Challenge Accepted

This might seem hypocritical considering I have a book blog, but I don’t actually read book reviews — at least in their entirety. Hopefully that doesn’t scare away my readers. I like to form an opinion of a book with little input from others, especially critics who I don’t always trust. I love best-of lists and enjoy reading just enough of a review to understand the main plot and premise.

But let me clear: I need to know that main plot and premise before deciding to read a book.

This surprised my partner, Kyle, about a month ago after boarding a flight for Colorado. I had just received Before We Were Yours on my Kindle, but when Kyle asked what it was about, I couldn’t remember. Because that nagged me to no end, I made sure to Google it before takeoff.

Kyle was perplexed: “You couldn’t just start reading? You had to know what it was about?” Yes, yes I did. Why the judgment? And this is how the challenge was born and how I found myself reading The Dogs of Babel.

The Dogs of Babel part 2

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Author Q&A: Richard Roper

Fortunately, I have friends who give great book recs. That’s exactly what my friend Jen did this summer when she recommended How Not to Die Alone. I had heard this title before and thought it was a self-help book. Lord, that would be a depressing read. She assured me that was the furthest thing from the truth.

Jen was right.

After I finished this funny, quirky, and delightful fictional book, I knew I wanted to speak to its author, Richard Roper. He came through and answered some burning questions I had about his literary favorites; the main character, Andrew; and some new projects on the horizon.

Richard Roper

Photo credit: Natalie Dawkins.

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Shop ‘Til You Drop: Breckenridge

Oh, Colorado. What a kinship I have with thee. From the age of 17, when I first visited my aunt who was living there at the time, I’ve felt a special connection with the state. I vowed to move out there during college to intern, and I made that happen when I was 21. It was an incredible summer.

My love for Colorado is shared by my family who have all made several trips out west. My best friend and her now-husband are also from there, and I have many coworkers in the big C-O. As you can see, the bond I have with the Centennial State goes pretty deep.

Breckenridge

Talk about a view.

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Shop ‘Til You Drop: Boston

Ever since I discovered Liberty’s Kids and became obsessed with the American Revolution — which really should not be a secret at this point — I had been dying to visit Boston. Fortunately, I’ve scoped out this beautiful city twice in the past year, including two weeks ago when I met my mom there for a much-needed girls trip.

This will be hard to believe, but my mother actually does not like to read. I know I know it pains me too, and I too question if we share DNA. (Believe me: Other similarities will prove this.) But she was willing to visit some bookstores with me to see what Boston’s literary community was all about it. She enjoyed it too!

It’s only fitting that my next “Shop ‘Til You Drop” series would be researched with my shopping partner in tow.

Boston 1

The view of Boston and Cambridge from Harvard Bridge.

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Shop ‘Til You Drop: Chicago

Being from the Midwest, I always thought Chicago seemed so close yet so far away. It’s only a five-hour car ride from my hometown of Festus, Mo., and it’s silly that I only spent one day in Chi-Town of my 22 years that I lived in its neighboring state. But lo and behold, adulthood came, and two of my dearest friends, Layne and Nick, moved to DeKalb, Ill.

This past March I flew out to visit the couple, and they kindly indulged me with stops at four superb Chicago bookstores. (Let’s be honest: Nick enjoyed the perusing just as much as I did — if not more so.) We definitely shopped ’til we dropped, though that could also be due to the insane amounts of yummy food we consumed during our trip to the Windy City. Read on to see four must-see Chicago stops for bibliophiles.

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Ranked: Top 10 Female Characters

March can be pretty bleak for a lot of reasons, mainly because it’s acting like January when all you want is spring. But one positive thing is guaranteed to occur during the third month of the year: Women’s History Month!

While it’s important to celebrate the real-life women who have paved the way for us in 2019 (though look at how far we still have to go), it’s important to also honor the literary legends who have been inspiring for centuries or even just a few years. Because books are the epicenter of female empowerment, compiling this list wasn’t easy; it was worth the challenge though. Alas, here is my ranking of the top 10 female characters of all time (or at least of the books I’ve read).

Top Female Characters

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So Far from Dead and Gone

“Storytelling is fundamental to human beings.”

Lisa Lucas wrote this line in a recent piece for TIME about how books are anything but dead; yes, they are alive more than ever. Although I give credit where credit is due, this declaration from Lucas, the executive director of the National Book Foundation, is far from novel (no pun intended).

Of course storytelling is an innate part of being a human. It’s why our parents tell us stories before we go to bed. It’s why we dream at night. It’s why we listen to music and why we crave the songs’ backstories. It’s why we give speeches to honor and celebrate people at parties, weddings, funerals, etc. It’s definitely why, as Lucas argued, books are not dead. It’s also why we need them to continue to flourish.

That’s right. I said continue. As in books already are flourishing.

Young Me

I mean, look how cute I was.

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