Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Books

Interview with a bookworm

If you’ve spent any time on the blog, even if you’re a new reader (as in, this is your first visit), you know I love books. Like, a lot. Among the people I know in real life, how much I love books and reading kind of makes me weird and different and maybe moderately freakish. I’m okay with that, though, because if being a voracious reader is the worst thing people have to say about me, I can live with it. 

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Because of how much I enjoy reading, I get asked lots and lots of questions. So I decided that I’d answer some of them. In an interview. With myself. Enjoy.

So, Jana, you like to read. Can you explain why?

You realize this a ridiculous question, right? How can you not enjoy reading? It’s basically the best thing ever. It’s free entertainment, and there’s so many books, you’ll never run out of choices. You’re never bored with a book by your side. Not only that, reading increases your vocabulary and expands your imagination and makes you a better thinker and also, if you’re socially awkward like me, having a book means you have a reason to avoid eye contact and people in general. reading quote 2

Okay, that all makes sense. But how do you find books to read?

All over the place. I’ll browse best seller lists, list posts from Book Riot and Buzzfeed Books, I check out Amazon recommendations, and I use Goodreads to see what my friends are reading. Social media like Twitter and Facebook are great places to learn about books. I talk to my mom and sister, who read completely different genres than I do.  I also host a monthly books linkup where I get dozens of good recommendations. Having friends who are readers is amazing. And of course I have my standby authors who I can rely on for a new book every year or two.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

It’s hard to say that I have a favorite more than standby ones, as I mentioned. For instance, Jodi Picoult. She had a slump but seems to be coming back to quality books with her last two. I’m a big Nelson Demille fan, although he hasn’t published anything new in awhile. I am also a major fan of John Green which might also have something to do with his Mental Floss videos and YouTube channel as much as it does his books. And some new ones that I’ve been binging on or plan on binging on are Jojo Moyes and Lisa Genova, and then there are a bunch of first time authors who I fell in love with and I will read their new books once they’re published. This is a hard question. 

Sorry about that. Let’s make it easier for you. What’s your favorite book?

Really, you think that’s easier? It’s definitely not. I’ve talked about my favorite celebrity memoirs, 10 books that changed my life, and awhile ago, I wrote my (for now) ideal bookshelf so those are probably good starting points but to pick just one is virtually impossible. However, since you’re asking and if you don’t want to read my other lists (which I totally understand), I’ll say that some of my favorites are Garth Stein’s The Art of Racing in the Rain, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, and Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much is True. Recent favorites are You by Caroline Kepnes, All the Bright Places by Jennifer Nevin, and Stephen Elliott’s The Adderall Diaries.reading quote 5

That’s a pretty eclectic mix. Do you typically read a variety or do you stick to one genre?

While I’m drawn to memoirs and emotional, character driven novels, I do love a good chick lit book or mystery or anything that just seems interesting. I try to keep an open mind when it comes to picking books. In fact, I recently read a sci-fi book (The Martian) at the insistence of a friend and, despite my general loathing of that genre, I liked the book. I’ve read a few westerns and enjoyed them, too (if you want a recommendation, check out Patrick DeWitt’s The Sisters Brothers). If you close yourself off to a particular genre, you don’t know what you might miss. 

Do you watch movie adaptation of books? If you do, what do you think of them? 

That’s a loaded question. For the most part, movie adaptations of books are, in my opinion, horrible. They change the plots, leave out important details, and the characters almost never look or sound like what I picture in my head and it ruins it for me. In fact, there are a number of books I’ve loved that have been adapted into movies and I refuse to watch them. That said, recently, there have been a slew of books made into movies and the adaptations have been fantastic. I don’t know if it has to do with the novel writer being more involved with the movie or better casting or directing or something else. I still consider those exceptions to the rule, though. reading quote 3

Does that include 50 Shades of Gray?

Don’t talk to me about that blight on the face of books. Sorry about that. Okay, let’s get into the quick answer round. 

Go for it.

Does it offend you when people call you a bookworm?

Absolutely not. That’s like me getting offended at someone telling me I have brown eyes. It’s part of who I am.reading quote 4

What do you say to people who state that they don’t have time to read?

I don’t normally say anything. I just smile and silently judge them. I’m sure they do have time. They just choose to use it for other things. Which is fine if that’s their choice. It’s just not a choice I make. 

How do you find time to read?

I make time. It’s important to me and it’s something I’ve been doing literally as long as I can remember. Reading is big priority to me, like exercising is to other people so I make sure to fit it in to my day, even if it’s only a few pages. 

Do you enjoy the company of books more than the company of people? 

Most days.

Have you ever lost sleep from reading?

Of course. 

Has a book ever made you cry?

Yes. In fact, I’ve cried at the end of more books than I have movies. 

Paper books, eBooks, or audiobooks?

While I’m partial to real paper books, I’ve been known to read eBooks, too. I haven’t yet gotten into audiobooks.

Buy books or use the library?

Either. I prefer the library but I do buy books on occasion, particularly when I want to read a book my library doesn’t have.reading quote 6

Do you keep old books?

How can you not?

Any parting words? 

Hmm. I guess I’d say this–never, ever feel ashamed of what you read. Don’t worry about being a perfect reader because there’s no such thing. Just read whatever makes you happy without stressing if someone is judging you for it. Screw them if they do. Because reading–all reading–is magic.

 

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.

Thanks for having me!

Now it’s your turn. Do you guys have any questions for me about my reading habits?

 

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Show Us Your Books!: March edition

You know those months when you read a ton of books and it’s hard to pick which is the best one because with the exception of maybe one or two they’re all so damn good and then you don’t really want to keep reading since you’re confident the hot streak has to end but you don’t want it to? That’s me after reading 8 books last month, loving 6 of them, and not thoroughly despising the other two. It was a good month, reading wise (in case you’re new to the linkup, my reading month is not a calendar month; it’s from the day after the linkup until the weekend before, when I write the post). 

So what did I read? Let’s find out.

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Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy, and Stupid by Denis Leary This book was exactly what you’d expect from a book by Denis Leary. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, particularly his stand-up and when I read the book, much of it sounded like the rants in his routine. Hilarious, offensive, rude, and also true. However, peppered in between the rants are stories about his childhood, his family, his career and to me, what’s abundantly clear is how much he loves his wife and children, the respect he has for his parents, and how proud he is of all he’s accomplished (which he manages to do without humblebragging). If you like him, read the book. If he bothers you, don’t. 

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Nevin Have you ever read a book that just destroyed you, emotionally? That how I felt about this one. It’s a YA book but it truly didn’t matter. I mean, some of it annoyed me, particularly how whiny Violet could be and her parents were atrocious characters but Finch’s part of the story? Holy shit. I cannot commend Jennifer Niven enough for dealing with mental illness and when Finch starts to go down the hole, you feel yourself going with him. The book has you forgetting you’re reading a YA book. And the end, well, that had me ugly crying more than The Fault in Our Stars. 

Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter I really wanted to like this book more than I did. The premise had so much potential. So much. And the last third made for compelling reading but you had to muddle through the tedious, boring, first two-thirds to get to it. What got on my nerves more than anything wasn’t so much the story line but the fact that the author, who’s clearly an adult, was trying way too hard to make the teenagers in the book sound like teenagers and wow, did they have poor grammar. It became painful to read after a few pages.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng Jumping back and forth in time from the 1950s to the 1970s, it deals with a mixed race family dealing with the death of their favorite child. I don’t even know how to sum it up properly or express what I think about it except this book gave me all the feelings and I completely understand why this book made it onto every “best of” list for 2014. While I couldn’t relate to some of the experiences of the family, as a parent, and the parent of a girl, I could relate to the mother in the story more than I thought I would and their grief was palpable, which also struck a chord for me.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler I don’t know how I feel about this one. It’s a great, creative concept about the intense and short burning high school romance but Min was way too dramatic and over the top for me. She was also obsessed with classic movies and when I say obsessed, I mean obsessed. And not real classic movies, made up movies with made up actors and titles and it got to the point with the constant talking about it I’d get angry. Also, the book is printed on photo paper (like Yes Please) and if a book is going to be that heavy, it needs to be better. 

You by Caroline Kepnes This book does down in my reading history as the single most fucked up book I have ever read. Every single character was contemptible, particularly Beck, the shallow, selfish, spoiled object of Joe’s affection (Joe is the narrator) and let me tell you, Joe is psychopath stalker with even more issues beyond that. But when you put them together, it makes for a story you cannot stop reading, even if it makes you paranoid and disturbed and compulsively checking your doors. I can totally see this being made into a movie and I’m crazy excited for the next book in the series.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green Oh, John Green. Why did you have to write a book involving math? Despite that, this book the epitome of John Green YA. A boy gets dumped, he goes on a road trip, and meets/falls in love with a girl…blah, blah, blah. The math bugged me, it had an abundance of footnotes that made Jen Lancaster’s footnotes seem not so annoying, and the overuse of the word “fug” (instead of “fuck”) plucked every single one of my nerves. Had this book been longer, and had Colin been less likable, I probably would have put it down. And I love John Green so that says a lot.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins I recently learned the term “cozy mystery” to describe a book (it’s when someone who’s not law enforcement gets involved in the investigation of a murder or something along those lines) and when I think of that term, I think of a campy, simple book. This one might fall into that category but it is anything but light and campy. Murder, infidelity, domestic violence, alcoholism, infertility, jealous, and obsession feature prominently in the plot. Like the characters in You, it’s hard to like anyone in this book, although you will find yourself pitying Rachel at times, but when you put them all together, it makes a story you need to read.

If you’re going to add any to your list, make it The Girl on the Train, You, Everything I Never Told You, and All the Bright Places. I’m okay telling you to skip the rest, even if I enjoyed them. 

On tap for March: The Martian, The Economy of You, 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works, and The Son. That’s just what I have checked out. Not sure what else the library will send my way.

Now it’s your turn! Link up with me and Steph and let us know what you read. Nonblogger, leave a comment with your favorite (or least favorite) reads from last month:

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Show Us Your Books: February edition

Today my not so secret inner book nerd is rejoicing because it’s time for my and Steph’s monthly book chat!!! 

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I started off the month plowing through some books. I think I read 5 in 10 days or something ridiculous like that. Then I slowed down to a regular pace and read a more normal 1 book every 5 days or so. 

What I read ran the gamut, too. It was insanely eclectic, even for me. But rather than me rambling on about how much I read, let’s recap the books instead:

The Journalist and The Murderer by Janet Malcolm. Recommended for those of us who are huge Serial fans, it explored the relationship between a journalist and his subject, using the example of subject who sued the journalist who wrote about him for libel or something like that. I don’t know because I hated the book and I didn’t finish it. I barely remember what I did read. I do remember despising the author of the book, and the tone she set, right off the bat and that probably swayed my ability to finish it. It makes me sad because, being a huge criminal justice nerd, I should love a book like this. But I really just wanted to throw it out a window.

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes. A sweet book about a classic movie, written by someone who is both proud and humbled to have been a part of it (and he conveys that perfectly in the book without seeming too arrogant. He totally could have crossed that line, too). I love this movie, and have loved this movie, for so long and getting the behind the scenes sneak peek made me love it even more. If you read it for nothing else, read it for the Andre the Giant stories, how Cary Elwes and Mandy Patankin learned to fence, and the sidebar additions from the rest of the cast. 

The Adderall Diaries by Stephen Elliott. When I heard about this book, I knew it was right up my fucked up alley. Half memoir, half investigative (sort of) journalism about a murder, I was mesmerized more by the author’s horrible childhood and life in the S&M world than I was by the murder he investigated and reported. The author’s life intrigues me so much I will probably binge read more of his work, even if it’s not autobiographical. I just want to support his career. 

Paper Towns by John Green. I read this book in maybe a day and a half, if that much. It was probably more like a few hours but the story stayed with me for days afterwards that it feels like it took longer. Since it’s John Green, you know it’s YA, and the story was similar to Looking for Alaska in that it was a teenage boy obsessed with a teenage girl who goes missing. Except that the ending of this book is haunting, the whole story makes you think, and leaves you both happy and sad. I hope the movie adaptation does it justice. If the adaptation for The Fault in Our Stars is any indication, it will.

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger. So this chick was 17 when the book was published. Which means she was even younger when she wrote it. Given that fact, the shallowness of the story, the mostly superficial characters, and a weird storyline about parental alcoholism that’s only somewhat relevant get a bit of slack. It’s a cute, easy YA read that, had I been in high school when I read it, I probably would have loved it. My adult self was not upset that she read it. However, my adult self is completely displeased with the movie trailers and how they seem to have completely butchered the story. This is why books to movie adaptions have a bad rep.

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs. Holy shit, you guys. What a book. If you take out the author injecting himself into part of the story (since he was Rob’s roommate at Yale), and maybe a little bit of the exploitative factor, it was a hell of a book. Jeff Hobbs is a fantastic writer, who was helped by the fact that Rob has a terrible, amazing, and, as the title suggests, tragic story. I don’t even know how to properly summarize the book. It should be it’s own post because I have so many thoughts on it. Even if you don’t like nonfiction, please read this one. 

Beyond the Pale Motel by Francesca Lia Block. Another blogger mentioned this one in a Show Us Your Books linkup and I apologize to that person because I can’t remember who it was. And I also apologize because good grief, did I dislike this book. I hated every character, including and especially the main one, it was terribly written, and what made me really dislike it is that the story had so much potential and I felt like she rushed through parts of it just to get to the end which she clearly thought was the big payoff, considering she named the damn book after the ending (trust me, that gives away nothing). It was not a big payoff. It was just ridiculous.

I’m currently finishing Denis Leary’s Why We Suck, Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You, and I have All the Bright Places, You, Ugly Girls, Why We Broke Up, and The Economy of You on tap for next month. We’ll also see what else the library chooses to deliver. 

So, tell me, what did you read? Link up below. Nonbloggers, let me know in the comments.

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Show Us Your Books: January edition

It’s my favorite day of the month because it’s the day we all talk about books! Yay for books!

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Let’s get right to it.

For this month’s review, I’ve got 6 books for you. I’m in the middle of both As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of the Princess Bride and The Journalist and the Murderer but I didn’t finish either of them in time for today’s post (because naps and football and weekend laziness and I watched Apocalypse Now on Saturday so there went my whole life because holy fuck is that a long movie) so we’ll talk about them next month.

Here’s what we’ll be reviewing today

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Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Jana Says: Like basically everyone everywhere, I love Amy Poehler. She’s pretty much the best. Same with her book. It was filled with all kinds of personal stories and sound advice and it’s broken it up into sections that sort of made sense together and famous people names but what I loved most about the book was a) she refused to bad mouth her ex-husband and b) the love and passion she clearly has for her family, friends, and career. She comes across just as you’d think she would–confident and humble and hilarious. It’s a great read with one huge downfall. The book weighs about 2390478 pounds. It’s printed on photo paper and it’s freaking heavy. Be careful when picking up this book.

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability at Work and in Life by John G. Miller. Jana says: I read this at the recommendation of my friend Nick who I respect a lot. However. I did not enjoy this book at all. I mean, it’s well written and ridiculously short and has so much potential but rather than full of practical advice, I found it filled with short anecdotes, motivational quotes, and platitudes. Kind of like what you would get at a one day seminar your day job sends you to. There was no depth to the book, even in the chapters that seemed the most promising. I’m upset because the author seems like a genuinely nice guy who wants to help people but for me, the book fell completely flat.

After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Jana says: I finished this book in a day. Correction. A few hours. I love the premise behind the book–a married couple fall out of love with each other and seek to figure out their marriage not by divorce or by affair but by separating and cutting off communication with each other entirely. Or do they? Marriage is freaking hard work and I enjoyed how the book tackled that head on. It’s not always popular to dispel the fantasy of fairy tale marriages or ones that end in disaster and while the ending wasn’t my favorite, the rest of the story made up for it.

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson. Jana says: I don’t even know how to review this book. If we’re friends on Goodreads, you’ll notice I gave it no stars. That’s not because I hated the book. Not since The Story of Edgar Sawtelle have I both loved and hated a book so much at the same time. I mean, it is an incredibly detailed, intricate, interesting story of a social worker in 1980s Wyoming who is simultaneously trying to find his runaway daughter, deal with a mess of teenage client, and save a survivalist and his son. Completely engrossing. But sometimes, it got to be too heavy, too tedious, too long winded to read. And honestly, I don’t get the 1980s setting. It could have easily taken place in any decade. And as a former social worker type, I truly don’t understand how Pete wasn’t fired for some of the shit he did. 

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. Jana says: Oh, Jodi Picoult, how I want to quit you. And I almost did a few books ago. But then you churned out The Storyteller and now you gave me Leaving Time and I can’t let you go. What a great story you wove with this one. The ending was the first time one of your books actually caught me by surprise with your formulaic and expected twist and using a teenager, a real, complex teenager, as the narrator means that the next book you write will be on my to-read list. The only part of this book that got a bit tedious for me was the almost preachy tone about the elephants. I get raising awareness but it was too much at times. 

The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. Jana says: I had high, high hopes for this book after reading Me Before You a few months ago, which was probably unfair to the book and the author. And I did enjoy the first part of the book with Sophie and the painting and France and World War I (as a reader, I liked that she chose to set the beginning of the book during WWI. WWII is getting to be an overused setting and it’s almost too easy) and Liv’s sadness and loneliness in the present day are heartbreaking. The back and forth between present and past made for engaging reading but like After I Do, the ending was too easy, simple, and clean. I would have preferred a messier ending to a story like this. 

Now it’s your turn. What did you read this month? Link up below or, if you’re not a blogger, tell me in the comments: 

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Monthly book chat: December edition

 It’s my favorite time of the month. The day we all talk about what books we read! 

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After last month’s book reading blitz, I slowed down for November, only finishing 4 (well, 5 but I’m not reviewing one of them). It averages to one book a week and I’m quite pleased with that. 

Last month, I also told you that I’d review Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think because I wanted to work through some of the exercises she recommended. While I fully intended to do those, I maybe sort of definitely didn’t do them, although if I want to prioritize how I spend my time next year, I will (specifically the list of 100 dreams and a time study). But I wanted to share my thoughts on the book.

So, Jana Says: The book is loaded with fantastic ideas and concepts for thinking about how to manage and use your time. After reading this, there’s really no excuse for complaining that you can’t get everything done. It’s all about how you choose to manage your time and being realistic with your goals, plans, and how you’re really spending your days, and it’s essential to figure where you’re spending your time. Does it match with your core competencies? Are you as busy as you think? Questions to think about and answer. However. Many of the ideas and concepts are presented with a very middle to upper class privileged bias, and sometimes it’s hard to see past her entitled attitude. Also, she believes exercise is crucial and as non-negotiable as sleep and eating. She has a point but I felt like she harped on it too much and almost went out of her way to make those who don’t have a regular exercise regimen feel like shit. Recommendation level: High. Even if you don’t read the book, check out her website or Facebook page for related information and downloads for the time study.

Moving on to the books I read this month.

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Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. Jana Says: My Rainbow Rowell binge read is finished for the year as this was the last book of hers I needed to read (she’s written 4). This lands as my second favorite, after Eleanor and Park. It turned out to be a very cute, very creative love story that kept me reading long after I should have put the book down and I adored that it took place in the late 90s around the time of the Y2K obsession. I found myself liking all of the characters in the book, which almost never happens, and I want Lincoln to be a real person. Actually, thinking about it, he sort of reminded me of Jim Halpert. John Krasinski would be the perfect person to play him if this book ever becomes a movie.

The Fates Will Find Their Way by Hannah Pittard. Jana Says: After reading her book Reunion, I had high hopes for this book. I should have lowered my standards. Told from the first person plural perspective of a group of boys obsessed with a girl gone missing and her younger sister (which continued into adolescence), I found the book boring and tedious at times and some of her depictions about teenage (and later, adult) boys were stereotypical and cliche and annoying to read. At other times, though, it was weird and engrossing and made me glad I picked it up. I’m glad I read Reunion first because if this was the first book of hers I read, I wouldn’t read any more.

Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little. Jana Says: This was a fun little book. If you’re looking for an intriguing mystery along the same lines of Gone Girl, this is not it (despite what people say). The writing is more immature than Gillian Flynn’s, and the plot gets convoluted, and you don’t feel the same emotions but it’s still a good read for a Sunday afternoon while your husband is watching football and you need something else to do. I liked the almost real-time element of TMZ updates and blog posts and “breaking news” and the submystery of “where did Janie go”. I hated the ending, though. Not in the Gone Girl “I hate this” but I genuinely hated it. I definitely rate it lower because of it.

The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley Jana Says: I genuinely don’t know how to review this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, even if the pro-life agenda hidden in the story line bugged me from time to time (it was kind of preachy) but within the context of the story, it makes total sense so I’m willing to let it slide. The backstory between the two main characters was incredibly touching but I found myself getting annoyed with almost all of the characters at one point. The author did a wonderful job of handling the subject of infant loss, giving it the respect it deserves, and the controversial nature of the plot reminded me of Me Before You and some of Jodi Picoult’s books that deal with morally ambiguous (I can’t think of the actual word I want to use), and that makes for interesting reading.

On the December/January list: Yes Please, Leaving Time, Fourth of July Creek, and Why We Broke Up, among others. 

Now it’s your turn. Link up below and share what you’ve read:

 


 

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