The Week In Reading: Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Hey there!

This past week has been a whirlwind, with very little reading time until the weekend. I did manage to knock a few books out of the way, but we both know my TBR is the gift that keeps on giving. Here’s an overview of the week:

This Is The Story Of A Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett:happy mrriage patchett.jpg


This is a collection of essays/memoir by Ann Patchett, with stories from her childhood all the way to the present day, and covering a variety of topics. If had never read any of Ann Patchett’s books before, and was pleasantly surprised by the literary tone of the book. It isn’t just a memoir by a writer, it is a beautifully written piece of literature. Even though I hadn’t read any of her other works before, I never felt lost when she referenced any of them or told stories about them. My favorite essay was ‘The Right To Read’, in which she talks about the time people protested her book “Truth And Beauty” as a required reading for the freshmen at Clemson  University, and includes the convocation address she gave there. Here’s my favorite passage from that address: 

“Unlike your first twelve years in school, your education is no longer compulsory. What that means is that you are choosing to be here. No one, not even your parents, can make you go to college. Your education is an enormous privilege that sets you apart from most of the people of the world, including most of the people in your own country. Just over twenty-five percent of Americans your age will receive a college education. One in four. I want to emphasis this: higher education is a privilege and a choice. It is perhaps the first real choice of your adult lives.” 

A book that brought me joy listening to it, I hope it does that for you. 

13 Ways Of Looking At A Fat Girl by Mona Awad: fat girl awad

I picked this up thinking that it would be a collection of essays by/about different women, but I was wrong. I also picked it up because I thought it was meant to be humorous. Boy, was I wrong. It would be wrong to call it a funny book. Witty? Sure. The story revolves around Lizzie and her friend Mel, and through a series of interconnected stories, explores the raw struggles of their friendship, Lizzie’s body-image issues, her subsequent weight loss, the challenges associated with being fat and then being skinny, all the while looking for that validation from loved ones. I think I started and finished the book with a love/hate relationship with Lizzie and Mel. What this book does do is reveal the ridiculousness that is our body-obsessed culture. This will punch you in the gut if you’ve ever been there. I’ve been there. I’m still there. 

Black Panther #1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze:blackpanther1.jpg

Okay guys, Wednesday was a long-ass workday that started before 7 a.m., which is before the comic bookstore opens every Wednesday, and ended nearly 12 hours later. I have never been so grateful for digital comics and Comixology until that day. I had been waiting for this series to drop for a while, and only because it was by Coates (Side note: If you have not yet read Between The World And Me, drop everything now and go read it. I mean, literally, drop your device NOW and go pick up the book. Even better, listen to Coates narrate it, because then you can blame your tears on the onions you’re chopping and not him. Just, trust me on this one.)

Anyway, I was in the middle of my workday when I realized that I wouldn’t make it to the store before they were sold out, and nearly cried. I didn’t waste any more time getting a digital copy (and have reserved a physical copy now that they’ve gone into their second print), and HOLY COW Coates is not here to play, my friend. He has not wasted time or words. The art, of course, is spectacular. If you haven’t already, pick it up n0w. Disclaimer: This was my first Black Panther comic ever and I had no trouble following the story. I’m also sure Panels will feature a piece or two in the near future, so there’s always that. 

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud:womanupstairs.jpg

Angry female protagonist? GIVE IT TO ME. Nora Eldridge wanted to be an artist, but now she’s an elementary school teacher that is “the woman upstairs”- quiet, reliable, and doesn’t get in anyone’s way. Until Reza Shahid walks into her classroom one day, and her life changes. She falls in love with the Shahid family, and is desperate to keep them close. The books starts out brilliantly, with an angry rant that would make most people wary of her: “Really I’m angry because I’ve tried so hard to get out of the hall of mirrors, this sham and pretend of the world, or of my world, on the East Coast of the United States of America in the first decade of the twenty-first century. And behind every mirror is another fucking mirror, and down every corridor is another corridor, and the Fun House isn’t fun anymore and it isn’t even funny, but there doesn’t seem to be a door marked EXIT.” 

She then goes on to describe the circumstances under which she first meets Reza, and for the next part of the book describes getting acquainted with and becoming attached to each of the Shahids. The next part of the book slows down for a bit, but the ending brings back that strong, kick-ass, gloriously angry Nora. There are some points of the book where it feels like something is lacking in terms of plot (I am unable to pinpoint exactly what that is), but all in all, I would still recommend this book. 

Yoga update (since some people did ask): I didn’t end up going to a class because I had to run other errands on Saturday and didn’t feel like leaving the house on Sunday, but I did about 45 minutes of yoga on both days. My sciatica was on fire on Saturday, so I did a bunch of stretches prescribed by my chiropractor along with suryanamaskarams (Sun salutations). On Sunday I did a bunch of flow asanas. My sciatica still hurts, but it has definitely opened up a bit, so it’s the good kind of pain. I will be relying on a foam roller for the better part of the next few days. 

Upcoming literary things:

The Chicago Reader’s Book Swap is happening on Wednesday, April 15th, out in Ravenswood. I’m attending a conference all day, and will be driving out to this shindig right after. The difficult task is putting together books I’m willing to trade, which I’m going to do at the last possible minute because it is too damn hard.

I’m also really excited for Dewey’s readathon, and I’m looking forward to curating a reading stack for that soon. If you haven’t signed up for it yet, make it so.

That’s all I’ve got, folks. What have you guys been reading? If you read any of the books mentioned in this post, what did you think?

Until next time,


Fabulous Friday: Because damn does success taste sweet.


Each and every Friday, Michelle of That’s What She Read shares what makes that Friday a Fabulous one for her. Today was a particularly awesome day for me,  keep reading to find out why:

Work: The past couple of weeks have consisted of several long, 10-12 hour workdays, all of them beginning pretty early in the morning. They’ve also resulted in some on-going projects getting pushed back, general frustration at the lack of progress, exhaustion, feelings of guilt as a result of putting off said on-going assignments (I like to call this re-prioritization of tasks), and very little inclination to read. All in all, not fun. The day began with a long-awaited but slightly unexpected success that was such an amazing way to end the work week, and which had me a little teary-eyed as I got in my car to drive home. In addition, I attended an in-service training session that was a meaningful lesson in perspective-taking, which can be a lot harder than expected in my field. Basically, I left work feeling like this:


Health: I’ve been eating like shite, sleeping like shite, and not exercising at all like a shite. Result? My left hip+sciatica+lower back feel like SHITE. I might either go to a yoga class over the weekend, or at the very least, do yoga and mindfulness exercises at home. I’m going to take another stab at the meal-prep thing this weekend, so we’ll see how that goes.  

Reading life: Like I’d mentioned, I’ve basically been too tired to hold a book/kindle these past couple of weeks. However, I’m feeling better now that I’ve officially signed up for #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks, because it truly is already alleviating some of my book-buying anxiety. More importantly, I came back home from this oh-so-fine-day at work to this:


BOOKCON HAPPENS IN 35 DAYS!!! (No, YOU’RE the one that’s got a calendar countdown). This is my first ever BookCon, which by itself makes this very exciting. Since it is happening at the same time as BEA, it means that bookternet friends will be in town! This means, BOOKS AND BOOZE TIME WITH BOOKISH FRIENDSHIPS!


Bonus: I HAVE THE WHOLE EFFING WEEKEND TO READ ALL THE BOOKS! My plan is to finish all the books that I started but never quite finished in the last few weeks, which include:

  1. Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel José Older
  2. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
  3. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
  4. The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

Hmm, that’s pretty much it. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but that work thing was unbelievably uplifting. It’s definitely the reason I picked up a book after coming home (after sitting in rush-hour traffic for an hour), which in turn is the reason I’m not letting this bum me out:

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 7.02.47 PM.png

I mean, this just means I can hole up at home and read. What more can I ask for, amirite? (Seriously though, FUCK YOU, Chicago. It’s APRIL. Let’s move on to spring.)

So, did anyone else have a Fab Friday? More importantly,  what are you guys reading this weekend? 


Read The Books You Buy Challenge 2016

To pair with my #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge (that I’m starting only in April, oops), here’s another challenge that I’m participating in, primarily to increase the likelihood of me following the ‘rules’ of my self-imposed book-buying ban. 

Read the books you Buy 2016.jpg

As seen above, this one is hosted by The Book Date. I was a little annoyed at myself for completely forgetting that I had signed up for the Clean Your Reader Challenge hosted by new internet friend Kerry, which was my own fault. I got a little over-enthusiastic about reading challenges this year since I was reading a lot more than I did last year and I didn’t really track the reading challenges I was participating in (rookie mistake). This is also a little unusual for me, because I’m a DATA NERD. I love taking data, especially data on my own behaviors ( I can go into detail if anybody is interested in how I go about this). 

Anywho, this is my official “commitment post.” I think a decent goal for the year would be to read at least 80% of the books that I buy/will buy in 2016. I’ll post monthly stats of all of my challenges because a visual representation works as motivation for my reading behavior (read: data nerd. Yeah. Wasn’t kidding about that). 

Good luck to everyone who is attempting this, or any version of book-buying bans/self-imposed rules for reading. 🙂

Which leads me to ask, do you guys have any self-imposed reading/book-buying rules?


“My name is Janani and I’m a book-buying addict”

I buy books. A LOT of books. So many, many, MANY books. Along with library books, audiobooks, and borrowed books, it is impossible for me to catch up with my TBR stack at the moment. I live in an apartment with a roommate, my room is relatively small, we don’t really have a lot of shelf space in and around the house. As a result, there is a corner of my very small room that looks like this: 



Yeah, it’s starting to become a problem. The growing pile of unread books is stressing me out (especially in the last few days because I haven’t had any time to read). These aren’t just backlist bumps, these are books that are out now that everyone is reading and talking about, and the longer it takes me to get to them, the more it stresses me out because “I want to read all the books and talk about all the things!”. Also, I have a significant move coming up in the near future (either in or out of the country), and the last time I had to move I spent an indecent amount of money moving my books, so I would like not to have to do that this time. 

The solution? I am going to actively participate in #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks, courtesy the fabulous Andi. The rules are pretty straightforward:

  • Read my own books. 
  • Try to knock off 100 in 2016 by either reading them or ditching the ones that are DNF. 
  • I can’t buyyyy myself any books until I’ve read a significant amount of my own- This part of the challenge is something I will be tackling monthly (shaping that behavior and all that). 
  • If I’m itching for newness…use the library- Or reach out to my amazing bookish friendships. 


Putting it out here means accountability, so I’m relying on you guys to help me out. I’m going to be realistic about this, and check progress monthly. I know we’re a week into April, but this is the first month I will be making a sincere effort toward this challenge. If anyone out there is already participating and needs cheerleading via the internet, let me know! I love being an interwebz supporter. 

Wish me luck!


Reblog: Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish People You Should Follow On Social! — Estella’s Revenge


SO honored to be mentioned on Andi’s blog for Top Ten Tuesday!

P. S. You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram using the handle @theshrinkette.

“Top Ten Tuesday, here we are again. I’ve been woefully absent, I know, but when I saw this prompt, I was ON IT.Since I’m a social (media) butterfly, I couldn’t wait to share some favorite people on the Bookternet. You’re probably familiar with all of these, but just in case you don’t follow them on…”

What’s Wrong With Autism Speaks? A Collection of Resources

This. All of this. Take the time to read this if you can read only one thing today.

So Much Stranger, So Much Darker, So Much Madder, So Much Better

April is coming, which means stores will have puzzle pieces everywhere, places will be lighting up blue, and walks for the cure will take place across the country. All of this in support of autism awareness with most of the funds going to Autism Speaks.

Most likely, as some point throughout the month, you will see a variety of advertisements and awareness campaigns from Autism Speaks as well as be asked to donate some money. Maybe it’s just buying things that donate a part of the proceeds.

Before you donate, please take a moment to look into this organization and what it’s awareness and fundraising is really doing for the people it claims to support.
While Autism Speaks is the most recognized autism nonprofit, many autistics are strongly against this organization with many calling it a hate group. Let’s explore some of the reason’s why.

Where Does All the…

View original post 3,488 more words

Popsugar Ultimate Reading Challenge


A book based on a fairy tale: The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

A National Book Award winner: 

A YA bestseller: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

A book you haven’t read since high school: Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

A book set in your home state:

A book translated to English: In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri

A romance set in the future:

A book set in Europe: A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

A book that’s under 150 pages: Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck

A New York Times bestseller: 

A book that’s becoming a movie this year: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

A book recommended by someone you just met: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

A self-improvement book:

A book you can finish in a day: The Queen by Tiffany Reisz

A book written by a celebrity: 

A political memoir: 

A book at least a hundred years older than you: 

A book that’s more than 600 pages:

A book from Oprah’s book club: Sula by Toni Morrison

A sci-fi novel:

A book recommended by a family member:

A graphic novel: Fun Home: A Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

A book published in 2016: Your Heart Is A Muscle The Size Of A Fist by Sunil Yapa

A book with a protagonist who has your occupation:

A book that takes place during summer: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

A book and its prequel: Midnight Taxi Tango/ Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older

A murder mystery: No One Knows by J. T. Elliot

A book written by a comedian: 

Dystopian novel: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

A book with a blue cover: 

A book of poetry:

The first book you see in a bookstore: My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Classic from the 20th century: 

Book from the library: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

An autobiography: 

A book about a road trip: 

A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

A satirical book:

A book that takes place on an island: 

A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy: Ramona The Pest by Beverly Cleary


Panels Read Harder 2016

Read a self-published comic:

Read a feminist comic: The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen

Read a comic featuring one or more teenage protagonists: Gotham Academy vol. 1 and 2 by Becky Cloonan

Read a superhero comic whose race or gender has been swapped from the original or traditional hero:

Read a complete run of a comic:

Read a comic based on a book and the book it’s based on:

Read a graphic biography: Fun Home: A Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Read a comic that was originally published in a language different from your own:

Read a comic set in space: Star Wars: Darth Vader, vol. 1: Vader by Kieron Gillen

Read a collected webcomic: The Legend of Wonder Woman #1-21 by Renae De Liz

Read a comic with at least one creator of color: Ms. Marvel vol. 1-4 by G. Willow Wilson

Read a comic set in Asia by an Asian creator:

Read a superhero comic NOT of the Big Two: Faith #1-3 by Jody Houser

Read a slice-of-life comic not set in the U.S.:

Read a comic that has been adapted from a T.V. show or movie (not vice versa):

Read a comic about a real-life historical event: March #1 by John Lewis

Read a black-and-white comic: Drawing The Line: Indian Women Fight Back! by Priya Kurian

Read a watercolor comic:

Book Riot Read Harder 2016

Read a horror book: The Turn Of The Screw by Henry James

Read a nonfiction book about science: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Read a collection of essays: This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color by Cherríe L. Moraga (Editor), Gloria E. Anzaldúa (Editor), Toni Cade Bambara (Foreward)

Read a book out loud to someone else: We Gon’ Be Alright: Notes On Race And Resegregation by Jeff Chang

Read a middle grade novel: George by Alex Gino

Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography): Notorious R.B.G: The Life And Times Of Ruth Bader Ginsberg by Irin Carmon

Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Read a book originally published in the decade you were born: Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award: Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

Read a book over 500 pages long: The Queen Of The Night by Alexander Chee

Read a book under 100 pages: The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman

Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender: All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Read a book that is set in the Middle East: The Wrath And The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia: Inside Out And Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900: Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Read the first book in a series by a person of color: Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older

Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years: Bitch Planet Volume 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie. Debate which is better: The BFG by Roald Dahl

Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes: Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy

Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction): Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction): Lafayette In The Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

Read a food memoir: Dinner With Edward: A Story Of An Unexpected Friendship by Isabel Vincent

Read a play: Hamilton the Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarthy (fight me, I dare you)

Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

Reading Challenges 2016

Hello folks,

Okay, first of all, I can’t believe that it’s April because HOLY COW where did the last three months go? Anyway, I’m still figuring out how to use WordPress and mess around with themes and the like ( I have been told my learning celeration is at least a solid x2 so I’ll get there fast, I promise). Over the weekend I came up with a bunch of ideas for blog posts, quickly became overwhelmed trying to decide how to go about them, and currently taking 20 minutes out of my workday to type this in my basement office-space while drinking coffee (it’s all about multi-tasking, baby).

The point of all this is to say that I put a pin on all of the time-consuming blog posts for a second and just do a quick summary of the reading challenges that I’m participating in this year. This is not an exhaustive list, as I keep adding to them, but I will figure out a better way to organize this, I promise (i.e., new friends and blogging experts, your suggestions are most welcome!)

The roster (Note- these are the annual challenges only, there’s others like Weirdathon, 245in48, and Dewey’s 24 hour marathon that I participate in as well):

  1. Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge: I started out this year with a goal of 75 books, pushed that to a 100 by the end of January, and then pushed it to 150 at the end of February. I have come to accept that this reading goal will shift as I progress through the year.
  2. Book Riot Read Harder 2016: This one is going pretty well so far, since it has been the primary factor that has shaped my reading behavior in the last year.
  3. Panels Read Harder 2016: I’m very new to the comic-book world, and all of my comic interests are governed by kickass female protagonists, minority protagonists, non-conforming characters, graphic novels, etc., making this the perfect challenge for a newbie.
  4. Read My Own Damn Books: (Ha, this one took a hit in the first quarter of the year but I’m going to make a sincere effort in April, goddammit). Edit: I forgot that I actually need to sign-up for this with a blog link, oops. It has been added to my to-do list.
  5. Popsugar Ultimate Reading Challenge: I started this challenge at the beginning of the year because at that time I had only committed to doing Book Riot’s challenge. Since I have been reading more than I did last year this challenge doesn’t seem too daunting, so I’m plugging away at it along with everything else.
  6. Read The Books You Buy Challenge 2016: I discovered this challenge 20 minutes ago, and will make my commitment post at some point today in order to sign up, but this goes well with the RMODB challenge because man I have been book-shopping a LOT.

I think that’s it, I could be wrong. Like I said, I’m still working out how best to organize these in order to keep them updated. If you don’t want to see my brains explode all over the blogosphere, please feel free to chime in with solutions/suggestions!

Also, I’m having a solid case of the Mondays (feelings of overwhelm resulting in avoidance, classic), and I’m hoping I snap out of it soon.

Current mood:


Hope y’all are heading into a wonderful week 🙂