Posts Tagged: books

Ladyville Book Club: The Smart One by Jennifer Close


I’ve already written about how much I loved Jennifer Closes’s debut, Girls in White Dresses (and if you don’t trust me, you can read Rachel Fershleiser’s opinion). Her newest novel, The Smart One, is just as good. It’s funny, clever, and, well, smart.

The Smart One follows several women in one family: Weezy, the slightly smothering matriarch. Claire, the newly-single, newly-jobless daughter. Martha, the drama-seeking, needy daughter. And Cleo, Weezy’s son Max’s girlfriend. We read about their lives, their struggles, and their relationships with each other while discovering which characters we relate to (probably Claire and Cleo) and which characters are sympathetic but also incredibly annoying (Weezy and Martha). Just as in Girls in White Dresses, nothing totally big or crazy happens in The Smart One. The interactions between the characters are the stuff of everyday life, the conversations and arguments we’ve all had a million times. Weddings, hookups, babies, fights, parties. But somehow (and I wish I knew how, so I could harness this power for myself!) Jennifer Close manages to make these little mundane moments sparkle with wit and and intelligence and interest.

Also, Martha. Martha! Read this book so we can all talk about Martha, because I can guarantee all of us have known someone exactly like her.

I’m always interested to hear what you guys are reading, too! Let me know and give me your recommendations!

Lady Inspiration: Cheryl Strayed

cheryl strayed

Cheryl Strayed has been stalking me this week. Not literally, although honestly, I probably wouldn’t mind it. She’s just been coming up in tons of places. First, my friend Carrie was talking about her over breakfast at Sweet Clove (which is INSIDE A HONEYBAKED HAM STORE, sorry for the digression). Then I happened to read this writing post that mentioned her on Nova Ren Suma’s blog. And then I came across this Guernica interview, which everyone’s been quoting on Tumblr. And for good reason! She’s brilliant. For example:

” What I’m doing is telling the truth and no, I don’t doubt myself when I reveal my own failures and vulnerabilities. The strangest thing to come out of Wild’s success is how often people make incorrect assumptions about me. They assume writing is easy for me and I’ll never face rejection again. But of course I will and I do. The thing I’ve learned over and over again is never, ever assume that you’re going to get something—publication, award nominations, a prize, a residency, or fellowship. And never assume you aren’t going to get it either. The writing life doesn’t move in a straight line. I’ve had successes and rejections all along the way, at every stage of my career, and I will continue to do so. Acceptances and rejections don’t define me. They’re both part of what it means to be a writer. My job is to simply keep doing the work. Like—well, you know—a motherfucker.”

The whole interview’s great–you should read it! Also, happy Friday! Be sure to check out my HelloGiggles column this weekend because I wrote about a book I love, love, loved.

What It’s Really Like to be a Book Blogger

books library
So this might be a little too “inside baseball” (I don’t know what that phrase means) and maybe none of you actually care what it’s like to be a book blogger. But I was always curious about this before I started writing about books, so here it is. My gift to you. Sorry I didn’t wrap it, and also sorry it’s just a blog post instead of that Sur La Table giftcard you asked for.

If you don’t know, I write a weekly book column for HelloGiggles called Young Adult Education. I don’t really consider myself a book reviewer, because I only write about books that I like. My column runs once a week, and honestly I’m not going to waste my limited time and space talking about junk I don’t absolutely love. So I like to call myself a book recommender. Here’s what my book recommending duties are really like:

1. I get free books!
This is one of the most exciting parts of writing about books online. People send me books! Like, several books a week, usually! This is awesome. It’s great to come home to a package full of BOOKS. I usually don’t know they’re coming, which makes it even more exciting. But since I didn’t request these books, that leads to my next point…

2. I often don’t like or want to read these books.
I only write about YA for HelloGiggles, but people sometimes send me things that are not YA. This is nice, I guess, but it’s sort of a waste of everyone’s time and money. And even though anyone who’s taken even a quick glance at my column can see the types of books I write about (usually contemporary YA, often romances), I get tons of paranormal, dystopian, fantasy books. I have absolutely nothing against these books, and I’m sure some of them are great! But I have limited time, in my life and in my column, and that’s not what I choose to read most of the time. I try to vary what I read, so every once in awhile I’ll get the chance to check out one of these books, but usually? No. It’s not gonna happen. And sometimes people send me two copies of the same book, which really bums me out. Wasted paper! Wasted time! Wasted money! Since these books are often ARCs (advance review copies, which are books sent out to reviewers before the ACTUAL books are printed), I can’t resell them or even really give them to too many people. Which just leads to…

3. I feel guilty a lot.
I just do. I know I only have so much time in each day, and it’s not like I’m even getting paid for this, but I still feel bad when I get a book I don’t read.

4. I get to talk to authors!
If you’d told elementary school me that Sharon Creech would one day leave a comment on my blog, I would’ve freaked out. I mean, I still freaked out when that happened. Typically, when I write about someone’s book, I share the link on Twitter so they can see it. Most people love compliments, and since I only say good things, I don’t feel weird about sharing my articles with the writers. And guess what? They’re usually nice and friendly! I think this might be unique to the YA community, though. I’m pretty sure Jonathan Franzen would not be as friendly if you reached out to him.

5. I get an inside look at how books are marketed.
Okay, you can call me naive, but I never understood how bookstore placement worked. Like, I thought the books that are featured in the Barnes and Noble email newsletter were just there because someone at Barnes and Noble liked them. And I thought books were just on display at bookstores because they were popular. I didn’t realize that everything in the book industry is ruled by marketing (and money). Which is fine! I’m not saying that’s wrong. Well, okay, I do think that in an ideal world we’d just live in a readers’ paradise where staff recommendations are worth their weight in gold. But I get that publishing is a business, and it’s run like one. I will say, though, that I’m instantly suspicious of and turned off by any book with a huge publicity campaign. For example, when I heard about The Fifth Wave and it was clear that it was being pushed hard, I did not want to read it. But then I did read it, and I loved it, so I try not to hold publicity against a book. I always want to root for the underdog, though. I can’t help it.

6. I feel a lot of responsibility.
I take my book-recommending duties pretty seriously. I love knowing that sometimes people pick up books because they trust my opinion, and I don’t want to steer them wrong! But even more than that, I really want to highlight books that might go unnoticed. I do feel responsibility to use what little influence I have to showcase really stellar books and shine some light on great authors.

7. I have no idea if I’m reaching anyone sometimes.
One in awhile, I’ll get an email or a tweet from a reader who lets me know she read and loved something I’ve recommended, or sometimes a reader will just say they like my column. This is so great, and it makes me feel awesome. But most of the time? Insert that cricket sound effect that plays for comedic effect when no one’s paying attention. Basically, I have no idea if I’m just writing for my own enjoyment half the time. Which is fine, because I totally would write for my own enjoyment even if no one was reading! But I like to know I’m reaching people.

8. Interacting with readers is the best.
The absolutely best part of writing about books for HelloGiggles is interacting with the cool girls and women who read the site. And while I definitely love talking to women my age who read YA, it means so much to hear from a girl who’s actually in high school or just starting college. I love to think that some of these books might help them through rough stuff, or just make their days better. That’s the experience I’ve had with a lot of YA, and I want to share that with as many girls as I can.

I’m sure other, more prolific/serious book bloggers have significantly different experiences, but that’s mine! If you have any questions, want to talk books, or have a book you’d like me to write about, I’m all ears (not literally…that would be weird). Leave a comment or email me at

Image via Flickr

Lady Inspiration: Lauren Graham

“Eventually, I realized that procrastination is directly related to fear, and I came to the staggering (yet completely obvious) realization that I couldn’t improve upon something that didn’t exist. I had to allow for an unwieldy, possibly very unattractive, first draft to exist if I had any hope of polishing it into something I liked better.”-Lauren Graham, talking about her book Someday, Someday, Maybe.

If you want to read more about the perfect, fabulous, genius Lauren Graham, check out Lauren’s post about seeing her. Jealous!