not the highest literature to be had, but I did like getting to look at the lives and careers of these actors—especially Nimoy and Nichols. Did you know Nichelle Nichols was kidnapped and abandoned in the woods one time? Bruh. Also, Nichols throws some shade at Shatner in her book (with some justification, methinks). It makes me wonder what it’s like to be so famous that you conduct all your disagreements via memoir.

There you go: ten good books. Or, if they are not always joyous, ten important books. And here’s to finding ten more by the end of the year.

Have you read any good nonfiction books lately?