Slappy birthday & memory returns

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]onths and months before her birthday, one of my long-time best friends (ironically a non-reader) knew she wanted to see the Goosebumps movie as part of the festivities for her big 3-1. All the cool kids were reading R.L. Stine’s books back in the day. Including us.

The movie was actually a lot better than I thought. It was well-written and had a great mix of sweet and scary. Though, I sure hope no one thinks R.L. Stine is some sort of recluse sitting around his house with a daughter he never lets see the light of day but, all in all, I got a kick out of the recognizing book details from way, way back.

After reading this article by reporter Brian Stelter about his late-90s Goosebumps fansite, I was reminded of a little project I embarked on with the aforementioned birthday girl and another one of our besties (who was also sharing popcorn with us this weekend). In our fifth grade class, our computer time was limited to a CD-Rom of the encyclopedia. I don’t even think I had an AOL username at that point (my dad was really strict about screen time). We weren’t constantly being fed information. We had to find it in teen magazines and newspapers and the actual news. As a kid, I loved reading the newspaper — unsurprisingly, the Arts and Entertainment section. Who knows what it was that inspired me to head my own newspaper back then with my two friends as co-editors, but I did. We shared upcoming movies, there was an advice column, we created themed word searches, and even included addresses to write to our favorite celebrities. It’s funny now to think about the book news we reported on. Without checking websites (and before the term ‘blogger’ even existed), my friends and I used to call Scholastic for the upcoming titles of our beloved Babysitters Club and Goosebumps books. They were always gracious and gave them to us. Even then, it felt special to be “in the know” and be the source sharing the great news with our friends.

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It’s crazy how little pieces of our childhood factor into the adults we become, isn’t it?

Books remain a constant in my life. My work. My play. My escape. My relief. My fun. The fandom I felt when reading Stine’s and Ann M. Martin’s books has continued to stick with me until now, whether it’s reading voraciously or sharing my recommendations with some kind of “crowd.” (My favorite thing to do was switch off with a Babysitters Club book and then a Goosebumps. Even then, I was strategic about my palette cleansers!)

So I guess the Goosebumps movie did what it was supposed to do. It made me remember and realize fandom never goes away — it just takes on different forms as a person grows and as the world advances. I wonder how many 30-somethings went home from the movies this weekend and bought some used Goosebumps books. (I bought 4.)

Wall to Wall Creeps | Pub Date

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I am not the best at the Halloween-ish themes.

What creeps me out? Sometimes the dark? My parent’s basement. The OUIJA board. Ghosts (oh, I totally think they are real.) Pigeons (one flew into my face today). BLOOD. (When I was little, I once told my aunt I wanted to be a nurse and she was like YOU HAVE TO LIKE BLOOD, YA KNOW.) Mannequins. It’s true! Their faces can be so blank. I’m sure I have more items to add to this strange list but I’ll let you mull these over for now.

My plans to see Goosebumps in the movies this weekend totally inspired this post’s direction. I couldn’t think of anything I’d read lately that creeped me out so why not go back in time and talk about those. While R.L. Stine’s series was no Babysitters Club in my world, I was pretty addicted to these stories for awhile (my whole class was). My favorite will always be Ghost Beach. (I wonder if it’ll be mentioned in this new flick.)

But BEFORE that, I was loving Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. One of my friends at the time had copies at home and I remember reading the stories over and over again. The ones in our library were never available because this book was so dang popular. I’m actually surprised (or should I be) that these books are banned in some schools. Unless my imagination is playing games with me, I remember our teachers reading these outloud to us. Did you know there’s a documentary being made about the series?

Another fun little memory from my childhood was the big “grown up” 5th grade trip to Washington, D.C. I bought a book of ghost stories at one of the monument gift shops (was it Jefferson?) and my roommates and I stayed up so late reading them, totally freaking ourselves out. I was so exhausted the next night I was SURE the Abe Lincoln monument was blinking at me. For some unknown reason, I gave the book away but I recently bought my own: Ghosts: Washington’s Most Famous Ghost Stories. I need to dig this one out.

So while you’re sitting in a dark room with a Pumpkin Apple candle burning, I’m recommending Saranac’s OctoberFest (NY) for another kind of “spirit”. It’s your basic German lager and goes down well with pizza or all the candy you’re attempting to hoard for the big trick or treating day. It’s uncomplicated and cozy, and a great beer for the brew rookies out there.

Pub Date for Creepy Books

♥

Enjoy the fall weekend, dears! (Someone remind me to watch Hocus Pocus!)

And thanks for stopping by! xoxo

Pub Date: Brittany @ Book Addict’s Guide | Andi @ ABC’s | Maggie @ Just a Couple More

Summer Reads Make Me Feel Fine

[dropcap]Y[/dropcap]esterday was the first day of fall and I actually had to bring a jacket for my early morning walk to the subway. Two weeks ago, I thought sweating through my dresses was going to be a constant in my life because whoa, I did that a lot this summer. (Gross but true.) Needless to say, I’m so looking forward to cozy sweaters, hot lattes, and breaking in a new pair of boots.

Despite the heat, it was a really good – somewhat odd? – summer. My husband obsessed with studying for the bar (as he should have been). I visited a friend in her Gilmore Girls-esque Massachusetts town, got to hang out with M in Texas(!!), and returned to Savannah for a trip with no set alarms and a lot more sweating because, oh right, it was 110 degrees. (Not kidding.) There were some new bars to sample with our trusty beer passport, and, like I had wanted to, gave away/sold/donated at least fifty books that have been cluttering my apartment. I worked out almost every day (thanks to Cassie for keeping me on track!) and cooked with zucchini so much. Lots of fun, sun, spirits, and organizing!

And, of course, reading. I meant to have this post ready for the actual first day of autumn but as you know, the Muppets take precedent in my household. (Did you watch? I really, really enjoyed it and can’t wait for more!) I’m going to share 15 of my top reads from over the summer, but first, a few stats…

From Memorial Day (May 26) until the last full day of summer (September 22), I read 59 books. (Eee!)

  • 14 of 59 were books I owned or were gifted
  • 8 of 59 were borrowed from the library
  • 12 of 59 were published before 2014.
  • 12 of 59 were romance novels.
  • I only bought 4 physical books the entire summer. (Three of these were in the last week.)

The super-special winners:

15 SUMMER READS

Contemporary fiction:

Stay by Allie Larkin: dogs, cute old man, LOLs
Maybe in Another Life by Tara Jenkins Reid: two roads, two men, solid best friend
Night Blindness by Susan Strecker: dads & daughters, childhood, secrets
Come Away With Me by Karma Brown: travel, marriage, strife

Young adult:

Dumplin‘ by Julie Murphy: Dolly Parton, pageants, best friends
Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian: bisexuality, fathers & sons, independence
Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Morarity: letters, new friendship, laughs
A Million Miles Away by Lara Avery: grief, sisters, pretending
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler: magic, little brothers, seaside town
What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi: single dad, supportive mom, sacrifice
Noggin by John Corey Whaley: science, time, a bit wacky
Hello Goodbye and Everything In Between by Jennifer E. Smith: college, decisions, tissues
Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway: reunions, surfing, friendship
The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell: Japan, ALS, online friends

New adult:

Second Position by Katherine Locke: second chances, dance, secrets

Bonus (A MIDDLE GRADE):

Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu: sisters, darkness, light

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Ah! What a great summer it was. Hope you not only read some awesome books this summer but you made the most of your weekends and vacations days with friends, family, and new adventures.

Here’s to a fabulous fall (with lots of pumpkins and fun socks)!

Psst. Did I miss out on any special reads? Be sure to let me know below.

A Bad Romance with a Happy Ending | Dive Into Diversity

Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

I sound like a broken record but because of tech issues we are a little late this month with the Dive Into Diversity challenge. Oops. But here we are and just a few months left in the year! I can’t believe it. I’ve decided to go in a whole new direction with today’s check-in post because I was inspired (motivated? annoyed?) by a recent read of mine that falls in the romance category.

I read quite a bit of romance and I’ll sadly admit that the number of diverse characters I’ve come across is slim. (See: a lesbian/WOC supporting character in Victoria Dahl’s Flirting with Disaster and Liberty in Lisa Kleypas’ Sugar Daddy who is half Mexican.) This is why I was so excited when I found out an Asian American woman would be taking centerstage in the next volume of a series I’ve been reading. My expectations didn’t go beyond: it’s nice to know there’s more ethnicity reflected in this town than I imagined. But my excitement quickly turned to discomfort when I realized there was absolutely no nuance to her character. She was tiny and had black hair. She worked as a manicurist and then a nurse. She was over-protective of her son, and so proud she didn’t want to let anyone into her business. It was like the author had taken a list of Asian stereotypes and manifested a one-dimensional character with zero spark. She was so connected to her culture yet never questioned how her and her son were the only non-whites living in their town? The introduction of this character — through welcomed with open arms by everyone – made it glaringly obvious to this reader just how depthless this population was.

I was disappointed.

Readers are smart, and a seasoned one is going to be able to tell when the extra legwork has taken place, especially when it means researching a culture enough that it doesn’t pop off the page like a stereotype but instead is a respectful representation. Case in point: Not an ethnicity example but this weekend I read Katherine Locke’s Finding Center and stopped in the middle (for just a second), turned to my husband and said, you could totally tell how much research this author did on people with disabilities and the details of how a prosthetic would work for a dancer.

“Seeing someone who looks like you reflected in the pages of a book as a fully rendered, three-dimensional character can be powerful and transformational,” said Bobbi Dumas in this NPR blog post from 2014.

YES. YES. YES.

For more than the year I’ve been doing this challenge (and probably since the birth of Rather Be Reading), I’ve worked to make sure my reading is full of eclectic characters from all types of backgrounds. In addition to that, I try to seek out authors who are underrepresented. Awareness comes at different times for everyone but I think in the past few weeks and with the annoyance of the above reading adventure, I’ve undoubtably committed myself to seeking out books in this genre that smartly put me in touch with main characters – and authors – from all walks of life.

So I’ve added a few books to my list so far: A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev; Making the First Move by Reese Ryan; Rumor Has It by Cheris Hodges; World Cup Hook Up by Katrina Ramos Atienza; The Way Love Goes by Christina C. Jones.

But I need some more suggestions! So feel free to leave some below. I appreciate it!

More reading on this topic:

Don’t forget to jump over to Reading Wishes where Rebecca checked out the level of diversity represented on the shelves of her local bookstore. (This was such a great post!)

Movin’ Write Along | Puppets and Pages

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]i, strangers! After a series of unfortunate events (i.e. tech issues), I’m back with a fun post I’ve been scheming about for a few months. Except I had no idea it would be SO hard. (Thanks to everyone who answered this tweet yesterday afternoon.) Today, we’re talking Muppets. Unless you haven’t watched ABC or ESPN lately or follow my Twitter feed, you might have NO idea that the Muppets are debuting a brand new TV show TOMORROW. Guess what? The Muppets are debuting a brand new show tomorrow. I cannot believe it. In the past five years — my Muppet love reignited — I was just happy to get a movie every few years and now every week there is going to be something new to enjoy. It’s a dream come true.

Young adult books and the Muppets have a lot in common. If you are an adult that likes either, the wrong people probably give you a side-eye and wonder why someone so seemingly intelligent and wonderful loves something so childlike. My answer: shush. Young adult books are written well and make me happy. And unlike this article states, the Muppets were actually created FOR adults. But because of Sesame Street, Jim Henson had to constantly remind people this was the case. I would probably bet it’s one of the biggest misconceptions of this franchise. Anyway…

Today I’m pairing the four main Muppets with young adult books I hope you’ll check out, and who knows — maybe the Muppets will find some downtime in between filming new episodes to pick up their chosen title too.

The Muppets and Young Adult Books List

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy | Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Boys Don’t Knit by T.S. Easton | Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando

And special shout-out to Willowdean with this vintage video of Miss Piggy hanging out with Dolly Parton (that hair!):

This is where I urge you to watch THE MUPPETS tomorrow on ABC. (I’m even DVRing Lea Michele
in her new show for this — you know I’m decided.) Have a happy Muppet Monday!

(Oh hey, I’ve been writing Muppet haikus for the past few weeks on Instagram via @ifeltforyoueveryday
if you want to see some more silliness.)

On the Road to Hoppiness | Pub Date

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Timing couldn’t be more impeccable for this Pub Date focused on CAREERS and HOBBIES. I just celebrated one year at my job working in publicity at an academic press. It probably goes without saying that book blogging inspired my career change in ways. It’s been challenging year full of new experiences and it’s nice and refreshing and all sorts of wonderful to feel proud of the work I’m churning out. (Though, if we could get more hours in the day, I’d be thrilled.)

Today’s beer pick is especially fitting: Two Roads Honeyspot Road IPA. The name is all about journey and it’s a smooth beer you can’t help but enjoy after a busy day at the office. For someone who never used to like IPAs, I’m quite a fan these days but this particular brew is great for someone just easing into hoppier beers. It’s not overwhelming at all.

And the book? Such a tough one but I’m going to go with Girl Before a Mirror by the incredible Liza Palmer. I read it in the early spring, and still believe everyone (especially the ladies) need to get their hands on this book. What do you do when you are feeling powerless and unhappy? When do you get to a point where you trust your gut and move forward to better yourself? When do your own needs and desires take centerstage over others because you realize there’s no way you can be of help to them without helping yourself first? Career, friendship, romance, family — all of life’s fun complications are thrown into this thoughtful, amazing book that truly feels like it could be an Estelle bible.

Pub Date Careers Rather Be Reading Blog

Here’s to a fantastic weekend, silly IT blog issues disappearing, and going after what we want.

xoxo

Share a brew: Book Addict’s Guide | Just a Couple More Pages | Andi ABC’s