Sarah from Sarah Reads Too Much

BBAWI’m pleased today to share with you my interview with fellow book blogger Sarah from Sarah Reads Too Much. Please check out her wonderful blog! One thing I really like about her blog is that she reviews an eclectic mix of books, and I found myself perusing many of her posts looking for ideas for books to read. She has me sold on [amazon_link id=”0385534639″ target=”_blank” ]The Night Circus[/amazon_link] by Erin Morgenstern.

What has been your favorite book this year and why?

Easily [amazon_link id=”0385534639″ target=”_blank” ]The Night Circus[/amazon_link] by Erin Morgenstern.  I felt completely transported to a different place and time—I felt the magic in the pages.  I was truly sad to have finished it.  I have enjoyed many books this year, but this one completely blew me away in a different way.  I cannot recommend it enough.

I notice you participate in a lot of challenges. Which is your favorite? Why?

My favorite challenge is the one I started—The Back To The Classics Challenge 2011.  It is a thrill to be offered the number of advance copies and new release books to read and review, but I wanted to also remind and push myself to read Classic Literature as well.  I plan to continue the Challenge again next year, with a few updates to keep it fresh!

You read a wide variety of genres. Do you have a favorite? What’s your “desert island” book?

I love reading different genres; in fact I make it a personal point to not read books from the same genre back to back.  I don’t think I have a particular favorite…  I really enjoy the variety.  I’m not even sure what my “desert island” book would be!  Perhaps a heavy classic I haven’t read yet—as I’d have the time and few distractions—or maybe a light YA novel to encourage a good mood?

What is one book you find yourself recommending to everyone? Why that one?

I can’t recommend just any book to any one.  I first need to know what they like, and then go from there (the perk of reading so many genres I guess!)  For mystery lovers, I have lately been suggesting Tana French titles; YA I’d go with Stephanie Perkins or Myra McEntire, Literary Fiction -[amazon_link id=”0385534639″ target=”_blank” ]The Night Circus[/amazon_link] (of course!) or perhaps Matthew Norman’s [amazon_link id=”0062065114″ target=”_blank” ]Domestic Violets[/amazon_link], and I could go on and on.

What’s your favorite book set in Massachusetts (Stephanie’s current home state)?

The first book that comes to mind as a favorite would be Tom Perrotta’s [amazon_link id=”031236282X” target=”_blank” ]Little Children[/amazon_link], even though that book could really take place anywhere in suburban America.  I also just read a fun YA mystery set on Cape Cod titled [amazon_link id=”0545230500″ target=”_blank” ]Clarity[/amazon_link] by Kim Harrington.

Thanks, Sarah! It was a pleasure getting to know you! I am excited to try some of the books you discussed.

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday and Top Ten Tuesday—June 21, 2011

What to do when you have found two interesting book memes and want to do both, but you don’t want to write two different blog posts? Combine, them I say.

Teaser TuesdaysTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teasers:

[amazon_image id=”0345521307″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignleft”]The Paris Wife: A Novel[/amazon_image]“This isn’t a detective story—not hardly. I don’t want to say, Keep watch for the girl who will come along and ruin everything, but she’s coming anyway, set on her course in a gorgeous chipmunk coat and fine shoes, her sleek brown hair bobbed so close to her well-made head she’ll seem like a pretty otter in my kitchen.”

—location 116 on my [amazon_link id=”B002Y27P3M” target=”_blank” ]Kindle[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”0345521307″ target=”_blank” ]The Paris Wife: A Novel[/amazon_link] by Paula McLain

Top Ten TuesdayThe Broke and the Bookish has a weekly Top Ten. This week’s focus is book blogging.

Top Ten Reasons I Love Book Blogging

  1. The other book bloggers in the community are some of the nicest people on the Internet. I enjoy being a part of such a friendly group.
  2. Book blogging offers me a chance to reflect on (as well as keep track of) all the books I read. It’s nice to be able to look back at books I’ve read and know not only exactly how many I read, but also how I felt about them.
  3. Blogging has opened some doors for me in terms of being able to afford more books. I am an Amazon associate, and the good people who buy books from Amazon after clicking through a link I followed generate a small commission that Amazon pays me in gift cards. It feels a little bit like being paid for doing something I love, but it has also enabled me to do what I love—not sure I could buy all these books otherwise.
  4. This last year especially had some real professional ups and downs for me, and this blog was a refuge. I blog about education at, and I have found it harder to feel motivated to write for that blog lately for many reasons, but this blog has been a true source of inspiration.
  5. Through this blog and through Twitter, I have had the opportunity to interact with authors. Syrie James and Jael McHenry both have mentioned my reviews of their books, and I had the amazing opportunity to interview Mary Novik.
  6. Being a part of the book blogging community has introduced books and authors to me that I might otherwise not have heard about or read. It would be impossible to figure out how many wonderful books I discovered through other book bloggers.
  7. Participating in reading challenges and chronicling them on my blog has helped me try out new books. I have enjoyed many of these new books. Some challenges I have begun to look forward to every year (Carl’s RIP Challenge, for one). For the first time this year, I hosted my own challenge.
  8. Book bloggers inspire me to read more. One year a few years ago, I only read 14 books. This year, I’ve already read 21. Some book bloggers are such fast readers that I can never hope to compete with the speed through which they fly through books, but without the inspiration to try, I’m not sure what my reading life would look like. My friends tell me all the time they don’t know how I read so much or how I find the time. Little do they know there is this world of readers in the book blogosphere who far outstrip anything I do! I do think I have become a faster reader since I began blogging.
  9. There is no better community for talking about books and reading than the book blogging community. Everyone else loves reading as much as I do and is just as excited about reading as I am. Reading can be a lonely activity. I’m not part of a book club, but I plan to revive our faculty book club next school year. It’s fun to share books and reading with others. It’s one of the reasons I chose to be an English teacher. Now that I am moving into technology teaching, it will be more important than ever for me to have an outlet for talking about books. The only thing that could be better is if we could gather regularly with food and chat in person.
  10. This last one might seem silly, but I find that book blogs are the prettiest blogs I read. All the pretty book covers and headers with books or readers of cups or coffee or tea. So homey and pretty. I like hanging around places like that.

BBAW: Future Treasures

The goal for Thursday’s blog theme for Book Blogger Appreciation Week is to share what you enjoyed about BBAW and also what your blogging goals are for the next year.

My favorite part was interviewing Jenny from Take Me Away. I love to get to know other bloggers, and it was really fun for me to think of question to ask, and it was fun for me to answer her questions, too. I think no matter what choices are made for next year, interview swaps should always be a part of BBAW.

My goals for next year are to create a reading challenge (although I saw someone else already had the same idea I had; still, I think I will try to do it anyway). I also want to participate in and complete as many fun challenges as catch my eye. I think reading challenges are one of the easiest and best ways to feel like a part of the book blogging community. I want to try to read 50 books. It might be possible since I am graduating from graduate school this December, but right now in mid-September, I’m sitting on 28 finished books. That is 22 away from 50, so I don’t think it will happen this year, but only 12 away from 40. It’s my hope that I can read 40 by the end of the year. We shall see. Another thing I’d like to do next year is continue to follow a blogging schedule. It seems counterintuitive, but putting myself on a schedule actually made me fall in love with this blog all over again. It gave me direction and purpose, and before long it didn’t really matter if I followed the exact schedule or not: I was blogging a lot more.

What did you like about BBAW? What are your goals for next year?

BBAW: Unexpected Treasures

Today’s topic for Book Blogger Appreciation Week is to share whether or not I’ve tried a new book or genre because of the influence of a blogger. In a roundabout way, yes, I have. I follow a lot of readers on Twitter, although they don’t necessarily all have blogs. I picked up Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy because of all the tweets and reviews of Mockingjay. More than bloggers, however, Valerie Jackson’s show Between the Lines has convinced me to read a book, including John Burnham Schwartz’s The Commoner, which turned out to be a great book, The Three Weissmanns of Westport, which was pretty good, and American Music, which I didn’t like as much (and didn’t finish). I have also purchased books Ms. Jackson discusses, but haven’t necessarily finished yet.

Carl’s R.I.P. Challenge has encouraged me to use the excuse of creepy fall reading to read some authors I had been meaning to get around to anyway, such as Neil Gaiman and Daphne DuMaurier.

I don’t think I’d have picked up Georgette Heyer’s Charity Girl if Laurel Ann hadn’t asked me to be a part of the Heyer birthday celebration at Austenprose. I also picked up The Annotated Pride and Prejudice after first seeing it mentioned on a Jane Austen blog.

What about you? Has a book blogger ever convinced you to pick up a book?

Interview with Jenny from Take Me Away

Happy Book Bloggers’ Appreciation Week! I will catch up with the festivities soon, I promise. Meanwhile, I interviewed Jenny who blogs at Take Me Away as part of the BBAW book bloggers’ interview swap, and I’m so happy to have found a new blog to read! My questions and her answers appear below.

  1. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
  2. I live in Central Florida with my husband and dog. I work as a social worker and am also doing an internship as a mental health therapist, so I’m pretty busy! And I love to reading and blogging. That’s pretty much it!

  3. How did you choose the title for your blog?
  4. I wanted a name that was somewhat unique and that described what books were for me. I called it Take Me Away because that’s what I feel books do… whether it’s that I’m “literally” being taken away to another state, country, etc. or just that I’m being “taken away” from real life, stress, etc. In that sense, reading is an escape for me!

  5. What made you decide to start a book blog?
  6. A few years ago I joined and started playing in the games forum. It was fun getting to “meet” so many other readers. There were a couple people on there who had book blogs and that was when I first learned of them. I thought it sounded like fun to write about the books we read. Plus, I tend to forget about books shortly after reading them, even if I love them (LOL), so I thought blogging would be a good way to document my thoughts that I can look back on and remember.

  7. I see you have participated in several reading challenges this year, including the Brontë one I did as well. Can you talk about which one is your favorite and why? Why do you do reading challenges? What do you like about them?
  8. This is sort of a funny question for me…. see, I join challenges with the caveat that they will not stress me out—they’re more something I strive for. So it’s almost like the challenge is there and I join them but then don’t think much about them. In reality, I don’t ever choose books to read for challenges… it’s more like I read whatever and when that challenge ends I figure out how much of what I read fits in that category; though I’ll admit it is fun when I know a book I’m reading will meet the requirements for a challenge. If I had to pick a favorite I would say either of the “imprints” challenges like the Amy Einhorn one or the Reagan Arthur one… I think the ones that have the most eclectic choice of books to choose from are my favorites. Or the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die one because I feel like I’m reading some good, important books!

  9. Do you set a rhythm or schedule for updates? If so, what?
  10. On a regular/good week I was aiming for 2-3 book reviews. I’ll substitute some type of bookish topic for a review if I have something to say. But lately my reading slowed down considerably (August was a rough reading month) so my posts were much more sporadic. I’m just now starting a new feature where on Fridays I am posting a review of a short story from an anthology of short stories that appeared in The New Yorker. So I think I will aim for 1-2 book reviews/posts other than that each week. And I pretty much try to separate all my posts by 2 or 3 days. I currently have 5 book reviews ready to go whenever I want to post them, but this is by far the most I’ve ever had prepared at once!! Hopefully I’ll be able to keep it up though.

  11. What is your favorite genre to read and why?
  12. I am truly an eclectic reader. I have favorite genres but even with those I feel like I have to make a departure from them every once in a while. I really enjoy women’s fiction, contemporary fiction of all types, literary fiction, and mystery/thrillers. Even with mystery/thrillers, though, I prefer the ones that are more literary in nature. I really like reading books that make me think about an issue and/or that can lead to interesting conversations. But then I also like fun, fluffy books every once in a while too!

  13. Do you have a favorite book? Or a shortlist of favorite books? If so, what is it/are they and why?
  14. Ahhh, my favorite books change all the time! Currently, I say my favorite is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. For a long time Wuthering Heights was my favorite. Strangely, one of my favorite books is Daughter of the Forest (the first in the Sevenwaters trilogy). I say strangely because I typically am not a fan of that genre! But I’ve read that one 3 or 4 times. I really loved Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Shanghai Girls both by Lisa See. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb was absolutely fantastic and I considered it a favorite too but I’ve only read it once and haven’t had a chance to read it again to confirm it’s still a favorite. Some of my favorite “fluffier” books are Jemima J by Jane Green and Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. I know there are so many other great books out there, though, that will become a favorite that I just haven’t had a chance to read yet!

  15. Do you use book blog reviews when trying to decide whether or not to read a book? What about Goodreads, Amazon, or the like?
  16. Yes and no. If I see a book in the store that looks good and I haven’t heard about it before, I may buy it without looking into reviews. But definitely when I do read reviews for books I can be swayed into buying/reading a book as well as talked out of it. I sometimes use the user reviews at, but for reviews I usually refer to book blogs.

  17. Can you talk about Throwback Thursday, the book meme you created?
  18. I created Throwback Thursday because most book blogs tend to focus on newer books and/or books that are only just now being ready by the blogger. But most of us have been readers for years and have extensive lists (physically or not) of books we have read in the past that still deserve recognition! I used to do the meme weekly but after a while had difficulty keeping up so now I have it on a mainly monthly schedule. I love talking about and remembering older books that I’ve read though!

  19. Who is the coolest author you ever met?
  20. Hmmm, coolest author…. I went to a luncheon/reading once for Jodi Picoult. There were so many people that even when having books signed we couldn’t really talk, but she sounded really intelligent when she gave her speech at the luncheon and was really nice. I met Kristy Kiernan at a local signing and she was sooooo incredibly nice and personable. I really liked her a lot. I can’t remember if there are many other authors that I’ve really had much of a conversation with (ahh hope I’m not leaving anyone out!!) I think Lauren Oliver is an awesome person based on her blog, and I have met her (at BEA), but my interaction with her was very short.

  21. Who are your favorite book bloggers?
  22. Oh, another very difficult question because I have so many! Jennifer with Crazy-For-Books who I consider a good blogging friend of mine… Michelle at Red Headed Book Child as well. The New Dork Review of Books is one of my favorites, as is The Five Borough Book Review. Those are seriously just a handful though because I have a loooong list of favorite bloggers! (I’m new to your blog but I’m really loving it too!) =)

Thanks Jenny for letting me interview you and for the opportunity to learn more about you! You can read Jenny’s interview of me at her blog.

BBAW: New Discoveries

The first day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week invites last year’s participants to discuss book blogs they’ve discovered since last year’s BBAW. Some of my favorites “new to me” book blogs:

  • Bookish Nose: Jordan often reviews books I’ve never heard of. He was one of the folks who made me want to check out The Hunger Games trilogy.
  • DeRaps Reads: Hattie is a fellow English teacher and frequent commenter on my other blog. I like to keep up with what she’s reading, too! I love learning about new YA books.
  • Find Your Next Book Here: I actually just discovered this blog through BBAW. Jenners and I seem to circulate in the same areas of the book blogosphere, so it’s strange I hadn’t bumped into her before. I really like her posts for Show Me 5 Saturday.
  • Following Jane: David’s experiment is to read all of Jane Austen’s novels and share the experience with his readers.
  • Forever Young Adult: I love the humor in this blog. Plus they squeed over Mockingjay and allowed the rest of us to participate and enjoy.
  • Jenny’s Books: Jenny’s reviews are often funny and always helpful. I need to check out Diana Wynne Jones. Jenny’s the second person I’ve heard recommend Jones’s books.
  • Reviews by Lola: I love the way her blog looks. Everything is so organized. Plus, fellow Hunger Games fan and great reviews.
  • Stephanie’s Written Word: Stephanie just celebrated four years of book blogging. She hosts the Everything Austen Challenge, and I just love her reviews and tweets.

So who have you discovered since BBAW last year?

Hunger Games Withdrawal

Why are books always better than movies?

What am I going to do now? I finished Mockingjay, and I don’t have another Hunger Games series book to snatch up and gulp down. The folks over at Forever Young Adult have a name for this serious condition. They call it TEABS—The End of an Awesome Book Syndrome. I have a bad case of it. In fact, I think it’s why I was grumpy for absolutely no discernible reason yesterday. After all, I had the day off. I should have been pretty happy. Instead I was surly and snappish. One of my Goodreads buddies suggested it was because I didn’t have another Hunger Games book to read, and I thought, “He’s absolutely right.” Oh, I picked up The House of the Seven Gables again and began The Heretic’s Daughter. It won’t be the same. I might even love those books in their way, who knows. But they will probably always be like the rebound boyfriend—who knows how it could have worked out if you hadn’t tried to go out with him after the guy you thought was The One broke up with you. It’s a strange feeling, being on the other side of having read a fantastic series, left only with the feeling that there won’t be any more. I felt the same way (only worse) when I had finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I have grad school to throw my effort into, and in fact, I had better take that seriously or I’ll be in some trouble. I need to do some work on my portfolio.

Jonah Lehrer speculates on “The Future of Reading” in Wired. So do we read differently on e-readers? I know I highlight and annotate more because I am not worried about mucking up the book with my scribbling. Aside from my Kindle books, the only books I highlight and annotate are textbooks and professional reading. And there is something to be said for feeling free to talk back to my books. An annotation I added last night in The House of the Seven Gables was a simple observation that Nathaniel Hawthorne sure likes to break the fourth wall. I also highlighted a particularly good barb about the Puritans in The Heretic’s Daughter that I’ll probably share with students when we study The Crucible. And did you know you can access your highlights and annotations online? You have to log in, which keeps your notes secure, but still, how cool is that? On the other hand, I will never decide I don’t want to hold a real book in my hand. It was nice reading The Hunger Games series like that. You knew I was going to bring it back around to that, didn’t you. I should probably stop blogging and get to work on my portfolio. Throwing myself into my work—isn’t that the classic way to get over that lost relationship? Whatever works.

One last note and I am leaving. If you all had told me I would find more pleasure in my book blog than my education blog, and that I would post more frequently, despite the fact that anything I write over there gets comments now, whereas comments are somewhat scarce around here, I would have told you you were crazy. This poor blog has limped along for years. It didn’t even find a focus until I’d been writing for at least four years. That’s kind of crazy. I’m so happy to feel like a part of the book bloggers’ table in the cafeteria. Even if I don’t quite feel like the cool book bloggers with the black turtlenecks—the ones who have friends who are French foreign exchange students.

photo credit: Massimo Barbieri

Book Blogger Appreciation Week Voting

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

I am voting for my favorites for Book Blogger Appreciation Week. It’s fun to discover some new blogs. I noticed as I was casting my votes that the following things tended to catch my eye:

  • Humor and snarkiness
  • A pleasing design

I love book bloggers who can inject a bit of humor into their writing. Humor is a little lacking over here at Much Madness is Divinest Sense, but perhaps that needs to change. The one review I wrote that included a little bit of humor because I was in a weird mood that day was so much fun to write. Of course, I am not sure that’s something I could sustain, and it isn’t even appropriate for all the kinds of reviews and writing I do here, but it’s something to think about. Also, I really admire Jenny’s reviews, and she is so often funny, as are the wonderful ladies at AustenBlog.

Given we are trained not to judge a book by its cover, what does my admiration for design have to do with anything? Well, I think if your site looks nice and is easy to navigate, it tends to say something about how seriously you take it. Maybe that’s not true in all cases, and frankly, if I like your blog enough, I’m probably reading it in Google Reader and only see the design when I comment, but I did tend to prefer the blogs that looked good and weren’t too cluttered with content, but still had some extra eye candy in the sidebars and images (that worked) in the posts.

I myself was way too chicken to enter my blog into this competition.

Versatile Blogger Award

Versatile Blogger

Some time back, Birdie gave me an award, and I’ve been negligent about posting about it.

 Versatile Blogger Award

Rules are as follows:

  1. Thank the person who gave you the award. (Thank you very much, Birdie!)
  2. Share seven things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award along to blogs you have recently discovered and you who think are fantastic for whatever reason (in particular order).
  4. Contact the picked bloggers to let them know about award.

Seven Things about Me

  1. Maybe you recognize the title of my blog from a poem by Emily Dickinson. It is perhaps one of my favorite of hers, and I thought it would make a good title. Really there’s no deep message in my choosing the blog, though the deep message in the poem is that sometimes what we mistake for craziness is sanity and vice versa, often in situations where majority rule is considered. And instead of listening, we take those who disagree with us and label them dangerous or even imprison them. I believe in that message.
  2. I’m an anglophile. I can list the monarchs of Great Britain from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II in order. I don’t yet have the dates of their reigns memorized. I would probably move to the British Isles if I had the chance. I prefer to read books set in the British Isles.
  3. Some folks from my other blog read this one, but as far as I know, not a whole lot of them do. Readers, especially newer readers, of this blog might not realize I have an education blog where I discuss teaching.
  4. I am a fan of Star Trek. My favorite series is Star Trek: The Next Generation. I used to gather with friends in my dorm and watch new episodes when they were released. My favorite characters on that series are Picard, Data, and Worf. I never got into the other series as much as that one.
  5. Movies I can watch over and over and never get tired of: Love Actually, Sense and Sensibility, the Harry Potter films, the original Star Wars trilogy, Brokeback Mountain, and Pretty in Pink.
  6. It took me a long time to figure out what to do with this blog. It meandered in focus, mostly as a journal, until I decided to write my book reviews here.
  7. It’s very hard to pick my favorite books. I love so many of them. In no particular order, my favorites are Wuthering Heights, the Harry Potter series, The Mists of Avalon, The Lord of the Rings, and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. If I am hard-pressed to pick a favorite, I’d say it’s Wuthering Heights.

As much as I want to follow the rules and select other bloggers to award, I find I can’t pick, mostly because there are so few I’ve recently discovered. I hate to be a weasel, but I guess I must. If you are reading this, have a blog, and have not received this award yet, consider it presented to you.

Posting Schedule

You may have missed this small update I made earlier this week. Well, I have made some revisions to the schedule. I originally decided to dedicate myself to posting at least twice a week, but I have changed my mind and will try to post three times a week instead. Tuesdays will be dedicated to book news, Kindle news, reflections on reading and books, and the like. Thursdays will be dedicated to  Booking Through Thursday (just discovered via Bookish Nose, although I wholeheartedly disagree about Pride and Prejudice, naturally 😉 ).  Sundays will be dedicated to reading updates and will be tagged with my “in-progress” tag. It will give me a chance to talk about books I abandon and my initial impressions, reflections, or other thoughts about what I’m currently reading. I will still post book reviews whenever I finish books, regardless of the schedule.