Category Archives: personal

Week in Review

This was my first full week of summer break. I spent it mostly doing nothing, because my brain has still not processed this whole not-working thing. I also read a bunch of teaching texts (see: not being able to handle not-working) like Tribes and Comprehension and Collaboration because I am obsessed with making my kids work in ALL THE GROUPS!


I also read Lorrie Moore’s Bark for my grown-up book club, which was beautifully written and funny and smart and very Lorrie Moore. Every other line felt like it should be pulled for a Slaughterhouse 90210 post.

I used part of my CSA share and the nasturtiums we’re growing on our balcony to make the world’s fanciest egg salad. (Based on this recipe.)

egg salad


Other things around the web:

This Shelf Awareness story made me want to pick up The Bunker Diary to see what all the fuss was about. The chair of the awards committee points out that’s probably exactly what the publisher wants. It hasn’t even been published in the States yet. It’s so rare for people to get up-in-arms about a children’s book award! Usually no one cares AT ALL!

Sarah Polly is (probably) directing Looking for AlaskaLFA is my favorite John Green book and Sarah Polly is the coolest, so I am psyched about this. (Despite still not actually having seen TFIOS.)

I tweeted stuff about Brooklyn being the worst and the kittens in my neighbor’s backyard.

Good week, guys!

I should be getting good at these “Sorry” posts…

The number of times I’ve had to write one of these “Sorry I’ve been bad about blogging!” posts is definitely about 10 too many. But here I am again.

I haven’t published a post since February, but I have still been reading! The winter doldrums got me down on writing and it was hard to get back in the saddle. Luckily, though, getting back in the reading children’s lit saddle was pretty easy, even though Crispin: The Cross of Lead made a really valiant effort at keeping me out. Man.

As summer (and summer break) approaches I plan on posting twice a week for a while to help get me back on track. As of today, I’ve read all the way back to 1998’s winner, Out of the Dust, which gives me enough fodder for posts for the next month at that pace. I’m also hoping to read one book a week that was published this year and write about that. I’m hoping to put the Newbery Project in perspective (I write about this Newbery fatigue in my Criss Cross post), get some idea about what might win the Newbery for 2015, and perhaps actually review something you haven’t heard of for once. Maybe. I’m going to try to keep it mostly middle grade, but I read two interesting YA novels last weekend (one you have almost definitely heard about, one you maybe haven’t) that gave me plenty to talk about.

On to summer! Later today: my long-postponed review of Lynn Rae Perkin’s Criss Cross.

New Year, New Project

It seriously took me over a month to finish Allegiant. It’s hard to write a book blog when it takes you over a month to read a book.

My thoughts on that soon, but in the meantime, I have an idea. I’m going to read every Newbery Award Winner, in reverse chronological order. 
I wrote a whole thing about the project, along with ground rules I plan to follow, and made a tab for it at this top. Since it will dominate the blog for the next two years, I wanted a quick link to an explanation. You can read my plan here!

First up, 2013’s winner, The One and One Ivan by Katherine Applegate. Check back on Monday, January 6th!

Obligatory "I’ve Boon Gone A While" Post

I am astonishingly bad at blogging. When will I learn to stop trying? Probably never.

leave it on a bookshelf to evaporate

It’s Spring Break! Which means, of course, that it is 37 degrees outside and raining. That also means, though, that this is how my cat insists on sitting as I type this, which is adorable.

I am spending my break reading and writing because going outside would be a depressing exercise. Things I can recommend that I have consumed or found in the past few days while locked in my apartment:

  • Tina Fey’s Bossypants. I’m something like the 8-billionth person on the internet to recommend this this week, but I read it and it is good. It contains this sentence: “I had definitely never heard of anyone peeing in a cup and leaving it in their own office on a bookshelf to evaporate and be absorbed back into their body through the pores on their face.”
  • This poster of the world’s cats.
  • This video of a baby porcupine who has the hiccups and is also eating a banana.
  • This typographic map of the world, which was by far my favorite piece in the Typeforce show I saw a couple months ago and you can apparently now make your very own, as long as that lady restocks her etsy shop.
I’m going to go back to being cold now.

lazy sunday

Today was my favorite day of the year in Chicago: the first day of the year when it is truly warm and sunny outside. Everyone is in a good mood and spreads themselves out outside. I live on a wide boulevard with stretches of lawn running the length of the road and it was crawling with sunbathers and bacci ballers and dogs. This day did not exist when I lived in New York. People did get excited when the weather started to turn, but the city didn’t explode the way Chicago does when we finally feel like we’re free of winter. It’s the best.

I spent much of the day on my porch in our new chairs reading the NYTimes articles about Ramona and Hunger Games and trying to keep the rest of the Sunday paper from blowing into the alley. (It was beautiful and sunny and warm but egads was it windy.)

I also reread Sarah, Plain and Tall for a project I’m working on right now. I hadn’t read this since I was in elementary school, and all I remembered about it was that I didn’t like it. I thought it was boring. Upon rereading, I decided elementary-school-me was totally right. Sarah comes to their house (WHY?! Why does she come to their house?) and then she stays. The end. I know the Newbery voters in 1985 must have been charmed by this elegant simplicity in the story and prose, but I was thankful that the book was only 58 pages long. (Also: 58 pages?! You can get away with that? I guess I feel like the old ladies in the joke at the beginning of Annie Hall who complain about the restaurant’s terrible food that comes in such small portions, but it’s my party and I’ll complain about what I want to.) I am curious about the children who love this book. There must be many, and I do not write that in a tone that means “who the heck likes this book?!” I mean I really would love to learn more about the child reader who embraces this story.

I see the appeal it might have to adults. The writing is beautifully crafted and certain turns of phrase are remarkably elegant. The story is neat and tidy and gives us a window into a time where family relationships were very different. Maybe I’m not giving 8-year-olds enough credit. Maybe this is quite enough for most of them. It was not enough for me, though. Not even now.

Luckily I also read a galley of the new Clementine book this weekend and it was absolutely delightful. I will write all about it when the publication date gets closer but suffice it to say that I have never been so consistently charmed by a series of books as I continue to be by Clementine. Squee!

trying again

I have tried having a blog in 1,000 different ways over the last 15 years. The first 5 years were less about blogging and more about having a “webpage” on which I posted pictures of The Smashing Pumpkins and “traded links” with people and joined various groups. I can’t even remember what they were called then, but you put an icon on your page that included you on a list of webpages about The Cranberries or written by girls from Ohio or who like stars and then everyone clicked through from page to page, when surfing was still a concept that people embraced whole-heartedly.

Then there was diaryland and livejournal and then who knows how many blogs on blogger and wordpress and my own domain which at the time was called because I was in college and come on.
And now there is tumblr and twitter and this. The only reason I think I might be more reliable this time is that I am older and ostensibly wiser, and that as of late I am writing regularly and my job does not drain me so much so as to exclude side-projects. And I may have finally accumulated enough life experience to be able to talk about some things with more authority and insight that some other people. Maybe.

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