What’s in a book?

I am more than well on track with my 50 Books challenge this year (already at 28, only halfway through the year!), but I feel like I’ve been hitting duds with almost every book I read. I want something that will blow me out of the water, change my life, make me reflect for days on what I just read!

I have read a handful of really good YA fantasy novels, which are well worth it and I am not discrediting in anyway as capable able of being impactful. But they don’t often make you reflect on your own life; usually they do the opposite, by making you get lost in someone elses very fictional life. Which is great. But I’ve been craving a book whose philosophy I can apply to my own life; whose sentences I can mark up with pencil underlinings; whose pages end up almost all dog-eared because there are so many quotes I want to share I can barely make it through a chapter without writing down another one. I want a book that will give me an epiphany.

I read The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt not too long ago and I have to say, it was quite the disappointment after how some of my friends built it up. I thought that was going to be THE life-changing book of Summer 2014. But it wasn’t, at all.

So I’m now accepting recommendations for books that have blown you away. (Bonus points if they made you ugly cry.)

Aaand, go.

Not Over the Rainbow.

Due to the recommendation of my best friend, who knows my reading taste exceptionally well, I was introduced to the author Rainbow Rowell.

And I’m a little bit in love. With her writing. And her brain. And definitely her books.

I read Fangirl first and the essence of it was like reading about my life. I never wrote fanfiction for other peoples creations, but my aforementioned best friend and I had a whole world of our creation that we would write spin off stories for. We sort of wrote fanfiction for our own.. fiction… as our own fans. But the feeling is the same, in fanfiction. The idea of loving something so much that you want to be in that world always and that those characters take up more thought, and mean more to you, than most people in real life.

It was so great to see that in a book. Although I was well aware of the fanfiction community my whole life, it was fantastic to see it properly represented in a popular novel from a popular author. It also made me love Rainbow Rowell, because you can’t write like that and get it right without being a true fangirl yourself.

I promptly read her other two books, Eleanor & Park and Attachments, in the following week. They are also fantastic. Although Fangirl remains my favorite, the best thing about all of her books are how real the characters are. They have romance, but they have real life problems and real life romance. It’s awkward, it’s messy, there’s miscommunication and self-doubt. The characters are even real life figures – described as having too large foreheads, receding hairlines, oversized hips and the occasional stomach roll. And yet, they’re beautiful in their spirit. You love them for their honesty, for them loving those imperfections in the other characters and therefore making you love them as well. It doesn’t matter if the lead male is described as having a beer belly and being “big”. You love him anyway and you root for him. He doesn’t need the chiseled abs of your typical romance novel (which I am also guilty of reading). People fall in love, not just those deemed beautiful by social standards.

Her books are so much more than just the romance, but Rainbow Rowell makes me want to read more novels with romance like this. Real romance, not somewhere over the rainbow, but right here in our real world. With real people. Real, adorable people.

Plus, I finished each of her books in a day so you can’t beat a fast, quality read like that.

50 Book Challenge

I did it!

With 4 hours and 15 minutes to spare, for the first time since I began it four years ago, I completed the 50 Books in a Year Challenge!

It may seem silly to some, but it feels great to accomplish this goal – I used to read 100+ books growing up, into my late teens, and then life just got in the way I began to read less and less. I started this book challenge a few years back as a way to challenge myself to read more. It not only works the brain but it works the imagination. I’ve fallen way behind in my writing, coming from a girl who used to not sleep because she was too busy writing all sorts of things. Reading stimulates writing and I desperately want to get back into both!

Also, I seemed to be gathering a ridiculous amount of books that I wasn’t actually reading..

So, 50 Books it was. The closest I came before now was 36 books last year. Somehow, I managed to read 50 this year… while also graduating. I’m not entirely sure how that happened, I think it has something to do with my incredible strong will to avoid tasks (a.k.a. homework). I’m also a tad bit impressed with myself that – upon reviewing the list – I realized that nearly 30 of these… were read after September, and the first 20-some were in the first 9 months of the year. Three cheers to being a graduate!

It feels like such a huge accomplishment for me personally that I wish I got something more than this little Goodreads badge and 4 hours until I start the challenge over again for next year.

goodreads

Here’s a complete listing of the books. My only regret being that I wish I had taken time to write reviews for them on this blog. You can see any of my reviews I have written (and my ratings) on my Goodreads:

January 1st, 2013 – December 31st, 2013:

1. House Rules – Jodi Picoult
2. Carnival of Souls – Melissa Marr
3. The Pox Party (The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, #1) – M. T. Anderson
4. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
5. The Sweet Girl – Annabel Lyon
6. Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe
7. Tell the Wolves I’m Home – Carol Rifka Brunt
8. Seraphina (Seraphina, #1) – Rachel Hartmann
9. Room – Emma Donoghue
10. The Giver (The Giver, #1) – Lois Lowry
11. Stickboy – Shane Koyczan
12. Me Before You – JoJo Moyes
13. Looking For Alaska – John Green
14. Chalice – Robin McKinley
15. Shanghai Girls – Lisa See
16. Sunshine – Robin McKinley
17. The Best Laid Plans – Terry Fallis
18. The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns, #2) – Rae Carson
19. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
20. Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1) – Laini Taylor
21. Ella Minnow Pea – Mark Dunn
22. Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #2) – Laini Taylor
23. Lips Touch: Three Times – Laini Taylor
24. A Stolen Life – Jaycee Dugard
25. The Kings and Queens of Roam – Daniel Wallace
26. Splitting the Difference: A Heart-Shaped Memoir – Tre Miller Rodriguez
27. The Bitter Kingdom (Fire and Thorns, #3) – Rae Carson
28. If I Stay (If I Stay, #1) – Gayle Forman
29. The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1) – James Dashner
30. Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
31. Tale of Sand – Jim Henson
32. The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, #2) – James Dashner
33. Where She Went (If I Staym, #2) – Gayle Forman
34. The Death Cure (Maze Runner, #3) – James Dashner
35. The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow – Rita Leganski
36. Allegiant (Divergent, #3) – Veronica Roth
37. The Girl You Left Behind – JoJo Moyes
38. A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle, #1) – Libba Bray
39. The Walking Dead, Vol. 10: What We Become – Robert Kirkman
40. Just One Day – Gayle Forman
41. Preludes & Nocturnes (Sandman, #1) – Neil Gaiman
42. The Doll’s Hosue (Sandman, #2) – Neil Gaiman
43. The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories (Vol. 1) – HitRecord & Joseph Gordon-Levitt
44. Dream Country (Sandman, #3) – Neil Gaiman
45. Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell
46. The Age of Miracles – Karen Thompson Walker
47. Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell
48. Ghost World – Daniel Clowes
49. The Shadow Cats (Girl of Fire and Thorns, #0.5) – Rae Carson
50. Fable: Theresa – Peter David

I’m webfamous!

I received an e-mail from Etsy today that one of my items was receiving a lot of attention..

When I looked into it, I discovered that my Game of Thrones themed Jon Snow & Ghost ornament had been featured on uproxx.com, under an article titled, “10 Ornaments that Will Give You the Coolest Christmas Tree This Year”. That’s my ornament, #7! The one that says it is the most adorable ornament you could possibly have on your tree!

I realize this isn’t the New York Times, but I still found it very exciting. Especially when the author stated that she went through 75 pages of items tagged “ornaments” on Etsy to find her selection, and mine was one of the top 10 she chose. So, that’s pretty exciting!

ImageI didn’t score any sales from it (yet) but I did get a lot of favorites on my items/shops!

Now if only I had time to make more items to put up there…

… but alas, there are books to be read and naps to be had.