Discussions, Readathons

Nonfiction November Week 3: Be the Expert

Week 3: (Nov. 11 to 15) – Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert (Katie @ Doing Dewey): Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

It’s time for Nonfiction November! This week I’ve chosen sort of a broad topic in the “Be the Expert” challenge: social justice in the United States. Looking through my nonfiction shelf, three different books that I wanted to share stuck out to me, and they all had in common criticisms of various aspects of America today.


Evicted is disturbing book about how the landlord/tenant relationship works. It’s super well-written and absolutely infuriating.

Dopesick is also infuriating and disturbing, but it’s about the immorality of some pharmaceutical companies — specifically in the lens of drug addiction. I didn’t quite finish reading this one, but that was definitely a me thing.

Policing the Black Man is an eye-opening look at the history of racism and criminal justice in America. It’s actually a collection of essays, so part of its strength is the breadth of viewpoints it’s able to provide.

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Discussions, Readathons

Nonfiction November Week 2: Fiction/Nonfiction Pairing

It’s time for Nonfiction November!

Week 2: (Nov. 4 to 8) – Fiction / Nonfiction Book Pairing (Sarah @ Sarah’s Book Shelves): This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.


Lilli de Jong is about a young woman who is forced to leave her family and hide away in order to cover up for her pregnancy, after which she is expected to give up and forget her child. I believe the author had mentioned The Girls Who Went Away as one of the books she read while researching her novel. It’s currently on my TBR so I’m hoping to get to it at some point, but this is pairing makes a lot of sense to me.

The Lovely and the Lost is a YA mystery about a family who raises search & rescue (SAR) dogs. It honestly made me want to drop my life and go train SAR dogs (not happening). So, obviously it makes the most sense to pair it with a book about actual SAR dogs. Scent of the Missing is a nonfic book about SAR dogs that I JUST added to my TBR but am now excited about picking up!

Is this cheating? Yes. Do I care? Absolutely not. The Pisces was potentially my top book of 2018 and I will not stop raving about it. So Sad Today is a collection of essays written by the same author. Lucy is sad. Melissa is sad. Need I say more? I haven’t even read So Sad Today yet but I WILL and I am positive these two will go together wonderfully.

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Discussions, Readathons

Nonfiction November Week 1: Year in Nonfiction

It’s time for Nonfiction November! I didn’t have time to participate last year, but am quite happy to this year. 🙂

Week 1: (Oct. 28 to Nov. 1) – Your Year in Nonfiction (Julie @ Julz Reads): Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I’ve read fifteen nonfiction books this year, over a variety of topics, but I’d guess there were a lot of memoirs. One of the exciting things about nonfic books is that they often include references to other books, which I sometimes end up adding to my TBR. It’s fun when a book allows you to develop a specific interest, and then gives you some other reading material to try out!

Some of my favorites this year:

American Predator was a very recent read that absolutely blew me away.

What Doctors Feel discussed doctors’ emotions and how they impact patient care.

Sex at Dawn took a different perspective on human sexuality than one usually sees.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was a great albeit heartbreaking read about the Golden State Killer.

Evicted shed light on the absolutely unreal housing system in America today.

Throughout Nonfiction November, I’m hoping to find some more nonfiction books that draw my attention (not that my TBR needs anything added to it) and am also looking forward to checking out what other bloggers have to say. Let me know if you’ll be participating in Nonfiction November, and what some of your best nonfic reads have been this year!


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Bookworm Blogging, Discussions

Recommendation Request: Happily Ever After Books

Hi everybody! I wanted to try something a little different today. My mom likes to read my blog when she can and gets excited about some of the books I read, asking whether she would like x or y. The problem is, I don’t read a ton of books that fall under the umbrella of what she would enjoy! Lately I’ve been reading SF/F, sad literary fiction, and horror. SO, I hoped I could employ some of you to give her recommendations. 🙂

In preparation, I asked for some examples of what she does like and got the following responses: David Baldacci, Luanne Rice, and Danielle Steele. Mostly, she likes happily ever after books!

So, here is my request for you all: please comment with some nice HEA books for my mom to check out. You can use the authors above as a reference point, or just give me some recs of good ones you’ve read! Hopefully we can compile a great list of reads for her to try. 🙂

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide! ❤

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Bookworm Blogging, Discussions

My “TBR ASAP” Shelf

I was inspired by Ally’s Top TBR post to share my own prioritized TBR shelf with y’all. I’ve been using one for a while, as I find it really helpful to remind me of the things I don’t want to get lost in my general TBR shelf — which always happens. I have still been neglecting this shelf somewhat but with most of the Women’s Prize list behind me, I plan to prioritize my TBR ASAP shelf, my owned TBR, and the ARCs I have.

I’ll be ordering this list by date added and am going to try Destiny’s trick of providing a brief summary of the book and/or why I’m prioritizing it, along with the genre.


  • Broke Millennial
    • Nonfiction, self-help, finance
    • Erin Lowry was a guest on the Bad with Money podcast, which made me really want to read her book
  • Faking Ms. Right
    • Romance, contemporary
    • Hannah posted about reading this lately and I thought a cute fake dating romance sounded nice
  • Nonviolent Communication
    • Nonfiction, self-help, psychology, communication, relationships
    • A lot of people in the Multiamory Discord have been discussing this recently and I decided it would be worth reading
  • How to Be Everything
    • Nonfiction, self-help, psychology
    • I just happened to see this on my Goodreads feed but it seemed right up my alley

Do you all have a way to keep track of the books you’d like to prioritize?

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Bookworm Blogging, Discussions

Empathy, Emotions, and Reading [discussion]

This is my first real discussion post in just over a year! I don’t do a lot of these, because I feel like other bloggers have more to say and say things more succinctly than I do. However! This is something I haven’t seen a lot of and it’s been on my mind lately.

First of all, let’s define what empathy actually is. Dictionary.com refers to empathy as “[…] the capacity or ability to imagine oneself in the situation of another, experiencing the emotions, ideas, or opinions of that person.” This is distinguished from sympathy in the following way: “sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters, while empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another.”

That being said, I am an extremely empathetic person. I can attribute this to about a thousand things, but what it means for me is that other people’s emotions impact me pretty strongly. I literally find emotions to be contagious, no matter what form they come in. Whether it’s from a friend, an article I’m reading online, a movie I’m watching, or a book I’m reading, I find myself taking on those feelings.

There are benefits to this: I’m pretty conscious about my friends emotions and behaviors indicating their emotions and I can be a good listener. There are also plenty of cons: I have to disengage from people sometimes so I don’t become overwhelmed, I have to consume emotional media fairly slowly to avoid slipping into a depressive episode, and I can sometimes blur the line between fiction and reality.

This comes up a lot during my reading. What prompted this post was actually my experience reading The Pisces. The main character falls into a depressive episode at the start of the book and I found it to be an emotionally intense experience because it was so real. I could identify the triggers, the symptoms, the disordered thinking. It put me into a mood, which I luckily realized quickly, and I had to put it down after a short session. I’ve been reading it slowly, in bits and pieces, in order to avoid getting dragged down by it.

It’s difficult sometimes, having to navigate my reading so carefully, but I like to think it helps make me a more compassionate and sensitive person. Anyway, here’s my question for you: do any of you also struggle with keeping your empathy in check while reading (or even watching TV/movies)? How do you deal with this so that it doesn’t negatively impact your mental health? If it was something you could just turn off, would you?

I look forward to hearing what you all have to say on this! Thanks for reading. 🙂

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Discussions, Not Books

Podcasts

Okay, so podcasts aren’t books, but I’d argue that they’re closely related! They’re kind of like audiobooks! Some tell stories, some teach you things, and some are just plain fun. For today’s post, I wanted to show y’all some of my favorite podcasts and learn what some of your favorite podcasts are!

Reading Glasses with Brea Grant and Mallory O’Meara
[discussion, education]

Do you love books? Want to learn how to make the most of your reading life? Join hosts Brea Grant and Mallory O’Meara every week as they discuss tips and tricks for reading better on Reading Glasses, a podcast designed to help you get more out of your literary experiences.

As professional creatives and mega-readers, Mallory and Brea are experts on integrating a love of reading into a busy lifestyle. Listeners will get help for bookish problems, like how to vanquish that To-Be-Read pile and organize those bookshelves. Brea and Mallory also offer advice on reader dilemmas. How do you climb out of a reading slump? How do you support authors while still getting books on the cheap? Where do you hide the bodies of the people who won’t stop talking while you’re trying to read? No matter what you read or how you read it, Reading Glasses will help you do it better.

My Brother, My Brother, and Me with Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Griffin McElroy
[comedy, discussion]

My Brother, My Brother and Me is an advicecast for the modern era featuring three real-life brothers: Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy. For roughly five-sixths of an hour each week, with new episodes dropping every Monday, the brothers McElroy will answer any query sent our way, each fielding questions falling into our respective areas of expertise. We operate like a streamlined, advice-generating machine. It’s both terrifying and humbling to behold.

The Adventure Zone with Griffin McElroy, Travis McElroy, Justin McElroy, and Clint McElroy
[Dungeons & Dragons, fiction, comedy]

Justin, Travis and Griffin McElroy from My Brother, My Brother and Me have recruited their dad Clint for a campaign of high adventure. Join the McElroys as they find their fortune and slay an unconscionable number of … you know, kobolds or whatever in … The Adventure Zone.

The Heart with Kaitlin Prest
[discussion, storytelling]

The Heart is a show about love, life, bodies and feelings. With rich sound design, intimate subject matter and a critical lens, the stories on this show ask the important question of our era: What is love?

Image result for stuff you should know

Stuff You Should Know with Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant
[education]

How do landfills work? How do mosquitos work? Join Josh and Chuck as they explore the Stuff You Should Know about everything from genes to the Galapagos in this podcast from HowStuffWorks.com.

It might have been overdoing it two put two McElroy podcasts, but you should just be grateful that I didn’t put three now that Wonderful! has started. Anyway, these are just 5 of the podcasts I listen to, but I’d say they’re my favorites! I actually went to see My Brother, My Brother, and Me live on Sunday night and it was an incredible experience! What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Thanks for reading! You can also find me on Twitter and Goodreads.
(All logos courtesy of each podcasts’ respective website.)

Bookworm Blogging, Discussions, Personal

Diversity in Books [discussion]

I’ve been seeing discussions about this going around, and figured I’d throw my opinion into the ring. As a disclaimer: I am a queer cisgender white woman, so while I can speak to some aspects of diversity in media, I obviously can’t speak to them all and hope that y’all seek out the voices of other minorities to get their thoughts as well.

Diversity in media is so, so important. Growing up, I did not see many lgbtqia+ folx in books or movies or television shows. I lived in rural New England in a small town and heard slurs thrown around as insults on a daily basis. Even at a young age, it was clear to me that being gay was a Bad Thing.

I was so sheltered in my exposure to lgbtqia+ information that I didn’t understand anything about the fluidity of sexuality. Even as a child, I knew that I wasn’t straight because I liked girls. But I knew I wasn’t a lesbian because I liked boys. I spent years lost and confused, thinking I was some kind of freak of nature. In middle school, I met someone who identified as bisexual and it turned my entire world upside-down. I still remember the sense of relief that flooded through me–there were other people out there like me, and there was a word for what I was feeling.

Even today, living in a city and surrounded by lgbtqia+ friends, my heart skips a beat when I see an indication that someone may be Like Me. When I see two women walking down the street holding hands, when I see someone with a rainbow bandana, when another woman casually drops the word “my girlfriend” into a sentence. Butterflies fill my stomach and I feel giddy and a smile blooms on my face. I feel less alone, I feel relieved, I feel right in the world.

Growing up in rural New England, I didn’t get to see any of these things. Sure, I had a handful of lgbtqia+ friends, but we were a minority. Most of us were either not out or were getting called slurs behind our backs if we were. Even if we weren’t. Sometimes kids just sensed there was something different about us, and those slurs were the only thing they had to pin to us.

One of the only things that made me feel better was seeing people like me in media. Seeing lgbtqia+ people on TV shows or in books was like the ultimate Where’s Waldo. I was starved for representation and would take any scrap I could get. Most of the media I took in reinforced negative stereotypes, queerbaited, and/or depicted lgbtqia+ lives in an overwhelmingly negative light (tragedy everywhere!). I had to make do with what I could.

Today, I feel a lot luckier. The world is a little more open, I live in a more accepting place, and it’s easier for me to find representative media. But there’s still so much missing! It’s still difficult to find “popular” media that doesn’t reinforce negative stereotypes or depict lgbtqia+ folx as living these sad lives. We deserve happy endings, too. We deserve realistic, healthy representations.

This doesn’t just go for lgbtqia+ representation, either. All underrepresented groups deserve this kind of representation. We all deserve to see ourselves as belonging to the world. Without that, it’s easy to feel lost.

I’ve seen some people say that it’s not necessary to intentionally seek out diverse media. I wholeheartedly disagree. While “popular” media is growing somewhat more diverse, it isn’t just going to happen on its own. Coming from a not-so-diverse area, a lot of my social circle is comprised of white Americans. So a lot of the media I’m exposed to is white, American media. In order to diversify my worldview, the onus is on me to seek out media that provides representations of groups of people I may be less familiar with.

I’m not saying we need to force ourselves to read things we don’t like. But if you like YA fantasy, maybe find a list of YA fantasy featuring people of color. If you like historical fiction, find historical fiction featuring lgbtqia+ main characters. The beautiful thing about bookish communities is that a lot of people love to give recommendations! If you can’t find a list of diverse books that fit your specific interests, put a call out asking for recs or use some google searches or consult a librarian. There is certainly diverse media out there that you will enjoy, but it’s unlikely to fall into your lap in large quantities. If you want to consider yourself an ally to any group of people, you need to do the work to support and understand them.

I also think it is a necessity to emphasize Own Voices in every way. Find Own Voices books, read Own Voices reviews. If I read a diverse book that talks about something I have no experience with, I try to look for Own Voices opinions on it before I write my review and before I form my final opinion. You may think the representation is fine, but maybe you’re not picking up on something that deeply hurts the people within that group. And that’s not your fault, but the opportunity to learn more is still there.

Authors writing about communities they don’t belong to can walk a fine line at times. I agree that it is not fair to expect perfection–of anyone–but if you are attempting to write about something you have not yourself experienced, you need to work to ensure that you are writing proper representation. Research is important, but I think having Own Voices folx provide feedback before you finalize your work is important as well. If you are writing a book about a bisexual woman and you’re straight, get the opinions of some bisexual women! Obviously no one person speaks for an entire group, but getting a few opinions from people within that group can be the difference between a flimsy caricature and realistic representation.

I don’t think I’m anywhere near perfect when it comes to reading diverse books (and that’s something I need to change) and my opinions are not the end-all of this discussion, but these are just some things I’ve been thinking about lately. I think it’s easy for people in positions of privilege to say that diversity is too overemphasized, but take a minute to imagine what it’s like not to see yourself anywhere. It’s easy to feel broken and like you don’t belong, like the world is saying “we don’t care if you’re here or not.”

Anyway, this got way heavier than I was expecting! If you made it this far, I applaud you. I guess my take-home here is really that diverse media has always been and continues to be important to me. Whether or not you feel it impacts you directly, supporting diverse media supports marginalized communities, both by making them more visible to the world at large and by making you, specifically, more aware of them and of their struggles and achievements.

Thank you all so much for reading. Please, please, please feel free to comment letting me know what your thoughts are! This is something I’m passionate about, but as I stated earlier, the discussion doesn’t end with my opinion.