Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Why I Love... Shelfies

When I started heading up my library's social media, I couldn't wait to start an Instagram account. I love taking pictures and I love going into the stacks. Hence, I love shelfies.

Shelfies are selfies of books. You can be in the picture with the books or simply feature the books themselves. I'm a fan of the latter. I love finding just the right angle with just the right lighting to truly make the books pop. I also like to challenge myself to find a new perspective (see picture below). Shelfies give me a chance to be creative while showing off something I love.

Shelfies are great because they are also about sharing. Shelfies offer a chance for people to show off their book collections and reading personalities. I love seeing a well styled bookcase full of books and other decorative items. Every now and then I search the shelfie hashtag on Instagram just to see what others are posting. I'm always amazed by the variety of images and books people own.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

What I Read This Week: August 28, 2016

Holy lack of reading, Batman! This was a crazy week at work. (Closing and relocating a branch library will do that to ya.) All I wanted to do when I got home was veg on the couch, watch bad TV (Camp Cutthroat on FoodNetwork is fantastic), and read the internet. Sloth for the win!

Lady B got my off my couch on Saturday. She wanted to run her first D&D for her birthday. It was kind of awesome. I was a dragon-born thingy. Fear my clumsy tail!
  • Books
    • I'm about halfway through The Middlesteins. I am loving this book and actually have no idea where it is headed. I heart a touch of mystery. If this was read-a-thon, this book would have made a great middle of the event read.
  • Other
    • Article club met this week and we read two pieces about choosing or not choosing motherhood. (I would link them here, but I've already deleted the links. D'oh!) Just know that our group is in agreement that women should make the decision that works best for them, and no one should judge them for it.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Friday Find: Rest

I do most of my reading in bed. I either bury myself under the covers and prop the book against the headboard, or create a nest of pillows and snuggle down with a book in my lap. Either way, the book needs to be propped up or I find myself annoyed. This cute little reader pillow could serve my needs well. I know it's designed for ipads and e-readers, but I would totally use it for a hardcover book.

You can find this in WishForGift's etsy shop.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Variations on a Theme: Can't Wait!

Fall always seems to be a great time for books. As much as I love beach reads, I always seem to connect fall with binge reading. That might have something to do with the fact that it's back to school time and I always loved seeing what I would read during a semester.

This month's Variations on a Theme is a list of books I can't wait to read. Most of these are not new titles. They are simply the titles on my TBR list that I want to read sooner rather than later.

The Woman in Cabin Ten 
Ruth Ware

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

Before the Fall 
Noah Hawley

On a foggy summer night, eleven people--ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter--depart Martha's Vineyard on a private jet headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the plane plunges into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs--the painter--and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of an immensely wealthy and powerful media mogul's family. With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the crash and the backstories of the passengers and crew members--including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot--the mystery surrounding the tragedy heightens. As the passengers' intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy. Was it merely by dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations. And while Scott struggles to cope with fame that borders on notoriety, the authorities scramble to salvage the truth from the wreckage.

Eight Hundred Grapes 
Laura Dave

There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide… What if your beloved fiancĂ©, he of the crinkly smile and irresistible British accent, had kept a life-changing secret from you? And what if, just a week before your dream wedding, you discovered it? Georgia Ford, bride-to-be, hops in her car and drives through the night, from Los Angeles to Sonoma, to her safe haven: her family, and the acclaimed family winery. Georgia craves the company of those who know her best, and whom she truly knows. Better yet, it’s the eve of the last harvest—the best time of the growing season, and Georgia knows she’ll find solace—and distraction—in the familiar rituals. But when Georgia arrives home, nothing is at all familiar. Her parents, her brothers, the family business, are all unrecognizable. It seems her fiancĂ© isn’t the only one who’s been keeping secrets.

My Brilliant Friend
Elena Ferrante

The story begins in the 1950s, in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on these tough streets the two girls learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. As they grow, as their paths repeatedly diverge and converge, Elena and Lila remain best friends whose respective destinies are reflected and refracted in the other. They are likewise the embodiments of a nation undergoing momentous change. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists, the unforgettable Elena and Lila.

Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook
Rachel Khoo

Living a life as colorful and creative as Rachel Khoo—star of three BBC television series, author of bestselling cookbooks, illustrator, and international tastemaker—creates a constellation of ideas and inspiration. All of her gifts pack this exuberant more-than-a-cookbook, with its rounded corners and hefty notebook feel. Each turn of the page offers doable and delicious recipes, style-setting ideas from around the globe, 250 photographs, and Rachel's charming illustrations and engaging notes. Here's a cookbook unlike any other—one that brings a smile of surprise and delight every time it's opened.


Rainbow Rowell

In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.  Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to. Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words...And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Other Can't Wait Titles
Bibliotech - John Palfrey
Everyday Sexism - Laura Bates
Flaneuse - Lauren Elkin
Friday Night Lights - H.G. Bissinger
The Index Card - Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack
Sleep Donation - Karen Russell
The Witches - Stacy Schiff

Links and Stuff: August 25, 2016

From Hannah Hillam

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What I Read This Week: August 21, 2016

I'm on a boat! Well, I'm coming back from being on a boat. The Husband and I went on a small getaway to Annapolis this weekend. We took a sunset cruise on the bay, had crab for dinner in old town, spent the night in a schooner cabin, and ate a delicious breakfast on deck. It was a fantastic way to celebrate the end of summer. (Too bad DC weather thinks it's summer until November. Blergh)
  • Magazines
    • Good Housekeeping, September 2016 - I spent all of 15 minutes flipping through this issue. The cover feature about strong women are awesome, but I noticed that many of the women featured have appeared in similar pieces in other magazines. I did enjoy the two articles on time saving ideas and hormones.  
    • Cooking Light, September 2016 - This issue was chock-full of delicious looking recipes. I pulled three that I want to try immediately. I love that the bulk of this month focused on family meals. The Husband and I cook a lot at home, but we're trying to expand what we eat. This issue has some great ideas to help us do that. I also liked the short feature on how to lose
      weight as a couple. I've been trying to drop a few pounds, and this piece had some nice reminders. Finally, great tips on how to eat a better breakfast. 
  • Books
    • I finished reading Code Name Verity and man was the ending a punch in the gut. Really good read! 
    • I started reading The Middlesteins. I found this book on the community bookcase in my apartment building's laundry room. It was on my TBR list so I thought it was worth grabbing. So far, I like the story.
  • Other

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Friday Find: Wearigami

These just the cutest little stud earrings! I am always impressed by what the sellers on Etsy come up with. These simple, origami shaped earrings are just stunning.

You can find them in the STCHandmade shop.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Why I Love... Books That Linger

A few days ago, I finished reading Code Name Verity. The book may be over, but the stories emotional impact is still with me. This is one of those books that stays with you after the last page. I love that feeling. There are various reasons why I may want to read a book. I might want mindless entertainment; I might want high emotion and drama; I may want to learn something. Whatever my initial reason for picking up a book, I'm always hoping that it will stick with me.

When a book lingers, it reminds me of why I read in the first place. I'm expanding my universe and experience of the world through reading. A book can linger because it taught me a lot of information, led to emotional insights, or caused me to view the world in a different way. A book can linger because it caused me to question my past actions or perceptions. A book can linger because it has had a profound impact on me emotionally. Whatever the reason, when a book lingers its because it's caused me to think more deeply. It causes me to reach inside myself a question why that story is sticking around in my head. Sometimes it takes me a few days or even weeks to make the connection, but once I find that "Aha!" moment of why a book is sticking around in my head, I know that I've grown.

This is what books are meant to do. They go beyond simply reading words on a page. They teach you more about the world, yourself, and how you interact with others. In that way books are active entertainment. You may look calm as you sit and read, but inside your thoughts and emotions are churning and making connections to the outside world. To me, a book that lingers has done its job.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

What I Read This Week: August 14, 2016

Every two years I get sucked into the Olympics. I never watch any of these sports outside of the Olympics. (The exception being winter's ice hockey.) When the Olympic roll around, I get completely sucked in. I love the competition and the drama; I also love seeing people at the top of their games and achieving their dreams. Every time an Olympian cries, I tear up. Kleenex should sponsor my viewing. I LOVE these two weeks. I hate the sexist commentary... but I'm willing to yell at the TV and cheer everyone on nonetheless.

The Husband and I did take a break from our bingewatching of the Olympics to spend the weekend in Baltimore with friends. We mainly wanted to visit the aquarium, but the whole inner harbor is fantastic.
  • Magazines
    • National Geographic, August 2016 - The cover story on editing DNA was kind of technical but really interesting! I've heard about CRISPR before, but this was the easiest to understand explanation. I enjoyed that the article looked at consequences. This issue included an article on the whitetip shark. This shark is maligned in our imagining and over-fished. Great article with great pictures. There was a long sort of dry (no pun intended) piece on the shrinking Ogallala aquifer. The entire time I was reading that piece, I heard my dad in the back of my head saying, "See! I told you this would happen."  Finally, pandas! Pandas are so cute even if they find breeding confusing.
  • Books
    • I've passed the half-way point in Code Name Verity. If I had read this book during read-a-thon, I would not stop. Not even to blog. It's very good, and I just hit the point that made me go, "OOOOOOO!"
  • Other

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Friday Find: Key

When I'm stumped for what to post here, I love going to Etsy and searching "reading." I've found a ton of awesome stuff using that method, and this week is no different. My simple search led me to this great key chain.

I was in the market for a new key chain for years. I wanted something small, metal, and meaningful. If the husband hadn't come through with a fantastic gift on our wedding day, I would have bought this.

You can buy your own from michellemach.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Links and Stuff: August 11, 2016

The Mustard Seed Bookstore in Bath, Maine

Tuesday, August 09, 2016


It's National Book Lovers Day! I don't know who decides when we celebrate these random holidays, but I love any excuse to hug books in public.

Books have always been a part of my life. Both of my parents are readers and my father is a librarian. I've grown up as a reader. I spent countless hours reading whatever I could get my hands on. When I found a book I loved - looking at you This Place Has No Atmosphere - I read it dozens of times. Seriously. Dozens. Some of my best childhood memories are biking or walking to the local library. Almost every year, I received books as birthday and/or Christmas presents. And I was thrilled about that. Now I'm a librarian and books are a part of my daily living. I get to see the new titles before they hit the shelves, and I get to fix the books that have been over-loved by our patrons. I'm also still a reader. I can't imagine going a day without reading even one page in a book. Like every book lover I know, I have a never-ending list of titles to be read.

I am a book lover because...

... reading makes me happy.
... reading makes me smarter.
... reading expands my horizons beyond what I see everyday.
... reading is adventure or classroom where you are.
... reading is the best way to spend a rainy day.
... reading is the best way to spend a lazy day.
... reading is the best thing to do before turning out the light at night.
... books make me smile.
... books have an intoxicating smell.
... books feel like holding endless possibility.
... books look good in your home.
... books do wonders for flattening bumps in your carpet.

... books make for great coversations.
... books are for sharing.

Why are you a book lover?

YouTube Tuesday: Uh-oh

Monday, August 08, 2016

Book 24: Hyperbole and a Half

TITLE: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things that Happened
AUTHOR: Allie Brosh
STARTED: July 25, 2016
FINISHED: July 31, 2016
PAGES: 373
GENRE: Graphic Novel

FIRST SENTENCE: It seems like there should be some sort of introduction to this.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Every time Allie Brosh posts something new on her hugely popular blog Hyperbole and a Half the internet rejoices. This full-color, beautifully illustrated edition features more than fifty percent new content, with ten never-before-seen essays and one wholly revised and expanded piece as well as classics from the website like, “The God of Cake,” “Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving,” and her astonishing, “Adventures in Depression,” and “Depression Part Two,” which have been hailed as some of the most insightful meditations on the disease ever written. Brosh’s debut marks the launch of a major new American humorist who will surely make even the biggest scrooge or snob laugh. We dare you not to.

THOUGHTS: If you love the web comic, you'll love this book. It's the web comic in print. (In some cases it is indeed a print of comics that first appeared on the web.) This is riotously funny and a little heart-breaking. It will make you remember how you were a hellion as a child and why you love dogs. This book is a hilariously take on everyday life.

RATING: 8/10 [Terrific]

Sunday, August 07, 2016

What I Read This Week: August 7, 2016

So, my metro line was single tracking all week. Since I can't reliably count on metro to get me to work on time on a good day, I decided to try something new. This month, UBER started offering a "pool pass" in DC. I pay an up front fee and then only have to pay $1 for each pool ride. I thought I would try it out as a way to get around metro's problems.

Whelp... I loved it. I had a comfy seat, AC, strong cell signal, and arrived early (sometimes very early) to work (and home) every day this week. It also turns out to be cheaper. If this become a monthly thing, I don't know if I'll ever go back to metro.
  • Magazines
    • Washingtonian, August 2016 - Mmmm beeeer. I now have a lengthy list of breweries to visit. This issue also had a great breakdown of how to get the most out of Rock Creek Park.... including a long hike to help you burn off all the calories from the beer. I thought I would enjoy the article on the breakup of POLITICO more but it was kind of blah. I'm not really into hearing about internal bickering.
    • HGTV Magazine, September 2016 - Aside from the pretty colors and funny makeovers, there was not much in this issue that caught my eye.
    • Food Network, September 2016 - This was a pretty hefty issue. There were some tasty looking recipes. but I only
      flagged one to try later. (But all of the mac and cheese ones were tempting.) I loved the behind the scenes picture article about how recipes for the magazine are tested. Finally, the article on New York City bagels made me want to hop on a train north so I could grab a dozen or two.
  • Books
    • I started reading Code Name Verity. I'm enjoying the story and how the writer decided to set up her narrative. Too bad I keep falling asleep after 5 pages! I might need to set aside an evening to just marathon this book. I have a feeling I will fall into it and not want to go anywhere else.
  • Other
    • The Atlantic posted an interesting article on the spending habits of millenials. I have to say that I am one of the members of that generation that tend to spend less on things and more on experiences.

Friday, August 05, 2016

The Friday Find: The Covers

When you're reading a book under the covers, why not make those covers on theme? This is a fantastic calligraphy duvet. It's both bookish and stylish.

You can find it at Simons.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Book 23: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

TITLE: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
AUTHOR: Washington Irving
STARTED: July 21, 2016
FINISHED: July 25, 2016
PAGES: 112
GENRE: Literature

FIRST SENTENCE: In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the protect of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market-town or rural port which by some is called Greensburg, but is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow first appeared in 1819. In the generations that have followed, this tall tale of Ichabod Crane's terrifying yet hilarious encounter with the Headless Horseman has become so popular that it has passed into American folklore. In 1928, a new edition of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was issued, featuring enchanting paintings and drawings by world-renowned illustrator Arthur Rackharn. To this day, many consider Rackham's the definitive illustrations for Irving's high-spirited tale. Now a new generation of readers and listeners can fall under the spell of Irving's story and Rackham's pictures. This edition of the complete, unedited text faithfully reproduces all eight of Rackham's colorful paintings, twenty-four of his pen and-ink drawings, and his colorful end papers. Here you will meet the tall, gangly Ichabod Crane, the schoolmaster who is as much in love with Katrina Van Tassel's fortune as he is with the beautiful Katrina herself. You will also meet Ichabod's rival, the hotblooded brawler and prankster Brom Bones. And you can decide for yourself if Ichabod Crane really met the Headless Horseman on that dark, lonely road late one night. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a fine blend of comedy and the supernatural for the whole family.

THOUGHTS: Not gonna lie, the entire time I was reading this, I was thinking about Disney's animated version. It's a great little story, it just takes a few pages to get used to ye olde writing style. I should have saved this for Halloween.

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

Links and Stuff: August 4, 2016

From Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Why I Love... Mylar Covers

Call me crazy, but I love those plasticy, mylar covers that libraries put on books. For the library, the offer protection and extend the life of a dust jacket. They also help keep water, beverages, or other wet messes from running the book. For me, the covers offer an aural memory. I love the crinkly sound they make when I open a book. It's a sound effect of my reading. I also love how they make library books seem all glossy and special.

I don't normally read hardcover books with the dust jackets. I don't like the chance that my reading or carrying them around will wrinkle or rip them. With mylar covers, however, there is an extra layer of protection. (Plus most libraries tape or glue then down so they aren't going anywhere.) These covers set library books apart from my personal books. They remind me of all my trips to my neighborhood branch. They remind me of the smell of books. They remind me of seeing kids running into the children's area. They remind me that I have access to tons and tons and tons of books that I would not be able to buy myself.

I love mylar covers for what they represent in my life. Plus, they just sound really nice when you open a book and settle in for a long read.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Book 22: Used and Rare

TITLE: Used and Rare: Travels in the Book World
AUTHOR: Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
STARTED: July 13, 2016
FINISHED: July 21, 2016
PAGES: 215
GENRE: Books about Books

FIRST SENTENCE: We came to book collecting because our birthdays fall eight days apart.

SUMMARY: [From BN] Journey into the world of book collecting with the Goldstones-rediscover the joy of reading, laugh, and fall in love with books all over again. The idea that books had stories associated with them that had nothing to do with the stories inside them was new to us. We had always valued the history, the world of ideas contained between the covers of a book or, as in the case of The Night Visitor, some special personal significance. Now, for the first time, we began to appreciate that there was a history and a world of ideas embodied by the books themselves. Part travel story, part love story, and part memoir, Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone's Used and Rare provides a delightful love letter to book lovers everywhere.

THOUGHTS: This book brought back a ton of memories. I worked in a used bookstore, so I recognize many of the characters the Goldstone's encounter. I also know exactly what they're talking about when the discuss falling in love with purchasing old books, the smell and (dis)organization of various stores, and remembering that it's all about buying and reading what you love. This book gave me the warm and fuzzies all over because it was a part of my life. If you have ever been a fan of used books and bookstores, this book offers a trip down memory lane.

The only reason I don't adore this book is because the Goldstone's come off as pretentious. It's very #firstworldproblems. They do seem like great people, but something about the writing and in some of the stories makes the authors seem a aloof. 

RATING: 7/10 [Very Good]

YouTube Tuesday: Library Break

Monday, August 01, 2016

Change is Afoot!

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you've probably noticed some of the subtle and not so subtle changes that happened over the weekend. I tweaked the layout, added some sidebar gadgets, and overhauled the header. The changes to the look of the blog are the beginnings of some larger changes I plan on making.

I've been feeling a bit antsy as of late to take on something new. While I enjoy posting my regular features and book reviews, I've been itching to expand and explore new areas. Part of this drive comes from recent experiences off-line. First, I've felt the need to take control of and start to drive my professional work and "brand" (such as it is). Life in that area as a bit stagnant for awhile, and I want to grow my skills and experience. Second, I've taken on a few new fun things in my life that I want to talk about. I started a bullet journal (love. love. love it!), I've been walking and exploring the city more, and I'm taking more pictures through Instagram and with our fancy new DLSR camera. Finally, I realized that I missed writing. Awhile back, an article summary I wrote was approved for possible publication in a professional library journal. As passionate as I am about the topic, it was a pain to write. The last time I wrote a long-form paper that was not a procedure or project plan was grad school. My writing skills are rusty. Very rusty. I didn't like how hard it was. I want to start writing on a more regular schedule.

So, what does all of this mean for the blog?

Well, you can expect more posts. The regular features and book reviews will remain and I plan to add more. I'm not entirely sure what they are yet... but I'm just bursting with possible ideas.

On top of more features, I plan on posting more essay-like posts on topics that expand on my interests. Reading, libraries, and information are still near and dear to my heart, but I find they interact with other areas of my life that I am itching to talk about it. (Heads up - I'm loving my bullet journal so much that you can most certainly expect to see posts or pictures about that.)

Additionally, I plan to incorporate images more. The first step in that process was adding an Instragam widget. You can see that in the right-hand sidebar. There are (*pauses to mentally count*) three phenomenal bookstores within walking distance of my apartment. I might need to take my camera and you along for a field trip to each one. I love all the ways books appear in my life (like the little free library down the street), so I might incorporate shorter photo posts. I've started documenting my current reads on Instagram and I'd love to feature those pictures here as well.

As I said, I'm brimming with excitement and a ton of ideas, I just need to nail them down. Expect to see new features and content to start trickling in this month.

The title of the blog will stay Recreational Reading because that still covers the essence of my posts: reading and other diversions that provide relaxation and enjoyment. I decided, however, to update my tagline to "Read. Wander. Wonder." to showcase this drive a bit more clearly.

I hope you all enjoy what's in store because this is how I'm feeling about all these ideas swimming about my head:

P.S. If you happen to read this via an RSS feed, surf on over to the blog. I've simplified things and added a new header. I think it looks spiffy.