What I’ve Been Reading Lately

Happy New Year and all that nonsense. I thought I’d break away from my manuscript’s massive rewrite to share a few thoughts on the books I’ve read recently. My goal is to get through 75 in 2020. So far I’m off to a decent start. 


The Queen of Nothing – Holly Black 

YA Fantasy – Published 2019


In this STUNNING conclusion to the Folk of Air trilogy, Jude, who has been suffering through her banishment to the mortal world, returns to the Faerie Court in order to acquit her twin sister of murder. Epicness ensues. 

So few books lately have me frothing at the mouth in excitement. This is one of them. I can’t emphasize how much I love Black’s work. Her writing is so vivid, her plots so intense. If you want to dive into her work–and you should–I would recommend starting with Tithe, which is the first book set in this universe. Characters from it make an appearance in her Folk of Air trilogy and, while you can certainly get by without knowing their backstory, it adds an extra delicious layer. 

Seriously can’t wait for her next book! 


Elegies – Theognis 

Classic – Sixth Century BC 

A crotchety old man laments the changing times and gives his pupil unsolicited moral advice. (Basically, your typical BCE Boomer.)

As part of the Penguin Classics edition, I read Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days last year. To be honest, I don’t remember either of the poems and couldn’t tell you what they’re about. I’m sure Zeus was mentioned? Maybe? 

I read Elegies a week or two ago and can pretty much say the same thing. I got nothing out of it. Epic poetry seriously doesn’t stick with me. 


Out – Natsuo Kirino

Crime Novel – Published 1997 

A young woman who works a night shift at a boxed lunch factory murders her husband and employs her co-workers to dispose of the body.  

Ok, I have a thing with Japanese fiction. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a lot of work in translation that I’ve liked. I was traumatized in college when I took Japanese literature classes and haven’t recovered since. The stories are usually too weird and unsettling for my taste–and that’s saying a lot since I’m not easily disturbed.

However, this was pleasantly gory. I can’t say I was madly flipping through the pages to get to the end, but it does have a nice, steady pace. Though I never really grew attached to the characters, since most are pretty unlikable, they’re fascinating enough that you want to see what they’ll do next. I really had no idea what was going to happen.

I would’ve given it four stars if not for the ending… Sometimes I wonder what’s in the drinking water over in Japan. 


Purple Hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Fiction – Published 2003


Fifteen-year-old Kambili and her older brother are sent to visit their aunt after a military coup shakes Nigeria. They learn what life is like for those less privileged than themselves and what it’s like to live away from their fanatically religious father. 

I started reading this last year as part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club. I would have likely never picked it up otherwise, which would’ve been a shame because it was really good. The only reason I set it aside for a year was because I was so worried about what would happen to the children. Their father is terrifying. I also found it fascinating reading about Nigerian culture. It was nice to be transported somewhere I’d normally never read about. Would definitely recommend. 

Let me know what books you’ve been reading! Do you have a reading goal for 2020?


[Book Review] Harry’s Trees – Jon Cohen

Harry’s Trees
Author: Jon Cohen
Published: 2018
Genre: Fiction
My Rating: ★★

Thirty-four-year-old Harry Crane, lifelong lover of trees, works as an analyst in a treeless US Forest Service office. When his wife dies in a freak accident, devastated, he makes his way to the remote woods of northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, intent on losing himself. But fate intervenes in the form of a fiercely determined young girl named Oriana. She, too, has lost someone—her father. And in the magical, willful world of her reckoning, Oriana believes that Harry is the key to finding her way back to him. 

As Harry agrees to help the young girl, the unlikeliest of elements—a tree house, a Wolf, a small-town librarian and a book called The Grum’s Ledger—come together to create the biggest sensation ever to descend upon the Endless Mountains…a golden adventure that will fulfill Oriana’s wildest dreams and open the door to a new life for Harry.

Because I wasn’t already weighted down by an insane TBR pile, I decided this year to join a book club for the first time. This was January’s pick. I would never have grabbed it otherwise, since I hadn’t heard of it or Cohen. I think even if I had found it on my own, I wouldn’t have chosen to read it since the synopsis didn’t draw me in.

The story didn’t need to be told in 432 pages. It didn’t even need half that. If Cohen had cut all the extra fluff and characters, I wouldn’t have had to plow my way through a slow and meandering plot. It took sooo looong to read and the payoff wasn’t worth it.

Call me old fashioned, but a year to mourn a beloved spouse is not long enough (TBH, I fully expect my boyfriend to throw himself on my funeral pyre). Only a few months pass before Amanda, the love interest who lost her husband at the same time Harry lost his wife, begins feeling the urge for physical comfort and throws herself at the local dairy farmer. Out of the entire cast, her character irritated me the most. In every scene, she’s painted as this oversexed Amazon. The men in the town obsess over her. To the point where they feel possessive and gang up on Harry because he’s sitting with her in her booth at the local diner. It’s so unrealistic and blatantly written by a male.

I also don’t agree with the way Harry deals with his grief. Okay, he tries to kill himself, I get that. But then he’s given four million dollars from the construction company that caused the death of his wife. And what does he do with it? He and Amanda’s inhuman daughter exchange it all for gold, stuff it in burlap sacks, and give it away to random people.

What sorta sick freaks do that?

Wolf, the main villain and Harry’s older brother, and Olive, the wizened librarian, are the only characters that make any sort of sense. He wants money and she wants to save her library. These are people I can respect. The rest, I couldn’t make myself care about.

Also, trees really don’t do that much for me. Yes, I like oxygen and all that, but I don’t need description after description of the different types. I’ve never even climbed a tree nor had any inclination to.

Harry’s Trees is a story about grief and greed, and it shows that magic can exist, not only in stories, but in every day life. Or some crap. Whatever. I just know I will be donating this book. I hope someone else will find the magic in it that I apparently missed.


[Review] Hunted – Meagan Spooner

Hunted | Meagan Spooner
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: 2017
My Rating: ★★★

From Goodreads: Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

“In every fairy tale there were rules. Even the monsters could not break them. And where, except in fairy tales, did there exist talking beasts?”

I’m sort of torn on this book. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it. I can’t recommend it, but I don’t want to turn people off of it. I think it’s a worthy addition to Beauty and the Beast retellings (of which I have an obsession for), yet it bored me more often than not. I liked the novel’s twists and turns, but between those unexpected moments, the story slogged. It would appeal to those who prefer beautiful descriptions over a fast pace.

The story alternates between Yeva and the Beast. We only get snippets of his thoughts between each chapter, but most of the quotes I found notable came from him. I would’ve enjoyed more from his point of view.

“Because while hatred is a fire only man feels, he does not hate the beast that comes in the night. Mankind fears it, fights it, drives it off, but he does not hate it. No one hates the bear, the wolf. They don’t hate the wind or the snow. They don’t hate death.

They hate each other.”

Though Yeva is a strong heroine, hellbent on revenge, I never felt a connection with her. I didn’t care what happened to her or her family. I mostly found myself worrying about her dogs.

To be honest, I prefer retellings where the beast is more of a sexy beast than an actual beast. At the very least, I want a lot of banter. Hunted was missing that for me. I did, however, love the the play on Russian folklore with stories about Baba Yaga, Ivan Tsarevich, and Vasilisa the Wise.

Hunted wouldn’t be a book I would ever reread or heartily recommend, but I can understand why someone else might become immersed in Spooner’s beautiful prose.

If you’ve read it, what were your thoughts? What is a Beauty and the Beast retelling you enjoy?



What I Read in February

Yes, this is late–you think I don’t know it’s March 7th? During the last week of February, I ended up on a four day business trip to Nebraska, which I’m still recovering from. I’m blaming it for not reaching my reading goals (see below) and writing goals (*gesticulates wildly at timestamp* nyeh). But that’s not all! Fitness goals. Study goals. Needlepoint goals. Really, it irreversibly damaged my life. I’ll never catch up.

Ikigai | Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles 

Garcia and Miralles travel to Okinawa to interview residents of a village that has the world’s highest percentage of centenarians–those overachievers who live to be over 100. They explore the Japanese concept of Ikigai, meaning “a reason for being.”

I often ask myself, What is the point of me? What am I doing with my life? Why am I not doing anything more fulfilling or worthwhile? Why am I not rich yet? It makes me angry knowing I’m not living up to my full potential. I was born for greatness. To have servants and live in a castle and lord over lesser people. I think–nay, I know–there was a mix-up at the hospital. My real parents are out there, dictating or something.

I picked up this book to find answers to those questions and also because The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to a Happy Living by Meik Wiking was already checked out (Danes, amirite?). After reading this, I’ve concluded I don’t really need to live that long, especially if I have to follow the diet rule of Hara Hachi Bu, which is eating until you’re 80% full. That just doesn’t seem right. If you’re not eating until you feel like you’re about to pass out, you’re doing it wrong. Everyone knows that.

LIBRARY – The book looks nice on a shelf, but it would just stay there. Unloved. Never to be touched again. Until a fit of passion seizes me at midnight and I rearrange my shelves.

The Cruel Prince | Holly Black

At seven, Jude’s parents’ killer steals away her and her two sisters to live in the High Court of Faerie. Years later, in her struggle to fit in among the fae and win a place at Court, she attracts the ire of Prince Cardan, the son of the High King. 

I thought this would take place entirely separate from Black’s earlier works, but I was delightedly surprised that characters from her Tithe series make an appearance. Roth Roiben Rye is BACK, baby. Which, of course, means I have to reread those books (again) before the next in this series comes out.

I love hate-to-love romances. This wasn’t one. At least, not yeeeet. *wriggles eyebrows* I keep forgetting Cardigan’s name. But that’s okay. He’s delightful. I will never tire of tortured, dark princes, especially ones you can make fun of and still find attractive.

Oh, and Jude’s great. Very fierce.

But Cardinal. Yum.

BUY – Yaaaaas.

Introducing the Ancient Greeks: From Bronze Age Seafarers to Navigators of the Western Mind | Edith Hall

I think the title says enough?

I’m attempting to delve into Ancient Greece for funsies. While reading primary sources from writers like Homer and Herodotus, I’m trying to bulk up my understanding with texts like this (recommendations are entirely welcome). This was a nice introduction, but I found myself skimming the last few chapters. And some of the middle ones. And a few at the beginning. I’m not being tested on this material, so I’ll do what I want, thankyouverymuch.

LIBRARY – Though super informative and well-written, I can’t see this being one I’d reference again and again.

Far Far Away | Tom McNeal 

Jeremy Johnson Johnson is an outsider in his small town. His most notable peculiarity: he hears the voice of Jacob Grimm. Grimm takes it upon himself to help Jeremy get good grades, to keep distractions like Ginger Boultinghouse at bay, and, when children begin disappearing, to keep Jeremy and his friends alive.

You know that horrible show on ABC? The super corny one where they just cut and paste fairy tales? “Once Upon a Time” or something?

I was expecting that when I read this (only, you know, better).

I didn’t get that.

Since it’s narrated by Jacob Grimm, I wanted fairies and wicked stepmothers and people hacking body parts off. The only supernatural bit is Jacob himself. The danger the children find themselves in is entirely realistic. In a way, that makes it more terrifying. But this gives me mixed feelings. I applaud the author for managing to make the story feel magical without any magic, but I also really wanted that fantasy element. How can I be an escapist if you throw reality in my face? I also wish the novel had focused more on Jacob’s character. Who cares about the kids? They’re supposed to be devoured.

LIBRARY – While I liked it, it’s probably not something I’d read again.


What was your favorite February read?

January Book Reviews…in February!

Seeing as we’re almost halfway through February, I’m a bit late with this post. Below are the four pitiful books I read in January. My goal this year is, as always, to get to 100. I’m already four behind. But no matter! I have a good feeling that this will be the year I achieve 100. I may have to squeak in a few audio books at work, but dagnabbit it will be done!

I’m trying out a new rating scale. Instead of a star system, which really doesn’t mean much to anyone but myself, I’m doing my own Buy, Borrow, Bypass. Of course, a small note: Save for the nonfiction titles, I’ve already purchased all of these books. That’s just how I roll.

Lincoln in the Bardo | George Saunders

Told from the alternating perspectives of spirits caught in the Bardo, a place between death and new life, it follows Lincoln as he visits the crypt of his recently deceased son, Willie.

I thought this was absolutely brilliant. I was not surprised that it won the Man Booker Prize (as if I really know what that is or care), and I can totally understand why it was on so many favorites lists last year. I wholly recommend this to fans of historical fiction and satire, and I would encourage writers of any genre to read it for the experimental structure alone.

Buy – I’d read it again.

Dear Fahrenheit 451 | Annie Spence

A librarian writes love letters (and some hate mail) to books that have made an impact on her life.

This was hilarious. I did not at all expect to laugh out loud as much as I did, nor did I ever think librarians could have so much personality. I did not agree with her letters to every book, especially her off-putting and most disagreeable attitude towards The Hobbit, but I did read the entire book in one night. Well, okay, that’s a bit of a lie. I didn’t read the very end where she gave book recommendations. I’m already drowning in my TBR–I don’t need any help with that.

Library – Though thoroughly enjoyable, it’s not something I need to read more than once. Also, you know, she’s a librarian talking about books she read at the library.

James and the Giant Peach | Roald Dahl

Poor, pathetic, orphaned James is tormented by his two aunts until a stranger gifts him with magic water, which he accidentally spills on a barren peach tree. When a peach on it grows larger than a house, he finds a tunnel inside and embarks on an adventure with a group of super freaking huge insects.

I’m slowly making my way through Dahl’s books. As a kid, I only read The BFG. Last year I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, the last of which I have ranted about to anyone who will listen and even to those who just sort of glaze over when I talk. I won’t bore you with–you know what? I’m gonna go there.

For those who haven’t read it (you lucky dogs, you), the sequel begins with Mr. Wonka, Charlie, and his entire family shooting up into space in the elevator. There are some run-ins with carnivorous Vermicious Knids and a whole section on the idiocy of the President. Then, finally, after much hullabaloo, they return to the chocolate factory, where the selfish grandparents–who they should’ve let starve ages ago–get in a tiff over these pills that make them twenty years younger. One of the dumb sacks hogs four pills which, since she is only in her seventies, ends up putting her in negative years. She disappears and Charlie has to save her. Apparently she never bothered taking up arithmetic during all those bedridden years.

Dumb. It was all just dumb. No wonder no one adapted it into a movie. They just stopped at the first book. Dahl should’ve too.

*deep breath* But I digress…

James and the Giant Peach did not enrage me to my core. In fact, I did not feel much of anything while reading it . . . except sheer bloody terror that the cursed rhino who killed James’s parents would return again. Stupid, emotionally scarring Tim Burton films.

Library – I’m glad I read it, but not certain I’d do so again.

Speak Easy, Speak Love | McKelle George

A group of teenagers work to keep a run-down speakeasy on Long Island running despite challenges from Prohibition officers, the mafia, and their own dramas.

Zounds, I loved everything about this book! Jazz, speakeasies, hate-to-love romances, ’20s garb. The two main love interests–Benedick and Beatrice–are deliciously witty. I aspire to insult people like they do. It’s supposedly a retelling of Much Ado About Nothing, which I haven’t read and likely never will. Shakespeare hurts my head and I like to keep my distance.

I am very much looking forward to more work from George.

Buy – Mein Gott, buy it for the cover alone.



[Review] Wink Poppy Midnight – April Genevieve Tucholke

Title: Wink Poppy Midnight
Author: April Genevieve Tucholke
Genre: YA Fiction
Published: 2016
My Rating: ★★★★★

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

I really, reeeeally enjoyed this. For one, it’s a very quick read and, since I’m obscenely behind on my Goodreads challenge, it’s nice to read a whole book in one sitting. For two, it has a very magical quality to it without there being any actual magic in it. There’s a haunted house, a fortuneteller, and a very warm and cozy hayloft that I’d love to read and take a nap in.

The characters are beautifully flawed. Wink is obsessed with fairy tales and blurs the line between fantasy and reality (I can relate). Poppy is obsessed with herself (I can relate) and Leaf, Wink’s older brother, and likes to torture people (ahem). Midnight is obsessed with being like his older brother, Alabama, who his mother took with her to France, leaving him with his dad. Tucholke has an amazing way of making you root for one character in the beginning, hating the other, and then by the end, making you completely change your opinion on them. Except for Midnight. I don’t think my opinion of him ever changed. Poor thing, stuck between these two powerful forces. They have a lot of personality, these girls.

I love how the names are so bizarre. It’s like when you watch an anime for the first time and you know immediately who the main character is because they’re in a sea of plain characters while they themselves have spiky rainbow hair and eyes the size of soccer balls. I think the same could be said with the names in this book. Wink, Poppy, Midnight, Leaf . . . If they had a normal name like Zoe or Thomas, you know they’re mundanes.

I had the pleasure of getting my book signed by Tucholke last year when she toured with a group of authors (she said she liked my name). It’s kind of sad that I’m only just now reading this, but I will definitely be picking up more of her work.


[Review] Bad Romance – Heather Demetrios

Title: Bad Romance
Author: Heather Demetrios
Genre: YA Fiction
Published: 2017
My Rating: ★★★★

From Goodreads: Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it’s too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she’s unable to escape. 

This book festers with rage. The story is told from Grace’s perspective as if she is writing to Gavin, the boy she falls for and later comes to hate and fear. The fact that it’s written in a mix of first and second person only makes it more poignant.

I’ve always wondered how a smart girl could end up in an abusive relationship and then stay in it. Or how you could give up your dreams for a dumb boy. But when you think you’re worthless, you don’t believe you deserve love or to be treated with respect. Grace has such a strong personality, and you just want to shake her for letting Gavin and her family get away with treating her so horribly. If she only said what she was thinking, because my god she is full of attitude, she wouldn’t be in this mess. They wouldn’t be able to cow her.

Even though I know he’s a total dick, I can’t help but find Gavin charming at first. Then I just felt bad for him. It’s clear he has issues, that he needs help. He tries to kill himself because his last girlfriend broke up with him and threatens to kill himself if Grace tries to leave him. You wonder how someone so young, who comes from a decent family, could have such problems.

Though Bad Romance should frustrate you and make you want to throw it across the room, it isn’t completely depressing. There are tons of references to musicals and plays. Most of them I’ve never seen (West Side Story anyone?), so a lot went over my head. But I had some great LOL moments. I would recommend to fans of Patrick Jones’ Things Change and Sarah Dessen’s Dreamland. 


The World Needs Library Simulator

I’m a big fan of escaping reality and where better to do that than in VR? Not only can you immerse yourself in another world, you can choose to be anything you want (Goat Simulator), work any job you want (Garbage Truck Simulator), and date the hunky man of your dreams (Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator).

So I ask myself, why not have a Library Simulator?

In this game, you could:

  • Learn the Dewey Decimal system.
  • Replace books on shelves.
  • Help visitors find the perfect title for their bookish needs.
  • Scan books for visitors to check out.
  • Create beautiful displays.
  • Read short stories and decide if they go or stay.
  • Attach your Goodreads account and browse actual titles, add them to your TBR, and recommend to others (not fishing for sponsors or anything).

You could even pick different settings: A brightly-lit, ultra modern library with lots of wasted space. An Inner city library with bars on the window (there’s only the one) and an armed security guard. Personally, I would prefer to lord over a more traditional library with polished mahogany shelves, antique tapestries, and candle sconces. This could even add to the excitement–if someone tips over a candle, everything burns!

As if that wasn’t already intensely titillating, here’s where it gets really fun:

  • If people don’t heed your shushes and stern looks, you can stab them in the neck with your Pen of Righteous Discipline.
  • If someone bends the spine of a book, you get to break or remove theirs.

    View post on imgur.com

  • If someone smuggles in food and drink, you get to stuff it down their throat until they choke.
  • If someone dog-ears a page, you get to put a slit in their ear. After, say, two offenses, they lose the ear. And their library card.
  • If someone attempts to steal a book, well, we’ll let them live because who can resist a good book?

Let us not forget story time, children!



[Review] My Italian Bulldozer – Alexander McCall Smith

Title: My Italian Bulldozer
Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Genre: Fiction
Published: 2017
My rating: ★★1/2

From Goodreads:

When writer Paul Stewart heads to the idyllic Italian town of Montalcino to finish his already late book, it seems like the perfect escape from stressful city life. Upon landing, however, things quickly take a turn for the worse when he discovers his hired car is nowhere to be found. With no record of any reservation and no other cars available it looks like Paul is stuck at the airport. That is, until an enterprising stranger offers him an unexpected alternative. While there may be no cars available there is something else on offer: a bulldozer.

With little choice in the matter, Paul accepts and so begins a series of laugh out loud adventures through the Italian countryside, following in the wake of Paul and his Italian Bulldozer. A story of unexpected circumstance and lesson in making the best of what you have, My Italian Bulldozer is a warm holiday read guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

I was supremely excited for this book. I gushed about it to friends and family. I kept looking at the cover again and again (because isn’t it kinda awesome?), and kept seeing it posted on all these “Books to Look for in 2017” lists. I even recommended it to a coworker to bring with on her trip to Italy.

Then I read it.

My disappointment in this book rivals the disappointment my parents have when I do needlepoint on Saturday night. They just look at me wondering, why aren’t you out partying? Why are you wasting your youth?

Why is this book so tame?! I expected a riotous journey through the Italian countryside, but it fell flat. There were quirky moments that made me feel like I was watching a British sitcom, but they hardly got a chuckle from me. Perhaps the humor was just too subtle . . . or nonexistent. I bulldozed (aha) through the novel just to get it out of the way and move on with my life (which, according to my family, I do not actually have).

To keep myself entertained, I started picturing Martin Freeman as Paul. If it ever is adapted into a film, he would fit the part perfectly. He has that pushover appeal.

I will admit, this book is a good palate cleanser after you’ve read a dark and dreary novel. There is a simplicity and innocence to it that I find oddly charming, and I also loved the mouthwatering descriptions of food. However, this is the first and last time I recommend a book I haven’t read. Lesson learned.


Why Alphabetizing Your Private Library is The Worst: A Journey

It’s Friday night and I’ve just consumed a small Albino Turtle. Two shots of espresso, my limit for this week, surges through my veins. I’m jittery and restless until an idea hits me. An idea to do something worthwhile. Something good. I quickly fold piles of clothes and vacuum the carpet that hasn’t seen the light of day in weeks. Vivaldi blares from a Bose speaker.

Armed with my catalog of books and a damp rag, I begin. I clear the top shelf of a bookcase, wipe it down, and start the alphabetizing process.The Invisible Road by Rafael Abalos goes first, followed by The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe. Then Joe Abercrombie’s Half a King. Slowly, the shelf fills. Tall books tower over vertically impaired ones. Fantasy buddies up to literary and mystery.

I am a revolutionary breaking the barriers between genres. Tonight, we are all one. We are paper. We are ink. We are words and ideas.

I play air violin to Carmen Fantasy, Op. 25 by Pablo de Sarasate and dance among stacks of books that cover the floor and bed. My mom steps into the room and turns right around. My brother asks me, “Are you out of your mind?”

By midnight, I think he may be right. I waver when my beloved Artemis Fowl books end up on the bottom shelf. As if they are nothing better than mass market paperbacks. I remind myself again, despite our outward appearances, despite the thickness of our bindings, we are all equal. Even with this inclusive new attitude, I am ill at ease with World War Z nestled against Wuthering Heights. Yet I knew when I began it would be complete, albeit meticulously organized, chaos. Determined to see it through, I shanghai my boyfriend into helping.

By three in the morning, I begin to admit that this undertaking may possibly be a mistake. I have only organized two out of four bookshelves, but that isn’t the issue. I can deny it no longer–the simple fact is that a new book would compromise the integrity of the entire system. For any new book that I buy, I would have to make room by moving every subsequent book one space over. I cannot do that for nearly 1,000 books.

The idea of a living shelf that is constantly evolving appeals to me, but it is not one easily maintained. Dejected, I quit. I do not get to the letter R. My dreams of having Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On next to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter are crushed.

The next day, I gain perspective. No longer are my books equal. No longer will I blur the lines. With steadfast resolve, I segregate my books by genre.

I make it to midnight before I clear enough space on the bed for me and my dog to pass out. My boyfriend has to move fifty or so books just to get to the bed.

He knows I’m crazy, but he loves me anyway.

Uttering every violent threat I can think of to myself, I finish Sunday evening, but I am pleased with the results. I have two bookshelves dedicated to fantasy, one YA/adult, the other MG. Another bookcase houses science fiction, paranormal romance, horror, and fantasy. The last is full of literary classics, realistic fiction, magical realism, thriller, and . . . fantasy.

I have a lot of fantasy, okay?

I even did a bit of organizing by color (of which I am normally staunchly against) for my stand-alones. Interestingly enough, after filling the shelves, I had about fifty mass market paperbacks that I had no space for. They’re now stacked between a bookshelf and an armoire. I can only imagine it’s like having spare parts after dismantling and reassembling an engine.

I would strongly dissuade anyone from this overly ambitious endeavor, particularly if you have a large collection. I’m sick of handling books and will not be reorganizing again until the next time I move. Alas, I recently bought four new books and they are sitting untouched in the box they came in because I don’t want to find room for them.

How do you organize your shelves?