My Heart’s in Charlottesville

When I was preparing for a book event in Charlottesville last year, my mom said, “Your hometown!” It’s not where I was born or raised, and it’s not where I live, but it’s the home of my heart. I spent four wonderful years there while attending UVA, and go back every chance I get. It’s a special place in my life

So hearing about the violence and hate this weekend deeply hurt me. I was sickened to see white supremacists and Nazis waving torches on the steps of the Rotunda, to see the hate in their faces, and, worst of all, to see that people died and many others were injured as a result of this hatred.

Charlottesville isn’t a perfect place, but it’s the home of my heart. Right now, I’m feeling similar to how I felt after the Boston Marathon bombing–it’s an attack in a place I love, on values I hold dear.

My heart is with those who live in Charlottesville and saw their city shaken by bigotry, and the UVA students who will return to Grounds in this climate. I have faith that you all will stand firm on the side of love and justice and inclusion. Hate and violence have no place in the places we love, and it’s up to us to stand up for what’s right.

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! Somehow it’s August, which makes me feel like the summer is going by way too quickly, even though I’d really like for it not to be five thousand degrees outside. (Somehow Bodo still wants to go on like hour-long walks; I bring water for us but COME ON, BUDDY.) Let’s get a cool drink and check out a few book reviews in fifteen words or fewer:

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Touching story and beautifully written. Great supporting characters, and an extremely worthwhile author’s note.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Ending felt slightly rushed, but I love Lara Jean and her sisters so much.

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! It’s been an endless week, but I’m feeling some good writing vibes and am going to spend the weekend with some dogs, so things are feeling okay. Let’s get the weekend started with a few book reviews in fifteen words or fewer:

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
Fascinating look at what happens to us after we’re no longer us.

Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman
Wanted to love this one more than I did. Strong writing though; literary feel.

Grit by Angela Duckworth
Talent is nice, but the ability to keep going is what matters. (Important for writers!)

Mental Health, Hogwarts Houses, The Correct Pronunciation of Gif, and Other Strong Opinions

Obviously I’m a big fan of podcasting, so when the lovely people at Candlewick Press reached out to me about their podcast, Candlewick Press Presents, I was beyond excited. I had a fantastic conversation with the Candlewick team about writing, my time as a Candlewick intern, why I love social media, why I’m jealous of how good Walt is at titles, and more. (This didn’t even include the pre-recording conversation about which Candlewick team members would be in which Hogwarts houses, a topic we all take very seriously.)

You can hear my interview on iTunes and Stitcher, and make sure to check out the previous episodes, as well. They include interviews of amazing writers and illustrators like Aaron Becker, creator of gorgeous wordless picture books like Journey, and Lesléa Newman, author of the classic Heather Has Two Mommies. Can you hear my fangirling?

Thanks to the Candlewick team for including me in such a great project. Can’t wait to hear the rest of Candlewick Press Presents, season 1!

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! Although to be honest, Friday both snuck up on me and didn’t get here soon enough, so I don’t really know how to feel about it. At least I’m hoping to catch up on life stuff and work and sleep this weekend so maybe by Monday I’ll be back to normal. In the meantime, here’s a look at what I’ve been reading in fifteen words or fewer:

As I Descended by Robin Talley
YA lesbian Macbeth is all I needed to hear. Talley’s writing’s awesome; story’s legit creepy.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
A fun take on contemporary vampires–more Buffy than Twilight here, with some great moments.

PS–I’ve also been wanting to change up the Friday Fifteen format a little (again). While I love the book reviews, I think it would be nice to add some other stuff to this. I’ve done writing updates, but sometimes that doesn’t lend itself to fifteen words or fewer (or even fifteen words at all). Maybe you guys have thoughts?

And if you have specific ideas about what you’d want to see, share them in the comments!

An Ode to Audiobooks

Image by Innovate Impact Media

Until recently, I thought I wasn’t an audiobook person. My mind tends to wander and I worried that I’d lose the plot and not be able to follow the book I was supposedly listening to. Then Walt and I went on a fourteen-hour drive and Amy Poehler kept us company with Yes Please, and I’ve been binging on audiobooks ever since.

In case you’re still afraid of diving into the world of audiobooks, are are my top ten reasons why audiobooks are awesome. In no particular order:

  1. You can read while doing other things
    With physical books or ebooks, I mostly read while waiting in offices, getting coffee, or in bed. With audiobooks, I can read while driving to work, working out, doing laundry, or baking up something tasty. When I was training for the Boston Marathon, I really looked forward to my long runs because they meant I could listen to the Tiffany Aching books for a few hours. Audiobooks have also been a fantastic way to get reading in while I’m walking Bodo, because I’m often out with him for at least forty-five minutes, which means so much reading time! Which means…
  2. You can read so many more books
    I’m getting so much more reading done this year because of audiobooks. Right now I’m on like 25% hard copy, 10% ebook, 65% audiobooks.
  3. Having a story read aloud to you is cozy and fun
    Remember when you were in elementary school and your teacher would do read alouds? Why don’t we get to do this as adults. Spoiler alert: audiobooks do that for you.
  4. Audiobooks are read by professionals
    Even better than your second grade teacher? Professional actors who know how to do the voices right and say all the words clearly. Also, sometimes audiobooks are read by the authors themselves, which I find really cool. (I just finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane written and read by Neil Gaiman, who’s got the best voice a writer could ask for.)
  5. You don’t have to carry anything extra
    Okay, so my purse is usually big enough to fit a book. But you can download audiobooks right to your phone/mp3 device, which you probably already carry with you.
  6. You can get them for free from the library
    Caveat: audiobooks can be pretty expensive to buy. They require all the normal work a book requires, plus paying a reader plus studio time plus sound editing/mixing. But you can borrow audiobooks from your local library, via programs like Overdrive or Hoopla.
  7. You might pay more attention to content
    I’m a fast reader, but sometimes that means that, when I’m really into a book, I end up reading too fast because I’m so excited and miss little bits of info or description. With an audiobook, I find myself actually paying more attention to particular phrases or pieces of dialogue.
  8. You can speed up or slow down as necessary
    Audiobook apps I’ve used let you adjust the reading pace to be slightly faster (if the reader is slower than you’d like) or slower (if you want to really appreciate every word) or slowest (to make the reader sound like they’re drunk, which can be hilarious).
  9. Audiobooks do count as ‘real reading’
    Don’t worry, you’re not missing out on ‘real reading.’ Whatever that is.
  10. It’s easier to get through those big books you’ve been meaning to read
    Earlier this year, I listened to The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, which was fascinating, but also almost 600 pages long. It took a while to listen to, but it was so much easier to listen while doing other things and carry around my iPod as usual, vs. having to lug around a huge book or set aside time at the end of the day to read about how the tobacco industry lobbied against cancer research and blamed victims. (I know.) Having a copy on audio meant I could read more frequently and not feel like I had to set aside specific time for a serious book.

Bonus reason: I’ve been reading more nonfiction because of audiobooks. Maybe it’s because of the easier to carry around/easier to listen to longer stuff thing? No clue, but it’s working for me.

And in case you’re still not convinced, here are a few of my recent favorite audiobook reads:

Audiobooks you’d recommend? Favorite things about listening to stories? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! I’m looking forward to a long weekend of reading by a large body of water (my favorite activity), spending time with friends, consuming lots of tasty food/drink, and seeing if Bodo prefers swimming to dozing in the sun. Let’s get the weekend started with some book reviews in fifteen words or fewer:

Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard
Started slow, but I didn’t want to leave Pen and friends behind. So many feels!

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
Thoughtful and nuanced look at the complexities of elder and end-of-life care.

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
A thrilling adventure through four different (mostly) magical Londons. I’d also like Kell’s coat.