Monday, June 30, 2014

June Wrap-Up

June is over, and I read quite a bit this month! Here are the books I read in June:

1. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility

My first Jane Austen! Now when I watch The Jane Austen Book Club for the 50th time I'll know what they're talking about for at least a section of the movie. I really enjoyed reading this book, and I'm glad I finally broke the ice with Miss Austen. It did drag at some points, but I think that's because I watched the movie right before I started reading it. 4 out of 5 stars.

2. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You

This book was so good. It was very sad, very original, and very addicting. If you're looking for any or all of those aspects in a book, please read this one. 5 out of 5 stars.

3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden

There are a couple of books I had as a kid that I just couldn't get into, and which I want to try to read now that I have a greater attention span. The Secret Garden is one of those books. I enjoyed the story and its message, and it's one that I'm sure I'll read to my children. It's not quite a favorite, though. 4 out of 5 stars.

4. Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day (Every Day #1)

This was an interesting read. I liked that the main character was flawed, and the original story line. Thinking about it now, though, I can't even remember how it ends. So I did enjoy it at the time (I gave it 4 out of 5 stars) but for me personally it didn't strike a particular cord.

5. The Believers by Zoe Heller

The Believers

This book was just ok for me. The pacing was a bit off, and, to put it bluntly, it felt like a poor man's White Teeth. I found the religious aspect interesting, but I just hated some of the characters, and it really didn't do anything special for me. 3 out of 5 stars.

6. My Antonia by Willa Cather

My √Āntonia

I was a bit disappointed in My Antonia, which is a bit scary to say since it's her most famous novel. Part of it may be that I picked it up at the wrong time. However, what makes me more comfortable in my assessment is that I've read Cather before. I read O, Pioneers! at the end of last year and absolutely loved it. It was a 5 star read for me. My Antonia, however, was a bit boring, and I didn't like the main character Jim. 3 out of 5 stars.

7. The Bear by Claire Cameron

The Bear

I couldn't decide if this was a 3 or 4 star book, and I'm still wavering. I ended up giving it 4. It was very compelling, and I read it in two days. I didn't love it, but I think it's worth a read.

I am currently reading My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel, which so far is a very interesting nonfiction read, especially for someone who suffers from anxiety. After that I think I will move on to Lisey's Story by Stephen King. 

I hope June was a great month for everyone, and that July holds some great reads!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I Renewed my Library Card!

Hello!

Yesterday was an exciting day: I renewed my library card! Not only that, but I went to the (non-academic) library for the first time in probably about a year. I'm a student, and my freshman year my friend and I got temporary cards at the local library. Eventually school caught up with me, though, and I probably went three semesters without going back, and by that time my card had expired anyway. Now that I'm living in my college town for the summer though, I finally went back to the library and got my card renewed. And it was so fun! I had planned on trying to read the books I own this summer, but after staring at the same twenty-odd books for a while, things start to get dull. My little trip to the library made me realize how exciting and refreshing it is to have access to all kinds of new books. And there's no shame: you didn't spend a penny. Here's what I picked up this trip:


All of these books were on my Goodreads TBR, because I'm determined to gradually reduce that, and I'm really excited to read them. I highly recommend revisiting the option of your local library. They're great assets to the community, and it's a great way to give books a try with no risks involved. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Top 10 Tuesday: Book Cover Trends I Like/Dislike

Hello!

I'm participating in my first Top 10 Tuesday, a book blog meme created by http://www.brokeandbookish.com/ ! It's all sorts of fun, so I'm excited. This week's theme is book cover trends. I'm choosing to break this up into two Top 5 lists, one for my favorite book cover trends, and one for the trends I absolutely hate.
Let's start with the bad:

Top 5 Trends I Hate

1. Thin White Girl with Perfect Hair
The Last ForeverThe Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer, #1)

Listen, everyone is self-conscious. Especially young men and women in the middle school to college age range. And we really don't need another source of media telling us how we are supposed to look, or telling us that happy endings happen only to beautiful people. I'm not saying it's a crime to be beautiful; I'm saying that book covers like these, and many of the ones also pictured below in other categories, tend to make readers feel excluded. And we really don't need any more of that in the world. And note to publishers: Just because you don't show the face does not mean that it is not exclusive! Also, the backs of heads are not that interesting.

2. Dramatic Ball Gown
Unearthly (Unearthly, #1)The Elite (The Selection, #2)

LOOK AT MY LONG DRESS AND FORLORN FACIAL EXPRESSION! I think this trend is finally on it's way to dying out. These types of covers just strike me as incredibly cheesy and unnecessary, and I think the publishing world is starting to get the message that no one likes them.

3. Dat Kitchen Object Tho
The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World's Most Famous Cooking SchoolA Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table

These covers bore me to no end. I don't care if it's a book about food. There are so many more interesting and dynamic ways to convey this theme. I don't think publishers give the masses enough credit; if more cover designers thought more artistically and less literally, I think we'd all get a lot more enjoyment out of book covers. (Keep reading to see the Top 5 Trends I Like for peeps doing book covers right!)

4. Foot Fetish
Honey, Baby, SweetheartIt Happened One Wedding (FBI / US Attorney, #5)

Why are there so many feet and shoes in the book world? I just don't understand. And a general theme you'll see in all my dislikes: I wish we used more graphic design, original artwork, illustration, and thoughtful photography on book covers, rather than this generic photography that we see so much.

5. Romantic Embrace of Two Perfect Humans
    (See also: Thin White Girl with Perfect Hair)
He + SheBiggest Flirts (Superlatives, #1)

Again, this is just so exclusive, not to mention cheesy and not that interesting (Ouch, I am on a roll). I think as readers we are all capable of imagining what characters look like. In fact, imagining the people and the setting of a book is one of the greatest things about reading; each reader brings their own perspective and imagination to the process. Publishers, please don't take that away from us, and especially don't make us feel like crap about ourselves in the process. Thanks, Love ya

And now, drum roll please:

Top 5 Trends I Love

1. Typography
This is Where I Leave YouThe Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

Who doesn't love a great font? Especially book people. We love words, and love them more when they're pretty or interesting. I love this trend and hope it continues to evolve.

2. Creative Illustration/Artwork
The Patron Saint of UglyThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

These two covers are great examples of illustration and art meeting book design.

3.  Bright and Colorful
The VacationersThe Interestings

Humans are attracted to bright objects. I don't know if that is scientifically true, but it sounds right. And I sure am attracted to these books that use color beautifully.

4. Artistic Rendition of an Animal
Vacationland

Not only do these book bring in an illustration/art element, but they feature animals! Why that draws me in, I don't know, but these covers are a success. It also doesn't hurt that they feature a great use of typography.

5. Combo Plate (Great Font, Eye-catching, These Books Have it All)
Euphoria
Quesadillas
























These are just two fantastic book covers. They are colorful, they use cool fonts, and they are just really well-designed and original. Kudos, book world.


Well, there you have it. The good, the bad, and the ugly of book covers. What are some of your favorites and least favorites?

My goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8900562-rachel
My Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelDoose

*I got all images from goodreads.com

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Thoughts on Rereading

How often do you reread?
The other night I was thinking about a trip my friend and I took to a local used bookstore, where she came across some books that she remembered really enjoying as a kid. She bought them and reread them, and she said they were great.
 Her experience got me thinking about how I don't reread books that much anymore, but that I used to constantly. I have a vivid memory of being in my 4th grade classroom, reading a book called Love, Ruby Lavender, and having a conversation with my teacher about how I had already read it and was reading it again. She said, "That's my girl."
My habit of rereading continued until probably sophomore or junior year of high school. There was a definite correlation between me rereading less and me discovering the bookternet. Since I've actively been searching for books to read, my 600+ list of books to read on Goodreads has stopped me from rereading, and I'm not sure that this is a good thing. Yes, it's great to read more books, get more experiences. But I'm also only 20 years old, and hopefully I have some years left on earth. Which means I should grant myself some time to revisit my favorites. That's why I keep them, right?
However, I also wonder if my habit of rereading was shaped by the fact that I didn't have a large access to books when I was younger. As a kid, I lived in an area that had voted not to pay taxes for library service, so I couldn't go to the library as a kid. So my reading was limited to the books we had at home, be them hand-me-downs, birthday presents, or scholastic book orders (those were the BEST!). I think that may have had a big impact on the formation of my rereading habit, and that was broken once I got my own job, my own car, and the ability to order things on the internet. That's really when my rereading stopped.
I think I should make it a goal to reread at least one book a year. It may not seem like much, but I have a feeling if I don't make it a stated goal, this practice, which I think is very valuable, may disappear from my reading life. Coming back to a book that makes you happy, that makes you smile, that gives you that giddy book feeling, can only be a positive addition to your life. So, I need to consciously include it in my reading regimen, and I think every reader should follow suit.