Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books I’m Excited to Read This Summer

17171077834_09debe83c4_zI’ve been a total bibliophile lately, or what some might call a bibliomaniac. Thanks to The Amusing Muse for crowning me with that literary title! Ever since, I’ve been singing “I’m a maniac, maaaaniac on the floor! And I’m reading books like never before!” 

Today is another round of Top Ten Tuesday, the weekly themed book list hosted by the peeps over at The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s theme is a freebie, so I’m creating my list of must reads for the summer.

I’ve read 7 out of 10 books on my spring ‘to be read’ list which isn’t bad in less than 3 months time. My favorite thus far has to be Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova. Fans of magical realism and mythology will love this one. I’m also super excited to let you all know that Krassi will be joining us on The Happiness Project in the near future, so stay tuned! She’s amazing! And I saw her doppelganger the other day outside a coffee shop and almost chased her down. (I didn’t. But only because a friend stopped me.) I’m very pleased to welcome the real Krassi Zourkova here soon.

I’m halfway through my To Be Read Pile Challenge hosted by Adam at Roof Beam Reader. I need to write two updates yet though. Oops. How are you all doing on your must read lists?

Time to get reading!

Top 10 Books I’m Excited to Read This Summer

1. Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress: Tales of Growing Up Groovy and Clueless by Susan Jane Gilman

I’m back on my humorous memoir kick. I’m devouring any women writers I can find and I picked this one up recently at an indie bookstore. Can’t beat “a funny and poignant collection of true stories about women coming of age that for once isn’t about finding a date.”

2. Dietland by Sarai Walker

The feminist in me can’t wait to pick up a copy of Dietland. The premise is a young woman dealing with body shame who gets entwined with a radical female group called the “Jennifers” that terrorizes mainstream society and its social constructs for women. Yes please, I need to know more.

3. Listen to Your Mother by Ann Imig

A collection of essays based off the critically acclaimed stage performances, Listen to Your Mother encompasses tales of all aspects of motherhood. I can’t wait to read the ups and downs and learning lessons inside as well as support several friends who have participated on stage!

4. I Don’t Care About Your Band: Lessons Learned from Indie Rockers, Trust Funders, Pornographers, Felons, Faux-Sensitive Hipsters, and Other Guys I’ve Dated by Julie Klausner

I can’t help it. I married a musician. This title makes me laugh.

(Note* I DO in fact care about my husband’s band, but I don’t get to as many shows as he’d like, so no doubt he thinks this is true.) 

5. Looking for Alaska by John Green

I’ve started reading this one and fans of Catcher in the Rye and Rule of the Bone will like it. Miles “Pudge” Halter is off to boarding school. He meets the illusive and mesmerizing Alaska Young and becomes entranced. His life is about to change.

6. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This title is on everyone’s ‘to read’ list, and I’m joining the bandwagon. Set in the Great Lakes region, Station Eleven is the tale of a misfit troupe of actors traveling the countryside and performing in ramshackle towns. Disease has wiped out much of the population, and many are living a nomadic life. How does art survive here?

7. Listen to the Squawking Chicken: When Mother Knows Best, What’s a Daughter To Do? A Memoir (Sort Of) by Elaine Lui

You gotta love a mother who starts the conversation with “Where’s my money?” Based on parts of her blog, Elaine Lui elaborates on her mother-daughter relationship with her mom, known as “The Squawking Chicken.”

8. Don’t Lick the Minivan: And Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say to My Kids by Leanne Shirtliffe

Author and blogger of Ironic Mom, I’ve had Leanne’s book on my to read pile for awhile. I also purchased her children’s book, The Change Your Name Store, for my niece this year. It is delightful and I can’t wait to dive into her memoir about her time raising twins as an expat and more!

9. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

As a fan of Bossypants by Tina Fey, I needed to pick up her partner in crime’s equally hilarious book. From her early school days of playing Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz to how she upped her improv game, Amy dishes it out and talks about her new motto, “Yes, please!”

10. Is My Crazy Showing? by Leigh Baker

Surviving a mental breakdown and stint in a hospital, Leigh Baker shares the tumultuous journey of finding one’s way and creating your own family. Shout out to Beth Teliho for recommending this one to me!

What’s on your summer must read list? I’m always willing to make it a Top Twenty! ;)

Is That Weird? – Shit I Did as a Kid

Image-1I know I look innocent. But underneath the red hair and camera-ready smile lurks the mind of a madwoman.

Do you ever think back to all the weird stuff you did as a kid and go, “How did my parents NOT sell me to the gypsies?”

I grew up watching Heidi, so that was a viable threat in my house. And believe me, my siblings sure tried!

I was a weird kid. I mean the complete opposite of the well-rounded, well-mannered adult you find here at the Happiness Project.

*crickets*

Just roll with it, ok guys? I’m trying to be well-rounded and well-mannered. Some of us just have to work harder than others.

Anyway, I was a weird kid. And for your amusement, I’ve compiled a list of examples. Feel free to chime in with a “I’ve done that too!” or “That’s the work of a completely sane person!” while reading.

Shit I Did as a Kid

1) One time I was mad at my mom for something I can’t remember so I stabbed a big hole in the dining room tablecloth with a letter opener. 

This took me months of tooth fairy money to pay back. Can you imagine praying your teeth would fall out just so you could get debt free with your ma?

2) I really liked to cut the hair off my Barbie dolls, but I knew my mom would yell at me if she saw, so I hid the hair in her JC Penney’s catalog. 

Ok, first, that was a stupid hiding place because she read that thing cover to cover. And second, hindsight is 20/20. Yes, I think opening up a shopping magazine only to have a bunch of hair fall in your lap is creepy as shit, but I was like six or seven so I just picked the largest catalog under the coffee table and shoved it in.

3) I was really into pen pals and wrote letters to our priest by dropping them in the collection basket at church. 

See, I’ve redeemed myself a little from #2 haven’t I?

4) I set a small patch of our living room carpet on fire by testing if kleenex was flammable. 

It is.

5) My favorite thing to be when playing “pretend” was an orphan. 

Orphans and underdogs were my heroes, and most of them could talk to animals, so I thought it sounded pretty good.

6) I was scared to go into our basement alone because I thought E.T. lived there, and I didn’t like his “sausage fingers.”

Go google image search “E.T. phone home” and look at those phalanges. They’re creepy.

7) It’s quite possible one of my Cabbage Patch Dolls has mold growing inside it, but I refused to let my mother take it from me. 

My baby Cabbage Patch, whose name was Adelle Patti, but I couldn’t pronounce Adelle at the time, so we always called her Patti developed some weird greenish grayish spots on her baby powder-scented head. I think my sister wanted us to send the doll in and see if they would “fix” her, but she was my favorite, and no one was getting near her.

8) I cut off the tip of my right index finger when I was three by sticking it in that thingy you use to hold screen doors open.

It’s still one of the only times my dad ever swore.

9) I really liked talking with different accents and voices, and I practiced them by reading out loud, alternating my voice with each page. 

To be fair, I did this when I was home alone, so I wasn’t bothering anyone.

10) When I couldn’t sleep at night, I would close my eyes then lift my eyelids up. Then when I opened my eyes, the lids make a clicking noise. 

One of my nieces does this now. My sister was telling me about how her daughter made these weird noises with her eyes, and I was like “You mean this?” And she was all “OMG! Yes, that’s disgusting.”

So tell me, is that weird?
You do these things too, don’t you? 

Want more shit I did as a kid? Want more awkward and funny stories? Want more signs I have no shame?

Then vote for me as Funniest Blog in The Indie Chicks’ Badass Blog Awards! Polls are open through Friday, and every vote (you get one a day) counts!

Oh, and please put in a good word for the illustrious August McLaughlin, author and radio host of the #GirlBoner series. She’s up for Best Blunt Blog and totally worthy.

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I’m a Finalist for the Badass Blog Awards! Vote for Me Please!

Guess what? Guess what? Guess what?

Because you folks are awesome, I am a finalist in The Indie Chicks‘ Badass Blog Awards!

I love writing for The Indie Chicks and I love writing for all of you. You’re my people. They say you find your people in carnivals college, and that’s partially true, but my people are also here – online. We’re a community, an online family. We band together around face injuries, good books to read, and poop stories and I couldn’t love you all more for it.

Thank you.

Here’s the scoop for the Indie Chicks’ 3rd Annual Badass Blog Awards. I’m a finalist in the category of Funniest Blog. Voting for all finalists goes on this week, Monday – Friday, and you can vote once every day. Sooo basically this is like American Idol for bloggers.

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If you want to see me win Funniest Blogger, head on over to vote for me by clicking here, or click the button above. And you can do it once a day – it’s like remembering to take fish oil, annoying but good for you! I would be extremely honored if you made my blog your fish oil. Ok, that was a bad example of why you would like my blog, but please do it anyway. You rock! And also do take fish oil, it does make your heart healthy.

Thanks for being so awesome everyone!

What if I Turn Into…My Parents?

Are you guilty of making age demands of yourself? You know the ambiguous “Before I turn 30, I will…” kind of to-do list. I am.

Hello, my name is Jess, and I thought I’d be famous before I was 30. I suffer from delusions of grandeur and I’m sorry.

I blame Anne of Green Gables. I daydreamed that I was going to be a visionary of my time, and all anyone knows me for is an ad about baking powder…

You know what I mean.

I made a few too many expectations of myself and where I’d be in life by the time I turned 30. The big 3-0 is just six months away and I’m radically looking at my goals and having to rewrite them. Which is, to say the least, disheartening. But it needed to happen. I know that now.

As I’m reevaluating where I’m going and where I’ve come from, a scary thought crossed my mind. What if I turn into…my parents?

DSCN0259

This is them. Note, the matching polos. I REFUSE to wear a polo shirt. Ever. 

I’m serious, you guys. What if I start gifting my friends with bottles of free butt soap instead of actually going shopping for them? (my dad)

What if I start wearing sneakers so white the coast guard asks me to stop interfering with their light house schedule? (my mom and dad)

What if I start writing letters to people and fill them with grammar notes? (like my mom)

What if I start eating one bite of a fun size candy bar and I’m still eating the same candy bar days later? (like my dad)

Where will it end?

I mean none of you are gonna read a blog about arthritis and egg shell infused gardening dirt. Are you? I need to know because it could come to that.

Am I having a quarter-life crisis? This is just a quarter-life crisis, isn’t it?

But what if I’m older than a quarter-life crisis? Is this a pre-mid-life-post-quarter-life crisis? What do I do in case of emergency?

Do I need to get into the basement? Does this require a transistor radio? I know what my mother would do. She’d put pillows in all the windows so when the glass breaks it won’t gouge out my eyes.

At least I’ll have time to edit my to do list.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the basement.
I’ve got one bag of fun size Snickers bars,
so I’m guessing I can survive the next 30 years.

What was your irrational goal before 30?

A Wife Discovers Star Trek: Live Long and Silent?

It was Friday afternoon and I had just returned home from work to find my husband settled in the arm chair watching reruns of Star Trek on TV. I’ve seen a few of the movies, but had never watched the television series before.

“Scoot over,” I said, and snuggled in, ready to start my weekend and find out what all of the fuss was about.

I think maybe I watched the wrong first episode?

The title of the show was ‘The Empath’. Our trio of explorers, Captain Kirk, Spock, and McCoy are zapped onto an unknown planet with alien men whose heads, to me, looked like giant ears.

Along for the ride, was a humanoid empath, who cannot speak but can heal the injuries of others. She can also rock a neon blue leotard covered in cloth made of butterfly tears.

Throughout the episode, Kirk and McCoy are tortured by the f(ear)less aliens using rainbow beams that shoot from gadgets similar to the good ol’ Viewmaster.

They are always returned to the holding cell on the brink of death, forcing the empath to heal them.

And this is where I got a little irritated.

Running her acrylic nailed hands over their faces, soothing their furrowed brows, and rubbing their shoulders and chests, the empath healed our heroes. And she did all of it with this look on her face. “Wait a minute. You’re telling me these guys are teamed up with a woman who CAN’T TALK and MASSAGES them all day?!! Well you can tell a man wrote this episode.”

My husband looked at me, annoyed. Probably wishing he’d married one of those humanoid empath wives. You know, the ones who can’t talk and massage their men with manicured hands.

“When you’re ready to get off your high horse,” he said, “I’ll be down here drinking my coffee.”

“Look at her face. How does one even make that face?” I asked.

I tilted my head and tried looking wounded, sexy, and cosmic all at the same time.

“That’s creepy,” he replied.

“Well, I don’t see what the fuss is about this show. There’s certainly nothing of interest for the women watching it. And I mean really, that last action scene? Was he creating his own slow motion? Who runs like that?”

My husband set his coffee mug down and turned toward me again. “Is this what it’s like?” he asked.

“What what’s like?”

“When I make fun of your shows?”

I cocked my head again.

“Thank you, honey, for showing me what that feels like. Now can you please not talk anymore?”

That was the start of my weekend! How was yours?
Massage any men lately or take a vow of silence? 

#GoodTimes: The Day I Smashed My Face at Circus World

When the doctor on call drew back the hospital curtain, he looked my way and said, “Injury to the face, huh? Nice.”

“Thanks,” I said. I would’ve rolled my eyes but it hurt too much. “Will I need stitches?”

“Not unless you want me to reopen the wound,” he said, reopening my wound as he poked my face. “I would recommend a tetanus shot.”

Great. Needles. 

****

100_0915I’m getting ahead of myself.

The real question is why was I in the hospital? That’s a good story. It all started the day I smashed my face at Circus World.

Around this time four years ago, I had just finished reading Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. I loved this book. Loved it.

While researching the author, I learned she did quite a bit of research on traveling circus shows in none other than Baraboo, WI at the Circus World Museum. Winter resting grounds of the legendary Ringling Brothers, Baraboo was just a two hour drive away.

I called up my bestie and invited her on a road trip.

Armed with licorice and mix cds, we headed for a place I was ecstatic to go.

The Circus World Museum contains the largest collection of vintage circus wagons, a room full of circus organs, and costumes, photographs and advertisement posters of the greatest trapeze artists, sideshow freaks, clowns, and their animal counterparts around.

I was engrossed. I needed to explore every inch.

And I wanted photographic evidence I had been there.

circus world collageI was enamored with the magic of the circus. I took pictures with every cutout image I could stick my face in. I took shots of circus miniatures and mannequin sideshow freaks. The only thing I didn’t photograph was the cheeseburger I ate for lunch at the picnic table, and that’s because Instagram wasn’t a thing yet so I didn’t know the world would WANT to see my cheeseburger from the circus.

I got to feed an elephant, you guys. She was beautiful and her name was Tiny. The owner had an animal rescue plantation down in Florida. Tiny’s parents were killed by poachers and he took her in. As she grew up, she wandered in and out of their house – when she could fit – and when she was bigger, stuck her long trunk in through the windows to greet the family.

Tiny was just like Rosie in Water for Elephants. And I was pretending I was Reese Witherspoon, forming an unbreakable connection with this exotic beast.

I was in a bibliophile’s wet dream!

I was seriously having one of the best times of my life because I felt like I was walking through the world of this book that made me fall in love with the circus.

You could say I got a little carried away.

I was off snapping pictures again. Running both to and from my friend in a harried frenzy. Along the cement sidewalk was one of the old animal cages they used to hitch to a horse or truck for parades. It was open. We could go inside.

“Take my picture,” I told my friend, handing her the camera.

With the reckless abandon of an animal that’s been freed, I headed toward the cage, running at full force up the metal stairs and through the doorway.

Almost through the doorway…

In my blind enthusiasm, I failed to notice that the doorway was shorter than I was, and therefore ran smack into the metal frame which clanged in revolt and propelled my head backwards.

Down the path I heard someone’s father say, “OHMYGOD, are you ok?”

Not even a concussion could stop me from enjoying the circus. Without a single second’s delay, I ducked into the circus cage, grabbed a hold of the bars and feigned normality by bearing my teeth and shouting once more to my friend, “Take my picture!”

“No,” was all she said.

“Am I bleeding?”

I put my hand to my face, which yes, throbbed from its introduction to the doorframe moments ago, but I assumed I was fine.

When I pulled my hand back down it was full of blood.

My friend stood in the grass a few yards away. Speechless.

She ran to me in the cage, threw our stuff down on the floor and said she was going to get some paper towel.

Which left me, for the record, bleeding from the face – in no less than 3 places – from the inside of an animal cage in the middle of Circus World.

Children were running up with their parents to go inside and stopping midway up the stairs. They didn’t expect to see a demon inside.

After what seemed like hours, my friend returned with two handfuls of paper towel.

“I’m sorry! The first person I found, it was like her first day, so she didn’t know where the bathrooms were, and I had to run all the way to the front entrance to get these,” she explained out of breath. “But look at you! Not a drop of blood on your white shirt!”

Both my arms were covered in blood however because I’d used them to plug up all the holes on my face.

“Do I look like Carrie?” I asked, embarrassment settling in.

“Let’s get you to the ladies’ room.” And that’s the sign of true friend.

****

So the emergency room. I awoke the next morning with two black eyes, a baseball size lump on my forehead, and a chunk – one might say a divot – of skin missing from the bridge of my nose.

Oh, and because I’m not athletic in the slightest, I didn’t know I should’ve iced. *sigh*

You know what? I still enjoyed the circus. After cleaning myself up, frightening more families in the process, I put on some sunglasses and headed into the hippodrome with my bestie.

Damn that was a good time!

Tell me about a time you faced disasters
and still managed to come out smiling.
Or, I’m still in the market for a good scar minimizer.
Got any suggestions?

 

 

Can’t Talk, I’m Reading: TBR Pile Challenge Update

We’re three months in on the To Be Read Pile Challenge. How’s everybody doing?

The TBR Pile Challenge is hosted by Adam at Roof Beam Reader as a way to join all bibliophiles together! You select 12 books that have been gathering dust on your bookshelf for one year or longer and vow to read those books in 12 months time!

I love this challenge and how it focuses me on reading some of the books I already own. (We won’t discuss the rate at which I buy and/or borrow new ones, especially when returning from a writers conference where there’s a book fair.)

I’ve actually been ahead of the game with this year’s challenge, finishing book #5! However, I’ve been very poor in writing reviews. So to catch up for the third check-in of the year, here’s what I’ve been reading and what I thought of the books.

TBR Pile Challenge Book Reviews

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Truman Capote’s creative nonfiction book about a mass murder in Kansas has long been on my ‘to read’ list. The book has a very eerie nature, and is exceptionally well written, bouncing back and forth between the investigation of the Clutter family murders and what the killers who doing leading up to the crime night.

Truman Capote spent much time with the killers while they were imprisoned and in limbo with court appeal processes. It’s very likely they thought he was a friend considering how much trust he gained and how he helped with their case. That makes the title of this book all the creepier to me.

For fans of suspense novels, true crime, and creative nonfiction, I highly recommend this book. I was on edge as the gory details unfolded and we learned more and more about the killers’ early lives, odd jobs, and how they befriended one another. The writing is so good, you almost root for them. And that’s what I found so interesting. When all we know in a murder case is who did it, it’s easy to write off the killer as a menace. But when you know more about their life and the troubles they overcame, does it make you understand more, even if you still accuse?

****

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

After In Cold Blood, I needed something a bit lighter, so I dove into book 3 of the Harry Potter series.

Don’t shun me, I haven’t read the series yet. I’ve been slowly savoring it, reading one a year or so. But this title may make me speed up a bit. It has by far been my favorite and I enjoyed the first two.

In Harry’s third year at Hogwarts School, his life is in danger not just from “He Who Shall Not Be Named” but also from the most notorious prisoner in Azkaban, Sirius Black. And when you’re a teenager, it’s equally annoying that the biggest snob in school, Draco Malfoy, is picking on you and your friends.

Exceptional colorful characters and an action packed plot, I really enjoyed this one. There were so many characters coming into play throughout the book, but I loved every minute. Plus they’re distinct enough that it’s easy to distinguish who’s who. Made me really want to read book 4 right away.

****

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

The Jungle was always a title on the classics list we could choose from in school, so I was well familiar with the nature of its subject – the horrendous working conditions of early factories. It’s known for launching the creation and reform of many labor laws and unions. It rivals Uncle Tom’s Cabin for how much political influence it had!

I wanted to enjoy this book. And I did, parts of it. The book follows an immigrant family as they adapt to American ways and try to find work in the worst of conditions. The first half of the book I liked, and learned a lot about the life expectancy and injuries that happened in our workplace before labor rights acts. So many men and women died of blood disease from infections that began at work.

And this book will really make you want to be a vegetarian. It’s pretty disturbing. Sure, you’d expect that from a slaughterhouse, but it’s really the rats crawling over the meat that did me in. *shudder*

I would recommend this book for historical purposes or for those who like to read a classic now and again. But be forewarned, it gets very long, and I wouldn’t say the book has a happy ending. After awhile, it was difficult to read about so much trauma in one family, though I’m absolutely sure it was common for immigrant workers and even in families today.

****

Have you read any of these?
Are you doing the TBR Pile Challenge? If so, how’s it going?
It can never hurt to add more titles. What are you reading right now?

 

 

 

 

 

Hello From Sunny Elsewhere

road trip prioritiesHey Friends!

I’m at the Madison Writers’ Institute this weekend filling my head with all kinds of wordy knowledge. Wish me luck!

I’ve got my road trip priorities (audio books, coffee and cake pops) all set!

To entertain you while I’m away, I’ve compiled some of my favorite reading spots to keep you company. And if you really, really miss me (Aww, aren’t you the sweetest?!), you can find me hanging out with The Indie Chicks. I’d love if you stopped by!

9 Women Who Made History You Probably Didn’t Know About

and

6 Tips to Nail Your Interview

******

For the Writerly

Editing tips from The Secrets of Midwives author, Sally Hepworth, in What the Editing Process Really Looks Like.

Rachel Funk Heller guest blogs at Writers in the Storm with 8 Tips on Writing Faster – And Why You Should Try It!

miranda rightsHopefully you haven’t missed Bayard & Holmes Writing Spies series. It’s pretty cool. The latest is How the Pros Bug a Room.

More thriller fun came in Kristen Lamb’s latest, Series and Psychopaths – The Author Sadist & Why Audiences LOVE the Pain.

It’s part of the job for writers, right? Social media is a must. Jane Friedman offers tips for managing it, My 5 Philosophies of Social Media.

For fans of Top Ten Tuesday and book lists, check out Maren’s post at The Worn Bookmark – Top Ten Books I’d Love to Revisit From My Childhood.

Looking for your next great book to read? Waste no time! Grab a FREE (for a limited time) copy of Tameri Etherton’s book, The Stones of Kaldaar. Already own it? Book 2 is out now!

For Those Who Love to Learn

I love the notion of “arousing your life” in August McLaughlin’s 3 Powerful Ways to Spice Up Your Bedroom Life. A must read.

“Life requires brave. And you’ve got it.” That’s the message of Erin’s #52Dares Challenge. I recently discovered this inspirational blog that gives you a new challenge each week to grow your own self confidence, boost your outlook on life, and be brave!

One of the founders of The Indie Chicks, Chiara Mazzucco, tells it in her signature straight style Accept Yourself – You’re All You Got.

Who doesn’t need a little nudge now and again to turn off social media and start tackling those to-do’s – 5 Ways To Manage Your Time So It Doesn’t Manage You.

For Your Funny Bone

photo(4)Displaying micro-blogging at its best, The Bloggess, gifts us with There Should Be a Yelp For Places You Visit in Your Sleep.

Queen of Comedy, Her Royal Thighness, admits her kids don’t think she’s funny in What? You Don’t Like My Knockers?

Think you have skills? Let Steve from The Brown Road Chronicles tell you all about Slicing Bananas Like a Fucking Ninja.

What would you do if you discovered you didn’t have fingerprints? Aussa Lorens plans 5 Absolutely Justified Crimes I Might Actually Commit.

 

Top Ten Books On My Spring To Be Read List

What books are on your to read list right now?

The recent signs of spring have me extra energized to tackle my To Be Read Pile. I’m a pretty avid reader, and I recently discovered the blog, The Broke and the Bookish, who hosts a Top Ten list every Tuesday focused on various book themes. Today we’re talking about the Top Ten Books On Our Spring To Be Read List. I don’t know about you, but I have the hardest time whittling down what book to read next because I want to read All. The. Books!!^$?!

worlds largest latteIf I drink All. The. Coffee. I will never have to sleep again!
I can just read and read and read and read…

Hmm, maybe not.

But here are the Top Ten Books on my Spring To Be Read List: 

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen

The last of Jane Austen’s six novels I have yet to read. Once I finish the story of Anne Eliot I will have completed her most well known works and can move on to some of her novellas like Sandition and Lady Susan. Judging from the film versions I’ve seen (many times), Captain Wentworth is indeed worth waiting for.

2. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Claimed as the new Eleanor & Park meets The Fault in our Stars, I’ve been hungry to read this book for awhile but busy finishing up some other titles. I even bought this one in hardcover. I don’t even really like hardcover. I’m a paperback girl. I just wanted to read this one that badly. It’s the story of two teens – one a total loner who contemplates death and looks to the future with a strict eye, the other a free spirit who lives in the moment and sees life as an adventure. Their worlds are about to collide. I want to find out what happens!

3. Cress by Marissa Meyer

The third book in The Lunar Chronicles; I’m committed now. I absolutely loved the first book, Cinder. I thought the second book, Scarlet, was ok. But friends assure me that Cress is worth the read. A futuristic spinoff of classic fairytales, this is the continuing adventure of a cyborg named Cinder who is on the run after the evil Lunar Queen, Levana, has a call out for her head and plans to marry the good-intentioned Emperor Kai. With the help of some fellow misfits, will Cinder overtake Levana before the Queen takes over their world?

4. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

It’s been too long since I’ve read any Neil Gaiman and I must remedy that. What’s more intriguing than a pond that becomes an ocean? As a middle-aged man returns home for a funeral, he is reminded of the people he grew up with and the stories they each told.

5. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Bestseller in the early 2000’s, all my friends read this one, but I didn’t. I was afraid I couldn’t handle the subject matter. But this winter I happened upon the book in a Little Free Library near my house and decided it was time I checked it out. Despite its serious subject matter, I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

6. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Long before there was Christian Grey, the leading man with the wealth and power was Dorian Gray. A favorite old film of mine, the black and white version of course, I’m excited to read the novel for the first time. This title was selected by my book club as our classic this year and I’m really looking forward to our discussion.

7. The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless

Another book I had to get in hardcover because I couldn’t wait. I’m a huge fan of author Jon Krakauer, who wrote Into the Wild, the story of Chris McCandless. Now, Chris’s sister, Carine, has written her own telling of her family’s history and the days leading up to her brother’s nomadic life.

8. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

A few years ago I had a year of comedy, where half of the books I read were humorous memoirs. I think this year may be my year of YA. I’ve got so many young adult books on my list. And one of them is Eleanor & Park. Even the colored pencil sketch cover looks like spring to me. How could I possibly say no to a love story between two misfit teens when the leading lady has red hair?

9. Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova

I’m not shy about admitting the fact that I disliked Jane Eyre. I know, I know, such sacrilege from an English major! What can I say? I’m more of a Heathcliffe/Wuthering Heights kinda girl. However, I really enjoyed This House is Haunted which is an adaptation of Jane Eyre, and Wildalone has some notes of Eyre as well. I do enjoy a good paranormal read and this one seems intriguing!

10. The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry 

I’m embarrassed to admit how long this beautiful book has sat on my TBR shelf. It’s been an alternate in the TBR Challenge for 2 years and since I never had to use my alternates I didn’t get to it. This year I made it part of my challenge, determined to finally read it. I love the idea that the lead character can see ghosts by cooking up recipes from them. And this is what sets her off on a journey of family secrets.

*****

That’s my Top 10 books to read this spring.
What titles are on your spring list? 

And There’s a Side Pocket for Snacks!

Some of you may know that I work in a reproductive health clinic. A large part of my job involves volunteer coordination, some marketing and outreach, working closely with our board of directors, and managing our social media. (I post cool stuff, you guys, check us out on Facebook and Twitter!) Additionally, I can be found handing out condoms on campuses and in area bars, hosting the occasional evening of Sex Trivia, and shouting things like “No Karolee, I DON’T know where your balls are!”

(Relax, it was just the fake set of testicles we have for educational purposes.)

Sometimes when I’m searching for interesting things to post online, my coworkers send me ideas. One such idea happened upon my email, and while it wasn’t quite right to share on our clinic page, I knew two ladies who HAD to see it.

August McLaughlin is an author, blogger, and  founder of GirlBoner radio and a huge proponent of women’s sexual health and empowerment. Jenny Hansen works as a freelance writer, technical trainer, and blogger with a reoccurring little series called The Undie Chronicles. These were clearly the women who would appreciate the following tweet I sent.

https://twitter.com/jesswitkins/status/560971120502120452
 

What I sent them was the link to this product…

You guys, for just $35 you can have your very own condom sleeping bag!!

Turns out, I was right. August and Jenny did appreciate my tweet.

Or for storing actual condoms, but I would use it for snacks!

The product includes a pillow and zip compartment for storing the actual sleeping bag, which can be rolled up just like a condom.

August and Jenny and I were making plans for our virtual sleepover that included birth control themed brownies and trivia.

 

Do you know it? I stumped these gals, though their guesses were admirable.

The correct answer is Little Richard’s “Tutti Fruiti.” The original lyrics read “Tutti fruiti, get booty.”

What do you think? Do you find the condom sleeping bag as amusing as we do?
Will you be joining us at the sleepover? It’s BYOS, bring your own snacks. ;)

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