Let me start by saying diversity and literature go hand in hand.
- Diversity is the foundation to learn new perspectives from literature.
- Literature proves the value and necessity of diversity.
We are coming full circle here, people.
Diversity wasn’t really part of my upbringing, though. I grew up in a mostly white community and knew very few people who looked or lived differently than I did. I don’t even remember talking to a person of color until high school. Even then, my school was mostly white kids. On top of that, I barely knew any non-Christians or non-straight people. I definitely didn’t know anyone from the trans community.
That changed a bit when I went to college. I was definitely one of those people, though, who had one or two black friends and thought that made me an ally and not racist. I would even say that out loud. “Oh she’s my black friend.” And I shamefully remember commenting once that one of these women didn’t “act black.” I’m embarrassed now to write that and of my 20-year-old self, and I feel immense guilt.
Thank God for growth, for New York, and for literature.
Back in January, I alluded to a new project that I had in the works. After months of working on it, I’m ecstatic to finally share that news with you all.
I’ve started a podcast!
That’s right, Big Little Literature officially has a podcast, The Biblio Files, where I provide “real lit feels for real lit lovers.” Cheesy, I know, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
America loves its Friday nights on the gridiron. Small towns showing up to the stands in droves as they cheer on their teams of young boys with big dreams. It’s quintessential Americana. It loves it so much that, when a nonfiction book was published about it (along with many other sociological themes) in 1989, a movie by the same name premiered 15 years later and a TV show two years after that. They both starred the great Connie Britton, so you know they have reach and power.
Yes, Friday Night Lights and everything it represents and demonstrates has become ingrained in American culture. Clearly, we’re all a little obsessed with high school football. But with three types of media focused on this theme, which one does Big Little Literature love most?
Although I’ve also watched the television series, that was five years ago, and my memory necessitates more time to relive the show than the movie. So we’re going to narrow our focus a bit. Friday Night Lights, it’s time to go toe to toe: book versus movie.
Source: Mary Steffens
Source: Rotten Tomatoes
Resolutions definitely guided my reading choices in 2019. Even if I didn’t fully succeed, I was at least conscious of them while picking out some of the books I read. I’d like to keep on this resolution road because it’s changed my mind about memoirs, forced me to think about diversity when choosing authors, and influenced me to dabble in other genres. (I’d also be remiss if I didn’t give resolution-making the credit for five straight years of flossing every day.)
This year, though, rather than thinking about the types of books I want to read, I’m focusing my resolutions on my baby, Big Little Literature. My greatest joy is sharing my thoughts and feelings about books with you all, so for 2020, I want to think of new ways (and revisit some old ones) on how to grow our community and improve the BLL experience. Check out my 2020 resolutions below.
Let’s look at my specs for the year. In 2019, I:
- Read 10,904 pages across 31 books — thanks, Goodreads!
- Averaged 351 pages per book.
- Explored 10 different genres with contemporary fiction winning most popular.
- Only read one author more than once — Kristin Hannah.
- Read five two-flame books (more than the number of the previous year-and-a-half) and six three-flame books.
- But I also had the joy of experiencing 11 books with four flames, and nine garnered a whole five flames. I’d call that a success!
But how did I do with the resolutions I set for myself in January? Let’s see how I scored (and check out the books I said I’d read at the beginning of the year in the picture below and compare them to my fully ranked list of 2019).
It’s been a weird year. With a lot of lows and a lot of highs, sometimes I didn’t know how to feel. But one thing that constantly kept me excited, intrigued, and motivated? Literature. Ahh yes, my best friend that has never and will never let me down. In 2019, I read 31 books (the review for #31 will be posted in the new year).
I raved about many of them and stated how interesting they were and how difficult it was to put them down; others were less so. But where do they compare with one another? You’re about to find out.
2019 books, let’s get you ranked.
Seldom do I find a TV show or movie that I like more than the books that inspired them. The Notebook and A Walk to Remember may be the exceptions here (I remember when I loved Nicholas Sparks…), and Crazy Rich Asians was so good on the silver screen that it was a close call. The adapted screenplays of two TV shows in recent years neared the quality of their inspirations as well: Sweetbitter and Big Little Lies.
So when I heard that sequels to both of these shows were coming to my living room this year, I perked up.
But then the premieres came and went. Season two of Big Little Lies premiered when I was in Africa, and I never attempted to watch when I returned. I couldn’t help but feel lackluster toward it. Then, one Saturday not too long after, I tried watching an episode of Sweetbitter. I was already a few behind and expected to binge the series. Five minutes into that one episode, though, I turned it off. Admittedly, some small skepticism had been brewing for these shows since my initial excitement; it was just a matter of time before the reasoning clicked. That confirmation came in the shape of Sweetbitter‘s five-minute failure when I realized that the non-sequel sequel is not my forte.
There’s nothing like weekend getaways to quaint beach towns. I can so easily get lost in the quiet stillness and the views these places have to offer, and they’re the perfect escape from life in the city.
Enter: Sag Harbor, New York.
I’ve only ventured to the Hamptons one other time in my life. (Thanks to my BFF for taking me as her plus one to a work event four years ago.) So I was ecstatic to break away from home the last weekend in September to visit what I’d heard was one of the cutest spots in the region. And the reviews proved to be right. Sag Harbor was beautiful and cozy and everything I was looking for in a small beach town. I can’t say I expected to step into bookstores, but I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon two that gave me all the literary feels. They were definitely a highlight of a fantastic trip.
The view from our dinner at The Beacon.
Over the summer, one of the executives at my company wrote a blog post on our internal site about her summer reading and podcasts. Now, this is a woman I truly respect and sort of want to be (read: 100% envy). But her post made me unbelievably sad.
Apparently she only reads work/business/management books (and Educated, which I fully approve). You know the kind: the ones that tell you how to be a better leader, how to build character, why lean is the new black, blah … blah … blah.
The post got even sadder when employees started responding about how inspirational her summer reading list was and sharing their own boring-book faves. If these are their inspiration and summer reading, we have some problems.
Spotted outside my CTO’s office.
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.