My Texas Book Festival Experience (2017)


Last weekend, my favorite transformation of downtown Austin came around- Texas Book Fest! This was my 4th year going, but my first going alone. It was such an incredible experience, as usual, and here are some of my highlights!

The Virgin Suicides Review

Title: The Virgin Suicides
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Genre: Contemporary

Blurb: First published in 1993, The Virgin Suicides announced the arrival of a major new American novelist. In a quiet suburb of Detroit, the five Lisbon sisters--beautiful, eccentric, and obsessively watched by the neighborhood boys--commit suicide one by one over the course of a single year. As the boys observe them from afar, transfixed, they piece together the mystery of the family's fatal melancholy, in this hypnotic and unforgettable novel of adolescent love, disquiet, and death. Jeffrey Eugenides evokes the emotions of youth with haunting sensitivity and dark humor and creates a coming-of-age story unlike any of our time. Adapted into a critically acclaimed film by Sofia Coppola, The Virgin Suicides is a modern classic, a lyrical and timeless tale of sex and suicide that transforms and mythologizes suburban middle-American life.


Me: A completely stunning piece of writing- such talent and a great sense of atmosphere.

My Texas Teen Book Festival Experience (2017)

That time of year again, when the book festivals are rolling into Austin and I am a happy happy happy girl. With Texas Book Festival coming up next week and me trying to furiously catch up on reading some of the authors who are coming, here's some highlights of my Saturday, October 7th: Texas Teen Book Festival!!

In Cold Blood Review

Title: In Cold Blood
Author: Truman Capote
Genre: Classics, True Crime 

BlurbOn November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas, four members of the Clutter family were savagely murdered by blasts from a shotgun held a few inches from their faces. There was no apparent motive for the crime, and there were almost no clues.

As Truman Capote reconstructs the murder and the investigation that led to the capture, trial, and execution of the killers, he generates both mesmerizing suspense and astonishing empathy. In Cold Blood is a work that transcends its moment, yielding poignant insights into the nature of American violence.


Me: A rare required reading treat. Beautifully crafted and told- it was REALLY hard not to read ahead for class.

A Little Life Review

Title: A Little Life
Author: Hanya Yanagihara
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday

Blurb: When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Me: This 720 page wonder has consumed my thoughts awake, my dreams asleep, and every single thing in between for the last week that I read it. It was the fastest I have ever devoured a book this length in a long time, and I have officially been blown away and completely crushed into a million emotional bits. 

Pakistan: The Reluctant Fundamentalist Review

Title: The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Author: Mohsin Hamid
Publisher: Harcourt
Genre: Contemporary

Blurb: At a cafe table in Lahore, a bearded Pakistani man converses with an uneasy American stranger. As dusk deepens to night, he begins the tale that has brought them to this fateful encounter...

Changez is living an immigrant's dream of America. At the top of his class at Princeton, he is snapped up by an elite valuation firm. He thrives on the energy of New York, and his budding romance with elegant, beautiful Erica promises entry into Manhattan society at the same exalted level once occupied by his own family back in Lahore.

But in the wake of September 11, Changez finds his position in his adopted city suddenly overturned and his relationship with Erica shifting. And Changez's own identity is in seismic shift as well, unearthing allegiances more fundamental than money, power, and maybe even love.

Me: Unbelievable writing. It was so tense and easy to fall into (I read it in 3 days) but still explored complex ideas- phenomenal. 

I want to be bored


Hey guys! Today isn't a bookish post, but rather just a gathering of thoughts. It's summertime, I've been incredibly busy, and I want to be bored. 

I know, I might sound crazy. I'm sure we've all experienced the drowsiness of summer break, feeling sluggish and bored out of our minds and almost- almost!- wanting to go to school. It's not a fun feeling. But here's why: 

Creativity flourishes in boredom. Without a list of things you have to complete or get done by a deadline, you have the freedom to think and reflect and wonder until your brain gets sick of talking to itself. Some things I've done during summer when I was extremely bored: 

on the road review (aka the longest rant about a book i've ever written)


Title: On the Road
Author: Jack Kerouac
Genre: Classic, Beat Generation

BlurbOn the Road chronicles Jack Kerouac's years traveling the North American continent with his friend Neal Cassady, "a sideburned hero of the snowy West." As "Sal Paradise" and "Dean Moriarty," the two roam the country in a quest for self-knowledge and experience. Kerouac's love of America, his compassion for humanity, and his sense of language as jazz combine to make On the Road an inspirational work of lasting importance.
Kerouac's classic novel of freedom and longing defined what it meant to be "Beat" and has inspired every generation since its initial publication.
Me: This book has overtaken my life. I have spent so many hours just reading random research articles and arguments about the book and the Beat generation in general. I am fascinated by these writers and their movement that they kind of lost control over and what they meant to their generation and me, now. ANYWAY. After reading it, I wrote a HUGE, LONG, like SUPER loooong rant about all my feelings about it. Here it is, slightly edited: 

Summer Author Adventures


It's summer!! Watermelon, pool parties, and for me, more frequent visits to the indie bookstore in downtown Austin, BookPeople. BookPeople is the biggest indie bookstore in Texas and it brings a ton of authors on tour for various events every year! 

Just this summer, I have seen three authors speak already. Lizzie Velasquez, Samantha Irby, and Roxane Gay. Here's what I felt: 

We are never meeting in real life review

Title: we are never meeting in real life.
Author: Samantha Irby
Genre: Essays, Humor
Publisher: Vintage Books

Blurb: Sometimes you just have to laugh, even when life is a dumpster fire. With We Are Never Meeting in Real Life., "bitches gotta eat" blogger and comedian Samantha Irby turns the serio-comic essay into an art form. Whether talking about how her difficult childhood has led to a problem in making "adult" budgets, explaining why she should be the new Bachelorette--she's "35-ish, but could easily pass for 60-something"--detailing a disastrous pilgrimage-slash-romantic-vacation to Nashville to scatter her estranged father's ashes, sharing awkward sexual encounters, or dispensing advice on how to navigate friendships with former drinking buddies who are now suburban moms--hang in there for the Costco loot--she's as deft at poking fun at the ghosts of her past self as she is at capturing powerful emotional truths. 

Me: Look at that cover. How could you not read this book??!!

italy: my brilliant friend review

Title: My Brilliant Friend
Author: Elena Ferrante
Publisher: Europa

Blurb: Beginning in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, Ferrante’s four-volume story spans almost sixty years, as its protagonists, the fiery and unforgettable Lila, and the bookish narrator, Elena, become women, wives, mothers, and leaders, all the while maintaining a complex and at times conflictual friendship. Book one in the series follows Lila and Elena from their first fateful meeting as ten-year-olds through their school years and adolescence. 

Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists.


Me: This book (and the other ones in the series) has had quite a lot of hype. Elena Ferrante is incredibly famous, and this series in particular has been noted as unique and revolutionary. Going in, I had high expectations and unfortunately, My Brilliant Friend didn't blow me away like I hoped it would.

Re-read review: The Book Thief (some books never get old)

Hey! I talk about this book so much to anyone who'll listen, so I'm amazed that I haven't mentioned it on the blog yet in some shape or form. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is probably my favorite book of all time. I first read it in 8th grade, and just a week ago, finished my fifth re-read. Here's why I love it so much: 

My ideal panel


Hey! I'm super excited about this post, because I get to basically build my ideal author panel. The idea of meeting these authors even just by themselves is CRAZY but all of them together- I'd probably scream from excitement, and they'd run away haha. 

Special thanks to Eventbrite for giving me the idea for this post. Check out their conference page for planning your own events - and let me know if you decide to do something similar :) 

CHILE: The House of the Spirits Review

Title: The House of the Spirits
Author: Isabel Allende
Genre: Classics, Magical Realism

BlurbHere is patriarch Esteban, whose wild desires and political machinations are tempered only by his love for his ethereal wife, Clara, a woman touched by an otherworldly hand. Their daughter, Blanca, whose forbidden love for a man Esteban has deemed unworthy infuriates her father, yet will produce his greatest joy: his granddaughter Alba, a beautiful, ambitious girl who will lead the family and their country into a revolutionary future.

The House of the Spirits is an enthralling saga that spans decades and lives, twining the personal and the political into an epic novel of love, magic, and fate.
 

My Perfect Night In


I don't know about you, but I'm always incredibly bogged down by deadlines and commitments this time of year. With everything important happening in a matter of days, that one peaceful, ideal night-in reading is more appreciated than ever. Here's just what that looks like for me: 

Native Son Review

Title: Native Son
Author: Richard Wright
Genre: Classics, African-American Literature

Blurb: Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic.

Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.



Me: This absolutely blew my mind. I don't know if I've ever gained so much insight, voice to my own conflicting thoughts, and yet such an entertaining reading experience from one book before.

February TBR


Hey! In case you don't know, every month I plan out my reading to fit a few goals and challenges I have running throughout my schedule. Last month, I didn't get to read as many books as I'd hoped (which, because I'd wanted to read like 10, is not super disappointing) and especially because I didn't read any from my Victorian Classics goal, I want to make February AWESOME. So though we're almost two weeks into February, here's what I want to see myself reading: 

Soundtrack to My Life: Good Music

Hey everyone! Recently I watched a video on one of my favorite youtuber Lucy Moon's channel called the Soundtrack to My Life Tag. While I didn't want to necessarily answer the same questions, I really wanted to create a record of all the music I've been loving recently for both myself in the future, and for you to give me some feedback and recommendations! (I might add to this list later)
Let's jump right in!

FemLIT for Feburary: The Color Purple Review


Hey! If you didn't know, I started a feminist literature club at my school, where we read monthly books that we feel depict diverse interpretations and perspectives of women and gender across time and distance. The book for February was The Color Purple, and as I've read it, I thought I'd share my thoughts with you!

Talkin' About: Audiobooks



I listened to my first ever audiobook (except for the legendary Harry Potter ones) this week and I must say, it was an interesting experience. It was A Monster Calls read by Jason Isaacs, the person who plays Lucius Malfoy, and I really enjoyed it, but also have some regrets.

Required Reading Revisited Book Club: Go Tell it on the Mountain review

Title: Go Tell it on the Mountain
Author: James Baldwin
Genre: Historical Fiction, Classics

Blurb: Go Tell It On The Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin's first major work, a semi-autobiographical novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy's discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin's rendering of his protagonist's spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves. 


Me: This was January's book at the Required Reading Revisited Book Club at my local indie bookstore. 

I get it. James Baldwin is a genius, and I was late to the party. At least I came now though, right? This book was art in all its finest. 

January TBR


Hey everyone! One of my new year's blogging resolutions was to blog a monthly TBR and plan the books I was going to read for each month. So here we go: here is my January TBR.