Posted in Books, Reading, Reading Radar

Reading Radar


I’m apparently hanging out in the airport all day today. I’m trying to fly from Seattle to NYC but my flight has been delayed 3 hours so far and I’m not confident about it even then. It sucks, yes, but at least I’m some place warm and I have a great reader friend here with me. Earlier today we were comparing TBR lists and I realized just how many books I have on my kindle from the library — so much reading to do! Here’s a brief rundown of what I’m looking forward to tackling:

  1. Circe: My book club is discussing this on the 30th and I understand it’s a long read, so this one is up first. Everyone who’s read it raves about it making my expectations pretty high.
  2. A Burst of Light and Other Essays by Audre Lorde. I went to an all-women’s college and somehow never read anything by Lorde. Trying to rectify this at long last.
  3. Virgil Wander: Leif Enger’s first novel, Peace Like a River, was one of my favorites, and I’m excited to read his newest.
  4. Darius the Great is Not Okay: I’ve been on the library waiting list for this one FOREVER. I don’t even remember what prompted me to want to read it but it looks really good. It was on a ton of Best Of lists for 2018.

I’m also listening to Michelle Obama’s Becoming on audio, and I’m anxious to get back to that. I have learned though that I can’t listen to audiobooks on the plane because I inevitably fall asleep and then have to re-listen to it all to figure out where I left off. Guess I’ll have to wait until I’m someplace I can drive and listen (to date I have never fallen asleep doing that).

Posted in Books, Reading

Breaking Rules for a Cause


I have a hard and fast rule not to pay more than $10 for a kindle edition of a book. It’s a remnant of my time in publishing. I value books and writing greatly (obviously), and want writers to be able to make a living writing books — I buy lots of books to support authors I love. But digital books are overpriced by most publishers and I just can’t make myself take part in it. I could go on for days about this topic; about how four publishers were actually convicted of collusion on pricing for ebooks but still got away with it, about how authors are cheated out of royalties for digital book sales because publishers refuse to acknowledge the savings in production costs, about how you’re not actually buying a digital book but leasing it. Whatever, that shit’s boring.

The point I was trying to make was that I broke this rule just now. Because I read this amazing essay in the New York Times today, an excerpt of a piece from the upcoming Maid. Read the essay — it’s so good. I hope Ms. Land has a great contract and that her book sells a million copies.

Posted in Audiobooks, Books, Reading, Reading Radar, Uncategorized

Reading Radar

On my radar this week:


Started the audiobook of Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Partially because I want to start off the year with something thoughtful, partly because I have a grudge against Brene Brown that I feel like I have to get rid of. I don’t know why. Anyway, I’m having some trouble focusing on it–I had to start the introduction over, and I keep having to go back a few minutes to relisten to what I just heard–but I’m hoping it will grow on me because seriously, I need to learn how to be more vulnerable and do some greatly daring things in my life.

What I really want to be reading:


I was planning to start this one on New Year’s Eve, but then the family party I went to ended up being interesting enough that I didn’t have to hide behind my Kindle. It would be a third reread for me in about as many years, but what can I say. It’s one of my favorite YA books. I’m trying to branch out from YA–hence the Brene Brown–but I have a feeling I’ll go back to it for this one soon.

Started but not likely to finish:


The premise sounded good, but it just hasn’t grabbed me. Sorry, universe. Might try it again later in the year, when I don’t have the pressure of “it’s the new year, you must read good, important books!” hanging over my head. I’m not the only one who feels that way, right?

Posted in #tbt, Books, Reading, Uncategorized

#tbt: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges

It’s 1991, and I’m lying on my bed in my dorm room. I’m a freshman in college, and it’s the first time I’ve been on my own, away from my close but incredibly dysfunctional family. I’m making friends, sort of, but I don’t feel like I entirely click with my housemates. I’m shy. I’m overweight and nerdy. I tell myself I’m too different from everyone else. More serious, more play-by-the rules. I go to all my classes, do all my homework, study ahead of time for all my tests. I stay in my room listening to music on my headphones and reading while others are partying—loudly—in the room next door. I am not used to being social with people I don’t know, and truth be told, I don’t allow myself to fit in. It’s easier just to remain my little self-imposed bubble.

On the walls next to my bed, I have a variety of posters displaying my obsessions at the time—Depeche Mode and Thelma and Louise, pictures of Dracula-era Gary Oldman ripped out of magazines. And right next to where I lay my head on my pillow is a newspaper clipping of an article about my favorite author at the time: Peter Hedges. There’s even a photo of him. He’s the first writer I’ve ever hung a picture of on my wall. He’s not particularly good looking; I’m so inexperienced with boys, I don’t even have a type yet, but if I did, he wouldn’t be it. But to me he is magical. First, because we almost share a last name: mine is Hedge, just one letter away. Second, because he wrote the book I’m currently obsessed with, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

Why do I love this book so much? When I look back on it now, I’m not exactly sure. The story isn’t mind-blowing: Twenty-four-year-old Gilbert Grape lives in a small town in Iowa with his developmentally disabled brother, his two sisters, and his morbidly obese mother who never leaves the house, much less her favorite chair in the living room. He works at a grocery store. And truth be told, he’s kind of abhorrent. He’s having an affair with an older married woman. He falls in love with a fifteen-year-old girl. And within the first couple of pages of the book, he refers to his brother as “a retard” and his mom as “a porker.” Did these things bother me back in 1991? I don’t remember exactly, but I’m guessing no, because I was literally in love with this character and this book. I couldn’t relate to Gilbert in many ways, but the dysfunctional family? The sense of aimlessness of his life? His yearning for something more, something better? These aspects truly spoke to me. I was in college; I had some direction. But deep down I had no idea what I was doing. I went with the flow, kind of drifting from one thing to the next, keeping myself afloat on other people’s expectations. I had hopes, I had dreams, but at the same time I felt like nothing would ever change. Because I was afraid of change. That was the way I had been raised, and I had yet to break out of that familial mold.gilbert

I’m (much) older now, and though I haven’t read What’s Eating Gilbert Grape in a good twenty-five years or so, I still own the copy I read and reread back when I was in college. Because it meant that much to me. I plan to reread it this year; taking another look at my old favorites is one of my reading goals for 2019. At my current advanced age, though, I don’t know if I would get as much out of it as I used to. I have a feeling I’d find Gilbert kind of annoying, to be honest. But I’m going to give it a try anyway, to see if I can bring back a little of that magic it used to make me feel.

Posted in Audiobooks, Books, Reading, Uncategorized

Elise’s Top 10 Books of 2018

Better late than never, isn’t that what they say? I think it applies here, too. Besides, we’re only one day into the new year. There’s still time to reflect, right? Right?

Well, regardless, I’m going to share the 10 best books I read and/or listened to in 2018. In order, too!

10. Thinking About Memoir by Abigail Thomas—this slim book was funny and warm and actually full of good advice without memoirbattering you over the head with it.

9. 10% Happier by Dan Harris—I get that some people didn’t like this book—it can come off as pretty glib—but I enjoyed it. I thought Harris was funny (I actually laughed out loud a few times), and it’s a good (for me) primer on meditation.

undead8. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson—a library book I knew nothing about and took a chance on, and I’m glad I did. I still think about the thing with the mushrooms sometimes. *shiver*

7. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee—fun gay historical romance with a bit of swashbuckling. Loved every word of it.

6. The Outsider by Stephen King—included mostly because of the audiobook, which is narrated by the best Stephen King narrator there is, Will Patton. He is phenomenal. The book itself is good, too.

5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas—because of course. I feel like I should put it higher on the list, because it’s such an important book. Settling it at #5 was a tough decision, but in the end my love of YA sci fi/fantasy won out.

4. The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson—one of my favorite YA authors. He can do no wrong.

3. The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett—described as The Exorcist meets Bridget Jones, and that’s pretty accurate. Not too much on The Exorcist, but enough to make it creepy, and it’s absolutely laugh-out-loud funny at the same time. I listened to the audiobook at 1.25x speed, which made the narration seem even blademore frantic and crazy. It was awesome.

2. A Blade so Black by L. L. McKinney—I liked it well enough while I was reading it, but even months later I still find myself thinking about it. Like it just keeps growing on me, even in its absence. An Alice in Wonderland retelling with a Buffy-esque POC in the lead? Yes, please.

1. White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig—the book that got me started on my current kick, YA murder mysteries. This whiteone is atmospheric and dark and—I was going to say it’s also romantic but it’s not so much about romance as it is about painful, angsty love and trying to figure out who you are in the wake of it. Pretty deep for a teen novel that’s also kind of like a slasher movie.