the 24 Hour Readathon that was.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

It's 5am my time and that's officially it for the readathon! I am so happy I joined again this year, because it's even better. 1,800+ readers participated which is amazing, and I had a fantastic time interacting with each and every book lover online. I spoke to some on twitter, but this time, I was definitely more active on Instagram.

My start time was at 5am, but set my alarm for 6am. When I woke up, I decided there was just no way I would last all day if I got up then. So I slept in until 8:30ish. I made breakfast - a waffle with strawberries and brewed coffee. I started reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac (307 pages) in bed, my favorite place to read.

4:30pm. I finally finished my first book.I went downstairs to make a quick lunch and read a little bit outside. I made a salad with avocados, quinoa, craisins, walnuts, and feta cheese. I started reading Animal Farm by George Orwell (141 pages).

7pm. Sun is almost setting. I finished Animal Farm, and I was surprised how fast-paced and short it was! After reading two full novels, I decided to re-read Watchmen, a favorite, and ignore my planned books for now. I also participated in the #bookishbrews challenge, and had a quick snack during this time - two cookies and dried apricot with homemade iced coffee.

11pm. Hour 19. An hour or so after dinner, I decided to get ready for bed. I have this shirt on because it speaks nothing but the truth, and started reading Ten Short Mysteries by Edgar Allan Poe. It is a collection of ten short stories, which I thought would be perfect to end the night with.

Since I work at 10am today (Sunday the 26th) I didn't really want to stay up too late. I would have if I could, but I opted for the smarter decision to just go to bed. As I write this post, I am about to get some much-needed sleep. Overall, I had a fantastic time. I read from 8:30am-12:30am. That's 16 hours. 1,073 pages. In addition to that, I again "met" many new bookish people online. That is probably my most favorite part! Tell me how the readathon was for you! 

my books for the 24 Hour Readathon

Friday, April 24, 2015

The other day, I posted about some book recommendations for the readathon, but failed to show my own stack of books. I was a little indecisive about the options to be honest, but here's my final choices. I am so excited for the readathon tomorrow. I have the full day off, and I look forward to a day of reading and interacting with the book community yet again.

  • The World's Greatest Love Letters - compilation
    This is a compilation of love letters from various figures in history. It's going to be great because I can read a letter or two at a time when I need a break from the novels.
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell - novel
    I just mentioned the other day how guilty I feel that I have not read this book before. I really liked 1984 and thought it was a very thought-provoking book, so I think this should be a good one. 
  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac - novel
    Again, here's another book I've been wanting to read but haven't yet. I will read this first, because I just can't wait. I also am doing a readalong of this book with a fellow book lover online.
  • Ten Great Mysteries by Edgar Allan Poe - short story collectoin
    Short stories are great for readathons. It doesn't need a lot of time to get through it at all. Also, I've been meaning to read more from Poe, so I figured this would be the perfect time to do so.
  • The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley - novel
    I borrowed this historical fiction from the library in ebook format, so I know I must get on this soon. What better way to read it than during a readathon?
  • Twenty Love Poems by Pablo Neruda
    Pablo Neruda is my favorite poet. His Sonnet 17 is still my favorite work of poetry. I have not read this yet, but can't wait to. 
As for snacks, I have a lot of strawberries, dried apricot, and trail mix. I also might go out to a coffee shop for a few just to change the scenery, instead of laying in bed all day. We will see though. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram where I'll be on all day! Happy reading.

Used Books and their Previous Owners

Thursday, April 23, 2015

One of the things I love about used books is when I find something from the previous owner. It could be something like a signature or a message. It's also interesting finding random things they used as bookmarks - receipts are the most popular one I've found! Recently, I purchased a used book from the library. A book published in the 60s, I found the previous owner's name (and address - I wish they would white this out before selling it though!), but the most interesting part was this.

It is a chemical structural formula of.... something. I took many health classes and admittedly, Organic Chemistry was a challenging one for me, but thankfully, I remember some material from it. I know that NH3 is ammonia, but what is NH (Nitrogen Hydrogen)? CH3 means methyl and C is carbon. I am just so interested in finding out what this stands for though, because let's be honest, finding this sparked my curiosity!

Then, there's this beauty here. I found this in an antique shop a few years ago. It is an old journal/class book from the 20s-30s. The book contains handwritten letters, poems, and short stories. However, this is the one that truly got my attention. It is a special poem about a girl and a funeral. It's beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.
 If you want to read it in its entirety, I posted about that here.
These are just two examples that stand out to me, but most of my vintage books and old books have some sort of dedication on them. It always makes me wonder what happened to the previous owner. Why did they give away the copy if it was a special gift to them? It's interesting to me how not only the books tell the story, but the copies themselves. What's some of the most memorable things that previous owners of your used books have left for you to discover, whether accidentally or intentional? A note perhaps, a message, or a dedication. Tell me all about it!

24 Hour Readathon: Book Recommendations

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon takes place this Saturday, April 25th, just a few days away. This is probably my favorite bookish event online and I finally just decided on my own stack of books! I have heard some are still looking for some options, so I thought I'd create a recommendations list. You still have four days to get them! Now these books are here for three reasons: 1. I loved them. 2. I enjoyed my time as I was reading them. 3. They are all fast-paced page turners.

Graphic Novels and Comic Books
These ones are great to add to your pile. They are the perfect ones to pick up when you are in the hours of the readathon when you feel blah or exhausted. There's pictures for one, so it's so much fun to look at the art. They are also usually very short and quickly paced, that it's easy for anyone to go through them.
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore (graphic novel)
  • The Sandman by Neil Gaiman -(horror comic book series)
  • Y: The Last Man - (comic book series)
  • V for Vendetta by Alan Moore (graphic novel)
  • Marvels by Kurt Busiek - If you want to get into the Marvel universe and its expansive world, start with this. It will introduce you to the world and to the characters. It's a fantastic introduction. It was a series of comic books, but is now compiled together in graphic novel format. 
Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction
Generally, Young Adult and Middle Grade fiction are relatively shorter compared to adult novels. They're perfect for readathons in my opinion.
  • Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (a sweet contemporary) 
  • Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (contemporary young adult)
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery (children's classic?) This is also an awesome re-read! You discover something new everytime. 
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (fantasy middle grade - for all ages for sure!) 
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman (contemporary young adult)
I always say I don't read a lot of non fiction, but I guess that's not true. I enjoy non fiction and memoirs a lot, but they have to be incredibly engrossing for me!
Fiction Page Turners that I Recommend
That's it for my recommendations. If you notice, there's no classics or modern classics on here! For me, I find them mentally time consuming, so I wasn't sure if I could include a solid recommendation. That's funny though, because some of the books in my own pile are modern classics! I'll show them later on this week. Also, if you have a twitter, blog, or instagram, leave them below so I can follow you on the day of the readathon! If you have other recommendations also, let me know. 


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I've been very good when it comes to buying books. I do not remember the last time I splurged on books or did a huge haul. I usually get my copies from the library through my Kindle, or buy used copies from the used bookstore which usually cost less than $6. However, I am a bibliophile and a book hoarder no matter what I do, and when I saw this edition, I was just like, "TAKE MY MONEY!"

See them here
But you know what's even crazier than these elegant little black books? PINK BOOKS.

I saw them on here

Aren't they so simple, beautiful, and understated?? Sigh. The temptation is real. What are some of the recent editions you just absolutely want to have? Let me know so I can feel better about myself and my need for these beauties. 

Book Guilt Part Deux

Monday, April 13, 2015

Last year, I put up a post on books I probably should have read already but haven't. I've since fixed that and read three out of that list - The Picture of Dorian Gray, Into the Wild, and Lolita. I am happy I did so, because I liked all three, especially The Picture of Dorian Gray. Today, I figured I would go ahead and list down a few of the books I'm guilty I haven't read yet, even though I've always wanted to. Here's to hoping I tackle on them this year.

  • On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell
Now there's a ton more books that I haven't read like Moby Dick for example, but I honestly don't feel like reading it in general, so I'm not including it on the list. These titles are here because I've always wanted to read them. I just haven't yet.

What are some of the books you are ashamed you have never read? 

If I had a superpower, it'd be to read all the books at once.

Friday, April 10, 2015

So many books, so little time. This is such a usual thing for readers to say. We have piles of books stacked, unread, and we could only wish we could pick all of them up at the same time and read them all. Sadly that may be an impossible feat.

I am halfway through In the Garden of the Beasts by Erik Larson, which is highly engaging, and I had no plans of stopping, but then my public library emails me. The said email let me know that Americanah, a book I have been wanting to read for a while, is finally available for me to download on my Kindle. I get serious anxiety when that happens, because I almost want to yell, "No! I'm not ready yet. I'm still working on one book!"

Because I felt torn, I went on twitter and said this.

Then, surprise surprise. Erik Larson himself tweeted back. 

I ended up choosing to finish In the Garden of the Beasts, because how could I say no after this awesome response? So how do you decide which one to read first, which one to read next? Have you ever been in my position wherein you get anxious over choosing which one to pick up? And have you had any memorable interactions with authors through social media? I'd love to know.

the weekend that was.

Monday, April 6, 2015

I had a pretty good weekend. Not only was the #bluebooks campaign for World Autism Awareness day/month a huge success, I also had complete days off, which was perfect as it gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted, and also have the choice do nothing at all.

On Saturday, I spent the afternoon taking a walk with my dog. It was 65 degrees and the sun was out, a perfect spring day in my opinion. We eventually sat on the grass at a nearby park and there, I enjoyed an iced coffee and a new book. I'm starting this historical mystery, The Man from Berlin by Luke McCallin, which surrounds a murder of a German officer and is told from the point of view of a military intelligence officer who's assigned to the case. 
On Easter sunday, it proved that the Bay Area has such unpredictable weather. I woke up in the morning and it was raining. I love listening to the rain, so it was a perfect way to start the day. I also was able to have the "luxury" of breakfast - something I never get to have on a daily basis. I made sunny side up eggs, toast with peanut butter and bananas, pieces of cantaloupe, two biscuit cookies, and of course, coffee. It was quiet in the house and it was probably one of the most peaceful mornings I've had in a while. 

How was your weekend? Did you get some reading done at all? I hope you did, and that your easter sunday was just as relaxing as mine.

#BlueBooks for World Autism Awareness

Friday, April 3, 2015

April 2nd was World Autism Awareness Day and as a teacher for some children with autism, I wanted to recognize the day. I also find it important to spread the word about it. Since I'm neither rich nor famous, I decided to go about that through something I know most about: books.

I went ahead and asked as many book lovers as possible online to spread awareness by taking photos of their books with blue covers. Then, I asked them to post them up on Instagram and use the hashtags: #WorldAutismAwarenessDay and #bluebooks. 

I only started messaging people the night before, and could not have imagined that it was going to be so successful. I received an overwhelming response and over 400 participated. The hashtag #bluebooks is insane, and its participants are still increasing by the minute, because that is the power of social media after all.

just some from the hundreds of participants yesterday for #bluebooks
In the grand scheme of things, posting about books is such a small gesture. Doing this alone can not make a difference. However, I believe it is an effort to get people to pay attention. To listen. By seeing that sea of blue, they will wonder about it first. Then, they will ask questions. This effort easily spreads awareness, encourage conversations, and push people to start educating themselves more. These things will shed a much-needed clearer light on the disorder that is heavily misunderstood. My hope is that someday, we will all  be more educated about it and compassionate, and that the misconceptions about people with autism are erased. 

Having said that, I had the most inspiring day. I have been told so many stories related to autism yesterday from people who have it, or who know family members/friends/colleagues who have it. There were also a few who asked for more information as they weren't as aware of it. It was eye-opening.

Because it is Autism Awareness month, I would love #bluebooks to keep going. If you have instagram at all, please join us as it's not too late to post your photos. Tag me @jillmray so I can easily find you and follow me because giveaways will be hosted later on. 

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Rating: 4 stars
In this non-fiction book, the author, Erik Larson, takes us back to 1893 during the Chicago World's Fair, the very first fair in the country. This fair was where the very first Ferris Wheel was built as well as other carnival-related activities that we still have today. In this book, the author focuses on two people - a man who was the architect behind the fair and then H.H. Holmes, who is infamously known as the serial killer who used the popularity of the fair to lure people into his hotel to kill them. 

All I can say is this author sure has some talent! This book about this specific time in American history was so incredibly well-researched and well-written, but not only that. He was able to tell it in a way that is engrossing and absorbing. I could not stop reading! It was dark, grim, and reads like a history book, but even non-history buffs will appreciate his style as he tells it as if it is a fictional narrative. If only every non-fiction out there is like this, I think more people would read from the broad genre.

I do have to say one thing: I was most definitely more fascinated by the Holmes side of the story. While I cared and liked knowing more about the process of setting up the fair, I think the architect's part in the story dragged on too much. There were too many details, but I think that this is another thing fans of the book loved about this, so to each his own.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time reading this book. It was informational and entertaining at the same time. It was excellently written and was so fascinating that after reading this, I went on to watch documentaries and read more articles based on this historical time. It's an interesting look into such a popular (and yet surprisingly not as talked about) part of American history, and to look at two completely different human beings. I highly recommend reading this book if you like non fiction, if you're interested in history, or just want something different than your usual picks.

(sort of unrelated, but if you watch American Horror Story, don't you think this Holmes' storyline could be a good story for season 5?? They said it was going to be focused on a hotel, and the only clue they gave the viewers was a top hat... which Holmes wore all the time. Just a thought!)