A Bookish Saga

On my first trip to Iceland, I naively bragged that I had read all the sagas. My listener was too polite to do more than quirk an eyebrow. Of course, I had not read all the sagas. I had read that giant paperback Penguin Classics Deluxe collection, The Sagas of Icelanders, plus The Saga of Burnt Njál. At the time, I didn’t know that more was possible.

For English speakers outside of academia, the ten sagas and assorted short stories of the Penguin compilation remains definitive. But there is another. Continue reading


Independent Bookstore Day

OpenBooksSome people think I’m awful because I never remember birthdays, and holidays like Mother’s Day register more as minor annoyances than celebrations. But I’m not completely unsentimental. Sometimes I get quite excited over minor holidays. Like Independent Bookstore Day. Of course, I can never remember when it’s coming up, but even caught by surprise, I try to make the day special. Continue reading

In Defense of the Slog



No, I’m not talking about the Stranger Blog, although I’m sure it’s very nice. I’m talking about the lengthy, challenging book that you slog through, sometimes grimly determined to reach the end whether you like it or not. The slog is out of fashion. The internet is littered with guides for determining when to give up on a book; it’s coated in essays justifying the practice. My own writing partner, a librarian, rolls her eyes at me when I complain that I haven’t read books that have been recommended to me because I am still slogging through the same dry, heavy tome I was reading when we checked in months before.  She subscribes to the following popular argument (and it is a good one): Continue reading

Nonfiction Novel Titles

ThinkingWomanCoverThird Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Washington is a destination bookstore. In fact, it kind of is Lake Forest Park. There’s not really much else there except this giant, awesome bookstore. So after years of meaning to, I finally made the 40 minute trek out of the city to visit this bookstore. Needless to say, dozens of dollars were spent. Among the books in my haul was a book titled A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar. No, I am not planning a bicycle tour along the Silk Road (although Kashgar definitely belongs on my Euphonious Bucket List). In fact, the book is a novel. But I am simply defenseless against a title like that. Continue reading

Dear Hank Wiliams

DearHankWhen I was in the second grade, my teacher read Old Yeller to the class. When she got to the end, she started crying and had to go get Mrs. Wilson to finish for her. From then on I felt smugly superior to my teacher. Don’t get me wrong. Ain’t nothing sadder than a dead dog, but get a hold of yourself woman. That was my attitude then. Continue reading

‘Trade Me’ is Pretty Good

trademeIt might seem like I blog a review of every book I read, but I don’t. For example, as a research exercise for my NaNo-reboot project, I read 10 romance novels in January, and I didn’t review a single one here. I did rate them on Goodreads and basically kept saying,

It’s pretty good … for a romance.

Continue reading

October Tsundoku

My TBR bookcase.

My TBR bookcase.

In the absence of a regular paycheck, I’ve started paying closer attention to my budget, and it has reminded me that everyone has financial blind spots. It’s easy for me to see that my husband spends too much money on technical gear. But when it comes to buying books, the money I spend never gets subtracted from my mental balance sheet.

The worst part is, that I already have an entire bookcase of unread books in my house, as well as a long list of library holds. The Japanese concept of tsundoku has been getting a lot of attention lately, and I may be the poster child. But I don’t buy books for the emotional gratitude of owning them – at least, I don’t only buy books for that reason. I really do intend to read them, and I do work my way through the piles. It’s just that there is no hope of my ever reading them faster than I bring them into the house. I get two to three unsolicited ARCs in the mail each week, and these alone account for more reading than I could possibly do in a lifetime.

So, in the interest of shining a light on my own blindness, and to give a little love to my impulsive purchases that may never get read, here is a summary of my October book purchases. Continue reading