My Awesomely Random Life (and Everything in Between)

Posts tagged ‘Books’

Confessions of a Booknerd

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My name is Wendi, and I am probably most definitely absolutely 110% the biggest booknerd you will ever meet.

*And damn proud of it, my friends!

When it comes to reading, I’m Tom Hanks at Denny’s right after he got off that island with Wilson. I’ll read almost anything and everything–mysteries, serious literary fiction, fluffy chic-lit fiction, biographies, memoirs, and of course one of my favorite genres, young adult fiction. I’d like to think of myself as a flexible, curious reader, always looking to learn something, feel something and discover something new.

That being said however, I do have a few quirky reading habits that I just can’t seem to shake.

And I know I’m not the only one—Joey, I’m looking at you buddy.

These eccentricities just go to show that reading is such an intensely personal activity; no one person does it the same way.

Here are just a few of the things I find myself doing when I’m knee-deep in a good page-turner.

  1. Before I actually dive into a good book, I always read the very first sentence and the very last.

When I shared this little quirk of mine with the librarian who I work with, she was a teensy bit horrified. What about the potential for spoilers? I get what’s she putting down, I do. But for me, reading the last sentence gives me just a hint of what’s to come, and piques my interest to find out how it fits in with the beginning of the book. I’m very careful to read only the very last sentence, and I try to avoid looking elsewhere on the page. There’s something suspenseful and thrilling about peeking ahead—but only just a little bit.

And you thought reading wasn’t badass.

The one time I can remember this backfiring on me is with the J.D. Salinger short story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” If you’ve read the story, you understand.

  1. I hate folding down the page corners of a book.

Hate it! I will try to McGyver a bookmark out of just about anything before taking the drastic step to dog-ear a page; old receipts, a penny, a bobbi pin, even a butter knife (don’t ask).

  1. I also hate it when books get reinvented, new and flashy covers.

Some are more heartbreaking than others, like when the Harry Potter series was updated. The new covers seemed so strange and foreign to me; it was almost like it was a completely different book. The first edition I own or read will always be the best. No special new editions for this girl.

  1. I will go out of my way to get the hard cover versions of a book, even if I already own it in paperback or on my Nook.

There is just something about a hard cover; it’s hard binding, it’s strength, it’s durability. Just thinking about one gets me all flushed. Some Many Most think I’m crazy-sauce for buying a book if I already have it. But it’s kind of the same thing as buying that second pair of identical jeans that you’ve already got hanging in your closet, right? Which reminds me, I need to buy more jeans. As you can imagine, I am beginning to accumulate a lot of books. A lot of books.

  1. And finally, I love when books have a price sticker on the back of the cover that you can peel off.

My favorite local bookstore when I was a kid had those types of labels, and I loved bringing home a new book and peeling off the sticker. This childhood ritual has manifested itself in other areas of my life — I also love peeling the plastic protective sheet off of electronic devices and the labels off of water bottles. And don’t even get me started on those little stickers that come on your apples or bananas! I know, I don’t really get it either.

But we all have our little quirks, don’t we?

Question of the day: Do you have any unique quirks, reading or otherwise?

Libraries are the New Black

As someone who grew up the biggest of the book nerds (shout out to all of my fellow wicked readers!), I naturally spent a lot of time in the library.

A. Lot.

I was the Norm of my local library. Everyone knew my name, they new my favorite go-to reads, and didn’t mind in the slightest on those occasions when they’d have to kick me out. Or at least I don’t think they did. Funny story: I actually almost got locked inside a library once. Closing time came and went and I was so transfixed in the book I was reading that I didn’t even notice the lights were shutting off and the doors were closing. But I mean, being locked in a building FULL of books would be my version of gangster’s booknerd paradise. Basically.

To this day, I’m a regular frequenter of the public library. Libraries in fact. If you were to open my wallet you would find no less than 12 different library cards. Confession: the very first thing I did when I moved to Denver, before changing my mailing address, before getting my new driver’s license, before I found a bank was get hooked up with my library[ies].

Priorities, people.

The truth is, libraries are pretty damn spectacular. Forget Orange; libraries are the new black, yo!

Not that I’m biased or anything.

There are so many reasons why you should be spending some QT with your local library (if you aren’t already), whether you’re 8 or 80, and it’s high time to rediscover exactly what makes these book homes so perfectly perfect.

They’re Stacked!

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The number one best thing about libraries? They have just all of the books!!! And who wouldn’t want to hang out where they keep just all of the books? Crazy people, that’s who. I don’t want name names, but KAREN I’M TALKING TO YOU, KAREN!

It’s Quiet

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Sometimes, you just a bit of respite from everyday life. One of the greatest things about libraries is that they’re peaceful. And quiet. So pick out your fave book or magazine, pop a squat in one of those oversized comfy couches and take a mini brain vaca for an hour or five. Just keep an eye on the time–you wouldn’t want to get locked in. Or would you? I like the way you think. SEE KAREN, THIS IS HOW IT’S DONE!

The Kick-Ass Librarians

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Y’all, librarians are pretty much the coolest people you will ever meet. Not that I’m biased or anything. They’re super friendly, know a whole bunch about everything, and are always willing to give you a helping hand when trying to find your next fave read or when looking information up. Unless you librarian is Tammy 2, in which case, RUN! *Wait. Karen, is that you??!!

You Can Read For Free

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Usually–okay, every damn time–when I walk into a bookstore, my bank account starts crying because it knows there are about to be some serious dollars shed. The great thing about a library is you can check out as many books as your little heart desires, FOR FREE. I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of free. Huge!

You’ll Feel Productive

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There’s just something about a library that inspires feelings of productivity, whether it’s your university’s beautiful study spot or your town’s local branch. For those times when you really need to crack down and get some things checked off the ‘ol to-do list (or your TBR list) the library is the place to go!

You’ll Be Surrounded By Other People Who Love Books

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Just knowing that you’re near fellow book-lovers is good enough reason to hit up the library. I always feel like I’m Olive Gardening it whenever I walk into the library—after all, when you’re here, you’re family. Dammit. Now I want breadsticks.

You Might Have (Or You Can At Least Imagine Having) An Epic Book Romance

Is that a copy of Lord of the Rings in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? What a better place to meet an attractive stranger, than surrounded by shelves of books? Imagine: you both reach for the same copy of The Hobbit and suddenly it’s love at first we-like-the-same-books.

It Will Remind You of Your Childhood

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If you, like me, spent many an hour in the library as a kiddo, picking out stacks and stacks (and stacks!) of books, you’ll get a rush of nostalgia when you go back. If the library was one of your fave places too, why not relive those great memories?

You Can Live Out Your Inner Belle Fantasies

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If you were a book-lover growing up, and you love Disney, one of your fave Disney princesses was most likely Belle. And you may or may not have rewound your VHS to watch the library scene a million kajillion times. Why not take this opportunity to relive that magic? From personal experience, might I recommend keeping the singing to a minimum.

They’re Full of History

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Some libraries have been around a really long time, which you’ll discover as you flip through some of the books. 10 points to Gryffindor if you check out aged hardcovers with yellowing pages and library stamp cards in the front. Doesn’t it make you wonder exactly who checked out that book before you? Who thumbed through the pages, reading the very same words that  you’re now reading? Everything is a story, people!

There Are Some Super Amazing Libraries Out There

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One of the things I love to do when traveling is check out the city or town’s libraries. Some of my favorites have been the New York Public Library, the Chicago Public Library and the Charleston Public Library. Each have their own flavor, their own vibe, their own stories to tell (pun intended). Not to mention they are drop dead gorgeous! You should definitely go to this library. And this one. And these. And FOR SURE book some plane tickets, because these are all stunning.

Libraries, guys.

They’re the been knees.

Not that I’m biased or anything.

 

 

 

Why My Future Kiddos Will Be Able To Read Just ALL of the Things

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One of my favorite memories growing up was when my grandma would take me to the local library. She’d arm me with a juice box, Goldfish crackers and my library card, and let me have free reign of the place, letting me wander and explore and get lost in the stacks (sometimes literally–my library was HUGE, yo!). My fascination and obsession with all things books started at a very young age–a lot of it I think came from my grandmother who could devour novels, going through them like the giant tub of Good & Plenty she kept on the table by her recliner. I was entranced by the endless possibilities books offered, the adventure and power and magic they held. To this day, anytime I walk into a bookstore or library, it’s so overwhelming that I don’t even know where to begin–there’s just all of the options! Often times I would (and still do) just choose a book at complete random and go from there.

I truly believe that discovery through reading is a universal experience, one that enables readers to imagine other incredible lives and worlds. To me, is just doesn’t get much better than that.

For this reason, I won’t place any restrictions on my personal library when my future kiddos learn how to read. I’ve already decided that I’m going to introduce them to Harry Potter in utero because duh. With nearly 1,000 physical books and e-books, my tiny apartment is almost most definitely groaning under the weight of all those words. Poetry, fiction, history, biography, drama, anthologies: they’re all there on my bookshelves (and floors and couches and nightstands and kitchen tables). All of them, each and every last one tell stories that are uplifting, disturbing, real, inspiring, thought-provoking and hilarious. They reveal the kaleidoscopic diversity of the human experience. And they will show my future sons and/or daughters that the world is an infinitely fascinating and amazing place.

But, some might say, you’d let your 8-year old read Lolita? You’d let your 10-year old get his Scarlet Letter on? Or anything by Stephen King???

Yes. Yes I would. You want to know why? Because I believe that you connect with books that you’re meant to connect with at a specific time. Reading Thomas Hardy, for instance, informed me how to read Salinger and Faulkner, Morrison and Mann. I had my nose in a book pretty much on the regular. My friends and family still make fun of me for having paperbacks and hardcovers wherever I go; stacks in the living room, bathroom, bedroom nightstand, car, desk at work and of course my purse. Have books, will travel, as they say. Or maybe it’s just me who say’s it?

My mom and dad who never were big readers, let me read until my little heart was content, whatever and whenever and wherever. (I still remember the time they caught me reading a Babysitter’s Club book in church—that was maybe the only time they told me to step away from the book.) My mom listened over Corn Flakes during breakfast and on the ride home from school as I told her about the books I was reading, and while she lifted her eyebrows and asked questions, she never, ever told me I wasn’t allowed to read anything. And for that I’m eternally grateful.

This smorgasbord of genres and time-periods and styles ultimately enriched my understanding of the world and my place in it. I realized through my reading that “the good ‘ol days” never really existed, that human nature never really changes, and that I must keep an open mind if I wanted to keep learning.

Growing up, my family never really traveled much. My dad was in the military so both my sister and I have seen almost all 50 states, but never have I been outside of the country. I used books to explore these places I couldn’t otherwise access, bouncing between the wild jungles of Asia, the savannas of Africa and the beautiful and romantic cities of Paris and Rome. I built up a list of literary pilgrimages I wanted to make when I was older, and while I still haven’t actually made it to any of those places, yet, I have every intention on doing so.

As a librarian, I’ve seen the excited looks and wide smiles on the faces of kids who pick up a book they love, or one that they are discovering for the first time. I’ve also seen the disappointment when their parents tell them that they can’t check out that copy of “Captain Underpants” or “Diaries of a Wimpy Kid.” It’s every parent’s prerogative to raise their children in anyway they see fit, and I’m in no way trying to negate that, but I urge them to rethink the censorship they put on books.

I think the key to having your kids’ reading be free-wheelin’ and unfettered but also informative is your ability to answer their questions and listen to them figure out what they’ve read. You won’t need to schedule specific times to have “Big Talks” about various issues because those issues will naturally come up in their reading. They’ll read Ralph Ellison and ask you about racism and injustice and identity; they’ll read Charlotte Perkins Gilman and ask about feminism and equality; they’ll read Dickens and Orwell and ask about poverty and surveillance and war. They’ll read histories of World War II and plays about apartheid and poems about faith or sexuality or despair. They’ll read graphic novels and comic books and screenplays. You’ll realize that answering their questions is a full-time job and that your books are making them smart and thoughtful and pretty soon they’ll be outmaneuvering you in debates about when and for how long they can take the car and whether or not they can get a tattoo or dye their hair blue. But you’ll be damn proud of them.

I have always had strong thoughts about censorship and book-banning. To put it blatantly, I think it’s a bunch of bullfunky. Kids are more mindful than they’re sometimes given credit for, and they should be allowed to browse and sample and explore. Who cares if they don’t understand a book they read in 6th grade? They’ll read it again later, maybe, and then it’ll all start to make sense, maybe. One of my favorite things about books is that you can read the same one every three years and each time your life experiences will make you see it differently.

So, to my fellow parents or soon-to-be parents, unleash your kids in personal or public library or bookstore and watch the magic happen!

Stacked: A Single Libarian’s Search For Love (And Cookies)

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If only I had a dime for every time (Hey! That rhymed!) someone made a sexy-librarian reference or joke towards me, I’d, well, I’d have enough money to eat my Frosted Flakes for dinner every night with the fancy silverware. When I accepted a life-long dream job with the library almost a year ago, my besties reminded me, half teasingly, half with encouragement, that it’s a position that still fulfills a certain classical fantasy.

My black cat-eye glasses and extensive cardigan literary tattoo collection probably doesn’t do the best job of dispelling the notion that I’m one Def Leppard guitar rift away from a tryst in the stacks, and damned if I can’t toss my hair and shush patrons with the best of them. *Correction: I don’t so much hair toss but rather blow my silly bangs out of my face and I am the farthest from a shusher. But don’t tell anyone! I have street cred to uphold. In my dream sequences most likely propelled by eating ice cream right before bed, a cutie walks up to the desk, my eyes meeting his over the spine of a novel. I’d be so taken aback by his ridiculously hot knowledge of all things Harry Potter that I would climb onto a Beauty and the Beast-esque ladder and sail towards destiny. Pour some sugar on me. But not really because holy stickiness, Batman.

Realistically though, the job is a little less romantic than that. I spend more time wiping down inexplicably sticky copies of text books that I do finding kindred spirits among the stacks, and I’m unlikely to go ga-ga over over patrons who need help Googling the answer to the question “Why is a hamburger called a hamburger? It’s, like, sooooo not ham.” Actual thing I had to do the other day. I soooo wish I was joking.

But in the down-time, when you’re resting on your elbows over the counter waiting for the next patron to approach, you do entertain those silly yet glossy possibilities. Just a little, teeny weeny, ittie, bittie bit. I mean, Chris Evans hasn’t walked into my library loaded down with books and angst…yet…but it could happen, right?

Potential gentleman callers should know, though, that we badass single librarians have our own set of great expectations (see what I did, there?) For instance: size absolutely matters. If I’m looking, I’m looking for a man’s man with an enormous…lexicon. My ideal guy boasts a giant library (or at the very least entertains the idea of reading to humor a girl) and he’s got enough literary experience that he doesn’t need directions once he gets in my stacks.

Library stacks, people. Get your dirty minds out of the gutter (but game respect game.)

Potential gentleman called needs to understand that yes, when I walk into a bookstore, I will most likely not be walking out without at least 4 5 10 books in tow. And that yes, I will point out all the differences in the film version of the book that we go see on date night, stewing over the parts they left out and changed. And that yes, when I’m in the throws of a great page-turner, that text/snap chat/Facebook message will go left unanswered until said great page-turner is done.

That’s just the way I jelly roll, ya dig?

“Single librarian” may be the thing to be. But pruient (thank you, word of the day calendar for that one) patrons, know this: if you don’t come to our desks with the readerly goods (and possibly cookies because YUM!) to back up those winks, your card probably isn’t getting stamped.

Your library cards, people. Gutter!

But Do You Even Goosebump, Bro?

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Y’all, Goosebumps were the shiznit, and in my pubescent eyes, R.L. Stine was a literary genius. To say that I was a bit of a fan would be an understatement. A few months ago I was helping my mom clean out my parent’s basement–they’re in the process of moving and were in the ‘purge everything and anything’ stage–and we came across about five massive dusty bins full of Goosebump books (along with an Easy Bake Oven, Barbies, VHS tapes of old Disney and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies, board games and stuffed animals). They were my go-to reads throughout my elementary and middle school years. Just. So. Good.

Now, just reading the book jacket of a horror novel (Stephen King, I’m looking at you mister) or watching a scary movie trailer prevents me from sleeping for days weeks. But when I was a wee lass, I LOVED everything scary. Goosebumps were my introduction to the creepy-crawlies, the ghosts and goblins and monsters of the night. They were the perfect representation of the fears everyone faces, especially during those awkward pre-teen years (helllloooo first zits, first school dances, first kisses and first time you decide to get that perm. Yikes.).

In fact, I think that if Goosebumps were rewritten today with the adulting reader in mind, they’d be the perfect representation of the fears everyone faces (hellllooooo shitty WiFi connections, the scary price of extra guac, the world of Tinder and that second time you decide to get that perm. Yikes.).

Here are 10 Goosebumps books rewritten for the somewhat, maybe, sort of, kind of, but not really adulting adult.

1.Welcome to the Dead WiFi Zone. The Hansen family moves to dark Falls, and while meeting with a real estate agent, their dog Thunder immediately senses that something is just not right. The WiFi connection is less than 3 bars. Noooooooo!!!!!

2. Escape From That One Friend of Yours Who Always Asks If You’re Going To Watch Their Gig. Lizzy is rapidly running out of excuses to tell Luke why she can’t listen to his Bon Iver cover band play. Again.

3. Say Cheese and Die of Embarrassment Because You Just Got A Notification That You Were Tagged in 13 Photos On Facebook From Last Night. Apparently Chris has one too many Appletinis and decided to streak through a Target at 2 o’clock in the morning. He doesn’t know what is more terrifying: the fact that the internet has seen him in his birthday suit running through aisle 5, or that he was drinking Appletinis.

4. It Came From Beneath The Sink And You’re Not Fully An Adult So You’re Not Quite Sure How To Handle It, So For Now You’re Just NOT Going Into Your Kitchen. The first time Lindsay opened the cabinet under her sink, she saw a spider. To this day, she can’t go into her kitchen without silently screaming and has never been able to properly clean her countertops because the Lysol spray is in that cabinet and there is no way that Lindsay is opening that portal to hell ever again. Like. ever.

5. Monster Blood, Jungle Juice, And Other Sketchily Named Mixed Drinks That Make You Wake Up The Next Morning Regretting Every Decision You’ve Ever Made In Your Entire Life. Looking for fun, Jason decides to dabble with the greenish drink served at a party. His liver and memory inevitably beg him never to drink again. Until the next happy hour. Or 3 o’clock. Whichever comes first.

6.The Girl Who Cried “Wait, Don’t Eat That Just Yet, I Need To Take A Picture!” Kara is the type of girl who can observe when someone is just about to take a bite of food before she panics and makes them rearrange their plate so that she can Instagram it.

7. The Sunday Afternoon of Doom: The Pivotal Point When You Attempt to To Finish All The Work You Managed To Avoid The Entire Weekend. Jon is constantly forewarned to dedicate free time throughout the weekend to chipping away at the mountain of work he’s been assigned. He never listens (which is why he is starring down the barrel of an overflowing dirty laundry basket and kitchen sink).

8. Don’t Go To Sleep, Because Someone Could Text You Last Second And Ask If You Want To Spontaneously Go Do Something Really Cool (So You Should Totally Stare At Your Phone Until You Pass Out At 2AM).

Elyse is convinced tonight is probably the night that either Stephen or Michael are going to text her in a panic about having an extra ticket for something cool happening. There’s no way he can fall asleep. Think of the FOMO.

9. Return Of That Guy You Gave A Fake Number To That One Time But Now You’re Both At The Same Club.

Nothing compares to the level of panic Brittney feels when she realizes That Guy she gave a fake number to a couple of weeks ago is back in the same room as her and definitely recognizes her.

10. The Haunted Friendzone: When Your Crush Outright Tells You That You’re Like A Sibling To Them.

Wendi swears she’s cursed into this vortex where any guy she really likes always feels as though she’s “the sister they’ve never had.” No matter how many Easter Island emojis she sends them.

12 Times Hermione Granger Taught Us How To Own Our Kick-Assness

It’s no secret that my list of fictional girl crushes is a mile and a half long (and keeps growing by the minute). Kick-ass chicks like Katniss Everdeen, Hester Prynne, Jane Eyre, Lizzie Bennett, Nancy Drew and Matilda showed us that girls could do just all of the things, that they had a voice, strength and a fierceness that was indescribable. My favorite fictional female characters however, my ultimate bookish BFF, my sista from another mista is the one, the only, the magical Hermione Granger.

My girl Miss Granger made it cool for girls everywhere to be confident bookworms, proving to be one of the best role models for bookish young girls and women all over the world. Hermione’s most important message however may have been her independence. In most of the Harry Potter books, she had a life separate from whatever was going on with her besties Harry and Ron.

For example, in The Chamber of Secrets, she spent hours alone researching the who’s, what’s and why’s of that crazy basilisk in the stacks of the library; in The Prisoner of Azkaban, she literally had a whole time-turned life that Harry and Ron had no idea about; in The Goblet of Fire, she conceived and founded Dumbledore’s Army (yes, it was her idea! You go, girl!).

Of course, she did all of these ahhhmazing things while saving Harry and Ron pretty much on the regular, all with her brains, skills, and unfailing courage. As Emma Watson herself pointed out, Hermione taught us all that girls can fight, too.

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Here are just a few of the many things she has taught us over the years. I think she would be happy to know that she has done a sorting hat full of good in the Muggle world too.

Pronunciation matters.

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You don’t have to listen to boys, even if they’re famous wizards.

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Knowledge is power.

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Books save lives, people.

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Sometimes you just need to let your hair down.

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Especially when an electric personality can make even frizzy hair sound exciting.

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This philosophical mind-bomb.

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Know your strengths.

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Own it, and it has no power over you.

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If you want something, you have to work for it.

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Priorities: She had then sorted out after all.

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Shine so brightly that nobody can call you “just a sidekick.”

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I would gladly be a part of your girl gang any day, Hermione!

QOTD: Who are some of your favorite fictional female role models? What life lessons have you learned from them?

17 MORE books that are so ridiculously bad, they’re good: Part III

Books are…well, they’re amazing.

And as we’ve previously seen here and here, they can be all of the ridiculous.

Ridiculously amazing that is! It’s been a hot minute since I took a trip to the WTF book store, which is why I’m happy to present you guys with 17 MORE books that are so ridiculously bad, they’re good.

Trust me, y’all. Your bookshelf will not be complete without these winners.

  1. This super dupes helpful tip for how to increase your smarts.

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Wheaties shmeaties.

2. Only the most im-poo-rtant how-to guide you will ever have.

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Don’t do it. Like, ever. Never let them know you poo.

3. This book will just burn a hole in all of your pockets.

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But can we talk about those overalls for a second? Need, want, gotta have.

4. These goldfish are fancy and cultured AF!

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They eat the expensive chocolate.

5. Those are some efffing phenom fences, yo.

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That’s some nice looking wood. #ThatsWhatSheSaid

6. A purrrfect addition to any cat-lover’s library.

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Reason number 538 why people should not eat cat nip brownies.

7. Geeze, finally! The answer to this age-old question.

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Because the obsession with One Direction and pleated bow ties didn’t give it away.

8. Smocks are the new black. Calling it now.

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This guy is totally Tim Gunn-ing it! #MakeItWork

9. The only dating handbook you will ever need.

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Forward written by Mrs. Robinson.

10. Rolling with my homies…

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Party at Jean Jefferies house this weekend!

11. WHAT THE EFFF IS THIS FRIGHTENING NONSENSE?!!?

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Duct tape and WD-40. Solves everythingggggg.

12. Walter White’s second fave book.

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So what’ll it be? Cheese, pepperoni, veggie or the meth, I mean meat lover’s pizza.

13. Now this just seems like a bad idea.

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Just so many Pillsbury croissant tubes!!!

14. Is that a fly in your mouth or are you just happy to see me?

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Nope. It’s definitely a fly.

15. Because even terrifying puppets deserve a chance to find religious enlightenment.

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Hozier’s inspiration.

16. The truth hurts sometimes, dude.

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Follow-up to the best-selling book, “If God Loves Me, Why Can’t I Get My Locker Open.”

17. These guys just need a good hug.

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And a lot of duct tape and WD-40. Just all of the duct tape and WD-40.

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