Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Finally Fall Book Tag

It might not feel like Fall here in South Texas, but darn it - I'm going to put on a smile, turn up the air conditioning, and pretend : ) Check out the video below to see my answers to some fun prompts, or keep reading to see even more thoughts about my Fall inspired reading recommendations!

1. In fall, the air is crisp and clear: name a book with a vivid setting! 

I had a little trouble coming up with a book for a few of these prompts, but this one was probably the easiest for me. "The River at Night" by Erica Ferencik is one of the most atmospheric books I have ever read, with an intensely vivid setting that acts as another character in this unsettling and suspenseful read. This book follows for friends as they begin a river rafting adventure, and it is does not go well. This leaves the friends struggling to survive in the outdoor elements, while also working together as a team to evade an unfriendly stranger. I really enjoyed this book, and the crisp air of autumn is the perfect time to read it! Click below to view a 60 second book review I created for "The River at Night" by Erika Ferencik.

2. Nature is beautiful… but also dying: name a book that is beautifully written, but also deals with a heavy topic like loss or grief. 

This was a tough one for me. Books dealing with loss and grief are kind of my reading sweet spot- and I have read, and enjoyed, A LOT of them. But here are three book recommendations that come to mind - The first is, "A Man Called Ove" by Fredrik Backman. Ignore the fact that this book is filed under "humorous fiction" on Amazon - I mean it is funny, but I wouldn't say that that is its main purpose. "A Man Called Ove" is about an old man, Ove, whose spouse recently passed away. Ove, overcome with grief, decides to commit suicide, however each attempt is thwarted as he is interrupted by his neighbors. This is such an emotional read and it shows the value of community in our times of grief, and the role we can each play in helping others. This book is beautifully written and filled with quotes that made my heart hurt for Ove, but also fill with joy. Such a good read! My second recommendation is "Lily & the Octopus" by Steven Rowley. This is one of my absolute favorite books, and I pretty much jump and the chance any time I can recommend it to another reader- so here we go. "Lily & the Octopus" follows Ted, a single gay man who LOVES his best friend, a dachshund named Lily. One day, Ted notices what he calls an "octopus" growing on Lily's head, which is cancer. This book is SO many things- but most of all to me it was an exploration of mortality, and it is SO beautifully written. If you haven't read it, you should- now, do it. My third suggestion is also heartbreakingly good, "The Light Between Ocean" by M.L. Stedman. This book covers a gambit of incredibly difficult topics - child loss, infertility, miscarriage, and death. The author handles each of these topics so skillfully, and delves in so deeply to the pain and complexities of the situation in which these characters are placed. 

3. Fall is back to school season: share a non-fiction book that taught you something new. 

The prompts for this book tag, might just be some of the best prompts I have answered in a long time! I absolutely love non fiction books, and a recent favorite is "On Immunity" by Eula Biss. I originally read/listened to this book two years ago when I was pregnant with my son. I was starting to think more complexly about several parenting topics- and one of those was immunizations. I knew that I wanted my son to be immunized, but I also wanted to understand where individuals who choose not to vaccinate their children were coming from. "On Immunity" answered so many questions for me that I had on this topic and did it in such an even handed way. I left the book with a much greater understanding, and appreciation for vaccines - but also with an eye for why so many parents of my generation were choosing not to have their children vaccinated, and why that is such a harmful practice. Click below to view a 60 second book review I created for "On Immunity" by Eula Biss.

4. In order to keep warm, it’s good to spend some time with the people we love: name a fictional family/household/friend-group that you’d like to be a part of. 

Gut reaction to this question was immediately the Weasley family from "Harry Potter". I always loved reading the section of the book when Harry would spend part of his summer or winter vacation with them. They seemed like such a warm and fun family to be a part of. Also, Mr. Weasley cracks me up with his love of all thing "Muggle". And if I were a member of the Weasley family I would be a graduate of Hogwarts - win, win, win : )

5. The colourful leaves are piling up on the ground: show us a pile of fall-colored spines! 

See video above for my stack of autumnal themed spines- I went with some predictable colors that happened to feature some favorite books.

6. Fall is the perfect time for some storytelling by the fireside: share a book wherein somebody is telling a story. 

It kind of feels like cheating to chose a memoir for this prompt - but, this time last year, I was in full Gilmore Girls mode- determined to rewatch the show before watching the new Netflix miniseries. And I was also in love with reading " Talking As Fast A I Can" by Lauren Graham, which came out last fall as well. This book is full of stories Graham shares from her childhood through "parenthood" - see what I did there ; ) If you are a fan of her or her shows, I highly recommend this book. I absolutely love it and it is a great book to listen to as well! Click below to view a 60 second book review I created for "Talking As Fast As I Can" by Lauren Graham.

7. The nights are getting darker: share a dark, creepy read. 

So I decided to go with a bit of a throw back for this answer, and my creepy book recommendation is "The Road by Cormac McCarthy.  I read this book quite a few years ago but the scary images and feelings are still stuck in my brain all these years later - and the fact that the movie was awesome as well, definitely helped to cement it in my top scary reads. "The Road" follows a man and his son as they trek together towards the coast, in hopes of finding help and community in a post apocalyptic world. This book deftly explores the darkest sides of human nature ( this book is dark, dark, dark) and imagines how that would play out when law and order have completely disintegrated. There is a scene in this book, and in the movie, in a basement that sends shudders through me every time I think about it. If you're looking for a dark, scary, but somehow also hopeful and insightful read- pick this one up.

8. The days are getting colder: name a short, heartwarming read that could warm up somebody’s cold and rainy day. 

You don't realize how long and depressing your typical book choices are until it takes you twenty minutes, and a deep dive into your goodreads shelf to find a book that meets this criteria! So I gave up on finding a short book, but "Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde is definitely the kind of book that can warm your soul on a cold day. This book follows Allie, a teenager whose parents are in jail, and Bea, an elderly woman who is living in her van. Allie and Bea's paths cross when Allie runs away from her foster home and joins Bea on her trek across up the West Coast. These two women find each other at time when they really need love and support, and it is a heart warming tale. Catherine Ryan Hyde also wrote "Pay it Forward" and that same sense of family, warmth, and depth is present in "Allie and Bea". Click below to view a 60 second book review I created for "Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde.

9. Fall (luckily, it’s my favorite season) returns every year: name an old favorite that you’d like to return to soon. 

Speaking of the Weasley family earlier, my answer to this question is easy - "Harry Potter". I haven't read the series from beginning to end since the final book came out in 2007. What really motivates me is just how much of the story I have forgotten over time. Frequently I will see references to Harry Potter characters or plot points that I just don't get anymore- and that makes me so sad! This is a really long series and I know as a slow reader it is going to be a big commitment for me to get through them, but I really do want to. Although I am a little nervous about rereading a series that I loved so much for fear that it won't stand up to my bookish expectations as an adult.

10. Fall is the perfect time for cozy reading nights: share your favorite cozy reading “accessories”! 

My biggest cozy problem is staying warm while reading. It is easy enough to cozy up underneath a blanket, but keeping my arms warm outside of the blanket while I hold a book is a daily struggle. Thankfully, I have an assortment of cozy sweaters that I can throw on and my chilly arm woes are solved!

Happy fall, y'all! Let me know if you have read any of the book I mentioned above! Let me know what you thought of them in the comments below. What would your answers be for these prompts? What is your favorite scary read, or what is a fictional family you wish you could be a part of?! Let me know below!


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