Book Review: The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq by Hassan Blasim

The Corpse Exhibition by Hassan Blasim
Published by Penguin on 2014-02-04
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Short Stories (single author)
Pages: 208
Format: eARC
Source: Penguin

A blistering debut that does for the Iraqi perspective on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan what Phil Klay’s Redeployment does for the American perspective The first major literary work about the Iraq War from an Iraqi perspective—by an explosive new voice hailed as “perhaps the best writer of Arabic fiction alive” (The Guardian)—The Corpse Exhibition shows us the war as we have never seen it before. The Corpse Exhibition offers us a pageant of horrors, as haunting as the photos of Abu Ghraib and as difficult to look away from, but shot through with a gallows humor that yields an unflinching comedy of the macabre. Gripping and hallucinatory, this is a new kind of storytelling forged in the crucible of war.

I received this book for free from Penguin in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I also recommend:

My Review:

I’m at a bit of a loss on where to start with the short story collection of Hassan Blasim.  It’s been my goal this week to read with intention; to explore works by authors that are not white and/or male.  That’s not to say that I’m able to fully get away from works by white men (or women), but that I wanted to broaden my worldview and start seeing things that have been in my life, sometimes in the background barely paid attention to, for some length of time.  The war in Iraq is one of those things.  So I was a bit nervous going into The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq and the first story, right away, knocked me off my feet.  I felt weighed down and seriously put in my place.  I had no idea. None.  It took me some time to recover and then I picked up the next story, determined to read more.

What a rewarding experience it has been, and I don’t mean that in a way that implies that I got something great out of these books.  Don’t get me wrong – anytime I get taken to school and put in my place, I consider it to be a good thing because I need that reminder that I have it good, I have it great.  I’m living in a place considered by most of the world as paradise, I’m free to practice religion and politics without fear of repercussions.  I have a tumbler full of water sitting next to me that speaks of pride in my hometown and my iphone is charging and beeping at me, reminding it’s time to go to bed so that I can wake up tomorrow and enjoy a day in the sun, doing what I love to do.

But the people in the stories of The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq are not as fortunate as I am.  They are not given the opportunity to do what they love; instead, they are given hopeless choices, choices that make me wonder how on earth a person could decide.  I was completely wrecked by the story of a son’s love for his mother and the lengths that he will go to protect her.  I was overwhelmed by the multitude of stories and symbolism in the tale of a newspaper man who thought he could make a quick buck by exploiting someone else.  But most of all, I was so incredibly grateful that I live in a country where a book like The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq is ready and available for me to read and is not banned nor forbidden.  What would the world we like if we were all unable to experience, through books like this, what life is like on the other side?  And what would the world be like if more of us chose to do just that?

The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq is not an easy, simple read.  It’s gruesome and horrifying and real and it will completely take control of you while you read it.  While, at times, the symbolism is a bit heavy and hard to understand (some of the endings of the story, I admit, completely went over my head), I think what I ultimately took away from this book was well worth the time taken to read it.

Check out these reviews!

  • The Corpse Exhibition is a truly unique collection of work, guaranteed to satiate anyone with a thirst for the surreal, macabre, or even those interested in seeing the conflict in Iraq from a new perspective” – Lit Reactor

Book Review: The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka

The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka
Published by Simon and Schuster on 2014-02-04
Genres: Coming of Age, Fiction, General, Literary
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Simon and Schuster

Brigid Pasulka’s PEN/Hemingway award-winning debut novel was compared to the works of Jonathan Safran Foer by the New York Times and hailed by Elle as “storytelling that gets under your skin and forces you to press copies into your best friends’ hands.” Now The Sun and Other Stars, Pasulka’s extraordinary second novel, is all that and more: a profound, compelling, and big-hearted masterpiece that showcases an exquisite writer at the joyful height of her talents.

I received this book for free from Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I also recommend:

My Review:

I’ve been stewing on this review for quite some time now.  You see, I read The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka in early December.  I couldn’t wait, because it was in my hands, I loved her previous (and debut) novel, A Long, Long Time Ago & Essentially True, and the cover..it just taunted me every time I opened my e-reader.  So I read it.  And it was completely unlike anything I expected.  You see, I went into The Sun and Other Stars thinking it would be similar to Pasulka’s previous novel, but it was so very different – or so I thought.

But now, as I sit here months later, thinking back on the story, on the parts that really stuck with me, I realize that in spite of having a completely different setting, the magic was still there for me.  I know absolutely nothing about football (or, as we call it here, soccer), yet I was completely sucked in by the story that Pasulka told in this book.  The reason that the story has stuck with me for so long in such an intense way is because, in spite of the sport involved and all of the jargon that’s part of writing and reading about that sport, and in spite of my lack of interest in it at all, I still absolutely loved every element of The Sun and Other Stars.

What Pasulka does best is write romantic love stories.  I’m not talking sparks flying, instant love between two gorgeous people who have no flaws, love stories.  I’m not talking Twilight creepy stories or love stories that seem as if they are teetering on a very high cliff, ready to fall off and into pieces at the merest breath of a wind.  I’m talking a love story that grows from the roots up – that takes two seemingly ordinary people and makes them extraordinary, simply because of the love they share for the other person.  That’s what The Sun and Other Stars is about, at its core.  It’s about love: not just romantic stories either, but love between family and friends, and love within the community.

I identified so well with The Sun and Other Stars in spite of our differences.  I don’t speak the jargon that Pasulka had to beef up on in order to write a story that used sports as its platform, but I know what her heart was saying through the medium of this book, and I have to say, I’m just as in love with what she wrote here as I was with her previous book.  I’m a fan and cannot wait for her next release.

Check out these reviews!

  • “Despite my initial reservations, I found it quite heart warming and closed the book thoroughly satisfied with the way things turned out.” – More Than Just Magic
  • “Overall Pasulka has writing a very beautiful an intimate novel that has the potential to make soccer appealing to those who aren’t fans of the sport before reading the book.”  – Words of Mystery
  • “This is one to remember. I highly recommend this, and I urge you to check it out.” – Coffee and a Book Chick

Book Review: Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke

Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke
Published by HarperCollins on 2014-03-25
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, Literary, Psychological
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: HarperCollins

Laura Kasischke, the critically acclaimed and nationally bestselling poet and author of The Raising, returns Mind of Winter, a dark and chilling thriller that combines domestic drama with elements of psychological suspense and horror—an addictive tale of denial and guilt that is part Joyce Carol Oates and part Chris Bohjalian.

I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I also recommend:

My Review:

Well, this was quite the psychological thriller.  I mean, when people say they are reading a psychological thriller you don’t think that they are really reading from the point of view of someone who, in the first few pages alone, comes off as really struggling to get a grasp on reality, but that’s definitely how Laura Kasischke starts off Mind of Winter.  There is a serious bang – I could almost hear the shot, and the book was off.

I don’t want my three-star rating to fool you, I did enjoy Mind of Winter.  There were parts of it that just kept me from giving it one more star and, since I struggled, it was obvious it wasn’t a choice between a four and five star rating.  My issue was that, at times, it seemed Kasischke was going overboard with the repetition – and there is repetition in this book for a reason, I understand that, it just felt really overdone at certain points.  Additionally the switching back and forth… oy, it felt like I was on a merry-go-round and the speed was jacked up to about 350%.  I kept losing my place and having to re-start certain pages which doesn’t make for a very enjoyable read, unfortunately.

Still, all that aside, the premise and the blow-away ending were enough to keep me moving.  I knew that the book was going to be interesting based on a few key ingredients: strange repetition (yes, that’s one of my negative points, but in other places it still worked well), and the isolation of two key characters.  Nothing good can come of those two ingredients placed in the same environment for any length of time.

Mind of Winter was something I fully expected to be unable to put down, in spite of any faults it may have had.  I enjoyed Kasischke’s book, The Raising, and name recognition drew me to this story more than anything else.  If you enjoy a good psychological thriller, then I would suggest checking it out.  Just…pay close attention so the constant switching from past to present and back again doesn’t throw you like it did me.

Check out these reviews!

  • “I would categorize Mind of Winter as a contemporary tragedy, but with nothing otherworldly bordering on the paranormal.” – Bitsy Bling
  • “This is a very haunting book and I think people who enjoy heavily character-driven stories with unreliable narrators will enjoy this book.”  –Now is Gone

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Things On My Bookish Bucket List

Taking a step back from actual book covers, I’ve been looking forward to this list for some time.  Still, I haven’t managed to come up with a full ten items because, well, many of the things on my bucket list have been crossed off.  So I may just fill up the remaining numbers with the authors I would love to meet – just a fair warning!

1. BookExpo America

My desire to attend BookExpo America was born about four years ago.  I participated in Armchair BEA but it wasn’t the same.  In fact, in 2011, I actually was IN New York at the same time that BEA was being held, but unfortunately, I did not have the means to be there.  It’s a dream of mine that, in the future, I will actually be able to be present and fully participate.

2. Work in a Library

This is pretty cliche, but it’s been a dream of mine to be a librarian since I was a little girl.  This dream may actually be coming true soon, as I interviewed for a job at the Mililani Public Library here on O’ahu a few weeks ago!

3.  Meet Sharon Kay Penman

As much as I love fantasy, Sharon Kay Penman holds a very dear place in my heart.  I would absolutely love to meet her, but unfortunately all of the events and cons that I go to veer more toward the fantasy/sci-fi area and less toward the historical fiction genre.

4.  Visit Parnassus Books

I would just love to visit Nashville in general, but especially this.  Especially if there’s a reading or signing going on with an author I’ve read and loved.

5. Read Every Book on my Shelves

This is never going to happen, but I still hope that some day I will have finally picked up every dusty volume and at least read a bit of it.  I think they all deserve to be loved (and to think, in 2007, I started with one small little bookshelf).

6. Talk Books with Felicia Day

I’ve been a fan of Felicia Day’s since the early days of The Guild.  I would absolutely love to join in on one of her Vaginal Fantasy chats, and I adore reading her recommendations and watching the episodes.

7. Own First Edition Tolkien books.

Yeah so, I’m a Tolkien girl. I’ve read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy since I was a pre-teen.  I would absolutely love to showcase those books in the way they deserve to be showcased, but for now I’ll have to stick to my collectors copies.

8. Have Lunch with Frank Delaney

If you haven’t listened to his podcasts (ReJoyce) or read his books, then I suggest you do so as soon as possible.

9. Meet Suzanne Collins

..and beg her to sign my copies of The Hunger Games books.

10. Spend a month (or nine) just reading The Wheel of Time

They are all out now.  I have no excuse except for the mere fact that it is one of the most giant timesinks I can even think up of.

What are some of your bookish things on your bucket list?

Book Review: The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
Published by HarperCollins on 2014-03-04
Genres: Fiction, General, Literary, Psychological
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: HarperCollins

A wondrous and redemptive debut novel, set in a stark world where evil and magic coincide, The Enchanted combines the empathy and lyricism of Alice Sebold with the dark, imaginative power of Stephen King.

“This is an enchanted place. Others don’t see it, but I do.”

I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I also recommend:

My Review:

The Enchanted simply blew me away.  Seriously, folks, since when does a book about death row completely knock someone down, because that’s what happened to me with this one.  I went into it thinking there would be a whole Green Mile vibe and walked away feeling as if I’d been suckerpunched.  Not only did this book completely absorb me, it made me reconsider everything I thought I knew about pre-judging a person.

The Enchanted  is part real-life and part-fairytale, but a fairytale of the darker variety.  We are introduced to a nameless narrator, a man who is in a cell waiting for his death.  He is a voracious reader and, as the story unfolds, while he doesn’t reveal all of what he’s done there, it gets to the point where it doesn’t even matter anymore.  Who we do get to really know, though, are several other characters whose lives unfold in front of that one prisoner, in a sense.

The Enchanted  is a place where strange things happen.  There is a lot of symbolism in this book and it’s impossible to catch it and understand it all on the first read-through.  But it doesn’t matter, because the stories being told about the lives of those in the book are enough to carry momentum until the end of the book comes – and it does come quite suddenly.

I think that this is a book that would touch anyone who decided to pick it up and give it a shot.  It’s unusual, but not so strange that it would put off a casual reader.  If anything, it’ll make that casual reader more interested in the fate of the narrator and the other prison guards, inmates, priests, and investigators.  The Enchanted is a very profound, elegant look at a life that isn’t really a life at all.  And whose fault is that?

Check out these reviews!

  • “Though this turned out to be something so different from what I expected, I ended up being completely drawn in and totally enjoying it in the end.” – It’s All About Books…
  • “I’d say read it with caution, but definitely give it a try if you can handle the content and like lit fic.”  – Book Hooked
  • “While it’s not the type of book that I could read often, The Enchanted made me think.  ” –Books Without Any Pictures

 

Book Review: Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley

Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley
Published by HarperCollins on 2014-03-04
Genres: Contemporary Women, Family Life, Fiction, Literary
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: HarperCollins

Clever Girl is an indelible story of one woman’s life, unfolded in a series of beautifully sculpted episodes that illuminate an era, moving from the 1960s to today, from one of Britain’s leading literary lights—Tessa Hadley—the author of the New York Times Notable Books Married Love and The London Train.Like Alice Munro and Colm Tóibin, Tessa Hadley brilliantly captures the beauty, innocence, and irony of ordinary lives—an ability to transform the mundane into the sublime that elevates domestic fiction to literary art.

I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I also recommend:

My Review:

I really struggled with Clever Girl, I’m going to put that right out there first.  I seriously flirted with putting it down about five times, all before my usual minimum pages to be read before doing just that (63 pages, by the way).  But I pushed through and forced myself to pick up that book and .. around page 60, I finally was caught.  It’s not often that I struggle like that for a book I end up rather enjoying by the end, but still.. my experience was tainted by those first 59 pages and, frankly, for a book this size (only 212 pages on my e-reader) that’s a bit of an ouchie.

So, Clever Girl did not merit a four or five stars from me.  The ending of the book was a solid three and a half stars to four stars, so it wasn’t all lost, it was just that damned beginning.  I just didn’t care about Stella and I was so confused by the cast of characters surrounding here (I still don’t remember who a few at the end were) that I just kinda shrugged and pushed forward, hoping it would all work itself out.  It did, kind of.  But still, there were things left up in the air for me … I wouldn’t say resolved, because I’d have to know who some of the people were to resolve their parts.

Where this book really shone was the writing.  It was downright beautiful.  I could be totally cliche and pull out all of the adjectives used to describe writing like this: lyrical, musical, flowing – but let me just say that the writing far outshone the story being told.  Unfortunately, I don’t read books to read beautiful writing, I read them for a story.  That took second place here and it was far enough behind in the race that it almost didn’t finish as a result.  There needs to be a good balance and Hadley didn’t find it, in my opinion.

I was sad that I didn’t fall in love with Hadley’s writing in Clever Girl.  I know she has other titles out and I was hoping that I would be compelled to seek them out.  Unfortunately, that won’t be happening – however, if you would enjoy an extremely leisurely paced novel about a girl growing up in England from the 60′s on, then check out Clever Girl.  It might just work well for you.

Check out these reviews!

  • “If you love literary fiction and character studies, Clever Girl is a fantastic novel that provokes questions of love and purpose through life’s dips and turns. ” – Write Meg!
  • “As much as I loved Hadley’s Married Love, set in similar situations to those that Stella finds herself in, I just didn’t feel the same tug of recognition and emotional truth that was present in that collection. ”  – BookNAround
  • “The story flows well, with not too many moments of shock or surprise. ” – Books in the Burbs

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR List

I love lists.  Love them. That’s why the Top Ten Tuesday meme is one of my favorites.  But, realistically, while I have here ten books I would love to read this Spring…my reading time is fairly limited these days.  So here’s what I’m going to do.  I’m making this list out of my next ten reads.  Here’s hoping I get them done by the time Spring is through!

1. Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley

I love novels that begin with a story set in the 1960′s and add into that a new place to read about for me (Bristol) and the praise for Hadley’s previous novel and this one has me very, very interested.

2. The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld

Alice Sebold combined with Stephen King?  The cover alone had me interested but when I read that bit of the blub, combined with the story promised here, I knew this was a book I needed to check out.

3.  Beauty by Frederick Dillen

I love underdog stories and this one appealed to me.  My hometown is recently recovering from a major natural disaster and I love reading stories of small towns overcoming great odds.

4.  Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke

I’m always on the lookout for a good psychological thriller so here is hoping this one pans out!

5. The Corpse Exhibition and Other Stories of Iraq by Hassan Blasim

I’m trying to be intentional this year in reading books that expose me to ideas and places and things that I’ve never really been exposed to.  I think this book fits well into that category and I’m looking forward to it.

6. Cambridge by Susanna Kaysen

While I’ve never read Girl, Interrupted, I did love the movie so I’m excited to read a book by the author and I’ve always been fascinated by Cambridge and anything connected to it.

7. The Detainee by Peter Liney

The synopsis on this one reminded me of Lost.  So I picked it up.

8. The Antiquarian by Julian Sanchez

Another thriller for the list – and this one involves mythical objects!

9. Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman

Interesting that I have two books connected to Iraq, one from each side on this list.  Still, I’m interested in this one because family portraits after a member has been to war have always interested me.

10. Providence by Lisa Colozza Cocca

As the eldest of nine children, the following line from the summary here made me want to pick up this book: “The eldest of ten children on a dirt-poor farm, Becky trudges through life as a full-time babysitter…”

What books are you looking forward to getting to read this Spring?

Book Review: The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott

The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
Published by Random House LLC on 2014-02-25
Genres: Fiction, General, Historical, Literary, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Random House

From the best-selling author of The Dressmaker comes the warm-hearted and enthralling saga of a bold young woman caught between two worlds-the vibrant camaraderie of factory life and the opulence that a budding romance with the mill owner’s son affords-as the murder of her best friend sends shock waves throughout the town.

I received this book for free from Random House in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I also recommend:

  • The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen
  • The Linen Queen by Patricia Falway
My Review:

I had high hopes for The Daring Ladies of Lowell.  I love historical fiction that centers around women’s rights, especially when it surrounds the working class.  When I saw that this book was about mill girls I really, really wanted it to blow me away.  I know a little bit about the working condition of cotton mills so I was hoping to get even more of an education about the experience in addition to reading a story about the girls themselves.  What I got was a mediocre history lesson wrapped up in a somewhat cliche, and definitely predictable, romance.

I wish that wasn’t the case, I really do.  When I saw the direction being taken by Alcott I literally rolled my eyes.  It’s predictable folks, from the first visit of a certain prominent family to the mill.  And not only is it predictable, but in a book about a valid part of our country’s history, it’s also really, really unreal.  Like, for the life of me, I couldn’t see it happening.  I kept protesting, first inside, then actually in an audible way, as I worked my way through the book but no dice. The story had to go exactly where I was hoping it wouldn’t.

You see, romances like the one in The Daring Ladies of Lowell cheapen the story for me.  When I pick up a historical fiction about a serious subject, I want to see that subject treated seriously.  When the romance emerges and takes center stage it gives me this horrible feeling like it was merely being used as a prop to get the reader all swoony over some type of Romeo and Juliet situation.  That, folks, leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

There are other historical fiction novels that deal with serious subjects in a more serious way…but if romance is your thing, Alcott’s The Daring Ladies of Lowell isn’t a bad read.  I finished it after all, it just wasn’t for me.

Check out these reviews!

  • “Social reform! Romance! Murder! This book has so much awesomeness. It’s probably for a somewhat patient reader, given that there’s a lot of mill stuff and a trial covered and it’s not the fastest pace, but I think The Daring Ladies of Lowell is fabulous.” – A Reader of Fictions
  • “In the end though, The Daring Ladies of Lowell is really nothing more than a coming-of-age romance disguised as historical fiction.”  – That’s What She Read
  • “Alcott is an excellent storyteller, and her next novel is definitely one to read. ” – Scribbles and Wanderlust

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday Rewind

I cannot tell you how happy I am that this weeks Top Ten Tuesday is a rewind theme…because the last few weeks have been busy so I missed a Top Ten Tuesday that I Really, Really wanted to do (yes, I meant to capitalize those Really’s).  Which one you ask?  Why … Top Ten Books That Will Make You Cry, I answer.  I love a good book that will tear the heart-wrenching, gut-deep sobs out of me and these are the ones that had me in tears.  Why do I love that?  Because it’s like this huge emotional cleanser.  Usually I lump all of the other things I’ve been wanting to cry about into the mix and…well.. this way I don’t have to explain.  I just point to the book and continue my sobfest.  So, here I go, in no particular order.

1. Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Saenz is a new author to me and, while I absolutely adored the first book I picked up of his (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe), this one, especially the end, completely wrecked me.  It’s a beautifully written tale of addiction and recovery and life and I highly recommend it.

2. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This one made me cry out of nowhere.  One moment I’m very touched, the next my sister is looking at me wondering what the heck is going on.  It was such a personal moment, I was actually surprised to find myself sitting in the living room – I’d completely forgotten where I was.  This is a beautiful story about grief and loss and the process of healing.

3.  Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green

This book… this book made me truly appreciate those kids that grow up needing a friend.  I loved reading about a life from the perspective of the imaginary friend and found myself in tears more than once.  A very, very touching book and one that I still think about regularly.

4.  Every Day by David Levithan

The sheer beauty of the story and writing in this book makes me weep even as I just remember it.  I love the depiction of love here – that it can transcend all barriers and be something greater than size, shape, and color.

5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I really debated not putting this book on the list because, let’s face it, I’m sure it was on everyone’s list.  But this is Top Ten Tuesday Rewind and this book made me sob harder then I have ever sobbed before.  In fact, it’s on my shelf for a re-read very soon (and I cannot wait for the movie).

6. The Princess Bride by William Goldman

This is one of my most recommended books.  If you haven’t read it and think the movie watching experience is enough, please, for the love of all things inconceivable, pick up the book and be enlightened.  I cry from laughter and from heartache every time I read this book.  Then, I go through a mourning period because I know I will never have a Wesley in my life.

7. 8th Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

Four words. Dora the Explorer shoes.  You will cry, I promise.

8. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

This is the book that made a Patchett fan out of me.  This is the only book I’ve read where I experienced this moment of silence in my head as the last big scene played out.  I could see it in my imagination, could even picture the slow-motion a movie might do.  It stunned me, and I wept from the beauty and sadness of it.

9. Here be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman

The story of Joanna and Llewelyn is, in my opinion, the best love story in all of English history.  I read this book years ago and I am afraid to pick it up again because of the force of the emotions that it brought out in me.

10. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Beth.  Oh lovely Beth.

What books make you cry but you love them all the same?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Reasons I Love Being a Book Blogger

Folks, I’ve fallen behind.  It’s really not intentional…but with thirty piano students, a spring recital to prepare for, a benefit concert I am playing piano for, and a 1 month old and 16 month old in the house to help care for… you can imagine things have gotten busy.  What’s sad is that the thing I love doing most… talking about books/reading books has suffered as a result.

I’m trying harder though – but sometimes I am just so tired that the prospect of sitting down to write a blog post overwhelms me.  Especially when I have to choose – read or write.  But today, this Top Ten Tuesday could not come at a more ideal time because I want to talk about why I love blogging about books and why I will continue to try to carve time out of my busy schedule to continue to do it.

1. Blogging about books makes me think

Of course, I’m talking about thinking about the book I just read.  Writing down my thoughts in some sort of coherent way helps me solidify what I’ve just read – something I desperately need since I am able to read so quickly and jump from book to book.  But it also helps me think about other things.  Now I think about who I’d recommend the book to, what other books the one I just read is like, and I want to learn what others thoughts were because chances are, at least one other blogger that I stumble across will make me completely view the book I’ve read in a way I would have never thought of.  And I usually only look up 2-3 blogs after I have finished (see: time note above).

2. The people I’ve met

From other bloggers, to authors, to publicists and publishing executives – my connections span so far around the world.  And I love every single connection I’ve made.

3.  I love to talk books

Now that I’m not in school it’s difficult to find a room filled with people who have read the same thing that I have – so what better medium than a book blog?  Here I can ramble to my hearts desire.

4.  I am kept connected

Book blogging ensures that I am watching lists and twitter and Facebook and other blogs and seeing new titles that are coming out before they are released. Just recently I was on a 6,000 mile journey (one way) to go back to Illinois and then two weeks later I turned around to come back to Hawai’i.  I loved walking past the bookstores in the airport and recognizing every title on the shelves facing out, enticing people to buy them.  Not only did I know the titles, I’d read most of them so my wallet was thankfully spared much pain.

5. It makes an extrovert out of this introvert

For some reason I have a really, really hard time striking up a conversation with anyone, even if they sit down next to me and say hello.  But I have absolutely no problem stopping by a stranger on the way down an airplane aisle to my seat to tell that stranger that the book he is holding is a great one. (Jess Walters – We Live in Water)

6. The Books

Of course I love that my addiction is fed without much pain being inflicted on my wallet.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy the free books that come with book blogging.  Buwt they aren’t essential to my happiness because before I began receiving the free books I was checking them out at the library.  I still check them out – but now I don’t take home stacks of 20 books at a time. =)

7. The Smarts

I’m not the bragging sort, really, but I would be stupid to say that reading has not improved my intellect.  I really struggled in school in my early twenties and for years, all I read were mysteries and romance novels (and even then, just by the same few authors).  I’d read a classic now and then (more so as an early teenager when I was forbidden romances and mysteries), but mostly I stuck to a specific type.  Once I started branching out, I noticed the my opinions and thoughts began to take shape and I no longer felt lost in conversation with some really smart people I know.  School enhanced that and I left feeling confident and sure of myself – something that took way too long to happen in my opinion.

8. Awareness

I made a decision to diversify my reading even more this year.  I grew up in a midwestern, middle-to-lower class white home.  I know I had a privileged childhood.  I had food, clothing, friends, education – heck, my folks spent so much on my piano lessons when I was growing up that it boggles my mind.  But never have I been more aware of that privilege then I am today.  I never want to forget it and in order to keep reminding myself I need to keep reading and learning more about those who do not have that sort of privilege.  Reading helps me remember that I need to use where I am to make the world a better place for those who don’t have the same opportunities.  I never want to take mine for granted again.

9. Gift-Giving

I love giving gifts.  With the broadening of my reading choices I’ve learned ways to find the perfect book to match the people in my life (and those who come into my life).  It gives me joy to be able to help by putting a book from my shelves into the hands of someone who needs it.

10. You

Every week that I post one of these Top Ten Tuesdays I get people on the blog who I have never spoken to before.  I am insanely grateful any time I get a comment  from someone because I know it means they took time to not only read what I wrote, but cared enough to engage with me. I saved this one for last because I wanted to thank you all for taking the time to read to this part of the post and to say that I would love to see you around, often or sporadically, whatever works for you!

What do you love about blogging or reading or both?