If you've ever wanted to read every book in the library, maybe you should rethink that.

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Did you have daily planners in elementary school? What did you do with them at the end of each school year?

Growing up, I heard of a lot of kids throwing out their old school notebooks, but the writer in me could never bear to throw out good paper. The empty pages of my log books surely had potential, but with what? Since I’ve been making lists ever since I could write a few letters, and since I often found it hard to recall the books I touched because I read so often, I formed a log out of each subject square.

Below is a messy example from high school. (Click to enlarge.) Each box made for subject assignments was divided into two sections: “Started” and “Finished.” Any books I began or finished reading in that week, I would record. If I began a book one week and didn’t finish it until the next, I would list the beginnings and endings in their respective squares. In high school and college, I would often start good books and not finish them, or read several novels at a time. I also often forgot to keep track, leaving months of gaps. Some weeks, I finished no books. Looking a back, each page gives me a sense of what went on with my books.

The log reads from up to down beginning with the first square on Monday to the first square in Friday, then back to the top.

To me, this is much better than book sharing websites because I can get a week-to-week summary of the word-induced comas I was experiencing. It also makes it easier for me to remember the covers of each title, especially for fiction; for some reason, seeing a title written in this way reminds me of the basic colors or images on the cover.

I only wish I could show you the lost, original log book from elementary school. It had many more ink colors because I grabbed whichever pen was around to make my notes. The results were very pretty. I’ve been keeping up with the week-to-week recording for my children’s lit challenge and just started a new page. Since I intend to read more in the next several months, I look forward to filling it with my literary life.

How do you keep track of your reading adventures?



I have 55 books out from the library. This is surprisingly commonplace for my “book habit.” They’re a hefty collection of novels, non-fiction, and reference books. They cover much of the floor space of my room. I’ve been tripping over them a lot more as they’ve grown in number. A natural cause of death is tripping over a pile of books, isn’t it? In my world, it is.

However, I’m not overwhelmed by them. Books by the hundreds give me peace, but what does overwhelm me is the collection of web browser windows I have up. The internet is much more vast and less physically demanding of space than the “old school” spread of information like printed and bound pages. I’ve been pining over a tablet because I think it would be more comfortable for my internet surfing than curling up in a chair with my head jutting toward a screen; I’d like to move the screen as my head moves. My wrists wouldn’t hurt as much from mouse and keyboard work. I could use the internet in more than one room. I know, though, that my problems won’t be solved with a tablet; there will be just as much to surf, and it would create a stronger dependence on the internet.

I know I’m not alone. My brother is trying to ween himself off Reddit and Imgur. I don’t blame him or myself for getting caught up in the hullabaloo. We all know this technology is wonderful, but, for the time being, I’m glad I don’t have the money for a tablet.

One book I’ve been tripping over recently is Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, which I just finished reading last night. Although it was written about fifty years ago, the philosophy behind each story is a chilling reminder of the progression of society—perhaps more chilling, at times, than 1984. I read one particular section several times, reflecting on how it connects with our world today.

“Science ran too far ahead of us too quickly, and the people got lost in a mechanical wilderness, like children making over pretty things, gadgets, helicopters, rockets; emphasizing the wrong items, emphasizing machines instead of how to run the machines. Wars got bigger and bigger and finally killed Earth.

“…That way of life proved itself wrong and strangled itself with its own hands. You’re young. I’ll tell you this again every day until it sinks in.”

I’m aware of the hottest trends in technology. As a twenty-something, I should be deeply immersed in the ownership of certain products. I don’t believe technology will ruin society, but I have been healthily wary of it since reading Feed by M.T. Anderson.

This may only be a speculation, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple started making rockets. As one who doesn’t line up at Apple stores, this is a hilarious look into the future. Observe The Oatmeal’s hilarious but true take on owning Apple products. Imagine ditching the 20-foot rocket in your garage for the newer, sleeker, but typically identital rocket that’s just been released and requires a day of waiting line just to touch.

I’ve decided to wait as long as I can before diving into the pool with the others. I love it, I want it, I could use it to my advantage, but for now I choose to keep my medias separate and come across them separately, clumped together in several windows on one computer or divided by subject in paper and glue. I’m happy with this until I can get a job to finance the ultra-sleek plaything. Even so, should I ever have a tablet I’ll be careful with the use of technology.

I have 55 books out from the library. Okay, 56, but Ray Bradbury will go back this weekend. There will come more books soon.



“I laughed, I cried, I shot four people.” –Bethany Marie, author of nothing yet

All my friends are dead. is the title of the funniest book I’ve read recently. A summary of the book will refer to it as All My Friends Are Dead, but the title on cover and spine clearly reads All my friends are dead. This is also the first sentence and running joke behind the whole book by Avery Monsen and Jory John. While I didn’t shoot four people, I shared with (read: forced it upon) five; I went around family and friends insisting this book be consumed.

I read it as I’m sure its authors intended it to be enjoyed: sitting alone, in public, and laughing like a crazy person. My personal blurb for the book is a parody of Stephen Colbert on his own book, I Am America (And So Can You!). “I laughed, I cried, I lost 15 pounds!” When a comedian’s word on a physical piece of literature exceeds the pages themselves, the entire book becomes a joke in itself. The fact that the book exists is a wonderful joke I love being a part of. This is a blurb trend that I hope continues.

If blurbs are exclamations of nothing–and I believe they certainly tell you nothing about the content of the book–they might as well be entertaining. While All My Friends Are Dead has no blurbs and has no need of them, I appreciate them on other pieces of literature as comedy. While Craig Ferguson’s American On Purpose is a memoir rather a than a comedy book, Dave Letterman turned it into one with his praise, including “Craig Ferguson is full of shit. Enjoy the book.” Despite the jarring and comedic picture on the front cover, I was adamant about reading Tina Fey’s Bossypants until I read its back cover. “‘I hope that’s not really the cover. That’s really going to hurt sales.’ –Don Fey, father of Tina Fey” This is the real purpose of blurbs: enough honesty to regard a book by its cover, both front and back.

Stephen Colbert’s I Am America (And So Can You!) took it a step further with a fake warning. On the bottom right-hand corner.

WANING! Several reportages of illegal produced issues of this book from Glorious Peoples Republic of China stealing into bookstores. Do not! Buy only likely copies only authorized STEPHEN COLBER’S I AM AMERICA AND SO ARE YOU books like this one itself! –Yours, U.S.A. Publisher.

The authors extended this care of detail far into the depths of its pages , which I’m not going to ruin for you. If you must know what it’s all about, here is a true Colbertian spoiler: buy the book.

I’m not sure if All My Friends Are Dead is children’s book, humor book, or coffee table book. I can see this as an educational kid’s book on the facts of life, but it’s a bit too surprising on these facts at times. Since it’s too small to be a typical coffee table book, I don’t know what else to call it because it’s too funny to be placed among its humor counterparts! The running joke got its start as buttons and t-shirts. (Click here to read an AMA withe the authors on Reddit.) I like the idea of creating a joke before the book. With most books in the humor section these days, I feel like authors want to create the book before they have anything to put in them. They have the concept but no material. What ends up being published is a display of raunchy and repetitive word vomit desperate for someone to like it. Everyone I showed All My Friends Are Dead to laughed when they saw the title, and that was the beginning of their interest. Books can be more than what we thought they were; not an exchange of ideas, but an exchange of laughter. When simply the cover can achieve this, the rest of the book becomes an extension of that joke.

“Totally worth it.” –Trees on Bossypants

Otherwise, I dislike blurbs and humor “gag gift” books that you’re done with almost as soon as you set eyes on them. I like books with meat; I only praise the ones I would want to spend money on. (Click here to buy All my friends are dead.) Blurbs tend to draw me away from the book because they’re either provided by people whose works or personalities I don’t like, or they use cliche terms and provide nothing about the book that benefits me. I think people put blurbs on books just to advertize themselves. I wish they’d not waste my time and just write what Carrie Fisher did. “A great read…almost as good as my memoir.” This comment did nothing to encourage me to read Craig Ferguson’s memoir; I was psyched enough about having acquired it and simply read the blurbs because they were part of the book. All it really did was remind me that these two are friends. Nevertheless, I appreciated those who cared about how little people care about blurbs, and I appreciate it when books themselves can hold their own without all the type—er—hype.

And if I ever have an autobiography or biography, I would like to add my own blurb: “If any of you people use ‘irreverent’ or ‘poignant’ in reference to this book, I’ll poignant your mom.”



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