Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Merch

So this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about bookish merchandise and since I’m always on the look out for bookish merch, I thought I’d participate and check out all the other bloggers’ lists as well.  I was originally going to include bookish merchandise that I own, but finally decided against in case this post mysteriously makes it into my husband’s web browser this Christmas season.

Husband: “Nicky, what’s this?”

Me: *wide eyed* “huh? what?”

H: “this” *points to my blog post in his browser*

me: *deer in headlights* “I dunno” *breaks into a mumble*

If you are not aware, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl’s blog and it is fun to go check out other bloggers’ responses to the weekly prompts.  So without further ado, here are 10 bookish items I want in my life that I don’t have already.

Matilda Relaxed Tee

Matilda was one of the first Roald Dahl books I ever read and this shirt is adorable.

Coffee and a Classic Subscription Box 

I have a love hate relationship with subscription boxes but this one is in my future.

Hobbit poster

Because why wouldn’t I want to hang up a poster of the full book?  This is definitely an item I plan to buy.  I might even put this in the guest bathroom for those guests that forget their smart phones 🙂

Dracula Tee

A shirt for one of my all time favorite books? Yes please.

Hobbit locket

While I’ve been eyeing a sterling silver book locket for months, I had to include a picture of this one because I love Tolkien.

A… Book

Do I need an excuse to want another book?

Socks for my little one to run around in and tear up the house

A pillow to prop my my big head up when I stay up to 3am reading

This kickass mug

Ideal for coffee or booze.

This Ballcap

I love ballcaps and I love books.  Enough said.

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The most disturbing book I’ve read this year…so far

Hello fellow readers. Today I wanted to discuss a book that really disturbed me. I am still gathering my thoughts and I am unsure as to whether I liked or hated this book. The book in question is… the Dumb House by John Burnside.

A brief synopsis:

Young Luke is fascinated with the secrets of the human soul and how it relates to human language. He becomes obsessed with a story his mother told him as a child about the Dumb House, a palace where children were raised in complete seclusion and never hearing human speech. He decided to conduct his own experiment with children and creates his own version of the Dumb House.

My thoughts:

The book is told from Luke’s perspective and I have to say that it was very disturbing to be inside the mind of a psychopath. The book opens where it eventually ends and we go back into Luke’s childhood and his relationship with his parents. From the onset it is very apparent that his family environment is unhealthy. Without over analyzing, I saw that he was governed completely by his mother who haunts the rest of the story. His relationship with his father is almost nonexistent. As he grows older, his twisted tendencies go unchecked (you might even say that they were encouraged) and he takes it upon himself to begin experimenting on animals seeking answers about life and the question of where soul comes into play. His later relationships with other characters are twisted and when he performs his biggest “experiment” I was appalled.

As a human and especially as a mother I was completely disgusted and uncomfortable throughout the whole book. I found certain parts very difficult to read.

The writing was excellent. The sentence structure and language were well done and narrating the book from Luke’s thoughts were a great way to present such disturbing content. I was inside his mind the entire time and I was uncomfortable even while I kept reading. Beginning the book at the end and then working from his childhood to the end was probably the best way this story could have been told. While I would consider it a psychological thriller, it is not the quickest paced book out there. Nevertheless, even with the disturbing content and relatively slow pace, I found myself turning pages wanting to know what happened next and hoping it wouldn’t get any worse. It did.

All in all I found it to be disturbingly interesting though I probably won’t read this again. This is not a book I’d recommend to everyone but if you are looking for something disturbing to read that isn’t as gory as some other more horror type books than this might be worth your time (though I’d recommend checking out my warning below).

Warning ⚠️

This books contains elements of child abuse, possible child molestation, rape, exploiting of mental illness, and cruelty to animals.

If you’ve read this book please tell me what you thought. I’m still gathering my thoughts and can’t tell how I’d rate it but I’d love to discuss with someone.

Top Ten Tuesday ||Bookstores and Libraries

Hello friends! I’m sure you’ve all heard of Top Ten Tuesday but if you haven’t, it is a weekly bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish but now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Basically every week has a bookish theme and bloggers then create lists based off that theme. While I don’t always participate, I always check out different posts and it helps find bloggers to follow. This week however, I could not help but participate because this is something I think about all the time. This week’s theme is My top ten bookstores or libraries I’d like to visit. I had a really hard time keeping it down to just ten so I may include 12!

1. Honesty Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye, Wales

Hay-on-Wye is one of several book towns I’d love to see in my day and this shop and town just look charming and delightful. I just hope I get to visit here when I eventually visit the UK.

2. New York Public Library

One of the couple on this list I’ve actually been to before but would love to see again. I grew up in New York so I know that NYPL is actually many libraries but there is the one branch that is the main one everyone thinks of and it is beautiful. It is also a National Historic Landmark.

3. Waterstones

I hear Waterstones pop up a lot when watching booktube videos and since I live in the States, we don’t have one here.

4. Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France

A bookstore named Shakespeare and company in Paris? Yes, please. Also the history of this place involves Nazis and the whole nine, so again, YES PLEASE.

5. Book and Bed, Tokyo, Japan

This is one of those places that keep popping up in my Facebook feed and it looks super neat. A library you can sleep at!!!!!! My work requires us to travel to Japan from time to time so I know where I’ll be spending a night next time!

6. The Strand, New York City

Another of the ones I’ve visited in the past. A huuuuuge bookstore I would love to rediscover this place as an adult as I was a child the last time I went.

7. The Library of Congress, Washington DC

Me cheesing as we pass the Library of Congress

I have been here, and in fact I was here last week for work. Sadly, we had to catch a plane and I was unable to explore to my heart’s content.

8. Cafébreria el Pendulo, Mexico City

This is a two floor coffee shop, restaurant and book store with beautiful greenery inside. This is one place I will definitely visit if I ever make it to Mexico City while in Mexico.

9. Hangzhou Zhonghuge, China

This is another of those that keep showing up in my Facebook feed and people keep tagging me in it as well. A stunning architectural labyrinth of a bookstore. While I’ve been to Hong Kong and Singapore, I’ve never been to China itself and I don’t know if I’ll ever be lucky enough to go, but if I dream it long enough maybe it’ll happen.

10. Powell’s Bookstore, Portland, Oregon

The largest independent bookstore in the world. It takes up an entire city block and I have been wanting to go here for years. I always thought the Strand was the biggest til I heard about this place. Since we live in California now, I’ve been nagging my husband for a road trip up the West coast culminating here at this bookstore. Maybe it will happen this year.

11. Brattle Book Shop, Boston, Massachusetts

This is a used book store in Boston where you can find cheap used books, but they are very well known for finding rare books, old books and first editions. I love the look of this place and I love Boston so I will make this one happen some day!

So I cheated and went with 11 instead of 10 but I couldn’t help it. I had so much fun with this theme. I love traveling and I travel every now and again for work so I hope I get so see more of these places. Have you been to any of these places?

The dilemma of traveling with books

Have you ever been packing for a trip and heard one of your friends or loved ones utter the words “You don’t need to bring that many books!”?  Well I’m here today to tell you, IGNORE THAT SH*T.

A week ago, three of my coworkers and I went on a week long work trip that required us to fly across the country to D.C. and for the first time EVER I decided to conform and I packed light. Like really light. I listened to those lunatics who always tell me I don’t need to pack so many books and so the night before I piled a bunch of books on the couch and agonized over which book I absolutely needed to bring with me. I ended up settling on two paperbacks plus the one I was reading on my kindle app on iPad. I packed one book in my suitcase and my iPad and the other book in my purse. I figured if I ran out of reading material at the airport that I would just buy one at the airport like I usually do. Unfortunately, while browsing the bookshop at the first airport I didn’t find anything worth spending full airport price for and I didn’t have time to shop at the layover airport. Well friends, let’s just say IT HAPPENED. Yes, THAT. The thing we all dread. With 10 hours of travel time I RAN OUT OF BOOKS TO READ. I was reading this really great series (more on that in another post) on my iPad and I finished the book on the plane. The plane had WiFi so I thought I’d download the next book because I NEEDED to know what happened next and the freaking thing wouldn’t download.

I looked around the plane in a panic trying to figure out wtf people DO on a plane when they’re not reading and I figured it out… they get up repeatedly to use the restroom and stand in the aisles with their butts in your face.  When we finally landed in D.C. I was able to download it during the hour and a half ride to our hotel but can I just point out how nerve wracking it is to actually run out of books to read???

In an effort to put all this behind me, I’ve decided to consider this a learning experience.  I think it’s safe to say I will never go against my book hoarding instincts again.  The next person who tells me not to pack so many books is sure to receive a penetrating stare or a swift kick to the shin from me.

So remember friends, when someone tells you not to bring any more books on a trip, just ignore them because you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

 

February wrap up

I’m probably the only one who will comment on how February seemed to drag but I felt like it did. I did some reading this month and it felt like this month was much more about quality than quantity. Some months I fly through 10 or more books but this month I read 5. Though I may have read a smaller number of titles, it was still a great reading month for me, as I read a couple that I have been meaning to get to for years and I enjoyed everything I read. Even the book I liked the least was still a book I’d recommend.

So without further ado, here are the 5 books I read in February:

Since I have already reviewed or will soon review all of these, I will not include mini reviews. Instead I will briefly mention a couple.

Longest book: The Luminaries. All 600+ pages

Shortest book: Utopia. All 85 pages.

Favorite book: Tied between The Little Prince and The Luminaries.

Least favorite book: Eternal Life

Book I’d be least likely to recommend: A Study in Scarlett

So that’s it. A quick wrap up of the books I read in February. I would recommend all of them. If you have read or plan on reading any of these I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Til next time!

Eternal Life by Dara Horn: my thoughts

Hello again 🙂 I am back with some thoughts on another book I just finished. I heard about this book while listening to one of my favorite podcasts not long ago. The premise sounded fascinating so I went and bought it immediately.

A brief synopsis:

Rachel is a young 2000 year old woman (seriously) who cannot die. As a young mother living in Jerusalem, she had made a pact with God to spare the life of her son. The book follows Rachel mainly throughout her modern life with several flashbacks into former years of her life. Having raised many different families over 2000 years (because yea she can still have kids) she struggles in the modern era with a granddaughter who is a renowned scientist specializing in genetics. Will she find out Rachel’s secret and expose her? And what would be the consequences if she does?

My thoughts:

I really loved the idea of this book. I always love books that take place over multiple generations or that tie together events from different millennia. There was some beautiful writing in the book during particular scenes and the flashbacks to earlier times in her life were particularly well written. Dara Horn seems to be familiar with and done a decent amount of research into daily life in ancient Jerusalem. But despite all this, I found there to be something lacking- especially in regards to the ending. I disliked most of the characters and I really didn’t care for any of the relationships between characters, whether between parents and children or between lovers. The one character I was rather fond of was the one that Rachel kept at arms length for the whole book and it frustrated me quite a bit. So the bottom line is, yes I enjoyed the book but no I did not love it. I give it 3.5/5 stars. This is a book I would recommend when it comes out in paperback and not a shiny new hardback.

Warning labels on books: A controversial discussion

bookishdiscussion

I’d been intending to discuss this topic in a future post and had been holding off due to the fact that some may consider it a bit controversial, but I came across a great post at Pages Unbound and it addressed a lot of the same topic.  So while it is fresh in my mind, I’d like to throw in my humble two cents.

If you are a reader of middle grade or young adult fiction, it will come as no surprise to you that these books, YA in particular, are featuring more and more mature content. And that’s great. Readers can find all kinds of stories to suit all tastes.

But here is my dilemma.

While I would never want to be Nazi book mom, and call for removing books from libraries or angrily snatch books from my kids’ hands, I struggle with how I should handle these kinds of books in regards to my oldest who is soon to be 11 years old. When I was his age I was reading Judy Blume books and the Boxcar children. He on the other hand has a lot more to choose from. I encourage reading in our household and I know he is capable of reading at a level beyond middle grade books… but I don’t necessarily feel comfortable with him reading about things like rape just yet. After all, though he’s almost 11, he is quite naive in regards to a lot of things. His reading level may be advancing quickly but he is still a little boy who thinks the word “butt” is funny. Not quite ready to fully understand things like sex trafficking and torture. Now I know the simple answer would be to just monitor what he reads, but that becomes a little difficult when I don’t know the content of every single book that’s out there and he is fast approaching the “target age” for most YA.

I recently read an article where college students at several different colleges had called for “trigger warning” labels to be placed on books that dealt with distressing content. And while I admit I was sort of dismissive of the idea, it has gotten me thinking. Would it be feasible for publishers to publish future books with a small label? Something along the lines of “contains graphic violence” or “contains sexual content”. I’m curious to know what other readers think of this.

Now my dilemma may resolve itself. I may just be worried about nothing. He may decide “ewww this book is weird” and decide not to read it of his own accord until he is ready (or ever). In which case I will have another few years before I deal with the same issue again with my daughter. I know that for myself, I was around 12 when I started looking for more mature things to read. And I found them. I turned out okay, but I also think I was a little more mature and more prepared to handle difficult content than my son is now.

So I am curious to know what other readers and other parents think?  How do you handle mature content in books with your kids, siblings, students etc?