2017 Reading Update 3

My third quarter reading update is coming almost directly after reading update number 2 because the second one was so late, but I'm glad to say I'm back on track with this update.

I can't believe that three quarters of the year have gone by, and I'm already starting to think about 2018 reading. 

 Some of my to-read books, not entirely related to the content of this post.

Some of my to-read books, not entirely related to the content of this post.

First, because I am a huge nerd, some stats (as of October 1, 2017):

Total number of books read: 107

  • Adult Novels: 28
  • Young Adult Novels: 7
  • Children's Novels: 2
  • Short Story Collections: 8.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Nonfiction Books: 8.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Graphic Novels: 12
  • Graphic Trades: 23
  • Poetry Collections: 11
  • Audio Books: 5

Number of books read in Q3 (July, August, September): 27 

  • Adult Novels: 10
  • Young Adult Novels: 1
  • Short Story Collections: 1
  • Nonfiction Books: 5
  • Graphic Novels: 2
  • Graphic Trades: 2
  • Poetry Collections: 1
  • Audio Books: 5

Where I got books from this quarter:

  • From the library: 70%
  • Gifts (including gift cards): 11%
  • Bought myself: 15%
  • Borrowed From Friends and Family: 4%

Total number of books I acquired in the first three quarters of 2017: 58

  • Percentage of those books that I have read so far: 52% (not great, but not awful!)

I knew my reading this quarter would slow down a lot. I was moving and traveling and generally didn't have a lot of time for reading. Because I was away from my beloved library (and from my bookshelves) I did a lot of my reading digitally. The Overdrive app became my best friend and I downloaded a bunch of books onto my iPad, and even listened to some audio books on my cross country drive. Although I still prefer to read physical books, I love having the ability to check them out electronically and am a little bit addicted to the instant gratification of it all. I read fewer graphic novels and poetry collections though, because I pretty much only want to read those in print. 

My reading picked up in a big way in September, once I was settled and reunited with the library, when I finished more books than in July and August combined. I also stepped up my book acquiring this quarter, bringing in way more books in this quarter than I have in any other. To be fair, as I mentioned, I did quite a bit of traveling during that time, which meant lots of visits to faraway bookstores, and my birthday happened in this quarter. I'm doing pretty well on reading the books that I bring in, but I'm hoping to have a higher percentage of them finished by the end of 2017.

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Notable books I read this quarter (in the order that I read them):

Nothing Lasts Forever by Sina Grace

This is a graphic memoir, full of short vignettes and sketches from Grace's life. Nothing Lasts Forever touches on sexuality, dealing with depression, being an artist, and anxiety about a surgery he underwent. I adore the sketchy, unfinished style of Grace's artwork and found the writing touching and heartwarming. I am a new fan of his work. 

The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz

The Queue is a work of dystopian fiction set in modern day Egypt. Following a failed popular uprising, a central authority called the Gate has risen to power, requiring citizens to get permission to do just about anything. Except, the Gate never opens, so the queue of people waiting in front of it grows longer and longer and develops its own society and cultural norms. The book follows the story of Yehia who was shot during the popular uprising and needs permission from the gate to remove the bullet still lodged in his body. Yet the Gate denies that there was ever any gunfire and still does not open. The story that unfolds terrifying, but also not unimaginable and I found it to be such a powerful, thought provoking read. 

Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu 

I absolutely loved this novel. It follows the story of Lucky who is a lesbian and a daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants who, after a disastrous attempt at coming out to her family, decided to marry her gay best friend in order to be accepted by her family and community. At the same time that Lucky moves back home to help out her ailing grandmother, her first love and high school best friend returns to Lucky's life and announces that she is engaged to a man. Lucky grapples with all of this in such a real way. The book never feels completely despondent, but also isn't overly saccharine or sentimental. I loved being in Lucky's head.

The Prey of Gods by Nicky Drayden

This is another one of my favorite books of this year. The Prey of Gods is a wild sci-fi/fantasy tale set in a 2050s South Africa. There are gods and robots and viruses and all kinds of great, weird stuff. The number one word I heard used to describe this book is "weird," which is accurate, but that doesn't mean that the writing is difficult to get into or hard to follow. On the contrary, I found myself zipping through this book. It is written in several different points of view, and I found myself interested and emotionally invested in all of them (which doesn't always happen with multiple POVs). I just wanted to know what was going to happen next, and the threads of the story are all woven together so well. If you like sci-fi or fantasy at all then be sure to try this one.

Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman, by Lindy West

This is kind of cheating, because this is a reread. I have mentioned this book multiple times before, including as a favorite book of 2016, but I listened to the audio version of Shrill in September, so I will take the opportunity to mention it again. Shrill is West's memoir featuring tons of feminism. There is so much to think and laugh about in here and West both comforts me and makes me want to be a better person when I read her work. The audio version is fantastic and is narrated by West herself (though you will want a print version as well, so you can highlight so many things.) 

In The Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero

This is another memoir, written by Guerrero, also known as Maritza of Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin. When Guerrero was just 14, her parents were deported and she was left on her own in the U.S. This book details Guerrero's experience as an American child of undocumented immigrants, both before and after her parents' deportation, and her journey to success in acting. The book is heartbreaking, as you can imagine, but Guerrero's honesty and her voice really shine through. 

I can't believe there is only one quarter left this year! Right now, I'm really excited for seasonal reading. I don't usually really think about the seasons or the weather when I'm reading, but for some reason I have been curating a list of books that seem like they'll give me some autumn, cozy vibes and I can't wait to get through them. I'm also planning on participating in Nonfiction November, when I hope to read way more (if not exclusively) nonfiction. So, those are my reading plans for most of the rest of the year. I'm also hoping to read more of the books I've purchased this year (my big goal would be to get that number up to 75%, but I'm not sure if that's realistic at this point). 

And then I'm starting to think about reading goals and challenges for 2018! I have no idea what I want to do with any of that, so do let me know if you're planning on participating in any reading challenges or have any exciting year-long reading goals. 

If you want an up-to-date account of what I've been reading, check out my Instagram stories, where I talk about/review the books I have finished on a weekly-ish basis. Otherwise, stay tuned next quarter for my 2017 reading wrap up!

2017 Reading Update 2

Hello! I'm dreadfully behind on my quarterly reading updates, since we are almost done with the third quarter of the year, but I'm going to post this second quarter update anyway.

 If you didn't know, I'm obsessed with reading, so I thought it would be fun to do a little update each quarter with some stats, the most notable books I've read that month, and some general thoughts about my reading life. So here we go.

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First, because I am a huge nerd, some stats (as of July 1, 2017):

Total number of books read: 80

  • Adult Novels: 18
  • Young Adult Novels: 6
  • Children's Novels: 2
  • Short Story Collections: 7.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Nonfiction Books: 3.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Graphic Novels: 10
  • Graphic Trades: 21
  • Poetry Collections: 10

Number of books read in Q2 (April, May, and June): 40 

  • Adult Novels: 9
  • Young Adult Novels: 2
  • Short Story Collections: 1.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Nonfiction Books: 2.5 (one book was part short stories, part essays, hence the .5)
  • Graphic Novels: 6
  • Graphic Trades: 8
  • Poetry Collections: 9

Where I got books from this quarter:

  • From the library: 55%
  • Gifts (including gift cards): 20%
  • Bought myself: 20%
  • Little Free Library: 5%

Total number of books I acquired in the first half of 2017: 31

  • Percentage of those books that I have read so far: 71% (pretty good!)

If you remember last quarter's update, I read exactly the same amount of books then (40). The breakdown was a little bit different this time though. I read fewer novels and more short pieces, like graphic novels and poetry collections. I did drastically increase the amount of poetry I read, thanks to my goal in April of reading a poem a day, which I kept up with. I also acquired far fewer books than I did in the first quarter and I read more of the books I acquired, because I knew I was moving and I didn't want more books to carry around with me. Because of that "read more books I own" project, I read a bit more nonfiction than I had in the previous quarter, which was another of my goals, so I'm pretty psyched about it. 

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Notable books I read this quarter (in the order that I read them):

Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself by Walt Whitman, illustrated by Allen Crawford

This is such an incredibly stunning book, maybe the most beautiful book I own. Allen Crawford painstakingly handwrote and illustrated Walt Whitman's famous poem, Song of Myself from his collection Leaves of Grass. I kicked off my month of April poetry reading by reading this while consulting a typed copy of Song of Myself (the words in the handwritten edition go in all different directions, so I wanted to be able to see the original order) and it was a wonderful experience. I didn't completely love the poem in its entirety, but there were some incredible lines that have stayed with me, and Crawford's illustration is a massive jolt of artistic inspiration. I flip through it all the time, just to have a look.

Swan by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver was by far my favorite poet that I was exposed to during my month of reading poetry. Her work is so simple, elegant, and profound. I've since read another of her books and will continue to do so, but Swan is my favorite so far. Her poetry is very accessible and I think a great place to start if you're interested in getting into poetry.

The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles

This was my favorite comic series that I started (and devoured) in this quarter. I'm a sucker for anything with gods and mythology, so this series is right up my alley.  The premise is that every 90 years twelve gods incarnate as humans and become megapowered performers and celebrities, but within two years they are all dead. The artwork and coloring in this series are great and the storyline means you will want to read all of them immediately. A new trade volume has been published since I read the first four and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton

This short book is a novelization of the life of Margaret Cavendish, 17th century duchess, author, philosopher, poet, and scientist. The prose is magical and it is an incredible look at the inner life of a creative woman at a time when it was (even more) difficult to be an accomplished creative professional woman. It is a book that I am already excited to reread.

Supermutant Magic Academy, Indoor Voice, and This One Summer all by Jillian Tamakei

I super enjoyed everything I've read by Jillian Tamakei so far. She is a fantastic illustrator and I just love looking at her work. Suepermutant Magic Academy is a collection of her weird and wonderful webcomic about the weird and wonderful students and Supermutant Magic Academy. Indoor Voice is a tiny publication of her sketchbook (something I love peeking into). This One Summer is a graphic novel written by Tamakei's cousin, Mariko Tamaki, and illustrated by Jillian. The double page spreads in that book are breathtaking.

The Mothers by Britt Bennet

I'm so glad I found this book at my Little Free Library. I had heard great things about it, but I don't think I would have picked it up if if hasn't been for the LFL. I feel like too much explanation won't do this book justice, but know that it is beautifully written. Just go for it if you are at all interested in contemporary stories.

Love and Other Ways of Dying by Michael Paterniti

This is a collection of several of Paterniti's articles from over the years and Parterniti writes nonfiction like no other. He gets so close to his subjects and often writes in a unique style that makes his work so engaging. Many of the stories are incredibly sad (lots of tragic deaths and natural disasters), but they are absolutely worth reading.

Its hard to talk about my reading goals for the future when I'm almost done with the third quarter of this year. But I can tell you a little bit about how it has been going. As I anticipated, my reading dropped off steeply during the month of July when I was moving and traveling. But now I am back on the reading wagon and have read some great books recently! I've been reading more nonfiction, which I'm super happy about. 

One thing I would like to focus on for the rest of the year is internalizing/remembering more of what I read. I'm not really sure how to go about that. I'm not sure if it has something to do with the books I'm reading or how I'm reading them, but I want them to impact me more and to remember more. Let me know if you are also a book nerd and have any tips on how to go about that!

Thanks for checking in on my reading and I'll be back with another quarterly update soon (not several months after the fact)!

Colors of Ireland

Hello! 

It has been quite a while since I've posted here. I spent pretty much the entire month of July traveling, first on another cross country road trip and then on a family trip to Ireland.

My grandfather is from a small town in the very south of Ireland and my family and I traveled there to see where he came from. We also visited Galway and Dublin while we were there. I had never been to Ireland before and, naturally, I took a ton of pictures.

I kept thinking about how gorgeous all of the colors were everywhere. Obviously there was lots of green in the landscapes, but I was a big fan of the colorful buildings, artwork, and other vignettes. On the last morning of our trip I was up early and trying not to wake up my sister, so I spent some time on my phone, importing photos into the Adobe Capture app and creating color palettes out of them.

The app is free, and picks out the dominant colors in your photos, create palettes, and add them to your Library, which you can use in other Adobe programs, like Photoshop and Illustrator. 

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I created a bunch of palettes, and I think they look great all together and on individual projects. I thought I'd share some of the photos I took, the palettes I made from them, and the work that I made using those palettes. 

I loved this little salon in my grandfather's hometown. I didn't get a great photo of it, but it makes a wonderful palette. I made this little eyes pattern out of it.

I love this wall and post office box combo.

I loved these colorful buildings in Kenmare. This is not a palette I would ever go for on my own, but I think it looks great here, and I can't wait to try something out with it.

More wonderful buildings all over the country.

Of course, there were lots of landscape photos.

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I used just part of the forest-y palette above to make this clover pattern.

The photos don't need to be travel-centric to make great palettes. I like this one of reading with a cup of tea.

One tip I have is to try out photos that you're drawn to, even if you're not sure that they will make a great palette. I love this near-rainbow that came out of this photo of my lunch.

Have you ever used the Adobe Capture app or something similar to make palettes? All the colors just make me so happy, and I hope they make you happy too. I'm so excited to keep playing with these palettes. 

Zines!

The first time I listed zine packs in my shop, they sold out before I could even write about them, but I definitely wanted to document my process a little bit here, so here's a post all about my first zine!

how can i not zine

If you're not familiar with zines, they are small magazines. Some are printed professionally, but many are made from photocopies, put together by hand and bound with staples, which is exactly what mine is. I have been fascinated by zines for many years, and I have amassed quite a collection by artists that I love, and I've wanted to make one of my own for just as long.

For my first zine, titled How Can I Not?, I wanted to start out with something personal, must like the work I used to make in art journals (and am trying to get back to). I've included lists, quotes that I keep thinking about, short phrases that reflect my thoughts, and pages of only artwork. 

how can i not zine

The process of making the zine was much harder than I thought it would be at first. With the broad theme of "personal thoughts" my idea was to just make lots of work and take things I was thinking about and turn them into pages, but it didn't really go that way. It took me quite a while to come up with ideas, create work that I liked enough to put include in the zine, and put it together in a way that flowed nicely. My zine is 20 pages long, and although the books themselves are small and don't seem extremely long, 20 pages worth of artwork is no small amount to make.

One challenge was for me to work in black and white. As I'm sure you can tell, color is very central to what I usually make, but I decided to make this one in black and white. This definitely made some things simpler, but I also found it very difficult. I struggled to add interest without relying on color, and color is often what inspires me, so it was sometimes difficult to come up with ideas. 

In the end, I'm really happy with and proud of the result. I feel like How Can I Not? really does reflect me (in a small way) and what's going in my mind around the time that I'm releasing it. I find these kind of peeks into other people's brains, so hopefully my zines are similarly interesting for people who like me or my art or just like zines.

You can buy How Can I Not? in my shop. I've included it in a pack with stickers and original mini paintings (which is a really great deal if I do say so myself). I'm closing the shop at the end of June and won't reopen until August, and I'm not sure if I'll restock these zines when I do, so get yours now if you're interested!