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I realized last week, when I was too tired and cranky to write a new post, that I am way, way behind on trying to review the books I’ve read this year. But I also realized that writing reviews (even short ones) doesn’t actually take that long… as long as you just sit down and do it. #duh

This week I’m sharing the nonfiction reviews I got caught up on over the weekend. All of these are books that, with a few caveats for content, I enjoyed and would recommend — that’s pretty exciting!

The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil

When she was six years old, Clemantine Wamariya and her older sister, Claire, fled their home in Rwanda to escape the mass slaughter of Tutsi citizens by the Hutu majority. After six years migrating through seven different African countries, the sisters found their way to the United States. Clemantine was taken in by a typical white, suburban family who raised her as their own daughter, but of course the scars from her time as a refugee were still there. This book is told in alternating chapters, shifting from Africa to Chicago and Clematine’s experiences in each place, in a really thoughtful way. It’s a difficult read, but one built around an idea that relates to everyone – building a life in our own way and finding a way to voice our own stories. I thought it was a very effective, heartbreaking, and hopeful read.

The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson

In June 2009, a renowned 20 year old flutist named Edwin Rist went to a suburban branch of the British Museum of Natural History and stole a suitcase full of invaluable rare bird specimens, many collected by Alfred Russel Wallace. Rist, a well-known savant in the small world of Victorian salmon fly-tying, wanted the feathers both for his own use, and to sell to support his lifestyle and hobby. Johnson learned about the theft while fly fishing, then set out to both understand the crime and try to find bird skins that are still missing, despite the fact that Rist was apprehended. I thought this work of true crime was pretty delightful – particularly if you’re into true crime without the blood and guts typical of the genre. I thought Johnson did a great job showing why the theft was important, both to the museum and to our understanding of science as a whole, giving the book a little more heft than I originally expected. The criminal justice system’s treatment of Rist is extremely unsatisfying, but it’s unfair to fault the book or the author for the truth.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

Comedian Trevor Noah grew up mixed-race in South Africa during apartheid. Being “colored,” the son of a black woman and a white man, was literally a crime at that time, so Noah hard to learn to navigate a complicated set of circumstances. The book is also a story about his mother, and the sacrifices she made to craft a life of her own and raise her young sons. The book is incredibly funny, but also scary and sad and complicated in a way I appreciated a lot. I listened to the audiobook version of this book, and I definitely think that is the way to go. Noah narrates it himself, and he is truly wonderful.

Odd Girl Out by Laura James

British journalist Laura James was diagnosed with autism in her 40s. This book is about figuring out what to do with that information, along with a story about what it was like for her to grow up not having words to describe how different she felt. It’s about her initial impulse to “fix” herself, and how that mindset about something as complicated as autism doesn’t really work. It’s also a thoughtful story about her family and her marriage, and what a condition like autism (both unnamed and named) can do to a relationship. I thought it was deeply honest and thoughtful, and enjoyed reading it a lot.

Stuck in the Middle With You by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Jennifer Finney Boylan is a transgender woman who wrote about her transition from James to Jennifer in her first memoir, She’s Not There. In this book, Boylan writes about what being transgender has meant to her as a parent, and how ideas of motherhood and fatherhood are being complicated all the time. I loved a lot about this book, but especially how empathetic Boylan was to her wife and kids, reflecting that a decision she made to live a life that is authentic to her had huge consequences for them. It’s very generous while still being very honest, which is so important in a good memoir. That story was interspersed with interviews with other people on parenting and family that were ok, but not as interesting as the story they were interrupting. Overall though, this book was great.

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Today, Sophisticated Dorkiness turns 10 years old.

Truthfully, I spent most of this week thinking I’d only been blogging for nine years. I discovered it’s actually been a decade when I went to look at last year’s blogiversary post and realized my mistake. Ten years! That’s amazing.

I started this blog in 2008 just a few days before my college graduation. I was 21 years old, and I was feeling sad and nervous about leaving college and all of my friends and teachers. I wondered who I would get to talk about books with when I wasn’t an English major anymore, and so decided that I would start a blog and see what happened. To find other bloggers I literally Googled “book blog community.” Everything was small back then, and so that worked. That was such a stroke of luck.

I wish that I had something profound or insightful to say about a decade of blogging, the lessons I’ve learned or the trends I’ve observed or what the landscape of blogging looks like now compared to 10 years ago. But I don’t think I have much that’s new there, I can just talk about how my life and this blog have changed.

For a period of my blogging journey, I saw this as a semi-professional space. It was a personal project that, as I finished grad school, was helping me with my career as a young journalist because I could show that I understood online communities and how to write for the Internet. That was a big deal back in 2010. And even as I worked in journalism, I kept this space going with an eye to professionalism. I shared a picture of my life, but not many of the messiest and most difficult parts.

And then in 2016, I lost my person and became a widow at 30. It still feels un-fucking-believable to write that sentence. Eight months later, I lost my job in community journalism and found myself having to radically rethink my life after being on, essentially, one path since I graduated college.

I let this space sit quiet for some time while I tried to sort all of that out. I started being more involved at Book Riot through writing a weekly nonfiction newsletter and, this spring, launching a nonfiction podcast. For better or for worse, a lot of my professional bookish energy now goes there, which has allowed this space to become more personal. I worry less about being unfinished and casual here. To me, Sophisticated Dorkiness now feels more like a reading journal than a book blog, although that may just be a difference in mindset and semantics.

I’m glad that I made 2018 my year to recommit to this space. Posting regularly reminded me what I wanted to be doing in the first place, having conversations about the books I’ve read with other people who want to talk about books too. Whatever else is going on, being able to do that is important, and I haven’t found a space that feels more comfortable to me than this one.

I remain profoundly grateful that, despite all of those changes, there are still people who show up in this space (and in all of the other spaces we find ourselves online) to connect over a common love of books and reading (or crafts and cats and bad television, depending on the day).

Thank you for continuing to be here, and indulging me in a little metadiscourse about my blogging journey. I’m going to end with a bit of what I wrote last year, since the whole thing still applies:

As always, the biggest thank you needs to go out to all of you. Finding a community of readers and friends through this blog has been one of the biggest joys of life, and something I don’t take for granted. Thank you for being here through the rough stuff and as this space continues to evolve with me.

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April was a weird month of reading! Up until the Readathon last weekend, my reading was really slow. It felt like I was right on the edge of a major reading slump, which would be a bummer because I have so many great books to read. I started a lot of books that I never got around to finishing, even though for the most part they were really good.

All that said, I still finished nine books last month, which is nothing to look sideways at. Here’s the list:

  1. The Song Poet by Kao Kalia Yang (memoir)
  2. Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman (nonfiction)
  3. Circe by Madeline Miller (fiction)
  4. Stuck in the Middle With You by Jennifer Finney Boylan (memoir)
  5. Love and Death in the Sunshine State by Cutter Wood (true crime)
  6. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (true crime)
  7. The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg (short stories)
  8. Odd Girl Out by Laura James (memoir)
  9. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (memoir, audiobook)

There were a lot of strong picks this month. Madeline Miller’s new book, Circe, was my only fiction book, but it was truly remarkable. I loved revisiting Greek myths, which I was obsessed with as a teenager, from a new angle and with a distinctly feminist lens.

On the nonfiction side, The Song Poet, Stuck in the Middle With You, and Odd Girl Out were all amazing memoirs from people in lives I’ll never get to experience — Hmong refugees, a transgender mother, and a woman with autism. I highly recommend all of them. Oh! And Trevor Noah’s memoir, Born a Crime, was also great — I almost forgot that one because I listened to it on audio book and somehow that makes it different in my head.

And finally, I can’t say enough good things about I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, an account of a journalist’s quest to identify the Golden State Killer, a serial rapist and murder who terrorized California in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s a detailed, empathetic, remarkable work of true crime reporting that I won’t soon forget. Highly recommended.

A Look to May

I feel like one of my priorities for May needs to be reading a bunch of the nonfiction I started in April and never actually finished:

  • The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson — True crime about the theft of hundreds of rare bird skins.
  • The Extra Woman by Joanna Scutts — A look at the rise of self-help books in the 1930s, and the life of Marjorie Hillis, the first guru for single ladies.
  • Beneath a Ruthless Sun by Gilbert King — Historical true crime about a racist sheriff, a crusading journalist, and a mentally disabled black kid accused of rape.
  • The Girl Who Smiled Beads by by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil — A memoir by refugees from Rwanda who came to the United States as teenagers.
  • The Recovering by Leslie Jamison — A recovery memoir that also interrogates the entire recovery system.

Usually I’m not that terrible at getting through books, but I just could not concentrate on much until the Readathon. Fingers crossed those good vibes continue!

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Today’s the Readathon! Normally I’d have put up a post with my books and plans earlier in the week, but work was such a beast that I never got around to it. C’est la vie.

One of the other casualties of a busy work week is that I’ve struggled a bit more than usual with my book stack. My head says pick short books so I can read quickly (that’s usually very satisfying for me during the Readathon), but my heart is pulling me towards some longer titles. My stack is kind of a weird mix of both, so hopefully I’ll be able to find exactly what I want to read.

I’l probably start with one of the nonfiction books — I’m learning towards Love and Death in the Sunshine State by Cutter Wood, a memoir/true crime book about a woman who goes missing in Florida, or The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson, true crime about the theft of many rare birds. That one is a bit of a cheat, since I’m partially finished, but at least I know that it’s good!

One big change this year is that I won’t be posting here on the blog much. Storify, the service I’ve used in the past to collect my social media posts here, is shutting down, so it’s not available to use and I didn’t come up with a better option. I’m a little bummed, but I think that’ll just mean I’ll be on Twitter and Instagram exclusively after this opening event post.

Opening Event Meme, 6:40 a.m. 

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? St. Paul, Minnesota with my mom and my sister.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I’m not sure! If I’m feeling brave, I’m excited about I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara. I’m also excited to finish The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Gummi bears! And donuts, my mom brought some great donuts for us to eat. 

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I work as a social media specialist for a public library system in Minnesota. It’s such a great job!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? I’ll be doing my updates different, not gathering them on Storify like I have in the past. I’ll probably do a lot more sharing on Instagram stories too!

Happy Readathon, everyone!!

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Around Here | I’m writing this post on Wednesday evening, after a long day of staff training at my day job. We spent the day doing activities related to the StrengthsFinder assessment, which was interesting, but also pretty draining – it’s hard for this introvert to be on and conversational all day! I’m definitely glad to be home, settled in for an evening of writing and reading.

Reading | April has been a pretty slow reading month so far. I’ve only finished three books – The Song Poet by Kao Kalia Yang (memoir of a Hmong family in Minnesota), Bachelor Nation by Amy Kaufman (a journalist explains how The Bachelor gets made), and Circe by Madeline Miller (a fictional revisiting of the witch from Greek mythology). Up next is The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil, a memoir of two sisters fleeing a 1994 massacre in Rwanda.

Watching | I just started watching Splitting Up Together, an ABC comedy about a couple who divorce but continue to live together to care for their kids. Jenna Fisher (aka Pam from The Office) is one of the leads, and she’s totally charming.

Listening | I’ve been very slowly making my way through Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, his memoir growing up as a mixed-race kid in South Africa during Apartheid. It’s really great, I just keep getting distracted by podcasts. (Did you know I now host a podcast for Book Riot? For Real!)

Loving | My 100 Day Project (100 Days in a Notebook) has been so much fun so far. I appreciate making a little bit of time each day to do something creative, even if it’s just doodling with colored pencils or playing around with watercolors. It seems like I’ve been pulling out my notebook in the evenings when I’m watching tv, and spending some time filling a page instead of also scrolling on social media. I haven’t done anything super ambitious yet, but for now I’m ok with using that space to just play.

Hating | Last weekend we had a massive snowstorm in Minnesota. From Friday evening until Sunday evening, the storm dropped about 16 inches of snow in our neighborhood, which is truly ridiculous at any time, but especially in April. It’s also been like the coldest April on record… so that’s something too. Spring cannot come soon enough!

Anticipating | Readathon!! Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is April 28 and I am psyched! My mom and sister are also participating again this year, so we’ll have a full house of readers all day. I’m slowly putting together my book pile, thinking about my snacks, and making a plan for the day. It’s gonna be fun!

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Early April seems to be the time of year where the number of great books out there to read – both recent and previously published – goes from exciting to overwhelming. Even when I feel like I’ve been responsible with my purchases and judicious in the number of review copies I request, by April I start to feel this weird stress about ALL THE BOOKS and the knowledge that I’ll never get through it all.

It has helped, I think, that I’ve been focusing this year on only buying books in bookstores rather than online. The fact that I work at a library and can basically request any title I want somewhat negates that, but at least library books won’t sit on my shelves for too long.

Although I did break my pledge once in the last few months – I pre-ordered Leslie Jamison’s new memoir, The Recovering, because I was just so excited to read it – I’ve been largely successful. Here are the books I’ve bought since my last update:  

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti – A coming-of-age story of a young girl whose father has a mysterious past, told in alternating chapters with the father’s coming of age story. I read this on vacation and loved it.

The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen – A collection of short stories reimagining our favorite fantasy and children’s story characters. I’m thinking this will be a late evening Readathon palate cleanser.

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle – I don’t think I’d ever read this children’s classic, so I snagged a copy and read it a few weeks ago. It was… ok? It didn’t really hit me the way I was hoping that it would.

Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot – This memoir has gotten a lot of buzz, and so when I saw it on a staff recommends table at my favorite independent bookstore, I had to grab it. This one is also on my Readathon pile.

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead – I am obviously going to buy a novel by Colson Whitehead about a sort of parallel universe in which there’s a department of elevator inspectors. It sounds so fascinating.

Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper – A friend recommended this collection of essays about black women’s anger, how it’s portrayed, and why it’s important.

Nasty Women, edited by Samhita Mukhopadhyay and Kate Harding – This collection of essays from women writers about resistance and revolution has been on my radar for awhile, so I finally decided to just buy it.

After my last update, I realized I didn’t include the books I’ve selected through my Book of the Month subscription. It feels only fair that I admit to them too (especially since I’ve selected multiple books during multiple months… not responsible!):

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones – Oprah’s newest Book Club pick about what happens to a marriage after the husband is jailed and then released after being convicted and acquitted of a crime.

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan – This is a YA novel about grief that’s gotten amazing buzz. I keep wanting to pick it up, but I’m also kind of apprehensive.

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs – This one was compared to The Westing Game, a novel I really loved a long time ago, so I was pretty much sold. A mathematician dies, perhaps murdered, and leaves a clue for his relatives to solve.

Circe by Madeline Miller – The infamous witch of The Odyssey gets her own book. I’m prepared for this one to be amazing.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil – This memoir is about two sisters who escape from genocide in Rwanda to come to the United States. It sounds like a tough read, but also very meaningful.

Oh dear… now that it’s all written down, it’s clear that is a lot more books than any one person ought to acquire in the span of just a few months. I think a book buying diet is in order soon!

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Thanks to four days in Mexico with no plans but to read, swim, and relax, I managed to finish a whopping 11 books in March! And on the whole, I found them pretty satisfying, and am happy that I also managed to write reviews of the ones I had strong feelings about. Here’s what I read this month:

  • The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti (fiction – review)
  • The Rocks by Peter Nichols (fiction – review)
  • Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai (fiction – review)
  • You Don’t Know My Name by Kristen Orlando (fiction – review)
  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (fiction)
  • Educated by Tara Westover (memoir – review)
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle (YA fiction)
  • This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (essays – review)
  • Wires and Nerve: Gone Rogue by Marissa Meyer and Stephen Gilpin (fiction, comic)
  • The Dragon Behind the Glass by Emily Voigt (nonfiction – review)
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (YA fiction – review)

Of the fiction I read, I think The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley and Children of Blood and Bone were my favorites. Both grabbed my attention right away, and didn’t let it go until I finished.

I also loved all of the nonfiction I read this month. Educated was a stellar memoir – it’s probably going to be among my top books of the year. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a warm, funny collection of essays that I was sad when I finished. And The Dragon Behind the Glass is just the sort of odd, well-reported nonfiction that I love. I’d recommend them all.

A Look to April

The Readathon is coming! April 28 is the annual spring edition of Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, and I’m already getting a little excited. Is there anything better than sitting down for a full day to read with no other responsibilities? I think not. In addition to read Readathon, April is a pretty stellar month for new books. Here are a few I’m excited about possibly picking up this month:

The Recovering by Leslie Jamison – This memoir is probably my most anticipated book of the year. I loved Jamison’s previous book, a collection of essays called The Empathy Exams, and can’t wait to dig into a more personal book about addiction and recovering.

The Opposite of Hate by Sally Kohn – This book pulls together recent research from psychology, sociology, and neuroscience to explore the evolutionary and cultural roots of hate. I’m intrigued by this one mostly because of the blurbs – both Sean Hannity and Elizabeth Gilbert are quoted on the jacket.

The Library by Stuart Kells – Now that I work doing communications for a public library, I’m even more interested to learn about the history of the institution and the role that libraries play around the world. In this book, Kells becomes a library tourist to explore these stories. I am excited!

The Displaced, edited by Viet Thanh Nguyen – This book is a collection of essays by 17 refugee writers from around the world, all writing about their experiences and “what it means to be forced to leave home and find a place of refuge.”

And that’s a wrap for March! What books were your favorites last month? What books are most looking forward to in a few weeks? What’s at the top of your Readathon pile?

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Last year at about this time I (impulsively) decided to join The 100 Day Project, a free, global art initiative where people around the world commit to doing something creative every day for 100 days. At the time I was feeling unmoored and confused, and had plenty of time on my hands thanks to a recent layoff from my job in community newspapers. I hoped that the project would help me recenter on the things I love – reading, writing, and books – and help me begin to put myself out in the world again.  

And it did. Completing 100 Days of Books was an incredible experience, and I’m really proud of the work that I did during that time. I learned a lot about books, photography, and writing. Seeing a collage of all 100 books together still makes me smile.

As the beginning of this year’s 100 Day Project approached, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do. This year I’m in a totally different place. I’m in a busy season at a new job, and have other projects filling in the time and mental space I have available for books and reading. I don’t need another project, but I’ve nevertheless been feeling the pull to participate again… so I’m going to try!

Two things I’ve been fascinated with for a long time are art journaling and commonplace books, both creative ways of using notebooks to collect thoughts, feeling, anecdotes, observations, or information that may eventually become useful. As you might expect, art journals lean towards the more creative, while commonplace books are more utilitarian. In the past, I’ve kept versions of each one. I have many notebooks lying around with a few pages of sketches or quotes or memorabilia that were meaningful at the time. I don’t always remember why they mattered, but I like when I stumble across these little pieces. 

My project for this year – 100 Days in a Notebook – is somewhere between those two creative outlets. Every day for the next 100 days (April 3 to July 11), I am going to put something into a notebook. It may be as simple as a line of journaling or a meaningful quote, or as elaborate as a collage or watercolor painting. I’m not committing to filling a page every day, just to putting pen or paintbrush or glue stick to paper before I go to bed each night.

In order to (attempt) to work around my tendency to perfectionism, I bought a $5 Artist’s Loft dot grid notebook from Michaels to use instead of one of the nice notebooks I have sitting around my house. This is the style of notebook I use for my bullet journal at work, so in my head it’s a low-pressure notebook where it’s ok to be messy and imperfect. The important thing is making space for creativity, not obsessing about the outcome.

I don’t really have an idea of what 100 Days in a Notebook will end up looking like – the whole concept is a little bit vague on purpose – but I am excited for an excuse to sit down and be creative in a tactile way every day. I’ll be sharing a bit on Instagram as the project progresses, so be sure to follow me there!

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My nonfiction reading has been absolutely on fire lately. Thanks to the work I do over at Book Riot — writing a weekly nonfiction newsletter, and hosting a bi-weekly nonfiction podcast — I’m pretty up to speed on the big nonfiction that’s being published now. My TBR is miles long, but it’s ok because that means I don’t often read books I don’t like — I know to avoid them, or I’m happy to quit because I know there are good books on the horizon. All that to say I’m excited to be sharing short reviews of three books I really loved — a memoir about survivalists, a collection of essays, and a scientific travelogue about exotic fish. 

Educated by Tara Westover

There’s a lot to try and fit into a description of Tara Westover’s amazing memoir, Educated, so I’m just going to give you the bare bones. Westover grew up in a family of fundamentalist, survivalists in Idaho who distrusted the government, educational system, and medical establishment. After seeing one brother leave and go to college, Westover taught herself just enough math, science, and grammar to pass the ACT and enter Brigham Young University as a freshman at 17 – the first time she’d ever been in a classroom, and the beginning of a big life made possible by education and the help of people she found along the way.

This memoir is absolutely stunning, both incredibly hopeful and incredibly sad in the space of just a few pages. Westover’s upbringing is full of violence and misogyny, but also small acts of rebellion and love that keep it from feeling completely hopeless. I was impressed with the clear perspective Westover brings to the book. It would be easy for her to feel bitter about her childhood and angry with her family for how she’s been treated, but I didn’t feel any of that as I read, which feels important in making this book not seem completely dire. It’s an incredible book, one that I’m confident will end up on my top books of the year list.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

It took me a weirdly long time to finish This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. I probably started reading it last fall, but finally got around to finishing the last piece just last weekend. I thought, for awhile, that the reason I took so long finishing it was because of the format. The book includes all essays that have been previously published, so I thought perhaps the collection didn’t build in a way that compelled me to keep turning pages… because of the format, there’s no surprise because they’re all by the same person, and no argument being built that pulls you into the next piece.

But as I’ve thought about it trying to write this little review, I don’t think that’s true. The essays do have a particular flow to them, building a roughly chronological story about Patchett’s life as a daughter, student, writer, dog mother, bookstore owner, and wife. The book synopsis talks about creating “both a portrait of a life and a philosophy of life,” which is quite accurate. This isn’t a biography or a memoir, but reading the essays does give a lovely overview of the relationships and moments that have meant the most to Patchett, and the ways those incidents have helped her become the writer she is today.

I think, instead, the reason I took so long to finish is because the collection is so lovely – warm, funny, thoughtful, beautifully-written, and resonant. I took forever to finish because I didn’t want my time spent with this book to end.

The Dragon Behind the Glass by Emily Voigt

I love nonfiction about weird things, so of course a “true story of power, obsession, and the world’s most coveted fish” would make it onto my reading list. The fish at the center of The Dragon Behind the Glass is the Asian arowana, aka the “dragon fish,” an endangered species that is beloved and highly coveted by those who collect ornamental fish. The dragon fish is nearly extinct in the wild, yet the fish is thriving in captivity thanks to the aquarium market. And despite the huge numbers available to sell, they’re illegal to own in the United States because they’re an endangered species. The dragon fish has inspired heists, fraud, kidnappings and even murder – so many crazy things!

This book is such a strange delight from beginning to end. Voigt meets a ton of fascinating people in her pursuit of the dragon fish, and follows the species around the world trying to understand it’s shift from wild animal to aquarium star. It’s an interesting story about nature, conservation, and obsession, all around a very odd looking fish. I thought it was a fun read – definitely one to pick up you’re open to the idea of a “scientific travelogue” about exotic fish.

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Apparently I haven’t taken any good pictures in the last few weeks… so here’s another one from my vacation to Mexico.

Around Here | My work life has taken a turn for the crazy! One of my coworkers had a baby last week, and so I’m covering a sizable chunk of her regular responsibilities until she’s back with us in June. I don’t mind the extra work, but it has been stressful trying to make sure I’ve got a handle on everything we know needs to be done and the mental space to handle the stuff we didn’t expect.

Reading | After reading a ton of books on vacation in early March, my reading has been a little bit scattered. I just finished The Dragon Behind the Glass by Emily Voigt, a look at a endangered fish that’s all the rage in the aquarium world, which was just as delightfully weird as it sounds. I’ve been trying to find few hours to sink into one of my Book of the Month picks for March, The Last Equation of Isaac Severy, but that hasn’t happened this week.

Watching | I’m intrigued by three new shows this spring — Deception (magicians join the FBI!), For the People (young lawyers in Shondaland) and Rise (Friday Night Lights except for high school theater). I don’t know if I’ll stick with all of them, but the first few episodes have been interesting.

Listening | I could be cool and give you the name of a random podcast… but honestly? It’s still a rush to know that I have my own podcast! Recording For Real with Alice (Reading Rambo, @itsalicetime) is such a delight.

Loving | Earl Grey tea. I don’t know why it took me so long to discover that I love Earl Grey — for some reason I thought that I hated it — but it turns out that’s not true! Delicious, delicious tea.

Hating | Wallpaper. My sister is working on renovating and redecorating her bedroom, which has involved pulling down wallpaper that the last owners of our townhouse decided to just paint over. Painted-over wallpaper is the Devil’s work.

Contemplating | I’m still trying to decipher this whole Facebook data privacy controversy — both what it means and what I want to do about it. My job is social media, so I can’t entirely escape it, but I do think there’s even more to do about being intentional with what I share and where I spend my online time.

Anticipating | I’m getting a haircut on Friday, and then the rest of my weekend is completely unscheduled! We’ll probably be doing some bedroom renovation work, but otherwise I think it’ll be a pretty chill time to catch up on sleep and finish a book. Fingers crossed!

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