Why I Got Rid of Almost 100 Books

Words cannot express how happy and relieved I was when I finally bought, built and filled my new bookcase. It was literally a weight off my shoulders. No, seriously–it was heavy to lift on my own, and it’s almost a whole foot taller than I am.

After the blood, sweat and tears of setting up my bookcase, I was very proud of how I had organized my shelves by genre, size, etc. (Check out my BYOBooks bookcase tour post.) However, after a few months, I was overwhelmed whenever I looked at my bookcase.

I’ve held on to some books since middle and high school. Others from college. Many were from library sales or from The Great Borders Liquidation of 2013. But did I actually want to read some of those? And if I did, do I still feel the same way now? Where did this even come from?

Was Marie Kondo whispering in my ear?

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Shakespeare’s First Folio: Live!

This year (in fact, TOMORROW) marks the 400th year of Shakespeare’s death. And what better way to celebrate the life of the Bard and his extraordinary works than visit his First Folio that is touring around the United States?

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., decided to honor Shakespeare by touring his First Folio around all 50 states. And I was able to catch it when it was in Illinois! Now, I would say “Chicago,” but the First Folio never made it to the city. In fact, the Folger Shakespeare Library committee planning the First Folio tour liked the programs and activities planned by the Lake County Discovery Museum out of all the other bids from museums, libraries, and universities as the Illinois host.

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Audiobook Review: Black Dahlia & White Rose: Stories by Joyce Carol Oates

Black Dahlia & White Rose: Stories
Joyce Carol Oates, author
Paul Michael Garcia, Coleen Marlo, Tavia Gilbert, narrators
Dreamscape Media; 2012
Audiobook; 7 CDs / 8 hrs. 47 mins.


With an unflinching eye, Oates charts the surprising ways in which the world we think we know can unexpectedly reveal its darker contours. From the title story, which maps the friendship between two beautiful and mysteriously doomed young women in 1940s Los Angeles – Elizabeth Short, known as the ‘Black Dahlia,’ victim of a long-unsolved and particularly brutal murder, and her roommate Norma Jeane Baker, soon to become Marilyn Monroe, to the tale of the wife of a well-to-do businessman who is ravished by, and elopes with, a lover who is a hyena – Black Dahlia & White Rose explores the commingling of sexual love and violence, the tumult of family life, and resonates with Oates’ predilection for dark humor and her gift for voice.

From Goodreads.


As the name of the collection and synopsis of the collection suggest, this collection of short stories with tragic endings or frightening scenarios. And there’s no doubt that Joyce Carol Oates is the literary queen of giving her readers heightened fear and anxiety in her stories. The title story Black Dahlia and White Rose is about the true murder and investigation of Elizabeth (Betty) Short in 1947. Joyce Carol Oates writes her story from the points of view of Betty, her roommate was Norma Jeane Baker (soon-to-be Marilyn Monroe), and their photographer K. Keinhardt. Each telling their perception of Betty, her life, her ambitions and even her murder.

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#BYOBooks2016 Week 7, 8 & 9 Link-Up (Feb 9-Feb 29)

Looks like I lost track of time! That extra day in February really threw me off!


How is your #BYOBooks2016 challenge coming along? I’m struggling with committing to the books I have and am finding excuses to go to the library. Either way, I’m reading and that’s a good thing, right? But I’m slowly making progress and that’s what matters.

I’ve read four books this month, finishing the fourth last night, and I have reviews drafted and ready to post soon. What have you read the last three weeks for your #BYOBooks2016 challenge? Share your reviews in the link-up below!

Top TBR Valentine’s Day Reads – Top Ten Tuesday

Greetings and salutations. It’s another week of Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the ladies at The Broke and The Bookish. This week’s topic is a Valentine’s Day freebie, so I went with Top Valentine’s Day Reads on my TBR…

I’ll also share a few of my favorite Valentine’s Day reads, although I’m not sure if they’re all going to leave you feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside… They’ll definitely elicit some emotion.


Top TBR Valentine’s Day Reads:

  1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.
  2. Us by David Nicholls.
  3. The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan.
  4. Attachments by Rainbow RowellA double appearance on my TBR list?!
  5. The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes.
  6. Me Before You by Jojo MoyesAnother double appearance?!

Top Valentine’s Day Recommendations:

  1. One Day by David Nicholls. Emma and Dexter meet on the night after their graduation and after spending one night with each other, they spend a lifetime thinking about each other. The book revisits Emma and Dexter every day on St. Swithin’s Day, July 15. Dexter, an irresponsible party-animal, and Emma, a lost literary type, are on two different life paths but they keep running into each other. And in the end, I cried for various reasons.
  2. The Princess Bride by William Goldman. If you’ve seen the movie (and I’m assuming many have), then you need to read the book. The first few chapters are a little different, but the rest of the text is phenomenal. If you’re looking for a book/movie adaptation that stayed true to the original text, then read this.
  3. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. Premise of the book: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” If you haven’t read it, add it to your TBR.
  4. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. Alternating between present day and the late 1920s, Jacob Jankowski recalls his time working as a veterinarian for Benzini Brothers’ traveling circus. Slowly he falls in love with Marlena, the equestrian, but not without  her vicious husband and circus animal trainer being a force to reckon with. Be prepared to cry at this one too.

Okay, in the end it adds up to 10, whew! Have you read any of the books on either of my lists? Would you recommend them to others? Which is your favorite?

#BYOBooks2016 Week 5 & 6 Link-Up (Jan 26-Feb 8)

Is there an unspoken rule that when you’re determined to do something that you do the exact opposite? I think I’ve spent more time browsing for books at the library than in front of my bookcase. Although, I am currently reading two books that I own now for #BYOBooks2016, the last five books I’ve read have been from the library. And I have one more book that’s on reserve. February may be the shortest month of the year, but I’ll make some headway on this challenge!

What books have you read these last two weeks as part of your #BYOBooks2016 challenge? Share in the link-up down below!


Review: Selp-Helf by Miranda Sings

Self-Help by Miranda SingsSelp-Helf
Miranda Sings
Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster; 2015
Hardcover; 231

Last year seemed liked it was the year that dozens of YouTubers signed book deals. Or maybe the tiny snowball started rolling downhill in 2014 but grew to much larger in 2015. Let’s see, who was on that list… Zoella (Girl Online), Alfie Deyes (The Pointless Book), Marcus Butler (Hello, Life!), PewDiePie (This Book Loves You), Hannah Hart (My Drunk Kitchen), Mamrie Hart (You Deserve a Drink), Grace Helbig ( Grace & Style: The Art of Pretending You Have It ), Tyler Oakley (Binge), Joe Sugg (Username: Evie), Shane Dawson (I Hate My Selfie), Joey Graceffa (In Real Life: My Journey to a Pixelated World)… and that’s just to start.

But one YouTuber stands out in a different way… Miranda Sings. If you’re unfamiliar with her, well… How do I put this… Miranda is a delusional character who believes she’s the biggest YouTube celebrity ever (in reality, she probably is up there on that list because of this misconception or extreme self-confidence), and is obsessed with herself and thinks she’s the most talented person ever. That’s her schtick. She’ll do music videos, tutorials, reviews, challenges — and do them all incorrectly or poorly — but with the full belief she’s the greatest. Oh, and she wears bright red lipstick that goes beyond her lips.

Ahem, like so:

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January Recap

Thirty-one days in 2016 down… only 335 to go!

So, it’s been quite a busy month. I swear sometimes it feels like I was just celebrating the New Year and slowly getting back into the groove of driving to work. And with starting a new routine too, I feel like I’ve been working on it forever (and still can’t quite get it down!).

I know some people made it a big deal which book would be their first for 2016, and I wish I could relate. I more or less picked up a book and started reading because I knew if I didn’t force myself to set aside time to read, I’d keep procrastinating and find excuses not to. I’m glad my “force myself to read more” plan worked!

Books Read

I read 7 books in January!

  1. An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin
  2. Nobody’s Cuter Than You by Melanie Shankle
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Illustrated Edition) by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay
  4. Self-Help by Miranda Sings
  5. Crushed (Pretty Little Liars #13) by Sara Shepard
  6. Deadly (Pretty Little Liars #14) by Sara Shepard
  7. Toxic (Pretty Little Liars #15) by Sara Shepard


2016 Resolutions Progress Check

Alright… let’s review my resolutions and see how well I’m sticking to them…

  1. Of the 7 books I’ve read so far, three are books that I own. I’d call that progress.
  2. I’m one book away from finishing the Pretty Little Liars series. FINALLY.
  3. I’m 1/7 of the way through rereading the Harry Potter series.
  4. Because I’ve read 7 books in January, I’m 28% through my Goodreads goal of reading at least 25 books. (And I’m listening to my first audiobook–Heaven help me!)
  5. I’d like to think I’ve been blogging more regularly than I had just two years ago.
  6. Why is decluttering always the hardest? It’s the ultimate game of Tetris.
  7. I’ve been hitting the gym at least three times a week! My legs hate me!


Whew! Hopefully I can keep up the pace for February. How’s everyone else’s resolutions, reading or otherwise, going?

Making a Book from Scratch

There was no way I couldn’t reblog this from The Scholarly Kitchen.

What I like most about The Scholarly Kitchen is it keeps readers up to date on scholarly and academic publishing, open access and libraries, and every so often, they share a fun and/or (because it can be both) informative video on books or publishing. Like this video series, for example.

The physical object remains an increasingly small portion of the overall cost [in creating a book], due to advances in technology and the benefits of scale. But what if you had to make your own book from scratch? What would you need to do, and how much would it cost? As part of the “How To Make Everything” series, Andy George gives it a shot.

~David Crotty, The Scholarly Kitchen

Andy George goes from making paper and writing utensils to actually binding a book together. In eight short videos, Andy covers about 4,000 years of writing and publishing methods, and in the end, creates his own book from what he’s learned.

I’m warning you now, if you’re not up to seeing an animal carcass (while making parchment), I recommend skipping the first few seconds of video #2.

#BYOBooks2016 Week 4 Link-Up (Jan 19-25)

It’s the last week of January. January. I can’t believe this month is literally almost over. It felt like last weekend was New Years, and I was spending the week comfortably at home (note to self: save some vacation days for the end of the year always).


This month has surprisingly been busy for me–with doing post-Christmas organizing, preparing most paperwork for tax season (because this is adulthood?), traveling and, of course, reading. Not all the books I’ve read this month have been for my #BYOBooks2016 challenge, but the important thing is that I’ve been reading.

An update: Starting next week, I’m going to post the BYOBooks link-up biweekly to give everyone a chance to read and catch up with themselves.

What books have you read this past week or the month so far? Have you read any of your unread books, collecting dust on your bookshelf?