A Recipe for the Perfect Reading Spot

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Let’s have a quick chat about something very, very personal. No, not your true hair color or how often you actually eat the ice cream straight out of the carton. Something even more personal than that — your “reading spot.” I’ve always had a “spot,” from the horribly uncomfortable butterfly chair I had as a child to the less private but infinitely more comfortable couch I have now. Having a “spot” is a crucial part of being a bookworm. It’s a place that’s yours and yours alone, where you can settle into your next romance novel or mammoth biography and lose a few hours of time. It’s also a place that’s allowed to be messy because it’s your spot and you can leave whatever you want there. Or maybe that’s just my spot.. Regardless of where (or what) your spot is, there are a few key ingredients to making it the best spot in the whole house. And don’t feel bad if you don’t feel like inviting other people into your spot. Tell them to go get their own.

Curl up in a chair

If you’re lucky enough to have some extra space in your living quarters for a dedicated reading chair, then color me jealous. A comfy reading chair is a perfect backbone for your reading spot. It can be a well-loved family heirloom or a new-fangled thing from Ikea. But whatever you do, make sure it’s not a canvas butterfly chair. My back still hasn’t recovered from that ergonomic nightmare. And if you don’t have space for a separate chair, don’t fret. I don’t either. Instead, I have a cushion on my couch (a la Sheldon Cooper) that it mine for reading time. It’s a corner cushion of our sectional couch that I can bury myself in and LET. ME. TELL. YOU. It’s so good. Except sometimes it’s too good and it’s hard to stay awake. 

Build some bookshelves

The other crucial aspect of any perfect spot is a place to put all of your reading material. Because what is a reading spot without reading material? Build some shelves into the wall if you have that option. Get a basic bookshelf from Target if you don’t. Or, if you’re extra tight for space, make some book stacks on a small table or window sill. I actually have and utilize all three of these storage options in my apartment and I love them all. Mix and match to your heart’s delight. You can play fast and loose with the rules here as long as your reading material ends up with a home.

Pile on the pillows

Throw pillows are an easy and relatively cheap way to boost the cozy factor of your reading spot. They can be used as butt cushions, back cushions, head cushions… Whatever body part you need cushioned, throw pillows are your answer. Throw some on your chair or put a few on a wide windowsill. Pillows will make your spot that much more comfy, wherever your spot happens to be. And bonus points if you can find cool patterns or colors that give your spot its own unique vibe to set it apart from the rest of the room.

Bring on the blankets

Pillows are nice, but blankets are where the cozy is made. Find yourself a spot blanket and let it live there full-time. That way, when you finally  have a few moments to spend in your spot, you don’t have to waste any of those precious minutes on tracking down your cozy ingredients. What makes a perfect spot blanket? Mine is fluffy but on the thinner side and HUGE so that I can wrap myself in it, use it as a pillow, fold it onto itself when it’s extra cold outside… The opportunities with my spot blanket are endless and yours should be too.

Add some accessories

What more could your spot use? Whatever you can think of! Maybe you’re a huge magazine collector and your spot could use a fun magazine caddy. Or maybe your spot isn’t located by a window so you need some cool lights to brighten up the space. Perhaps you like to bring your coffee (or, um, wine) into your spot, so you need some funky coasters. Your spot is your spot, so make it what you want it to be. And then get to reading!

photo credit: 1, 2, 3

Around the Internet

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Check out these five great stories from around the web.

  1. We’re always looking for something new to read. Or is that just me? Let these five apps make narrowing down on the perfect selection that much easier. But it still probably won’t be easy.
  2. SO. HUGE NEWS. Hollywood’s Best Man, the one and only Tom Hanks, is publishing a collection of short stories (due in October) that I have no doubt will be as life-changing as Philadelphia. Or The Terminal. Yes, Tom. Yes.
  3. Diversity is a hot topic these days–and rightfully so. Check out these seven articles about diversity in the publishing industry and take some time learn a little bit more about your neighbor, won’t you?
  4. This company is combining AR and VR with children’s books at the results look AWESOME. Kids these days, huh?
  5. Take a look at this take about where books are headed next. Because the world is a-changing and bookworms worldwide have to keep up or risk being left in the dust.

 

An Update: You Are a Badass

So my plan was to have this book done by the early part of this week. But… that didn’t happen. Mainly because after I finished Don’t You Cry, I couldn’t really bring myself to start reading a boring self-help book. I mean… C’mon. That sounded awful.

Well, jokes on me. Because I started reading You Are a Badass this week and it’s AWESOME. But, I think it’s going to take me a hot minute to get through it because I ended up busting out the highlighter. Because hot damn. There are some insightful nuggets in this bad boy.

All of this to say… I’m not done with You Are a Badass yet. But I will let you know when I am. And I’m sure I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops, if these first few chapters are any indication.

Around the Internet

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Check out these five great stories from around the web.

  1. An interesting look at a day in the life of Hearst Digital Media’s senior features editor (trying saying that five times fast), who has to spread her focus across all 17 (!!) of Heart’s sites. Good riddance!
  2. Because in the midst of all of the lovey-dovey marketing we’re bombarded with during Valentine’s Day, sometimes you just want a book that will let you have a good cry, a la A Fault in Our Stars.
  3. I’ve been editing a book chapter this week (dreams do come true!), and in doing a little copy editing research, I came across this interview with editor extraordinaire Susan Bradanini Betz. Definitely one of my better finds so far this year.
  4. Check out this list of 15 new authors that you’re going to be obsessed with this year–rock on female empowerment and politically-tinged stories. We’re ready for ya.
  5. New job alert: Publishers are now hiring “sensitivity readers” to make sure authors are appropriately covering any potentially offensive or sensitive material.

Review Time: Don’t You Cry

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Like I mentioned earlier, I put Don’t You Cry on my library Holds list as soon as I finished The Good Girl and MAN am I glad I did. This story about the search for a missing woman is told by her roommate who is desperately trying to find her and a boy in a small town in Michigan who quickly falls for the new girl in town is captivating, to say the least.

Similar to The Good Girl, Mary Kubica uses an alternating narrative to help drive the story and maintain the suspense. And it just works. Be warned that the two narrators in this story lean on the side of VERY ANNOYING sometimes. But once everything comes full circle, you can’t help but love everyone which really is Kubica’s best quality. I did NOT want to love these characters but I couldn’t resist in the end.

Quinn Collins wakes up one morning to find that her roommate, Esther Vaughan, has vanished out of her room on Chicago’s north side. As morning turns into night turns into morning, Quinn realizes that Esther might not have left of her own volition. Quinn employs her friend, Ben, to help her search for her missing roommate. And what they find during their search slowly changes their perception of who Esther was and makes them question if they ever really knew the girl. Also, as previously mentioned, Quinn is annoying. She obsesses over pretty much everything — Esther, Ben, Esther’s previous roommate, papers in Esther’s room, everything. But, in the end all of her obsessions are justified so… 

Alex Gallo lives a pretty drab life in a small lakeside town in Michigan, busing tables during the day and taking care of his alcoholic father all night long. One day Alex spots a new, beautiful young woman at the diner where he works and he’s immediately transfixed. Alex’s whole life becomes waiting for the girl, whom he calls Pearl, to show up at the diner. She comes and goes, never sticking to a schedule. And Alex loves her. Then one day, Alex finds Pearl living in the abandoned house across the street from his own. And he finally starts to learn about this mysterious girl, though turns out to not be quite who Alex imagined her to be.

Alternating between both Quinn and Alex’s obsessions is as exhausting as it sounds, but eventually, their obsessions become yours and you care as much about finding Esther as both of them do. I will say, though… That ending… I did NOT see that coming. 

Another Chicago-based, suspense-filled story. Another home run.

Grade:★★★★☆

Cookbooks You Need, ASAP

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Cooking is something that I’ve come to really enjoy as I get further and further into this “adulting” thing. Cooking my own food has definitely helped me expand my palate–and more importantly, my boyfriend’s palate. A recent win? Getting him on board the quinoa train. He’s now even more on board than I am, which I’ll count as a win because damn brown rice takes FOREVER to cook on the stove and I despise cleaning the microwavable rice cooker.

Now that’s not to say that all of my kitchen experiments end up in the “tasty” category, but most of them are, at the very least, edible. Except once when I tried to make creole-style red beans, ended up with weird bean soup and then SCORCHED the bottom of the soup pot trying to remedy the situation. That was a disaster that ended with Chinese take-out and a soup pot in the trash can. And a fair amount of tears because I don’t take failure well.

Thankfully, my cooking has improved since that fateful experience (though I haven’t touched a red bean since). And a huge part of my improvement can be attributed to an investment in pretty-much-fool-proof cookbooks from some of my favorite food bloggers. These cookbook authors/bloggers are HILARIOUS. I followed each of their blogs for a while before getting the real life cookbooks. I wasn’t disappointed at all and neither will you once you check out these three kick ass food tomes. Happy cooking!

  1. The Dude Diet: Clean(ish) Food for People Who Like to Eat Dirty – This cookbook, authored by Serena Wolf of the blog Domesticate ME! Is the newest addition to our kitchen and definitely the one that’s gotten the most work recently. Serena is awesome, the stories of her food-chugging boyfriend Logan are hilarious and her recipes are delicious. The premise of The Dude Diet is “healthifying” some of our favorite, not-so-healthy foods like nachos, burgers and any other standard “bar food” that I’d absolutely order on a Saturday night and then regret come Sunday morning. The lightened-up recipes are pretty simple to make (something that I’m super grateful for when I’m making dinner on a weeknight) and absolutely pass the boyfriend test, so this one will be sticking around for awhile at our house!
  2. Seriously Delish: 150 Recipes for People Who Totally Love Food – Jessica Merchant is the blogger behind How Sweet It Is and again, I absolutely adore her. I’ve been reading Jessica’s blog since before she was even pregnant with her now two year old nugget, Max. She embodies that ‘90s child that still lives in all of us and is not ashamed of it one bit. She is a FABULOUS cook and her recipes are out of this world. So much so that some of them are a little out of my comfort zone, but I like having the challenge available to me if I have the time/bravery to attempt one of her masterpieces. Even if some of her recipes are too advanced for me, her blog and cookbook are still one of the places I check every single time I have a food/recipe-related question because chances are she’s done/cooked it and it’s going to be awesome. Also, the pictures in this cookbook are some of the most beautiful food pictures I’ve ever seen, so even if I can’t master the recipes, I can stare at what the final product is supposed to look like. And they look SO GOOD.
  3. Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half – I think Beth Moncel’s blog, BudgetBytes, was the first food blog I ever read and her cookbook is definitely the first one I ever bought for myself. The premise of BudgetBytes is pretty straightforward – good food that won’t break the bank. I LOVE her blog because she lists out how much each ingredient should cost and includes the total price of the recipe plus the cost per serving… It satisfies my (maybe sometimes too thrifty) mind so much to see how much something is going to cost me before I ever step foot in the grocery store. This is especially helpful when I was first starting to cook for myself and didn’t want to spend a ton on random ingredients that I’d probably never use again. BudgetBytes is definitely my main go-to when I need a quick, affordable and delicious recipe to whip up on a weeknight. SO. GOOD.

Around the Internet

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Check out these five great stories from around the web.

  1. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner (hey Hallmark!), check out the best nine love stories to ever grace our bookshelves. Candles and chilled optional.
  2. Nespresso has released a stunning 556-page (!!!) book for us coffee-loving bibliophiles, The Craft and Science of Coffee.  Our coffee table NEEDS this.
  3. I loved this round-up of actually feasible tips on how to read more books this year that don’t require you to neglect every single one of your responsibilities. But you still can if you really want to.
  4. We talked about my favorite podcasts earlier this week, but check out this round-up of maybe not as macabre podcasts (but maybe still a little macabre–hey My Favorite Murder) to get you through your commute.  
  5. The History Channel is releasing illustrated book versions of their hit show “Breaking History.” The first volume is Breaking History: Vanished!: America’s Most Mysterious Kidnappings, Castaways, and the Forever Lost. Color me interested.