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I’m a few days late but here it is! My annual “these are all the books I read this past year.” It used to be an impressive 30-50 collection of titles, but then shit happened, and you know, there were a few long seasons where my brain couldn’t handle any reading beyond email or blogs or dumb Facebook posts or where I simply had ZERO time to sit down and start something new. In fact, there’s one book that I’ve had FOREVER, and I totally love it because every word is so delightful but something is keeping me from finishing it. I can’t explain why. I think a part of me doesn’t want it to end and the other part of me is scared to get emotionally invested in the story because it just reminds me of everything that I’m not accomplishing in my life. Isn’t that depressing.

So according to GoodReads, I only read 11 books in 2015. And only enjoyed little over half of them (in bold). How pathetic is that? (The fact that I only accomplished 11 books, not that I didn’t like all of them.)

  1. A Spool of Blue Thread – Tyler, Anne
  2. All the Light We Cannot See – Doerr, Anthony
  3. The Well – Chanter, Catherine
  4. Dear Life: Stories – Munro, Alice
  5. A Tale for the Time Being – Ozeki, Ruth
  6. Fates and Furies – Groff, Lauren
  7. The Heart Goes Last – Atwood, Margaret (Margaret, what happened to you? This book was NOT GOOD.)
  8. The Making of the Atomic Bomb – Rhodes, Richard
  9. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Riggs, Ransom (OVERRATED)
  10. Cleopatra: A Life – Schiff, Stacy
  11. Olivay – Reed, Deborah

BUT HERE’S THE THING. It’s not true. I’ve read HUNDREDS of books. THOUSANDS. REALISTICALLY, AT LEAST 50.

Because we read to the toddler almost every night. Sure, there aren’t that many words, and they often rhyme or aren’t even in complete sentences, and so what if the pages are less like pages and more like thick sheets of cardboard, perfect for chubby baby fingers to clutch? I STILL READ THEM FAITHFULLY ALMOST EVERY NIGHT. So here is my more accurate reading list of 2015.

  1. Where Is Baby’s Belly Button? – Karen Katz
  2. A Potty For Me – Karen Katz
  3. Where Is Baby’s Beach Ball? – Karen Katz
  4. First 100 Words – Roger Priddy
  5. First 100 Animals – Roger Priddy
  6. Llama Llama Red Pajama – Anna Dewdney
  7. Llama Llama Zippity-Zoom – Anna Dewdney
  8. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? – Bill Martin
  9. Peek-A-Who – Nina Laden
  10. My Friends – Tara Gomi
  11. Dear Zoo – Rod Campbell
  12. Little Blue Truck – Alice Schertle
  13. Moo, Ba, La-La-La – Sandra Boynton
  14. ANIMALS – DK Publishing
  15. Bottoms Up! – Yusuke Yonezu
  16. Peek-a-Boo Rainbow – Anonymous
  17. Baby Baa Baa! – DK Publishing
  18. The Crayola RAINBOW Color Book – Crayola?
  19. COLORS – Someone
  20. Animals – Not to be confused by ANIMALS above
  21. The Wheels On The Bus – Jerry Smath
  22. The Going To Bed Book – Sandra Boynton
  23. FIRST WORDS – Whatever
  24. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star – Caroline Jayne Church
  25. Toot – Leslie Patricelli
  26. Polar Bear Polar Bear, What Do You Hear – Bill Martin and Eric Carle
  27. Curious George PAT-A-CAKE
  28. Curious George Bigger and SMaller
  29. Gallop! – Rufus Butler Seder
  30. Love You Forever – The Worst People Ever
  31. Goldilocks and the Three Bears – No author cause this book doesn’t even have any words.
  32. Big Enough For A Bed
  33. Little Hide and Seek ANIMALS
  34. The Noisy Counting Book
  35. Curious George at the Zoo – Isn’t this akin to taking a toddler to visit a prison?
  36. Counting Dogs
  37. The Foot Book – Dr. Seuss (and not some guy with a gross fetish)
  38. Yum! Yum! – Yusuke Yonezu
  39. We Love Each Other – Yusuke Yonezu
  40. Guess What – Fruit – Yusuke Yonezu
  41. Good Night, Moon
  42. The Wheels On The Bus – Different from the Jerry Smath edition since this one plays the music.
  43. The Itsy Bitsy Snowman – Jeffrey Burton and Sanja Rescek
  44. I Love My Clothes – Someone who picked the creepiest stock photos of babies to use.
  45. You Are My Baby: Safari – Lorena Siminovich
  46. Baby Loves Spring – Karen Katz
  47. Baby’s Best Friend – A photographer who only takes photos of white babies and is probably a racist.
  48. Balls – Not a joke
  49. First Book of Sushi – Also not a joke
  50. Hush Little Baby – A horrible person who wants every parent to sing this song in their head forever after reading this book.

FWIW, none of them are in bold because the thought of having to read them all aloud again makes me want to gouge my eyes out. Just kidding. I love reading to fidgety toddlers who love reading the same book over and over and over and over and over again.

So there. I did it. Don’t you tell me otherwise.

2015-03-07 13.03.43

Remember a couple months ago when I blogged about forcing myself to NOT coast by setting challenges for myself? Well, here is one of them.

Killian reached out to me earlier this year, asking if I wanted to contribute a story to an illustrated anthology that she and Hillary were putting together with a bunch of other Pacific U MFA classmates. My first reaction was to barf and come up with all the reasons I honestly couldn’t do it because, well, see previous entry.

We’re writing adventure stories, she said.

But this requires me to actually write something, I thought.

Each writer gets a setting for their story, and they all have to connect to a pub called The Egret’s Crossing in Morocco, she explained.

But you’re asking me to use my brain, I thought.

I’ll be illustrating everyone’s work, she said.

But I don’t even know how to form complete sentences anymore, I thought.

We’ll be selling these at AWP and it will be great, she said.

So I agreed.

Killian assigned me the deep jungle, I procrastinated for a couple weeks by Googling and printing and cutting out and pasting pretty photos of the deep jungle into a pretty notebook for inspiration, and then I wept. Until she reminded me that this was supposed to be FUN and PULPY and ADVENTUROUS and GENRE-Y (is that a word?) and I listened to my favorite video game soundtracks on loop and pooped out my first story since the baby was born. (How funny. I’m pretty sure I also pooped when the baby was born. TMI? Well, sorry, but THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS IN LIFE.)

Anyway, that’s all that I’m going to share with you. I don’t think preorders are available anymore, but if you’re interested in purchasing a copy (either a PDF or a hard issue) because you love me as much as I love you, then click here or read the details in the pretty picture above.

gm

Thanks to the little one, I’ve been reading the infamous Goodnight Moon book every day for the past two months. And while my parents never read this book to me (or any book, from what I remember) and we never owned a copy until now, I do appreciate the genius behind this picture tale. The primary colors. The miscellaneous but easily recognizable objects ingeniously placed around the room, away from the text. The rhyming and cadence. The anthropomorphic characters. The anonymous narrator (which I assume isn’t the sleepy bunny). The “old” lady who doesn’t even look that old, so just calling her that is really rude. The fact that there’s a tiger skin rug on the floor in a house inhabited by BUNNIES.

Here’s the thing. The book opens by introducing the reader (or, in this case, a three month old baby girl who could care less about what I say to her right now) to the various objects  around the room…

In the great green room,

There was a telephone

And a red balloon

And a picture of…

Then we slowly wish them all a good night.

Except for the telephone.

WHY DON’T WE WISH THE TELEPHONE A GOODNIGHT? Is it because nothing really rhymes with “telephone?” Is it because a phone never sleeps, always ready to ring in the middle of the night due to some family emergency? Why do we go as far as to wish “nobody” a goodnight, but skip over this amazing communication device? Or the stupid bowl of mush? If there’s one thing in this world that doesn’t deserve a farewell, it’s a gross bowl of mush. Who the hell leaves an open bowl of food next to their bed overnight anyway? Does the little bunny hate the telephone? Is he too young to use the telephone? Speaking of which, isn’t he a little too young to have his own phone in his room? My mom wouldn’t let us have our own phone until I was at least in fourth grade, and even then, we couldn’t have our own line, even though some of my rich classmates did. It was awe inspiring to see their own phone number listed next to their name in the school directory, a whole separate line from their parents. How grown up was that? But smart move, mom, because no one ever called me anyway. Just like today. Wah.

And guess what? Margaret Wise Brown is DEAD. She’s been dead since before I was even BORN. I’ll never have an answer about the poor telephone.

PS. I do love how the quote from the book on GoodReads gets the opening stanza completely wrong though. It’s a cow jumping over the moon, you guys. Not a cat. Since when do cats jump over the moon? DON’T YOU KNOW YOUR NURSERY RHYMES? And the painting of the cow is featured like five billion times throughout the book. Aren’t you paying attention? I hate everything.

books2013

Happy last day of 2013! I’m calling myself a big failure when it came to reading this year, because unlike 2012 or 2011, when I tried to read as much as possible throughout the weeks (and the semester reading requirements for grad school totally helped), this time, I fell short at only 31 books. By the time July rolled around, reading a book a week was the last thing on my to-do list since I was spending most of my time either barfing, lying down because getting up made me feel like barfing, crying because all I could do was barf, thinking about barfing, learning that even when your body has nothing to barf up, it will still find something to barf up, sleeping in between the moments of not barfing–and when I was finally able to get up and function (somewhat) as a normal human being, I was still barfing enough on my free time to make me abhor anything that wasn’t sleeping, trying to eat, going to work, having a conversation with other humans and watching movies.

Anyway, enough of that. It was odd enough to hate the idea of reading for once, but I’ve managed to slip back into the habit, all thanks to the Game of Thrones books. And speaking of which, those THREE books done (and therefore, the entire series so far, which means I totally know what’s going to happen on the next season gaahhh) amounted to about 2, 713 pages, which is like totally worth at least 10 books. Right?

I mean, think about it. That means this year, I’ve read 11,726 pages which is way more than the 9,194 pages of 40 books that I read in 2012, and KINDA CLOSE to the 16,924 pages (of 50 books) that I conquered in 2012. So congratulations, brain, you did it! You (kinda sorta but not really) read 40 books this year! Just kidding. I won’t lie to myself.

Here’s the pitiful list of books from this year, with my favorites in bold:

  1. Emma – Austen, Jane
  2. Pride and Prejudice – Austen, Jane
  3. Sense and Sensibility – Austen, Jane
  4. Collected Stories – Bellow, Saul
  5. The Girl in the Flammable Skirt – Bender, Aimee
  6. Stories – Boyle, T.C.
  7. Mockingjay – Collins, Suzanne
  8. Catching Fire – Collins, Suzanne
  9. Passion and Affect – Colwin, Laurie
  10. In The Gloaming – Dark, Alice Elliott
  11. This Is How You Lose Her – Díaz, Junot
  12. The Great Gatsby – Fitzgerald, F. Scott (Had to re-read this after the godawful movie!)
  13. The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel – Hempel, Amy
  14. Dubliners – Joyce, James
  15. Burning Fence: A Western Memoir of Fatherhood – Lesley, Craig
  16. A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5) – Martin, George R.R.
  17. A Feast for Crows (A Song of Ice and Fire, #4) – Martin, George R.R.
  18. A Storm of Swords (A Song of Ice and Fire, #3) – Martin, George R.R.
  19. A Parisian Affair and Other Stories – Maupassant, Guy de
  20. Explorers of the New Century – Mills, Magnus
  21. Self-Help – Moore, Lorrie
  22. Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose – O’Connor, Flannery
  23. Drinking Coffee Elsewhere – Packer, Z.Z.
  24. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute: Stories – Paley, Grace
  25. The Shipping News – Proulx, Annie
  26. Tenth of December – Saunders, George
  27. Shakespeare’s Kitchen – Segal, Lore
  28. The Fluency of Light: Coming of Age in a Theater of Black and White – Sloan, Aisha Sabatini
  29. Honored Guest – Williams, Joy
  30. The Collected Stories – Welty, Eudora
  31. The Collected Stories – Yates, Richard

Anyway, here’s to more reading in 2014. And less barfing. Or at least, less barfing from me but probably lots of barfing from this creature that’s currently growing inside of my uterus.

books

Somehow I did it! After reading 40 books a year, I managed to up my reading list to 50 for 2012. 40 of them were my semester reading for grad school, but I’m happy that I managed to squeeze in an extra 10 books for fun. Or half of one. I kind of cheated with my 50th book since I started it on the 31st and finished it yesterday morning. Whatever. LEAVE ME ALONE.

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Fab.com sold fancy editions of classic books today, accompanied with the above quote. I know I am a bit of a book snob (as well as a handbag snob) but reading this made me feel sad. Also, way to tell the whole world that a) you didn’t pay attention in class and b) that you’re a cheater. Like, you know?

I can’t believe we’re wrapping up 2011. It’s been an eventful year but just because stuff happened doesn’t mean I dropped the ball when it came to my annual reading goal. This year, though, I was [un]lucky to have my first semester reading list, which meant taking on 20 “serious” books for writing, which meant almost a book a week between June through November, which meant that the quality of books I read went way up and that I’m surprised my eyesight hasn’t gotten bad from all the page turning.

Somehow I managed to still read 40 books (and hopefully one more: Cold Comfort Farm which I’m reading right now) over the past year. I’m proud because I honestly thought I wouldn’t make it and that I’d have to disembowel myself for dishonoring the family. Or something like that.

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This is what it’s like when I try to read a book at home. Someone won’t leave me alone.

There’s only one reason why my afternoon would turn into a hot mess of geeky convention goers and Flannery O’Connor, and that’s the downtime between covering panels at San Diego Comic-Con. (Duh, couldn’t you have figured out?)

For the first time (EVER!!), I’m actually in San Diego for Comic-Con. Several years ago, being in San Diego for SDCC was pure coincidence with horrible results (traffic is so awful here, I don’t even know why San Diego-ites leave the house during this week) and for the past couple, I’ve been enjoying all the things that come out of the Convention Center via television and long hours in my cubicle. This time, I was given the opportunity to come in person and yeah…it’s been quite an experience.

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The art of revision.

At first, it was indiscernible. A soft roll of breath, like a collective sigh that would let itself go around me. An invisible, low groan by an invisible flock of pigeons. By the third, fourth and fifteenth time, I figured out what this was: the odd sound that people are compelled to do after poetry is read.

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