Top Ten Tuesday: The Best of 2018

Even though 2018 isn’t officially over, I wanted to take the time to do a quick round up of all of the five star reads I’ve come across this year. Most of these have been previously reviewed here (as shown with a link), and if they haven’t, the review will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.

BTW, there are more than 10 here. In no particular order, they are:

  1. American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment – Shane Bauer
  2. The Circuit – Francisco Jimenez
  3. We the Animals – Justin Torres
  4. In My Father’s House: A New View of How Crime Runs in the Family – Fox Butterfield
  5. What Girls Are Made Of – Elana K. Arnold
  6. Any Man – Amber Tamblyn
  7. The End of Eddy – Edouard Louis
  8. A Lucky Man – Jamel Brinkley
  9. My Year of Rest and Relaxation – Ottessa Moshfegh
  10. Heavy: An American Memoir – Kiese Laymon
  11. Brother – David Chariandy
  12. Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? – Kathleen Collins
  13. Illegal – Eoin Colfer
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Top Ten Tuesday: Bookstores I Love

Bookstores are becoming a rarity these days. With the growing popularity of Amazon, ebooks, and that ever-present bastion of corporate capitalism [*cough*] Barnes & Noble [*cough*], I’m sad to say that there is really only five independently owned book sellers left in my city. That sucks.

When I visited NYC for a conference last April, I got a chance to check out some really cool independent bookstores there too. I took pics of some, but not others, because when you’re walking all day and your battery gets low, you learn to pick and choose what’s noteworthy. Some of those pics are included here, but most I culled from Google.

Park Road Books, Charlotte, NC

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Here’s one in my very own city that’s been here forever. There’s even a small dog named Yola that walks around the shop while you’re browsing, just to say hello. Staff is super friendly too, all kinds of events are hosted here.

Paper Skyscraper, Charlotte, NC

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Another local gem. Not only do they sell books, they sell stationery, housewares, games, jewelry, you name it. There’s also large, sweet poodle that belongs to the owner by the name of Patsy that walks the aisles here and stares lovingly at you. LGBTQ friendly as well.

Kinokuniya New York, NYC

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This place was only steps from my hotel when I visited NYC, so naturally I went in here every single day I was there. There were two levels–English books upstairs and Japanese books and all kinds of stationery and gifts downstairs. There was also a small Japanese cafe that sold sushi and mochi and all other good things to eat. My son is heavily into manga, so I stocked up on books. Man, this place was a slice of heaven.

Codex Books, NYC

Another cool place off of the Bowery for new and used books. Lots of literary fiction and art titles. They also carry zines.

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Bluestockings, NYC

Cool slice of left-wing radical heaven on the LES. An activist center and completely run by volunteers, they carry thousands of academic titles and books and publications on feminism, queer studies, race, criminal justice system, and much more. Also carries zines and a lot of smutty lit titles.

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’d Like to Have Tea With

I’ve decided that not only do I want to meet these authors, I’d like to have tea and crumpets with them. As long as they pay, of course.

  1. Zora Neale Hurston
  2. Edgar Allan Poe
  3. Roxane Gay
  4. Ottessa Moshfegh
  5. Angie Thomas
  6. Tiffany D. Jackson
  7. Katherine Faw
  8. Jason Reynolds
  9. Toni Morrison
  10. Haruki Murakami

Top Ten Tuesday: Notable Book Mashups

Ok, so today’s Top Ten Tuesday is technically “Books You’d Mash Together.” Since no one is paying me to write fiction ideas here, I’m going to suggest a few plot mashups that I’ve found noteworthy over the past few years.

  1. I Am Still Alive – Kate Alice Marshall. Currently reading this, it’s about a teenage girl surviving in a remote section of Canadian wilderness after the murder of her father. Mashup: The movie The Revenant and Gary Paulsen’s novel “Hatchet.”
  2. I Stop Somewhere – T.E. Carter. I personally didn’t like this book, but it’s deals with sexual assault, its aftermath, and the afterlife. Mashup: Alice Sebold’s “The Lovely Bones” and Jay Asher’s “Thirteen Reasons Why.”
  3. The Ritual – Adam Nevill. Four buddies go hiking in the wilds of Scandinavia and find a murderous Satanic cult. I read this book long before it became a semi-scary movie on Netflix, btw. Mashup: The Blair Witch Project (minus the irritating teenagers) meets Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn” meets The Wicker Man meets Deliverance.   
  4. Boo – Neil Smith. A young boy wakes up in heaven, then discovers that he was the victim of a school shooting. Even worse, his killer may also be in heaven. Mashup: Alice Sebold’s “The Lovely Bones” and Mark Haddon’s “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”

        Not Quite Mashups, but Similar in plot…

  5. City of Saints and Thieves – Natalie Anderson —–> Ocean’s 11 (film)
  6. Crimes in Southern Indiana – Frank Bill ——> any episode of “Breaking Bad”
  7. The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir – D. Watkins ——> HBO’s “The Wire”
  8. Bleed Like Me – Christa Desir ——-> Sid and Nancy (film)
  9. The Fates Will Find Their Way – Hannah Pittard ——> Jeffrey Eugenides’ “The Virgin Suicides”
  10. Brother – Ania Ahlborn ——> The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (film)

Top Ten Tuesday: Popular Books that Lived Up to the Hype

Ya’ll know me…I’ve always marched to the beat of my own drum. I read and review what interests me, I don’t care about what books are trendy or popular. Occasionally, however, my curiosity gets the best of me and I pick up a book that everybody else likes too. Below are some “popular” picks that weren’t all that bad after all…

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1. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
I loved this whole trilogy. I don’t care about allegations of plagarism, nitpicky little observations people make about the movies, yadda, yadda. These are all decent books. Sue me.
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2. Everything Everything – Nicola Yoon
Another popular pick I loved immensely. I think I even reviewed it here. Ahh…
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3. Wonder – R.J. Palacio
This book had me crying at a Panera Bread restaurant at 8:30 on a Sunday morning. Not out of pity, but due to an incredible empathy the author manages to make you feel for the main character. This is not easy to do. I wholeheartedly and steadfastly recommend this book to everyone. Yes, everyone.
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4. The Fault in Our Stars – John Green
I’ve read the blogs of those who do flips over John Green books. I’m not one of those people. As a matter of fact, this is the only John Green book I’ve read. However, I really really liked this book. I can see why it has such a wide appeal, for adults and kids alike.
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5. The Glass Castle – Jeannette Walls
Another popular nonfiction book that I really, really liked. I haven’t seen the movie and don’t plan to.
Ahh well, there’s 5. Til next time, folks…
xoxo, Kellan

Top Five Book Moments

Ahh, memories. This is a good topic this week…

Certain books will always remind you of the past and the time period of your life you were in when you read it. I’ve listed a few that make me a bit nostalgic for that special moment.

Top Five Books That Are Linked to Special Moments in My Life

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Frog and Toad Are Friends – Arnold Lobel
This is one of the very first books I remember reading when I was a kid.
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“I Can’t,” Said the Ant – Polly Cameron
Another book that makes me misty-eyed. I remember my Dad used to read this book to me and my younger sister every night before we went to bed. He used to do different voices for each character, and we both thought that was the greatest thing in the world.
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Hamlet – William Shakespeare
Hamlet has always been my favorite Shakespeare play, ever since I read it in high school. I remember reading this out loud when I was pregnant with my son, hoping he would “hear” it and the words would soothe him during the evenings when he would kick me like crazy. He is now a teenager and he loves to read, so I think that this book was an excellent choice.
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Ariel – Sylvia Plath
I first came to know about Plath when I was in 7th grade. I remember reading one of her poems (ironically entitled “Spinster”) and at that moment being really, really moved by it. I went to the library and looked up some of her other poems, and from there it became an obsession. I did my undergraduate thesis on Sylvia Plath. I’m very proud of that work.
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The Bluest Eye – Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison’s first book. This was the book that truly “awakened” me to the world of Black literature (before this point my reading was mostly White/European authors) and women’s literature. I read this book and thought: this is what I want to read and write about for the rest of my life. And it’s still the topic that I’m writing about today.
The ID Channel calls,
Kellan

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Novellas/Short Stories

Ok, ok…before I begin Top Ten Tuesday, the weekly meme by That Artsy Reader Girl, I have to confess to you guys that I’m a bit biased, as my choices for favorite short stories are a bit old-fashioned. Even though I read short stories and novellas all the time, I just don’t think anything comes really close to classics. Also keep in mind that I used to be a middle school teacher, so naturally a lot of classic stories pop up in kid’s textbooks. When you’ve read something umpteen times over the years, you can quote it with your eyes closed. Naturally you grow to like it too.

  1. “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson – A small town’s terrifying ritual gone amok. I used to teach this story to my 7th grade students and pass out a small slip of folded paper with an ‘X’ on it to illustrate the plot.
  2. “Patriotism” by Yukio Mishima – Japanese writer’s story about a man and his wife committing seppuku (ritual suicide) in response to a military defeat. Strangely beautiful and mad deep.
  3. “The Tell Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe – Another story I used to teach to my students. They used to love this!
  4. “Wild Child” by T.C. Boyle – Historical fiction account of Victor of Aveyron, the first documented “feral” child, in 1800’s France.
  5. “1922” by Stephen King – Greed and betrayal and rats. The Netflix movie was pretty close to the novella, thankfully.
  6. “Thank You, Ma’am” by Langston Hughes – A little boy gets more he bargained for when he tries to snatch a woman’s purse.
  7. “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant – Another one in my 7th grade curriculum about fakery and the power of an authentic life. There’s a twist at the end that always gets me, every time.
  8. “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Magical realism to tell a satirical tale about ignorance vs. power of freedom, or flight.
  9. “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin – Story about a woman who loses her husband, then gains him back, and then dies–all within an hour. Powerful feminist message here too.
  10. “All Summer in a Day” by Ray Bradbury – Science fiction story about a class of students on Venus, where it rains constantly and the sun comes out for only one hour every seven years. My 6th graders used to like this one–lots.

xoxo, Kellan