Month: January 2012

31 Jan 2012

2012: week four

January 22 – January 28

My (last!) first week back to school+work+otherwork+otherotherwork+internships+life.

For me, the first week is largely experimental. I spend a lot of time planning(obsessing) over my schedule in preparation for a semester. The first week back is putting theory into practice.

Am I really going to be able to do everything I want to do? Everything I need to do? What goals were too idealistic? How much energy will I really have?

Of course, it’s not a perfect system. It’s the beginning of the semester, so I’m still fresh and full of energy. I will, inevitably, wear out. And I have little homework. Hm. Where will that go?

Productivity-wise, did okay, but felt pretty exhausted all week. Energy during the day, but at night: go-to-bed-at-9:00 exhausted.

Oh, life.


Listening to:

  • Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal
  • Ellen Hopkins on audio. Much more bearable than in print.


29 Jan 2012

what weekends are for

Sometimes, weekends are for this:

1) Watching documentaries. Not because you are particularly excited about Zen masters on a Sunday morning, but because you just want to delete something from your forever-long Netflix queue.

2) Instead of cooking dinner, take all your holiday gift cards for chain restaurants and pool them together with your friends and have a decadent Appetizers + Drinks + Dinner + Dessert meal at Applebees.

It’s been a number of years since I had a Maple Butter Blondie. Yum.

3) Screw the syllabus and pick up the books you actually want to read.

Bonus points for books you can begin and finish within a Saturday.

4) Laundry.

This one is not fun, but if you have no clean clothes for the week, you might as well not even live.

(Especially if you are the type of person who forgot to wash any colored clothing the weekend before.)


26 Jan 2012

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I don’t feel like I am qualified to write a decent “review” of this book because yes, I am a full-fledged John Green fan-girl.

To my credit, I was a fan-girl before it was actually normal to say you were a fan-girl of John Green (iosome people prefer the term “nerdfighter”). No, I was just an adoring college student with a very tiny literary/not-so-literary crush on an author and his work.

But let me tell you this: despite years now of fan-girl-dom, I find that the more I read Green’s books, the more I like them. The more meaning I find within them. The more they stir up my emotions. I first read Looking for Alaska when I was a senior in high school; last summer I read it for the umpteenth time for a class and found myself Crying While Using Public Transportation.

Despite the near-continual hype – the tour bus, the video blogs, the thousands of signed books – Green continues to deliver.

The Fault in Our Stars put my little bit of Looking for Alaska train-boo-hooing to shame. Narrator 16-year-old Hazel has cancer. For three years, she submits to the gamut of painful treatments, comes very close to dying, and transforms from a normal teen to a sick one. She does survive, but only by the benefit of an experimental treatment and constant oxygen supplementation – she’s still frail, but now she’s isolated too. But when her parents force her to attend a kids-with-cancer support group, Hazel meets Augustus – a cute osteosarcoma survivor with a prosthetic leg who sets his sights on Hazel.

They fall in love. They take a trip to Amsterdam to track down Hazel’s favorite reclusive author. They get sicker, they get better, they get sicker, they get better. But even when they get better, there’s always the promise of getting sicker. And if they get sicker, there’s the promise of dying too soon.

Of course, this is also a very sharp, deeply funny novel. It’s not all kids-with-cancer. But what Green captures brilliantly here is that even when your daily life/immediate thoughts are not about suffering and unfairness and the insane brevity of life and death… your life is still about cancer and suffering and unfairness and the insane brevity of life and death. When you are a kid with cancer, these things are just closer to the surface. In many ways, this book reminded me not of other young adult fiction, but of books like Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking; narratives that transcend narrative and become primers for death, grief, and, ultimately, life.

So go read this book and laugh and cry because… yeah. Life. That’s it.

24 Jan 2012

Michael L. Printz Awards, 2012

The ALA Youth Media Awards are like the Oscars to a highly specific set of highly nerdy folks like myself. Actually, I get kind of nerdy about the Oscar noms, too: both awards announcements send me immediately to my library to frantically place holds.

My favorite event? The Michael L. Printz Awards, given to young adult books that exemplify excellence.

And I was Quite pleased withthis year’s showing!


Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Very tickled about this one. It was my 3rd favorite book of the year, you see, and my favorite YA, hands down. Additionally, Mr. Whaley himself recently contributed some otherwise unpublished poetry to the online literary journal I intern with. Double excitement!


Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman

Again, I think I’ve name-dropped this book a few times here on the old blog. Last week, I spotted it on display at my library-of-employment and grabbed it (and probably narrowly avoided back injury – it’s quite the heavy tome). Later that same day, I listened to one of my professor’s perform a short dramatic reading of one of the later passages, a dramatic monologue by the protagonist, Min, in which she berates herself in highly specific, Very-Daniel-Handler-esque language for what seemed like 3 or 4 pages. I was entranced, and the book was already in my bag.

The Returning by Christine Hinwood

This one might be a little too fantasy-ish for my usual tastes, but on a strong review over at A Chair, A Fireplace, and A Tea Cozy, I did actually get through about 100 pages before Christmas. Kind of forgot I was reading it, but that is certainly my fault and not the fault of the book.

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

Alright. There’s always one book I haven’t heard of. Preliminary research shows that Mr. Silvey is a 30-ish-yr old Aussie with another novel under his belt, and that Jasper Jones has sold movie rights.Sounds promising…

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

I have talked about this book too much already… but yes, I liked it!

23 Jan 2012

2012: week three

January 15 – January 21

Sunday: Boyfriend wanted to go out to a bar in the 5 degree weather. Convinced him to stay home and play video games instead. Win.

Monday: Fact-checked book reviews, mailed packages to reviewers, pulled books on a shelf, and let a friend take me out to Olive Garden for unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks!

Tuesday: Came in second place at pub trivia! Our gracious (and smarter than us) teammates allowed us to keep the winnings (25 dollars at the bar)

Wednesday: Decided to go to the gym after my internship, which entailed a long, painful T ride that involved waiting for 20 minutes in a station with an unattractive girl with a cold singing country hits over a microphone.

Thursday: My boss returned from her sabbatical and took me out to lunch!

Friday: Worked late, came home late, skipped the gym, cleaned, packed, ran stupid errands, made plans to go….

Saturday: … to New York for the day, to celebrate our anniversary! Left on the 7 a.m. bus, got back into town just after midnight.


Listening to:


23 Jan 2012

seven little things about books

1. The 2012 ALA Youth Media Awards are announced this morning at 8:30 EST. I have two extra-special reasons to be excited about this.

2. Reason #1: My adviser/head of my MA program is on the Caldecott committee for this round

3. Reason #2: Tomorrow is my internship day; certainly there should be some buzz around the office!

4. After almost a year’s worth of buzz, I finally got my hot little hands on Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs, and then proceeded not to read it for like, two months.

But after hearing one of my professors rave about it last week at her annual “best of the year” book talk, I decided I should kick things into gear; Lance and I took a little anniversary trip into Manhattan on Saturday and I took this book (and ONLY this book) with me to read on the four-hour bus ride.

So far, I am glad I did! I am loving the obscenely artful literary allusions, especially: she pulls from many children’s books without naming titles, relying on your kidlit smarts to catch them. Ursu gives you the impression that the heroine – eleven-year-old Hazel – exists in a world where fiction bleeds over into life just a bit. And I think most longtime readers would find this a familiar concept.


5. Today is the first official day of the semester. I am taking two book related classes this semester, my last semester:

  • Young Adult Literature (the library edition)
  • Information Sources for Children (lookin’ at nonfiction books!)


6. There is one thought that gives me a great deal of comfort when I am feeling stressed:

No matter what happens when you graduate in May, Jessica, one thing will happen for certain:

you will be able to read whatever you want whenever you want

for the rest of your life!

7. This will give me comfort when I am soon forced to return all the I-didn’t-get-time-to-read-you books to the library.

Goodbye, friends! We will meet again someday!



22 Jan 2012

Love Letter 2012

Dear Lance,









Thanks for eight great years, my love.

Seems like a long time, but I think we’re still lookin’ good.

Happy anniversary!

Yours and yours and yours,



19 Jan 2012

A Child Called “It”

Can we talk for a minute about this book?

Actually, talking about this book is the last thing I want to do. The first thing I want to do? Throw it across the room. Dig a hole and bury it. Bring it back to the library. Any one of those.

This is a Syllabus Book. I understand why it is a Syllabus Book – I worked at a public library’s youth department for a few years, and this title was EXTREMELY popular with the 5th and 6th grad crowd. But I am just not sure I’m going to be able to make it through.

A Child Called “It” is a memoir of a victim of extreme child abuse. I think there is some controversy as to whether or not this book is truthful – see: this really long article from the New York Times – but I don’t even really care about that. Fiction or non-fiction, this book is horrifically graphic.

Today, reading while standing on the bus, I had to put the book down because I feared that I might vomit/pass out/generally become incapacitated. I sat in the first seat I could find and had to skip pages. There is only one other book that I have ever had to stop reading due to utter revulsion: the story “Guts” from Chuck Pahlaniuk’s Haunted, a story that according to Wikipedia has caused over 70 people to faint during public readings.

Maybe this is supposed to be an uplifting tale of overcoming challenges. Maybe because it’s “memoir” – some tangible version of a real person’s life – then that means it is worthwhile to exist, because all people’s stories are worthwhile.

Or maybe it’s torture porn. Something else I couldn’t finish because it had me feeling sick and weird in the exact same way? The movie Hostel.

Maybe I will get some insights on why kids like this book once we talk about it in class, but right now I’m finding it hard to believe that ANYONE would like it.

17 Jan 2012

beginning of the end

It finally snowed in Boston. Teacher Boyfriend had his first snow delay and is still in bed, snoozing.

Lucky boy. I am awake, trying to re-train myself to rise early so I have a fighting chance at surviving this next semester.

This next semester, which starts next week. (gag)

This next semester, which is my LAST semester. (gag gag)

So much context to think about, to worry about, to get stressed about, but then there’s the whole DOING it part that doesn’t allow for much thinking/stress/worry, lest you get behind.

I’m sure there’s a metaphor for life in there somewhere, but I think I’m just going to ignore it for now, put my boots on, put my head down, and get going.

16 Jan 2012

2012: week two

January 8 – January 14

My dearest, darlingest roommate moved out this week, so this past week was a stupor of Last This and Last That and moving trucks and cleaning and rearranging and feeling mopey.

To soothe myself, I watched many discs of Gilmore Girls while using my expensive new piece of computer equipment… to play Bejeweled.

Also, began my Spring internship. Highlight so far? I have access to a nearly unlimited supply of free, for-keeps audiobooks. Be still my heart.