Thursday, January 19, 2017

Stop Book Hoarding in 2017!

book hoarding at its finest (not my photo)
I've been working on a post about my book club for the past week, but since it's taking longer than expected, I decided to model after one of my favorite book vlogger's, PeruseProject (AKA Regan). She posted a video on her YouTube channel where she laid out all the books she wants to read sometime this year, many of them being genres she felt she'd neglected in 2016. I started to wonder if there were any books in my "To Be Read" pile that don't really deserve to be there - sure enough, there's plenty.

I strongly believe that every reader is a hoarder. We love the feeling of adding to our never-ending collection, even when we know we literally have no more room on our shelves; this I say from experience. So maybe it's about time we bring out the feather duster and crack open one of our old, new books. Here are some of the novels I've personally neglected in favor of, well, anything else.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Anyone that knows me at all is well-aware that I live for Hamilton: An American Musical. It's basically common knowledge in the Hamilton fandom that Lin-Manuel Miranda based his Broadway masterpiece on Chernow's biography of the founding father. I've had this book in my TBR pile for at least four months now, which is just a crime against Lin-Manuel himself. I love biographies, so this is definitely something I need to get on top of.

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

To be completely honest, I didn't love To Kill a Mockingbird the first time around. Then, after one of my favorite teachers seriously questioning my judgement, I reread it. I can't imagine now what the heck I was thinking because I fell thoroughly in love with the classic on my second try. When Harper Lee released the sequel, I jumped on the first copy I laid my eyes on, only to let it collect dust for over a year. In my defense, I started reading it at the same time that I was assigned about eight articles to read within a week for my AP English class.

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

I really don't know much about the premise of this book, but I have read a bit of Weiner's work in the past - by a bit, I mean I skimmed one of her other novels. I got this book as a Christmas present about two years ago, but kept putting it aside to read something else. From the reviews I've read, I believe it's got potential and I've got my fingers crossed.

12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup

As I said before, I love biographical novels (this is more a memoir), particularly ones like 12 Years a Slave. I have a soft spot for reading and learning about American history from the perspective of non-white, non-male humans. I find it upsetting how whitewashed our history lesson are. My sophomore US history course didn't even cover the Chicano Movement or zoot suit riots, which was what got me interesting in figuring out what else is downplayed or cut out of history.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

I actually started this book and got through a forth of it, but stopped reading for some reason. I loved what I had read and found the plot to be pretty original, and uniqueness is hard to find in YA novels. The story is pretty much a collection of letters to the protagonist's ex-boyfriend explaining to him why it is that they broke up. It seems like a boring idea, but Handler's way of only giving only enticing little pieces of the puzzle paired with wonderful illustrations by Maira Kalman is kind of incredible.

There are quite a few more novels I would like to get to in 2017, American classics especially, but I couldn't possibly give a complete list in one blog post. I hope this gets someone to start thinking of the books they've left untouched for longer than they deserve. Readers tend to have a nasty habit of buying more books than we can get around to, and as endearing as it is, it's about time we stop the book hoarding.

Sincerely, Kenya

Saturday, December 31, 2016

How to Make Time for Reading In the New Year

Puppy or Potter? How ever will I chose?
My family recently adopted a Yorkie-mix puppy, one who likes to play and cuddle and pee on our hardwood floors. We all knew that an addition to the family would be a big responsibility and require great commitment, but I never expected to feel like a teen mom. Since we rescued him two weeks ago, I have only left my house three times for no more than a couple of hours. Not only that, but this is my winter break; I was supposed to get through the entirety of the Harry Potter series, just for the heck of it! So far I've gotten through Sorcerer's Stone and about twenty-eight pages of Chamber of Secrets. With book series like J.K. Rowling's, I almost always throw myself into them and binge-read a book a day. But being a teen (dog) mom means that I'm awake from seven to midnight every day, trying to keep another living creature, well, living.

For us book-obsessed folk, having something compromise our reading time is like making us pick only one favorite book: it's pretty cruel and sucks the life out of us. What with the new year creeping up on me, I felt an appropriate "first post" was to lay out my book-related resolution - to make more time for reading. Here's how you might be able to do the same:

1. Bedtime Stories 

Reading before bedtime was always a calming activity when we're little, so I wonder why we ever grow out of it. In an attempt to revive this ancient practice, I suggest going to go to bed (ideally) an hour earlier than normal - this will be the window for bedtime stories. Even if you don't finish a whole novel during this time period, at least you're making a dent in it.

2. Carry a Book Around 

To be "book-bosomed" is to carry a book with you at all times. This is something I've been trying to do for a while and although I haven't been very consistent, I noticed that I was usually able to find a few minutes to read during any outing. Always keep a magazine, newspaper, or other easy read in your bag, even in your car's glove compartment. If you always have material, you'll feel more compelled to read.

3. Read the Book a Favorite Movie/Show Is Based On 

Movie are super entertaining, especially those that were based on books. If you're interesting in Gossip Girl for instance, try reading the Gossip Girl novels! You already know that you find the basis of the show or movie intriguing, so why would the books be any different? And if you're worried that you know the entire plot from watching the adaptation, don't be so sure. Screenwriters don't stay as true to a novel as you might think and there could be some surprises in store.

4. Book Clubbing

A few friends and I recently started a Harry Potter book club, Bookies and Cookies. Being a part of a book club where you get to set up a schedule that works with each of your lives is super beneficial in getting you to really want to read. Not only that, but you'll look forward to club meetings if you plan them out well enough. My book club meets at our favorite cafes, brings up questions we have about the reading, and we're currently planning a Sorcerer's Stone movie night complete with butterbeer and DIY wands. Who needs dancing and booze when there's a pile of unread books lying around your house?

5. Schedule Reading Time

If you need more structure, set aside one whole day for reading. Think of it as a mental health day. Life is stressful, so schedule time to just lounge around with your nose in a good book - or a crappy book, whatever floats your boat.

Now you and I both have a list of ways to complete at least one New Year's resolution, no excuses!

Sincerely, Kenya

Thursday, December 29, 2016

An Introductory Post

a feminist bibliophile
In all honesty I'm not so grand at talking about myself, but I just wrote my About Me page and I'm on a roll.

I am Kenya, named after the African country. Before you ask, no I was not born in Africa (I get this question way too much). I was born in oh-so-sunny California to a Mexican mother and a Guatemalan father. I take a lot of pride in my heritage and the fact that I'm actually in touch with the culture and the language. The language is particularly wondrous. Spanish is so different from English, the roots of its words are sprouted in different values. Spanish, in particular, tends to have all of these awe inspiring words used to describe family time (sobremesa), sweets (empalagado), and compassion (pena ajena). That's not to say that those pastimes and values don't exist in North American or English culture, but words are born out of necessity after all.

Languages have always been a subject of interest for me, which I think started way back in elementary school. Back then, I read about a book a week, always choosing books that challenged me. I was usually reading about three grade levels above my own, though I was always second best when it came to reading and writing. Unfortunately, now a senior in high school, I continue to be second best. I'm not a straight-A student, I don't do well on timed-writes or tests, I suck at math, I'm not popular, my extracurriculars are lacking. Still, I am the type of person who has faith in the universe, choosing to believe that everything will work itself out in time. Whether it be my inferiority complex or sexism throughout the world, I think things will be sorted out.

Now that you know too much about me and my beliefs, I think it will be easier to explain my plans for this blog. And by plans, I mean abstract concepts because I'm sort of all over the place at this moment in time. Don't worry, I surely won't talk about smashing the patriarchy in every blog post. I find deep pleasure in talking politics, but I also adore baking, DIY-ing, books (as you might have guessed), bullet journaling, self-care, and so many more things. I hope to explore all of these topics in their own ways through these posts. It might seem like a wide array of topics, but these are all little things that I feel make life a tad more bearable.

Sincerely, Kenya