You Will Be My Friend!

Some might not count short children’s books towards their reading goals, but I do.  Hey, some of the other reading material I’ve finished this year have more than 400 pages, so I think it all evens out.  One of my favorite children’s picture books I read this year was Peter Brown’s You Will Be My Friend!

#31daysofreading

Lucy, the title character, is desperately looking for a friend.  And she will try anything to make a new friend.  She goes to all the other animals in the forest and attempts to enjoy all the activities they like to do.  No matter how hard she tries, though, she struggles to make a good friend.  For the others in the forest, she’s just too much.  

I love this little book so much because, despite its intended audience of young children, I found it astonishingly relatable.  In fact, when I first found a copy of this book at Goodwill, I joked that it was essentially my memoir: the story of someone who runs up to people and declares friendship.   I can’t count the number of times I have felt like Lucy, struggling to find friends and realizing that others think I am too much.  I care deeply and passionately about many people, causes, and ideas—and some people find that too overwhelming.

I’ve learned (for the most part) to embrace my too much-ness and try not to put too much stock in the opinions of those who would wish my too much-ness away.  Whether you’re a young bear in the forest or a young woman in the real world, making friends is hard and life is too short to be worried about the people who aren’t interested in being your friend. I’ve been fortunate in my life to find many good friends–the question is, though, will Lucy find someone to be her friend?


You Will Be My Friend! Peter Brown, 5-stars, children’s picture book, adorable


You Will Be My Friend!

#GIRLBOSS

I read #GIRLBOSS one morning in July when I woke up accidentally at 4:45 AM.  My medication woke up my brain before my body wanted to get out of bed so I picked up #GIRLBOSS (yes, the hashtag is included in the title) off the top of the giant stack of books next to my bed.  It’s not a long or difficult read, and I had the book finished by the time my alarm went off at 7 AM to get ready for work.

#31daysofreading

Part memoir, part self-help, part business tale, #GIRLBOSS is Sophia Amoruso’s story of how she grew her business NastyGal.  She started out as a one-woman shop on eBay selling vintage clothes she found in thrift stores and over the course of a few years grew that shop into a multi-million dollar company.  I had never heard of either Amoruso or Nasty Gal, but the book had been recommended by a website I read for young professional women called Levo League.

What I liked most about this book was, as is the case for most memoirs, is Sophia’s story.  She’s honest and open about the mistakes she made in her young adulthood and as she started her business.  Her journey to becoming the CEO of a giant brand was, to say the least, unconventional.  She didn’t go to college, she didn’t attend business school.  Instead, she built her business through trial and error and wasn’t afraid of making mistakes if she could learn from them.

Interspersed through her personal story are tips for the modern young professional women, the #GIRLBOSS.  She has rules like, “Money looks better in the bank than on your feet,” and “Dream big, start small.”  None of these tips or rules are new or earth-shattering, but they are practical reminders that can help young women take charge of their personal and professional lives.


#GIRLBOSS, Sophia Amoruso, 4-stars, memoir, business, advice, some swearing


#GIRLBOSS

Dear Committee Members

Months and months ago, Linda Holmes of NPR recommended the book Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher on my favorite podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour.  Alas, at the time she recommended the book, she had read an Advanced Reader Copy and it wasn’t set to be published for months. In September, the book was finally published and since I was at the top of the holds list at the library I was able to start reading Dear Committee Members right away.

#31daysofreading

DCM is a short novel of letters from a professor of English at a small college to many, many people.  Professor Jason Fitger writes biting letters of recommendation for students pursuing jobs and degrees at a wide variety of institutions.  With a few exceptions, these are not positive recommendations.  In most of these letters, he is irritated at the requester or the intended recipient, and is not shy about his irritation.  He tells these committees exactly what he’s thinking, with no filter.  While these kinds of letters would be terrible to receive in real life, they are hilarious to read.  Professor Fitger writes what people actually think, but aren’t brave enough to say.

Mixed in with these letters of recommendation (or rather, un-recommendation) are yet more letters detailing his attempts to help one of his students publish a manuscript.  In each new missive, you discover just a little more about Professor Fitger’s life, relationships, and work.  Epistolary novels are so much fun to read: details are teased out piece by piece and you never know which letter will have a bombshell of new information.  DCM is an especially entertaining example, because it is filled with wit and humor.  If you like to laugh, you should read this book.


Dear Committee Members, Julie Schumacher, 5-stars, epistolary novel, hilarious, some swearing


Dear Committee Members

31 Days of Reading

I am a lifelong reader and book nerd.  Even though there have been seasons where I didn’t have the time or energy to read as much as I would have liked, books and reading have always been an important part of my life.  I also love sharing about what I’ve read, but I’ve never been very successful at actually writing down and publishing any reviews. When I came upon the idea of #31daysofwriting in October, I knew I had a topic ready-made for this challenge: #31daysofreading.  I’ve read 67 books so far this year (finished an audiobook in the car this morning on the way to work!), so I have plenty of material to review.  For this first day, though, I wanted to write about the tools I use to aid my reading habit, as well as what kinds of books I usually read.

#31daysofreading

While I already own hundreds of books, I also really like reading new shiny books.  Alas, my book budget cannot sustain my new shiny book habit, so it’s a good thing I work at a library.  I’m always hovering around my 50 items checked out limit, and I have over 80 items on hold.  Even though I know I won’t ever read them all, I love having choices and perusing these new shiny books.

One of my biggest partners in my reading adventures is Goodreads. I keep my imaginary bookshelves filled with what I’ve read, what I’m currently reading, what I’ve put in hibernating, what I’ve rejected completely, and what I want to read (the shelf that is ridiculously optimistic).  I can also record my reading progress (page number or percent completed), which is helpful since I tend to read 15-20 books at the same time.  I know many people can’t fathom reading more than one book at a time, but I love jumping from book to book and Goodreads helps me stay on track.

Goodreads also hosts a reading challenge every year, which I have participated in since 2011.  That year, I read 20 books, the next year I read 40, and last year I set a goal of 50 and read 53.  For 2014, I wanted to really challenge myself and decided to attempt to read 100 books.  The reading challenge lets me know how well (or not well) I’m keeping to the pace I need to be reading in order to finish 100 by December 31, and right now I’m 7 books behind the pace.

When I finish a book, I give it a star rating using Goodreads’ system: 5-stars: it was amazing; 4-stars: really liked it; 3-stars: liked it; 2-stars: it was ok; 1-star: did not like it.  Most of my books are rated 5s and 4s, because if I really don’t like it, I don’t normally finish it.  If I give a book 1 star, it generally means I hate-read it, meaning I disliked it so much yet I had to finish it because I hoped it might improve (see my 1-star review of The Magicians).

My favorite genre of books is memoir because I enjoy learning about life from someone else’s personal perspective.  Sometimes I choose a memoir specifically because the writer has lived a life very different than mine and I want to explore that difference.  Other times I choose one because I relate to the author and can place myself in her shoes.  Beyond memoir, you will also find me reading young adult fiction and historical nonfiction, with the occasional adult fiction and graphic novels.  Working at the library is expanding my reading horizons, but I mainly stick to these genres when I’m choosing my reading material.

I’ve read a lot of great books this year, as well as some not-so-great books.  You can see them all on my Goodreads page.  I don’t plan on reviewing every book on my list from this year, so if there’s a book in particular I’ve read that you’d like to see, leave a comment letting me know.  I hope that with my #31daysofreading you’ll discover new books to enjoy.