Books I Want My Kids to Read Someday

Last summer, armed with some colorful pens, I sat down to make a very special list.  Carl and I had been talking about books that really influenced us, and I wanted to know that someday my kids would have their own list of influential books.

Growing up, I spent many hot summer days in my  local library–is it just me, or do all libraries have amazing air condish? And the best tasting icy cold water fountain water.  They must have a direct line from a secret mountain spring.  I can’t wait for this babe to love the library as much as we did.  I hope she loves the water there as much as her super weird, super nerdy parents.

This is the Carl-and-Hayley family list of books we’d want her to read someday.

Get workin’, T.
  1. Harry Potter (the entire series)

    …and preferably she could go back in time and wait in costume at midnight for each book release.


  2. The BFG, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach  

    We were just talking about this! Why was James and the Giant Peach such a horrifying movie?  It definitely seemed too scary for kids.  The giant bugs were supposedly nice, but were SO creepy looking!bfg

  3. The Phantom Tollbooth51fWQBmjbVL._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_

  4. The Hardy Boys series

    I never got into Nancy Drew but I loved these books!  I remember their chum Chet, described as a rotund boy driving a jalopy.  I used these words on the regular; I was probably the coolest kid in my fourth grade class.914d9xLbgrL.jpg

  5. Charlotte’s Webb


  6. The Hobbitphoto_5653_0-5

  7. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe317500

  8. Little House on the Prairie51OMP91O3KL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_

  9. Huckleberry Finn & Tom Sawyer

    Carl’s must-read book.  I didn’t even read these until high school English.theadventuresofhuckleberryfinn

  10. The Invisible Man, The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, and Dracula for kids

    Much Googling has taught me that this series was called the Great Illustrated Classics.  It seemed like everyone at my school was reading one of these at any given free reading session.  The really hardcore kids read Goosebumps, but that just wasn’t me. INVISIBLE_MAN-2

    What books do you love to this day?


Should I finish this book?

This summer, I’ve created a Kindle graveyard of half-finished books.

Part of it is the fact that I have pretty much no attention span.  I read in thirty second intervals between naps, feedings, and diaper changes–whatever book I choose had better be seriously gripping.  The next book is always shinier, more exciting.

My newest thing is the free shelf at the library. I’ll clear out my shelves and donate a bag of books, only to replace them with new ones.  I guess there are worse hobbies.  I could be addicted to online poker or something.

Truly, life is too short to finish a book you’re not enjoying.  If you love to read, chances are that there is a book out there you could currently be enjoying except you’re stubbornly sticking to this dud.  There are plenty of fish in the literary sea.


What do you think? Is disciplined reading worthwhile for its own sake?

happy reading

Book Clubs

As someone who has lived in three cities in the last four years, I value a good book club.

It’s like this: you show up in a new town, ready and willing to make new friends–but where to find them?  I’ve had a few manufactured friendships; someone I know happens to know someone in the place I’m moving to.  The key to conjuring a friendship out of thin air is to have an activity act as a buffer, bonus points if it’s a group activity.  Church groups and bar trivia teams have provided me with plenty of acquaintances.

The best results have come from book clubs.  It makes sense; friends generally have common interests.  At book club, we are generally all into reading, food, and wine.  In every book club I’ve been a part of, that’s been about all that we had in common.

I love it! The variety of tastes and differences in personality are so exciting.  One person is into Austen, one into mystery/thrillers, and I’m the nerd reading Jurassic Park again.  I never thought I’d like the ultra-feminine classics, but my book club has convinced me.

Today, I’m headed into Tokyo with my dad and my baby to explore some more.  We’ll write more soon!

happy reading

Continue reading

Delicious words

My favorite words from Stephen King’s The Shining
  1. Nimbus: a luminous vapor, cloud, or atmosphere about a god or goddess when on earth

2. Lassitude:  a weariness of body or mind from strain,oppressive climate, etc.; lack of energy;listlessness; languor

3. Verdigris: a bright bluish-green encrustation or patina formed on copper or brass by atmospheric oxidation, consisting of basic copper carbonate.

4. Denuded: to make naked or bare; strip



There aren’t many books that I love enough to read twice.  I’ve read every Harry Potter millions of times, and The Hunger Games was worth a second shot.  On my most recent flight, I panicked: I’d brought the fully charged Kindle, but had forgotten to load my current book.


Enter Stephen King.  Ahh, deliciously horrifying Stephen King.

During takeoff, I fed the happy baby and settled into one of my favorite stories ever: The Shining.  Is there anything better?

We experienced some airport drama on this trip, and after the first flight I was separated from my travel companion, Maureen.  Somehow, she ended up with my Kindle (and my snacks!), but I was already too far gone.  I ducked into the Hudson News and bought the hard copy of The Shining.  If I’ve already read it 4829084190 times, who’s to say I won’t read it 28482109 more?

What books do you love enough to read twice?  Which is your go-to comfort read?

Hope you’re all having as great of a summer as I am!


My Book Reviews: With Malice

Short review: this book was not good.

The premise sounded somewhat interesting:  a girl is accused of killing her best friend over a guy while studying abroad in Italy, but has no memory of the trip.  Very Amanda Knox.

The writing was clumsy, the plot was boring and made no sense, the characters were flat.  I finished it mostly because I was bored.  Jill, the main character struggles with her amnesia, saying:

“I concentrated, trying to recall more, but it was like my brain was constipated.”

For real? You couldn’t think of any better way to phrase this?


Her characters don’t talk like real teenagers, it’s more like a grandma’s idea of how teenagers speak.  There are several segments featuring online chats where characters say “Gurl”,  “I M here 4 u” and “bee-otch”.  Come on, now.  This sounds like how people wrote emails in the dawn of the internet, when it was still called “the web” and we were all drowning in AOL free trial CDs.


This book was a nice try that fell flat.



What Kind of Reader Are You?

Hanging out with a baby 24/7 has put me in an interesting situation:  I have lots and lots of time, but no free hands.  Teagan loves to be held, and even though banging pots and pans wouldn’t wake this sweet babe, putting her to bed by herself instantly has her screaming.  So I wear her in the baby carrier or hold her ALL. THE. TIME.

I’m Netflixing, I’m podcasting, I’m Kindleing like you wouldn’t believe.  This is a great problem to have–I’ve started reading new book blogs and listening to the podcast What Should I Read Next?  The guest they interviewed this week talked about how she was always the girl who refused to start with the second book in a series; she had to begin with the first or not at all.  She talked about how she just loves the smell of books and turning the pages of a real, physical book instead of an e-Reader.  She takes amazing care of her books and gets angry when friends return them to her damaged.

Because I’m weird, I started to get weirdly jealous of this girl.

If only I had the self-discipline to care about any of these things!  I read mostly from a Kindle because its lighter and easier to manage than a book, but if I forget to charge the Kindle, iPhone it is.  I’ve moved so many times that I own probably less than twenty real live books, and they are all too damaged for the library to accept.  A pizza stain at the climax of the book is my signature, because I’m classy like that.

Luckily, we were out on a stroller walk and I had time to digest these weird feelings of inadequacy.  I love reading, I love books, I love libraries so, so, much.  I love to swan dive into a story and not move until I’ve devoured it all.  I love history, fiction, poetry, adventure, mystery, romance.  I’ve been known to drop a book that failed to hold my attention and pick up another without a second thought.  I am happy to reread old favorites over and over again.

What kind of reader are you?

Are you slow and steady, someone who likes to mull over the themes of a book upon finishing?  Are you an eReader reader?  Do you love to read in libraries, or at home on the couch?

Picture of the babe just because:


I hope that you are all reading this from a pool chair in some exotic place.  Summer reading is truly delicious, isn’t it?
happy reading

My Book Reviews: Good as Gone

I think I’ve watched every show on Netflix.

Recently, I’ve had to spend a lot of time sitting down attached to a baby, which is a pace that I am not at all used to.  But, on the plus side, I finally have the time to read again!

First up, a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while that went on sale briefly for Kindle.  Good as Gone, by Amy Gentry was the perfect first book back after a long hiatus.

The premise is a good one: A family is beginning to give up hope that their kidnapped daughter, Julie, will ever come home when she mysteriously arrives at their door after eight years.  As Julie settles back into life at home, inconsistencies arise in her story.  The family can’t figure it out: why would Julie lie? Is it really Julie?

This was recommended to me as an “unputdownable” book, and it did not disappoint.  For two days, I was glued to the Kindle impatiently trying to put the pieces together.  Proof of how addicting this book was: the baby was asleep, and I was tired, but I stayed up instead to read this book.  That is truly taking your life into your own hands–so worth it for this book!

“If there is something missing—if I am afraid to love her quite as much as before—it is only because the potential for love feels so big and so intense that I fear I will disappear in the expression of it, that it will blow my skin away like clouds and I will be nothing.”


If you like suspense/mystery/thrillers, admittedly a huge genre now, you will enjoy this book.  Read it if for no other reason than the fact that it’s super, super addicting.  Enjoy!


Yummy Words

I think words are delicious.  This is my list of recent favorites.

Apoplectic: overcome with anger; furious

Bifurcated: divide into two branches or forks

Meringue: an item of sweet food made from a mixture of egg whites and sugar baked until crisp

Protoplanetary: of or having to do with a protoplanet.  A protoplanet is defined as a large body of matter in orbit around the sun or a star and thought to be developing into a planet

Salient: most noticeable or important

Ultra Super Manly Men’s Mustache Book Club for Men

The first rule of book club: you do NOT talk about book club.


I’ve talked before about my love for Slate’s podcast Slate Culture Gabfest, and one of it’s most recent topics was the manliness of reading, specifically men’s book clubs.  Traditionally, book clubs have been for groups of women, and there is a very typical “book club book”.  My beloved club of nurses in Bethesda was pretty typical; we were all women and really really enjoyed our snacks.  Our choices ran the entire range: we read fiction, history, science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, comedy, military biography–each of us were so different that our taste was inevitably reflective of this.

Slate Culture Gabfest argues that fiction is becoming stereotypically feminine, particularly in America.  Taking this one step further, reading is for girls.  And let’s just face it, girls have cooties.

The recent rise of men’s book clubs points to adorable facets of gender stereotypes.  While women’s book clubs are generally happy to read and move on (half of our book club generally did not ever read the book, but came for the wine), some men’s book clubs on Good Reads have other fun activities.  One club rates the book and keeps a running tally of each book they’ve read, while others just create “ultra manly lists” ranked by level of manliness.

I love the importance attributed to listing, ranking, and of course, manliness.  Real men make lists.

It’s very Lord of the Flies, yes?

Hey, if it gets you to read, more power to you, manly men of American book clubs!


What do you think? Is reading for girly men? Are book clubs outdated?