Wednesday, November 29, 2017

On my horror picks

Horror is a genre that I’m trying to get into more. But I have to be careful - reading the wrong book at the wrong time will keep me up all night (sometimes because I have to read a much calmer and fluffier book to calm down). For the moment, here are my horror story picks that will keep you on your toes:

  • Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix - Dreadful things happen inside a haunted IKEA. This book is both hysterical and terrifying. It's a fun and quick read and definitely worth picking up (for the beautiful artwork if nothing else).

Red Dragon (Hannibal Lecter, #1)
  • Red Dragon by Thomas Hardy - This prequel to Silence of the Lambs is horrifying and incredibly memorable. This series is a must-read for those with a dark fascination with serial killers.

  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman - A little girl in a new home finds a passage to another world where things seem to be better. But what seems good on the surface might be far darker underneath. This YA horror novel is a great start for any young readers who are interested in the genre.

Slade House
  • Slade House by David Mitchell - Every nine years, someone disappears near an abandoned house. How long will it take before someone can stop the inhabitants of the house from taking more innocent people? This newer horror novel is terrifying and an interesting look at supernatural forces controlling a creepy house.

The Woman in White
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins - This early horror/detective novel is an excellent start to the genre and shows that people can be quite evil without any supernatural assistance.

What horror books have you enjoyed recently? What horror books would you add to this list? How do you feel about horror as a genre?

Monday, November 27, 2017

On melancholy books

One of my favorite things about books is that there are books for every mood. Below is a list of some books you may enjoy if you’re looking for a more melancholy and sad read:

The Things They Carried
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien - This book has funny moments and terrifying moments, but the overall feeling of this book is sad and thoughtful and definitely melancholy. This book deals with the Vietnam War in a very thoughtful and somewhat gloomy (but honest and vulnerable) way.

Hold the Dark
  • Hold the Dark by William Giraldi - Missing children, a cold and unforgiving landscape, and a narrator who’s experienced much loss come together to make this book both intriguing and pensive.

Go Ask Alice
  • Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks - This fictional diary of a young woman’s descent into a life of drugs, sex, and difficulties can be a difficult and sad read. Recommended for YA readers.

The Year of Magical Thinking
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion - Didion’s account of the year following her husband’s death is a serious and vulnerable look at encountering grief. This book is perfect for anyone experiencing loss and wondering how to cope with it.

What Daddy Did
  • What Daddy Did by Neal Shusterman - This fictional story regarding one family dealing with the death of their mother (at the hand of their father) is a difficult look at grief and at young children coping with loss and learning to move past it.

What books would you add to this list? What melancholy books have you enjoyed? What makes a book melancholy in your mind?

Friday, November 24, 2017

On the A-Z of book blogging topics

At a loss for topics to blog about? Here are several topics that I’ve brainstormed that you can blog about. Hopefully this will help you in your future blogging adventures!

Blogging schedules
Book clubs
Book deals
Book industry
Book sellers
Book signings
Book tours
Borrowing books
Bucket list
Buying books
Cheap books
Chick lit
Current events
Currently reading
Ebooks vs. paper books
Expense of books
Fiction vs. nonfiction
Finding time to read
Free books vs. purchased books
Gift guide
Graphic novels
Guest posts
How to’s
  • Interview an author
  • Get more viewers on your blog
  • Stay motivated to blog
  • Read more diverse books
  • Get better book recommendations
  • Connect with other book bloggers
  • Get a guest poster on your blog
  • Get advanced copies of books
Interviewing authors
Interviewing other bloggers
Lending books
Library cards
Main Characters
Mental Health
Middle Grade
Myth vs. Fact
Open letter
Reading for school
Reading for work
Science Fiction
Stealing books
Supporting characters
Things to buy
Top Ten lists
Unpopular opinions
Upcoming books
Urban fantasy
Video blogs
Working with bloggers

What topics would you add to this list? What resources do you use to come up with new blogging topics?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

On how to teach children to read broadly

My aunt is the most organized mother I’ve ever met. Over the summer, she has tasks for each day (“Make Something Monday,” “Science Tuesday,” etc) and throughout the year, the kids take turns planning excursions the family will go on over the weekend. But perhaps her most brilliant move is how she approaches reading with her children.
To begin with, she reads plenty of children’s books so that she can know what’s on the market for kids and so she’ll be able to discuss the books with her kids. Anything she likes, she recommends to the kids who are old enough to enjoy it. She also finds series that are appropriate for all the kids (easier than what the older kids tend to read, but not too difficult for the younger kids to understand) and reads them a few pages each night. Reading is definitely a part of their family. Extended family members know this and often recommend books that they think the kids might enjoy. They are drowning in recommendations - which they love.
In addition to all of this, my aunt has some rules for the weekly library trip. Each time they go, my aunt chooses a genre of book and helps each child find a book at their reading level within the genre. She makes sure to challenge herself by picking out her own book within the genre. Then the whole family picks out the rest of their books and they go home to enjoy their spoils. As they cycle back to a genre, the kids have usually changed their interests or reading level somewhat and move on to find new books. Sometimes the books aren’t great, but sometimes they find new favorites and start basing their reading decisions off that one book their mom made them get.
My cousins not only read a ridiculous amount of books, but they read broadly and have read several books from each genre their mom has thought of - and she’s thought of a lot [sci-fi, historical fiction, fantasy, contemporary fiction, creepy stories (they’re a bit young for straight-up horror novels), various subsets of non-fiction - these kids have read everything].
Not only am I jealous that they’re being forcefully exposed to so many books, but that they have someone with more reading experience and an intimate knowledge of their reading habits that is there to assist them in choosing the right book. I’m also impressed that finding these children good reading material has become a whole family endeavor - for all the cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents as well as the children’s own parents and siblings.
I haven’t found a better way to kindly expose children to new reading material while still having some control over what young (and often naive and impressionable) children are reading. I hope this spreads.

How do you encourage young readers to read broadly? How do you encourage yourself to read broadly?

Monday, November 20, 2017

On eating disorders

This post was inspired by the Goodread’s list “Best Eating Disorder Books” and is mainly based off of that list.
When I was young, I didn’t know much at all about eating disorders. But by the time I got to college, I knew a handful of people who struggled with them and who I desperately wanted to help and understand. Because of this, I started trying to find books that are frequently recommended to those struggling with eating disorders or books about eating disorders. My search couldn’t progress as much as I wanted - I was still in school and I felt self-conscious about pursuing this information like I was. I didn’t know a better way to approach it with the people I knew who struggled with it and I wasn’t sure what they’d think about my research. I read countless articles, a handful of books, and also talked with people I knew about how best to deal with it. My research wasn’t perfect, but it did lead me to understand a bit more and I was glad to have more knowledge and understanding.
Today’s post is mostly based off of Goodread’s “Best Eating Disorder Books” list, what I think of it, what books I’ve read from it, and how you can use it in your life. Descriptions are taken from Goodreads. Further comments are my own.

  • Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson -
    • "Dead girl walking”, the boys say in the halls.
      "Tell us your secret”, the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
      I am that girl.
      I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
      I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

      Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

      Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.
    • Personally, I don’t know that I’d love this book. It seems a little cut-and-dry YA (which I don’t love). Many people noted in their reviews that this book is triggering, but also a very realistic look at ED. I’d probably give it a try, but I can’t see myself loving or recommending this book a bunch.

  • Just Listen by Sarah Dessen -
    • Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.

      This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

      Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.
    • This ranks 4th on the list. I read this book in middle school and only rated it two stars. I vaguely remember that I went through a pretty intense Sarah Dessen phase for a while, but got quite sick of her books by the end of it and started disliking them.

  • Perfect by Natasha Friend -
    • Depicting with humor and insight the pressure to be outwardly perfect, this novel for ages 10-13 shows how one girl develops compassion for her own and others’ imperfections.

      For 13-year-old Isabelle Lee, whose father has recently died, everything's normal on the outside. Isabelle describes the scene at school with bemused accuracy--the self-important (but really not bad) English teacher, the boy that is constantly fixated on Ashley Barnum, the prettiest girl in class, and the dynamics of the lunchroom, where tables are turf in a all-eyes-open awareness of everybody's relative social position.

      But everything is not normal, really. Since the death of her father, Isabelle's family has only functioned on the surface. Her mother, who used to take care of herself, now wears only lumpy, ill-fitting clothes, cries all night, and has taken every picture of her dead husband and put them under her bed. Isabelle tries to make light of this, but the underlying tension is expressed in overeating and then binging. As the novel opens, Isabelle's little sister, April, has told their mother about Isabelle's problem. Isabelle is enrolled in group therapy. Who should show up there, too, but Ashley Barnum, the prettiest, most together girl in class.
    • This was another book that I read at the end of middle school and it just didn’t click for me. I had read several books by this author and none of them really worked for me. I appreciated that they were about real girls with real problems, but it wasn’t what I was in the mood for or what I wanted to read at that time. I’d be interested in seeing what my opinion would be now.

  • The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood -
    • Marian is determined to be ordinary. She lays her head gently on the shoulder of her serious fiancee and quietly awaits marriage. But she didn't count on an inner rebellion that would rock her stable routine, and her digestion. Marriage a la mode, Marian discovers, is something she literally can't stomach ... The Edible Woman is a funny, engaging novel about emotional cannibalism, men and women, and the desire to be consumed.
    • THIS BOOK ROCKED MY WORLD. I picked it up (kind of on accident) during the time that I was seriously researching ED and connected so much with Marian and her struggles. While the actual eating part didn’t resonate with me personally, the parts about being a young woman going through an identity crisis really got to me and this is one of my all-time favorite books.

    • "Why does every one of my friends have an eating disorder, or, at the very least, a screwed-up approach to food and fitness?" writes journalist Courtney E. Martin. The new world culture of eating disorders and food and body issues affects virtually all -- not just a rare few -- of today's young women. They are your sisters, friends, and colleagues -- a generation told that they could "be anything," who instead heard that they had to "be everything." Driven by a relentless quest for perfection, they are on the verge of a breakdown, exhausted from overexercising, binging, purging, and depriving themselves to attain an unhealthy ideal.An emerging new talent, Courtney E. Martin is the voice of a young generation so obsessed with being thin that their consciousness is always focused inward, to the detriment of their careers and relationships. Health and wellness, joy and love have come to seem ancillary compared to the desire for a perfect body. Even though eating disorders first became generally known about twenty-five years ago, they have burgeoned, worsened, become more difficult to treat and more fatal (50 percent of anorexics who do not respond to treatment die within ten years). Consider these statistics:

      Ten million Americans suffer from eating disorders. Seventy million people worldwide suffer from eating disorders. More than half of American women between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five would pre fer to be run over by a truck or die young than be fat. More than two-thirds would rather be mean or stupid. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any psychological disease.

      In "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters," Martin offers original research from the front lines of the eating disorders battlefield. Drawn from more than a hundred interviews with sufferers, psychologists, nutritionists, sociocultural experts, and others, her expose reveals a new generation of "perfect girls" who are obsessive-compulsive, overachieving, and self-sacrificing in multiple -- and often dangerous -- new ways. Young women are "told over and over again," Martin notes, "that we can be anything. But in those affirmations, assurances, and assertions was a concealed pressure, an unintended message: You are special. You are worth something. But you need to be perfect to live up to that specialness."

      With its vivid and often heartbreaking personal stories, "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters" has the power both to shock and to educate. It is a true call to action and cannot be missed.
    • This book was read during my intense ED research phase and it didn’t stand out much in my mind. I rated it three stars. While this was an interesting start to learning about and looking at ED, I didn’t feel like it offered any solutions, tips, assistance, or hope. This non-fiction book read more like an expose on the issue rather than a guide or part of assistance. It was helpful in my initial learning, but I strongly desired to know more and this did not satisfy that at all.

What books from this list have you read? Which ones would you recommend? Which ones aren’t worth the time? How have you educated yourself about eating disorders?