Readasaurus Rex: 5 Favorite Reads of 2014

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photo credit: moqub via photopin cc

According to Goodreads, I read 5620 pages this year. That was just books that I finished. This was the year that I finally gave up trying to finish books that just weren’t doing it for me. A moment of silence for the ones that met the end of my attention span far before their time:

  • The Mysteries of Pittsburgh by Michael Chabon (a re-reading, originally read in 2006)
  • The Giver by Lois Lawry (a re-reading, originally read in 1993)
  • Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed (I heard it would make me feel the feels. I felt very little. It remains on my nightstand in case I run out of books for some reason … even though I have several hundred in my apartment. Perhaps someday I will return to it).

But that number doesn’t take into account all the reading I do each day for work — the emails and articles. It doesn’t take into account all of the reading I do around the interwebs just for fun (Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Book Riot). It doesn’t take into account everything I read to keep up with things so that I can be good at my job. It doesn’t take into account all of the reading I do on social media (and anyone who follows me on any social media site knows that I am a daily participant because I think social media is fascinating for a plethora of reasons I won’t get into now).

Ultimately, I feel better having a page count at 5620 combined with all of the other reading I’ve done than I would if I would have spent, like, 6 months slogging through Infinite Jest and another 6 through War and Peace or something. There’s a reason I’ve not re-read Ulysses, as well. There are so many things to read and my to-be-read list grows weekly. I blame the following podcasts: Book Riot, Literary Disco, and Overdue Podcast.

I’ve been a reader forever. There are pictures of me as a toddler, passed out on stacks of books. I couldn’t wait to participate in the library’s summer reading program, or Book It! during the school year. I loved being a part of Great Books and reading outside of class as a kind of club activity. With very few exceptions, I only ever got in trouble in school if I was reading when I should have been paying attention (joke’s on my 7th grade life science teacher who took books away from me weekly… I still have yet to find a practical use for knowing all of the nitty-gritty details of the pasteurization process, but reading is crucial). Sometimes I’d get in trouble because I didn’t do my homework… because I’d been really engrossed in a book the night before. Sometimes my parents would take me to the bookstore on a Friday night. I’d get a new book and, being somewhat insomniac at an early age, stay up all night reading it, finishing it before the sun came up — by flashlight, so as not to wake my otherwise narcoleptic sister. I never minded being sent to my room as a kid because I’d hide in my closet, which is where my mom kept baskets full of my books — the same ones she would sit on my bed for me on days when I stayed home sick from school.

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Does Listening to an Audiobook Still Count as Reading?

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There isn’t a time in my life that I can recall not having books around me to pick up and escape. While most kids probably enjoyed staying home sick from school to watch TV, I enjoyed it because my mom kept plastic bins full of books in my closet, and when I’d stay home sick, she’d put those two bins up on the bed with me so that I could read. Before we went to sleep every night, she read to us. (Meanwhile, my dad made up crazy stories which probably contributed to my love of creative writing, as well. He sometimes also used hand puppets and silly voices to tell those stories, which is possibly why I am amused to review books using a homemade dinosaur puppet on this site.)

Book stores, book fairs, RIF days (Reading is Fun..damental, aka free book day!), library programs, book order forms, you name it and I was bleeding my parents dry doing it. I basically never got in trouble in school unless it was for reading when I was supposed to be paying attention (or not doing my homework because I’d been lost in a book). For a period of time, I wanted to be a “book keeper” when I grew up because I thought this meant someone who collected and shared books. Aka… a librarian. (Now that I know what a book keeper actually does, I would NEVER want to do that. Ever.) I don’t even know if I played at recess until 3rd or 4th grade. I just took out a book and read. It reminds me of this great and totally true thing that one of my college friends said:

“I used to love to play outside and read. And then I kept reading and stopped playing outside, which is how I got to be what I am today: an out-of-shape English major.” 

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Frank’s Top 5 Escapist Books

If you’re not writing, you might as well be reading. One of the things I’ve always loved about getting lost in a book is just that: getting lost. Some people like television or movies for their escapist endeavors, but I’m more of a book worm. I like my escapist literature. In fact, sometimes I come out of a book, and I kind of forget where I am. I get disoriented and feel like I’m floating somewhere in between two worlds.

I’ve read any number of excellent books that have taken me to a completely different place, and many of them have brought me back time and again when I just need to get out of my own world for a while. It’s difficult for me to rank books — it feels like a parent being asked to pick a favorite child and give the reasons why. I won’t do it. But I will tell you what my Top 5 are.

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Love Story: An English Major’s Nightmare

I’ve spent a lot of time reading in my life. In elementary school, I pretty much ignored peers and teachers alike because my nose was always stuck in a book that I kept just inside my desk for when I finished my work before everyone else. I started reading chapter books in first grade, and by third grade, I was already reading on an eighth or ninth grade level (according to those awesome CTBS tests). I love books. I love the look of them, the smell, the atmosphere they bring, the escape, and the knowledge. I just love them.

And that is why I hate when people screw up classic stories.

Okay, yes. I’m going to write my first real post on how the song “Love Story” by Taylor Swift drives me absolutely insane. Now, I’ve recently grown fond of Taylor. I tried really hard not to, but then I finally just had to admit that I really like some of her stuff. She’s talented and funny and she’s so darn cute. And people who say they don’t like “You Belong With Me” or at least that it’s never been stuck in their heads are obviously liars. I’ll leave the song “Fifteen” for another time (it might be one of the corniest songs I’ve ever heard, but maybe that’s because I’m 27 and being 15 was nothing like that for me). Right now I just really want to focus on “Love Story.” Let’s break it down with some lyrics (all words belong to Taylor Swift) so that I can explain to you how irritated I get when I hear it. Continue reading