Currently Listening: Do-Over by Jon Acuff

My friends will tell you that I’m a real bad listener…at least when it comes to podcasts, audiobooks, sermons, lectures, and other valuable educational experiences.

giphy (10).gif
Nope. I didn’t.

I have to be doing something with my hands while I listen and even then my comprehension and retention levels are NOT GREAT.  I get frustrated if I miss something, I get frustrated if I get distracted, I get frustrated if I space out, and most of all, I hate not knowing how to spell characters’ names (this is a huge problem in SFF or if the reader has an accent).

Basically I’m a big baby.

But I am trying to do better. Here’s what I’ve learned works the best for me to get some audiobook listening in:

Bahnreads’ Top 3 Ways to Find an Audiobook She Can Actually Listen To:

  1. Choose really really suspenseful or compelling fiction: Marie Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons series was a hit for me (although I still don’t know how to spell most of the character’s names) because there is so much going on and lots of questions raised.
  2. Listen to books I’ve read before in paper copy: This is a really fun way to reread old favorites or books I particularly enjoyed. It also means that if I miss something or get distracted, I don’t get stressed out because I’ve read it before and I know what’s going on.
  3. Listen to books with dramatized casts: The variety of voices holds my attention better and helps me to differentiate characters. The audiobook of Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner is a great example; I’ve actually listened to that one MORE THAN ONCE.

So all of that leads to the book I’m currently listening to, which is Do-Over by Jon Acuff. This audiobook falls under Way #2. I read Do-Over last year in hard copy and found it full of really good information for strengthening or building any career. I like Acuff’s positivity and empathy. I appreciate his emphasis on showing generosity to others but also placing smart boundaries for yourself so you aren’t taken advantage of. Listening to it on audiobook is helping me to internalize the information more and repetition is always good for learning, right?

Jon Acuff also reads his own audiobook. Authors narrating their audiobooks doesn’t always have great results but Acuff does a good job and makes it more personal as if he’s imparting the information directly to you in a conversation.

Do you enjoy audiobooks, and if so, why? What audiobooks are you most drawn to?

Advertisements

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)

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!

 

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?

April 2018 Reading Recap

So I went on a bit of a trip this past month, and so I’m behind on my recaps, blogging, etc. But like…I was kind of busy in London, Dublin, and Italy. I read quite a bit before I left on my trip, though, so without further ado, here’s what I read last month!

Comparatively, I read a lot of Tai Nehisi-Coates. I really enjoy reading him: I don’t always agree with him, but he always makes me think. Also his Black Panther comics are good storytelling!

My favorite reads were by Patricia McKillip and Martha Wells (all fantasy novels, so I’m staying on brand).

Fiction

Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia McKillip (5/5 stars)

Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic by Ursula Vernon (4/5 stars)

Hamster Princess: Ratpunzel by Ursula Vernon (4/5 stars)

Hamster Princess: Giant Trouble by Ursula Vernon (4/5 stars)

And I Darken by Kiersten White (5/5 stars)

The Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

The Harbors of the Sun by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

Persuasion by Jane Austen (5/5 stars)

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig (4/5 stars)

Graphic Novels/Comics

The Wicked and the Divine: Imperial Phase II by Keiron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (4/5 stars)

Afar by Leila del Luca (4/5 stars)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Who Run the World? Squirrels by Ryan North (5/5 stars)

Poe Dameron: Legend Lost by Charles Soule (3/5 stars)

Ms. Marvel: Mecca by G. Willow Wilson (5/5 stars)

Black Panther and the Crew: We Are the Streets by Tai Nehisi-Coates (4/5 stars)

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet book 2 by Tai Nehisi-Coates (4/5 stars)

Nonfiction

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Tai Nehisi-Coates (4/5 stars)

The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander by Arrian (4/5 stars)

 

March 2018 Reading Recap

Whew I read a lot this month! And most of it was really amazing. My favorites were Martha Wells’ Books of the Raksura series (this was just nominated for a Hugo award, too!), and The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski (my review here). My favorite comics were Joyride, which I’m pumped to read more of, and the Library Wars manga series, which is hilarious but also really resonant. Yikes.

What were your favorite reads this month?

Comics/Graphic Novels

Fruits Basket 16-23 by Natsuki Takaya (5/5 stars)

Library Wars 1-15 by Kiiro Yumi (5/5 stars)

Heart and Brain by Nick Seluk (5/5 stars)

March: Book Three by John Lewis (5/5 stars)

Garbage Night by Jen Lee (2/5 stars)

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans by Don Brown (4/5 stars)

M.F.K. Book One by Nilah Magruder (4/5 stars)

Black Panther: World of Wakanda by Roxane Gay and Ta-Nehisi Coates (3/5 stars)

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey: Who Is Oracle? by Julie Benson (3/5 stars)

Joyride Volume 1 by Jackson Lanzer (5/5 stars)

The Force Awakens by Chuck Wendig (2/5 stars)

Lumberjanes: A Bird’s-Eye View by Shannon Watters (4/5 stars)

The Wicked and The Divine: Imperial Phase 2 by Kieron Gillen (4/5 stars)

Afar by Leila del Duca (4/5 stars)

Poetry

How We Became Human by Joy Harjo (4/5 stars)

Fiction

Opal by Maggie Stiefvater (5/5 stars)

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (4/5 stars)

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

The Serpent Sea by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

The Siren Depths by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip (4/5 stars)

Harriet the Invincible (Hamster Princess) by Ursula Vernon (5/5 stars)

Lost Things by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham (5/5 stars)

Harrowing the Dragon by Patricia McKillip (5/5 stars)

The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien (5/5 stars)

Nonfiction

Castles by Alan Lee (3/5 stars)

The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski (5/5 stars)

 

A Book for the Book Nerds

95979.jpgI recently read a fantastic book detailing the technology of books and bookshelves in the western world called The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski. I recommend reading it if you’re a bookworm or interested in learning about basic things that we take for granted.

The main questions this book answers are: “How and why did we get books in the form they are today? How and why did we get bookshelves in the form they are today?

The Book on the Bookshelf goes through the history of books in the western world, starting with scrolls, tablets, etc and going all the way through 1999 (when it was published), when e-readers were in development. This book is worth it if only for the (sometimes hilarious) speculation and analysis the potential effects of e-readers and e-books. It also goes into how we came to organize the books the way we do, and goes over the different ways of arranging books, which I found fascinating because I am constantly reorganizing my personal library.

However, whether or not you end up reading it, I’m going to share some (BUT NOT ALL) of my favorite facts that I learned from this book:

  • capsae are adorable-looking hat-boxes that one could use to carry one’s scrolls about with them. I want to get some scrolls and then I want to get a capsae and I want to frolic around and whip out my scrolls whenever I need to look up fun facts.

    clark-the_care_of_books-book_box
    Online Source (this image of a capsae is also shown in The Book on the Bookshelf)
  •  Apparently in the 11th century, English Benedictines had really strict rules on using the limited-and-precious books they had. In some monasteries, the librarian would assign ONE book per brother per year to read. At the end of the year, the librarian would gather all the brothers and read off their names and the book they had been assigned. If the brother had NOT read their assigned book, they had to confess their terrible literary sin on their knees to the librarian. I’m not saying we should bring this one back, but….
  • Books were stored in locked chests, but eventually the chests were turned on one end and left open and shelves put in, leading to the first armarium which turned into bookshelves!
  • Monasteries had the biggest collections of books until the Reformation, when they DESTROYED ALL THE MONASTERIES AND BURNED ALL THE BOOKS because no one has any religious chill. The printing press took a while to replace all of those big collections. Boo!
  • Spines were considered ugly for a VERY LONG TIME, like until the 17th/18th centuries. Books were shelved with their spines facing the back, because no one wants to look at that ugly thing. Sometimes librarians used slips of paper sticking out of the pages to mark what book it was, since titles weren’t on the spines and the spines were facing the back.

 

There’s lots more where those came from! I really enjoyed this book, although I’d love to read something similar that looks at book technology around the world. This one didn’t often specify if/what technology we received from or gave to the middle-east, east, etc.