Of Survival and Discovery | #SoRatherBeYoung

You Make Me Feel So Young Header

Back in December, Hannah from So Obsessed With and I decided to start a laidback feature where we introduce each other to favorite books of our childhood and joint read another. Well, we have certainly taken the laidback part of this feature to a whole new level. (Let’s blame a broken computer, summer, and life!) That being said, yay for the next installment of You Make Me Feel So Young. (Have you seen the new Geico commercial where they sing this song?)

Let’s get the ball rolling, shall we?

Island of Blue Dolphins Summary Tweet

Joint pick: Island of Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell | First published in 1960

More Than You Know: Scott O’Dell founded an award for historical books for children in 1982. If you are a lover of this genre, definitely check out the list of past winners. This year’s was Dash by Kirby Larson.

Memories Are Made of This: All I remember about reading this book when I was itty-bitty was that I devoured it — which is a little shocking because books with very little dialogue and so, so much nature are not really my thing now.

Second Time Around: I couldn’t stop thinking about how Island of Blue Dolphins was a precursor to dystopians like The Hunger Games. This young girl is forced to find ways to survive for herself, and all alone — not for a game, not for the entertainment/punishment of the government. (I’m sure I would fee this way about Lord of the Flies too.) That being said, I forgot how sad and quiet this book was. It was, though, remarkable to watch her drive build up even during the darkest times. Yay for a strong female lead.

You Can Take My Word for It, Baby: I would have no problem with my future children picking this book up, but my one fear is that dystopians are canceling out classics like this one. (I don’t have anything to back this statement up but I could see why kids want to pick up a shiny cover over something like this.) Otherwise, I can definitely see this book looking so well in not only a lit class but how about a history as well?

The Secret Garden Summary Tweet

Hannah’s pick for me: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Do You Know Why? “When I was talking to Estelle about the books of my childhood, I realized that many of my favorites are classics. But which one was I going to make her read? Since our discussion was initially taking place during the spring, I wanted to choose a book that fit the season. And that’s what inspired The Secret Garden! Mary Lennox (who truly is “quite contrary” in the beginning) experiences so much growth, which makes this book a great character-driven read. I was hoping Estelle would be transported by the magic of the story!” — Hannah

Can’t You Just See Yourself: I am the worst at reading classics. I always promise myself it will happen, and nope nope nope. I avoid it a lot. I’m so mad at myself for waiting to read The Secret Garden (for the record, my old coworker lent me her copy 2 years ago and that’s the copy I read for this project). It started off a little slow especially because Mary was such a brat (not surprised) and then really picked up as she fell in love with her freedom outside and all the possibilities at Misselthwaite Manor.

I Give You My Word: Definitely a book I would pass along to the future kids of the world. I can only imagine the discussions of literary devices, symbolism, and even art projects that could supplement the reading of The Secret Garden.

Before the Music Ends: My mission for you: find a beautiful version of this book and read it as soon as you can. Though some of the dialogue hasn’t aged as graciously with time, it’s a delightful read about many different walks of life finding second chances and blossoming once again. I’m so glad Hannah convinced me to read it. (Now I’m ready to read The Little Princess!)


What’s the last book you picked out of your “vintage” bookshelf?

We’d love to hear! Be sure to check out Hannah’s SOBY post today too!

Stay tuned for next month (we promise!) when Hannah & I joint read: Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger by Louis Sachar! #SoRatherBeYoung

Pageants, Potter, and a Creek | Capeside Revisited

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here’s this scene in the first season of Dawson’s Creek. Joey Potter, “the too-tall girl from the wrong side of the creek”, enters a stage behind a line of girls who are smiling with their teeth and wearing sequin-y dresses. Joey’s dress is sleek and simple. Her hair, which normally sits on her shoulders and behind her ears, is swept up in a bun. She’s wearing brown lipstick and instead of smiling big, she does the side smile. It’s a little shy, a little serious, and a little like “what the heck am I really doing up here”. With the fluttery plinks of music in the background, Joey walks on that stage among a crowd of people who are undoubtably judging her but, in the back of the room, her best friend adjusts a camera. He even nudges the camera guy out of the way to truly focus. Because after years of friendship awe falls across his face. Could this be? Is this the Joey Potter he always knew? Suddenly, everything has changed.

This moment solidifies so many of the reasons I connected with this show since its premiere in 1998. I was in 8th grade. I might not have been in love with my best friend or being raised by my older sister in a home where nothing came easy. But I was a girl who preferred the background over centerstage, who chose a book over running around outside every time. Someone who wanted to be accepted by her friends and applauded for working so hard all the time. Someone on the cusp of being discovered in one way or another.

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Because the show just happened to run from 8th grade until the May I graduated high school, it feels so much a part of my blossoming, a constant when everything felt so fragile and confusing.  I was a pretty well-behaved kid who listened to her parents but when it came to TV, I was not much for boundaries. When news of the Dawson’s Creek premiere started to hit papers, my mom was pretty adamant about me not watching. TOO MUCH SEX AND BIG WORDS. But I snuck watched it anyway and never turned back. (My mom eventually got over this. In fact, after all these years, it’s surprising to me that my 90210/Vampire Diaries loving mother never got into the show herself.)

When life got overwhelming with friends, band practice, after-school jobs, and boys, at least I had my Tuesday or Wednesday night to sit around with these characters and completely unwind. It was my time. I closed the door, sat crosslegged on my fringe rug (until my parents put down wood floors in my junior year of high school), sipped from a can of soda and let myself be thrown into the lives of four people who I practically grew up with. I probably didn’t think much about it then but the show introduced me to teenagers dealing with mental illness, coming out for the first time, slut shaming, and struggling so much to feel settled in the decisions they made and the love they were feeling.

To rev up for this post, I rewatched a few episodes of the show this past weekend and there’s another Joey scene that really got me. She’s sitting in Pacey’s car, after a surprising and surreal weekend and she announces maybe she’s not meant to find happiness. “I’m 16-years old and in my entire life there have been two people who know me!” I’m 30 so it’s ironic to hear her say “entire” in regards to 16 years on this planet. She’s so scared the weekend she had is some indication that she’s doomed forever. I can totally sit here and comment on how dramatic she sounds (it will be okay, Joey!) but isn’t this how we all felt back then? Like when the hell will my real life begin? When will everything fall into place?

Over six years, Dawson’s Creek managed to scramble the pieces of these characters in such a way that we saw no combination could be permanent. Anything could change at any moment (even if you’re enjoying an ice cream cone and singing along to a James Taylor copycat in your car) and that doubt that seems larger than life when you are a kid dissipates. Not because you’re suddenly mega-confident in a perfect, grown-up life but because there are truly less moments to share this kind of honesty. And maybe, just maybe, age welcomes a bit more faith and the understanding that one solid step forward means there are plenty of shaky ones in between.

Now that I’m the owner of so much wisdom (har har har), I wish I could tell the girl who rewound (yes, rewound) the pageant episode of Dawson’s Creek to rewatch time and time again that her yearning to feel brave, protected, and accepted is going to pop up frequently. That she might still think Dawson and Joey belonged together in the beginning, but she’s also open to what feels right and knows it’s okay to change her mind. She’d be really confused about Tom Cruise marrying Katie Holmes, but not surprised that Joshua Jackson remains devilishly good-looking and is still acting (even if she doesn’t watch any of his shows). And that in the age of Jimmy Fallon (“who?” says 14-year old me) there’s always the opportunity for a reunion.

Because true love never, ever dies. (Even if the soundtrack changes.)

♥

Capeside Revisited Dawson's Creek Appreciation

Big thanks to Rachel for asking me to be a part of this appreciation week!

One other thing to be thankful for when it comes to the creek: her friendship. We met over a shared love of the show, both ran our own fansites, and found out we were from the same town. The rest is history!

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

Dive into Diversity Reading Challenge

Dive Into Diversity Family Series: Single-Parent Families

Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

Recently I found myself having a conversation with someone about how thankful I am for my husband, Dustyn. He broadens our daughter, Everett’s, horizons in ways I never thought possible — he shows her and teaches her things that don’t come naturally to me. He’s giving her something different that I couldn’t or wouldn’t think to. It dawned on me while I was talking to this friend that not everyone has both parents to influence parts of their personality, interests, and being. That seems like such a simple realization, but it really struck me.

Nearly 25,000,000 children in the United States live in a single-parent family according to Kids Count Data Center. Those children represent 26% of those living in our country, which means nearly one in four people reading this post likely come from a single-parent home. Divorce and death are something I’ve felt very far-removed from because I didn’t personally know many people my age who were living through this. But that’s all changed in the last few months; I’ve had four friends get divorced, three of which had children. I now see how gray some areas are and how everything isn’t so easily black and white. A few factors that separate families include abuse, death, military deployment, or the parents were never wed before having children and parted ways.

According to the Encyclopedia of Children’s Health, “The most common type of single-parent family is one that consists of a mother and her biological children. In 2002, 16.5 million or 23 percent of all children were living with their single mother. This group included 48 percent of all African-American children, 16 percent of all non-Hispanic white children, 13 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander children, and 25 percent of children of Hispanic origin. However, these numbers do not give a true picture of household organization, because 11 percent of all children were actually living in homes where their mother was sharing a home with an adult to whom she was not married. This group includes 14 percent of white children, 6 percent of African-American children, 11 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander, and 12 percent of Hispanic children.”

So where does that leave us in our quest for more diverse books? Are one in three of the books you’re reading inclusive of a single-parent family? Let’s take a look at some books that have incorporated this really well…

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Not Otherwise Specified • Since You’ve Been Gone • The Last Time We Say Goodbye • I’ll Meet You There

What I Thought Was True • We Were Liars • All the Rage

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Promposal • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before • On the Fence • If I Lie

I’d like to note that it was a bit more difficult to find single-father books to share, which made me curious about the rise of single-fathers. According to Pew Social Trends, nearly one quarter of single-parent families are run by a single-dad and the number has been steadily climbing over the years.

• • •

What books have you read that include examples of single-parent families? 
What would you like to read more of regarding families?

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!)

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