Sunday, January 31, 2016

What I Read This Week: January 31, 2016

This is going to auto-post while I'm (likely) eating Sunday brunch with friends during our annual ski weekend. I'm not the biggest fan of doing of cold weather sports, but I love hanging out with friends and eating lots of food and having an excuse to dress apres ski style. If I happen to end up snowboarding or tubing, all the better. (Cause snow tubing is a blast.) Besides, there's a hot tub at this house in which I soothed my aching muscles. Muscles that were put to work shoveling out our car over 6+ hours. I am so proud of the before and after that I've been sharing the pictures I took with everyone (see below the reading list).
  • Work
    • I finally managed to finish reading the January/February 2016 issue of American Libraries. I've been slowly working my way through it for about two weeks. The bulk of this issue was a year-in-review and midwinter conference preview, but I enjoyed the articles on digital humanities and the history of the library catalog.
  • Magazines
    • Savory, January/February 2016 - This was a nice little issue to kick off the year. There were a whole series of recipes showing examples of meals you can make following the latest diet trends, there were great food ideas for the Superbowl, and there were easy weeknight meals to peruse. I pulled a few recipes to try in the future.
  • Books
    • I finished Voracious. It was fantastic and delicious. I think I know which recipe I'm going to try to make first - the red wine, rosemary bread. We tend to have all the ingredients on hand, and the thought of kneading bread and the yeasty smell of it baking makes my mouth water.
    • Next up, the fifth book in the "Earth's Children" series by Jean M. Auel, Shelters of Stone. Why did I pick this book next? Because it struck my fancy and nothing says winter like a nearly 900 pages doorstopper.
  • Other
    • As someone who still takes longform notes and sends letters, I am a most definitely a fan of handwriting (CNN).
    • The Husband shared an article from The Huffington Post about black youth hockey in DC with me. It's fantastic.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Friday Find: Cozy

The Husband and I are off on a ski trip with friends later today. As much I as enjoy ice skating and sledding (with an occasional round of bunny hill snow boarding), you're more apt to find me looking like this in winter.

The image was found on the tumblr Book Porn.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Variations on a Theme: Snowed In

As you might have noticed, a blizzard rolled through much of the east coast last weekend. It hit DC hard, and my muscles are still sore from digging our car out. At least all that snow offered inspiration for this month's Variations on a Theme. Here are some books that take place during snowy times.

Michael Northrup

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive. Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision.

The Snow Queen
Hans Christen Anderson

When a boy is cursed with an inability to perceive goodness, a young girl must go on a lonely quest to restore his heart and vision and free him from captivity in the palace of the Snow Queen. Few works of children's literature have had as deep and lasting an impact as Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, which has won the hearts of young readers for almost two centuries, and inspired works as diverse as Disney's Frozen and C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The Snow Child
Eowyn Ivey

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart—he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone—but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

Snow Country

Yasunari Kawabata

Nobel Prize winner Yasunari Kawabata’s Snow Country is widely considered to be the writer’s masterpiece: a powerful tale of wasted love set amid the desolate beauty of western Japan. At an isolated mountain hot spring, with snow blanketing every surface, Shimamura, a wealthy dilettante meets Komako, a lowly geisha. She gives herself to him fully and without remorse, despite knowing that their passion cannot last and that the affair can have only one outcome. In chronicling the course of this doomed romance, Kawabata has created a story for the ages — a stunning novel dense in implication and exalting in its sadness.

A Cold and Lonely Place
Sara J. Henry

Ice harvesters are preparing for the Winter Carnival at Saranac Lake, NY, when they find a body frozen under the surface. Freelance journalist Troy Chance, who is on the scene taking photos, recognizes the dead man as her roommate’s boyfriend, Tobin Winslow. When the death is quickly assumed to be accidental, Troy disagrees. Convinced Tobin was murdered, Troy sets about meeting with Tobin’s family and friends, hoping to find some insight into this man who turns out to be from a wealthy family. When her editor asks her to write the story of Tobin’s life, it seems like the perfect way to gain information, along with providing the break Troy needs to establish her writing career.

The Miniaturist

Jessie Burton

On a brisk autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman arrives in Amsterdam to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt. But her splendid new home is not welcoming. Johannes is kind yet distant, and leaves Nella alone with his sister, the fearsome Marin. Nella's life unexpectedly changes when Johannes presents her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. To furnish it, she engages the services of a miniaturist–an elusive and enigmatic artist whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in eerie ways. Johannes's gift helps Nella pierce the closed world of the Brandt household. But as she uncovers its unusual secrets, she begins to understand–and fear–the escalating dangers around them. Only one person seems to see the fate that awaits them. Is the miniaturist the key to their salvation...or the architect of their destruction?

Other Snowy Titles
2 a.m. at the Cat's Pajamas - Marie-Helene Bertino
Arctic Dreams - Barry Lopez
Cover of Snow - Jenny Milchman
Ice - Linda Howard
The Ice Storm - Rick Moody
The Snow Leopard - Peter Matthiessen
The Snow Queen - Michael Cunningham
Stone Mattress - Margaret Atwood
White Out - Vella Munn
Winter Stroll - Elin Hilderbrand 

Seen on the Metro: Similiar but Not

This morning, my commute was awful. I won't get into the details, but between a water main break and metro being metro, I was one cranky, cranky person. At least on the metro, I got to see a kind of fun sight. There was an older woman sitting down reading Nicholas Sparks's True Believer. Standing next to her was a nun I usually see on my commute reading a Bible.

For some reason, the juxtaposition made me smile... which was much needed during a horrible morning.

Links and Stuff: January 28, 2016

Sunday, January 24, 2016

What I Read This Week: January 24, 2016

This week can be summed up in one word: Anticipation. Forecasters started predicting major snow at the start of the week, and the anticipation just built up each day. Friday was a half day at my office, so that we could all get home before blizzard conditions hit. I ended up being the only person from my Unit who came in. (I have the luxury of not driving... not that metro wasn't affected. They shut. it. down.) The Husband and I hunkered down at home with our most random of storm supplies (eggs and bread... but also hot dogs and salami), and watched the weather from the comfort of home. As for work tomorrow, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I have to keep an eye on that.
  • Magazines
    • National Geographic, January 2016 - The cover story on national parks was just awesome. I've not visited any of the showcase national parks, but you better believe their on the list. This cover piece paired nicely with the story about humans seems to "refresh" themselves in nature. I also like the stories on rubber and vultures. Those were two subjects I knew nothing about.
    • The Atlantic, January/February 2016 - This issue was mainly about the upcoming presidential election. The two main essays were well written with great viewpoints and supporting evidence. I would not be surprised if any of the articles were assigned in a college politics class. Aside from the, the article on a DEA agent tracking and taking down a drug cartel was fascinating.
  • Books
    • Who almost finished Voracious? This girl! Who wants to make all the food in the book? Also, this girl. Who can't actually do that because there's snow everywhere? Sadly, this girl.
  • Other
    • There might be another, undiscovered planet in our solar system. Oooooo! NPR sent out a breaking news alert for this article. Normally I hate breaking news items that aren't immediate (looking at your sports alerts CNN), but I was kind of okay with this one.
    • Article club met this week. We had a fantastic discussion about this article from The Guardian that looks into how men seem to lose friends.
    • LinkedIN sends me a summary of good articles once a week or so. Most of them I skim, but I really enjoyed this piece on the things you learn when you get to be alone.
    • From The Atlantic online: Why does everyone buy the makings for french toast before a snow storm?

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Friday Find: Snow Tracking

Stuck inside because of the snow. Why not jot a few things down in a cute notebook.

I found this on Etsy.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Links and Stuff: January 21, 2016

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Why I Love... Blizzard Predictions

A few months ago, I wrote about why I love anticipating reading time. Back in September, it was rainy days that would keep me inside, this time it's snow. 

DC is predicted to be buried in snow this weekend. Everywhere from a foot to 30 inches could land on our roads. This means I'm not going anywhere. On Saturday (and likely Sunday... maybe even Monday), I plan on wrapping myself up in a blanket, making tea or cocoa, and reading. 

Have no fear, we made our bread and frozen pizza run today. There is already nourishment in the form of soups and pasta in our apartment. (Although I do need to grab eggs tomorrow...) We shant go hungry. We're going to make sure to bring the shovel in from the car to make digging it out (eventually) easier. Our weekend plans are being postponed. We're ready to batten down the hatches and ride out the white out.

If I don't finish Voracious and make a dent in another book, I've wasted a perfectly good blizzard. 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

What I Read This Week: January 17, 2016

Winter finally reared its head this week. I even had to break out the fleece lined tights. Brr. Am I allowed to start rooting for snow days now? I love what I do (and I even started a new position - same library - last week), but snow days just bring out the kid in me. Plus - they're an excuse to eat pancakes or waffles on a weekday. Mmmmm pancakes.
  • Work
    • College and Research Libraries News, January 2016 - This issue was well-timed. It focused on engagement through social media and collaboration. There are changes afoot in our library, so I filed several ideas and concepts away for later use.
  • Magazines
    • The AtlanticDecember 2015 - Well, the cover story on this was very hard to read, but I think it was important to get some perspective on teenage suicide. Too often kids voices and needs get lost in the rush to succeed. Aside from that, I enjoyed reading the piece about Bill de Blasio's role in the democratic party. The fiction story in this issue, about a disabled priest, was quite good as well.
    • HGTV Magazine, January/February 2016 - The issue was basically a catalog. I was kind of okay with that. There was one piece on home improvement questions that was rather
    • Food Network, January/February 2016 - I was flipping through this issue rather quickly until I hit the bundt cakes. Man did those look delicious. I pulled a few of the recipes, and even The Husband is advocating for the future baking of the Tunnel of Fudge cake. There were also some decent Superbowl food ideas... that I would use if I didn't make the same vats of chili every year.
    • Cooking Light, January/February 2016 - Side Note: I didn't realize that most magazines followed a January/February joint issue pattern until I started writing up this post. Now I do. Onward! This issue was chock  full of chicken recipes. Normally I find that boring, but since our chicken eating has taken on a dull pattern as of late, I decided to pull a few recipes to add to our rotation. There were article features I enjoyed, but only tentatively so. I loved that the pieces on how Cooking Light works and the healthy year guide were informative and useful, but they felt like an ad push for Cooking Light's new (paid) diet plan. I'm hoping this magazine doesn't turn into a giant ad for a weight-loss program. That would be incredibly disappointing.
  • Books
    • I'm about halfway through Voracious and oh man is this book great (especially in comparison to my first read of the year). Each recipe is introduced by a short story connecting a moment in the author's to the food she's introducing. It's a simple structure, but it works wonders. This book is also giving me a party idea - a potluck where people make a food item from one of their favorite books. Maybe I'll get around to throwing that this year.

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Friday Find: Lunch!

Dude! I was seriously excited to see a post for these pop-up in my Feedly reader. It's a bento box that looks like a book. This is seriously a perfect gift for the bibliovore in your life.

You can find this at Bento & Co.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Book 1: Titanic: A Love Story

TITLE: Titanic: A Love Story
AUTHOR: Shannon O'Cork
STARTED: December 17, 2015
FINISHED: January 5, 2016
PAGES: 377
GENRE: Romance

FIRST SENTENCE: "Come on, Smoke, come on, come on - oh, I think it's him, I think it's him - come on!"

SUMMARY: [From Amazon] They had it all, and they had everything to lose. Their secrets would either destroy the gilded lives of those around them or fall deep into the icy waters of the North Atlantic, never to be heard. Only fate would decide.....this is Newport's elite...this is "Titanic, A Love Story" by Shannon O'Cork.

THOUGHTS: You know what was not good. This book. There were too many characters, the plot was too dramatic, and nothing worked. Nothing. Oh, and the sinking barely features in the story.

P.S. Read the Amazon reviews. They're way better than the book.

RATING: 1/10 [Don't waste your time.]

YouTube Tuesday: Behind Closed Stacks

Sunday, January 10, 2016

What I Read This Week: January 10, 2016

Guess who hopped back on the workout wagon this week? This girl! Since I worked out (basically) not at all, I decided to give myself a New Year's Challenge. I am going to push myself to run/walk/elliptical 100 miles by April 1. It's a perfectly achiveable goal, I just goal... I just have to do it. I managed 6 miles this week (yea!), but only 2 of them were on the elliptical so I read fewer magazine pages than I thought I would. Hopefully this challenge will help me catch up with the magazine issues that have piled up over the holidays.
  • Books
    • I finished Titanic: A Love Story. Thank goodness! It was completely and utter, over-dramatic dreck.
    •  New book time! Lady B gave me Voracious: A Hungry Reader Cooks Her Way Through Great Books for Christmas. A book that combines reading and cooking? That is so my element. So far, I am not disappointed. I'm also thinking that I may need to host a potluck party where people cook a recipe or food idea from one of their favorite books.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Best of 2015

In 2015, I managed to finished reading 28 books totaling 8,365 pages. Much better than 2014, but still less than I like.

I'm not setting any goals for 2016, but I do hope to find more time to read. Over the holidays, I weeded my collection. Hopefully the smaller TBR pile at home will allow me more time to hit the library. I'm such a mood reader that I tend to read more and faster when I can grab whatever strikes me at the moment.

 Happily, the general quality of my reading seemed to be up this year. Here is the year in ratings.

1 = 10/10 [Best. Book. Ever.]
1 = 9/10 [Excellent!] 
7 = 8/10 [Terrific]
4 = 7/10 [Very Good]
9 = 6/10 [Good]
4 = 5/10 [Meh.]
1 = 4/10 [An "Okay" Book]
0 = 3/10 [Poor, Lost Interest]
1 = 2/10 [Awful]
0 = 1/10 [Don't Waste Your Time]

And here is the year in genres (totals more than 28 due to some books fitting multiple categories).

11 Fiction
4 Memoir
4 Food
3 Non-Fiction
3 Cookbook
3 Juvenile
1 Humor
1 Library Science
1 Young Adult
1 Drama

Finally, here are my top 5 reads for 2015.

5. Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
4. In Search of the Perfect Loaf by Samuel Fromartz
3. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
2. The Martian by Andy Weir
1. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

The Friday Find: Hot Beverage

It's winter, which means its time to break out the mugs to hold cocoa, tea, and coffee during our reading sessions. May I suggest this adorable book lovers mug?

You can find this in the SmallestJOY Etsy shop.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Links and Stuff: January 7, 2016

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Why I Love... Reading Challenge

I'm new to reading challenges, but I kind of love the one I've taken part in. I did fairly well on Pop Sugar's 2015 reading challenge. While I did, in many cases, use the same book could be used to check-off multiple items, I still think that's a pretty good outcome.

These reading challenges are a nice way to narrow down what book I should read when I have no strong urge one way or another. It also reminds me to think outside the book and try something new.

There were certain categories I was never going to complete. There are just no books I've picked up and never finished, very few books are set in my hometown, and I'm not one for the horror genre. All in all, I'm still pleased.

Pop Sugar released the 2016 list if you'd like to participate. I'll be printing out a copy to hang on my fridge again.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

What I Read This Week: January 3, 2016

Not a lot to report on this week. I was off from work for the week, so I had no commuting time to read my magazines. I could have tackled them at home, but I've been taking care of things around the apartment. (You should have seen the pile of stuff we took to Goodwill.)

  • Books
    • I put a hefty dent into Titanic: A Love Story. It is still over-dramatic. It still has too many characters. It is still not good. I still won't put it down until I found out what happens to everyone.

Friday, January 01, 2016

The Friday Find: Late Night

I hope everyone had a fantastic New Year's Eve! We attended a small shindig at Lady B's apartment. It was a grand time. If you stayed up late reading, I hope you had a fun bookmark like this to keep your place when the clock passed midnight.

You can find this in EATCreations Etsy shop.