My Day At the National Book Festival

Yesterday, the Library of Congress held the National Book Festival in-person once again. And I was so excited that I was back just in time to attend.

my original itinerary

Held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the Festival was jammed packed full of panels, authors, and books. In fact, I had such a hard time choosing which sessions to attend and which authors to sign books. I mean, check out this incredible schedule. How do you decide?

I attended in 2018 and went with no planning. That was a mistake. I ended up just randomly wandering around, got overwhelmed by the number of people (in fairness, attendance at the 2018 Festival was at capacity), and ended up leaving only buying a couple of books but without really seeing a panel.

So this year, I was determined to have a plan. And my first attempt to schedule all the sessions and book signings I wanted to do meant I would need to be 4 people.

Seriously.

My first few schedule attempts would’ve required Hermoine’s time-turner. But not having a time-turner, I did have at least some kind of plan.

I eventually eliminated those sessions on the main stage because I figured those would have huge lines to get in and I’d be unlikely to get in (as was my experience in 2018). And so I decided to stick mostly with the Science Fiction and Fantasy (SFF) Stage because those are my favorite genres.

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Countdown 2: Top 5 Fantasy Subgenre Reads

Two weeks to go! The countdown to Wyrd & Wonder* 2022 continues. Wyrd & Wonder starts May 1, and I’m getting ready by posting some of my favorite Top 5s. This week, I’m sharing my Top 5 Fantasy Sub-Genre Reads

*Not sure what Wyrd & Wonder is? Check out this post first.

Fantasy is itself a subgenre that falls under the broad category of Speculative Fiction. Speculative Fiction is a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements and encompasses literature ranging from hard science fiction to epic fantasy to ghost stories to horror to folk and fairy tales to slipstream to magical realism to modern myth-making and more.

So maybe in that sense, Spec Fiction is a super-genre and Fantasy is a genre with a ridiculous number of subgenres. There really is no one definition of Spec Fic just as there’s no one singular list of Fantasy sub-genres. Some put science fiction under fantasy, some have science fiction as adjacent to fantasy.

Regardless, Fantasy has a lot of bandwidth to cover a wide swath of literature. And I’ve picked out my Top 5 Reads from various subgenres. You may agree or disagree on the category and that’s okay. Because in the end, who cares as long as we’re reading.

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Countdown 3: Top 5 Forest Fantasy Reads

Three weeks and the countdown to Wyrd & Wonder* 2022 continues! Wyrd & Wonder starts May 1, and I’m getting ready by posting some of my favorite Top 5s fantasy reads. This week, I’m sharing my Top 5 Forest Fantasy Reads.

*Not sure what Wyrd & Wonder is? Check out this post first.

The traditional fifth anniversary gift is wood, and so Wyrd and Wonder is all about forest fantasy this year. (Hence the tree wolf.) This list celebrates all things forest-y, which covers a lot of ground from woodland settings to forest creatures, from a focus on trees to important wooden artifacts. But I’ve chosen to stay away from the most obvious answers, LOTR (Old Man Willow, Treebeard and the Ents, Trollshaws, and Mirkwood just to name a few as trees and forests play multiple roles in Middle Earth) and HP (Whomping Willow and the Forbidden Forest). And so here are 5 of my fave forest fantasy reads.

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Pairing Puzzles With Books

As I completed my latest puzzle today, the mushroom images made me think of a book about fungi on my TBR bookcase. When I went to put the puzzle in one of puzzle cases (basically a bookcase that I’ve converted for puzzles), I looked at some of my other puzzles and started thinking about which puzzles could go with which books. I’ve seen Instagrammers pair puzzles and beverages and bookstagramers have paired books with all sorts of things from dresses to food to other books. So I thought hey, why not pair puzzles with books. (Seriously, this was pretty much my exact thought process.) And voilá! I came up with a whole list of puzzle and book pairings.

It makes me so happy when two hobbies collide in such a delightful way. Booknerds & Puzzlers unite!

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Wyrd & Wonder Countdown: Top 5 Fantasy Reads Since Last May

A couple of years ago I stumbled across something called Wyrd & Wonder. Wyrd & Wonder is an annual geek-out of people who love all things fantasy hosted by Lisa, Jorie, and imyril. The month of May is dedicated to celebrating fantasy books, movies TV shows, games, and more, and the fun includes read-alongs, interviews, memes, gaming, and more.

I joined the fun in 2020 and wrote one of my all-time favorite posts on A Few of My Favorite (Fantasy) Things.

This year, Wyrd & Wonder turns 5. And there just happens to be 5 weeks before May 1. To celebrate this 5th Wyrdiverisary, I’m doing 5 countdown posts to Wyrd & Wonder. I’m starting off the countdown with my Top 5 Fantasy Read since last May.

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The Agony and the Ecstasy of Reading

Have you ever put off reading a book because you really want to love it but worry that it won’t live up to your expectations?

I have.

I’ve held off reading various books for this exact reason. And sometimes when I finally read it, the book meets, even exceeds my expectations. But other times, the book just doesn’t live up to the hype.

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YA Books: To Read Or Not To Read?

Several of my recent reads have been categorized as Young Adult (YA). YA is not a genre, but a general categorization of books that encompasses all genres from horror and thriller to fantasy and romance. What makes a book a YA book is normally that the protagonist is between teen, as young as 14 or 15, to early 20s. Those young adult years.

The genesis of YA books started in the 1940s and 50s with the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. But YA as a classification really started to gain traction in the late 1960s with the publication of The Outsiders, which not only features teenager protagonists but was written by a teen. S.E. Hinton started writing the book at age 15 and the book was published in 1967 when the author was 18.

YA books started flourishing in the 1970s and throughout the 80s and 90s. Authors started experimenting with genres and styles. YA series like Sweet Valley High and the Babysitters Club, and later Goosebumps, became staples of the YA category.

And yet despite the fact that I was avid reader of the Babysitters Club back in the day, I have since grown to loathe the classification of YA.

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