Living With a Book Addict: Where Do You Read?

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Our Deck!

I know it’s been a while since my last post, so hello there! For those of you whom I have not acquainted myself with yet, I’m Todd, Kim’s husband and chronicler of life with someone (cough) who is addicted to reading. Yes, it has its ups and downs, and I aim to tell you all about them (with a healthy side of humor) here. Today my aim is a little more physical, rather than emotional or intellectual: where do you read?

It seems an innocuous enough question on its face. “Well that’s easy,” you might say, “I always read on the couch” or “I always read in bed.” Sure, this is boring and vanilla, and I’m sure it’s perfectly true. But, when you come to think of it, you probably read in many more places than just at home on the couch. Planes, trains, car trips, and white water rafting all see their fair share of reading (okay so perhaps not the last one.) Point being, if reading is a big a part of your life (as it very well is with Kim,) physical location and comfort take a back seat to reading. I’ve seen her read cramped into impossible angles in the car, or with her Nook inches from her face in the darkness of our bedroom. I’ve seen her fall fast asleep with a book tented open on her face, or rolled over a few times myself in bed on a book that’s made its way under the comforter. I’ve even seen her read on the toilet and in the tub!

However, this summer has seen the rise of a new reading location: the deck. You see, we’ve never really had “an outside” as I like to say. Our old apartment in CT did not have a porch or patio, but our new apartment does have a deck. Although it’s only about 5 feet by 10 feet or so, it’s our own slice of the great outdoors. We’ve decked it out (pun definitely intended) with chairs, a small table, and a grill! Now that we have this space, Kim has taken no time in setting up a nice reading spot in a deck chair, complete with a giant umbrella overhead to block out the sun (before the umbrella, there was much sunburn to be had.) I’ve come home from work to find her out on the deck, oblivious to the world driving by below, fully immersed in a book.

So, that brings me back to my original point: where do you read? Is it a special place that you’ve cordoned off in your home, or is it anywhere you happen to have a book? Is it a special part of your daily routine, or do you catch a quick chapter here and there on the train ride home? Whatever the case may be, we can all agree that taking some time out to connect with a good book is invaluable. It’s whether or not you can get over that kink in your neck afterwards that’s the problem. So, let us know below about your favorite reading spot!

Living With A Book Addict: A Bookseller

Kim at the bookstore

Kim at the bookstore

In this, the latest installment of the Living With a Book Addict series, I’m going to chronicle the recent development that has happened with our favorite book addict: she got a new job!  Now, along with the titles of blogger and book addict, we can add bookseller.  Kim recently started working at a book store and has happily immersed herself in the world of book selling for several months now.  It’s safe to say that she has taken her love of books and reading to a new, professional level, and I get to offer my insight (as always) on the changes that have taken place since this new opportunity!

First and foremost, I’m happy that she gets to do something that she is truly passionate about when she goes to work.  Many times she’s come home and happily told me about the people she’s turned on to new series and authors, and there was even one special time when she convinced a young girl to read Pride and Prejudice.  As you can imagine, there is no shortage of recommendations that she offers, and I think it’s great that she gets to interact with so many others who are interested in reading.  Even now as I write this, she’s telling me about another customer who came back into the store and thanked her for recommending a series that he ended up really enjoying.  It’s been awesome to see the impact that a fulfilling job has had in increasing her overall drive and motivation to go to work.

Secondly, how about those discounts?  Now, if I ever need to buy a book, I can look forward to a sweet discount!  I’m kidding, although the discount is neat, what’s more interesting to me is hearing about a whole new industry that I know basically nothing about.  After Kim comes home from work she tells me all about how the store operates and how certain books are destined to appear on certain shelves, etc.  I think it’s quite interesting, and between those stories and some interesting stories about the general public (anyone who has worked in retail knows how “unique” some of the general public can be at times), there’s always something new to talk about.  This new job has been a great source of new stories and new friends, and I imagine that there is much more in store for the future.

Finally, I’m just happy that our favorite book addict has been able to surround herself with her passion, making her happy.  I know it sounds self-explanatory, but after all the hectic adventures we’ve had due to my job, I’m glad to see her just as vibrant and motivated as she was before all of this happened.  The ability to bring her love of books to others is worth more than the money she gets to make as a bookseller, and knowing that makes both of us happy.

So, next time you enter your local bookstore, take a look around at the employees and see if there’s an extra spring in their step.  If so, perhaps they too have the same passion for books and want to share it with others.  Make sure you say hello!

Living With A Book Addict: …and their bookish emotions

aeOne of the main side effects of having a spouse that is bookish, is a general loss of said spouse to a book if it is good enough to pull him/her in.  In my particular case, I’ve lost Kim to a number of books now, only to have her emerge hours later in a general state of emotion.  I use this general term, as there is not one particular emotion that predominates over the others.  She can experience sadness, elation, anger, misery, or any number of feelings in an instant.   It’s almost like she’s an emotional time-traveler!  Of course I say this almost tongue-in-cheek, as I’m glad Kim’s found something that makes her passionate, regardless of which way the emotions happen to pull her at the time.

One great example of this phenomenon is the book One Day by David Nicholls.  I happened to be reading a funny book at the same time, and was sitting next to Kim on the couch and laughing.  I looked up, mid chuckle, to see tears coming down Kim’s face!  Imagine my surprise and immediate searching thoughts of what I had done in the past 5 minutes to produce these tears.  Fortunately it wasn’t anything I did to pull them out, but it was the story that brought her to tears.  So, here we sat, laughing and crying, both wrapped up in completely different worlds.  I suppose that this is the power books can have over us, but I have to admit that Kim’s bookish emotions do trump my own.

I suppose the best analogy I have to explain the situation is comparing her love of books to my love of science.  It’s not that Kim doesn’t appreciate science, but she doesn’t deal with it every day and have as deep an understanding of it as I do.  The same goes with my understanding and connection with a book.  Granted, I do enjoy books immensely and get a lot of joy from reading, but I feel as if I don’t have the same special relationship with them that Kim does.  I always enjoy seeing the sense of wonderment and amazement that she exudes when she is reading a book that she truly enjoys.  Of course, she always lets me know just how much she LOVES a book, but as I said before, I’m glad that she can have such a great response to a truly good book.

So, I guess that brings me to the obvious question: how involved do you get with reading?  How bookish are your emotions?  Let me know in the comment section below!  Happy (or any other applicable emotion) reading!

Living With a Book Addict: Baking With a Book Addict

IMG_20131219_212051I have a confession: this post has nothing to do with books.  It does, however, have everything to do with cookies.  Tons and tons of cookies.  You see, for the past week Kim has been baking non-stop.  I don’t think our oven has been turned off once (don’t freak out: I turn it off at night, I’m just being facetious.)  After a few trips to the store to get a metric ton of flour, sugar, butter (hello Paula Dean!) and other groceries, it’s been a patisserie paradise here.

This all began earlier this month, when Kim’s mom decided to forgo her normal tradition of baking Christmas cookies.  In order to fill the void, Kim has stepped up to be the cookie provider of the family.  Now that we’ve moved (see details here), we have a much larger kitchen in which to do the baking.  So far, we’ve made oatmeal raisin, oatmeal scotchies (raisins replaced with butterscotch pieces), snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, jelly thumb print, and lemon squares.  There is now a constant rumble of the Kitchen Aid mixer whirring to go along with all the wonderful smells of cookies in the air.

So far, I’ve brought cookies to work, we’ve given them to Kim’s family, and plan on giving more to my family.  That will then leave only 10,000 dozen left (kidding), so we had some friends over last night to help with the baking and eating.  It was a lot of fun, and to be honest I lent my skills to drink mixing instead of baking for the evening.  When I am conscripted to help with the baking, my talents are limited to forming the dough into balls and putting them on the cookie sheets.  Real 1st grade stuff, I know.  But, it needs to get done, so I’m happy to help.

And, all jokes aside, I hope this becomes more of a tradition for us.  It brings a bit more joy to the holiday season and makes me happy to see Kim taking up the reins of this tradition from her family with such enthusiasm.  She does a great job!  Also, as an added benefit I get to test my body’s abilities to produce insulin in mass quantities (sorry, had to throw at least one science joke in.)  Speaking of holiday traditions, let us know below what you like to do during the holiday season!  Baking?  Volunteering?  Gift wrapping?  It’s a time to give back to others and reflect on the year, so I encourage everyone to do something this year.

And, from all of us at Reflections, we wish you all the happiest of holidays and a safe and healthy new year!

Living With a Book Addict: Moving With a Book Addict

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The beginning of book packing!

For those of you that don’t know, due to my recent job change Kim and I moved to North Brunswick, NJ from our apartment in Hamden, CT.  Of course, with this move came all the fun of packing our apartment.  Fortunately we had a professional moving service take care of the larger items for us.  Unsurprisingly, we all know that our most prized possessions (books) were the first things packed.

One important fact to consider about books is that they are relatively heavy for their size.  Pack a standard cardboard box full of books and it’s going to weigh a lot.  At first, moving these boxes around the apartment wasn’t too cumbersome, but after the tenth box was packed and moved, I seriously considered digitizing everything and putting it all on Kim’s Nook (just kidding, she’d never allow that).  Finally, after everything was packed and labeled, we had around 27 boxes chock full of literature!  I know it seems like a lot, but in all honestly we had a good amount of giveaways and donations leading up to the move, so we were able to pare down the collection a bit.  I’m sure the Hamden Public Library was pretty sick of me coming by with bags after a while!

Another thing to consider is the bookcases!  Once we finally moved in, we had a lot more wall space, which you may think equals more bookcases.  So far, we only have one more, but that doesn’t mean that this place won’t look like a library some time soon.  So, after one trip to Ikea to replace one of the broken bookcases, we are officially back in business!  Also, now that we’ve made room in our collection, we now have more room than before to fill out the shelves with new books.  So, let us know below if you’ve had to move your own book collections.  Was it painless or did you collapse among an avalanche of paper?

Happy reading!

Living With a Book Addict: Being a Genre Snob

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From Reddit

Hello there Reflections fans.  It’s been a little while since I’ve graced the pages of this blog with a Living With a Book Addict series post, so I figured I’d remedy that today.  The subject of my post is genre, and although this is a wide-ranging topic that could encompass genre analysis, genre stereotypes, or any other form of analysis, I shall limit myself to the act of being a genre snob, and what it has done to my reading habits.  I will define said snobbery shortly.

First, the inspiration for this post must go to Reddit.  I spend a good amount of time on Reddit, much to Kimberly’s chagrin, but when the top post today encompassed books (here it is), neither of us could argue the fact that our two favorite pastimes had collided.  I think that this particular bookstore’s idea in covering their books with brown paper and only giving clues to the genre and plot of the book is clever.  It prevents cover stereotyping, and to a lesser extent genre stereotyping.  For example, if you happened to have a particular bias against historical fiction, but noticed the words “manhunt”, “assassination attempt”, and “President”, you could very well be picking up a current Tom Clancy thriller as a historical fiction book about Lincoln’s assassination.  The point is, both contain similar elements of suspense, action, and stately Presidents, but the latter just happens to be set in the past, hence historical fiction.  What someone would originally dismiss purely based on genre alone could actually be quite similar to a book that he or she actually likes.  It’s expanding the old adage of judging a book based on its cover and expanding it to cover a wider meaning.  Because genres aren’t explicitly spelled out, often it’s harder to realize that genre stereotyping is happening, although often one does so based on a perceived opinion about a particular genre.

As far as my own personal involvement with genre stereotyping (or snobbery, as it may be) goes, I have to admit that I always stuck up my nose at the romance genre.  I thought that no matter how you dressed it up, you would eventually get to the sappy and syrupy core of a boring romance between two individuals which would make me bored out of my mind and ready to throw the book out.  In fact just the other day, however, Kim was describing a new crime-based series to me authored by Marie Force (the Fatal Series).  I seemed quite interested in the books, until she reminded me that Force was primarily a romance writer.  My thoughts immediately soured, although I thought back to my original interest in the series.  I was being just as shallow as those who don’t read a book based on a cheesy cover.  I should give it a try.  I will give it a try.  And thus begins my start as a recovering genre snob.

Living With a Book Addict: Organization

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One of three bookshelves!

For those of you who may be new to this series, my “Living With a Book Addict” posts are attempts at chronicling the eccentricities that come along with being married to (and living with) dear Kimberly, the book addict.  So far, I’ve discussed going to book signings, getting ARCs of books to read from publishers, and many other aspects of my life that have been impacted (mostly in a good way!) by the book lover in my life.  Next up on the list is a day-to-day item that often goes overlooked in our apartment: organizing all these books.

Now in the spirit of full disclosure, I too have a hobby which requires storing some equipment in our apartment, and that hobby is beer brewing.  I have one set of shelves in our second bedroom, and that is it.  Kim, on the other hand, has begun to store the fruits of her labor (i.e. books) in bookshelves around the apartment.  But it doesn’t stop there.  We have small book piles on the floor, as well as books on the shelves of the lamp in our living room.  We have books holding up the TV on the TV stand (okay, they are my textbooks), books on top of the china cabinet, and as I write this my feet are propped up on a book on the ottoman.  In short, there are a lot of books here.  Now, how would one go about organizing all these books?

By and large Kim’s system is based on a rotation where “books to read” find themselves on the floor or ottoman, and books that have been read end up on the bookshelves.  I could do a whole post on how many books we recently donated to the library, but that’s another day.  After they are chosen to spend the rest of their lives on our bookshelves, the books are sorted based on genre, series, and author (in descending order).  However, this is where things get interesting.  I was recently chastised for putting a series of books out of chronological order because I stacked them from largest to smallest.  Not only did Kim notice this within 24 hours, but she made sure I put them in their “correct” order.  I’m sure the books felt anxious as they were out-of-order, and restoring them to their rightful position made the planets align in just the right order, but I digress…  Regardless of how they are organized, I am happy that Kim has gotten to keep so many great works over the years.  The only trouble we have now is finding new spots!  Time to start building that library.

Anyway, thus is the tale of book organization that I find myself a part of.  What do you do with your books?  Do you organize them?  Turn them into impromptu furniture?  Use them as kindling for a fire?  Let us know in the comments below!

Living With a Book Addict: Attending a Book Signing

20130218_182027Yes, I’m back.  I know it’s been only month since my last “Living With a Book Addict” installment, but I’ve just recently attended a book signing with Kim and I thought it would be pertinent to fill you all in on how it went and what my experience was like.  I try to keep these posts lighthearted and quasi-comical, and I’ll continue in that vein today but I also want to comment later on the coolness factor of book signings as well.  So, here’s a brief synopsis:

The always-awesome R.J. Julia in Madison, CT was hosting the last leg of the Breathless Reads Tour held by Penguin (the publisher, not the animal).  After this stop, the group was heading up to Canada, I believe, to finish up the tour.  We had the pleasure of meeting five authors, who were as follows: Fiona Paul (Venom), Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms), Elizabeth Richards (Black City), Jessica Spotswood (Born Wicked), and finally Beth Revis with Shades of Earth, which both Kim and Sam reviewed here.  The authors read passages from their works, took questions from the moderator and audience, and singed copies at the conclusion of the event.

I’ll be honest, as all of these books were classified as young adult books, I was fairly certain that I would be the oldest person there besides the authors.  I did perhaps hold out hope that I could pass as one of their fathers or family members to better hide amongst the crowd.  However, this was not necessary as not only was I not the oldest there, but there was one other guy there as well!  He too had a significant other with him, so I’m not sure if he was a voluntary attendee, but he did ask a question and seemed to be enjoying himself.  All joking aside, I had a lot of fun learning from all the authors and seeing how their creative processes differed from each other.  It was enlightening to hear about works that inspired them to become writers themselves, and learn more about what they intend on writing in the future.  I even got my very own copy of Falling Kingdoms signed!  I shall read it with pride.

So, to conclude, I’m definitely glad that Kim found out about this book signing.  It’s great to know the “behind the scenes” of a particular work, and it was great to meet all of the authors that came out for the tour.  Look out for my review of Falling Kingdoms in the future!  Have you been to a book signing before?  What was it like?  Let me know in the comments below!

Living With a Book Addict: Reading As Relaxation

travel-business-hammock-beachIn the latest installment of Living With a Book Addict, I’ve decided to explore the pastime that is reading.  What do you mean by this vague phrase, you ask?  Well, instead of looking at the various books or authors or genres that one reads, I’m focusing in particular on the act of reading itself and what it means for myself and those around me.  As a scientist, I’ve decided to take a methodical approach and evaluate how reading has changed my day-to-day life and examine its positive and negative effects on my life as a whole. In order to fully examine this, however, we first need a bit of background.

Before I lived with Kim, I’d have to say that reading had a minimal impact on my day-to-day life.  Sure, I had to read some materials for school, mostly scientific papers and the odd book for fun, but this was definitely superficial and didn’t really take up much of my time.  My idea of relaxing after a day of classes or work was to veg out in front of the tv or spending time in front of the computer chatting with friends via the venerable AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) which no longer seems to exist in my life and has since been since replaced with G Chat (which is awesome, btw).  Anyway, once I moved in with Kim, got married, and she started the blog in earnest, I began to read for pleasure much more often.  Some of the time I read for the blog, and other times I’ve just read for fun (i.e. my review of Timeline which you can read here).  I’d say that the increase in reading for pleasure has to be at least 50%, if not 75% as my previous levels were not that high.  I’ve begun reading after work as a means to relax and let go of the stress of the day.  Instead of plopping down in front of the TV or computer for the majority of the time, I’ve now sat down with a book for an increasing amount of time. So how have these results changed my life?  Well, to begin with, I think that reading seems to have a greater calming effect on me than simply wasting my time watching TV or aimlessly plodding around online.  Don’t get me wrong, I still do the latter two things often, but I’ve come to find that if I get lost in a book I instantly forget the stresses of the day and am able to relax much more easily.  Perhaps it’s the fact that I can let my mind wander and make up the scenery as the book moves along, but for some reason, it’s easier to relax with a book than with my laptop.

So, there you have it.  I’ve come to realize that relaxing with a good book has become an important part of my life.  What do you do to relax?  How does reading fit into your schedule?  Let us know in the comments below!

Living With A Book Addict – Giving Bookish Thanks

My mother-in-law’s Thanksgiving turkey!

Thanksgiving season is upon us, and I figured instead of writing about the usual things we give thanks for (family, friends, health, etc), I’d focus on those things I’m thankful for that pertain to all things bookish.  Writing for Reflections has opened a whole new world to me, one which is filled with new book genres, audio books, author interviews, and much much more.  I figured that a quick summary of the great opportunities afforded me in living with a book addict would serve well to keep things in perspective and thank those of you who have helped us succeed!  So, without further ado, here is a list of my thanks (in no particular order):

1.  Books.  Before writing for this blog, I had no idea that publishing companies gave out perfectly good copies of new books (that may or may not yet be published) in exchange for an honest review.  Also, it doesn’t even have to be a good review!  Just an honest representation of what you thought of the book.  Pretty cool, eh?

2.  New Bookish Friends.  Ever since Kim began her blog, she also simultaneously increased her activity on Twitter and Goodreads, in part to promote the blog and in part to find out more about how other blogs were successful.  One great side effect to this was gaining a bunch of new Twitter friends who share a common interest in books and literature in general.  We’ve even been lucky enough to meet some of these folks in person (one of whom currently writes for this blog: Hi Christine!)

3.  New book genres.  Although I wouldn’t call myself a voracious reader, I’ve definitely increased the amount of books that I’ve read and the variety of book genres that I try now that I write for the blog.  Sure, I still enjoy old favorites, like sci-fi and adventure novels, but I’ve also had the great opportunity to try new genres, such as memoirs, historical fiction, and JAFF novels.  I’m certainly glad I did, as not only has this made me discover new authors, but it’s introduced me to entirely new areas of literature that I never knew existed.  It’s like finding out you have an unlimited source of great work to choose from that is always expanding, as long as you look hard enough.

So, there you have it.  Although it’s a short list, I’d have to place an emphasis on bookish friends!  There are so many great people who I’ve met through the blog that share a love for books and films.  Twitter is an especially valuable tool in this regard, and I’ve met many of these friends though it.  Although we can’t hang out in person, it’s always cool to share new ideas and stories in 140 characters or less (shout out to the #hitchfest crew!)  I can only hope that all these things I’ve given thanks for continue to make this experience a positive one in the future!