I know it seems silly, but I’m always a little giddy when I get “nominated” for awards or tags. It means that someone thought of little ol’ me! And my humble blog, Books & Tea! Recently, I was tagged for the One Lovely Blog Award by Kaja from the lovely blog Of Dragons and Hearts. The challenge here is to list seven facts about myself and then tag a handful of other bloggers to do that same. And so we begin! (spoiler: I sucked at most extracurricular activities with the exception for bowling and color guard, I used to volunteer at the Humane Society, and I used to be a vegetarian)
I have an announcement!
I baked some semi-homemade, blackberry hand pies, and they were delicious.
Also, I’m engaged!
I don’t remember how I discovered the author, Bill Bryson, but I do remember reading Notes from a Small Island during summer break following my sophomore year of college. Like most college, summer “vacations”, I spent my days working in a factory– this particular one a plastic injection mold factory that made bumpers for (foreign-made) cars. It was particularly grueling, and often I would come home saturated in water from gigantic, steam-powered machines as well as sweat because Michigan was experiencing record-breaking temperatures that year. That summer, I also read eleven books while at work because my machine often broke down. Maintenance wasn’t a priority because the factory was closing its doors at the end of summer anyway; this was the reality of Michigan in 2007-2008. Michigan’s economy was crumbling, but I was too caught up in living vicariously through Bill Bryson’s grand tour of the United Kingdom to notice. Little did I know that around this time, or at least shortly after, Bryson was beginning yet another grand tour around the United Kingdom in preparation for his recent release The Road to Little Dribbling. And, by Jove! It’s damn near perfect.
It just dawned on me that it’s my blogoversary. I actually don’t know what day I officially launched my blog, just that it was an otherwise listless day back in January 2011. I was tidying things up around here, and at the time I couldn’t figure out how my introductory post contributed to my blog, so I deleted it, but for the sake of sentimentality, I kind of wish it were still around.
I’ve never made a big deal out of my blogoversary before, but considering I’ve been writing at Books & Tea for five years, I thought I’d make a small celebratory post. FIVE YEARS! That’s a heck of a milestone.
It’s a few days in to the new year, and it is virtually book blogger obligation to publish posts in which we optimistically declare the reading challenges we are going to participate in throughout the year. I have a love/hate relationship with reading challenges, you see. I’m like a nerd in a bookstore when it comes to them; I want to participate in all of them, so I sign up for way too many, and then I spend the next 364 days avoiding the very books that would count toward the challenges.
I almost never publish posts about new releases. Simply, 99% of the time, I am a backlist reader. What can I say? I’m stingy, and I do not like shelling out cash money for hard cover books, when I can purchase paperback copies for less later in the year. But its January! A fresh start to the new year! And to celebrate, I couldn’t resist putting together a post about upcoming (or new-ish) release books that I have my eye on. Who knows, maybe I’ll even break my own rule and buy myself a hardcover.
I lost count of how many times I tried to establish new habits and goals in 2015. I even tried to motivate myself with a website called Habatica, a video game of sorts that turns daily to-dos and habits into monsters to crush. I’m only level thirteen, which is terrible considering I’ve used the site all year-long. My biggest challenge has been “Wake up Before 7:00AM”. Then, toward the end of the year, I started postponing things until the start of the new year. I would be stuffing my face full of chips thinking, “I should really eat healthier…Lucky for me, New Year’s Day is right around the corner!” *munch munch munch* or “I should really organize the cupboards…Lucky New Year’s Day is right around the corner! New Year’s Day is the perfect day to buy spice wheels”.
The truth is, in 2016 I will still over-indulge in chips from time to time. And New Years Day is actually the worst time to buy a spice wheel because who wants to be anything but lazy on New Years Day? Yet here I am, compiling another list of resolutions…
You know what? 2015 was a pretty great year. Aside from accomplishing some great leaps in terms of adulting (my own place, my own car, building up my savings account, and talking Jon into enrolling into 401(k)), it was also a great year for reading. Do you think one’s outlook on life influences the way the read and review books? Because I look back at my reviews between 2011 and 2014 (a rather dark period in my life), and all the books I reviewed were for the most part mediocre or sub par. However in 2015, I’ve given, for the most part, glowing reviews for the books I’ve read. Or, perhaps I’ve just gotten better at picking out books to read. Whatever the reason, it made my final post of the year quite a challenge because I had a hard time choosing my favorite books of the year.
There are three really cool things about being a book blogger:
- Gabbing to book blogging buddies about a mutual love for a book
- Finding the courage to step outside your comfort zone by reading a book in a genre you’re unfamiliar with and then being kind of blown away by it
- Writing about your experiences with #1 and #2
Let me tell you about list item number 2.
Look, I’m not proud of what I’m about to admit, but the truth is, I went in prepared to hate this book. I don’t even know why because when I read the summary, I was intrigued, but the day I sat down to read Dig Two Graves by Kim Powers, I felt like it was the last book I wanted to read at the moment. The first pages of notes I took on this book suggest this attitude influenced the way I read the book– nothing but scribbles filled with vitriol for one of the characters, Ethan Holt, American Olympian turned professor teaching the Classics. I thought he was pretentious, especially after his back-handed comment about Harry Potter. What can I say? I’m sensitive about that. And Skip, Ethan’s daughter? He says she is mature for a thirteen year old, but I didn’t see it at all. But then…a switch flipped in chapter two when a new character was introduced. This new person, watching Ethan and his friends and family, while cloaked in the night, created an atmosphere that I can only describe as ominous and macabre. In that moment, I was hooked.