May 2018 Reading Recap

I read SUCH GOOD THINGS THIS MONTH. I love them all.

I’m now done with The Books of the Raksura series so everything is sad in my life now.

The only reread was The Two Towers.

Crazy facts: I only read ONE comic this month, and I listened to an audiobook! Boom accomplishment.

 

Short Stories/Novellas

Dance, Princes, Dance! by Tansy Rayner Roberts (4/5 stars)

Pet by C.S. Pacat (5/5 stars)

Stories of the Raksura Volume 1 by Martha Wells (4/5 stars)

Stories of the Raksura Volume 2 by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

 

Novels

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (no rating)

Hamilton’s Battalion: A Trio of Romances by Courtney Milan, Rose Lerner, and Alyssa Cole (3/5 stars)

Hamster Princess: Whiskerella by Ursula Vernon (5/5 stars)

Steel Blues by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham (4/5 stars)

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien (5/5 stars)

 

Nonfiction

A Little History of Dragons by Joyce Hargreaves (4/5 stars)

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs (3/5 stars)

 

Graphic Novels/Comics

The Unbeatable Squirrel: I’ve Been Waiting for a Squirrel Like You by Ryan North (4/5 stars)

Audiobooks

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (5/5 stars)

Advertisements

The 5 Best Ways to Read While Traveling

The only problem with traveling is that it really cuts into my reading time.

Don’t get me wrong, I can read A N Y W H E R E. But travel provides lots of distractions and entertainment, as well as tiring me out fast. But when I don’t get at least a little reading in, I can get really crabby. Sound familiar? Whether we are going on a weekend jaunt or a week or three of sightseeing, it’s important for us bookworms to make time for reading. It keeps us calm and energizes us for the next adventure.

On my recent trip overseas, I took note of when, where, and how I actually managed to read, and made up a list of the best ways to read while traveling. One of the biggest obstacles, of course, is time.

Make Time For What You Love

Whether you are a schedule-every-second traveler or a let’s-see-what-happens traveler, I recommend planning out when you are going to read, even if it’s just a few minutes. I try to get up at least 30 minutes before I “have to” so that I can squeeze in some reading before the day really starts. If you can’t or don’t want to schedule reading time, that’s fine too. Just take advantage of the places in my list below when you’re on the go.

Choose the Right Books

I definitely agonize over which book(s) to bring when I’m going on a trip, no matter how long I will be away from my shelves. I’ve learned that for me, it’s best to bring authors I’m familiar with and love, or something I love to reread, or a book that I know will be very suspenseful. On my recent long trip, I took my Kindle loaded with free or discount titles which meant I had a wide variety to choose from.

The Best Ways to Read While Traveling

  1. On the train: I’m biased in favor of trains because they are now my favorite form of transportation. Your Mileage May Vary with this one if you’re not using trains or they make you sick. For some reason I get sick on subways if I read, but not trains. The other thing is that trains may or may not have outlets and WiFi, so bringing a book or Kindle along will save you some boredom. Relax in your seat, take in the views outside the window, read your book, and you’ll be at your destination before you know it.
  2. Parks: Depending on the weather, parks can be a great way to combine exploration with your reading time. On my recent trip, I would use my maps app to find the nearest Big Green Area and use it for a nice walk and maybe some reading time if there’s a bench or some nice grass.
  3. On the airplane: I hate flying but planes are good for getting a lot of reading done. I try to pull out my book as soon as I’m boarded so I don’t sit and agonize over how long it’s taking for the plane to take off. I’m also an introvert so I don’t love chatting with fellow passengers (sorry, fellow passengers).
  4. Coffee/tea shops: It’s a good way to explore a new place by finding the nearest coffee shop, or if you’re in one place for a while to find your favorite. Hot beverages are pretty universal, and coffee shops are a great place to hang out with a book due to the deliciousness, atmosphere, and comfy chairs.
  5. Tourist site lines: If you’re doing a lot of sightseeing, you might have to deal with more than a few ticket lines, entry lines, whatever lines. Stash a small book or Kindle in your bag and pull it out if you find yourself tapping your foot with boredom.

Travel is fun but tiring; reading helps me take some time to relax and think about something besides what I’m going to do next. How do you make time to read while traveling? Which places did I miss?

Question for audiobook readers: I don’t use audiobooks very often. Most of the places on my list don’t have guaranteed electrical outlets. How do you deal with listening to your book while on the go? Portable phone battery? Other? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Worlds I’d Want to Live In

This week’s prompt for Top 10 Tuesday is Bookish Worlds I’d Want to Live In. For me personally, there are SO MANY. I narrowed my favorite fictional worlds as best as I could.

  1. Middle-Earth (The Lord of the Rings): Specifically I’d love to live in Rivendell, Rohan, Minas Tirith, Lothlorien, Buckland, or the Grey Havens. I’m not picky. Not at all.
  2. Ingary (Howl’s Moving Castle): The land of seven-league boots and invisibility cloaks! Plus, if I want to go in between normal Earth and Ingary, I can just hire a wizard to make me a portal.
  3. Dinotopia (Dinotopia series): I probably haven’t talked about my secret weakness for Dinotopia before, but I just love dinosaurs so much and when I was a kid I wanted for Dinotopia to be real S O. B A D. I want dino pals and dino steeds!
  4. Earthsea (Earthsea series): Yes, Earthsea sounds terrifying, but on the other hand they have dragons and an insane magic system and a much better magic school than Hogwarts. Yeah, you heard me.
  5. Atlanta, Georgia (Kate Daniels series): In this series, the technological age is OVER and is being slowly eaten by a new magic age. I’m pretty okay with this and while I don’t think I would survive longer than a week, it would be a GOOD MAGICAL WEEK.
  6. Temeraire’s alternate history world (Temeraire series): My reasons for this are pretty similar to those for Dinotopia: I want dragon friends and dragon steeds and tiny dragons and giant dragons, just a part of nature, totally normal, nothing to see here except DRAGONS.
  7. Camp Halfblood (Percy Jackson and the Olympians series): I don’t need demigod powers, I just want to visit and take notes for the science. And make genealogical trees for every single camper.
  8. Naboo (Star Wars): Star Wars is more of a movie franchise than a book franchise but this is reminding me that there are NOT ENOUGH BOOKS set on Naboo. I’m planning to move there as soon as I complete my lightspeed rocket.
  9. The Reaches (The Books of the Raksura series): This is another one of those places that I would probably get eaten by a giant predator in a matter of days. But if I could finagle my way into a Raksuran colony tree, everything would be fine and I’d have the best time ever making jewelry or something and convincing giant winged lizards to fly me around.
  10. Astreiant (Astreiant series): I’m reading the most recent installment, Point of Sighs, right now and this series is the best combination of perfect fantasy worldbuilding, fun characters, casual matriarchy, drama, and murder mystery. And yes I would  definitely live there.

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

Bahnreads Overseas: Literary Sights

I recently traveled from the West Coast overseas to London, Dublin, and Italy. I already blogged about my favorite bookshops I found while traveling. I also visited and/or discovered a few literature-related spots, some of them by accident because I am not as good at planning as I like to pretend. Read on for my favorite literary sites that we visited.

The Jane Austen Centre (Bath, England)

Is it touristy? Yes. Is it gimmicky? Yes. Is it a ton of fun? ALSO YES.

What first struck me at the Jane Austen Centre was the sincere enthusiasm of everyone who worked there. The young woman calling herself Louisa Musgrove gave a practiced monologue on Jane Austen’s family, but she made it interesting enough and got some laughs, and she handed us off to Lady Catherine De Burg who told us about the different portraits of Jane Austen and the arguments over their authenticity. Everyone else we interacted with, whether it was the costumed gentlemen at the door or the cashier in the gift shop seemed knowledgeable and honestly glad to be there.

The Centre itself was full of both contemporary Austen artifacts and reproduced versions. Besides the information displays and museum exhibits, there were some interactive areas where you could try on costumes, practice writing with a quill, and play contemporary tabletop games.

Check out my photos below for some examples of the displays and costumes.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Book of Kells and Long Library Exhibit (Trinity College, Dublin)

On our first full day in Dublin, we took a tram (because Trams Are Best) to the Trinity College campus. First of all, gorgeous campus, what is this, ridiculous, so beautiful. Second of all, they have the Book of Kells at their library so we visited that. Unfortunately, they don’t let you take pictures of the old books in the exhibit. But trust me when I tell you, WOW ILLUMINATED BOOKS, THEY ARE GORGEOUS AND BEST. The level of detail and the bright colors and gold were incredible. The pages we saw were the genealogy of Jesus and a section from the Gospel of John. You can see some official photos here.

We were able to see the Long Room in the same library building. It’s the perfect library aesthetic with a longgggggg room (imagine that) with fabulous-looking arches, as well as a bust or fifty of famous writers. You can check out my photos below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Via Dante Alighieri (Florence, Italy)

dante

There are quite a few Dante-related sites in Florence, Italy, which you can read about here on Walkabout. Our time was very limited there, although we did, of course, see the Duomo. I spotted this street named after Dante and snapped a photo. It’s really fun going to cities where these famous writers lived and worked, and imagine them as they were.

 

Jonathan Swift’s tomb (St. Patrick’s Cathedral)

While in Dublin we visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I had no idea that Jonathan Swift’s tomb was there! I really need to brush up on my author history because Jonathan Swift was Dean there for 32 years. If you visit the Cathedral, which is beautiful in its own right, you can see artifacts such as Swift’s pulpit. Swift wrote his own epitaph, because of course he did. The epitaph marks Swift’s grave and is in Latin, but the translation is:

Here lies the body of Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Divinity and Dean of this Cathedral,
Where savage indignation can no longer lacerate his heart;
Go traveller and imitate if you can, this dedicated and earnest champion of liberty
He died on the 19th October 1745, aged 78 years

Check out my photos below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Overall I had an amazing time exploring, especially when we found places and sites we didn’t always know were there.

It’s Music You Can Read 2

Previously on It’s Music You Can Read To I recommended 5 music albums for listening to while reading.

I’m back with more reading music ideas!  As I said on the first installment, I’m not a musical expert in any way, so I chose these based on 1. my level of enjoyment while listening and 2. its ability to float in the background without demanding center stage of my attention.

X-Men: First Class score by Henry Jackman

What I like about this soundtrack, besides that all of it is really good, is that there are a lot of different Moods and they’re all really intense. You have the triumphant “First Class” theme, along with the pensive and sad “Would You Date Me?,” the chilling “Frankenstein’s Monster,” and the resigned “Mutant and Proud.”

Pair it with: something with a lot of Feels like Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis.

Panic by Caravan Palace

And now for something completely different! Caravan Palace is a French electro-swing band. I don’t know anything about French electro-swing, but I do love this band. They do have a varying degree of vocals in their songs, especially their newer album, so Panic (2012) is my favorite. Here is one of their tracks if you want to check them out.

Pair it with: a steampunk adventure like Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

The Phantom Menace score by John Williams

This is one of my favorite Star Wars soundtracks. Don’t @ me.

Like all things Star Wars, there are multiple editions so I’m referencing the “Ultimate Edition.”

Besides the epic-but-overplayed “Duel of the Fates,” there are few tracks I especially love, including the eery “Swimming to Otoh Gunga,” pretty much any of the Trade Federation battle songs like “Activate the Droids,” and the surprisingly happy Tatooine tracks like “Anakin, Podracer Mechanic.” There’s a lot of variety in this score, making it easy to put on repeat while I’m reading.

Pair it with: an interesting biography like Alexander of Macedon by Peter Green (you didn’t really think you’d get through this without some Alex, did you?).

The Best of Chopin

Frédéric Chopin is pretty obscure so you probably haven’t heard of him. If I want some soothing piano background music, Chopin’s definitely one of my top three choices (spoilers the other two choices involve Nobuo Uematsu).

Pair it with: a volume of 19th c. poetry, Christina Rossetti perhaps?

Last Exile score by Dolce Triade

How much I love this score definitely has nothing to do with how much I love the anime of the same name. I don’t know what you’re talking about. But seriously, this score has a plethora of trumpet fanfares (“Silverna”), suspenseful battle music like “Naval Affair” and quirky flutes like in “Brave Willing.” Plus “Cloud Age Symphony” is just a lot of fun.

Pair it with: an alternate history like Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

 

Until next time on It’s Music You Can Read To!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Character Names

I saw that this was the prompt for this week and I HAD TO DO IT. One thing I noticed while putting together this list is that often the best names in books, from a functional standpoint, are the most simple; a long, beautiful name can be distracting and/or hard to pronounce. But on the other hand, those long beautiful names can be so fun!

Here are my top 10 favorite character names (from books):

 

  1. Misty of Chincoteague. As a kid one of the first proper names I ran to figure out how to pronounce was Chincoteague. I still love saying it and reading it. Plus, the horse is called Misty. This just a genius combination and I don’t care if you disagree, you are wrong.
  2. Betsy-Tacy. Besty and Tacy are such epic BFFs that they go by a single name, and I love it.
  3. Rodian Romanovitch Raskolnikov. I mean, if you’re going to have a moral breakdown and murder an old lady with an ax, you might as well have as epic a name as possible.
  4.  Kamala Khan. It really rolls off the tongue and can sound both cute and badass (which is impressive, just like Kamala).
  5. Fai D. Flowright. It’s ridiculous and flowery, just like Fai. But appearances can be deceiving!
  6. Tristen Conn. Elizabeth Bear is the one of the best at beautiful and usable character names.
  7. Jane Fairfax. I love all Jane Austen names equally but Jane Fairfax is my favorite.
  8. Atomic Robo. I sometimes enjoy names that teach you about the character’s key physical traits. Plus Atomic Robo is simply fun to say.
  9. Newland Archer. Nobody does illustrative names like 19th century authors. Edith Wharton’s are more fun than, say, Thomas Hardy’s or Henry James.
  10. Winnie-the-Pooh. There is no reason on God’s green earth that a name like “Winnie-the-Pooh” should work, and yet it does.

 

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. What are your top 10 book character names?

 

Bahnreads Overseas: My Favorite Bookshops

It’s good to be blogging again! I returned a few days ago from a long trip overseas, with stops in London, Dublin, Rome, Venice, and Florence (with a tiny stop in Keflavik). While I didn’t do any sort of comprehensive tour of libraries or bookshops, I did my best to visit and explore them when I could. In this post I’m going to share my favorite bookshops I found while traveling. In a later post, I will share about other literature-related places I visited, including a certain fantastic library.

London

IMG_7828Okay, it’s not technically a bookstore, but the Globe Theater gift shop sells a lot of books by William Shakespeare. The theater is a reconstruction of the Globe Theater that Shakespeare worked in and wrote his plays for. We were able to do a tour as well as see a show. I highly recommend the experience! As far as books are concerned, the gift shop sells many different editions of the plays and sonnets, including big fancy folio-like reproductions.

I also managed to visit Forbidden Planet, which has been on my list for a while. If you like science fiction or fantasy, this is a magical place. The ground floor is entirely non-book nerd gear: toys, games, shirts, etc, from alllll the franchises. The Star Wars wall was really delicious. The basement floor is all books! They had many signed editions, along with a fantastic selection. Yay Forbidden Planet!

Dublin

Manor Books Limited in Malahide (just outside Dublin) was a fun little shop. They had a lot of Ireland-related books and books by Irish authors. What I love about independent bookstores is that I discover books I would never otherwise know the existence of. I bought a book here titled How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of The Crossroads (by Daniel Cassidy). I haven’t read it yet, but our tour guide at Malahide Castle mentioned quite a few common expressions that supposedly came from Ireland, so I’m very intrigued!

The Winding Stair Bookshop was one of my favorite finds on the trip. It’s pretty small, but very carefully curated to include both new books and used, with an emphasis on feminist books and Irish authors. I found a tiny little book titled A Little History of Dragons by Joyce Hargreaves, but there were a bunch of other books I wanted to carry off with me.  It’s also right next door to The Winding Stair restaurant.

I went into at least one branch of the Dubray Books chain. Besides being a decent all-around bookstore, they always had sizeable displays on Irish authors and Ireland-related topics, which, as a tourist, I really appreciated.

Rome

So the thing about Italy is that they speak and read Italian there, and I don’t. We went into a couple of little bookshops but the only place I bought books was actually the Colosseum gift shop, where I found a delightful little book called A Journey to Rome that had beautiful watercolor illustrations paired with quotes from famous literary people who visited Rome. Not to worry: I definitely plan to visit Rome again and next time I will plan my bookshop visits a little better.

Venice

Okay, first of all, Venice is surreally beautiful and probably not even a real place. Second, it contains a bookshop called Alta Acqua that is also probably not real. I have photographs of it and I’m still not sure. They keep many of their books in waterproof flotation devices, whether it be a gondola, a bathtub, or a canoe. I didn’t actually buy any books here, although they did both English and Italian. Enjoy the photos, and visit this place if you can.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Florence

Right outside the Accademia Gallery (which is awesome, you should go there) is a bookshop called Libreria Gozzini. I definitely only saw like four rooms when I was there, so I was surprised to look it up online and be told there are multiple floors and 23 rooms! We really missed out. However, we did find a few shelves of English books and I found a couple of tiny old copies of Shakespeare plays, one of which I took home with me (Romeo and Juliet). Besides beautiful shelves of books, there were many old prints and drawings, which were fun to look through.

IMG_7532

Overall, I really enjoyed my trip. But being in a strange place can be disorienting, and it’s always very comforting to hang out with books in between eating delicious food and seeing the sights. What are your favorite bookshops you’ve found while traveling?