The Collected Works of AJ Fikry – *a review*

Title: The Collected Works of AJ Fikry (aka The Storied Life of AJ Fikry)

Author: Gabrielle Zevin

My Rating: 5

I didn’t get up at a reasonable hour this morning. I woke up. But I didn’t get up. Because man, this book is so beautiful. I am trying to “read for a little while” in the mornings. Mostly I read short stories because then I get up after I’m done with one. But I couldn’t resist picking this book up this morning. And then I couldn’t resist finishing it.

You know when the narrator sounds right in your head. When the rhythm and the words and the story all just blend together so beautifully that you read each word slowly because you need to consume it like fine wine or chocolate, savouring every exquisite part of it…

It’s such a simple story. Unpretentious. Unassuming. Simple. And beautiful.

And for some reason full of references to my favourite writers! Aimee Bender. Kate Atkinson. John Irving. And reference to the short stories of Roald Dahl as well which I love.

I adored this book. It is exactly the sort of book I aspire to write.

The Bookshop That Floated Away – *review*

Title: The Bookshop That Floated Away

Author: Sarah Henshaw

My Rating: 3

I should state outright that I tend to not love memoirs. I so seldom get anywhere with anything that isn’t purely fiction. This is much to the frustration of anyone who has ever handed me a biography or a self-help book to read. I try, guys, I do. Usually I fail.

I managed this one though. I supposed being able to relate in some ways makes a difference. This is a sweet read, if nothing else. Though it took me almost finishing the book before I realised that while the whole vibe of it felt very familiar, it wasn’t because it reminded me of myself at all. It reminded me of a long lost friend. Realising that made the feelings make a little more sense…

Anyway. This one fitted nicely into my bookshop/library theme for the month. As I read these I’m actually writing a story set in a library as well. This particular book didn’t inspire my writing much but it did leave me with a feeling of oh yes it’s totally ok to live your life on your own terms. 

I do so love wandering travellers… They are infinitely braver than I…

Reading on Saturdays

I’ve just put a batch of monkey bread in the slow cooker. I don’t know if it’s going to work but I wanted to try it because there was a packet of bread dough in the fridge and the husband is leaving soon and what else would I do with it anyway.

The only other thing I’ve done today is read.

I’ve been talking about reading too much lately, haven’t I? How boringly unsalacious. Not much to gossip home about…

The thing is: I do not miss my youth at all. Not even a little. But there is one tiny aspect of it that I do miss from the days before I created a whole other person and then went on to add another three to my daily life.

Reading on Saturdays.

This is something I used to do so leisurely during my teens and also during my first (childless) marriage. Saturdays were a glorious safe day where I often didn’t have to get out of bed and I could just finish whichever novel I happened to be reading that week. Saturdasy were for finishing. How beautiful.

Then twelve or fifteen years went by and most weeks I hadn’t started a novel that could be read to completion on Saturdays and so reading became a vacations and special occasions kind of thing and here we are. Loving books more than ever and feeling hopelessly un-well-read.

So today I made monkey bread. And I didn’t make my bed. And I almost didn’t even get dressed (which I sort of regret because yay pjs but I do also need to “expect” bookshop visitors from time to time even though it barely happens) and the only other thing I did was finish the novel I was reading.

And honestly I think I might pick up another one now.

Because despite this nagging you have work to do feeling I also have rest to do and damnit I’m going to have to start getting that right at some point!

The Library of Unrequited Love – A Book Review

Book: The Library of Unrequited Love

Author: Sophie Divry

My Rating: 4

I don’t know why I love this book so much, only that I do. In my life I imagine I will read it another ten times or more. The last time I read this book (in February of last year) an idea for my own soliloquy started to sprout. This time I actually started to write it. A big deal considering I have barely written anything for quite a while now.

The writer who does not write is not a writer.

This book is just one long ramble, which is something I’m sure a lot of folk would probably hate. I am intrigued buy it though. The ability to tell a story from one very limited perspective and still have the pictures form as they should. It’s fascinating. My need to duplicate the style is overwhelming at this point.

How did she do that?

Can I do it?

So far the answer is “no” but maybe with a bit more practice I’ll get it right…

Read More, Write More

I started writing again today which has already reminded me why I gave up for a  while. No, not because I have writer’s block. I seldom struggle with that.

I have writer’s aggression. And it is so bad.

Would it be overkill to make a sign for my door that says Leave Me The F*ck Alone?

That’s what I have wanted to scream no less than seven times this morning.

The door is closed. Leave me alone. Leave me alone. Leave me alone.

This very real and acidic aggression is why I have barely written in years. And yet, to read more and to write more are my only real resolutions for 2020. They are the two that count the most. More than house stuff and work stuff and whatever other stuff.

Read more, write more.

One makes me happier. The other makes me unhappier. Go figure.

I just have to figure out how to do the writing part without simultaneously putting myself in a position that causes me to fantasise about committing murder.

It’s funny. The reading more is going ok. I’ve taken to reading a bit in the mornings and sometimes in the afternoons and sometimes after my husband goes to bed. My attention span is terrible and I struggle to maintain focus but I’m trying to get back into the habit.

With writing though?

I get lost so easily. I am in no way my own distraction when it comes to writing. The only problem is the venom inspired by anyone or anything that does distract me.

The door is closed. Leave me alone.

101 Books in 2020

Every single year I set myself a goal: Read 100 Books

Well let me tell you something last year went so badly! I’ve never actually completed the challenge. Not by a long shot. But last year? Last year was brutal! Who knew that opening a bookshop would lead to LESS reading! Gosh.. Last year made me feel unqualified for the very job that I created for my damn self.

The thing is though: I NEED to read. I’m happier when I’m reading. I’m healthier when I’m happy. So I need to read.

This year I thought maybe I can trick fate into allowing me to complete my goal by changing the goal.

So now we’re doing 101 books this year. Actually doing it. Seriously. Please.

We’re only one down though so I’m already behind…

Drowning in The Starless Sea – A Book Review

Book: The Starless Sea

Author: Erin Morgenstern

My Rating: 5

Have I made a grave error? Was I so lost in the romantic idea of starting off the New Year with this book that I have waited for for years that I did not once stop to consider the consequences of doing such a thing? The Starless Sea  is over now. It’s gone. And here I am alone again…

I read The Night Circus in February of 2012. I remember because I was in the middle of planning a secret wedding and I had a concussion. You’re not supposed to read when you have a concussion. But how are you supposed to not read when you have The Night Circus on your nightstand?

And here I am. Eight years later. Finally having devoured a book I have waited for since I closed its predecessor and now I am oh so weary…

This is the first book I’ve read in 2020, and I have very little doubt that it is not also the best book I will read in 2020. Should I have done that? Should I have consumed it so quickly? And at the beginning? Should I have waited?

No. Of course not. One should never wait…

Erin Morgenstern… I so worried that perhaps The Starless Sea would not deliver. How could it? When its sibling was such a roaring beauty that surely nothing could hope to compare.

And yet here she is. Breathtaking. Exquisite. Everything and more.

Now and then I find in my hands a tale that floods me with pure relief. How can I not be grateful that the author who birthed this story did not keep it to herself?

Thank you, Erin, for sharing. I am in love once more.

Starting With the Magical

I spent the 31st and the 1st in a state of indulgent self care. My self care? Pretty much spending as much time as possible curled up on my bed with either a book that I’ve been dying to read or, if I’m really exhausted, a series that I’ve been wanting to watch. I prefer to have book energy, though lately energy has been in short supply. Luckily a bit of rest meant that book energy was plenty!

That’s the nice thing about the holidays though, isn’t it? The permission to crash without the burden of responsibility looming over your head. Of course, when you work for yourself, as I do, the responsibility does tend to remain. But, I tried to take some time and just be over the festive season, and I accomplished that. And I accomplished it in my absolute favourite place: home.

Of course, no vacation is complete without an element of magic to it. Of course, the season is supposed to bring that with it. The magic of Christmas, and all that. Not really my kind of magic, I have to admit, although I will also admit that once the pressure is off and Christmas Eve/Day come around I do manage to kind of feel the magic anyway.

But no. My kind of magic is different. Of course my absolute favourite magic is the magic of new places. That otherworldly feeling you get when you step off of a plane into a foreign space, camera and excitement in hand. That’s the magic that feeds my soul.

It’s also the least attainable…

So this year’s magic of course comes in the form of my most reliable form of magic: a book.

Erin Morgenstern FINALLY published a new book and I used her glorious writing to end off the old year and start off the new. So far I am entranced and floaty about it. I imagined I might barrel through this one but find myself rather taking it in slowly.

Of course, other magics exist too. Good food. Desserts. Cheese.

I’ve been indulging in those too.

I’m not really ready for reality yet…

New Year, Who Dis?

I may have mentioned every year for the past forever that New Year is my favourite time of year. The only time I ever remember not being happy about the new year was in 2009, when I entered January as a single mom with a shattered heart. I needn’t have worried. I met the second love of my life in 2009 – Noah being the first – and he’s still here. 2009 turned out pretty great.

This year is a bit hazy, I will admit. I don’t have a long list of resolutions. There are only two things on my list, really, but there is something that has been on my mind for pretty much the whole of last year and it remains a looming question today.

I have been wondering if I should give up blogging.

Blogging. Still such a stupid word. I’ve never been able to get on board with it. Blogging. It sounds so ridiculous. Perhaps it makes me question if this thing I (sometimes) do is ridiculous.

But here’s the thing: If I look over the last eleven years, it is the bravery of those who have spoken their truths that has contributed most to the growth within myself that I am most proud of. Those who write and blog and speak and shout the things that plague their minds are such powerful teachers. It is why reading has always been such a source of inspiration and profound comfort to me. Because every now and then there will be something that makes you stop for a moment and go me too! And this counts for so much.

And so if I can speak openly, and honestly, no matter how hard it may be sometimes, and have it resonate with just one person who might be in need of solace, then surely I have a duty to do so?

The last three years have been the hardest I have ever endured. But also the most life-affirming.

Maybe it’s time that I be brave enough to tell you why.

Rage Reading Rosie *book review*

WARNING: This review contains a few spoilers but they are kind of irrelevant since this is one of those books where the storyline is kind of bland and you’re mostly reading for the dialogue and interaction between characters. If that makes sense. Other people interpret books this way too, right…? Shit now I’m doubting myself…

Anyway… There are casually mentioned spoilers here…

Book: The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect

Author: Graeme Simsion

My Rating: 3

I’ve barely read a thing all year and I’m going to go ahead and put a tiny bit of the blame on these two books. Is that fair? No. Not at all. But it’s still kind of true… (more…)