Dewey’s Readathon Mini-Challenge: TOP 5 BOOKISH CHILDHOOD MOMENTS

1. I have no memory of this but my parents and family friends love telling this story. I was always a tall kid, so one year-old me looked like a 4 year-old. Apparently, everyone who ever visited our house before I could read by myself would have to read books to me. They couldn’t cheat, or skip ahead, because I had the books memorized by the page! I also spent a lot of the time looking at those books and reciting them out loud (still couldn’t read), so people who visited our house for the first time would assume I was just actually reading the books!

2. Harry Potter.

3. Reading during class with the book under the desk, which my teachers used to point out at parent-teacher meetings. I would also read under the covers wayyyyy past my bedtime using a tiny flashlight I had taken from my dad. I was caught a bunch of times, but my parents never punished me for it. They were, and still are, my biggest enablers.

4. Whenever we visited people, I’d make a beeline for their bookshelf, pick up a book and read.

5. Our school library policy was to issue one book per week to students and only during the library period. Since the 5th grade, I was on first name basis with the school librarians and the library staff, was the only student allowed to sit at the “teacher’s table” in the library, and was allowed to issue books outside of library period because I read them too fast.

Hope everyone is having an excellent Readathon so far!

Dewey’s Hour Zero (4/23/2016)

GOOD MOOOOOORNNIIIIIIINNNNNGGGGGG FOLKS!

Hope everyone is having an excellent start to the day!

I didn’t sleep very well last night, and woke up this morning from a very realistic dream of getting fired. Isn’t that fun? Anyway, THE DAY IS FINALLY HERE! Since I’m up, I figured I’d start off with the Hour Zero post:

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1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Chicago, Illinois.
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Margaret The First by Danielle Dutton and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Cheese and crackers, and the chocolate chip cookies. ALWAYS the cookies.
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! To make this quick, I’m cheating and just throwing my blog bio in here: Born in India, raised in the Middle East, currently in Chicago. Booknerd, Behavior Analyst, intersectional feminist, Whovian, recluse, and Scotch pundit. Pronouns she/her. Cantankerous. Fledgeling member of the bookternet. Always reading.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? This is my first readathon, and I’m so excited that I’m worried I might not read from the excitement. I’m going to have to pace myself with the social media stuff for sure. The feeling of community and sense of belonging with the bookish internet, and being given the chance to interact with so many bookish people I admire via this readathon, is definitely a giant plus for me.

Okay friends, off to shower. Be back for bookish shenanigans in approximately 40 minutes, aaaaaaaaannnnd BREAK!

-J

On the eve of my Dewey Debut

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So, unless you don’t read books, or have been living under a rock, or do not know me in real life, everyone knows that Dewey’s readathon happens tomorrow. Over 1600 participants, isn’t that amazing? The idea of just bunch of people from all around the world dedicated the same chunk of time towards reading books and gushing about them on social media, is giving me all the feels:

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This is my first time participating in the readathon (although if you follow me on social media I’ve only been gushing about it for a month now). I found the readathon when participating in 24in48 readathon back in January, went wayyyy down the rabbit-hole of the origin story and the posts from the October event, predictably fell in love with the premise, and have had my calendar marked with this event. Since then, I have been interacting with Andi and Heather (our champion organizers) on and off on social media over the last couple of months, so I’ve been EVEN more excited about this (Here’s a well-known secret- if it’s about books, it doesn’t take me that long to get excited about it). 

Andi was kind enough to allow me to host twitter parties at the beginning of this week, and it was a blast! We chatted about themes, TBRs, beverages, snacks, and ALL OF THE BOOKS! Got some great advice from readathon veterans, a few of which I’m putting in place.

Shaina, who is the coolest, and the wittiest, and the nerdism in Readathon is insidious… (hehe, see where I’m going with this. I’m not even a little sorry.)

Anyway, Shaina started the #thon4ham tag a few nights ago, and she’s come up with so many brilliant ones that I just had to Storify them (I had a few, but nowhere as good as the ones she came up with).

I curated my readathon stack- started out feeling completely overwhelmed by the GIANT pile of unread books in my room. So I decided to throw in some criteria for selection: books I owned that were written by women, so that anything I read tomorrow will count towards Read My Own Damn Books and the Read The Books You Buy challenges.

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Look at how pretty they are 😍

I put this off for the last possible minute for two reasons: in order to stick to a written grocery list, and not to eat all of the snacks before Readathon even started. The checkout person at Mariano’s was definitely judging me (she was barely 18 and probably wondering why I’m not just buying booze on a Friday night).

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Knowing me, this is what is going to keep me going after midnight anyway.

The Facebook Readathon page has been ON FIRE, and someone on there suggested that a group of us could meet up at some point in the day for silent-reading-time-in-the-proximity-of-local-redathoners. So there’s a few of us meeting up at Bru Chicago in Wicker park, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. (in case more people want to hang).

Got me some Readathon swag, because, I had to. 

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That design on the mug is EVERYTHING. 

My social media strategy for tomorrow is going to be…err, I don’t know yet. I’m drafting two major blog posts tonight, for the 12-hour and 24-hour marks. Blogging is time-consuming, so I’m not going to kill myself trying to be super active here. I will tweet and instagram every 3-4 hours, participate in the mini-challenges on the readathon website at the same times, and occasionally Snapchat (you can find me at jananivaidya). This is sounding terribly complicated as I sit here typing this.  As for cheering, I will be cheering on twitter only, because even though I really want to go on people’s blogs, my focus for this readathon is still going to be reading. I know there’s people like my friend RDB who will exclusively be cheering this time, so I don’t feel terribly guilty for not making the effort. 

Okay, gotta run, got a bunch of chores to finish up tonight and get a good night’s sleep. If you’re not really doing anything tomorrow, go sign up for the readathon! You don’t have to read/stay awake/social media for 24 hours, you can have fun with it however you want. 

Fellow ‘thoners, hope you have a BLAST tomorrow! Woo!

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Until tomorrow,

-J

 

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts: April 20, 2016

Happy hump day!

It’s Wednesday, which means it is time for Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, hosted by Christine at Bookishly Boisterous.

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Let’s start with the bookish ones, because those are way easier:

I got to host the Dewey Readathon’s twitter two nights in a row, which was a pretty great time. Chatted with fellow participants, answered/redirected people’s questions, talked about readathon stacks, game plans, beverages, cheerleading, and all of the other fun stuff. If you haven’t signed up yet, there’s still time! TWO MORE DAYS WHAAAAAAAAAT!

I have been reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson as part of Social Justice Book Club and it has been going slowly, only because I have to put it down after reading each chapter to process my feelings. I even put it down for a couple of days because it got very intense. I am hoping that they keep #SJBC going so that I have an opportunity to read other books like this one. Intense, but necessary reads.

I have been doing well with my self-imposed book ban so far; however, Open Books tweeted that they will be doing a Sidewalk Sale this Friday through Sunday. Purchases would support their literacy programs, so yeah, I’ll probably end up there either on Sunday afternoon. I’m hoping this motivates me to get through a chunk of books on Saturday, so at least I’ll be taking books of my TBR stack. Oh well. I’m not even sorry

Book Riot Read Harder book club tomorrow night. We meet at Roscoe Books at 7.30 p.m. If you’re in the Chicago area, you should definitely join us! I’m bringing snacks, and there’s always wine.

I finally signed up for NetGalley and Blogging For Books!

Other life things:

I had been feeling very unmotivated at work since that one work success a little while ago. Severe avoidance behavior along with negative verbal behavior, and feelings of frustration. Talked to my friend and co-worker E about it and she offered some great suggestions. Implemented a couple of those today- made detailed to-do tasks, set timers for each task, prioritized the ones I had been avoiding, and it worked well today! At the end of my work day I was feeling really productive- wrote E an email expressing my gratitude, with a game plan to tackle other work stuff in the same way in the next week. 

My general future course is ridiculously uncertain at this point; I’m having severe anxiety about where I will be in the next few months, which are contingent on being accepted into grad school. I have received a couple of rejection letters already, went through the entire grieving process with each of them, but my general level of anxiety varies from day to day. The funny thing is I have a semi-decent plan B, but the anxiety is so crippling at this point that it is preventing me from taking action steps toward my plan B. This has definitely been a factor in the lack of work motivation. All the anxiety about said uncertainty is also alienating me from family and friends, because they have the best intentions, but most of the time I’m not even in a place to talk to them about it or hear the things they have to say. One of my closest friends has expressed his concern and how he is feeling the effects of my behavior. On the good days like today, I’m motivated to take action about it- I consciously made the effort today to reach out and check-in with him. On other days…I spend an hour talking myself into getting out of bed first thing in the morning and going through the motions. 

The thing is, I had experienced a similar transition about 3 years ago (undergrad to grad school). I will say I didn’t handle it too well- lot’s of lonely nights spent in my apartment( and a lot of booze). I’m grateful that I have a job to go to this time around, because at the very least I am accountable somewhere. I’m also a little older, and wiser, and my 24-year old body cannot handle alcohol like by just-out-of-college-21-year-old one did. I am also more comfortable with and highly value my alone-time now (reading time, plus a human services job can be emotionally and intellectually draining when I’m being productive). At this point, I am just taking it day to day. I can’t really complain, I know I have well-meaning people in my life, I just do not know how to adequately communicate all of these things to them. My goal right now is to use the strategies from days like today, and arrange my environment by putting these self-management strategies in place in advance, so that they take their course on the next day. This blip of positivity I am feeling today, I hope to carry with me tomorrow. 

Sorry if that got a little too deep. A medium to write is allowing me to articulate my private events, which is cathartic. 

Current mood: I want to skip the next two days to #readathon! Hope you guys had a great Wednesday 🙂

-J

Teaser Tuesday: April 19th, 2016

Hello!

It’s Teaser Tuesday!

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This fun bookish meme is hosted by MizB at Books And A Beat. The rules are pretty simple: Grab your current read, open a random page, and pick two teaser, non-spoilery sentences to share from that page. 

Here’s mine for this week:

“Proximity has taught me some basic and humbling truths, including this vital lesson: Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.”

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This is the book we’re reading for the first edition of the Social Justice Book Club, hosted by the brilliant Kerry McHugh. This is just a trial run, but I’m hoping that enough people join to make this at the very least a bi-monthly thing. It’s just a readalong, so you can tweet/blog/share your thoughts on social media using the tag #sjbc. It is an intense read, and I keep having to put it down after every chapter because it makes me so angry, but you should read the book. 

Until later,

-J

Reblog: 10 Reasons You Should Participate in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: A Storify Tale — Shaina Reads

Shaina gives you 10 excellent reasons to sign up for Dewey’s readathon this weekend!

In case you missed my rapid-fire tweeting about why you should participate in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon yesterday, I’ve compiled all ten reasons and added commentary and GIFs (naturally).I hope that it persuades you to participate on April 23![View the story “10 Reasons You Should Participate in #Readathon” on Storify]

via 10 Reasons You Should Participate in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: A Storify Tale — Shaina Reads

The Week in Reading: Sunday, April 17th, 2016

Heyo,

SPRING IS HEEEEERRREEEEEEEEE!! (and here’s proof):

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I know, I’m eternally grateful for a backyard this time of the year. 

Not a lot of bookishness to write home about this past week (Chicago traffic prevented me from getting to that Book Swap on time, grr), but I did get a few books out of the way:

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

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I listened to this on audio, and this is my first Hornby book (I have yet to read About A Boy or High Fidelity. I know, you’d think Hugh Grant/baby Nick Hoult on-screen charm would have led me to pick up the book, but I got busy reading other things along the way. I will get to those, eventually). Anyway, I had spotted it in some of my recent bookstore visits, so when I saw that it was available on one of my many rabbit-hole scroll adventures on Overdrive, I went for it. Here’s the plot: Back in the 60’s, Barbara from Blackpool has just been crowned a beauty queen, but wants so much more. She wants to be the next Lucille Ball so she travels to London, hoping to become a TV comedy star. After experiencing some of the struggles that come with trying to make it big in showbiz, she winds up in an audition and lands a role that is perfect; literally, it is crafted for her. The novel goes on to examine her life of a TV star- accompanied by fame, fortune, a stage name (Barbara becomes Sophie Straw to increase the likelihood of stardom), media scrutiny, complicated family ties, and of course, romance. 

There were a lot things I enjoyed about this book: Barbara is quick-witted, and has no qualms about shutting down the mansplainers around her. Slapstick comedy, British humor, and an ensemble cast-of-sorts, there were quite a few moments in the first 2/3rds of the book. The characters have a hilarious moments even though they are generic, given the setting of the story. The parts of the novel that had all the members of the TV show in the same room interacting with each other were definitely entertaining. Hornby does a really good job making you feel like you are smack-dab in the middle of a swingin’ London from the 60’s. The novel lags off a bit in the last 100-odd pages when the novel follows each of the characters lives after the show ends, but it has a sweet moment when the group reunites at a specific life-event. Hornby makes some attempt to rekindle a romance between Sophie and her former lover with a semi-deep conversation, but it trails off very quickly. I almost wonder if this would have done better as a long comedy sketch, or any sort of visual adaptation, as opposed to novelization. All in all, if you’re looking for something light and quick to read, you could pick this up. 

No One Knows by J. T. Ellison

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This was one of my picks for Book Of The Month Club, recommended by Liberty Hardy. I read this book in two sittings. It is a good-old fashioned thriller, fast-paced with twists thrown your way that will keep you in “just one more chapter” mode till you’re done. High-school and college Janani almost exclusively read mystery/suspense novels, so this was a sweet reunion with the genre. Aubrey Hamilton’s husband Josh is declared dead by the state of Tennessee- five years after his disappearance. Five years ago, the couple were at their close friends’ bachelor/bachelorette parties, and Josh hadn’t been seen since. Aubrey is depressed, lonely, bitter, and barely coping. She keeps looking back to their marriage, wondering if she ever knew the man that she loved, or was she reading too much into a standard homicide. Meanwhile, the day Josh is declared officially dead, a new yet familiar figure, Chase, appears in Aubrey’s life. Coincidence? She doesn’t know what to think. Was he really dead? Was he kidnapped? Did he run away? Did Chase have something to do with all of this? 

I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll just say this- if you’re looking for a fast and gripping mystery/thriller that will have you stay wayyy up past your bedtime, look no further. Twists on twists on twists. Red herrings. The works. Enjoy!

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

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I’d already purchased Oyeyemi’s new book of short stories before this book came in from the library, so I decided to save that one for Dewey’s readathon next week. There are three women featured in this novel- Boy, Snow, and Bird, and the book is split into three parts. The story incorporates elements of mysticism and fairy tale, and discusses race, which of course stoked my enthusiasm and were the reasons I picked it up in the first place. The story goes like this: Boy Novak runs away from her home in New York to Massachusetts in the 50’s, marries a widower who has one daughter (Snow), and later gives birth to a child (Bird). Here’s the thing: Bird is born dark-skinned, inadvertently exposing Snow and her father, Arturo, who were light-skinned passing off as white, as African-Americans. Oyeyemi uses this to explore race relations in the 50’s.  So I have several feelings about the book. The prose? Loved it. Very lyrical, beautifully written. The first section of this book had me completely enamoured. The second section was also very good, for the most part. Things unraveled a bit for me in the last part of the book. I think Oyeyemi had some great ideas and vision for what the book should be, but it fell just a bit short of that for me. I was looking for more content on some of her reveals, which she didn’t have. It seemed like that the author was aiming for a Snow-White re-telling, but it didn’t quite work out that way. I enjoyed reading it, but it left me wanting more. However, this doesn’t make me dread her new book, mostly because I have heard spectacular things about it (I imagine she has progressed significantly since this one). We shall see. 

American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

HOW HAD I NEVER READ THIS BEFORE? That’s it, that’s my review. (just kidding)americanbornchinese

We have three main characters in this graphic novel: Jin Wang, a kid that’s desperate to fit in and become your classic All-American boy; The Monkey King, an old Chinese folklore about a Monkey King who wants to be acknowledged as a god and will do anything to make that happen; and Chin-Kee, the ultimate derogatory Chinese stereotype, whose cousin Danny, the popular kid, is so embarrassed by cousin Chin-Kee’s annual visits that he has to switch schools each time. In the beginning, they seem to be three separate storylines, but they all come together in the end. This reminded me of the stories I read growing up as a child, in terms of structure. It is nearly fable-like. The illustrations are gorgeous, and are a perfect accompaniment to the utterly heart-breaking and poignant storyline. Here’s a book about the immigrant experience, adolescence, and self-acceptance for the young mind. It certainly pushes you to experience feelings of discomfort, especially every time you read Chin-Kee’s story. The overarching theme of “accept who you are, don’t change for anyone” might feel simple and idealistic, but it works for the intended audience. 

Meanwhile, I finally got around to curating my Dewey’s Readathon stack ( April 23rd, mark your calendars! If you haven’t signed up yet, go now). I decided to go with a theme to make the selection process a little easier: books I own that were written by women. This was mostly in order to make some progress with #readmyowndamnbooks and #readthebooksyoubuy, so yes, very strategic criteria-selection as well.

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My plan is to at least start all of these books and make some notable progress during the readathon. I will be actively cheering and socializing, so I’m probably being a little too ambitious. We shall see. 

Additionally, I will be hosting Twitter parties on Monday and Tuesday evening, 8 p.m. CDT, which I am very excited about. My plan is to prep for some fun discussions later tonight. Thanks Andi for the opportunity!

Reading forecast for the upcoming week: To finish reading as many library books as I can, and actually return ones that I don’t feel like reading at the moment instead of renewing them again. So much DNF-guilt, I tell ya. 

That’s all from me folks! Back to Hamiltome (nearly done with it, SO BEAUTIFUL). What have you guys been reading?

-J