sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

November 19, 2019

eleven books i’m borrowing from the library
posted by soe 1:32 am

I’m not loving this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl, so instead I’m going to share the 11 books I currently have out from the library:

  1. The Library Book by Susan Orlean — The amount of time this book is taking me is not indicative of how much I’m enjoying it.
  2. Woody Guthrie and the Dust Bowl Ballads by Nick Hayes — I’ve had this graphic bio out since this summer, and it’s been living in a bag I haven’t looked in in a while. I need to finish it and get it back to the library.
  3. Knitting the Fog by Claudia Hernández — This poetry collection is in the same bag with Woody. I hope they’re having a good time.
  4. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong — This book was everywhere earlier this year. Honestly, I have no idea what it’s about and even whether I still want to read it.
  5. Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell — I meant to reread Carry On first, but the sequel came in before I figured out where my copy has gotten to.
  6. The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson — I loved this picture book history of Black American history and have kept it out because I haven’t yet had a chance to read all the biographical reference pieces at the back.
  7. Book Love by Debbie Tung — This is a collection of bibliophilic cartoons. I like to read a handful at a time and then put it back down.
  8. Autumn by Ali Smith — This got such good reviews when it first came out, both in the U.K. and here, that I picked it up when I saw it in the library’s window display, but this is another one where I have no idea if I even want to read it. Books sometimes just like to visit my house.
  9. Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds — I am very much looking forward to reading Jason’s latest middle grade novel.
  10. Kiss Number 8 by Colleen A.F. Venable — This is a coming-of-age graphic novel set in 2004 and I literally raced through the first half when I picked it up last night.
  11. Bittersweet by Susan Wittig Albert — I’ve never read of of her China Bayles series, but this one, the 23rd in the series apparently, is set at Thanksgiving, so we’ll see!

What do you have out from the library right now?

Have you signed up for the Virtual Advent Tour event for bloggers yet? We’d love to have you join us!

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November 7, 2019

october unraveling, just 11 months early
posted by soe 1:44 am


We could look at this photo as a complete failure, having failed to complete sock or book, by the end of October.


We could look at it as getting a really nice jump start on the 2020 Halloween season. I know which perspective I’m going with.

Head over to As Kat Knits for what other folks are knitting and reading this week.

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October 29, 2019

top ten bookish costume ideas
posted by soe 1:21 am

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday post from That Artsy Reader Girl is Halloween-themed, so I thought I’d share some suggestions for Halloween costumes you could do based on literary characters. I have only used some of them personally:

  1. Pippi Longstocking:

  2. Phryne Fisher (the tv show demonstrates how many amazing outfits you could pick from)
  3. Raggedy Ann:

    Halloween 2017
  4. Sherlock Holmes (it helps if you own a deerstalker hat)
  5. Anne of Green Gables (I’ve noticed puffed sleeves are in right now)
  6. Anyone from Harry Potter:

    A Tonksish Night
  7. Any of the ragtag group from the Oz books (if you pick the literary version of Dorothy, your shoes will not be red and fewer people will recognize you; conversely, you could go as the tornado, although I would make it a two funnel-tornado in order to be able to walk)
  8. Go classic with Count Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (for the latter, you would need to divide your costume down the middle)
  9. Little Red Riding Hood:

    Little Red Riding Hood
  10. Paddington

Have you ever dressed up as a favorite bookish character?

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October 24, 2019

what i’m reading right now
posted by soe 1:48 am

No knitting. No knitting pictures. I’m definitely feeling stuck, which probably means I need to just pick up one of my projects and put a few stitches in it. And then do it again.

I’m glad to report that while I put aside The Library Book (I was suddenly able to renew it), I did pick up NPR’s Linda Holmes’ debut novel, Evvie Drake Starts Over, which friends had loved. They had said it was a quintessential summer novel, because it takes place in Maine and includes a lot of baseball, but that actually made it a perfect fall book for me, since that’s when I miss New England the most. I can’t imagine it will take me far into the weekend to finish it, particularly since there’s no baseball to watch tomorrow night.

I’m nearly done with Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Shore, which also seems to fit with my mood, since in my head I kind of assume Scotland is not unlike Maine. If you liked the first Bookshop book, I think you will enjoy revisiting the town in this companion novel (but not really a sequel).

Next up, I think, will be George Takei’s graphic memoir about growing up in an American concentration camp.

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October 15, 2019

top ten extraordinary titles
posted by soe 1:29 am

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl invites us to consider Top Ten Extraordinary Book Titles.

Here are 10 titles that piqued my interest:

  1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by Newt Scamander (J.K. Rowling)
  2. Rayne & Delilah’s Midnite Matinee, by Jeff Zentner
  3. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, by Jessica Townsend
  4. Grief Is the Thing with Feathers, by Max Porter
  5. The Tea Dragon Society, by Katie O’Neil
  6. Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, by Ashley Herring Blake
  7. Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann
  8. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  9. A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
  10. The Other F-Word, Natasha Friend

How about you? Are there books you’ve picked up simply based on their title?

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October 6, 2019

top ten reads of 2018
posted by soe 1:35 am

I found this in my drafts tonight. I didn’t published it back in January when it made sense because I needed to write summaries of why I liked each book, which didn’t happen — obviously. So tonight I’ll just give a sentence or two to highlight each book and move on.

  1. A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles: This was a masterpiece of historical fiction set in the years following the Bolshevik revolution, in which the hero, a count, is spared the death sentence because of a book he’d published years earlier lauding the workers’ struggle. Instead, he’s given a life sentence of house arrest in his favorite hotel, but in its garret. People come to visit him, he befriends patrons and employees of the hotel, and time passes. And I kept forgetting that it was fiction and not a well-told story of a real person.
  2. Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI, David Grann: In this nonfiction history, we learn what happened when a Native American nation is driven out of Kansas, forced to settle in Oklahoma, and then oil is discovered beneath their sovereign land. It was horrifying to learn that even in the 20th century, Native Americans weren’t considered reasonable adults and were, by default, assigned white “guardians.” When members of an Osage family start dying off in 1921, a federal investigation is launched, but its scope isn’t sufficiently broad, the author decides. The final third of the book, in which the author inserts himself into the narrative, is the weakest, but it was still an informative, infuriating story into a shameful moment of our history.
  3. Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman: A 20-something woman whom one might describe as being on the spectrum fixates on a local pop singer and starts a campaign of self-improvement in an effort to connect with him. But as she starts to step outside the well-constructed world she has built for herself, we discover that Eleanor is not fine and has not been for some time — but that she might be on the road to being so.
  4. Harbor Me, Jacqueline Woodson: A middle school teacher takes six of her most vulnerable students (each dealing with major issues, such as an incarcerated or illegal parent or growing into a Black teenage boy or familial financial struggles) and puts them in a room together every week with the assignment to talk to each other. While it takes them time to trust one another, eventually they come to consider each other friends.
  5. Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, Ashley Herring Blake: This middle-grade novel utterly disrupts the life of the titular heroine when a tornado destroys her family’s home. In the aftermath, her journal goes missing, she starts to realize she might have a crush on a female classmate, and her family — including her teenaged sister and her infant brothers — must move into temporary lodgings and she must deal with tumult in both her physical life and her emotional one.
  6. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Grace Lin: Lin writes the most lyrical Chinese folktales and then beautifully illustrates them. In this tale, Minli leaves her parents to go on a quest for answers from the Old Man in the Moon on how her family can change its fortune.
  7. Obsidio, Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: In the final novel of The Illuminae Files trilogy, our favorite teen space opera stars return to take on The Man at the scene of the original crime — Kerenza, where BeiTech forces attacked unarmed settlers seven months earlier, forcing Kady and Ezra (among others) to flee for their lives. The two of them, plus Hanna, Nik, and Ella (and, of course, the mostly reformed murderous AI, AIDAN), must find a way to stay alive long enough to get word back to authorities about the corporate genocide that has occurred. Joining them for this final battle are Asha and Rhys and a little girl named Katya. Non-stop action in this highly anticipated — and satisfying — finale.
  8. Moxie, Jennifer Mathieu: In a year of #MeToo, this y.a. novel set in a Texas high school gives us the hope that the next generation will have learned from our mistakes. In a town where football is the most important thing, a young woman, the daughter of former riot grrl, decides she’s had enough of the favoritism and sexism she sees in her school hallways every day and starts to take steps to rise up and make changes.
  9. Unsheltered, Barbara Kingsolver: This novel, which focuses on a multi-generational family down on its luck, considers what it means to be American in the 21st century, where our future lies, and what our past can tell us. The story is broken into two alternating POVs — one is a male teacher in the early years of the town, who chafes under Victorian niceties, and the other is a contemporary writer, whose entire family no longer seems to find the American dream a possibility. She and her husband have both been downsized and now face underemployment and a crumbling family home; her father-in-law is in failing health, but there’s no money to care for him; her daughter-in-law commits suicide and her son struggles to care for their infant son; and their daughter, who dropped out of college several years earlier, returns home from living abroad in Cuba, with ideas about how to live a responsible life. Kingsolver always writes about how families at the edges cope, but this story felt particularly devastating and particularly disheartening, perhaps because I was reading it at the same time I was downsized from my job of 15 years. But it has stayed with me and resurfaces from time to time, particularly when I consider issues of sustainability and my meager contributions to making the world a better place for future generations.
  10. If God Invented Baseball, E. Ethelbert Miller: This series of poems from a D.C. journalist considers the humanity of America’s pastime, how the game of baseball (and he himself) has changed over a lifetime, and how imperfection is more interesting than perfection in both sport and life.

Honorable mentions:

  • The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser
  • Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik
  • The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert
  • See You in the Cosmos, by Jack Cheng
  • The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora, by Pablo Cartaya
  • Lethal White, by Robert Galbraith
  • Puddin’, by Julie Murphy
  • A Properly Unhaunted Place, by William Alexander
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer, by Leigh Bardugo
  • Turtles All the Way Down, by John Green
  • The Wild Book, by Juan Villoro
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