Two New Books for Your Inner Word Nerd

April 17, 2015 2015, ARC, mini reviews, nonfiction, reviews, women in nonfiction 24

that's not english
That’s Not English by Erin Moore
Published by Gotham on March 24, 2015 
Source: Publisher 
Pages: 240
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Though she was raised in the United States, Erin Moore spent much of her adulthood in England, where she quickly learned that all English is not created equal. In That’s Not English, she breaks down the linguistic differences between the American and British English, and explains what those differences suggest about our cultures. Beyond simply bouncing back and forth with comparative terms, Moore examines how words are used and the way people respond to them in each country.

Both funny and smart, That’s Not English is perfect for any word nerd, especially those with a soft spot for bits of trivia.


between you & me
Between You & Me by Mary Norris
Published by W.W. Norton on April 6th, 2015 
Source: Publisher 
Pages: 240
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For over three decades, Mary Norris has wielded her pencil as a “Comma Queen” for The New Yorker. In this cross between memoir and guidebook, Norris takes readers through her years at The New Yorker while highlighting some of the most important grammar lessons she learned along the way.

For me, the book’s highlight was Norris’s discussion of authors who refused to have their grammar corrected in order to protect their voice. She shares examples from authors like James Salter and George Saunders, which makes for a fascinating look at how grammar rules can bend to create beautifully crafted sentences.

A book like this is difficult to recommend across the board, however, as each reader will be looking for something different. Experienced grammarians may find the guidelines somewhat elementary and find peeking at the life of an editor to be interesting, while others may see the opposite.

Read This, Watch That: Our Endless Numbered Days and Take Shelter

April 16, 2015 2015, ARC, read this watch that, reviews, tv and movies 14

endless numbered days fuller
Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller
Published by Tin House Books on March 17, 2015 
Source: Publisher 
Pages: 382
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At just eight years old, Peggy Hillcoat is lifted from her life in London and taken into the woods by her survivalist father. Though Peggy is confused and concerned about the changes ahead, with her father’s guidance she adjusts to life away from the modern world. The pair lives in forest for years, surviving off the land around them, until the presence of a stranger shakes the foundation of their seclusion.

Though it sounds like a simple, straightforward story, Our Endless Numbered Days is anything but. Claire Fuller layers multiple themes and ideas in a novel that completely shifts in its final pages. Its first few chapters are quiet and subdued, but it soon becomes clear that pieces must fit to truly understand Peggy’s life, and the puzzle is a wonderfully crafted treat.

If you’d like to discuss Our Endless Numbered Days in detail (spoilers included!), you can hop over to The Socratic Salon!

Take Shelter (2011)

Fueled by hallucinations that he attempts to hide from his wife and daughter, Curtis LaForche obsessively focuses on building a storm shelter in his family’s backyard. With an absolutely incredible (and sadly underrated) performance by Michael Shannon, Take Shelter is a dark and haunting peek at preparedness and paranoia. Though their stories take much different paths, Our Endless Numbered Days and Take Shelter are rooted in similar themes and I highly recommend both.

Ten Great Quotes from Ten Great Books

April 14, 2015 2015, lists, Top Ten Tuesday 36

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt from The Broke and the Bookish is Ten Inspiring Quotes. I’m not sure how inspiring they are, but I know they’re all great. I had to hold myself back from making this a list of quotes from Tiny Beautiful Things and When Women Were Birds, but I managed. Barely.

“If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you’re uncomfortable about asking questions, say you are uncomfortable about asking questions and then ask anyway. It’s easy to tell when a question is coming from a good place. Then listen some more. Sometimes people just want to feel heard.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah


“I realize that school and education don’t go hand in hand, that school and education can be as distant or as close as sex and love.”
M.K. Asante, Buck: A Memoir


woman upstairs
“Don’t all women feel the same? The only difference is how much we know we feel it, how in touch we are with our fury. We’re all furies, except the ones who are too damned foolish, and my worry now is that we’re brainwashing them from the cradle, and in the end even the ones who are smart will be too damned foolish.”
Claire Messud, The Woman Upstairs


the son
“I found I had a choice between being liked and having a say. That’s the choice you’ll have to make as well. They will either love you and not respect you, or they will respect you and not love you.”
Philipp Meyer, The Son


dept. of speculation
“Some women make it look so easy, the way they cast ambition off like an expensive coat that no longer fits.”
― Jenny Offill, Dept. of Speculation


“You can plan all you want to. You can lie in your morning bed and fill whole notebooks with schemes and intentions. But within a single afternoon, within hours or minutes, everything you plan and everything you have fought to make yourself can be undone as a slug is undone when salt is poured on him. And right up to the moment when you find yourself dissolving into foam you can still believe you are doing fine.”
Wallace Stegner, Crossing to Safety


13152194 (1)
“The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve. And ‘if your Nerve, deny you –,’ as Emily Dickinson wrote, ‘go above your Nerve.’ Writing is hard for every last one of us—straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig.”
Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar


“Why does that obstinate little voice in our heads torment us so? Could it be because it reminds us that we are alive, of our mortality, of our individual souls–which, after all, we are too afraid to surrender but yet make us feel more miserable than any other thing? It is a terrible thing to learn as a child that one is a being separate from the world, that no one and no thing hurts along with one’s burned tongues and skinned knees, that one’s aches and pains are all one’s own. Even more terrible, as we grow older, to learn that no person, no matter how beloved, can ever truly understand us. Our own selves make us most unhappy, and that’s why we’re so anxious to lose them, don’t you think?”
Donna Tartt, The Secret History


“And so we polish our own lives, creating landscapes and canyons and peaks with the very silt we try to avoid, the dirt we disavow or hide or deny. It is the dirt of our lives—the depressions, the losses, the inequities, the failing grades in trigonometry, the e-mails sent in fear or hate or haste, the ways in which we encounter people different from us—that shape us, polish us to a heady sheen, make us in fact more beautiful, more elemental, more artful and lasting.”
Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice


“She recognized that that is how friendships begin: one person reveals a moment of strangeness, and the other person decides just to listen and not exploit it.”
Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings


What are some of your favorite quotes from your favorite books?


It’s Monday, April 13th. What Are You Reading?

April 13, 2015 2015, it's monday, what are you reading? 29


Well, I’m headed back to work today, but having a week off was just what I needed. We had some absolutely gorgeous weather with some drizzly days thrown in to make for perfect reading. I ended up finishing the books I started last week as well as Claire Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days, which will be the focus of a Socratic Salon Twitter chat later today, and Between You & Me by Mary Norris. I also started The Shore by Sara Taylor and The Turner House by Angela Flournoy, so I’m already on track for more great reads this week.

With that said, it hasn’t been the smoothest year for me in terms of finding mindblowing books. Over at The Socratic Salon, we’re talking about what happens when great reading has you continuously raising your expectations—come join in!

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

Best Books of the Decade (So Far)?

April 10, 2015 2015, discussion, lists 47

Best Books Decade


Have you seen Oyster’s 100 Best Books of the Decade So Far? It’s a pretty incredible list, especially if you want some great reading ideas. Even though a ton of my favorites were there, none of them were in the top ten…so it got me thinking. Just what would I include in my top ten? I’m not insane enough to try to rank them, but putting this together was surprisingly easy.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
The Son by Philipp Meyer
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara


Which books would make your top ten for the decade so far? How many of Oyster’s top 100 have you read? Did you find any new books to add to your TBR?


The Animals by Christian Kiefer

April 9, 2015 2015, ARC, reviews 35

The Animals by Christian KieferThe Animals by Christian Kiefer
Published by Liveright on March 23rd 2015
Source: Publisher
Pages: 352
Buy From IndieBoundGoodreads


Over a decade after leaving behind a crime-ridden past, Bill Reed lives a quiet life tending to an animal sanctuary in Idaho. Opened by his uncle, the sanctuary is home to injured wildlife that have helped rescue Bill just as much as he helped them. Despite attempts to forget his past, when a childhood friend is released from prison, Bill is forced to face the actions he took and decisions he made so many years before.

From the first lines of its haunting opening, written in second-person perspective, The Animals establishes its overarching themes. Can we truly move forward from our past or is it bound to catch up with us? In scenes that flash between decades, both moving forward until they converge, Kiefer combines the beauty of literary fiction with the suspense of a crime novel.

“What you have come for is death. You might try to convince yourself otherwise but there is no truth but the truth that is, and yet still you will come down the mountain, down from the animals, as if you might encounter something other than what you already know will be, your hope the clinging desires of a fool.”

Though the shifts in perspective feel slightly disjointed at first, the purpose becomes clear as the novel progresses and each return to the telling you grows more ominous than the last. Bill’s intense relationship with the animals he cares for, the new life he’s built and the past he made every attempt to leave behind collide in a powerful conclusion that highlights Kiefer’s incredible talent. One of the best novels of 2015 so far, The Animals is a fantastic example of powerful story in the hands of a master writer.