Category Archives: books

The Dark Between the Covers

Song Lyric of the Day:

Midnight where we used to dance / Underneath the ugly halogen lamps / Oh, it all went away so fast / In a black out

Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam / “In a Black Out“*

I’ve been an avid reader since childhood. I lived for the Scholastic school book fairs. I always had a book handy in high school for when I’d finish a test or assignment early. I managed to read a lot for fun in college, which is easy to do when you’re not a partier and you happen to work every weekend in a bookstore. Then I became an adult.

At the end of a workday, my priorities are figuring out dinner for the family, hanging out with the kids, getting them to bed, then doing housework that I can’t do during the workday. That’s not always how my evening goes, but more often than not, that’s it. By the time I finally manage to sit down to unwind a bit before going to bed, it’s usually pretty late and I’m fairly brain-dead. Which means I end up watching TV with my cat, Buster, in my lap; when your cat makes it to 20 years old, you sit and hang out when that cat wants to sit and hang out. I don’t last long before I doze off on the couch and then drag myself to bed.

This year I’ve made a point to read more. It’s something I love, so why not make it a priority? My most productive uninterrupted reading time is during a solo workday lunch: just me, my book, and some food. Occasionally I’ll even meet up with the spouse and our respective books for a reading lunch. I also take short reading breaks in the afternoon at work. Not every day, but some days. It’s good to not be looking at a computer screen during those little breaks.

While I enjoy reading a variety of genres, I tend to gravitate toward thrillers, the darker the better. I can’t tell you why exactly, just that twisty, scary stories are the ones that suck me in. I just finished reading The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter and am now reading Look for Me by Lisa Gardner. Next up in my to-read pile are The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn; The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen; and Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna.

Slaughter and Gardner are among my favorite authors. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the darkest, Slaughter goes to 11 (see: Pretty Girls) and Gardner can hit 10.5 (see: The Neighbor). My bookcases in my home office are full of their books and other favorites: Tami Hoag, whose Kovac and Liska books are always great; Tess Gerritsen, best known for her Rizzoli and Isles series; Julie Garwood and Linda Howard, who both specialize in romantic thrillers; and Kate White, whose Bailey Weggins series I love.


Organized alphabetically and chronologically for each author because I couldn’t live any other way.

I recently started reading Paula Hawkins and Ruth Ware; I like their books so much I lent a dear friend the authors’ latest respective works. As for new authors, I enjoyed Riley Sager‘s debut, Final Girls, a lot as it appealed to my horror-movie-loving self: a woman survives a massacre, but all is not as it seems. I also really liked Kathleen Barber‘s Are You Sleeping, which centered on a decades-old murder being reinvestigated on a podcast and its repercussions.

I just realized I listed only female authors above. Nice. I do enjoy books by male authors, as well, including Daniel Silva, Dean Koontz (pretty much a lifelong favorite), David Morrell (his Thomas De Quincey series is phenomenal), Carl Hiaasen, and, of course, Stephen King.

Now you all know what most of my money is spent on: books. Bona-fide printed books. I love the feel of an actual printed book in my hands, and I still get a geeky rush when checking books out of the library. I’m trying to dip my toe into reading ebooks (I’m up to three). Printed books are one of the few ways I can truly unplug since I work on a computer all day; reading an ebook isn’t that appealing to me since it’s another screen.

In the interest of discovering yet more new authors to read, I recently requested some advance reader copies via Penguin Random House‘s First to Read. We’ll see what, if anything, comes of my requests; I think it’s a first-ask, first-serve setup. In the meantime, though, there’s always the library.


I first heard today’s Song of the Day in an episode of Lucifer. The music and scene together made for small-screen perfection.

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31 Day Blog Prompt Challenge Day 24

Day 24: Your favorite book or author.

I have to say, I really can’t pick just one author, so I’ll break it down a bit.

As a kid, I devoured books by Beverly Cleary. The Ramona Quimby series was my favorite. And when I read Ramona Forever and the Quimby family cat, Picky-Picky, died, I was devastated. I couldn’t believe their beloved cat died; I really thought he’d live forever. I think I was so upset in part because, if memory serves, Picky-Picky was an orange tabby, like my cat, Morris. So I projected a lot of what I felt about Morris onto Picky-Picky’s death. That was the first time a book made me cry.

As an adult, one of my favorite novelists is the late Sidney Sheldon. That man knew how to tell a story (Bloodline is my favorite). My autographed copy of Nothing Lasts Forever is one of my most cherished hardcovers; I only wish I’d been the one to meet him in person to get his autograph.

As a parent, I love all of the books I read to Coraline, even when I don’t actually love the book. Her love of books is just so wonderful to behold, so it makes every book enjoyable (she’s very into her Olivia books these days). That said, one book I really do love reading to her is No Matter What; I’m always disappointed when she shakes her head and says “no” when she’d rather hear another story. It’s just such a sweet, seemingly simple story about how even on our bad days or when we feel unlovable or when we want to be left alone, the people who matter most to us still love us — no matter what.

No Matter What

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The Home Library

Song Lyric of the Day:

Build a story in my head / It was love before we met / Happy, with my idea with you
Rich and I finally decided to start sharing pics of our new house. We held off on doing so since we were superstitious that our A-frame wouldn’t sell. Well, months later with nary a nibble on the A-frame we’ve pretty much decided screw that, and here we are.
When we moved into our new house about six months ago, my dad commented that it would take Coraline about 40 years to read through all the books we had. See, moving day was when my and Rich’s love of books bit us in the ass — there were countless boxes packed full of books all over the place. Well, we’ve only added to our collection since then, trading in used books for new titles at McKay, buying new ones at Borders or Barnes & Noble, or receiving books as gifts (always a win-win situation). Fortunately, our new house has built-in bookcases, something I used to fantasize about having. Of course, once I had them, I started obsessively thinking about how to arrange and organize our books. Would I move the fiction hardcovers out of my office? Put my children’s books downstairs? Mix nonfiction with reference? What should take the shelves of honor in the living room? So many decisions, so many damn books. (See, this is what happens when you are either 1) a librarian or 2) spent years working in retail bookstores like I did). First, I had to make heads or tails of the stacks of book boxes everywhere.

Far end of the living room.
More boxes in the dining room. Not pictured: the book boxes all over the rest of the house, including the ones that filled Coraline’s then-empty room.
Then I had to decide which bookcases would house which books. I ultimately decided that the bookcases with the taller adjustable shelves, at the dining room end of the living room, would house oversized art, home decorating, and home improvement books. The bookcases flanking the TV cabinet with shorter, adjustable shelves would be home to nonfiction, trade paperback fiction, young adult, and children’s picture books. Hardcover fiction would stay in my office, while art instruction/technique books would move down to Rich’s office. These decisions came after I changed my mind about 50 times, including rearranging everything and bugging Rich for his opinion I don’t know how many times. Before I could start organizing books, however, I had to clear the shelves of all the stuff we’d thrown on them when we first unpacked; that process alone took days.
The bookcases flanking the TV cabinet.
Caleb slinks by the still-in-the-works bookcase organization project in my office on his way to the sunroom.
The bookcases at the dining room end of the living room; the right bookcase is the one I started on first.

Closeup of my first efforts at organizing the art books.

First pass on the art books, with coffee table and home improvement books on the bottom shelves; these books ultimately all ended up on the left bookcase.

Regardless of Rich’s suggestions, I alphabetized the children’s books instead of arranging them based on size. Him making such a crazy suggestion shows that he 1) doesn’t know me at all or 2) knows me pretty damn well and that such a suggestion would drive me crazy. Which it did.

My finished children’s book bookcases, with young adult on the left, picture books on the right. Keep in mind all of Coraline’s books are still in her room.

Closeup of the picture books. That’s Coraline’s nursery video monitor on the second shelf.

The fiction hardcover books in my office. I’m still not done sorthing them.

The bookcases to the left of the TV cabinet. The bottom shelves on each side are still in the works and hold currently unsorted books.
Now you have some (undoubtedly) scary insight into how I get when I go on an organizational bender, particularly how I deal with sorting books. Want to know what’s really scary? I still have a whole bookcase on the dining room end to fill. Bwahahahaha!

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Tuesday 10: Recent Book Purchases

  1. The Unit, Ninni Holmqvist
  2. Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, Julie Powell
  3. The Neighbor, Lisa Gardner
  4. Relentless, Dean Koontz
  5. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith
  6. Austenland, Shannon Hale
  7. Burn, Linda Howard
  8. Dead as a Doornail (Sookie Stackhouse # 5), Charlaine Harris
  9. Meeting Mr. Wrong: The Romantic Misadventures of a Southern Belle, Stephanie Snowe
  10. The Secret Servant, Daniel Silva

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Life Going On

Song Lyric of the Day:

The rain is fallin’ on my window pane / But we are hidin’ in a safer place / Under covers stayin’ dry and warm / You give me feelins that I adore

Colbie Caillat / “Bubbly

It rained all day today. It was one of those days where I just wanted to stay in bed, alternating between sleeping and reading*. Alas, that was not to be since I have to make a living. Work’s good, although it’s been kicking my butt again. But I’m really fortunate in that I’ve gotten to learn and dabble in a bunch of different things the last few weeks: country music news, HTML coding, travel guides, cocktails. Keeps everything interesting.

Even though I’m exhausted most nights, I’ve stepped up my exercise routine. Have to lose a few more pounds so I feel Uruguay-ready (vacation is only weeks away!), specifically Uruguay beach-ready. (In case you’re wondering, I’ve lost 5.6 pounds in the last month or so, starting with when I got sick. That was a 3-pound handicap right there.)

So other than work and exercise, not a whole lot’s going on right now. Which is just fine by me — more time to write, read, and relax.

*I’m currently reading False Memory by Dean Koontz, Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster, and The Big Over Easy by Jasper Fforde.


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