Reading Rut Remedies: Graphic Novels

As readers, we all have those times when it seems like there is just nothing to read, but how do you fix it? Sometimes it’s a romance novel or some YA, but this week, for me, graphic novels were just what the book doctor ordered.
I work in the basement at a library, so while I was taking my break I popped upstairs to browse around our graphic novels and see what I could unearth. I ended up checking out two graphic novels: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson and Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not) by Jason Shiga.

These were great picks to drag my out of my audio dependent book rut. I’ve been consuming books but over the last few weeks it has almost exclusively been via audiobook while I work, and I just felt that I was really missing that experience of picking up a book and zooming through the pages. This is why I chose some graphic novels (that, and I listened to the Get Booked podcast from last week and they spoke only about graphic novels which got me in the mood.)

Graphic novels are great remedies for reading ruts because:

  1. They are (generally) primarily action based, making the pace move quickly.
  2. They are visually appealing and give you a chance to look at cool pictures while you read. The pictures give you a chance to take a break but also add another dimension to the narrative because you can often find little details that hint towards foreshadowing or backstory that you may not have otherwise gotten.
  3. They are often quick reads and can make you feel accomplished after reading one in a matter of an hour or two. This always gets me hyped up and ready to tackle another title, whether I choose another graphic novel or decide to move on to a novel or collection of short stories. It helps me build up a little confidence and gets me back into the hang of reading.

Some other graphic novel recommendations to get you out of your reading rut:

What graphic novels or series do you like to read when you’re in a rut?

3 Reasons Why I Read Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Tiny_Beautiful-680I recently picked up the audiobook for Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, and I felt really compelled to write about it, but not a review. The book is a collection of published or not published posts from the advice column Dear Sugar on therumpus.net. “Sugar”, the individual that all of these people write to, is actually Cheryl Strayed, best-selling author of Wild amongst other wonderful projects. I don’t want to review this book because I don’t think a discussion of what “works” or doesn’t is really necessary or helpful here. This book contains plenty of questions about what will or won’t work in a certain individual’s situation, and the answers rarely include a list of dos and don’ts. Instead Sugar responds with compassion. So instead of me saying what does and doesn’t work, or telling you if you should or shouldn’t read it, I will just leave you with these three thoughts about why I read it and why you might want to.

You don’t need to be a Dear Sugar fan before reading this book – but you very well might be one when you finish. The entries and letters collected in this book are a combination of published articles on the thetumpus.net and some that she never published to the site but decided to include in the book. This makes it great for old fans and newbies alike. The old fans can look back on some of their favorite pieces while getting to see some new content, and the newbies get a great introduction into what Dear Sugar is as well as a great stand alone book.

Cheryl Strayed’s life experiences are really expansive and unusual but totally relatable. Cheryl Strayed is extremely well known these days as the author of Wild, a memoir in which she details her journey of self discovery walking the entire 1,100 mile Pacific Crest Trail alone. Her travels and a lot of her experiences are fairly well known in the world after he best-selling book and the movie with Reese Witherspoon. I, however, have not read or seen Wild, but I have a grasp on some of the details, and she does not mention that trek on the trail much in this book, if at all. Because she has had such an interesting life where she has explored so many things, she has plenty of other material to work with. From working as a youth advocate to living in Paris at 20 to her relationship experiences with her husband, she is a wealth of wisdom, and she is fascinating to learn about, and now I feel that I can still go read Wild with an understanding of who she is, but without any spoilers from having read this book.

There is a story or situation for everyone in this book. I actually started writing down the titles of each section that I felt I could really relate to – I ended up with quite a long list. The stories are real people in real situations, and though they sometimes get really specific, the way that Cheryl Strayed answers everything with a big picture outlook. She broadens the topic in a way that speaks to all readers of the column, while still focusing on the personal details of the individual she is addressing. This is a book that I will likely come back to time and time again as I meet different situations as I get older. And I’m sure next time I read this book, different parts will appeal to me than the first time I read it.

 

Review: The Last Girlfriend on Earth by Simon Rich

 

last girlfriend on earthLove is weird. Love makes us cynical. So why not read some weird and cynical short stories about modern love?

Simon Rich has written and gathered a collection of his stories that center around this topic of modern love and he does a pretty good job of using humor and weird situations to capture just how ridiculous it can be.

The collection really starts out with a bang. Unprotected is a story following a young man and the progress of his relationships as he grows up from high school student to college student – all told from the perspective of a single condom in his wallet. Then a story called Magical Mr. Goat shows a little girl and her imaginary friend, and how the Friend Zone affects their friendship. The stories continue with this tone of weird perspectives and situations in love, and they do a largely good job. Some are just plain silly (a story where a guy sleeps with a girl from a bar and is made into a celebrity for it) to surprisingly smart (a story that subtly says a lot about the relationship men have with porn), but they begin to fall a little flat. The collection starts out so strong that as it progresses, it seems to struggle to keep up that momentum.They continue to be smart and funny, but sometimes in less topical ways.

Overall this collection is largely entertaining and was certainly worth the time it took to read it. The stories are never too long, so it is easily digestible by reading before bed or on breaks at work. The big takeaway is that this was a really funny and creative book, and a quick and easy read. It helped bring me out of a reading lull, and it had me laughing from the start. 3.5 Stars.

Quickie Post: National Poetry Month

So this week is/was my birthday and I have a lot going on, so instead of a full fledged post today, I’m just going to grace you with my mini-TBR list of books in honor of National Poetry Month! These are the two titles I am looking forward to reading to celebrate!

milk and honey – Rupi Kaur

This gem has really boomed in popularity in recent weeks, so maybe you’ve heard of it, but I’m really intrigued and can’t wait to get into it. I’ve been wanting to get into poetry for a while now, and have heard nothing but good things about this. In this collection, Rupi Kaur uses some illustration along with her poetry to tackle things like love, abuse, and loss.

Your Own, Sylvia – Stephanie Hemphill
This one just came through for me at the library and I’m really intrigued. I heard about this book on the podcast What Should I Read Next? Basically it’s a biography of Sylvia Plath but it is told in verse from different perspectives. Then the author has included some context with each poem. As a big fan of The Bell Jar and much of her poetry, it sounds like it will be a really interesting way to look into her life.

 What books will you read to celebrate National Poetry Month?

Review: The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

15815333At summer camp as a teen you can make such strong bonds that it seems you will never need anyone else. You share the best time of your life with these people, and you will be forever connected to them. But how do those friendships change as you get older and face things like disappointing careers, successful friends, and new loves?

The Interestings, by Meg Wolitzer, explores that question. The story follows a group of friends who met in the 70s at a summer camp for artistically inclined teens. As the narration jumps forward and backward in time, you see how the group evolves as they grow older and adjust to the changes that come with the transition into adult life.

I recently picked up this audiobook after seeing the cover and remembering that I had heard a bit of buzz about it last year and again recently in a podcast. It was available from my library, and so I snatched it up to listen to at work.

The book was extremely relatable for me, and I imagine for many people. There are so many characters whose lives go in so many directions, I found myself really identifying with several of them at different points in the book. I even had moments where I could see how family members and friends of mine might relate to specific characters as well. With the diverse, in some ways eclectic, group of friends in this book, Meg Wolitzer keeps the story moving and keeps your attention, as you really want to know what will happen to each character next.

That being said, her characters are far from perfect. I had a lot of issues with one character and the way she handles an upsetting family situation, but through Wolitzer’s portrayal of her family and the world surrounding her, I was able to understand the pressures she was under, and I even felt compassion for her. The author makes the characters feel real because of the weaknesses she gives them. It makes them all feel very realistic to see greed or anger or arrogance in these characters. To some, it may be a turn off to not fully like and trust the main cast of the story, but I ended up really enjoying how realistically flawed they all seemed to be.

Another thing I enjoyed about this book was all in the timing that I read it. I am at a stage in my life when I am getting into the “real world” and starting to learn more about how people and relationships change as we grow older. People change, priorities change, and things don’t turn out the way you picture them. They never do, even for the people that seem to have it all together. I think she portrays that so well with this book. Because the timeline follows people over a period of decades and several life stages, I think this book will make for a great reread in the future. Currently being in my early twenties, I look forward to seeing how differently I may feel about different events and characters after I get married and have children and have that perspective to look at the families in the story.

Overall, I very nearly loved this book. The narration on the audiobook, done by Jen Tullock, was wonderful with diverse voices that were never confusing and it was not cheesy at all, which can so easily happen in an audiobook. And the relationships in the story really touched me. I enjoyed it very much. For my rating I will give it 4 stars.

Nice To Meet You

Hello there –

I’m Nina. This is my blog. I want to introduce myself.

I am twenty-three years old – well, I will be next week – and I work with books. I’m currently working in a library system in Kentucky where I spend my days in an office and receive books for our collection. IMG_2511.JPGI also do some book processing for them. But prior to this job I split my time working in customer service both at a big bookstore and a different library system in Ohio. Moving from those two very active jobs that had such an emphasis on customer interaction into this job where I work at a desk and do more of the
behind-the-scenes library work has been a huge transition for me. I now reap the many benefits of the full-time, 9 to 5 life. But, I have lost one thing that I really love – talking to strangers about the books we adore.

That’s where you all come in. This blog is my new outlet. It is a new project where I intend to pour out all of my bookish thoughts into my readers, as few or as many as there may be.

I plan to gush – about the books I’ve read and loved and about the books that have brought me to tears.

I hope to recommend – I hope my ramblings and my two cents lead you to your next True Book Love.

And I intend to commiserate with you a little bit – about the always increasing, never shrinking To Be Read piles many of us fight with. Our full shelves. Welcome to mine!