Posts Tagged: books

The Things I Want to Write

Have you noticed that I haven’t been writing on this blog even half as often as I used to? “No, Kerry, because we all have lives that don’t revolve around you,” you say as one. Well, okay, guys. Maybe you DON’T CARE, but I will explain my absence anyway: I’ve been doing a lot of non-blog writing, and that gives me less time for this blog. I do love Welcome to Ladyville, but I also love writing other things. And, because writing begets writing, all I can think about now is all the stuff I WANT to write. So here’s a list. Some of these are more serious/more practical than others.

-About 15 million YA contemporary romances, because these are probably my favorite things ever and I just want to be Meg Cabot (aka write all the time and live in Key West).

-A girl detective series, like Nancy Drew but the detective is Bess and she messes everything up constantly. Or maybe the main character is George and she barely even gives a SHIT about yr dumb mysteries.

-A screenplay with my brother Alex, because we’re both writers and we need to be more like the Duplass bros (or the brother/sister team who wrote Our Idiot Brother).

-A blog with Lauren because we email each other multiple times a day and, I know I’m biased, but our emails are so great that it’s a real shame they aren’t shared with the world. But they’re probably 50% shit-talking, so maybe it’s best that no one else reads them.

-A short story that’s good enough for Rookie.

-More fanfic about Lenny Kravitz because I’m only human and I really do love him/make up stories about him in my head all the time.

-A blog about romantic comedies (whoops, I’m already writing that).

-A YA/MG book in diary format because those were always my favorite growing up (and, again, I just want to be Meg Cabot).

-Romantic comedies that aren’t YA.

-A TV show set in a small town full of quirky characters like Hart of Dixie. One where everything always ends up pretty happy at the end of each episode, and also Jason Street is involved.

-Those mysteries that are all about food and have, like, a picture of pie on the front and a recipe in the back? Have you ever seen those at the library? They look fun. Also I’m obsessed with mysteries because I love them and CONSTANTLY tried to write them as a child. The murderer was always the next door neighbor.

-A series about four bffs, because Sisterhood the Traveling Pants is perfect.

-Updated Baby-Sitters Club books. I remember a LOT of details and I can totally do it. Mallory might be “mysteriously” absent and/or this series can turn into the murder mystery I always wanted to write.

-Anything you will pay me for, basically. Give me $$$ for words, please.

What I Read: January 2015

I’m taking a cue from my friend, your friend, our friend Lauren and writing a post about the books I read this month. I read a lot more than usual and I’m not sure why–I guess because it’s January and what else am I going to do? Here’s what I read last month!

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I’ll admit that I have a bit of a bias against long books–I don’t really know why. But even though Americanah was on the long side, it flew by. This book is funny and smart and very current–the main character has a blog that I can totally imagine existing in real life. It’s very, very good and I cannot recommend it enough.

Safari Honeymoon by Jesse Jacobs
I don’t know if I liked this or not, but it did make me laugh out loud twice, so there you go.

Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer
If you like Friday Night Lights and you like food, you’ll like this. It’s set in Texas and features a chef who gets a job cooking last meals for inmates on death row. It’s such a perfect concept for a book that it makes me a little angry I didn’t think of it.

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
If you’re not yet part of the cult of Patchett, read this profile of her on The Hairpin. She’s great, right? The essays in this collection are about dogs, her grandma, her marriages, and books. They’re all deeply enjoyable and effortless to read.

Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon
I like books about creativity. This isn’t a “heavy” read, but if you’re interested in creativity and promoting your work, you’ll probably like it.

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
I wrote about this book (and interviewed the author) on HelloGiggles. It’s so good. I love books that really communicate what it’s like to grow up in a small town and be afraid that you’ll get “stuck” there but then also knowing you’ll miss parts of it.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
I liked this book! I will warn you that it is much more of a family drama than a mystery. One of the characters has a revelation while looking through her mother’s Betty Crocker cookbook and I’m pretty sure my response to that was not supposed to be, “Oh man, I should bake a pie,” but you know what? It was. I can’t help it. I’m so hopelessly domestic that even reading about a character rebelling against domesticity makes me want to make a pot roast with two sides.

Reading Resolutions

My 2014 in books was, honestly, not that great. I read 61 books, which sounds like a lot, but isn’t really. Two of my jobs (writing for HelloGiggles and writing book reviews) involve reading books, which I think means I should be reading way more. And, yeah, I work a lot and I’m busy, but so are a lot of people who manage to read way more.

Even if I consider quality over quantity, I’m not super happy with my year in reading. I read a lot of books that were just okay last year. Do you know how much I hate reading an okay book? Just about as much as I hate eating an okay meal. I know that I’m more food motivated than my dog, but I just want every meal to be a completely perfect taste experience. In the same vein, I want every book to totally knock my over. Did that happen last year? No. I did read some really great books (An Untamed State, The Girls from Corona del Mar, The Start of Me and You, Vivian Apple at the End of the World, Every Kiss a War, Strange Light, Since You’ve Been Gone, and Meaty are a few examples), but I’m struggling to remember what some of the books I read were even about. Honestly, I would rather read a terrible book than a book that’s just fine.

This year I got my first gig writing straight-up book reviews (I don’t consider the writing I do for HelloGiggles to be “reviewing” since I only write about things I like). It’s hard and fun in equal measure, but mostly it’s taught me something invaluable: a lot of books are really boring. Like, so boring. As a writer, this is both incredibly discouraging and incredibly motivating. On the one hand, what if I’m accidentally writing something really boring? But on the other hand, maybe now that I know Being Boring is the #1 book crime, maybe I can just work extra hard to avoid it.

And maybe I’m being boring right now and I should just stop. The point is, I made some reading resolutions for 2015 to hopefully ensure that my year in reading is a lot more interesting.

1. Complete the Book Riot Read Harder challenge. I’ve only read three books so far this year and I’ve already completed a few of the requirements.

2. Read every book by Toni Morrison and Ann Patchett. I figured these authors were good picks because I like both of them but I’ve only read two of their books. And neither of them have such a huge catalogue that it’s totally unrealistic.

3. Read 62 books. I read 61 last year, so basically I just want to barely outdo Past Kerry.

Will I complete all of these resolutions? Probably not! But, as of late, my motto has been “progress is better than perfection,” and I’m just excited to see how far I get.

What about you guys? Do you make reading resolutions? The first book I read this year was Americanah and it was so amazing that it gave me hope for the rest of the year. Let me know your reading resolutions and, seriously, go read Americanah right now if you haven’t.

What I’ve Been Reading

Long time, no blog. I’m still among the living, but (obviously) I haven’t been posting here at Welcome to Ladyville nearly as often as I used to. I was going to write a lot of reasons why that is, but

A) No one cares, and
B) It’s basically just that I work a lot, and that sometimes the internet makes me mad.

But I’m still here, still writing for HelloGiggles and sometimes popping up other places (in fact, very very soon I’ll be able to share something else I wrote!). And, of course, I’m still reading. I promise to try to convert some of the blog posts I constantly write in my head into actual blog posts soon, but until then, here’s what I’ve been reading.

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
It feels silly to even talk about this book, because if you want to read it you’ve probably read it by now. But IT IS SO GOOD. It’s funny, but it’s mostly full of advice that will make you remember you should be more of a badass at all times. Amy Poehler reminds me a lot of my friend Lauren (more about her later), who takes less shit than probably anyone I know. If Lauren doesn’t want to do something, she isn’t even going to entertain the possibility of doing it. She recently told me, “My favorite part of being an adult is not doing what I don’t want to do and saying no frequently.” And she does! It’s truly something to behold, as well as a philosophy all of us could take to heart. Anyway, we should all be more like Amy Poehler and Lauren and just not ever take shit from anyone. Remember that Amy P. quote from Tina Fey’s Bossypants? “I don’t f*cking care if you like it?” I think about that all the time. This was a really bad description of Yes, Please, but you should just read it.

Texts from Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg
This was funny! If you read The Toast or The Hairpin, then you’re well acquainted with the Texts From series. I read somewhere that this book is still fun to read if you haven’t read the source material, but I’m going to respectfully disagree with that. I’ve read a good portion of the books covered (back when I was an English major/bored high school student), but I had no idea what was going on in the texts about the ones I hadn’t read. If you read a lot of classics but also enjoy making fun of them, this is a good read.

The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe
Lauren recommended this book to me, and I trust Lauren’s book recommendations more than I trust anything from anyone else. This book is a fine entry into the genre of Sad Girl Lit, which is a designation I think I made up. I love books that spend a lot of time inside young women’s heads as they navigate truly tough or terrible experiences. This book reminded me a lot of Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs, a book I was so disturbed by that I vowed to never read it again (it’s not actually that disturbing, I’m just irrationally affected by Lorrie Moore). Much like AGATS, The Girls from Corona del Mar features upsetting scenes that will HAUNT YOU. In a good way. Sort of. It also features a lot of stuff about motherhood and traumatic childbirth, which I love reading about for some reason. Lauren also interviewed Rufi Thorpe, so go read that right now.

Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter
This is another recommendation from Lauren. I wasn’t lying when I said I read whatever she tells me to read! This is just a Lauren appreciation blog now, sorry. This book is so weird, upsetting, and good and I still can’t stop thinking about it. You know how men often write books that highlight how our bodies are just sacks of meat? I’m thinking of Chuck Palahniuk here, and I realize you might not know what I mean, but this was supposed to be a quick roundup. I always thought I didn’t like that kind of book, but it turns out I don’t mind if it’s written by a woman! So I guess I’m just tired of reading a man’s POV of women’s bodies and sexuality. Ugly Girls gets pretty, well, ugly. It’s also wonderfully creepy and there’s a sense of dread that gets louder and louder the more you read, which is one of my favorite things in a book.

Feel free to let me know what you’re reading and I promise to be back soon!

What I’ve Been Reading

What have you guys been up to in our long period apart? I went to the Bellville World’s Fair and ate apple rings. I went to my 10 year high school reunion (uneventful, but I did have chicken wings). I went to IKEA for the first time with my family and I didn’t even eat meatballs even though clearly I should have. I’ve been listening to a lot of Judge John Hodgman and Bullseye and eating approximately a ton of apples because, you know, fall. I’ve been sort of trying to unpack some boxes but mostly I’ve just been working. But also, I’ve been reading! Here are some of the books I’ve read recently.

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
There’s a reason everyone’s been talking about this book–it really is that good. It’s about a kidnapping, which is already something that stresses me out so I probably shouldn’t even have read it. But good luck putting this one down once you start it! It’s extraordinarily violent and disturbing, and it features by far the most upsetting, graphic depiction of sexual violence that I’ve ever read, so keep that in mind. But nothing’s gratuitous; the book is all about trauma and living through things, about how people get through the worst possible stuff and what happens when it’s over. Nothing about this book is cheesy or simple. It features some truly complex people, and I don’t mean the type of characters that people say are complex because, like, sometimes they’re gruff but actually they have a heart of gold! These are people who are racist but also save your life, or people who love you but still make the worst choices. This book just knocked me out.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell.
Okay, let’s get a little bit lighter. This is a book about a magic, time-traveling phone. Well, the phone itself isn’t time traveling, but it lets the main character talk to a past version of her husband. I just try not to think about time travel too much because I’ve never understood it. I liked that this book was about marriage and the importance of committing to your relationship. Does that sound boring? Don’t get me wrong, I love a book about people falling in love, but I also like a book that is upfront about how marriage can be a lot of work, not all of it fun work, and how that relationship is ultimately more important than anything else. Sure, this one was pretty cute and funny, but clearly I took some additional meaning from it. Which reminds me that An Untamed State also featured a complicated marriage!

The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes
I read this one for review and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. I love books that are set in all-female environments (convents, homes for unwed mothers, all-female boarding schools, the house in Little Women) and while this wasn’t technically an all-female environment, it was all about the ladies. I feel like this book would make a great movie, definitely one that I would watch when I was sick. This is one of those books that will make you be all, “Women used to have so few choices!” and then you realize that things are still sort of the same.

The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
Working in television sounds terrible. That’s probably not the moral of this story, but that’s one of the lessons I learned. Jennifer Weiner books are always compulsively readable and they will always make you feel pretty good. This one features a disabled object of affection, which is so rare that I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever read it. Apparently this book was inspired by Jennifer Weiner’s time working on that ABC Family sitcom starring Raven, of “That’s So” fame. If that’s not enough to make you read this book, then I don’t know what to tell you.

What have you guys been reading lately? I’m currently trying to work my way through the National Book Awards longlist, although I’ll probably give up once I hit a boring one. I’m on An Unnecessary Woman right now, and so far so good. The narrator loves books and hates America. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments!