Summer Reading

Summer in Arizona is much like winter in normal places.  It’s so miserable outside that everyone sort of hunkers down in air conditioned places and waits it out until walking out your front door doesn’t feel like walking into an oven. One of my favorite ways to while away my spare summer days is with a stack of good books. Over the weekend I spent some time in Tucson for a friend’s wedding and stayed at an incredible Air BnB (book the space here) and spent most of my day on Saturday reading The Fault in Our Stars.  Is there anything better than lounging in bed and reading a really engaging book?  I’d say no is the answer to that.  So, in honor of the finer things in life, here are some books I’ve consumed recently.

drizzle-and-hurricane

Looking For Alaska

Back in my Tumblr days, I stumbled onto a quote form this book that is, to this day, one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read.

“I wanted so badly to lie down next to her on the couch, to wrap my arms around her and sleep. Not fuck, like in those movies. Not even have sex. Just sleep together, in the most innocent sense of the phrase. But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”

I’m happy to say that when I finally read the book, it lived up to the beauty and honesty in that little snippet.  This is a really quick read (like most YA fiction) but the story is told in such a raw, honest voice that I had a really hard time putting it down.  For fake characters, they have this ridiculously empathetic quality.  Spoiler alert – I lost a friend from high school in a similar way so the book REALLY hit home for me.

The Fault in Our Stars

I saw the movie first and enjoyed it so much that I figured the book had to be so much better.  I’m happy to say that the book and the movie both do each other justice.  I honestly cannot decide which I preferred.  It’s a really easy read (I took it out in 1 day) and is a sweet story that, again, will most likely make you ugly cry.  Think “My Sister’s Keeper” minus the mystery/legal drama plus the love from a book like “The Time Traveler’s Wife”.

Tampa

This book is fucked.  I read the synopsis on A Little Bit Ginger and immediately bought it on Amazon.  The cover of mine is really tactile (a fuzzy black slip cover like those pictures you used to color in as a kid) which I love.  It’s salacious and so wrong on so many levels but I’m LOVING it.  If you want a look inside a (fictional) teacher-student relationship from the teacher’s point of view, read this immediately.  If you like dirty books that make you blush while you read them on the train, this is for you.

Black Mass

I always hated history growing up.  I got all of the battles and wars confused and I remember being ridiculously bored by the entire subject until my World History class my sophomore year of high school.  My awesome teacher, Mr. Bezkorovainy, introduced me to a whole world of History I had heard very little (or nothing) about before.  It. Was. AWESOME.  As a result of this class, I got into reading historical non-fiction books about seedy parts of American history.  I love learning about gangsters and burlesque dancers and Alcatraz.  This book was good, but not great.  I feel like I learned a lot and overall I’m happy I took the time to read it but it wasn’t quite as engaging as some other historical books I’ve read recently.

What I’ve Been Reading…

I recently started spending a lot of time with someone who loves to read. I’ve always been an avid reader but I absolutely read in waves. Sometimes I’ll take in 5 books in a month then I won’t read anything for a year.  Generally reading a book that I don’t like is what sparks the drought.

However, being with someone who has a passion for reading encourages you to power past the not-so-great books and keep searching for the ones that have an impact on you.  I’m always looking for recommendations so I thought I’d share some of my most recent reads with you.

reading-3.14

1) Stiff – I was SO INTO THIS BOOK.  I read it really quickly and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  Mary Roach delves into the world of human cadavers and the various ways they are used (or disposed of).  Not only was this book incredibly eye-opening (I had no idea there were so many uses for us once we kicked the bucket), but also hilarious.  Roach has such an approachable style of writing and I found myself running through pages and laughing out loud at her footnotes.

2) Bossypants – I think everyone has recommended this book.  I thought it was a really great read but it left me wanting a bit more of a cohesive story.  I felt like the chapters jumped pretty abruptly from subject to subject and while I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Tina Fey’s life, I wish it was just a bit more focused.  I’d still recommend it as a total girl-power, success-story book.

3) Pulp – THIS WAS TOO GOOD!  I bought it because I loved the cover (I do this a lot…) and was not disappointed by the story.  Charles Bukowski creates a surprisingly seamless story that centers around a drunk private detective and manages to include aliens and other surreal elements without writing a cheesy story.  The writing is simple to digest and this is yet another quick read.  I can’t wait to read more of his work.

4) All Marketers are Liars – I always try to mix in business and marketing books.  Seth Godin is a genius and I feel like I learn so much every time I read his books.  If you’re a business owner or a marketer, this book is a must read.  Godin breaks down some pretty revolutionary marketing concepts then teaches you the best practices for using them.

So what about you?  Read anything good recently?  You can follow me on good reads to see other books I’ve read and reviewed (it might just help you stock your bookshelf).

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

I have been reading this book for a REALLY long time.  I brought it home from Chicago with me two years ago to read over Thanksgiving break and never got around to it.  Then I was determined to read it when I was home again for winter break…and never had the time.  Fast forward two years and a lot of REALLY slow reading and I am finally finished reading this.
To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it for a really long time.  Part of the book are pretty slow and there are some truly disjointed streams of thought that are hard to follow so it’s definitely a book you need to pay attention to.  Having said that let’s talk about the end.
The end of this book is UN-REAL.  By the time I was turning the last pages I was so connected to the characters, completely engrossed in the story, and on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what would happen.  I love when an author creates a solid ending to a story.  Nothing is worse than reading a great book only to find a weak ending.  As a matter of fact, all of my favorite books are books that have strong endings.  One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest has officially made the list of favorites.  I’m the kind of gal that likes to re-read books and I’m certain this will be back in the rotation really soon.

Have you ever read this gem?  What did you think?  We should start a Sunday Morning Sugar book club so I can chat with all of you as I read through books!!!

Great Books, Ya know, if You’re Into that Sort of Thing

Even though my semester has been pretty crazy, I’ve made it a priority to keep reading just for fun. It takes me a LOT longer to get though books when I’m in school but I recently finished three great reads.

Brandwashed

This book pacified the marketing nerd in me. I was actually a little bit disappointed initially because the book is written for the average consumer rather than a marketing professional. I quickly got over that when I realized how fascinating the information was and then I got really excited because all of you can read it too! The book goes into great detail about the various ploys marketers and advertisers use to convince you to buy their products. I’m a little bit skeptical about certain parts of the book but I can say that overall not much of it surprised me. If you like being an informed consumer this is a great read. It’s fascinating the way marketers use you natural desires/instincts against you. I don’t want to give anything away but I would absolutely recommend this book to a friend!

Eating the Dinosaur

Can I just say that I love Chuck Klosterman? I’ve read the majority of his books and find his insights to be extremely unique. His commentary on pop culture is spot on and really forces you to think outside the box. This book is a collection of essays and, for the most part, I really enjoyed it. There was one essay I skipped because it was a commentary on something I know NOTHING about (thus I was really confused/bored) but the rest was fabulous. If you’re a Chuck Klosterman fan or you just like someone who challenges your thinking, this is a great read.

The Gift of Fear

I’ve been working on this book for a long time but I’m so glad I finally finished it. Gavin DeBecker wrote a brilliant book about using fear the right way and avoiding worry, anxiety, and other such feelings. The book teaches you about various types of crime in a no-frills way that is extremely applicable. My grandma gave me this book when I first moved to Chicago (yikes it took me forever to finish it!) and many of the lessons are good things to know if you plan on living in an urban area. I would highly recommend this book–it is empowering, enlightening, and just plain interesting.

Next I think I may try out a trashy novel or two. I love that most of the comments on this post were very supportive of my book snobbery. However, almost everyone said that branching out into new genres and pushing yourself are very important for an avid reader. I think I’ve read a pretty broad range of books but who knows, maybe I’ll find a trashy book that floats my boat. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

How about you guys? What are you reading?

Book Snob


pics on Sodahead

I am a serious book snob. I’ve never touched Twilight or The Hunger Games. I forced myself to read about 5 of the Harry Potter books before I gave up and whenever a book is SUPER popular I tend to avoid it (Bossy Pants comes right to mind…). The funny thing is, even if it’s a book I really want to read (again, Bossy Pants comes right to mind) I’ll avoid it while the whole world is trying to shove it in my face. For some reason, when hoards of people are delving into the same book it turns me off to it. I also hate teen lit for some reason–as an avid reader even when I was young I felt as though much of the teen lit was WAY too cheesy and unappealing. I rarely read romance novels and I steer clear of most chick lit. I frequently tell my reading friends that I like books that don’t have happy endings and involve some sort of addiction problem. That’s just a bit more interesting to me than the Cinderella archetype.

Here’s my issue:
When people are reading one of these books and preface their recommendation with “The writing is awful but…”

HOLD
THE
PHONE

Why are you reading a book that’s poorly written? For me, that’s a deal-breaker. There are so many beautifully composed books in the world I have trouble understanding why anyone would read one that lacks in that arena.

The other common phrase I hear is “The first three books are excruciatingly boring but you have to read them to get to the good part!!”.

F that. I don’t have time to read three shitty books just so I can “Get to the good part”. If there isn’t a “good part” in ALL of the books in a series I don’t have much of a desire to read them.

HOWEVER… Recently I’ve been feeling pressured to hop on the bandwagon of Harry Potter and The Hunger Games (I’ll seriously never touch Twlight. The whole idea of it annoys me.) and I’m wondering if I should be a little bit less of a book snob and give them a second chance. I’m guessing most of you have read one or both of these series’ and you have an opinion on it so I’m reaching out to you.

Should I be a little bit less of a snob and hop on the bandwagon? I just noticeably cringed when I typed that sentence… I’d really love your opinion on this! I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.