Happy December!

Hello! I hope you all had as wonderful of a Thanksgiving as I did. I ate fried turkey (this is the only way to eat turkey), more pie than was good for me, and my absolute favorite Thanksgiving concoction: mashed potatoes with cranberry sauce mixed in. Hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! My brother-in-law’s family was visiting for the week and it was so fun to see our kids playing together.

I had hoped to start posting more regularly, but it just wasn’t going to happen between chasing my toddler around and being extremely pregnant (less than two weeks to go!) and tired. So I wanted to say farewell for now and that I will see you all in the new year!

If you want to see previous posts about Christmas, you can navigate to the Christmas category, and that will pull up my previous suggestions for Christmassy reads or gift ideas.

I also wanted to mention I’ve added another button to the website. I don’t want advertising to clog up anyone’s viewing experience, but on the other hand, there are some costs associated with running Lector’s Books. I have a link to my CafePress store, and I also have a button for Chinaberry and the newest addition is for Ebates. All of these companies are ones I use myself (is it cheating if I buy my own designs to give as Christmas presents off CafePress?). Ebates is especially appropriate to mention on Cyber Monday, since it is an online shopping cash back website.

I’ve been a member since 2009, and have earned $264 so far by using them. This isn’t a ton of money, but it’s better than nothing, especially if you do a lot of online shopping. They also occasionally have coupons you can’t get elsewhere. The way it works is that you visit their website before shopping elsewhere, and click on one of their affiliate links. They share a percentage of the advertising revenue they get with you, so the bottom line for you is cash back on your online purchase, which they distribute via quarterly check (getting a paper check from them is the only quibble I have with the system, but this probably says more about my banking institution than Ebates).

For me, it’s definitely been worth the three seconds it takes to go to their website before transferring out to another site, but it depends on  how much online shopping you do and what stores you mainly shop at. Today, I got 7% back at Carter’s, for example, while picking up a few things for the new baby, which is pretty cool, but Amazon on the other hand only pays cash back for certain categories, which is a shame because otherwise I’d be rich – or at least richer. Barnes and Noble generally runs around 1-2% cash back, which isn’t a lot, but again, better than nothing.

I am an obsessive budgeter, tracking every penny that comes in and goes out, so one of the things I like about Ebates is that it generates a little “mad money” that I don’t feel like I have to be quite so responsible with. Right now it’s getting stashed in our travel fund.

So that’s the new button on the website. I hope you all have a wonderful December, and that Santa brings you some great books! I can’t promise when I’ll be back, because I (hazily) remember life with a newborn last time around, and this time there will be a toddler to keep up with as well!

Best wishes, Janie


10 books I’ve carried with me

This post originally came from a Facebook meme that’s been going around: name 10 books that have you’ve carried with you and don’t take too long to think about it. Normally I ignore stuff like this (“If you don’t forward this post, you’re a terrorist!” “If you don’t copy  and paste this post, I’m going to unfriend you!”), but it’s about books, so I couldn’t resist. It was a good exercise and I tried to follow the instructiosn by not thinking too much about it, so I missed The Giver, but other than that I haven’t thought of any other books that I would’ve added to the list. Apologies to my Facebook friends, who will have already seen the list.

If you are interested in seeing how the masses responded, Facebook has compiled the data here. There are some great books on the list, and the only one that gave me pause was Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but since my first and favorite way to experience that story is via the radio drama, I don’t really think of it as a “book”.

So here’s my list, alphabetical by author (because picking 10 was hard enough, and I sure as heck wasn’t able to rank them!). One thing that helped me narrow down the list was thinking about which books I have physically carried with me over the years and miles, and which books continue to survive my frequent library purges.
1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – le sigh. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

2. Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth Bailey – since I’ve had the privilege of living in cultures very similar to the one Jesus inhabited, I’ve long felt that the western world misses out on alot of the cultural context of the Old and New Testaments. This book gives some great context for Jesus’s life. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury – such a great story about the power of books and the dangers of censorship. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

4. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie – this represents the entire Christie oeuvre, which has given me hours and hours of reading pleasure. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

5. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George – this is a great children’s survival story which not only features a non-male, non-white main character (gasp!) but handles incredibly adult themes very deftly and in an age-appropriate manner. This is definitely due for a reread. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

6. The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis – this again stands for the whole Chronicles of Narnia series, and is probably my favorite of the bunch, though the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a very close second. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

7. 1984 by George Orwell – this book has stayed with me since I snitched it from my older brother’s assigned reading list in high school. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

8. Harry Potter by JK Rowling – such a fun story! (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

9. Gaudy Night by Dorothy L Sayers – possibly my favorite book of all time. Layers upon layers of depth, and I discover something new about the book or myself everytime I read it. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

10. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein – what can I say? The fantasy by which all fantasy is measured. (Amazon, Barnes and Noble)

What about you? What 10 books would make your list?

*If you use these links to make a purchase, Lector’s Books may receive a small commission. This will not affect your price or purchasing experience in any way.

I’m baaaaaack!

Well, it’s been a few months, so welcome back to the blog! I hope to be bringing new content on a more regular basis. At least more regular than every three months or so! I’ve taken the summer off because I’m pregnant again (yay!) but have been feeling really sick (boo!) and tired (double boo!). I’ve been going to bed ridiculously early, which is probably good for me and the baby, but between that and chasing after a todder all day, I haven’t had a lot of time to read. However, I did manage to sneak a book in here and there over the summer, in between sweating and moaning about how hot it was, and I hope you’ll enjoy what I’ve got lined up for the next few weeks.

To kick things off, I’m recommending my favorite pregnancy book: Expecting 411 (Amazon, Barnes and Noble). I found this while pregnant with my first, and I really liked it. It’s conversational without being annoying, and informative without being alarmist. I like the paper version better than the e-book version, since it’s easier to flip through when you have a specific question. I found it a helpful guide to pregnancy, and keep meaning to get the others in the series, particularly Toddler 411 (Amazon, Barnes and Noble), but I’ve been too busy chasing after said toddler to actually sit down, buy it, and read it! The toddler years are fun, but they sure are exhausting!

What are your favorite pregnancy/parenting books?


Happy March!

For the two of you out there who follow my blog, you may have noticed I haven’t posted in a while. My son and I both had a pretty bad cold, then we had family visiting, and the day after they left, we left on a trip of our own for a few days. So it was a crazy couple of weeks. I think the worst thing about having a cold is the amount of awfulness you feel vs. the amount of wimpiness you feel for suffering as much as you do. “Oh, it’s just a cold.” NO! It feels like you’re probably not going to die, but you’re not at all sure that that’s a good thing. Anyways, I’m mostly over it, though the whining continues. Side note: when we lived in Aberdeen, I learned about a great word the Scots have for complaining: whinging. I love it.

Another random update: I’ve changed my 2014 reading challenge on GoodReads from 214 books to 100. I had planned on including board books and baby/toddler books in the number, but in terms of practicality, it was just too diificult to keep track of and enter the books I was reading. I’ll read anywhere between 5-20 of those books a day to my toddler, and it was just too much work to keep track of what I’d entered or what I hadn’t entered. So, 100 books instead of 214, but “real books” only. According to GR, I’m 3 books ahead of schedule as of the end of February. Yay!

How are your 2014 reading goals coming along?

Happy 2014!

Happy New Year!

I do love the New Year’s traditions of starting fresh, trying to rid yourself of bad habits and instill good ones. But forget exercise, eating healthy, being tidier, and all of that. Let’s talk about our reading resolutions!

One thing that I’d like to focus on in 2014 is reading less crap, simply because it happens to be free. Having a limited budget is still no excuse to not read good books. It all comes down to whether or not I have a pile of good books to read when I actually have the time to read them. So for me, that means planning ahead and keeping books on hand from the library, instead of not having anything and trolling the Amazon “free” bestsellers list. I have found some true gems on there, but I’ve also finished a lot of poorly written, poorly edited books just because I didn’t have anything else. Life is too short to read bad books!

I’m also curious to see how many books I actually read in one year. I’ll try to keep track on Goodreads, which historically I’ve been pretty bad at, but this year, I’m going to make a push to record everything I read. My “easy” goal will be 100 books (including children’s books), and my stretch goal will be 214 books (for 2014). But the main point will be to record everything, which will help me set a better goal for 2015. Right now I have absolutely no idea how much I’m reading. For the purposes of this exercise, I’ll count books I’ve already read as long as I read the whole thing, and I only get to count them once.

For the blog, I’d like to reorganize the Children’s section, and add in categories for Caldecott and Newberry award winners. I’m also going to try to broaden the age range for my Family Fridays, since I know I’m doing a lot of picture books, and younger kids books. Since my only child is still young, that’s just what I happen to be reading the  most of right now, but I know a lot of you are reading to and buying for older kids as well.

So that’s it for Lector’s Books: read good books, record what I read, and get organized with my children’s recommendations. What about you? Any reading goals for 2014?

It’s almost Christmas!

Merry Christmas from all of us here (that would be me) at Lector’s Books!

If the kids or in-laws are driving you crazy and you’ve run out of all your favorite Christmas books/movies, I’d recommend diving into The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – both the book and latest movie adapation are fantastic, and at this point in December the Witch’s curse on Narnia probably resonates deeply with everyone: the fear that it will be always winter and never Christmas!

Book Overboard – Books You Just Couldn’t Finish

I recently made it only a few pages into three different mysteries and then stopped because I just couldn’t get into them. (For the record, they were Dance of the Winnebagos – too R rated for my tastes, The Final Arrangement  – too bland for my tastes, and A Dead Red Oleander – the narrator/main character just rubbed me the wrong way.) Not finishing books is a new development for me, probably within this past year. With the frequent availability of free or $0.99 reads, my Kindle starts to fill up fast, and I don’t like it to get too crowded.

This made me start thinking: when is a book worth abandoning? I very, very rarely will read a book halfway and then stop, if I’m going to bail it’s within the first few pages or so although it’s still pretty uncommon for me to do this. My pile of “wish I hadn’t read it” is still much larger than my pile of “abandoned before the end”. The thing is, life is too short and there are too many good books out there to waste your time with badly written books, or even just books you aren’t enjoying. Things that make me stop reading are insipid characters, too much gratuitous sex or violence, and of course, too many basic writing errors. If these things are evident in the first five pages, there is almost no chance I’m going to like the book, so it’s done.

Now I’m turning it over to you. Do you abandon books? If so, does it make you feel guilty (it does me!)? What will cause you to not finish a book? What are some books you couldn’t finish?

Back from Brazil!

I’m back from Brazil! It was a very good trip, but unforunately my plans to read several books were thwarted by a) the Martian Death Flu contracted shortly before leaving, so I spent the plane rides down staring at the tray table in front of me and tending to my baby and b) travelling with said baby. I did however get a mystery read, which will be posted later in the week.

My husband, baby and I flew down to Rio to visit my parents and see the sights, then took a side trip to Foz do Iguaçu to see the waterfalls there. Rio is a very interesting city, and the waterfalls are possibly the most amazing thing I have ever seen. It was a liberating to take a major trip with my baby and realize that while yes, it is harder than travelling with out him, it is still doable. Since travel is hardwired into my being, this was encouraging. I’m already planning our next trip – as soon as we can fund it!

Me and Mr. Baby experiencing the Atlantic Ocean – he was not a fan. Too cold, Momma!


Gramps and Mr. Baby in front of the waterfalls.


Me, my husband, Mr. Baby, and Nana on they way back to Rio.


So – crazy to travel with a baby? What trips have you taken with your children? How old did you wait to start travelling with them?

To Mark Up or Not To Mark Up

A question born out of my own simple curiousity.

Do you leave your physical mark on your paper books?

Do you dog-ear, highlight, make notes, inscribe your name, or some combination of the above? I have to admit that I don’t do any of those things. I try to keep my books in as pristine condition as possible – it just seems wrong for me to do otherwise. I never even leave them open face down on a table when I’m gone for a few minutes (what I do instead is grab anything that’s handy and use it as a bookmark. The strangest thing I’ve noticed when I came back to a book was our iPad mini happily holding my spot.)

Cookbooks are the one exception to this rule, I’ll make notes off to the side, but not all that often. And it’s not like I’ve never harmed books, it’s just usually unintentional (i.e. dropped in the bathtub).

So, what is it for you? To mark up or not to mark up?

Favorite Reading Setup?

When I read I become completely immersed in the story. If I’m reading an extremely good book, I forget to eat, lose track of time, don’t sleep, and any distractions (once they finally penetrate what my husband has dubbed my “book coma”) are met with high annoyance. In theory I like a nice cup of tea while reading, but in practice I generally forget to drink it as I get sucked into the story. If I could create the ideal reading setup for me, it would pretty much look like a sensory deprivation chamber, but well lit and with a bathtub that has continuous hot water. I prefer paperbacks to hardbacks (I find them difficult to hold) or e-readers (though I do love their convenience!).

What is your favorite reading setup? Hardback, paperback, or e-reader? Inside or outside? Music? A sidewalk cafe in an exotic locale? At home on your couch?