Bookworm Quirks: Favorite Bookish Memories

Many bookworms have memories and sentiment tied to their love of books. Just like it’s difficult to pick one favorite book, it’s hard to pick one favorite memory. Here are a few of my top bookish moments.

Dressing up with Sis for Halloween

Halloween 2014

I never really got to celebrate Halloween as a kid, so dressing up as book characters for the bookstore was so much fun. Sis and I discussed our costumes, I made her antlers and muffin, and I got to remember how much I love the name Liesel. I hope we get to this again soon!

NTTBF

NTTBF 2016

One of the (many) reasons we love books so much is that they remind us that we are not alone. Three years ago, Irving Public Library hosted the first North Texas Teen Book Festival. There was no one else I could go with other than the woman who inspired my love of reading: my sister, Mandy. We got to see some of our favorite YA authors speak in panels, get books signed, and bask in a shared love of reading. We also befriended the world’s best publisher rep, Mary from Simon and Schuster. It was just a day for bookworms to enjoy being bookworms, and I loved the whole day.

Wizard’s Ball

Wizard Ball

My first year at Tarleton, I joined the Quidditch team, purely as a nonathletic member. One of our biggest projects was to start an annual ball for Potterheads, and to give them a reason to dress up and have fun. We had the first one in the spring, so we called it the Wizard’s Ball rather than Yule, but it was still so fun. Because it was near the passing of Alan Rickman, we had donated a portion of the proceeds to pancreatic cancer research. Pictured here (L to R) is my best friend Katie, who came into town for the night, me, and the Tarleton Quidditch president, Bertie. We had fun in the photo booth, shooting nerf guns at Umbridge targets, and dancing to wizard rock. It was such a great night that let us celebrate our love of this life-changing series.

WWoHP

WWoHP

On the greatest spring break trip ever, my sister and I  visited my dad and we all made our way to Florida to see Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This was before the expansion, but it was so phenomenal and perfect. We had butterbeer, rode the rides (FORBIDDEN JOURNEY IS THE ABSOLUTE COOLEST), picked wands, and sent mail from the Hogsmeade Post. There’s something life-altering about walking into a place that you have imagined since you were a child, and I wouldn’t give up these memories for anything. While there was a lot that we didn’t get to, I had so much fun and I’m hoping for a second visit soon.

Collecting words and quotes

Quote Box
(A tutorial for this box is available here.)

A couple of years ago I started a quote box inspired by one of my favorite bookstagrammers, Ursula Uriarte. I bought a plain box and fun journaling card and got to work. I try to add a favorite quote or two from every book I read, but I am very behind. I’ve collected words since the 4th grade, and this is one way that keeps them feeling a bit more personal than a Pinterest board. Now they’re in a book-shaped box rather than the one pictured, but I can’t wait to see how full it gets as I continue my bookish journey.

Being published

Anthology

Last year I was published in Anthology, a collection of work from Tarleton students. It wasn’t the first time I was published, though. That happened my sophomore year of high school when a six-word memoir of mine was picked for one of their books. This felt much more official, though. There was a reception at the school and my parents both came and took me to lunch to mark the occasion. It felt really great to be acknowledged for my writing, and I decided to take a creative writing course the following semester. I also just found out I’ll be published in the anthology again this year!

Running the bookstore

Bookstore Days

As you probably know, I ran my sister’s bookstore for about a year before she sold it. It was so much fun and will always be one of my favorite jobs to date. There was a bakery next door, so I could pop over for treats whenever it was slow, and I was paid to read books and be around them all day! It’s almost every bookworm’s dream job, and I hope to get back into the book industry at some point.

Reading the Hunger Games series

Catching Fire Premiere

One of the sadder parts of Harry Potter being part of my childhood was the fact that I was a child. Even if I had friends that enjoyed the books as much as I did, we couldn’t exactly go off on adventures and outings without adults. But Hunger Games was another story. I read the first book because my friend Holly lent me her copy, and I had a vacation coming up that gave me the time (this is the same spring break during which I went to WWoHP). My sister was also reastarting the series, but she had all three. So we read together, and I still remember frantically reading the last book on the drive back to her house because she wasn’t going to let me leave with it. I ended up sitting on her couple for a couple of hours until I was a crying mess, and then I was allowed to leave. Haha. From there, I had to attend every movie premiere possible. Above is the midnight premiere for Catching Fire, and we all dressed up for the occasion. Katie makes another appearance, dressed as fire (red shoes, orange shirt, yellow scarf, and grey cardigan for smoke). What you can’t see is the flame barrette I made for her, and the bread one in my hair. You might be wondering why my mouth is full, and that’s because I took my role as Peeta very seriously, sneaking in a loaf of french bread and jar of nutella to tide me over until the movie started. Also pictured is Blair and Taylor, our two favorite fellow nerds! They are a huge part of my college nerd memories, and I miss hanging out with them so much! #WolfPackReunion

Getting sucked back into books

Book Love

One of the best things about working at the bookstore was that I had time and motivation to read more often. I was surrounded by one of my favorite things, and paid to engage in that interest! I brought my TBR with me and worked through it so much faster than the years before. I discussed plots and authors with customers. It was so refreshing! I’ll always miss that little bookish haven.

Getting my bookcases

Bookshelves

One of the best things about having my own place was that I got to arrange the entire apartment around how I wanted to display my books. I found these perfect grey wood shelves at Walmart and waited for them to come back into stock for the longest time. When they arrived, I moved and arranged and played with the layout for weeks. I’m never going to be done messing with my shelves, and can’t wait to have a need for more.

Sound off in the comments: What are your favorite bookish memories? Who or what got you into reading? Do you dress up as characters for Halloween? Let me know!

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Book Review: Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

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Synopsis: In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it.

Why I Chose This Book: With the tension going on in our country, it’s more important than ever to listen to perspectives other than our own and really examine our prejudices.

First Impressions: I love this cover so much. It’s sharp, clean, and shows almost literally what a target Sarah became in the school. In a sea of white faces, Sarah stands out, which could not be more relevant to the content.

What I Liked: Almost everything! The stories told in this book are different than mine both in race and sexual orientation, and it helped me see how terrifying it must have been to be alive in this time period when you vary from what is accepted.

You know how everyone says if they were in pivotal moments of history, they would have done the right thing, but there’s no way to really know. Today, similar things are happening. Not to the same degree, but it looks like we’re on that path. There was a moment, when Sarah describes how there are no white people helping them, standing up for them, or supporting them. And I saw that I would be on the right side of history. That felt like such a relief, and I’ll be grateful to this book for that.

One of the most surprising things about this book was the romantic story line. It doesn’t really mention it in the online synopsis, which is what I’d read before ordering the book. But the description on the back cover talks about it more explicitly, which I love. I really loved this perspective, and seeing a queer WOC as a lead character who is also incredibly smart, loving, kind, and strong was amazing. This book has great representation.

It was also incredibly well written. I made several notes in the margins and underlined quotes all over it.

What I Didn’t Like: The worst thing about this book was how easy it was to slip into Linda’s racist mindset while reading her perspective. When I went back to reality after reading for a while, I would randomly have racist thoughts. Thoughts I have never believed in the slightest! I had never understood how people who say, think, and do racist things can think they are correct, but this book showed me how effortless it is to subscribe to that way of thinking. I hated that realization, and I hate that now I can understand even a fraction of that mindset.

I also didn’t realize that Robin Talley is a white woman, and I’m not sure how I feel about a white woman writing the black perspective here. I’m an advocate of lifting up the voices of those who belong to the culture instead of telling them how it is, so I’m iffy on this. It’s something I need to discuss so I can figure out how I feel.

Ratings and Recommendations: Good for fans of historical fiction, current events, issue books, and diverse books.

2. Loved It

Final Thoughts: This is a book that everyone should read right now. We need to see what our future will be if we don’t get off this path of hate and ignorance. I cannot stress enough how doomed we are to repeat history if we don’t learn our lesson.

Sound off in the comments: What did you think of this book? Have you read something similar? What is your stance on Talley being white and writing such a huge part of black history? Let me know!

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Bookworm Quirks: How Blogging Has Changed Me as a Reader

 How Blogging Has Changed Me as a Reader

Before I started blogging, I read so much less. It was just when I felt like it, and I picked up any book that looked good. I wasn’t very aware of new releases, and my shelves had a lot of vanity books (books I got just because they were old and pretty and made me feel smart for owning them, even though I would probably never read them ever). I had too many books that caught my fancy, and almost none of them were new. I rarely had to wait for a new book in a series because I didn’t hear about them until they were finished, popular, and being made into movies.

Now? My TBR is overflowing with new releases and pre-orders. While I still rarely buy them without a gift card ($14 is a lot to a college student that gets paid in used books, y’all), I add to my wishlist constantly. I have screen shots of books talked about on instagram, a ‘Books to Look At’ board on Pinterest that is 321 pins and growing, as well as saved blog posts that have books I need to add. It’s a problem. Meanwhile, I never make progress on my TBR because I reread SO MUCH. But to be fair, I did that way before blogging.

Since starting a blog, when I want to read a certain book, I have a few questions I ask myself: 1. How quickly could I read this? 2. Would this be a worthwhile review? 3. Would anyone even want to read a review of this book? 4. Are there already enough reviews of this book out there, and I’m not setting myself apart at all from all the other book blogs?! 5. Do I really want to read this book, or am I just letting the hype and excitement over this book brainwash me?

Who Knows

Unfortunately, Number Five is often a yes to the latter. Books like The Winner’s Curse and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer are symptoms of that. I love the covers and they were suggested by trusted friends and fellow bloggers, but the plot just isn’t really something I look for. As a result, they sit on my shelf and taunt me. Curse you, gorgeous books! Because of these questions, I’ve edited down my shelves quite a bit and I don’t impulse buy books very much.

I Don't Know

But a real problem I have with looking towards new reads is the hype. I get tired of hearing about something and not having read it, so I just never want to read it and never want to hear about it. This happens to me in all media (I’m looking at you, Monty Python and Orange is the New Black)No matter how good I’m sure something is, I’m just sick of hearing about. Maybe I’ll get past it one day, but for now I’m angry just looking at those words.

Angry Eye Roll

A positive side of how blogging has changed me is that I can really see how I feel about a book after reading. Before, it was either a like or dislike, love or hate. No specifics, no real reasons why either side. It wasn’t until I joined a book club that I saw how talking about a book and getting other opinions on it could really help me fix that. Now when I finish a book, I read a ton of Goodreads reviews to help me figure out how I feel and why I feel that way, and then I write out a rough outline of a review for this blog.

I’ve also become much more well-read since blogging, and I’m much more comfortable recommending books to people now. Before, it was more of a “Well, I know you like fantasy and sci-fi, but I really loved this historical fiction series, so maybe try that?” and it wasn’t helpful or fun for anyone involved. But now, I can pull up a blog with similar tastes and see what they liked before I make recommendations for genres I’m not well-versed in.

Boo Yah(I’m going to use that gif as much as possible. Sorry not sorry.)

Becoming a blogger has made me a better reader in that I can dissect my feelings towards a newly finished read and help others find their new favorite book. But I also feel like I’m responsible for what I read, and sometimes that gets overwhelming.

How has blogging/reading blogs changed you? Do we suffer from any of the same symptoms, or do we have the same improvements? Sound off in the comments!

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