Carolina VonKampen

Editor. Reader. Writer.

Tag: reading (page 1 of 2)

My Reading Speed Confession

I’ve always been a quick reader, but recently, I’ve been thinking about how fast I really do read. You see, I post about books on my Instagram account, and recently, people have asked me how quickly I read or how I have time to read all the books I post about. Continue reading

Flash Fiction Roundup: 12 Stories From 12 Lit Mags

In February, I made a concerted effort to read more lit mags. I didn’t quite reach my goal of reading a different one every day, but I did find 12 stories that resonated with me for one reason or another. Enjoy this flash fiction roundup from around the internet!

1. “Imperfect” by Sudha Balagopal in Lost Balloon

This flash fiction centers around a girl at a Catholic school who embarrassingly doesn’t have clean shirts and has to keep borrowing shirts from the rich girl, Pia. The characterization is good, and the narrative neatly arcs to a satisfying ending. I love the line “I want to learn how how to faint” because I have thought that, too.

Read it here.

2. “Shapeless” by Chloe Clark in bad pony

I love how this story took a turn pretty quickly with the line: “Your baby’s a golem.” I love being surprised! I dig the emotional potency of the piece balanced with its slightly speculative/magical realism slant.

Read it here.

3. “Water is My Favorite Color” by Anna O’Brien in Cold Creek Review

I kinda love this story. The main character is fleshed out and real; I feel like I understand her even though I’m 20 years younger. The images throughout the story—water and watercolors and her kids’ color names—are well done and effective. I love how this mysterious Lindy character’s storyline twists at the end, revealing she’s not as perfect as she seems; in the last moments of the story, she’s both pitiful and still slightly unsympathetic.

Read it here.

4. “My Sister’s Aquarium” by Jennifer Todhunter in Cease, Cows

I adore the twist we get right away when we realize that her sister is an aquarium instead of holding an aquarium. That twist is the draw for me; I enjoy the rest of the dialogue and story, and the ending delivers.

Read it here.

5. “The City of Four Million Husbands” by Gillian Ramos in Cotton Xenomorph

Come for the title, stay for the realistic and relatable character that you either are or know. This story is the embodiment of the “girl who falls in love with everyone” character; Ramos crafts a dynamic character throughout a well-paced story.

Read it here.

6. “Sick Girls” by Lauren Becker in CHEAP POP

It’s short, but this story does some interesting things with relationships with others (especially when everyone in the friend group is dying) and relationships with food and body.

Read it here.

7. “Boston” by Matt Carlin in The Sea Letter

Here we have an interesting story about mask as mask, then as metaphor, then as shocking reality. I love the ending on this one.

Read it here.

8. “Take and Give” by Lauren Becker in Jellyfish Review

I like this one for a few reasons: First, the relationship between the narrator and her sister feels real. Second, the turn in the story felt unexpected, even though it’s echoed in the title; it’s an interesting turn because it makes that sister relationship so much more real—only siblings know exactly how to drive each other crazy. I love that the title hints at this twist, but doesn’t give it away.

Read it here.

9. “Now That the Circus Has Shut Down, the Human Cannonball Looks for Work” by Meghan Phillips in Wigleaf

This flash fiction captures how many of us Millennials feel when searching for a new job or at the beginning of our careers. I love the quick, witty prose: Lines like “She works on a cover letter, but isn’t sure how to talk about herself without exclamation points” and “Quick learner—She wasn’t always the Human Cannonball” are perfect.

Read it here.

10. “The Candle Farmers” by Rebecca Harrison in Paper Darts

Not only does this story have a super interesting and metaphorically rich concept, but it’s also got a good storyline and ending. I love the imagery of candle fields, and the story feels emotionally complete.

Read it here.

11. “Insomnia” by Hannah Rahimi in Carve

This story feels so real and genuine. There are lines in here that I love, like: “Gentleness tends to make me cry because it usually means someone has detected something breakable in me that I didn’t know was there. At least the camera’s off.”

Read it here.

12. “Story of a Witch” by R.A. Matteson in The Molotov Cocktail

I love how Matteson plays with the stereotypical flat characters of “witch” and “hero” here; she subverts them in an way that speaks to the current #MeToo movement and adds to the conversation.

Read it here.

Which story (or stories) did you like the most, and why? Tell me in the comments!

I Read Lit Mags Most Days for a Month—Here’s What I Learned

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

Hunger by Roxane Gay

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

6 Books by ACES 2018 Presenters to Add to Your To-Read List

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

Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba

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

To Read or Not to Read: Un Lun Dun by China Miéville

S. Jae-Jones, a host of one of my favorite podcasts, Pub Crawl Podcast, recommended the children’s book Un Lun Dun by China Miéville for readers who love Alice in Wonderland and The Phantom Tollbooth. I do love both of those books. I’ve reread Alice in Wonderland multiple times, and I strongly considered doing a book report on The Phantom Tollbooth in fourth grade but couldn’t figure out how to obtain the refrigerator box I felt was necessary to pull it off. So, I decided to take a look at Un Lun Dun and decide: To read or not to read? Continue reading

I’m Actually Going to Read Lit Mags This Month

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

19 Books I Just Had to Buy in the United Kingdom

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:

  1. I could buy books that weren’t available in the United States yet.
  2. I could buy books that had sucky U.S. editions but fabulous U.K. editions.
  3. I could buy books that were significantly cheaper in the United Kingdom than the American Amazon prices.
  4. I was required to buy the complete volumes of Roald Dahl’s short stories, because gah.

Continue reading

8 Bookstagram Collections Readers Should Have on Instagram

If you’re a social media savvy reader, there’s a good chance you’ve discovered the world of #bookstagram, a community of book lovers on Instagram. Bookstagram is a bit overwhelming; there are so many readers with such diverse tastes and aesthetics that it’s hard to keep track of your favorite reviewers, book recommendations, and more. Enter Instagram’s private collections feature.my bookstagram collections

Not only can you save photos on Instagram, but you can also sort your saved photos into collections. This is useful for readers because it reminds you why you saved yet another photo of a book: Did you want to read that book? Did you like the composition of the photo itself? Or did you want to read more of that bookstagrammer’s reading recommendations? Here are some collections that readers should make and utilize on bookstagram: Continue reading

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