winning at life, aka 10 bookish things that give me joy

Monday, August 15, 2016 | | 6 comments

I’ve had several lovely bookish things happening in my life, and I thought I’d share the joy a bit, in case they give you an idea or the nudge you need to add something book- or reading-related to your routine. I found many of these through excellent recommendations from the Twitter book world (thanks, all!).

1. One Book At A Time literacy project – This fantastic program pairs children in after school programs who don’t have access to books with someone (anyone!) willing to buy and send one book per month over the course of a year. Participants also get to exchange letters with their “book buddy.” I corresponded with a 14 year-old girl over the last school year and it was seriously SO REWARDING. I felt so proud when I finally figured out her reading preferences, and I just about burst with happiness every time one of her letters arrived in my mailbox. I can’t wait to be assigned to a new book buddy when school starts up again next month.

2. Matched graphic novels & kids for a reading teacher – I have two close friends who work as reading teachers in local elementary schools. When we get together we often talk about their kids and the books they’re reading (or having trouble reading, as the case may be). One of those friends told me a heart-breaking story about two 10 year-old girls she tutors. The first student has no confidence in her reading, and her classroom teacher only cements that. I immediately thought of Dav Pilkey’s latest, Dog Man. The other student is stronger in math and science than reading, so I went to Gene Luen Yang’s Secret Coders. Thanks to my trip to BEA, I had ARCs of both on hand and donated them right then and there. My friend reported back that both girls were ecstatic about the books, boasted that they read “graphic novels” to teachers and friends alike, and that the reading practice helped them pass their end-of-the-year tests with confidence. It legit made me cry (happy tears).

3. Adult summer reading at my local library – Does your local library have a summer reading program for adults? Mine does, and it is GENIUS. I mean, I’m reading anyway, but it’s great incentive to log books read, and there are prizes!

4. Audiofile’s free ebook program SYNC – Two free audiobook downloads each week for 15 weeks over the course of the summer. Does that sound good to you? If so, you should totally sign up for the weekly reminder emails. I don’t even like audiobooks, but this offer is too good to pass up.

5. Crowdsourcing book suggestions – A coworker of mine mentors a 17 year-old boy, and she told me about him over a lunch one day. Her description of a curious, sharp, private kid who has seen way too much hardship hit me in the feels. I asked her if I could send him a book. When I got the okay, I turned to Twitter for recommendations. They delivered. I ended up ordering two of the suggested titles for a kid I don’t know. I really hope he likes them. I feel like a hero anyway.

6. OTSP Secret Sister – Have you seen the #otspsecretsister tag on the web and wondered what it meant? It’s six months of bookish secret santa, with an emphasis on cheer and sending thoughtful letters. It’s FUN to organize gifts and letters and little surprises for a new friend. And of course receiving little things in the mail isn’t too shabby, either. I signed up last month for my 3rd round because I keep having such a great time. 10/10 would recommend.

7. Book club (in real life and everything!) – Many years ago in a galaxy far, far away I didn’t have any close friends who read the sort of books I liked. Then I discovered Forever Young Adult’s book club network and joined the DC chapter. I now know many excellent people who read YA for fun, and we meet up and talk at book club and outside of it too. It’s super gratifying to have friends who want to see the latest teen film-to-book adaptation (like I do!).

8. eBook of the Month Club – If you read sci-fi and fantasy, get thee over to and sign up for their free ebook of the month club! You get a free download that is yours to keep no matter what, and the titles are fab. Just do it.

9. Talking to my 97-year old grandmother about the formative books of her childhood, and what she’s reading now – I spent some time with family over a long weekend, and I got to chat with my grandmother about reading. Which, for the record, is the best. She’s so smart and strong – I’m honored to be related to her. By the way, she just finished David McCullough’s biography of the Wright brothers.

10. Reading a cookbook in French! – I’m headed to Paris for the first time next month for a short vacation, and I’ve been teaching myself elementary French via Duolingo. I helped a family friend make a sorbet recipe over the weekend and I read it in French (with help)! So exciting.

Honorable mention: It hasn’t happened yet, but I plan to attend Kate Milford’s book launch next week in Annapolis, MD for her new middle grade novel The Left-Handed Fate.

What are some bookish happenings in your life?
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