Monday, November 28, 2016

The Short Stack: November Favorites


Originally posted on the University of Texas' School of Information Info Portal. Visit it here: The Short Stack: November Favorites

This month hasn’t been great for reading. I’ve finished a few things, but absolutely nothing that I can recommend without serious asterisks. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. So instead, let’s talk about great things I read during the first half of 2016, all of which I feel really great recommending.
The better-than-anything-I-read-in-November Short Stack:

1. Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West

I was in love with this book from the moment I heard Lindy speak at BookPeople back in May. If you get a chance, go see her read or talk or whatever she’s doing because she is funny and smart and will totally show you her tube of lipstick if you say you like it. Shrill is a collection of essays on highly relevant subjects like abortion, rape jokes, and weight. While none of those sound like they could be funny, her smart lines will make you laugh anyway.

2.  March: Book One, Two and Three by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

I haven’t been able to read book three yet, but the first two are good enough that I recommend you just buy the trilogy. John Lewis’ personal involvement with the Civil Rights Movement is what makes this series work so well. By telling his story, it’s also the story of the movement because he was part of the sit-ins and the Freedom Rides and met Martin Luther King, Jr. I learned more from reading these graphic novels than I think I did in any of my history classes.

3. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

I listened to this audiobook because Aziz Ansari narrates it, which is worth it. Modern Romance is a fascinating look at dating. Between talking to previous generations about how they found love, analyzing text messages that equate to today’s courtship and interviewing people from Japan and Argentina, Ansari presents a great picture of why we really shouldn’t compare ourselves to our grandparents or even people our own age in other countries.

4. We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Just read this. Feminism is important for women, but it’s also important for men. It’s short and it’s wonderful. Buy it for yourself and buy a few for your friends.
I didn’t realize when I started this list that I would suggest only nonfiction, but I’m not mad about it. Maybe today we need some nonfiction.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Short Stack: October Favorites


We love alpacas!

Originally posted on the University of Texas' School of Information Info Portal. Visit it here: The Short Stack: October Favorites

As I write this, I’m thankful for the read-a-thon. Reading got bumped down yet another peg this month because I was doing the Hill Country Yarn Crawl with my husband and my dog. We met alpacas, no big deal. (Totally big deal, we love alpacas!)

But yes, spend two weekends driving around the totally beautiful hill country without an audiobook and suddenly you’ve read next to nothing. That’s why the read-a-thon is important, because I spent a few hours devoted to my larger-than-ever to-be-read pile. At some point, I’m going to have to freeze my library card like some people freeze credit cards, but still. I read things! It made me happy!

1.  To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party by Skila Brown

I love the cover of this book so much, which is why it sometimes does work to judge a book by its cover. This story is told in verse from the perspective of a survivor of the Donner party, the notorious California-bound pioneers who were stuck in the Sierra Nevadas in winter and resorted to cannibalism. Really, it’s the last part that people remember—cannibalism. Skila Brown gave them back their humanity in this young adult novel, making their choices part of their survival and not their claim to fame.

2.  The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

This novel drove me insane, perhaps intentionally, as the main character is also being driven insane by her situation. Set in the 1850s, Lib is an English nurse sent on assignment to Ireland to watch a girl who claims to exist without eating. Lib is waiting for the girl to slip up and for her secret food source to reveal itself; the rest of the town is waiting for her death and sainthood. Sometimes, I’ll look up the ending to a slow book to see if it’s worth finishing. It’s a testament to how good the story was that I didn’t, despite the slow burn and how crazy the story made me. The Wonder made me need to know the ending, which is why it’s on my list.

3.  Lumberjanes series by Noelle Stevenson, Brooke A. Allen, Shannon Watters, Grace Ellis and others

If I had ever gone to summer camp, I would want it to be just like Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. There are the traditional camp activities, but also a woman who turns into a bear and all sorts of other supernatural oddities. It’s great because, not only does it sound like fun, but the campers are allowed to really be themselves in whatever way they want, whether it’s embracing their oddities or their skills or figuring out their gender or sexuality. All hardcore lady types welcome—it’s your choice if you are or are not a hardcore lady type.

4.  Vision, Volume One: Little Worse Than a Man by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta

I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this one, honestly, but I am glad that I did. Vision, the synthezoid member of the Avengers, has created a family for himself and moved them into a Virginia suburb so that he can commute to work at the White House. Except nobody trusts a robot living in their town, even one who has saved the world 37 times, according to his count. When a villain attacks while Vision is away, his wife Virginia murders him while saving herself and her children. To cover it up, she buries him in the backyard and lies to Vision, ensnaring the family in an excellent family drama.
Just remember as you look at this list of books you don’t have time to read that Thanksgiving break is super close and then it’s just a blink of an eye until winter break. We’re almost there!

As always, follow me on GoodReads or just say hi in the halls! I love book suggestions even if I might not read them until this time next year.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

How to Win a Read-a-thon


Originally posted on The University of Texas' School of Information Info Portal. Visit it here: How to Win a Read-a-thon
Sometimes it’s just really, really hard to fit reading into my week. I get home late and want to go straight to sleep or I want to watch an entire series in a weekend, so I ignore my books. It was especially bad during my first semester at the iSchool. Unlike a job that ends when you go home, school doesn’t have set hours—when class ends, assignments begin.
Then I stumbled upon Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon, a biannual event. For someone having trouble just reading whenever, I had found a goal to help get me back on track. For one day, I would read as much as I possibly could. For one day, I would schedule my reading instead of hoping I had time for it. And it was fun! One of the great things about it is that it is a very social read-a-thon (you can follow @readathon on Twitter). They host hourly challenges and have volunteer cheerleaders to encourage you to keep going all day, sending messages to you via Twitter, Instagram or your blog, so make sure you sign up and include one of your handles.
The next read-a-thon is on October 22nd and I’ll be tweeting along from the ALA/TLA student chapter Twitter account (@ALATLAstudent). Since I hope at least a few of you will join me, I thought I’d share my best tips for getting the most out of a read-a-thon.


1. Set attainable goals.

Honestly, reading for 24 hours straight doesn’t sound like fun to me, but this doesn’t have to be an all or nothing situation. Try thinking of a read-a-thon as a day to read more than you normally would. Ignore your television, your laptop and your phone and spend a little extra time reading—that’s it.

2. Prep your reading pile.

For me, this means stocking up on graphic novels like a squirrel storing nuts for winter, but I’d also suggest collections of essays, stories or poetry. Just because you know you could finish (whichever classic is sitting on your shelf) in as many hours as you plan on reading doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. You’ll want a break, so plan things you can switch to that keep you reading and not looking for other distractions. If you know you need frequent breaks, you can also sign up as a cheerleader and send encouraging notes to other readers to help them keep going.

3. Don’t read anything that you don’t love.

This is my goal in general, but it’s even more important during a read-a-thon. Reading something that drags or something you feel you should read will make for a miserable experience. It’s completely fine to recognize that a book—even a great, wonderful, masterpiece like (some book everyone says is just life-changing)—isn’t for you. If we had all the time in the world, maybe you should slog through that book for your own edification, but we don’t, so be done with it. No regrets, no judgment.

4. Include time for stretch breaks.

Even your favorite chair will be uncomfortable after a few hours, but that doesn’t mean you need to stop reading. A quick search for reading stretches brought me multiple yoga-inspired lists of poses that don’t include putting down your book (I like this Book Riot one). Or take it to audio and go on a walk. Audiobooks totally count as reading!

5. Drink plenty of water and have some snacks on hand.

Sometimes I use this need for a snack as a reason to leave the house, but it’s also a good idea to have things you like within easy reach. Just remember that drippy/crumbly things might get in your book, so keep that in mind when making your selections.

6. Recognize your achievement!

Did you read more than you did all week? All month? All year? Go you! Tell your friends, brag about your mad reading skills, tweet it at us! You did great!

I’m really excited about Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon and I hope that you’ll join me on October 22nd. Just because you don’t need an excuse to block off some time for reading doesn’t mean that this isn’t a great one!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Short Stack: September Favorites (Texas Teen Book Festival Edition)


Originally posted on The University of Texas' School of Information Info Portal. You can find it here: The Short Stack: September

We are right in the thick of things school-wise, so I took it easy on myself this last month and only read one book.

Totally kidding—I just didn’t sleep!

But this month you get September’s Short Stack AND Texas Teen Book Festival wrap-up. The festival made this month the best of times and the worst of times. It was the best because most of the books I read were incredibly good; it was the worst because the author panels made me want to read about 50 more books. Laini Taylor and Leigh Bardugo both gave excellent keynotes and I was in the same room as Mindy Kaling, so that is a win.

Waiting to see Mindy Kaling

Laini Taylor's newest book is about a LIBRARIAN

Adriana Mather

1.  How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather: 

Samantha Mather is a fictional descendant of Cotton Mather, but the author is a real one. After Sam’s father slips into a coma, she and her step-mother move back into the Mather family home in Salem for financial reasons. As soon as they arrive, people start dying in accidents and tragedies. With the help of a ghost and notes her grandmother left behind, Sam starts investigating the possible connection alongside the Descendants, living relatives of the Salem witches. I loved this book because it was fun and not too dark, plus it really captured the Salem experience. Salem is a spooky place that is drenched in history and commercialism and where text messages only half send or don’t send at all.



2.  Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo:

I made Leigh Bardugo laugh!
The best part of this book is that the second of this duology just came out, so I don’t have to wait a year to see what happens! Set in the same world as her Grisha Trilogy, Six of Crows is the story of how six criminals band together to bust out a scientist from an impenetrable ice castle full of Grisha-hunters. The scientist has created a drug that gives Grisha powers beyond what they can normally do, but is incredibly addictive and burns the life out of them. This story is so well-told that I cared enough about all of the characters and had panic-attack-level anxiety towards the end. That said, I am looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of Crooked Kingdom even if it does me in.


3. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Pointing out our false teeth!
 Not only was Roshani incredibly lovely, but her fun fact was that she has a false tooth that doesn’t show up under black lights. Fun fact- we have false teeth in the same spot! That’s what we’re pointing at in the photo on the right because we are, as she put it, false tooth sisters. As for the Star-Touched Queen, it has a dreamy quality about it that makes it good for when you have time to really absorb it. Maya is one of the Raja’s many daughters, but it’s her star-based fate that makes her an outsider: Maya is partnered with death, which everyone interprets as death for those who associate with her. With a rebellion against her father forming, he offers her up as a bride to leaders of the angry opposition, but gives her poison to drink after she makes her choice. It will look like murder and give him just cause to go to war. Instead, the suitors lead an ambush of their own and in the midst of it, one of the men offers her an escape. Maya goes with him and becomes his bride, even though her new kingdom is full of secrets, closed doors and no one can tell her why until the full moon.

I had such a good time at the Texas Teen Book Festival. The panels were interesting and the authors are incredibly nice to one another and their fans. I will absolutely go again and, if you’re a YA fan, it’s definitely worth a trip.
Be on the lookout for more information about a read-a-thon later this month! I’m going to try and get some sleep (read until I pass out).

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Short Stack: August


Originally posted September 2, 2016 on The University of Texas' School of Information Info Portal. You can visit it here: The Short Stack: August Favorites

I’ve been playing one of my favorite games this month called “I have nothing to read.” I look at my shelves, my library books, my Kindle and my class assignments and just sit there saying, “I have nothing to read.” Don’t play this game with others; they tend to look at you like you’ve gone mad.

1. Notorious R.B.G.  by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik

I have an insane amount of respect for Ruth Bader Ginsburg after reading this book. She’s become something of an icon in the last few years and I am in full support now. This book covers her entire life up to 2015, but in manageable bites (though not entirely in chronological order). Do you know what a struggle it was for her to become a lawyer, let alone a judge and a Supreme Court Justice? She has fought for herself and for women her entire life, coming at issues from all sides in order to make her point. While I found some of the ways she argued cases just amazing, I was equally impressed by her personal life. Her hero was her mother, which I hope that every young woman can say (I can!), and her husband was incredibly supportive of her choices. Plus, the woman works out with a former Marine and she can probably do more push-ups than most people even at their peak. You win, Notorious RBG.

2. The Assistants  by Camille Perri

I barely put this book down to make and eat dinner. Tina is an overworked, underpaid assistant to media mogul Robert, a man who wants what he wants, when he wants it and without question. In the first chapter of the novel, Robert wants Tina to book a flight for him and he needs it immediately. While booking, Robert’s credit card is expired and she quickly uses her own, knowing that she can and will immediately file for reimbursement. But the booking agent is rude, the call was recorded for quality control and, after sending her receipt to accounting, the airline calls to let her know that the flight will be retroactively comped. So now she has a check for nearly 20 grand, just enough to pay off her student debt. Is the guilt enough to stop her or would it be worth it to be free? A little extra reimbursement would go a long way in her life. Of course, she’s not the only woman in the office with mountains of debt. Can the assistants help each other out of debt without being caught? While it’s definitely got a bit of a fairy tale element to it, I think there’s some serious appeal to anyone who has felt like they’ll never make it in their career or never pay off their student loans.

3. The Internet of Garbage  by Sarah Jeong

This short, ridiculously informative eBook isn’t perfect, but absolutely worth the read. What we consider garbage on the internet largely depends on who we are, but this book argues that it goes beyond spam. Jeong writes about harassment, community moderation and even how copyright law pertains to our image on the internet. One thing that I really loved about this book was that it links to outside articles for more information. When she mentions a specific post from reddit, she links to that post. Instead of paraphrasing, she comments on something that we are allowed to read first. It’s a great read for information students, plus it’s incredibly short.

4.Hyperbole and a Half  by Allie Brosh

Hyperbole and a Half  is a series of illustrated and slightly exaggerated short essays that I truly regret not reading sooner. I picked it up to read something to break my reading slump and ended up reading late into the night until I realized that if I kept laughing as loudly as I did that I would wake up my husband and our dog. If you have a dog whose quirks you don’t understand (and are sometimes alarmed by), have had depression, have an obsessive personality, or ever wonder why you can’t make yourself do the things that are good for you, then you will like this.

5.The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Volume One  by Robert Aguirre-Sacasa

I grew up reading Archie comics and watching Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, so I am very much game for this title starring Sabrina Spellman. This volume has great colors, relying mostly on shades of black and orange to really set the mood. It’s a Sabrina origin story, beginning with her parents (a warlock who married a mortal- scandalous!) and skipping through the first sixteen years of her life leading up to her witchy confirmation night. It’s darker than all the other Sabrina incarnations and more in line with traditionally terrifying witches (and the film The Witch) than the Sanderson Sisters. Although Winnifred did have some serious love for her flesh-bound spell book, so I guess I respect that.

That's all I've got for August, see you next month!

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Short Stack: July


Originally posted on The University of Texas's School of Information Info Portal. You can visit the original post here: The Short Stack: July Favorites

I’m an avid reader. Even when I’ve read a few hundred pages for classes or just finished a paper, I will find time to read because it’s a huge part of what keeps me sane. I also try to read a little bit of everything. So as I make my way through my minor hoarding problem (half a bookshelf and a full Kindle of things I eventually intend to read), I hope that you find something you’d like to read, too. I’d say it’s because misery loves company, but really, what’s miserable about voluntarily having too many books to read?
The Short Stack is a list of my favorite reads for the month. I won’t be sharing every book I read because sometimes it’s a ton and some of them just don’t deserve the publicity. Here are my top picks for July.

1.  The Harry Potter  series by J.K. Rowling

I spent the back half of July rereading these and I must say that they continue to be worth the read. I’m not a big fan of rereading anymore, but I decided that it had been long enough to give it a go in honor of the newest title (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child). It wasn’t the same as those first barely-coherent-but-pushing-through-it-anyway midnight release reads, but it was still a great series.

2.  The House at the Edge of Night  by Catherine Banner

I have so much love for this book that I hope you’ll give it a shot. If you’re looking to be transported out of Texas for this last bit of summer, try it. This story takes place on the island of Castellamare in Italy and spans four generations of Espositos. Originally a doctor, Amedeo Esposito must find a new position when gossip forces him out of his position and he buys the titular pub, the House at the Edge of Night. Running it becomes the family business as each generation faces new trials in addition to the same long-running piece of gossip that has always plagued them. It is a slow burn, but it is worth picking up.

3.  The Hopefuls  by Jennifer Close

Sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to get away from election season (or years), but imagine if you were a candidate, their family, or part of their campaign right now. That’s the story of The Hopefuls. Beth’s husband Matt Kelly works in the White House and meets Jimmy and Ash Dillon, another aspiring politician and his wife. When Jimmy gets tapped to run for railroad commissioner in Texas, he invites the Kellys to move into his home in Sugarland and Matt to run his campaign. Late nights and long campaign road trips drive everyone to their breaking point and it is hard to resist finishing this novel.

4.  Nailbiter  by Joshua Williamson

Nailbiter is a graphic horror series with four volumes out now. It’s the story of a small town called Buckaroo that has somehow been the home of over a dozen serial killers. One of the most recent was nicknamed Nailbiter because he killed people just to bite their nails. As the story evolves, it becomes more about the mystery of why this town creates serial killers. It’s definitely gruesome at points, but if you watch The Walking Dead or read the comics, then you will absolutely be fine.

That’s my Short Stack for the month! Check them out and look out in September for some new recommendations. Until then, you can find me on Goodreads or even in the hallways. Say hi!