My Ideal Reading Nook

Hey guys!  So last week I was asked by Arhaus to post about what I thought my ideal reading nook would look like.  And I thought it was an interesting post idea.  They asked me to find pictures of inspiration and that was just terribly difficult to look through all those beautiful libraries, but I think I rose to the challenge.

So let’s start!

The Bookshelves

Let’s be real.  Any avid reader knows that you need way more shelving than you currently have books because eventually you’re going to fill those shelves.  And built-in bookshelves are definitely my favorites.

home-library-design-reading-nook-with-bookcase-and-ladderI really like this one.  These shelves are built into the walls and follow even over the door frame.  I like the way that seems to fill up an entire wall and gives me three other walls to work with.  But that’s a ton of book space and even if I don’t have enough books to fill it right away, I certainly have photos and knick-knacks that I can use to fill in that empty space until I do.  Also, DO YOU SEE THE LADDER THAT LOOKS LIKE IT CAME OUT OF BEAUTY AND THE BEAST?!

The Window Seat

I admit, I don’t often use window seats to read.  I probably do more in the winter when I’m always cold, but I’m very pale and I burn easily whenever I’m in the sun.  But I do like having it as an option.  The views, the fresh air, it’s all gorgeous.

 

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This was my favorite of the ones I saw.  I need a wide window seat because I am a fidgeter.  When I read, I am always changing positions.  I sit cross-legged, I lean against a backrest, I lay down.  I’m all over the place, so I need a window seat that’s going to allow me to do that.  This one looks wide enough for me to manage whatever position I want to read in.  And I think it’s really awesome to have even more book shelving underneath the seat.  That’s a great way to get even more books in there.

Lighting

Obviously, reading at night means you have to have lighting.  You don’t want it to be too bright, but it can’t be too dark either.

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This looks so magical.  I know it’s for a kid’s room, but can this be for those young at heart too?  Something like this would be great if I was reading off of my Kindle, which is already back lit, but maybe not the greatest for an actual book.

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This is probably the lighting that would work best for books or Kindles, at least for me.  I love the S-shaped light fixtures with the lamps you can turn in whichever direction you want.  I like that I have that option.  But I also really like that lamp to the side as well.  That looks really cool.

Furniture

So, some days the window seat just isn’t going to do it for you.  Or you have the monthly book club meeting at your place or just a couple of guests who want to read with you.  So you need other furniture as well.  And if I’m going to be reading for an hour or two at a time, I need something that will be comfortable.

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I like this for a few reasons.  I like how wide the arms of this chair are because it allows for mobility as I’m sitting on it, if I want to lean one way or another.  And I hate feeling like my elbows are pinned to my side by the arms of chairs.  I also like the ottoman that comes with this because it gives space to spread out and it just looks classy.

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This is another one I like for the same reasons.  Stylish, comfy, and wide arms that allow for movement.

Decorations

To make things feel homey, I’m one of them who is guilty of using tons and tons of knick-knacks and figurines to fill space.

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I really like this rug and this table.  The table is cute and solid, and it would easily match some of the other furniture and shelves I’ve picked.  (Though I am a bit nervous about all that white.  I like colors.)  But the rug is adorable.  I love the Moroccan pattern and I have a blanket of the same pattern.  They might go well together.

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I LOVE these book ends from Etsy.  That’s just awesome and so perfect for a reading nook.

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I’m a fan of multiple pictures that you put together, like these, and I think they would look beautiful along a long wall.  Put a little space between them and you’ve got yourself some gorgeous artwork.

Hopefully this has helped inspire your own reading nook (it has for mine!).  Is there anything I missed?  Leave your thoughts below!

Someone Else’s Life

10413869First Lines: Sunlight dances over the little girl’s dark curls as she toddles clumsily through the dry grass.  Her rosy cheeks dimple as she grins, her green eyes sparkling as she lunges sticky fingers toward the camera.  Suddenly she trips.

Alright, so this isn’t a current book.  It came out in 2012 and it’s been on my bookshelf for probably 3 years.  I bought it at a Half-Price Books sale the summer after I finished college and it’s been sitting around ever since.  Well, after reading a few weirder books, I wanted something a little more grounded in reality.

When Rosie’s mother, Trudie, dies of Huntington’s Disease, Rosie knows that life will  forever be changed.  Not only is Rosie now alone in the world, she also has a 50% chance of inheriting the disease that killed her mother.  But when Rosie tells her mother’s best friend, Sarah, that she’s going to get tested to see if she has the disease, Sarah tells her Trudie wasn’t her biological mother after all.  Devastated, Rosie sets out to find her real mother, even joining up with her ex-boyfriend for his gap year trip to Los Angeles.  But things don’t go according to plan, and Rosie will discover secrets, lies, and decisions that can change more lives than her own.

First of all, let’s just say that this book is British in origin (published by Simon & Schuster UK), which means the punctuation and some spelling choices are different than in America. This never hindered my understanding, but it threw me for a loop a few times when I’d see “kerb” instead of “curb” or “hoody” instead of “hoodie”.

Ok, so basically this book is a complete and total soap opera. So many twists and turns, so many secrets, so many loves-gone-wrong. I mean, it’s totally and completely melodramatic. But it was entertaining as all get-out. I mean, I was still reading after midnight because they teased a new twist and I had to know what was going on now.

This book has a plethora of characters, but only a few were done really well. And that was basically ok because there was so much going on in the plot. Rosie, obviously, was fleshed-out and real. You could understand why she makes the choices she does, even though there are tons of consequences. And there’s another character, Holly, who stood out to me a lot too. (Gee, I wonder why?  Could it be her name?) Same thing goes for her as for Rosie. You get her.

The narration was done a little differently than I’m used to, but it worked really well. For the first quarter or so of the book, Rosie is the only narrator, for chapters at a time. But after that, it begins to switch between Rosie and another character. Sometimes the chapters would be 8-10 pages in that point of view, sometimes it was 1-3. I’m usually not a fan of that, but it actually worked really well. It felt like that soap opera I mentioned, where the camera (or the narration) keeps flipping between the two stars. It was pretty seamless, I have to say.  It kept the action fast-paced.

I also really liked that this chose to focus so much of the story on Huntington’s Disease. I’d never heard of it before, but I was interested. I mean, we have books on cancer and depression and other mental illnesses. Why not have one about a genetic disease that affects over 30,000 people in the US each year and is just as devastating as those aforementioned illnesses? It was really interesting to read about the disease and how it impacts those around it, the ones who have to care for people with it.

Really, a great drama. Just expect lots of angst.

Library Love: A Shout-Out to Libraries Out There

Hey guys!  So recently I’ve been feeling a lot of love for my local library system and I thought I’d do a general shout-out to all the libraries out there because libraries are awesome and they deserve it.

So…hooray libraries!

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I just want to give you an example of some of the cool things libraries (mostly mine) do.

  1. Ebooks – any time I want, I can find ebooks on their website.  It’s a super sweet deal because I can get library books that I want without getting out of my pj’s.
  2. Music downloads – we have a program that allows library users to download up to 5 songs for free a week.  I’ve been told before this isn’t “cool” anymore, but I love it.
  3. Foreign Language programs – I’ve spent a few years now wanting to learn French because my ancestry is part French and after a few failed attempts with YouTube videos, I found this online program my library subscribes to called Mango.  It’s amazing and I’m finally starting to get the hang of French!  (Definitely not fluent after 3 weeks, but I’m managing.)
  4. Genealogy – my library system has an extensive genealogy collection from all over the country, not just my county or state.  It’s impressive.  I spend hours and hours there figuring out my family history and just learning.  (My latest find was a collection of yearbooks from all our local high schools dating back over 50 years.  I struck gold with family pictures!  And by “gold”, I mean “blackmail.”)
  5. Special Programs – like many libraries, my library does a summer reading program to encourage kids (and adults) to keep reading even though school’s out.  I did it every year as a kid.  But on top of that, they have these other programs they throw in to get people interested in the library.  They do concerts, tours of the archives, kids and teens projects, movie nights, author meet and greets, etc.  The list goes on.  It’s a great way to get to know a lot of new people and learn more about your community.  I recently took that archives tour and saw so much cool stuff there, including cuneiform from 1000-2000 BC.  History nerd alert.
  6. Book Sales – my library discovered in the last couple of years that people were willing to pay for the library’s rejected books, the ones that they bought too many copies of or were out of date, etc.  So they sell them for a quarter each.  And each summer, they hold something like a garage sale where you can go and browse thousands of books they’re selling.  It’s a great way for me to pick up a number of books for my classroom in good condition for super cheap.

I know every library is different.  Every library system is different.  I’m lucky enough to live in a place where my entire county is in the same library system and therefore shares everything (CDs, movies, books) between like a dozen different libraries.  Not everyone has that.  But libraries appreciate your patronage and that truly does help them get more books and more funding.  So please, show your libraries a little love this summer and go visit them.  Go to a program they put on.  Meet some new people.  It’ll be fun!

Thoughts on Episode 1 of Still Star-Crossed

So yesterday I posted about how excited I was about this show because of how much I love the book.  And I made sure that I was sitting in front of the TV right on time to watch this.

Initial reaction to the episode: Meh.

There was too much going on.  I know that not everyone is an amateur Shakespearean scholar like myself, but I thought reviewing what happened in the end of Romeo and Juliet was kind of boring.  Not to mention they changed things, like virtually entirely cutting Nurse out of it all and putting Rosaline in her place.  I understand why the show did it, but c’mon.  Authenticity.

And all the characters still feel like stereotypes.  There are so many characters being introduced at this point that there was no room for depth.  At. All.  Everyone feels like a caricature.

Anyway, there was way too much going on in this show.  I know they’re trying to introduce all the characters and the conflict between the families and all that, but I never knew where to look!  Constant sword fights, throwing faces our way that we don’t really recognize yet and hoping that we can follow along, rapid-fire plot twists.  I’ve read the play many times, the book twice, and I still had trouble following it.  I don’t even know how newbies are doing with this.

I still think there’s a lot of potential here.  I’m hoping it’s just the pilot that’s too rushed.  They were showing scenes from the rest of the season at the end of this episode and I think it could very easily sink into a really good story.  But it’s going to have to do that soon because right now it feels a lot like a soap opera.  (And yes, I realize that’s also basically how Shakespeare wrote his tragedies.  But his never unfolded quite this quickly.)

Still Star-Crossed–Coming to TV Tonight!!

Hey guys, so if you’ve been following me long, you know that I’m a pretty big English nerd (you may have picked up on that simply because I have a blog entirely devoted to books, but just in case you didn’t notice).  And one thing I completely geek out over is Shakespeare.

So when I heard that this beauty, Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub, was going to be turned into a TV show by Shonda Rhimes, well, this was a no-brainer.  I’ve read the book twice and I’m super excited to see how this show adapts it.

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“Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona, where we lay our scene.”

If you haven’t heard about this show or the book, it’s basically life in Verona after Romeo and Juliet kill themselves.  Remember, the Prince made the Montagues and the Capulets swear that the fighting would be over now that it had claimed so many lives.

But, of course, it doesn’t.  At least in this adaptation.  So the prince needs to fight dirty, and he decides that there needs to be another cross-family marriage.  Needless to say, no one is happy about that, least of all the couple to be wed.

The book is gorgeous, if you haven’t read it.  I love the characters and the way the story is written.  I’m always in the mood to pick this back up because there are some really interesting twists in it that I didn’t see coming the first time and really change your feelings toward the characters from the original play.  In interesting ways, let’s just say.

Anyway, the show airs TONIGHT on ABC at 10 PM Eastern time and I’m totally pumped.  I will probably be back on here tomorrow talking about my reactions to the first episode.  I’m just going to drop the extended trailer down here.  It gives you a better idea of what the show is than the 30 second commercials.  Enjoy!  Drop a comment to share your thoughts!

 

The Catastrophic History of You and Me

11387392First Lines: There’s always that one guy who gets a hold on you.  Not like your best friend’s brother who gets you in a headlock kind of hold.  Or the little kid you’re babysitting who attaches himself to your leg kind of hold.  I’m talking epic.  Life changing.

I know this book is older (it was published in 2012 and it’s been on my to-read list since 2011), but it’s always been one of those books that I’ve sort of had my eye on.  I was scanning the library shelves one day and grabbed this because, you know, it’s been a while since I’ve read about death.  (That wasn’t weird, right?)  Anyway, I really wanted to give this book a chance.

Brie had everything going for her: a great group of friends, the perfect boyfriend, and diving skills that could have taken her to the Olympics.  But when her boyfriend tells her he doesn’t love her anymore and it literally breaks her heart, all of her dreams are gone, just like her.  And death isn’t easy to deal with.  While trying to come to grips with the fact that she’s no longer one of the living, her family back in Half Moon Bay is falling apart.  Her best friend has been keeping secrets about Jacob, Brie’s boyfriend–and the truth behind the betrayal that broke her heart.  With the help of Patrick, a fellow soul and sometimes guide through the afterlife, Brie tries to understand what happened and why.  But how can you pick up the pieces when you’re broken yourself?

Right from the beginning, I liked Brie. She’s not perfect, but you tend to forgive her her faults because we meet her just as she’s reeling from her death.  I don’t think anyone expects their life to be over at 15 and Brie certainly wasn’t.  It puts her in a bad mood quite often (understandably), but it’s all within reason.  She never came across to me as a diva or drama queen.  Just a lost girl who wanted to be living her life.

The crafting of this story was really well done. Brie’s path toward understanding and moving on from her death felt realistic and really never moved into the cliche like it so easily could have. Instead, she feels everything I would expect her to feel: angry, sad, betrayed, lost, miserable, forgotten, hopeless. (It’s a pretty dark read at times. I was in tears multiple times from beginning to end.) But on top of that, you get a real sense of hope as well. Like that there are better things out there after death, and that our loved ones don’t forget us when we’re gone. It was tragically beautiful.

The writing was really well done as well, shifting from present to past and with subtle foreshadowing sprinkled in from time to time.  I knew that there were a few things that were going to happen from the foreshadowing, but it was vague enough that I couldn’t quite piece together exactly what it was.  It was just really well written and enjoyable.

I really enjoyed all of the characters in this story, from her best friends to her boyfriend to her family and the spirits she meets after her death. Everyone had a backstory and a realistic motivation to be who they were and they weren’t just flat stereotypical characters. I keep saying this over and over, but it was delightfully written. Even though it’s dark.

I thought this was just amazing. I had a really hard time putting it down.  If you haven’t read this before, you really need to.

A Life Update: March Comes In Like a Lion…

Hey everyone!  I know I haven’t been posting much lately (story of my life, right?), but I’m about to enlighten you on what I’ve been doing:

Show Choir

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(Yes, show choir usually does look an awful lot like this, if you’ve never seen it before.)

As I’ve posted about before, I volunteered to be an assistant director for my school’s show choir.  I did it for 5 years when I was in school and it’s definitely something I know a lot about–I know how the shows work, what judges look for, staging, etc.  I had no hesitations about volunteering for this.

Aaaaand then the competitions started.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the competitions in themselves.  I love seeing other groups, watching my own group kill it on stage, and those excited butterflies you get just before a performance (even if I’m not on stage).  What I didn’t love was the stress of making sure everything was ready, making sure everything was running smoothly and on time, making sure every person was where they needed to be, making sure the kids were all doing what they should be doing…  The list goes on.  It was also a huge time commitment as well, where yesterday’s competition had me getting up at 4:20 AM to perform at 9:10 and not being able to leave until after 3:00 (the school scheduled awards 4 hours after the last middle school performance, which was really just a ploy to get people to stay and pay for food).

Anyway, my introverted (INFJ) self has sort of been spazzing out.  I’m a perfectionist anyway, so show choir just kept feeding into that anxiety.  I literally had dreams the week before a show about everything that could go wrong.  It’s been hard sometimes to not feel like a lost fish in a sea of hundreds upon hundreds of people at these things.

But my INFJ side is also eating up the fact that I’ve gotten super close to a lot of the kids.  I’ve picked out kids who are spectacular performers but don’t exactly believe in themselves.  I’ve made an impact on kids I don’t even have in class who now smile at me in the halls when they pass me.  I love that I’ve been able to see a number of these kids in a different light.

I’ve had competitions for the last five weekends straight.  We just finished out last competition yesterday, so now it’s just me doing what I want on weekends for a time (re: reading!)

Grading

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The last few weeks of the grading period arrived in the middle of all this show choir, forcing upon me a couple of the things I hate the most as a teacher:

  1. Late work that is literally 2 months old.  I’m not taking that.  I’m not grading it.  Stop wasting my time.  You had your chance two months ago.  That’s no longer an “oops, I forgot” thing.
  2. “Can I get extra credit?”  Like, no.  If you’d done your work on time and well in the first place, you wouldn’t need to be asking about extra credit two days before the end of the quarter.  This quarter has been really bad as 8th graders suddenly realized that high school starts for them in a few months and all those resolutions they made (“I’ll try harder/study more/get all my homework in on time”) aren’t going to happen if they don’t start applying themselves now.

I’ve just had so much grading and so little time to work on it.  It’s hard to want to read anything for fun after you’ve just spent all evening reading essays.

Seeing Someone Sweet…

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A couple of months ago I started dating a guy who is, in many ways, my exact opposite.  Where I’m more creative and imaginative, he’s more logical.  Where I’m a planner and have some anxiety if I do not have a plan, he wings everything.  Where I have more emotional reactions to things, he’s more…unemotional is definitely not the right word, but less emotionally invested than I am.  (We’re talking crying during movies vs. not crying.  nbd.)

But through all of those differences, we still have similarities.  If I’m feeling introverted after a long day of show choir, he’s fine with a night in with a Redbox movie.  If I make a comment about something I like, jokingly or otherwise, he tries to get it for me.  (Even if it’s just milk and Swiss Miss.)  And I try to return the favor where I can.  You guys, he is as sweet as the Girl Scout cookies he buys in bulk.  (He also usually reads these posts, so I’m pretty sure I’m going to hear about that one later…)

If you’ve been following my posts for the last few years, you know that some of my past relationships have been rocky to say the least.  But this one feels good.  I’m having fun.  I enjoy the time I get to spend with him and I always look forward to seeing him again.

(He’s going with me to see the new Beauty and the Beast movie this coming weekend, so that’ll be a new review that I will be hopefully getting out to you guys soon!)

Peace!

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