The Art of Adulting: Getting from point A to point B

This is part of my slow-updating Newly-Minted Adult series. I’d write more about this kind of thing if it wasn’t just so much easier to write about books.
Three lane highway Florida USA

I don’t get lost very often. I imagine this fact will be surprising to my parents for the rest of our lives, but it’s true.

When I was a kid (…and a tween, and a teenager), it was their general belief that I had the worlds’ worst sense of direction. And this wasn’t false, exactly, because it was true that I didn’t know how to get… anywhere. But it wasn’t an inate lack of a sense of north and south and the relative locations of point A and point B. No, it had a lot more to do with the fact that I never went in a car without my face stuck in a book (with an extra book [or two] just in case I finished the first).

“Jenna, look at the trees!” “Jenna, look at the scenery!” “The skyline!” “That deer/horse/alligator!” “JENNA PUT YOUR BOOK DOWN.” Nope. Sorry. I’m happy in here.

But then I started driving places. And then I went to college and had to walk everywhere (oh the horror). What my parents didn’t understand is that it’s really hard for this relatively ADD child to want to pay attention to the landmarks and streets and terribly boring intersections when she simply did not have to.

And that it’s really hard to know how to get somewhere when you’ve never technically seen the route.

Once I became responsible for making the turns and not missing the right streets, things picked up. I discovered to wonder of all wonders that I’m not actually terrible at direction. I discovered, hell, I know how to get places! This was cooler than it should have been.

So then you put me in a city like Chicago, where the whole thing is this big wonderful grid, and I’m in really good shape. Add a smart phone? And my Dad’s advice becomes obsolete: “You aren’t lost until you don’t know what state you’re in.” …and have no Internet connection.

If I’m in the city, and I have my phone, I’m set. If I’m in the city, and don’t have my phone, I’m (probably) still set. I’m a local here, and that’s bizarre to me. I’m an adult, and this is where I live. It might not be where I live five years from now, but if I move, it will have been my own decision.

I have moments when I’m not sure how I got here. When being independant and, gasp, an adult, feels like a dream.

Or, sometimes, a nightmare.But most of the time, I love it. I love living in a studio. I could go for having a roommate again in the future, but right now, I enjoy living alone. I like being (ehem, mostly) financially independant. And, I guess, I like being an adult, even if knowing my way around my own city where I live on my own is one of the few adulting things I’ve got down pat.

Now if I could stop missing my bus stop because I forgot to look up from my novel? That would be great.

Quick Lit [December]

Welcome to Quick Lit! This is where I partake in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s link-up and share short (sometimes) and sweet (the cavity-giving kind) reviews of what I’ve been reading lately.

I hit a bit of a lethargy in the last quarter of the year towards reading, but picked up right at the end over vacation and knocked out a few more. This is almost all YA (clearly I have a type), but I’ve found that’s my best go-to when I can’t get in the mood for anything else.quicklit

ELEANOR & PARK

by Rainbow Rowell

I will probably reread this. I will be gifting it to my YA-age cousin when she’s maybe a year or two older. And I would have put it on my favorite’s list if I hadn’t likedFangirl just that tiny bit more.

It’s probably better than Fangirl, but FG just stole my heart first (by two whole days. I read both books in a span of 4, and I probably would have kept up the pace if I could have gotten my hands on more RR books!

UNRAVELLED

Robyn Harding

I’d say this book is a marriage of semi-decent chick-lit and knitting, which is my main hobby right now, but the knitting was simultaneously a main element of the book and somehow still of no real consequence to the story at all. Which is fine, I suppose, but it leaves the book as being semi-decent chicklit at best. Aka, meh.

 

 

HOW TO BUILD A GIRL

Caitlin Moran

This is the kind of YA that I was way too innocent for as an early young adult. Wild, boozy, promiscuous teenage year were just not on my horizon when I was a preteen, the age Moran’s protagonist Johanna is at the start of the book. Johannah—or Dolly, the name she reviews under for a big-deal music magazine—drew me in and I enjoyed her coming-of-age tale, but I honestly have no idea who I would recommend this to.

THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING

by Erika Johansen

Fantasy is more-than-likely my favorite genre. I love the impossible, I love the sense limitlessness, I love the world building necessitated when an author decides to bring magic into the picture.

I love it.

And I loved this (it’s a lot of love). Queen of the Tearling is the first in a series, and the second doesn’t come out till summer (sad face). Any worldbuilding or detail or path taken that felt neglected in this book, didn’t seem like a flaw (yet) because there’s plenty of room to explore those things in future parts. And while this totally wasn’t a masterpiece of fantasy writing, it was competent and enjoyable with a lead heroine who I enjoyed getting to know and who loves books. Which is great. (And I’ve already pre-ordered the second!)

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FANGIRL

Rainbow Rowell

I said that Fangirl just a lot of fun, and it’s true. It was. But I also loved reading about an introvert in world of extroverts. While I was much more of an extrovert while in college than Cath is, I’ve moved definitely shuffled towards the other side of the spectrum in the last few years.

And a book about fanfiction (for an imaginary series)? Also fun. Especially when Rowell’s next book is the that fanfiction longform!

Favorite Books of 2014

If I ever doubted that I really, really, just really like reading, I don’t anymore. 2014 was a lot of fun for me, books wise. I finally managed to edge in a decent amount of non-fiction (probably just under a third of all of it, by the end),  but the fiction, oh the fiction!

But alongside all of the reading, one of my favorite bookish things of the year was recommending. I’m starting to feel a little more sure of myself, and my tastes, and my ability  to recommend something for most of the readers (and burgeoning-readers) in my life. (Unless you only read theology. If you only read theology, for heaven’s sake please try some fiction? It’s for your own good.) The highlights? My fourteen year old cousins answer to What do you want for Christmas?: “Good books.” O YES, I GOT THIS.

Anyways. Here’s some books.
Heart from book pages

(But first, runners up:

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriary, because it’s a weirdly fun murder mystery with elementary-school moms, chick-lit lightness, and real-life big issues. (Short review here.)

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, because it’s a funny-sad YA novel about being a teenager and who-am-I-really? feelings, being a girl in almost-all-boys school, and dealing with a family falling apart from depression. Real issues, good issues, hard issues take precedence, but teenage angst and romance and drama still find their realistic place (because high school.) (Short review here.)

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, because I have a weak spot for webcomics and webcomics that turn into books and this one is phenomenal. And silly. And serious. And awesome. The book is mash up of previously posted online comics and new material. So if you don’t have your hands on a copy, go check out the blog. GO! (Short review here.)

NOW THE NOT-RUNNERS-UP. I mean, winners. Shush.)

 

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THE GOLEM AND THE JINNI

by Helene Wecker

It was a strange and perfect blend of fantasy and historical fiction, social commentary and myth. Both main characters had wonderfully complex personhood to them, while still being believably “other” to the humans around them (even while blending in with them).

The novel follows the newly “born” golem as she finds herself alone and suddenly without a master in not only a new city, but a completely new existence, and the jinni who finds himself in the city as well, with no memory of how he came to be imprisoned in an oil flask for the past several hundred years.

I recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy, or doesn’t mind mixing their historical fiction with a little bit of myth.

 

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THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY

by Gabrielle Zevin

This book is terrific–a fact I had no doubts on because my trust in my favorite book bloggers is quite possibly unhealthy. I have a feeling that if I were to go back through this with a pen handy, I’d come away with tons of additions to my TBR lists. That is, if I didn’t get too distracted by the story. I’m not usually a rereader, but I asked for and got a hard copy of this for Christmas and I’ll likely be going back eventually.

I recommend this with no reservations. Unless you don’t like books about bookshops and booksellers. Or books about a lot of things where one of those things is a romance between a sometimes-cranky-bookseller and much peppier publishing saleswoman and it’s not even that sappy. Or really good books. If you don’t like those things, then I suppose you should stay away.

 

THE GIRL YOU LEFT BEHIND

by Jojo Moyes

I’ve talked about how much I fell for Moyes this year, so I won’t hit that scheal this time. Instead, let me tell you that I still want to recommend this all the time. It’s good if you like novels that balance lightness and heavier things in a way that’s just as good for a winter read as a beach read. It’s good if you like historical fiction, but also like contemporary fiction, and could totally go for a two-story mash up. And it’s good if you like novels about women, stubborn women, fiery women and quieter women alike, and would love it that both are fantastic characters.

Oh, and art: because there’s a painting and it is very, very important.

[original short review here]

 

 

 

What a Woman is Worth Cover

WHAT A WOMAN IS WORTH

Ed. by Tamára Lunardo

I can’t find my copy of this, and I’m pretty sure it got lost when I last moved. Or did I give it away? Maybe that, because it’s worth giving.

“When little girls are neglected or abused, when teen girls are taunted or assaulted, when women are used or discriminated against, they can’t help question their worth.” –from the back cover

Not every essay in this collection is perfectly written, but they’re all achingly real, ranging from stories of church/spiritual abuse to stories of the ways society regards women. Each woman comes in with a completely different style, from plain prose storytelling to poetic memoir, but all have come to the question of what a women is worth.

(Plus, I love the cover. The book is well done for what appears to be a self- (or indie-) published book.)

 

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FANGIRL

by Rainbow Rowell

I’ve determined that I’m now a Rainbow Rowell fangirl. Not a very good one, most likely, as I have no interest in writing Cath and Levi fanfiction, but lazy fangirling still counts!

Fangirl was just a lot of fun. Being a pretty recent grad, some college accounts leave me achingly nostalgic, or feeling like I really missed out on something  by going to such a smallish quite-conservative school (I’m looking at you, Rory Gilmore). But Cath’s freshman year felt comfortably familar, even where it was different in the details, and reminded me how much I don’t in fact miss school, and that maybe I didn’t actually miss out on much (a nice feeling.)

And the character. And Simon Snow, Rowell’s fiction ‘version’ of the Harry Potter phenomenon. And the fanfiction. And the Levi! 

I read this and Eleanor & Park (which could have been on this list, easily, except I kept it to one book per author!) in 4 days, right before the end of the year. And I’m really, really glad I did, even if I felt a bit of withdrawal afterwards.

And… that’s all! I’m looking forward to having an even harder time choosing next year, as I’ve challenged myself to the highly unlikely feat of 100 books.

 

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CRESS

by Marissa Meyer

I’m just listing Cress here, but I have feelings for the entire series (book polygamy?). Redone fairy tales, set in the future, with a teenage cyborg Cinderella playing lead? It’s nuts, but it works, in a happy-YA-for-everyone sort of way. As far as weaknesses go, the series isn’t extraordinarily strong  in the far-background world-building  (it’s no Harry Potter, but what else is?), but what is there is interesting, fairly unique, and perfectly adequate as a backdrop for the characters and storytelling.

I gave the first two of these, Cinder and Scarlet, to my 14-year-old cuysin for Christmas, so I’d definitely reccomend them if you’ve got a penchant  for YA, fantasy, sci-fi, happy things, or any combination thereof.

 

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GARLIC AND SAPPHIRES

by Ruth Reichl

This is basically just what I originally wrote about Garlic and Sapphires when I first finished it, because it’s all very true.

Ruth Reichl’s stories of her time as the chief food critic at the New York Times in the late 20th century are brilliant. I love her writing, her sense of humor, and her storytelling style.

I basically know so much more now about food and restaurant culture and lots of things about fancy eating that I will very likely never actually need to know.

 

 

Happy 2015 reading!

 

I would have linked this post with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Favorite Books of 2014 link up, but, um, I missed it by a day.