The Library Haul Club: December

I have been so excited to wrap up December’s haul for so many reasons! For one, I have accrued quite a bit of late fees on this haul. I should have made returning my books on time part of my New Year’s Resolution. I also read SO MANY good books, I couldn’t wait to write about them. Finally, I was gifted a few books over the holidays, which I’m pretty jazzed to start reading them.

πŸ“šDecember library haul πŸ“š

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So here we go!

December’s Library Haul

Paper Towns, John Green
John Green has quickly ascended to the role of my favorite human alive. Not familiar with John? He wrote The Fault In Our Stars and does Mental Floss videos. I mean, he’s so much more than that, but I think the journey of discovering John Green is half the fun. I had to travel to the teen section of the library (womp womp womp) to find John. People, I paved the way to the teen section so you, as adults, (or at least people older than 19) can travel forth without fear of embarrassment. Paper Towns is getting turned into a movie and should be in theaters around June of this year. I finished this book in a day. An easy, quick, enjoyable read. For being a man in his 30’s, John really captures what youth feels like. Or felt like. He creates this really vivid world that his characters live in. Gives them their own culture that is as unique as the adventure he sends them on.

Margo, one of John’s main characters, is this high school girl, the epitome of cool, always going on some adventure that borders on being illegal. She is her own brand of weird and captivates the general high school populous. There’s something about Margo that is so captivating but you can’t ever put your finger on her because she’s a bit of a mystery. That’s really a huge thing in the book, the mystery of Margo.

It feels like I’ve seen movies where the girl is the love interest to a dude who mainly wants her because of the way he sees her, as a mystery. Usually in those movies, it’s never about the girl. It’s about the guy wanting the girl. John Green takes you through that sort of cliche but makes this really awesome point that Margo is a mystery because she doesn’t want to be a mystery for the sake of anyone else.

Margo plays a huge part in the book, but I’d say the book is more about friendship than romance. Also, Radar is my favorite character.

The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas, Robin Harvie & Stephanie Meyers
Okay, I only now realized that this book was edited by Stephanie Meyers. You know, the author of the Twilight series. Yeesh I feel like I’m late to my own party. So a little disclaimer: I do not identify as an atheist. Not that it matters. I get to be a bit of a grinch around Christmas time and it always makes me feel better when I have someone to grinch with.
I only got halfway through this book before Christmas was over. After that, I guess I didn’t need the book anymore.
I did enjoy reading it. Some of the pieces on how to celebrate the holidays were funny. But other were legitimately thought provoking. They questioned holiday traditions and how they tied into religion and there were some sections about science too. Some sections were a bit zaney, but I wasn’t reading to be converted, just reading to experience a non-Christmas crazed world.

Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay (not pictured)
This has been one of my favorite books to date (even after all my John Green rambling). When Roxane Gay writes, it’s like what I imagine having an older sister is like. Her writing kneels down, so she’s on your level, and explains these big concepts that aren’t easy to pin point, by coloring them in with flawed, human stories. That’s kind of her take on feminism. Her collection of essays are framed around the concept that feminism and feminist icons get put up on a pedestal but as soon as that icon slips up, we tear her down and count it as a set back to the feminist movement instead of letting that icon be flawed and human. Roxane analyzes really up to date pop culture topics, like as recently as 2013. You don’t have to scratch your head to remember what thing in the news she’s talking about.

That is, unless you wait too long to heed this book recommendation.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson, John Green & David Levithan
More John Green! And some other guy. So if Paper Towns was a trip down TeenMemoryLane this book takes you to Teen Memory City USA. I loved this book even though it was almost too teen for me. There are some really angsty teens and a decent portion of the book is written in the form of AOL messages.

Every other chapter is written from the perspective of a Will Grayson (there are two, as the title suggests). My friends who haven’t read John Green assume all his books will make them cry an ocean thanks to The Fault in Our Stars. I feel partially responsible for making sure they get the right impression of John, though really, how could you go wrong. So I shy away from recommending this as the first read.

My Custom Van, Michael Ian Black
I said in the last Haul post, I would mention more of MIB’s accolades. Even though I’m tired and it’s almost 2 am, after reading two books by MIB, I know his ego would love to read, even from a miniscule blog such as my own, about how great he is. Michael Ian Black has acted in movies like Wet Hot American Summer, the Baxter, and the E! show, Burning Love. He starred in a show on Comedy Central called Michael & Michael Have Issues (linked to my favorite skit). He was also in the comedy trio Stella.

In My Custom Van, MIB is present in almost all off the chapters. Always asserting himself into hypothetical situations like, how he would explain why he colored his dick with highlighter yellow sharpie. But he’s not present in the same way as in his second book. Again, a funny book though. A lot of the jokes hit their stride from lasting longer than you expect them to.
I should have read the first book first! You’re Not Doing It Right was equally funny, but better. Because in his second book, you get to know Michael as a person, not just as the jokes. I mean, you always get jokes, you just get so much more in his second book. You see his struggles and flaws. It’s like, why would you only want part of a person, once you’ve had the whole hilarious, messy thing?

The Polysyllabic Spree, Nick Hornby
As I described in the first Haul post, part of my book selection involves wandering through the library, picking books at random. What are the chances I would pick a book about reviewing books. I had no idea until I started reading it either. It’s like the the strings of my fate & destiny are thinly strung throughout the Akron-Summit Library.
Nick Hornby is a British columnist who writes about all the books he’s bought and the ones he’s managed to read. His column wasn’t always just about the book review. It was more about the journey he went on with the books and how the book fit into his life. I hope that reading his book has somewhat rubbed off on my reviewing skills.
One of my favorite things that Nick said was, “we are never allowed to forget that some books are badly written; we should remember that sometimes they’re badly read too.”

I try to remind myself of that when my mind starts wandering from the page and before I know it, I’ve finished a chapter without retaining anything, but having completely thought out a message I’m going to send on OKCupid. I made sure to go back and reread his chapters that I glossed. I probably wouldn’t recommend this to most people, even though I learned from this book and got a lot of his recommendations for future reads. BUT if you do check The Polysyllabic Spree out from the Akron Summit Library and you find a book whose pages 15-18 don’t want to stay attached to their spine, you’ll know that our strings of destiny & fate briefly overlapped.

One Way to Write Short Stories
As I mentioned in the last Haul post, I didn’t finished this book. Something else Nick taught me: It’s okay to abandon some books.
January will be a little different. The load is a little lighter and didn’t involve going to the library. A few lovely people gifted me my next haul!

As always, If you’ve read any of the haul, let me know what you thought! Got a recommendation for something you think I’d like? I want to know!
BONUS: My AOL screen name was Blink182helen. What was yours?

Lilly Pulitzer is coming to Target

Two of my loves: Target & spring patterns. Admittedly, I had never heard of Lilly Pulitzer before Target announced she would be their next big designer collaboration. But discovering ms.Pulitzer was exactly what I needed on this dismal Ohio winter day.
The extended ‘warm’ weather we had into December and even a little into January helped me perpetuate my mindset that winter won’t be that bad.

WRONG WRONG WRONG.
You can only stave off realtiy for so long. I hate winter and especially hate winter fashion. Seeing Lilly’s patterns reminded me of who I am in terms of style & reminded me that winter won’t last forever. And there are patterns on the other end.

Lilly hits Target on April 19th. Until then I will remind myself to hold off on doing any style revamp (especially on my apartment), because the patterns will not only be on clothes but in home decor! Eeeeee!!!!!! πŸ™‚

lilly pulitzer prints

If you know me IRL, you probably realize these prints are brighter, busier and more colorful than anything I normally wear. You would be 100% accurate. I still love them. I still fantasize about them. It’s similar to my love for Betsy Johnson. I never have an occasion to wear her shit. I describe her audience as spoiled tweens or my delusional 60 year old ex-landlord (and me in my fantasy other life).

True confession: My Bestey Johnson watch is one of my favorite possessions and I never leave my apartment without it.

img-thing

Mine is in rose gold, but I love this watch!

But whatever, I dress in all neutrals (black, khaki, white & navy) because I like having a blank canvas to add a pop of color.
This winter it’s been a red-orange (lip, scarf, or clutch). I honestly don’t think it goes well with my red hair but damn if it doesn’t make me feel that much more bold.

πŸ’‹

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P.S. if anyone has any tips for looking fabulous in the winter, please let me know. I can never figure out shoes. Ones that will make it through the snow and be appropriate in the office. Are y’all changing your shoes when you get inside?? HELP.

The Library Haul Club

Back in November, I decided I wanted to start reading more. For a slew of reasons, but mainly it was because I got the idea that all the time I spent on the internet was hindering my creativity.Β  I felt like I spent so much time consuming miniscule bits of media that I was just wasting time. I would get trapped in k-hole of internet that wasn’t productive.

So that’s not really a revelation that’s unique to me,Β  I’m sure.
I was also thinking about how two years ago I was writing constantly. Being a writer was something I identified with and I was proud of what I made. I figured reading and writing go hand in hand.

If you haven’t ventured to the Main Akron-Summit Library, GET YOURSELF THERE. The main library is a beautiful place with so much to explore and convenient parking. Because convenient parking is important to me when picking up a new hobby.

I have since done two library hauls. This is my method of choosing books: I go to the library with a vague sense of the type of book I want (feminism, comedy, essays, fiction) or an author, or a recommendation someone gave me. I track down that book. Then, I wander the shelves. Which is the best part. Because before I know it I have a stack of books as long as my arms, which is my cue it’s time to stop.

For the record, I can fit 6-7 books comfortably in one arm which is why my hauls will consistently be 6-7 books.

If your New Year’s Resolution was to read more, join the club! (like,,,,, literally).
I post my hauls to my Instagram account if you’re just curious about what I’m reading. But here I’m going to do a mini review (aiming for no spoilers).

I can totally read 7 books in 2 weeks.

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November’s Book Haul
**My reviews may be a bit fuzzy since I read them a while ago and am just getting caught up.. Oops.

Not That Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham
I bought this book prior to my book haul but wanted to include it anyways because I was still reading it. Lena Dunham is the creator of Girls, a show that runs on HBO. A lot of people have feelings about Lena Dunham. If you have bad feelings about Lena Dunham, this probably won’t change your mind. Some people have a hard time relating to her show because its characters live in a very specific world that is realistic to a narrow range of people. I relate to Dunham & her show & her book because I identify with the emotional struggles and milestones that Dunham has experienced. Dunham’s chapter on Barry rang very true to me in particular.

Not That Kind of Girl is written as a self-help type book. It reads like Dunham took her collection of essays and figured out how to make some vague lesson out of them. Like her experiences are acting as the lessons. I found Dunham’s book to be pretty self absorbed, which didn’t make me like it any less. Sure, she’s self absorbed, but her life is kind of interesting, sometimes her feelings are relate-able and there is no absence of love for the people in her life.

Don’t Count the Candles, Just Keep Them Lit!, Joan Rivers
Switch to a different type of self help book. Joan states very early on that if you are under the age of 30, you don’t need to be reading her book. I did anyways because I am a rebel. Joan wrote this in the late 90’s so some of her advice on staying young is dated–she talks about interior design trends & surgery/medications trends– and can be easily skimmed over. But there are some seriously good pieces of advice that everyone could benefit from. My favorite was Joan’s suggestion that surrounding yourself with a variety of age groups will keep you vibrant and dynamic.

Also, she talks about sex after 40, 50, 60+ which is really interesting and not as weird as you’d imagine.

And the Heart Says Whatever, Emily Gould
The similarities between Gould & Dunham stack up. They both grew up with well-to-do parents, both writing, both in essay format, both struggling to live their 20’s in NYC, both attending liberal arts school in Ohio, both having a tendency to put it all on the table when it comes to their personal lives.

The major difference is Emily Gould does not seem like a nice person, at all. I enjoyed her book of essays which is weird because I usually don’t like stories whose main character is unlikable. I’ll count this as a personal break through.

Gould comes off as self-centered as she goes through each essay, hurting someone, acknowledging that her actions are hurting others, and moving on. And it repeats in the next essay. She recognizes her behavior. And she doesn’t care to change it.

It was great to read these three books in the order that I did because it’s a nice contrast of two self-help novels-one for the young, one for the old, and then throw in there a collection of essays from the less optimistic side of the 20-something pond.
This is a Book, Demetri Martin (not pictured)
LOVE.LOVE.LOVE. I audibly laughed out loud while reading. So Demetri Martin is really smart. He was going to Harvard to be a lawyer and dropped out to do stand-up. I think you could have two reactions to Demetri: you could think, this is stupid why did you make a book. OR you could think, like I did, god dammit I wish I had thought of this. Including a link of Martin talking about his stint in law school.

I Found This Funny, Judd Apatow
Judd Apatow is the man behind Freaks & Geeks, Undeclared, the 40 Year Old Virgin, This is 40, Knocked Up and also works with Lena on Girls. This book is a compilation of humorous writings initially brought together to benefit a charity, 826 National. I wonder if the charity benefits from how frequently the book is checked out from the library. Judd admits,Β  not all the selections are funny. And he’s right, they’re not all funny. BUT it’s worth reading because there are more funny bits than not.

My Inappropriate Life, Heather McDonald
Heather McDonald is a comedian who frequented the Chelsea Lately round table and spin-off show, After Lately. She is known on the show for loving celebrities and openly reaching for fame. Heather gets made fun of a lot for this, but whatever. It works for her because she knows and is friends with the Kardashians.. like gets invited to their parties.

My Inappropriate Life is Heather’s second book, following You’ll Never Blue Ball in This Town Again. Heather is a mother of 2… no 3 young children and is married to a dude that loves to golf. Sometimes, this book drug on for me, maybe because I have a low tolerance for tales of marriage and children, but Heather is crazy enough that it stays entertaining. The thing about a book of essays is that each chapter has to stand on its own. It’s not like fiction where the author creates this character’s life and the reader has to move page to page to find out what happens. An essay is a mini story in and while all the essays in a book tend to be connected somehow, I think that a reader could stop reading in the middle of the book and be content with where the main characters fate has left off. I kept going through the book but I could have stopped and been okay leaving Heather where she was.

You’re Not Doing It Right, Michael Ian Black
Another follow-up book! MIB is a comedian/actor and I would love to list all his accomplishments but I’m getting tired of writing and his first book is in my next haul, so I’ll give him more time then. MIB has a similar theme to Heather’s book: marriage & children.
Something that was nice in this book that differs from Heather’s is that there is an obvious struggle happening throughout each chapter. MIB struggles to overcome being an asshole in order to be a good husband and father. Sometimes, him just being an asshole is hilarious. Other times you can see it’s causing problems (even though it’s still funny). Also, I’d say that MIB never stops being an asshole to solve his problems, just becomes a different type of asshole. At the end of the day, I went back to the library for MIB’s first book, not Heathers’s.
One Way to Write Short StoriesI’m going to be honest. I only got to the second chapter in this book even after I moved it to my second haul. Sometimes it’s okay to give up on a book.

So that was November! I’m almost done with December’s Haul, and will post the review section for it later. For now, here’s what’s on deck

πŸ“šDecember library haul πŸ“š

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If you’ve read any of the haul, let me know what you thought! Got a recommendation for something you think I’d like? I want to know!