Top Ten Books on My Birthday Wish List

Weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

That’s right–it’s my birthday! Today I turn 26 years old, and the festivities have already started! Over the weekend, I had a girls night out dancing in San Francisco, and tonight I’m celebrating with coworkers.

On Friday, my cats Lyra and Pippin will be joining me on a road trip to visit my family. I haven’t seen my parents and brother since I adopted the kitties during 4th of July weekend, so I’m excited to spend time with them. I’ll be on a week-long vacation before flying to NYC for an industry tradeshow–a calm before the crazy busy storm, if you will.

So how will I be treating myself during my time off? I’ve already set up appointments for plenty of pampering: hair, nails, massage, the whole nine yards. As a natural saver, I rarely spend money on myself, but I have made some room in my budget this month for some much-needed TLC.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a truly relaxing experience without some good books to read! This week’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday is a free-for-all, so I decided what better way to include you all in my birthday fun than to share my reading wish list!

Bday Collage 1

Memoir

  • Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling: I loved Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, so I hope this book of hers (just released today) is just as good!
  • Life as I Blow It by Sarah Colonna: A friend of Chelsea Handler’s is a friend of mine. Prim and proper people make for boring memoirs, but thankfully Colonna is not that kind of woman.
  • Popular by Lauren Urasek: Dubbed “the most popular girl on OkCupid” by New York magazine, Urasek shares her online dating experiences. As someone who was by no means considered popular growing up, I’m interested to hear how the author navigates the trials and tribulations of dating in the 21st century. In stores Oct. 6.

Romance/Chick-Lit

  • Suddenly One Summer by Julie James: One of my favorite romance novelists is at it again with this tale about a divorce lawyer who falls for an investigative journalist. The weather may be getting cooler, but the sexual tension in this book is sure to heat things up!
  • Honeymoon Hotel by Hester Browne: I’ve been a fan of Browne’s since reading The Little Lady Agency, and it seems that she’s keeping up the wedding planning theme with this book.
  • If I Could Turn Back Time by Beth Harbison: I wasn’t too impressed with When in Doubt, Add Butter, but I’m willing to give the author another shot. Time travel stories can be tricky, so I hope this one is successful.

Bday Collage 2

Young Adult

  • Another Day by David Levithan: I’ve been anticipating this retelling of Every Day for quite awhile, which was released last month. It will be intriguing to re-read this unique teenage love story from Rhiannon’s perspective.
  • Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs: This third book in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series promises to be extra spooky with 50 new Peculiar photographs. In stores Sept. 22.
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: I’ve been putting off reading this bestselling author for too long, and I’ve heard lots of good things about this novel of hers. Too many great books, not enough time!

Literary Fiction

  • The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood: Naturally, I’ll want to read this book when it’s released Sept. 29, since I’m going to Atwood’s signing next month. Nobody does dystopia like her!

As always, a big thanks to everyone reading Book Club Babe. You’ve been a part of five of my birthdays now, and that’s something worth celebrating!

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Happy 200th Birthday Charles Dickens!

Even Google honored Dickens’ b-day!

Today is the bicentennial of Charles Dickens’ birth (lived 1812-1870), so I thought I’d offer my opinion of the man synonymous with Victorian literature. But first, some random facts I learned about him via his Wikipedia page:

  • He was the second of eight children, and then had ten children with his wife Catherine.
  • He had a near photographic memory.
  • He was involved in the Staplehurst rail crash of 1865, in which the first seven train carriages fell off a broken bridge. Dickens was in the last first-class carriage, and his experiences helping the wounded left him traumatized.
  • Five years to the day of that accident, Dickens died. His last words were allegedly, “Be natural my children. For the writer that is natural has fulfilled all the rules of art.”
  • He stated in his will to not erect any monuments for him, but a life-size bronze statue can be found in Philadelphia.

Now I have a love/hate relationship with Dickens’ work. I think that A Christmas Carol is so overrated that I refuse to read it. I also loathe Great Expectations with a bloody passion after my freshman “English teacher”/debate coach completely ruined the novel with ridiculous assignments. However, I read Hard Times, and although it was pretty dull, I appreciate it as a honest look into the Industrial Revolution.

And, of course, my favorite novel of his will always be A Tale of Two Cities. It probably has one of the best first lines in literature:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

I’ll write a full review of A Tale of Two Cities for the next Masterpiece Monday, but it’s an exquisite story of love and turmoil during the French Revolution. Yes, due to serially writing his installments, Dickens is known for rambling about very little for a very, very long time, but I would say that the last five chapters of A Tale of Two Cities was one of the most rewarding reading experiences–so worth the struggle to get that far.

The Washington Post put it aptly: “We live in the age of TLDR — “Too long, didn’t read [but] When Victorian readers slummed it and put down their Seneca and Marcus Aurelius and whatever else it was they were expected to be reading, they picked up Charles Dickens in the grocery-store checkout aisle. If only we were so lucky.”

So while I may not love Dickens enough to attend UCSC’s week-long summer event “The Dickens Universe” (which I’ve heard is positively delightful, so click here for more info if it tickles your fancy), I do respect the author for shining a spotlight on the working class and giving us some of literature’s most memorable characters, such as Oliver Twist and Miss Havisham.

As for my own reading update, I just finished Book One of Tender is the Night, and because the book’s taking longer than normal to finish, I’ll probably post a mini-review sometime this week. Stay tuned!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yep, that’s right, it’s my birthday! I’m now a ripe, old 22! But when it comes to book birthdays, my first thought is, of course, Lord of the Rings and Bilbo’s 111th birthday in the Shire. The whole hobbit community partied the night away, with tons of dancing, drinks, and pipeweed.

And who could forget Gandalf’s magical fireworks?

It’s one of my favorite scenes in literature and cinema, and even though my birthday will be celebrated on a much smaller scale, I’ll leave you with Bilbo’s famous words:

“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

Thanks for reading!

Love, Book Club Babe