At the beginning of February, I challenged myself to read selections from one lit mag every day for the entire month. As with most goals, I didn’t end up reading lit mags *every* day, but I did read a sampling. Here’s what I learned from this reading challenge: Continue reading
Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba is a haunting novel about a little girl, Marina, who is sent to an orphanage after her parents die in a car crash that she survived. The other girls at the orphanage, however, aren’t so welcoming. They want to love her, but cannot; Marina wants to be accepted by them, but isn’t. Barba explores the inability to communicate and the heightened reality of childhood as his characters cannot break out of their fated roles and barrel on toward inevitable tragedy. It’s a short book at 97 pages, but the prose, mood, and intense characterization gripped me long after I put it down. Continue reading
I have a confession to make: Since November, I’ve been regularly submitting the few pieces of my writing that are polished enough to send into the world to lit mags. But rarely, so rarely, have I actually…read…lit mags.
It’s terrible. Around 75 percent of lit mag submission guidelines suggest that writers read the magazine to get an idea of what the editors like. This makes sense. But I haven’t done it.
I have no excuses, really. I like reading, I intend to support lit mags, and I want to find the best places for my writing.
So I’ve decided that in February, it’s time to actually read lit mags. 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
Clothes, clean and dirty, often line the top of my dresser as I anticipate wearing something the next day or just haven’t put laundry away. Our fridge is a Jenga puzzle: a bag of sausages perches on top of a cinnamon roll pan; a pot with last night’s chicken tikka masala is squeezed in; various cheeses shoved into a shelf on the door. And please don’t ask about my desk.
But my bookshelves? They’re not just neat or organized; they’re ordered. This specific ordering, the rules of which can change from year to year, keeps the chaos of hundreds of books manageable. I sequence my books alphabetically by the author’s last name and sort books by the same author alphabetically by title. If the books are part of a series, I arrange the series by number. While it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing order visually, it’s efficient. I know where any book is within seconds. Continue reading
I buy too many books.
I see a book that looks mildly interesting on Instagram and save it to my TBR Instagram Collection. I come across interesting articles on LitHub, enjoy the writing or subject, and save the author’s most recent book to my Amazon wish list. I realize that an author who wrote a book I liked has another book…or two…or three…so I buy more of his books for my collection, figuring that I’ll read it some day. I buy them because I write in books, so borrowing from a friend or a library would result in some annoyed friends or libraries.
But the problem is that at this rate, I’ll never read all the books I buy. Honestly, even if I stopped buying books today, I’d have years of new reading material on my shelves. I want to read more, in general, but I need to be more intentional about my choices, especially in which books I spend money on.