Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

Link up, link back, say hi! Gotta make it quick today! 

1. Tonight I will be attending our annual IB Celebration at the school where I teach, in order to recognize you students and jump into testing season. It really is bittersweet as a senior teacher. This marks the beginning of The End, and while I am ridiculously excited about summer break and proud of their success, I have grown very attached to some of my students and find it a little hard to accept that soon they won't be "my" kids anymore. But, we still have a few weeks so let's not get ahead of ourselves.

2. I was browsing iTunes for new music and checked out the Strumbellas' new album on a whim (basically because I thought their name was strange) and am really enjoying it. 

3. I rarely ever get seriously angry, but getting a text from my husband yesterday morning with our backyard fence knocked over pissed me off beyond belief. Yeah, I'm mad about having to spend the money, but the truth in the matter is that I don't want to have to take care of something else. I don't want to deal with finding a reputable contractor or company to fix it or going back-and-forth between the neighbors. I don't want to have to worry about the liability that comes with an exposed fence and a pool. And I don't want to have to schedule my life around people coming out the house to complete the project. I know this is a part of home ownership and that I'm lucky to have a home, but seriously, I don't have time for this shit right now. Couldn't the wind wait a few more weeks until I'm off?

4. Amusing: people are SO mad at Target because HOW DARE they consider people that are DIFFERENT in their store policies and yet their stock dropped for about five minutes and has gone back to normal levels. Moral of the story- investors don't think there are legitimate financial threats. 

5. I have asthma and it's been acting up big-time lately. Last fall I had problems with it and the doc at urgent care kindly told me that it was probably due to the fact that I needed to get my shit together (well, maybe not quite those words). I don't manage my asthma or allergies well, nor do I my levels of stress (well, I manage them outwardly, but on the inside I'm always two steps away from losing it). Anyway, I think I'm back there again, and probably need to have the pulmonary function test that he recommended done. Sure. Maybe the fence contractor can meet me at my PCP's office and we can talk about my lungs, the fence, grade papers together, and watch my kid.

6. I just finished Claire Messud's The Woman Upstairs today and need to pick something else out. I try just sort of go with my mood and expected levels of free time when I choose something, but I'm at standstill right now. Maybe the fact that I'm at an all-time of over 70 unread books on my shelves right now that makes the process a little overwhelming. 

A Tardy Weekend Update (Sawyer Turns Two!)

Sawyer turned two yesterday and instead of a party we took him to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. I had never been and while I thought it was neat, I won't be in a huge rush to go back. He enjoyed it, though! We went through the place in maybe ninety minutes, which doesn't really justify the hour drive frequently. But I'm glad we went once! 

We of course did the whole cake and present thing. Now I need to to the whole clean out the old toys thing.

Sunday the kid and I drove down to Carlsbad to see the Flower Fields. I have never been in the middle of the afternoon and it was horrible to find parking (like to the point where I almost turned right around and drove the ninety minutes home). Once we were able to get a spot we took a tractor ride around the property, which Sawyer was convinced was the only purpose of going to the place in the first place. Once he accepted that it was in fact not, and mommy wanted to walk around and buy flowers, he had a blast. 

[ranunculus for days]

I met an older couple on the infamous tractor ride that for once agreed with my sentiments about kids getting older. They were going on and on about how much fun it is to watch your child grow up, instead of lamenting past stages. I find each age more fun than the one before, and while I did love my squishy little ball of baby Sawyer chub, along with his gummy smile, I much prefer having a toddler. I'm excited for him to grow up and do cool things with me that I haven't been able to make anyone else do, like go to the Smithsonian, hike around Yellowstone, visit the Grand Canyon, and whatever else I'm able to persuade him into doing. Plus it'll be exciting to see where his interests lie and to have actual two-sided conversations with him.

Not that having a toddler is always a walk in the park. He can be a picky eater, an inconsistent sleeper (still! He was doing really well for the past few weeks, but birthday weekend has apparently disrupted his schedule), and feisty as hell. But nothing that working with teenagers hasn't prepared me for! 

Happy birthday, kid. You're the best. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. Oops:
Christine: Man, I'm doing really well budgeting this month, after everything I'll still have $xxx left after putting money in savings.
Anthropologie: You should buy this dress.
Christine: Okay.

2. I'm trying to drink more iced tea and less Diet Coke and Starbucks (ha), so while I wait for my cool little iced tea maker to arrive (because that will make this whole plan that much better, right? A new kitchen gadget?), I made some the old fashioned way. The tea bags are so effing annoying. Just shut up and stop trying to make me happy already. 

3. Point of clarification- when I included Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up in my last post on humorous books I was completely kidding around. She is very, very serious, I just thought the book and the whole "does this bring you joy?" thing was funny.

4. My drink, and new afternoon snack several days a week, is green. I don't even know who I am anymore. I'm drinking spinach? That is disgusting. 

5. I just finished Padma Lakshmi's audiobook Love, Loss and What We Ate and while I think she still seems a bit stand-offish at least I can see why now. She's had so many blows, although a great deal of success as well. I just stared Trespassing Across America by Ken Illgunas, and so far, so good. I love an epic hiking story. 

6. Confession- today was one of those very rare days that I've really struggled to do what I've needed to do and be who I've needed to be when I got home from work. Honestly, I don't want to play Legos. I don't want to go on our normal walk. I don't want to label seventy-six things that are sweetly pointed to with the question "what?" Listen, kid, we've been over it- those are the dog's ears, that's a llama magnet, and it's a bulldozer in your book. I don't want to clean up the kitchen, unload the dishwasher, think about dinner, or even wash my hair tonight. All I want is have my husband get Taco Bell on the way home, then go upstairs, get into bed and read until I fall asleep. But instead, I put on a smile, played with my kid and made small talk with the neighbor. Dinner is started and there's a load of laundry in the washer. But I still don't want to do any of it, and I feel guilty... but not enough to actually want to do any of it.

7. Sometimes I worry when people I think are intelligent individuals "like" things by various members of the Kardashian family on Facebook. Or they really fans and don't realize everyone can see their guilty pleasure? Are they being ironic? Or are they maybe not as bright as I thought? Unsettling.

8. My third period on Monday's senior ditch day- *crickets*-

9. This weekend should be pretty great. We are taking Sawyer to the Aquarium of the Pacific on Saturday for his birthday and plan on opening presents and eating the Curious George cake I am going to magically have time to bake and decorate that night. His birthday isn't until Monday, but weekdays are too hectic and Sunday he and I are meeting one of my old high school friends at the Carlsbad Flower Fields. Birthdays are exciting again when you have kids (after like twenty-seven I think they start falling into the "just another day" category).

10. The other day I was thinking about a temp job I had between first and second year of college working at this industrial chemical company. All I did was sit at a desk and when a request for a label came through I filled out this little form, printed it out, and stuck it in a file. It was SO boring and I felt like I had to look busy for eight hours a day doing about two hours worth of work. I have forgotten what boredom feels like, is the moral of this story, I guess. I have no desire for that kind of job or to feel so unchallenged, but I totally wasted those valuable hours flipping between the company's invoice page and various news websites. 

Nonfiction Nagging- The Opposite of Loneliness

For some reason or another, Marina Keegan's book The Opposite of Loneliness, completely escaped me when it came out last year. Keegan's own story is tragic, as she was killed in a car accident when her boyfriend fell asleep at the wheel. Many remembered and respected her on the Yale campus, so much so that this collection was put together after she passed away. Her essay "The Opposite of Loneliness" went viral (I hate that word) and her posthumous fame commenced. 

After a touching preface by her old professor that paints a realistic and endearing picture of Keegan, the book is divided into two sections comprised of her fiction and nonfiction. I'm not really sure which I preferred, as both had some gems (and less than stellar pieces) and showed so much potential. Her essay "Why We Care About Whales" struck a cord, as did her stories "Cold Pastoral," about returning home the first winter break after college and "Challenger Deep" a disturbing tale of a group stranded in a submarine. 

What I think I appreciated most about the works is that they weren't polished or necessary all "ready" yet. Anne Fadiman speaks to the idea of Keegan being perfectly fine with writing from the vantage point of her age, and not trying to sound a decade older. Her prose aren't forced, but you can tell that she's attempting to experiment with voice and content. She reminds me of a few of the students that I have had over the years: eager, talented, and promising. It's a shame that Keegan was taken from the literary world (and just the world, in general) so early. I can only imagine what she could have contributed. 

Top Ten Tuesday- Laugh Track

Who doesn't like to laugh? I think everyone has their own type of humor, whether it's more physical, kick-em-in-the-balls sort of stuff, cerebral, or somewhere in between. This week The Broke and the Bookish ask us for our ten funniest reads:

1. The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

2. A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Tolz

3. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

4. The Martian by Andy Weir

5. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

6. Fathermucker by Greg Olear

7. Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

8. Bridgette Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding

9. The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky

10. The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie 

Weekend Update

I'm not necessarily vowing to make these a regular thing, but it is admittedly kind of a nice way to end the weekend and determine how the hell I actually spent my time. I swear, every Sunday night I'm baffled by how, well, how it's already Sunday night. So, here we are.

Yesterday I was up at 4:55, thanks to a certain little somebody who is trying to make me as miserable as humanly possible, and then the rest of the day was spent at work holding a practice exam, and then keeping Sawyer entertained with the sprinklers and park.

Today was pretty much constant activity, between meeting a friend for four miles this morning, braving Costco/Trader Joe's/Target with the church crowd, and walking the dogs. I did sneak away for an hour by the pool though, which makes me that much more impatient for summer. 

The only thing making Monday tolerable is the 17,000 calorie Costco muffins I bought for the first time ever. And rumor has it that most of the senior class will be calling in sick tomorrow... tis the season. I don't even remember my senior ditch day! If I wasn't so overworked I'd reenact it tomorrow since I'll be down to only two classes. If only.

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

[you slept all day, Chomsky. How are you still tired?]

Happy Wednesday (or something like that)! Link up, link back, say hi.

1. I've determined that with one cup of coffee and a typical night of sleep it takes me approximately two hours to not want to die. Luckily, the only real human interaction before seven am I have is with Sawyer and the daycare lady, both of who I can suck it up for. 

2. Monday was a shitty day. Facebook reminded me of a horrible accident that had happened at our school site two years ago (I'm considering taking a break from Facebook, it's lame and it mostly just irritates me, but... I don't know), I blew something out of proportion (in my head) at work, and my husband came home sick with the flu. So, after Sawyer went to bed I got on the treadmill, turned up my headphones as loud as they go, and ran faster and harder than I've ran in years, to the point where my lungs hurt for a few hours after. But then I feel better and went to bed. I need to push myself more.

3. I just ordered this wooden ruler height chart for Sawyer from Etsy and can't wait to put it up in his room and obsessively make him stand in front of it so I can see if he's growing or I'm just making shit up.

4. The Counting Crows and Rob Thomas are touring together this summer and my brother and I are going to hopefully get tickets when they go on sale Friday. It's one of those shows that you  know won't necessarily be musically groundbreaking, but just really fun. My brother is the the best person to go to concerts with. A few years ago we saw Matchbox Twenty with the Goo Goo Dolls (hello, high school!) and we had a blast. We've also seen Metallica, which was also a good time. My brother is the type of person that's up for anything. If he's free he'll basically do anything. Want to run a half marathon that's downhill, Josh? Sure! Want to do a fourteen-mile hike up to Half Dome? Yeah, sure. Josh, will you drive to Modesto with my crazy toddler and I this summer? Sounds good! He's the best. Thank God he doesn't read this. 

5. Watching a toddler eat a tube of yogurt is one of the grossest things ever.

6. I received an unexpected compliment the other day from someone who I am never quite sure likes me, so that was nice.

7. I need to stop buying books. In the last three days I've ordered two after reading reviews by trusted bloggers (The Regional Office is Under Attack! by Manuel Gonzalez and Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 by Elizabeth Winder). But in the last few weeks I think I've picked up six other ones? Or maybe eight? It's out of control. 

8.  Every year our attendance clerk puts together a packet for the graduating seniors that consists of little snippets from some of their teachers. I try to write them for at least half of my students, and I think I definitely surpassed that today. It has actually been really, really hard. Some kids I almost know too well to publicly say good bye or commemorate the year (or whatever we're really supposed to do), some kids I thought I knew well but now can't think of anything unique to say about them, and some I'm worried that I'll mention some anecdote and they will have forgotten what I'm talking about and it will be weird (although they are graduating, so what do I care? Ha). I'm probably over thinking the whole damn thing, but with my mentality it couldn't possibly go any other way. 

9. I saw this online the other day and loved it:

10. I decided to host a practice test on Saturday for my IB kids and while I'm not sure how many will show up from 9-2 on a weekend, I'm admittedly excited to have some time to sit, basically uninterrupted, and grade papers or cleanup my classroom. Sunday I finally get to hang out with a friend who I am in DESPERATE need of seeing. She is the type of person you can be completely honest with and she'll be honest right back in a totally unoffensive, thoughtful way. We both have like three months worth of shit to unload, so if she cancels on my I'll probably have a nervous breakdown. 

Weekend Update: This is What Boring Looks Like

... and I may never make plans again.

Who am I kidding? This is definitely not true. I am notoriously overextended when it comes to weekends, but most of the time this makes me the happiest. I have to have things to look forward to, opportunities to see friends, and the chance to get out of my house, or even zip code. Let's just say I become a huge pain in the ass for myself and others if I don't. 

That being said, this weekend I canceled our plans on the basis of possible inclement weather and the gut feeling that I should just lay low. And so we did, and it was perfect. I was able to feel productive in most areas of my life which is a rarity these days. My husband got up with our little early bird on Saturday which meant I slept in until 8:30, which was a Christmas miracle. I graded papers, read blogs and commented on them (for once), played with Sawyer, walked the dogs, cleaned the house, ran errands, watched Room with Scott (I cried during half of it; having a kid now makes the whole story so much harder for me, plus maybe my beverage of choice made me sappier? Who knows... I'm a movie crier no matter what), did some yoga, and read about a third of Claire Messud's The Woman Upstairs (loving it). 

These are admittedly super boring, mundane, typical tasks for most people, I know. But the idea of not having to rush out the door was really nice. I was also able to spend over half the time in sweatpants with my hair piled on my head, which is an obvious win. 

And while I think getting Sawyer out in the world and experiencing things is incredibly important, so is the feeling of being cooped up and even bored at home sometimes. It's a rite of passage to have to wander around your house and figure out how to entertain yourself! We colored, read many stories, lined up his cars seven million times, went out on three or four walks when it wasn't raining, and busted out the bathtub markers (why did I not have these when I was a kid?). 

I decided I wanted to pick up a few Don DeLillo books from Barnes and Noble, so we made quick stop. I made the poor kid go to the bookstore, Ulta, Anthropologie, Bath and Body Works, Starbucks, and the bakery in a 90 minute window. He took it like a champ, so he may have gotten his first Thomas train ever, which he insisted on holding for the rest of the night. By the way, do parents just sell their kidneys for the tables and all the trains that you need for it? Jesus (prediction: I will eat my words in the next year or so... hello dialysis). 

[I promise, he doesn't have three noses, I just keep his face off the blog]

I finished up today with my first attempt at a lemon meringue pie, and while I was worried about the meringue setting up right it ended up being the custard I wasn't thrilled with, which was irritating because I've made custard many times before. I blame Alton Brown and his crappy recipe (he's kind of douchey, in general, right? A smart guy, but still, I got an ass-hat vibe from his podcast).

So, yes, my weekend was incredibly boring, but knowing that I'm back to status quo starting next week made me so appreciative. 

Have a good week, guys!  

A First Page

It's not often I so quickly appreciate and identify with a narrator or an author's tone. But there's something about Claire Messud's The Woman Upstairs that has hooked me immediately. 

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts

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1. When I go to Bevmo or Starbucks for beverages should it come from the household account or my own personal one? It's partially because of the household I go to both places... My husband could care less, so this is really my own debate. 

2. I just had to pause to stop my son from drinking out of the dog water. Again. He has a cup full of perfectly good water three feet away. He moved on to repeatedly put his fingers in Chomsky's mouth and then get on him and yell "vroom vroom!" 

3. I had planned on going to the Los Angeles Festival of Books at USC on Saturday with Sawyer to just walk around (I have a feeling a nearly two-year-old might not want to listen to TC Boyle of whomever for an hour in a lecture hall) but it's supposed to be rainy and I have found myself hoping that the weather is bad so I can stay home. So, I think we're staying put. 

4. I have been letting more than one person make me feel inferior lately, some of which have done it intentionally, some not (at least I don't think so). I know Eleanor Roosevelt says we have to give them our consent, but I'm not so sure I entirely agree with that supposed wisdom. Maybe I feel like it releases the aggressor and puts too much of the blame on the person who feels poorly. But, on the other hand, sometimes you have to just grow a pair.

5. An old student brought me cake today at lunch that she had made for a teacher's baby shower. It was unexpected and perfect timing. I'm always a little weary of homemade goods by students (you've seen those news stories about teachers unknowingly getting high off brownies left in the staff room), but she's a good one so I let it slide.

6. I am reading The Opposite of Loneliness by the late Marina Keegan and it's a different experience than normal. On some level I feel like I'm reading something by a gifted student; someone young, a little unpolished, but full of promise. So while it's different from what I read at home, it's also very familiar.

7. I accidentally bought my son a elementary-aged novel. I was so excited to see Peter Brown's new book, The Wild Robot, that I preordered it without really reading the details. Whatever. I'll read it to him while he's falling asleep or in the bath. 

8. I'm going to a Don DeLillo reading next month with  friend, just like we used to do several times a year before we both had babies. I haven't gone since seeing Mindy Kaling last fall, so it's about damn time.

9. I saw a post on Facebook where someone knew someone who just packed up and left on a trip with a one-way ticket. They had no real obligations, but to just be able to pack a bag, grab your passport and go? I wish I would have done more of that before Sawyer (except not the one-way part). I had the time and I had the means, but I was always too busy being responsible fiscally or otherwise. The good news is that in a few years I might be able to wander just a tiny bit, with sidekick or without. 

10. I know I've been making a lot of typos on posts lately. When it becomes my job I'll be more careful, I promise.

Spring Break Recap

Spring break is always so different. I've gone on trips, cared for a newborn, subjected myself to trainings, and worked on my master's. This year wasn't exactly wild and crazy, but we did have some  fun. 

I'm sure you are all dying to know what we did. 

I don't blame you. I mean seriously, what can of shenanigans can a thirty-two year old woman and a toddler get into? 

(Has this been enough self-deprecation to justify moving on with the post? I hope so, because I only have so much time before Sawyer gets bored of running over his blocks with his lawn mower...)

Easter was spent at home, like most holidays are. I know people think we're crazy, since my husband's family lives very close and I have several aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents relatively local. But, honestly, it's always so nice and relaxing to do our own thing. No pressure. The Saturday before Sawyer and I made this hideously delicious bunny cake (funfetti from scratch) and on Sunday he received a basket full of some magnets and Duplos and hunted for eggs. My brother came over and we barbecued carne asada. 

Sawyer and I went to the San Diego Safari Park (I think that's what it's called? Or Wild Animal Park? Something closer than the zoo that has animals and is included in our annual pass) to see the yearly butterfly exhibit, which was really neat. We spent a few hours walking around in the pleasantly dreary weather.

We also went to the toddler session at the trampoline park, the first time either of us has been. I honestly don't know who had more fun. We did a lot of playing  at home and I was even able to sneak outside once to read during nap time.

We spent the last weekend in Yosemite, which was a lot of driving for two nights, but it was the only option we had. Sawyer did pretty well in the car, considering the length of time we were cooped up (seven hours driving up, six on the way home). He loved hiking around the hotel grounds and the park itself. The falls were amazing, after fairly heavy snowfall this winer, and the weather was perfect. If you ever find yourself up there needing a place to stay I highly recommend Tenaya Lodge.

The countdown for summer begins! 

March, Revisited, Plus April

I am a data, detailed, list-oriented person... to a fault. Because of this, at the beginning of each month I write one of these posts looking at the goals I set for myself the previous month and make more for the upcoming month. 

I have noticed lately that I'm struggling a tiny bit in terms of... I don't know. Productivity? Energy? Positivity? March was full of some highs and lows, so I guess it's only natural that sometimes I don't physically or mentally feel like going seven thousand miles an hour. For that reason, April is going to be more about catching up, having fun, and somehow resting. 

In the meantime, March:

1. Make a tough recipe: Yes I roasted a chicken and made a bunny cake (from scratch), so while neither are super challenging they required  a little more foresight than normal.

2. Weigh xxx pounds: Probably not I've been staying away from the scale the past week because of vacation. 

3. Deal with house stuff: Yes This ended up being more costly than we intended, but I guess that's part of being a homeowner. 

4. Yoga once a week: Ha! No.

5. Read a book I've had for at least two years: Nope

6. Watch a documentary: No Like I said, it's hard for me to commit 90-120 minutes, and if I have that kind of time I work out or read (I don't have the TV on when Sawyer and I are home in the afternoons and early evenings... it's my only time to hang out with him and other than the occasional Curious George episode, I prefer it off, but that's just my preference because I hate the extra noise and distractions... Legos and coloring are hard work). I should just do it in a few chunks, I guess.

7. Catch up on my 2016 photo book: I need new ways to say no...

8. See the butterflies: Yes! We had a lot of fun going down the San Diego Safari Park in Escondido. 

9. Walk the dogs more: Yes We still have a lot of progress to be made, though. But I definitely did better in March.

10. Plan some fun things for April: YES! I think we have something fun every weekend going on, but I've made sure to leave one day free so I don't go crazy. I need to plan things to look forward to; it's as vital to my mental health as exercise. But, rest is also essential, as is the time to catch up around the house. 

Scaling back a bit for April...

1. Prep my students for testing: My sophomores take the AP Language test and my IB seniors also take their exam, both towards the beginning of May. I want this month to end and feel like I did my part. This means getting them back more graded work, ending our current units of study, reviewing content, and sharpening skills. 

2. Plan something for Sawyer's birthday: My little guy is going to be two, and while we had a decent-sized party last year, Scott and I plan to take him on an outing to somewhere like the aquarium and then just have cake and gifts at home.

3. Book map up: I have a book map for my students at work, so they can pin the settings of their books to see how internationally they read. I have the map and pins at home and would like to get it up, just to see how my own reading pans out.

4. Curb 3-7pm snacking: I'm really good about eating pretty healthily until I get home work, and then it's game on. It's a combination of hunger, boredom, and stress, and it's bad. 

5. Finish my audiobook and choose a new one: I'm really pushing things hard this month, in case you can tell.. 

March Reviews

Every month I think "this will be the month I read FIVE or SIX or SEVEN book!" And then life happens. This month was hectic; Sawyer was sick for a week, my grading to assignment ratio is broken, I had family in town for a few days, we had parent teacher conferences, and now we're having as much fun and productivity as possible during spring break. So, four books it is. This seems to be my number, typically, during the school year. And while I know a book a week is probably more than 90% of Americans, it still always feels a bit low. 

Anyway, here we go:

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
209 pages
This was a reread for work, the story of Okonkwo's struggle to maintain power in his African tribe. Family, authority, tradition, and the threat of impending colonization are all hot topics in this classic.

Verdict: Both my students and I appreciated this book, although I think much of their positivity came from the fact that it's short and has simplistic syntax and structure, especially coming off of The Scarlet Letter.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
77 pages
This was another work reread, and man, can it be a bit of a slog to get through. The language is so rich and detailed that I hate implying that it's not good, but it can be a challenge to get through, since Conrad's complexity is consistent from start to finish (I admittedly get a bit excited when there's dialogue). Instead of making my students tackle an essay after reading it on their own over spring break I am having them create a soundtrack, basing their selections after certain concepts (themes, setting, characters, etc...) I'm looking forward to seeing what they came up with.

Verdict: It's complex, it's a bit racist, but it is an interesting psychological study. And it is important to challenge ourselves as readers, both in genre and style. 

The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
384 pages
A monster in the lake, a failed affair, a small town, a pregnancy, a sick friend, an unknown father, a complicated family to investigate, and a hippie mother. This book has a lot going on, but eventually it all comes together. 

Verdict: Lauren Groff has quickly become one of my contemporary favorites, as her books are consistently solid and she possesses the literary trifecta- quality characters, writing, and plot. A small component of the ending irked me a tad, but considering the rest of the books was so great I got over it. 

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt
304 pages
I wrote about this book here.

974 pages 

Recent Acquisitions

I know I can at least partially justify adding some books to our collections by saying they are from gift cards, but we all know that's just to make myself feel better. As far as I'm concerned Sawyer needs as many books as possible if he's going to get into Harvard (kidding, kidding), but my own physical TBR stack is pretty tall. Nonetheless, we got some books.

Searching for Whitopia by Rich Benjamin- My AP students watched a TED Talk that Benjamin did, which was based on his book about visiting the three "whitest cities in America" and I was intrigued by his journey and enjoyed his wit.

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan- I had heard about this book somewhere (where?) and then saw someone mention it on a LA Times Festival of Books Facebook "what are you reading?" post. I am actually reading this right now and am both saddened and intrigued by Keegan's story (she was a young Yale student that was killed in a car accident right before graduation; her professors predicted she had what it took to be a great writer). She embraces her youth in her writing, but is also obviously brimming over with potential (at least so far). 

Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc- A friend at work suggested this and even said that she read it twice she liked it so much. I don't know a lot about it, but I trust her judgement and the premise of following a family for so long is interesting to me. 

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova- I know nothing about this one except that I read and enjoyed What Alice Forgot and that it's the virtual book club selection next month at A Slice of Brie (order it and read along! Online book clubs are such a great option for busy folks). 

The Woman Upstairs by Clare Messud- I have been on the fence about this one for awhile, but Andi sold me. Plus, it's always interesting to read about someone in the same profession as you. 

We Should All by Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche- Because we should be. 

The Adventures of Beekle the Unimaginary Friend by Dan Satat- I love, love, love this book. The illustrations are beautiful and the story is sweet. Given my own imaginary friend when I was little, stories about these childhood renderings hold a special place in my heart. Sawyer is also a fan... I've read it five or six times this week (the same goes for the next two... we read at meal times when my husband isn't at home, so with it being spring break we've had ample opportunities). 

Clifford's Puppy Days by Norman Bridwell- I keep meaning to grab some more Clifford books, since they're quick and easy reads. 

Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer- We also love Little Critter books and don't have many, plus Sawyer is going to go the dentist this summer and I'm trying to put in plugs for him/her now (can't wait for that shit show to go down).

Firetruck book- Honestly, I can't find a real title or author on this stupid thing. I actually really hate these books with wheels, but he loves them and I like to promote some autonomy in the book-selection process (these are all from a gift card her got from his grandma for Easter at Barnes and Noble), and this is the one he picked out. He's going through his firetruck phase right now, naturally.

What have you bought recently? Having self-control issues like me?