Monday Musings | Book Buying Habits

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

I guess it comes as no surprise that my book buying habits have changed over the years, but as I was celebrating a great find at the library (yes, I’m a nerd), I wondered if everyone has a list of criteria that determines whether they buy a book or not. Or, more realistically, what those criteria are.

When I  grew up, the books I “bought” were the ones I successfully convinced my parents and relatives to buy for me. When I started having a (small) allowance, I was very picky when it came to actually biting the bullet and buying a book with my limited funds. At this point in life, I mostly bought books that I had already read but loved. But once I moved into my own place and started my first “grown up” job, there was no stopping me. I started buying books that I really wanted to read immediately, regardless of price and format. Well, let’s just say that that kind of buying isn’t sustainable and now I’m back in the “pull back” mode of buying where I have to really think carefully about the books I’m buying as I’m running out of space.

So, I normally follow a set of guidelines when I decide whether I want to buy a book: a) how badly do I want to read this book? b) do I want to read it right now? c) can I buy this as an e-book instead? d) might I find it in the library?

I find these guidelines have served me well so far, and when I see an anticipated read at the library, it’s extra exciting.

Do you give yourself any guidelines when deciding whether or not to buy a book? How have your book buying habits changed throughout the years?

It’s the Eve of #CanadaReads!

2016 CBC Canada Reads Shortlist

When I first started this blog, one of the big things that I wanted to accomplish was to foster a love for Canadian Literature, or CanLit. For a long time, I had discounted CanLit because I had a really outdated idea that it was boring. I don’t even know where I got that thought from! Well, I’m so glad that I have discovered otherwise because there are some truly fantastic Canadian books out there. Not only that — there are also so many ways to celebrate CanLit, including Canada Reads which starts tomorrow!

If you’re unfamiliar with Canada Reads, it’s basically a battle of the books type competition featuring 5 panel members who each defend a book that they believe best fits the year’s theme. This year’s theme is “starting over.” The four-day debate can be watched live online, on TV, or on the radio. Click here for more information!

Like most years, I challenged myself to read all 5 contending books and I was so so close to completing it this year. I ended up reading 4 of the 5 books in full, and unfortunately put down the last book after reading a few chapters because I wasn’t quite feeling it. That being said, here’s my breakdown of the five books:

Birdie by Tracey Lindberg (Defended by Bruce Poon Tip)
First line: “Maggie sits in the old tavern, amongst friends.”
My thoughts: Birdie is a complicated one for me, because I understand its significance but I spent half of the book not quite getting what was happening. It wasn’t until I got to see things from the perspective of other characters that I really truly “got” what was happening. While I think that’s more a shortcoming on my part, it did affect how I felt about it. That being said, I’m so excited to hear Bruce Poon Tip defend Birdie, as I think it will help me understand and appreciate the novel more.

Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz (Defended by Farah Mohamed)
First line: “If you listen, you can almost hear the sound of my son’s heart breaking.”
My thoughts: I loved Bone and Bread. I’m a sucker for family stories — especially if it has to do with sisters — and Bone and Bread was gut-wrenching and beautifully written. This is a book with characters that you’ll want to root for and care for, and I can’t wait to watch Farah Mohamed defend it in the debates.

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill (Defended by Clara Hughes)
First line: “Go home.”
My thoughts: Surprisingly, this was my first time reading Lawrence Hill. I was blown away by the complexity of the book, given how readable it is. Keita Ali has not had an easy life and he is fascinating to read about (and cheer on), but what ultimately impressed me the most about this book was how much I got sucked into each character’s story arc. Now that’s great characterization.

Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter (Defended by Adam Copeland)
First line: “She told him there wasn’t another person.”
My thoughts: This is the book that I didn’t end up finishing, so I’m going to really pay attention to what Adam Copeland says about it during the debates. (I always find that I appreciate a book more when I hear someone fiercely defending it.) I didn’t keep reading the book because I unfortunately didn’t feel like I cared about Henry enough.I’m sure the “point” of the book was to watch Henry grow as a person, but I just wasn’t compelled.

The Hero’s Walk by Anita Rau Badami (Defended by Vinay Virmani)
First line: “It was only five o’clock on a July morning in Toturpuram, and already every trace of night had disappeared.”
My thoughts: This was another book that I loved. And, surprise! It’s a book about a family. I especially loved this book because it features a child who is displaced to a completely foreign country (from Canada to India). As someone who also moved to a foreign place when they were young (I moved from Canada to Hong Kong in grade four), I could relate to seven-year-old Nandana but also appreciate how hard the adjustment must be for the adults as well. Everyone in The Hero’s Walk has their own story, problems, and regrets, and it was a fantastic character-driven novel.

So, who do I think will win? I have no idea! All five books have characters who are trying to find themselves and start over in a way. I’m just excited to see fellow book lovers defending their picks!

Did you read the Canada Reads shortlist? Are you rooting for a particular book? Let me know!

Get Ready For Valentine’s With These Bookish Pick-Up Lines (Success Not Guaranteed)

Bookish Pick Up Lines Valentines Day for Book Lovers

Unless you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t come across any Valentine’s Day merch recently, you’ll probably know that Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. (It’s this Sunday, in fact!)

So, to get into the spirit of the “holiday,” I’ve combined two of my favourite things (book lovers and being cheesy) to help you get ready for V-Day. Note: Every time I’ve used puns to try to attract people I’ve been met with groans and slow claps, so… Your mileage may vary.

Continue reading

Book Review + Giveaway | Always the Bridesmaid by Lindsey Kelk

Always the Bridesmaid, Lindsey Kelk, book blogger, book review, giveaway, free books

Hi friends! You may remember this Instagram post back in August announcing my exciting news, and I’m sad to say that my internship at HarperCollins Canada is coming to an end. However, this post is supposed to be a happy and exciting one. Early into my internship, Kaitlyn from The Savvy Reader left a copy of Always the Bridesmaid by Lindsey Kelk on my desk for me to read. After loving it, she asked me if I wanted to host a giveaway on my blog! You know I love sharing my favourite books with you, so keep reading to the end to enter!

I read Always the Bridesmaid when I was in the middle of a reading slump, and I have to say: this humourous book is perfect for busting slumps! It centers around Maddie, whose two best friends are in two different stages of life: Lauren is recently engaged and planning her wedding, while Sarah’s marriage is not going so well. Where does that leave Maddie? Smack dab in the middle. Lauren becomes a bit of a “Bridezilla” and Sarah turns to Maddie to vent about her relationship troubles. Oh, on top of all this, Maddie also has to juggle her work life and her love life…

It took me no time at all to fly through the book as it was just so enjoyable to read. Every chapter starts with an entry from Maddie’s bridesmaid book (from Lauren, of course) and Maddie is hilariously honest in each entry. Maddie is the perfect narrator because she tells her readers exactly what’s on her mind. She also gets into some pretty funny situations, and I have to admit that I laughed louder on the subway than I intended to when I was reading about “penguins vs. pandas.” I think most people can relate to the things the characters go through in this book, whether it be an exhausting bride-to-be, a friend going through boy troubles, having your own boy troubles, and struggling to move up at work. That Kelk is able to bring comedy into these everyday situations brings a certain kind of relief to them, and it’s refreshing to be able to see these events as funny instead of complicated and difficult.

So, whether you’re looking to get over a reading slump, want to read something that is full of drama and will make you laugh out loud, or relate to not ever wanting to be a bridesmaid again, this book is the perfect pick. It would also make the perfect gift for the girlfriends and fans of rom-coms on your shopping list!

Now, on to the giveaway! The generous HarperCollins Canada has given me 5 copies to give away. Click on the link below to enter!

**CLICK HERE TO ENTER GIVEAWAY**

CONTEST RULES:
1. No purchase necessary.
2. Open to residents of Canada only. (Sorry!)
3. If a winner is picked and their Twitter account only has giveaway entries, I will choose again (unless I can tell by their other accounts that they will actually read the book). I want the winner to genuinely enjoy these books!
4. Have fun and good luck!

Have you ever been a bridesmaid? What’s your favourite best friend story?

Books I’m Thankful For This Thanksgiving

Read Away Winter Blues One More Page

This weekend is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, and if you know me, you’ll know that I love celebrating holidays. That being said, Thanksgiving always makes me feel especially happy, as it’s a great reminder to be thankful for what I have. This year, thinking about my blessings is making my heart grow multiple sizes. Above everything, I think I’m most thankful for this feeling of contentment.

Anyway, cheesy intro aside (which will lead to…more cheese), the start of the weekend made me think about some of the books that I’m thankful for. Of course, it would be almost impossible to list every single book that’s had an impact on my life, so I’ll just pick and choose some of my recent/top favourites. (If you want to know the 10 Reasons Why I’m Thankful for the Bookish/Blogging Community, click here!)

1. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Charlotte’s Web is one of the first books I remember really loving as a child. In fact, I loved it so much that I had most of the first chapter memorized. I recently did a Sporcle quiz (I know, I know) on identifying first lines, and reading “‘Where’s Papa going with that axe?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.” brought back a wave of great memories. After reading Charlotte’s Web, I quickly devoured Stuart Little (not literally, thankfully) and The Trumpet of the Swan. I’m thankful that these books kick-started my love for reading!

2. I Want to Go Home by Gordon Korman

This is another childhood favourite, and I can still clearly remember laughing at Rudy Miller’s antics as he tries to escape summer camp. This book was actually first read to me by one of my teachers in school, and so, while I thank this book for teaching me that books can be wildly entertaining and hilarious, I must also thank my teacher for having great taste in books. (Also, I highly recommend reading Korman’s Macdonald Hall series – it’s equally hilarious.)

3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

As I’m writing this post, I find it interesting how 2 of my top 3 favourite childhood books were read to me by teachers. I’m sure I would have found out about the ubiquitous Harry Potter series at some point in my life, but I’m grateful that a teacher introduced my class to Harry early, and that we were a part of the “fandom” who grew up with Harry. The Harry Potter series taught me that books could expand my imagination.

4. Re Jane by Patricia Park

I’ve been a terrible blogger these past few months, so even though I loved this book and have a deep emotional connection to it, I haven’t really mentioned it on my blog. While I was reading this book, a huge challenge was presented to me in my “real life,” and I was – and still am – so thankful that I had this book to escape to. It’s almost funny in a way, because at one point in the novel, Jane is trying to escape something as well, so I felt like our stories were connected in some way. This book, which I’m still aiming to review at some point, was a wonderful distraction during a tough time. (I should also mention that it’s a modern retelling of Jane Eyre, and a very good one at that.)

5. The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

Oh how this book ripped my heart to shreds and uplifted it! It really should be no secret that I love it when books make me cry, but this one stands out as a recent favourite that just left me sobbing on the couch. It’s kind of true what they say: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” I still feel those emotions as if I’d read the book yesterday. Read my full review here.

6. Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault

When I think of this graphic novel, I think of how protective I felt of Hélène, the main character. She’s been unfairly bullied by her classmates and escapes through reading (coincidentally, the “Jane” in the title refers to the Jane in Jane Eyre… I’m sensing a strange pattern here). I’m thankful for this book because it exists. I want to give it to any child that feels alone, teased, or friendless. This book shows that things can get better, especially with help from a great book and your imagination. Read my full review here.

There it is! A tiny list of the books that I’m thankful for. Whether they taught me something or simply touched me, these books are all important to me in their own way. Compiling this list has reminded me of why I love reading so much: it really does have the ability to alter lives for the better.

Which books are you thankful for? Are there any books that are especially dear to you? Let’s share stories!

Monday Musings | Paying Attention to Publishers?

Literature Classics Penguin Classics Oxford Classics One More Page

When I was in university studying English, classics were a staple on my reading lists. Now, I don’t know how you categorize your shelves, but when classics made up most of mine in university, my favourite way to organize my books was by publisher (see above!). Just thinking about my row of black Penguin classics and white Oxford classics makes my heart sing!

However, outside of the classics, I never really paid attention to who was publishing my favourite books until I started blogging. This is kind of interesting, as it makes me wonder whether other readers consider publishers when they pick up a new book. Does a book published by a recognizable publisher give readers more confidence in picking it up if they see it on a table in Chapters? Or do we largely ignore publishers and focus on the book’s content itself?

I have definitely noticed trends in my reading (I read a lot of books by Penguin Random House Canada, which is unsurprising as their one of the biggest global publishers. I also read a lot from HarperCollins Canada, especially now that I’m an intern there!). That being said, I don’t confine myself to my favourite publishers and do rely on book synopses to help me determine whether I want to read a book or not.

Now, I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Do you pay attention to publishers when purchasing books/reading? Do you have a favourite publisher? If so, why do you consider them your favourite?

Monday Musings | Summer Reads

One More Page Book Blog Summer Reads

Hi friends! How’s your summer going?

As you may have been able to tell from my terrible blogging schedule, I’ve been a busy bee. My publishing class ended, and then I got this exciting news, so I took a small break to recuperate and get ready for things to come.

Anyway, as I was thinking about reading (what else is new?) I started thinking about the term “summer reads” and whether the seasons play a part in my reading habits. After musing about it long and hard, I have to say that I definitely prefer “lighter” reads during the summer compared to more “serious” stuff in the fall/winter. I wonder why that is? Part of me thinks it’s because I’ve always taken advantage of summer vacations to read “fun” books, whereas I left all of my required reading till September when I was in school. Another part of me just blames the beautiful weather!

What about you? Do you read more of a certain type of book during any specific season? Do you equate “summer reads” with “light reading” like I do?

Monday Musings | Childhood Favourites

Karen Ma Monthly Summary September 2014 One More Page

You know that oft-quoted saying “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel?”

That phrase popped into my mind today as I was reminiscing about my favourite childhood books. I have many childhood favourites that I still remember by name (Charlotte’s Web, I Want to Go Home, Little House on the Prairie, etc) but there are also some “lost favourites” that I can vaguely recall but can’t quite place anymore. For example, at one point, one of my favourite books was about this kid who was trick-or-treating with his friends when he suddenly gets the hiccoughs. His friends all suggest different ways to get rid of the hiccoughs but nothing seems to work… To be honest, I don’t even remember how the book ends (perhaps someone scares him – thus fitting the Hallowe’en theme – and he’s cured?), but I remember the delight that I felt when reading the book, and I often find myself thinking back to that plot when I have the hiccoughs. (It’s kind of weird what kind of thing sticks with a person, eh?)

Anyway, this got me thinking about how important children’s literature is. I mean, it’s probably been around 20 years since I encountered the book I described above, and I’m still thinking about it! I wouldn’t be surprised if I was 80 and still laughing about it while powering through some hiccoughs. That’s some serious staying power. It makes me so thankful that there are so many wonderful and talented children’s writers that create not only educational, but memorable and delightful books that will last with generations and generations of children.

So, I may not remember the title or the author of one of my childhood favourites, but I will always remember how reading it made me feel.

Do you have any book plots that have stuck with you despite not remembering the title/author of the book? Does anyone have any idea which book I’m talking about? (It’s been a while since I’ve tried to find it via Google.)

Book Review | China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan

China Rich Girlfriend Kevin Kwan Book Review Cover One More Page

[I received a copy of this book from its Canadian publisher Penguin Random House Canada. This does not affect my opinion on the book.]

The highly anticipated sequel to Kevin Kwan’s 2013 novel Crazy Rich Asians is here – finally! If you’ve read Crazy Rich Asians, you’ll know that this series is all about the fine things in life: a jet-setting lifestyle, exquisite clothing, and extravagant events. Well, it’s safe to say that China Rich Girlfriend lives up to expectations as it continues to deliver what fans loved so much about Crazy Rich Asians.

China Rich Girlfriend picks up where Crazy Rich Asians leaves off (click here to read what Crazy Rich Asians is about). In my opinion, I would classify this as a sequel rather than a companion novel. You won’t be lost if you’ve never read Crazy Rich Asians, but the events are definitely succeeding it, which means you may want to start from the top if you want to pick up the series.

It’s hard to review this book without giving away anything, so I’ll keep this review short and sweet. I absolutely loved getting to continue to follow the characters’ lives. They’re all so well-developed with their own distinct plot lines and problems to overcome while providing readers ample excitement and escape from real life. While it did take me two tries to finish Crazy Rich Asians (I had to learn to accept the conspicuous consumption instead of resist it), once I became invested in the characters it was hard to put down. I am now waiting with baited breath, hoping that there will be another installment!

Verdict: A consistent follow-up to Crazy Rich Asians. This series is the perfect escapist read, transporting readers to a place that is likely very unfamiliar. I loved living through the crazy lives of these characters and pretending that I was right there with them. If you loved Crazy Rich Asians, you need to read this.

Read if: You want to go on a crazy rich adventure, you loved Crazy Rich Asians, you want to find out what it means to be richer than crazy rich.

Are you a fan of Crazy Rich Asians? If you had unlimited funds, where would you go on vacation?

Monday Musings | Books With Sentimental Value

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews Signed

Hi everyone! I hope you’ve had a great weekend and a nice Monday. It’s Family Day in Ontario, so I was lucky enough to enjoy the day off. It has been excellent.

I just caught up with last night’s episode of Girls (a show I follow religiously) and it has me feeling all melancholy and sentimental. So I thought I would tie it into today’s Monday Musing post!

When it comes to books, I do attach quite a bit of sentiment to them. Whether it be because its message really spoke to me, because I read it at a very specific time in my life, or because it was a gift from a special person, these emotions make it hard for me to part with certain books, and heartbreaking when I do have to let them go.

One specific instance I can think of is a dictionary that I owned. It used to be my mother’s dictionary, and on the title page, under her name, I had signed mine. Unfortunately, when I was packing all of my belongings to move them to Toronto, I had to give it away as it was just too bulky for me to bring to Ontario. Whenever I think about it, I feel like I should have kept it. Similarly, I remember receiving books from my mother as a child and asking her to sign and dedicate them to me. (I guess I’ve always been a sentimental person.) These books are not currently in my possession, but they are ones that I will cherish forever and ever.

Do you have any books that are especially important to you? What’s the story behind it?