The Mini and the Silly | #SoRatherBeYoung

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Rediscovering old books is by far one of my favorite things EVER, and I’ve been so glad to do so this year with #SoRatherBeYoung. At the same time, I’ve loved learning more about my friend, Hannah, and what books made her a reader when she was an adorable kid. This round of picks have been interesting. I loved all of Louis Sachar’s books when I was a bookworm in elementary school and I was praying, praying that this title would stand the test of time. On the other hand, Hannah’s pick for me was something I had never, ever heard of so it was nice to read a new, old book. (Hey, does this count as a classic?)

Without further day, here we go…

Wayside School Gets a Stranger Summary Tweet - #SoRatherBeYoung

Joint pick: Wayside Schools Gets a Little Stranger by Louis Sachar | first published in 1995

More Than You Know: The author had a degree in Economics and started the Wayside School series after graduation. How interesting is that?!

Memories Are Made of This: I haven’t picked up this series since elementary school but it’s funny how muscle memory works. I started to remember little projects we did with each silly chapter of this book. This title continues to be fun, and I can only hope kids are still reading it in school.

Second Time Around: I’m basically going to repeat myself here. This book can be downright ridiculous but I can also see how the book teaches about language, misunderstanding, and how it’s so important not to take yourself seriously all the time. A fun ride.

You Can Take My Word for It, Baby: Like I said above, I hope kids, parents, teachers, and cool babysitters are still reading this book. It’s just a blast. (Plus there is a Santa chapter, and I just realized this is the grown-up version of Miss Nelson is Missing — am I right?)

The Borrowers Summary Tweet - #SoRatherBeYoung

Hannah’s pick for me: The Borrowers by Mary Norton | First published in 1952

Do You Know Why? “I wish I had an exciting reason for choosing The Borrowers for Estelle, but I don’t! When I asked her what she was in the mood for, she mentioned wanting something fun. A lot of what I read as a kid was on the more serious side (maybe because it was a ton of historical fiction), so this book was one of the first that came to mind! I remember almost nothing about the plot, but I know I was obsessed with the idea of tiny people secretly living in my home.” — Hannah

Can’t You Just See Yourself: I love that this was one of those picks that I had never, ever heard of. I know Hannah still hasn’t read this one in awhile, so I’m curious for her to revisit it soon too. When she first told me about it, I thought the borrowers were mice, not humans!

I Give You My Word: This is a story that would benefit from beautiful illustrations. If you are able to find that version, I could see myself reading it with younger kids. I do think I’d prefer to read Stuart Little or something similar first though.

Before the Music Ends: I wonder if I had some nostalgic pull toward this one I’d feel differently. The ending felt a little confusing (which made me feel so silly) and again, I don’t think the version I borrowed from the library gave me the best experience. It’s a cute story, but wasn’t a total winner for me.

♦

Thanks for checking out #SoRatherBeYoung today! I hope when you are hanging around
during the holidays and awaiting a new year, you’ll be inspired to pick up your old standbys
from “the good old days”.

Happy almost Christmas! (And almost 2016 — if you can believe it!)

And be sure to stop by Hannah’s to hear her talk about my reading assignment for her. (ONE OF MY FAVORITES).

We DID It! | Dive Into Diversity Farewell

Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

I’m typing this by the light of my Christmas tree, while listening to the Peanut gang serenade me and I still can’t believe we’ve already reached the final post for the Dive Into Diversity challenge. This will officially be the first and last challenge I host on Rather Be Reading blog, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner-in-crime during the whole process. It was so nice to be both laid-back and creative in everything we were writing. If you took part in this challenge in any capacity or read through these posts, I hope you’ve become a little bit more aware of the characters you are reading about and who has been writing them. Maybe you just added a brand new book to your reading list. Either way, it’s been a pleasure to share these posts with you.

For the final hoorah, Rebecca and I interviewed each other! Here are her awesome answers to my burning questions…

Estelle: Let’s start from the beginning. You were nice enough to approach us about co-hosting the challenge with you. Why was hosting this important to you? What’s been the best part?

Rebecca: I was very inspired by the kickstarter for We Need Diverse Books. I loved what the movement was about and what they wanted to achieve. To be honest, diversity in books wasn’t something I’d thought about much before, but after that, I wanted more of it and I wanted to see change. It wasn’t long after I got the idea to hold the challenge and the rest is history. Hosting a challenge hasn’t been the easiest, but it’s been rewarding. I think the best part of it has been learning, along with everyone else. Becoming more aware and listening and having people take it all in with you.

Estelle: I’m going to copy your second question to me! What was your favorite post you put together for this project?

Rebecca: Wow – looking back, there are quite a few I’m proud of. Taking the Good With the Bad because I put so much effort and love into writing it. It was my first ever post for the challenge and I wanted to get it right.

I also LOVED the How Diverse Are Your Shelves? Experiments – so much fun to put together!

Estelle: Personally, I felt a lot of frustration with this challenge sometimes because I wondered what we were really doing to reach people outside of the super blogger sphere. Do you agree? What do you think is the best way for the general reader to become aware of the campaign?

Rebecca: I totally get your frustration. I also feel this way about OzYA and trying to reach people outside of the blogging community. Super tricky. I think the best way to reach the general reader is bookshops and libraries. Local bookish places who have the ability and means to hold events, create displays and start conversations. We might not have reached the masses, but I believe we created diverse conversations in the book community and I’m happy with that.

Estelle: Who are some bloggers, authors, or websites that you go-to for great articles on diversity and where the future of publishing should go?

Rebecca: There are some great people on Twitter talking about diversity: Malinda Lo (@malindalo) and Dahlia Adler (@MissDahlElama) are two authors of many I see talking a lot about diversity in my feed frequently. Other sites to follow for diverse recs, reviews and great articles:

Estelle: What’s your biggest takeaway from the challenge and the diversity campaign in 2015?

Rebecca: It was a pretty laid-back challenge, but it was more work and stress that I initially thought it would be. But it’s not to say I didn’t enjoy hosting it. Diversity is now a common, talkative subject in the book community and there’s definitely been change since a year ago. But there’s still a way to go in terms of publishing and the future of the book industry. Like I said above, there’s talk and change happening in the book/publishing community, but I feel like it hasn’t yet reached the outer community, which I feel will really help things along. So here’s hoping the message continue to spread and we start to see more change the coming year.

As for how the challenge affected me as a reader, it’s impacted my reading over the year with half of what I read a diverse title. But the fact I’m most happy and pleased about and generally makes me smile wide is the fact that my favourite books of the year are all diverse. Not because they’re diverse, but because they are all freaking amazing books in their own right. Heartfelt, special, thoughtful, impacting. I talked about my favourites last week, which you can check out here.

♥

Don’t forget to check out my chat with Rebecca @ Reading Wishes. Another big thanks to her for asking Magan and I to join her reading challenge party, and all of those who contributed to posts or wrote your own. xoxo

Here’s to a fabulous end of the year, and a new one filled with compassion, new reading adventures, and more representation for all.

Lord Help the Sisters | Pub Date

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Ohmigosh. It is FRIDAY.

Why is it that the week after a holiday weekend feels like it goes on for months and months? Maybe it’s all the holiday anticipation. Or still not being over daylight savings? (Tell me this gets worse when you get older.) Anyway, pizza, and Star Wars: The Empire Strike Back are on my agenda for tonight. What am I forgetting? Oh, right. Beer. And this month’s pub date theme: siblings.

Let’s talk sisters. I am one. A built-in friend, but also one of your most complicated relationships. This topic comes at perfect time because I just finished Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. It’s a book that unpacks the overwhelming grief June is feeling after her favorite relative, her uncle, dies from AIDs in the 80s. That much I knew going in, but I had no idea how much it would explore the relationship between June and her sister, Greta. Close in age, they used to be best friends but have gradually grown apart. Jealousy. Misunderstanding. And rediscovering a connection June and Greta have only begun to understand. Have your tissues ready because wow wow wow. Brunt nailed the messy and wonderful moments of sisterhood.

(If you need to get more in the mood, listen to “Sisters” from White Christmas.)

This leads me to the drink: Two Roads Brewing Co. Route of All Evil Black Ale. There’s a lot of dark moments to this novel, and that matches perfectly with the chocolate, molasses, and mocha that make up this brew. On the bright side: It’s one of my favorite winter ales (especially after the disappointing and very week Redhook Winter Ale) and perfect for a cozy night spent reading, watching a movie, or staring at your holiday lights.

Pub Date, Books about Sisters

As you can see, I couldn’t help myself and picked a few other memorable sister reads from 2015 for you to try out. I enjoyed each of these for so many different reasons… definitely give them a look!

A Million Miles Away | To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before | Between Us and the Moon |
Making Pretty | Rules for Stealing Stars

Most importantly, enjoy your weekend. Relax, destress, and recharge! xoxo

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

Say Hi to a Few Librarians | Dive Into Diversity

Dive Into Diversity Reading Challenge

Welcome to the 11th month of the Dive into Diversity challenge! Rebecca and I can hardly believe we are just about done, but here we are. In the last sparkly original post, I’m piggybacking off some feelings I’ve had lately — how the general public who doesn’t spend a lot of time hanging out in the online book community or reading Publishers Weekly is finding out about the We Need Diverse Books campaign. Of course, I immediately think of librarians who work tirelessly to stock their libraries with books their community wants to read, recommend titles when asked, and make everyone feels welcome.

So I asked a few librarians to answer some questions on their jobs and how the diversity campaign has essentially affected how they do their job. Did they feel like the people who aren’t invested in these book/publishing bubbles were knew what was going on? What about the future? I hope you enjoy their insights and give you a little taste into DIVERSITY IN THE REAL WORLD.

♥

Eden - Librarian Dive Into DiversityEden has been a young adult librarian in Kentucky for 3 years. @edenjeangrey

(Diverse) books and authors have you been recommending this year: Mostly books about mental illness, like Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman and My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga.

On how to connect the campaign with patrons: I feel that customizing and tailoring your individual approach to diversity in library collections and services is crucial – just promoting diversity in general isn’t going to accomplish as much. Take time to determine what diversity means for our community, your service area, and your patrons, and work according to their identities and needs.

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Bookish - Dive into Diversity LibrariansBookish has been a librarian for 8 years. She has previously worked in college admissions and as a middle school teacher. @bookish & her blog.

On what’s changed since the WNDB campaign became “mainstream”: When I first got into librarianship, if I brought up the need for diversity in YA or kidlit, I’d get uncomfortable silences on listservs and in conversations. Only a few brave souls would answer. There was a deafening silence from the rest. Now that the WNDB campaign is more “mainstream,” many more people are willing to at least listen to the need for diversity.

(Diverse) books and authors you’ve been recommending: Grace Lin, Zetta Elliott, Jacqueline Woodson, Neesha Meminger, Yuyi Morales, Uma Krishnaswami, Mitali Perkins, Janine Macbeth, Misako Rocks, books published by Lee & Low press, Corduroy, the list goes on and on and on!

Patrons and their quest for change: Young parents of color…are keenly aware that they didn’t get to see themselves accurately and genuinely reflected in books as they were growing up, but that they want their kids to have this important connection to literature, in a visceral way. This generation of parents of color are already clamoring for books that represent their lives, their realities, so that they can share these with their children.

On what needs to happen next: …this push for diversity is mistaken as needing to be fulfilled by getting already well-known mainstream white writers to write diverse characters into their books. Don’t get me wrong; this trend is definitely a step in the right direction, for the most part. But what would be WAY more heartening is to see publishers taking chances on a LARGE number of first-time writers of color, to allow the diverse stories to be told through diverse authorial voices.

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Pamela - Dive Into Diversity LibrariansPamela lives in Wisconsin and has been a Youth Services Librarian since 2013. @PamelaJean0 & her blog.

Since WNDB how her book ordering has changed: Instead of ordering, say, 4 copies of a book by a popular author, I have diversified my collections by purchasing only 1 copy of a popular book and then using the remaining funds to buy new books that showcase diversity.

(Diverse) books and authors you’ve been recommending: Dumplin‘ by Julie Murphy; George by Alex Gino; Princeless by Jeremy Whitley; Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn; Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, always and forever. <3

How the word can spread even more: Merchandising. Teens love free stuff, especially if it’s LEGALLY free (ha!). The acronym itself would be intriguing if teens didn’t know what it was. And if we can turn it into an identifying rallying cry, like DFTBA? (Editor’s not: I had to look this up. Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.) Then that’s it. Maybe vlogging, snap chatting — whatever social media the teens are on, we need to be there too.

♥

Librarians are some of my favorite people in the UNIVERSE and I’m so glad to spotlight some of them today and hear about their experiences. There are so many layers to this campaign, and I wish I could have featured even more people because I love to be nosey and see how all of this is rolling in the real world. That being said, if you are a librarian, who has tips, tricks, and thoughts to share about the WNDB campaign — please feel free to do so below. Can’t wait to hear from you! Happy Tuesday, and happy almost Thanksgiving!

Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Rebecca’s Dive Into Diversity stop!

(And a big thanks to Emma @ Miss Print for helping me out with this!)

Of Survival and Discovery | #SoRatherBeYoung

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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?

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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!