BookFest St. Louis is a wonderful daylong event that lets the St. Louis community hear a variety of authors speak for free. I attended the festival in September with my friend Hannah and her sister and had a great time. Here are the sessions I attended and what I took away from them as a reader, writer, and editor.
Summer: It’s too hot to exercise outside, and it’s also too busy to curl up with piles of books indoors in the sweet, sweet central air conditioning of our new apartment. I’ll admit: I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump. Or maybe it’s more like a reading slowdown. And admittedly, I haven’t been writing blog posts or book reviews, either. So before you start asking, “What have you even been doing all summer?” (hint: so much work), here’s what I’ve been reading in summer 2018.
I’ve owned Four Seasons in Rome since fall 2016 after a professor recommended it to me, but I was waiting for the right time to read it. Back in 2016, it was too soon after my semester abroad, and I didn’t want to overwrite memories of Rome and Italy with Doerr’s accounts of it. I feared that I would never get to go back to Rome, so I would wait until I was much older to read about the place I loved but couldn’t visit. But then life took its course, and I returned to Rome for eight days in winter 2018 on my honeymoon. Now, my memories of Rome are multilayered; it is sometimes hard to remember which trip memories belong to. So I figured that summer 2018 was as good a time as any to read a writer’s account of Rome, even though I knew the book make me miss it.
“You fail only if you stop writing.” —Ray Bradbury
I’ve always known I was a good writer. Teachers complimented me on my writing and encouraged my creativity. A high school teacher once commented “Ever considered becoming a writer?” on one of my last essays senior year. My mom proofread my essays and papers throughout grade school and high school, pointing out every mistake; at the time, each red pen mark pricked me, but now I realize that I must have been a good writer even then, because the details she picked out were small.
With this praise came pressure: pressure to…write.
I knew that the one piece of writing advice that nearly all authors agree on is very simple: You must write every day.
You must write every day. It’s as simple as that: 15 minutes when you wake up, or a page, or whatever you can spew out in a preordained number of minutes. But you see, that’s a must. I must write every day to be a writer.
What if I don’t write every day? Does that make me not a writer?
Read the rest of my essay at Fiction Southeast.
In Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, Roxane Gay explores the interconnectedness between her rape, trying to feel safe in her own body, and gaining weight. Gay writes: “This is a book about my body, about my hunger, and ultimately, this is a book about disappearing and being lost and wanting so very much, wanting to be seen and understood. This is a book about learning, however slowly, to allow myself to be seen and understood.”
Gay holds nothing back. As she says: “I’ve been forced to look at my guiltiest secrets. I’ve cut myself wide open. I am exposed. That is not comfortable. That is not easy.” She isn’t hyperbolizing here—this memoir digs deep into her self and her body. As a reader, I was initially uncomfortable being drawn into such a personal story, but Gay handles this intimacy well. She lays it bare without giving gratuitous details—she says it’s still hard to talk about. I can see why. It’s hard to read about the terrible thing that was done to her and how she’s still healing from it, but it’s important to read in order to understand Gay’s narrative throughout her memoir and the effect that these things have on women on a societal level. Continue reading
As an editor, writer, and book lover, I’m always looking for excuses to buy and read new books. I’ll be attending the ACES 2018 editing conference in Chicago this year, so I decided to find out whether any of the people presenting sessions had recently published books. Surprise surprise, they have! Some books are related directly to the presenters’ ACES sessions, and some aren’t. Here are six books by ACES 2018 presenters to add to your to-read list before attending their sessions in April: Continue reading
Bookstores are my weakness, and quite unfortunately, I was recently subjected to several tempting multi-level, well-stocked London bookstores. Reader, it was terrible. As I threw more and more books into my arms (and eventually into shopping baskets), I tried to think of some constraints to narrow down which books I would allow myself to buy. I decided upon a few rules to guide my British book buying:
- I could buy books that weren’t available in the United States yet.
- I could buy books that had sucky U.S. editions but fabulous U.K. editions.
- I could buy books that were significantly cheaper in the United Kingdom than the American Amazon prices.
- I was required to buy the complete volumes of Roald Dahl’s short stories, because gah.
Almost everyone says the same thing about books you don’t finish: Just move on. Read something better, read something that’s more engaging. But for some reason, I stubbornly want to finish books that I’ve started.
If I start a book, I want to finish it so I can either write a review of what I didn’t like or be pleasantly surprised when the book improves as I read. And if I’ve gone to the trouble of buying a book and spent time reading it, it seems like a waste of time and money to abandon it.
Despite good intentions, I abandoned several books in 2017. Here are 10 books I didn’t finish last year: Continue reading
William Nelson gives the Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison ample historical context and addresses new interpretations of it in light of recent scholarship in Marbury v. Madison: The Origins and Legacy of Judicial Review. Continue reading
The Life and Times of Martin Luther is a 44-page picture book written by Meike Roth-Beck in German, translated to English by Laura Watkinson, and illustrated by Klaus Ensikat. It was published in English by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers and is intended for readers 7 and up.
I was excited to read and review this because I’ve studied Luther and the Reformation in college courses and through my international travels. I’ve read (okay, skimmed) several biographies of Martin Luther, and I lived in Wittenberg, Germany, for two months and visited the Wartburg Castle, Eisenach, and Erfurt. Continue reading