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Book Review: Painted Pomegranates and Needlepoint Rabbis: How Jews Craft Resilience and Create Community by Jodi Eichler-Levine

I love it when a good title catches your eye, draws you in, and makes you go, “Ooh, what’s that about?” That’s how I felt when I saw the cover of Painted Pomegranates and Needlepoint Rabbis: How Jews Craft Resilience and Create Community by Jodi Eichler-Levine (University of North Carolina Press, 2020) on NetGalley this spring. “Is this about rabbis doing needlepoint?” I wondered, until I caught sight of the subtitle and went, “Ohhhhh, fascinating!” As an occasional crafter, I understand how important making things can be to one’s identity, and as my (Re)Introduction to Judaism class was winding down, I definitely wanted to keep reading and learning. And to my surprise, I was quickly approved for the book! Totally made my day.

Jodi Eichler-Levine has penned an academic deep-dive into the intersection of arts- and craft-work and Jewish identity, a study that spanned three years and included not only interviews but observation and research into online crafting communities (Pinterest, anyone?). Her focus is not necessarily on individual artists- although plenty of those are celebrated as well- but on what crafting means as a collective and for the collective. How do crafters express their Judaism and connect with it on a deeper level through the things they create? How does the process of creation help them connect with other Jews? What messages do their various forms of creation send when viewed through the lenses of Judaism? Her study answers all these questions and more in a way that artists and crafters will appreciate.

Horror vacui, the fear or dislike of leaving empty spaces, especially in an artistic composition, is discussed in terms of a crafter’s need to create and fill their friends’ and loved ones’ lives with the fruits of their hard work, as is the fact that creation, by necessity, also means consumption, something that I’ve been trying to come to terms with over the years. Keeping one’s supply stash under control and down to a manageable amount while still ensuring that you have what you need in a pinch (or a pandemic when the stores are closed!) is a never-ending battle for every crafter; do you overbuy and run the risk of never using those materials, or do you save money and not buy but potentially regret it later? “Things ground, though they can also overwhelm,” she states succinctly, something that I very much understood. Another quote summed it up perfectly:

“Acts of creation are never simple. They are not isolated from the act of consuming, and consuming in a hypercapitalist culture has itself taken on a religious valence. Those who can afford to do so revel in their possessions but are also possessed by them, leading to a sense of claustrophobia that sparked the latest minimalism purge.”

(And yes, Marie Kondo does earn several mentions!)

The sections that resonated the most with me were about parenting and how one’s identity as a crafter, an artist, a creator, is often dashed to the ground once the task of caring for tiny humans becomes front and center. Everything falls to the side, leaving parents, particularly mothers, feeling lost and like overworked automatons. She acknowledges that even as we celebrate these new lives, there is grief as we mourn for the loss of ourselves and the identities that kept us afloat Before Parenting. Ms. Eicher-Levine’s analysis of Heather Stolz’s work, Hanging By A Thread (viewed here in Ms. Stoltz’s Kveller article, Being Jewish Kind of Sucks Now That I’m a Mom), very much hit home for me. Her piece has to do with the difficulties of finding a connection to her Judaism when her more immediate responsibilities are to ensuring the safety and well-being of her children, but it’s something to which most moms will be able to relate. I know it took my breath away. A quote from another crafter echoed another familiar, sobering realization:

“I tried to embroider a Hebrew wall hanging for my son when he was born. That was before I realized that having children would end, for a while at least, my embroidery career.”

This is the circle of women I needed when I first began having children, but I’m grateful that a new generation will have Ms. Eicher-Levine’s words to reassure them that these feelings are normal.

Stories of craftivism; of religious restrictions on creation during Shabbat and how artists deal with that; the juxtaposition of two craft movements that seem to be, on the surface, different, but have more in common than they first appear; Ms. Eichler-Levine covers so many different topics in this book with a scholarly look, but one that has heart. One of the most poignant sections deals with Jewish crafting in the wake of the Holocaust and the urgency to fill the void of having no family heirlooms, and whether there’s a deeper meaning to it. That wasn’t an aspect of the Holocaust that I’d ever really considered, so I especially appreciated her work making me aware of that.

There is some discussion of infertility in the book, and how that affects one’s artwork and identity. Infertility can be a painful subject to read about for many people, while others find comfort in seeing they’re not alone in their struggles and feelings. Be kind to yourself and never feel ashamed about waiting until you feel ready to read subjects that may be difficult for you.

While the book is more academic than literary, it’s definitely enjoyable if you’re interested in how artistry and crafting intersect with identity- Jewish identity specifically, but if needlework or painting or quilting is a part of who you are, you may find much with which to identify in these pages regardless of your connection to Judaism. Terms with which the non-Jewish or non-Jewishly educated reader may not be familiar are defined, making this book accessible for readers of every background.

Painted Pomegranates and Needlepoint Rabbis is a lovely take on how what Jewish women (and some men!) create furthers their Jewish identity. Maybe it’ll inspire you to pick up or continue your own work! It absolutely did for me. I’d been working on this blanket for a while and had put it down after getting close to finishing it. But reading this book put me in the crafting mood again, and I finished the last few rows and the border. The blanket, laid out on the floor, takes up half my living room! Thanks for the inspiration, Ms. Eicher-Levine!

Much thanks to NetGalley and the University of North Carolina Press for allowing me to read an early copy of this.

Painted Pomegranates and Needlepoint Rabbis: How Jews Craft Resilience and Create Community by Jodi Eichler-Levine is due out on October 19, 2020. Order your copy here (not an affiliate link), or from your local bookstore.

Read a bio of Jodi Eichler-Levine here, and then join me in wishing I could take every single class she offers.

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A new challenge for a new year.

I was thinking the other day of the new year.

Not the one that starts on January 1st. The Jewish New Year. 5781 begins on Friday at sundown, and it’s traditional to spend this time of year thinking about repentance and the kind of person we want to be. And, along with many other things I won’t bore you with now, my thoughts of course turned to reading, and the kind of reader I am and want to be.

I have a lot of books- like, a LOT of them. But I mainly read books from the library. Which is a good thing. I adore my library (if I haven’t made that clear over the past few years of blogging, or my blog title). I love library books. I love librarians and library staff. I love hustling through the aisles and combing the shelves for the books on my list and checking out the New Books shelf. Pretty much everything about the library makes me happy.

But I also own a ton of books that I haven’t read, and that’s not good, especially since my reading mostly from the library keeps me from reading them. There are some great books on my shelves, but they’re not doing anyone any good just sitting there. They’re not helping me learn and grow as a person if I’m not reading them. It’s not helpful to the authors if I haven’t read them and aren’t promoting them. It’s not helpful to other people if I’m not reading them and passing them on as I would normally do. Letting them collect dust on my shelves is helpful to no one.

SO.

I considered waiting until January to start this, but why wait? This time of year is a new start as well, and there’s no time like the present. This year, I’m going to forego the regular reading challenges and embark on my own. For every book I read off of my TBR (and y’all know I do my best to read that sucker down!), I’m going to read a book off my own shelf. At times, that may be amended- some of the books I own are pretty long and heavy, and for those ones, I may read a chapter or several, or a certain number of pages each day while also reading books from my TBR. And if I’m reading books for, say, a library book club or NetGalley, those are independent reads and I’ll think of those separately.

But I’ve got several shelves in my upstairs bookcases that are crammed with books that I’ve bought and brought from my downstairs bookshelves, and I have no room for new books in these shelves. It’s time to focus on being the kind of reader who reads the books she owns, and then to release those books back out in the world. That may mean my TBR doesn’t go down as quickly as I would like, but that’s something I’ll have to make peace with. The books I own, I bought for a reason, and they’re important, too.

I’ll be posting about this in my monthly updates, and I’ll probably note in each review when a book has come off of my own shelves, so that’ll keep me honest about this. And then, when I’ve read down these upstairs shelves, I’ll move some new books up from the downstairs shelves (although some of those books are permanent residents; I plan on keeping my classic lit and some of the nonfiction) and read those as well. And then I won’t feel so bad about obtaining new books!

So there’s a new goal, a new challenge for the new year. Keep me honest, friends!

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Book Review: Chasing Echoes by Dan Goldman and George Schall

Graphic novel time! I learned about Chasing Echoes by Dan Goldman and George Schall (Humanoids, 2019) from some sort of book list earlier this year, and the premise had me adding it to my TBR list (along with the fact that it was available at my library! Interlibrary loan still isn’t fully functional, and I’m not entirely sure if the other libraries in the area are back to allowing residents from out of town check out their materials yet. I’m just glad they’re open at all and am working my way through my TBR items that are available locally, trying to wait it out until things are back to whatever normal looks like after this is over…).

The story starts out with Malka, a youngish mother who’s obviously struggling with her life. She’s being evicted, her son has announced he’s going to live with his dad, and her daughter says she wants to follow suit when she’s old enough. Meanwhile, Malka’s extended family is off on an extended trip to Poland to try to track down the family history there that was destroyed by the Holocaust. Malka, who has positioned herself as the family historian who has kept records and worked to make connections between all the papers she’s managed to track down, hasn’t been invited, but a late-night Ambien-fueled plane ticket purchase by a relative has her scrambling to make it to the airport in time the next day. Suffice it to say, a lot of people in the family aren’t happy about this.

The trip exposes a lot of cracks and differences among the family, including the differences in how they each relate to Judaism, and illustrates the strain of generational trauma, along with the antisemitism that still rages in parts of Europe. The family struggles to pinpoint the location of the mill owned by their ancestors before the war and deal with the pain caused by having lost so much. In doing so, they grow closer, learn to understand and relate to each other a little better- even Malka!- but never lose their boisterous, outgoing, argumentative vibe.

Chasing Echoes is haunting, painful, wistful, and warm all at once, with plenty of measures of snarky humor thrown in for balance. The scenes in Auschwitz, especially when the family members are viewing the piles of hair, teeth, shoes, and eyeglasses were difficult; I had to put the book down for a few minutes and sit with that. Even now, the memory of those panels is harrowing and hits me right in the stomach and chest. That hair, those teeth, were people. Those eyeglasses, each pair was specifically made for one person: one person who sat in a chair, who looked into the optometrist’s equipment, who slid those glasses onto the bridge of their nose, and then that person was murdered. I’ve got tears in my eyes as I type this; there’s a heaviness here that if you’re not in a good place to handle, you may want to wait until you can, but don’t skip it if you can manage at all. These kinds of stories are important.

I enjoyed Malka’s growth and the change in how some of her family members viewed her over the course of their trip to Poland. This was a great example that a family doesn’t have to be perfect and can even have some pretty big rifts but can still function (even in dysfunction!) as a family. Chasing Echoes is a quick read, but it leaves an impression.

Follow Dan Goldman on Twitter, and visit him at Kinjin Story Lab.

Visit George Schall’s website and follow him on Twitter.

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Burma Chronicles- Guy Delisle

Another book that’s been sitting on my shelf for a bit. I found this copy of Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle (Jonathan Cape, 2007) at a thrift store a few years ago. It had all sorts of paper clips marking different pages. I never did figure out what those clips were marking, but it intrigued me enough to pick the book up, leaf through it, and say, “A graphic novel for a quarter? Heck yeah!” I have major thrift store privilege; the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store near me has tons of books and their prices are amaaaaaaazing.

Guy Delisle followed his wife, a doctor with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) to Burma/Myanmar (he covers the discrepancy between the names right away; if you’re interested, check out the Etymology section in the Wikipedia article on the country), along with their infant son. He chronicles his adventures in the country, pushing his son’s stroller along the streets, in markets, taking him to playgroups with other foreign parents, sending him to some sort of school, visiting a monastery, shopping for food, interacting with the locals and the local people they’ve hired to work for them. Occasionally Delisle and his wife travel within the country; he also writes of living within walking distance from Aung San Suu Kyi but, as she was on house arrest at the time, he was never able to approach her house.

Burma Chronicles is a graphic memoir and doesn’t have a plot or overarching structure to it; it’s a portrayal of one man’s experiences in the country in his time there. It’s not comprehensive enough to give the reader a good feel for the country, but it did whet my appetite to learn more (which is good, because I have another book on Myanmar on my TBR). His drawings are simple; it’s a style that meshes well with the complexities of the country and the difficulties his wife deals with at work, red tape for miles and miles and miles.

This is a bit difficult to review, since there’s no story to recount, no plot to pick apart, no characters to ponder, but I enjoyed the book. I was impressed by Mr. Delisle’s constant wanderings around town with his son; I’m pretty anxious and wouldn’t really feel comfortable pushing a stroller around an unfamiliar place where I didn’t speak the language (and most locals didn’t speak mine). That’s either serious courage or brash foolhardiness right there; I’m a little envious and wish I were more adventurous, although unfortunately, the stakes are probably a little different for me as a woman than they would be for Mr. Delisle.

I’m deeply curious about his other books, however. Guy Delisle has also written a book about the time he spent in Pyongyang, North Korea, appropriately titled Pyongyang, and I absolutely smashed the Want-to-Read button on that. He’s also lived in China and Jerusalem that I can see; what a fascinating life! If I can’t live in all those places, traveling there through books is the next best way, so I’m looking forward to more travels with Guy Delisle.

Do you have any graphic memoir recommendations for me? I love memoirs, so graphic memoirs are nice way to get my memoir on and add a little art into my life. 🙂

Visit Guy Delisle’s website here. (En français!)

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I’m back! (Or, when life gets in the way)

Hello! Remember me?

It’s been a minute, huh? Not intentionally, I swear. If you had any idea how many times I’ve tried to write a post and instead got called away, you’d weep alongside me. The combination of trying to get my life and house back together after multiple months of being sick/taking care of a sick kiddo and then going on vacation for a little over a week, plus it’s summer and my little one wanted to be outside and at the park, among various other places, well… There just hasn’t been ANY computer time lately!

Fortunately, there has been some book time. I’m currently about ten books behind when it comes to book reviews (and I STILL owe two people posts!!! ARGH), but I WILL get caught up. My house is in semi-decent shape (I made sure of that before we left; nothing worse than coming home to a messy house), and we need some down time after our week+ of GO GO GO in Branson, Missouri (it was fantastic. The kids and I travel somewhere with my mother every summer and we basically exhaust ourselves, but we have a great time), so I’ll be doing my best to get caught up here. Not to forget that school starts for the kids in 29 days, and with my daughter headed off to full-time kindergarten, I’ll have a lot more interruption-free time during the day! I do have an enormous list of projects that I want/need to get done around the house, but I’m planning on incorporating plenty of time for reading, writing, and blogging, too. 🙂

So it’s nice to be home, and I’ll be doing my best to keep things better updated around here! I hope you’re all having a lovely summer (or winter, if you’re in a place where the seasons are opposite where I am!), and that you’re getting substantial amounts of reading time with stacks of amazing books. 🙂

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April is the cruelest month: to bloggers who are struggling.

Spring is a terrible time of year.

For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, we have this idea in our heads that spring is a time of warmth, of regrowth and beauty and sunlight. Unfortunately, reality refuses to comply with this and often offers us nothing but rain, wind, chilly temperatures, and gray skies that seem to drag on forever. Is it any wonder that so many of us struggle during this time of year?

I’ve seen quite a few bloggers who are having a difficult time right now, and my heart goes out to all of you. Whether it’s because of the weather and seasonal depression, difficulties with some aspect of your life or health, or something you can’t put words to, I see you. I hear you. I hate that you’re hurting. You’re important, I care about you, and I’m glad you’re a part of my world.

There aren’t any axioms or proverbs or clever one-liners I can share to change anything for anyone, but if this is a difficult time of year for you, you’re not alone. I’ve been there, I struggled massively through the spring for years when I was younger, and I understand the awfulness of it. I can’t tell you when it will end, but I can tell you that even when things feel terrible, I still care. If you need someone to talk to, I’m here, always.

If you’re feeling okay right now, check on your friends. It’s hard to ask for help and to admit when things aren’t as you’d like them to be, and sometimes a quick note or a gesture means the world. And for anyone who may need it, resources and help are out there:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

A list of international suicide hotlines.

If you’re struggling, you’re in my thoughts and my heart. Fight on, friends, one breath at a time.

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WWW Wednesday April 3, 2019

ARGH! It’s WWW Wednesday and I forgot earlier.

That sometimes happens when your day starts at 3:42 am. *yawn* My back was hurting too much to sleep. That happens…far too often, unfortunately, but such is life.

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Taking on a World of Words.

The three W’s are as follows:

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Let’s get this show on the road!


What are you currently reading?

I haven’t read Neil Gaiman since reading Coraline with my son back in like 2007 or 2008, and I haven’t read any mythology since…freshman year of high school? (So. much. reading. from Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton.) I’ve always wanted to learn more about Norse mythology, and Gaiman’s retellings are making it far more accessible than anything I’ve tried before.


What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey is up next and I’m SO excited about reading this!!!! Check out the premise of this book:

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

Is that not completely nuts?!?!?? I heard about this on a back episode of All the Books a few weeks ago and was floored (plus it counts as an alternative history for Book Riot’s 2019 Read Harder Challenge, so YAY!). I can’t WAIT to read this!!!

What are you reading this week???

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Blogger Recognition Award

Hurray! I was nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award by the awesome Surina over at Book Reviews by the Bloggisters. Thank you so much, Surina! Her blog is gorgeous and always has awesome reviews and advice for bloggers (beware, though, your TBR will explode in the best kind of way after visiting her!). Give her a follow, because she’s fabulous!

I saw she had included me in her list of nominees on Saturday and couldn’t get to this until just now (and as it is, I had to break up writing this post into several parts because LIFE and all these people that live with me needing stuff like rides to school and work and for someone to do the grocery shopping. Seriously, don’t they understand that there are BOOKS TO READ???). Here’s the rules of this award:

Rules:

  • Thank the blogger that nominated you.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

*HOW IT ALL BEGAN*

Years ago, I had another book blog and loved it, but once I went back to school, taking classes, keeping up with housework and family stuff, trying to tackle my own writing, AND reading and blogging about it? Yeah, it all got to be too much, and I ended up shutting the blog down.

So, flash back to a little over two years ago. Picture me, staring at my Goodreads Want-to-Read list in utter horror, because it had 332 books on it (the vast majority nonfiction), some of which had been sitting there for…um…over ten years? I sat there, wtf’ing at myself and realizing that those books weren’t doing me any good if I wasn’t actually reading them, and thus began the journey to read that list down. I read almost 200 books off of it, then cleaned a bunch off that were out of date or that I didn’t actually want to read anymore, and somewhere along the way, towards the end of those 200 books, I thought, “I’ve read some seriously amazing stuff these past two years…Why don’t I start blogging about it again?” And after a few months of blogging over at Blogger, I switched to WordPress, and voila! Here I am.

*ADVICE TO NEW BLOGGERS*

Oh jeez. I’m still pretty new, so I might not have any business giving people advice, but first off, read what you enjoy. I have a serious love for nonfiction, so I blog a lot about that and I can’t ever see that changing. But be open to new genres and new ideas about what to read as well. I’ve already read a few books solely because other bloggers have raved about them, and I’ve added probably twenty or so novels to my TBR list (which I’ll read after I tackle these challenges I’m working on. I’ll NEVER let my TBR list get to 332 books ever again…unless all you book bloggers keep blogging about amazing books, and then it might!).

And secondly, get involved with the book blogging community here and on Twitter! There are so many fabulous book bloggers out there and they’re great people. They share advice about blogging (which has helped me SO much), opinions on books, their lives and hearts and souls…I’m so grateful to have found all of you, because it’s really added a lot of joy to my days!

*TAG OTHER BLOGGERS*

Don’t feel obligated to do this if you don’t want to or don’t have time, just know that I think you and your blog are awesome! Go check them out. 🙂

1. Susan @ Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

2. Breathe to Read

3. Stacey @ Unruly Reader

4. Heather @ Based on a True Story

5. Kristin @ Always With a Book

6. Rita @ Bookish Rita

7. Kat @ Books Kat Likes

8. Carrie @ Cat on the Bookshelf

9. Amber @ Du Livre

10. Blair @ Feed the Crime

11. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

12. Sam @ Fictionally Sam

13. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived In a Library

14. Chasity @ Ity Reads Books

15. Christine @ Lady Gets Lit

I hope you all have a fabulously book-filled day! Thanks for stopping by, and if you got this far, enjoy this random picture of a baby goat that I took this past summer.

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WWW Wednesday! March 27, 2019

As it’s Wednesday, it’s time for another WWW Wednesday, coming to you from Taking on a World of Words. To play along, all you need to do is answer three simple (HA! Is anything every simple about reading choices?) questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Let’s get started!

What are you currently reading?

I started reading Lessons in Letting Go by Allison Janda two-ish days ago (I think! Kids are on spring break and my son was sick this past weekend, so it’s been busy and my days are all thrown off), about a woman who gets dumped by her husband and who decides to step out of her comfort zone by becoming a travel nurse (and there’s a guy, but…there’s a catch. A big one). So far, I’m really enjoying this!

What did you recently finish reading?

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. If I were rich, I would throw piles of money at Angie Thomas and fund 100% of her life so she could do nothing but write because I love her books so much.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Up next is a review copy of Bell-Bottom Gypsy: A Jessie Morgan Novel by Maggie Plummer. It sounds interesting, so I’m looking forward to it. And after that, I have a stack of library books waiting for me, including Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, which my husband expressed interest in reading (so I may have to share!).

Hopefully I’ll get some good reading time in in the next few days (not tomorrow, because we’re going to visit my mother- spring break week just isn’t conducive to long, lazy days of nothing but devouring books when you’re the mom…).

What are you reading this week???

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Tell Me Something Tuesday #177: Topics I Avoid in Books

Tell Me Something Tuesday is hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings and covers a range of topics about books and blogging (you can check out their answers here).

This week’s question:

What are things that make you steer clear of a book?

Excessive violence, especially against women. This is where Pat Conroy lost me. His writing is beautiful, but after being shocked by reading brutal rape scenes in several of his books, I decided I couldn’t do any more. I tend to steer clear of a lot of thrillers as well, since I’m not the hugest fan of reading about murder…or heists, for that matter. Crime in general, really.

Titles/covers that show the book is obviously sci-fi or western. Just not genres that really interest me, for the most part.

Sometimes size matters. (Insert inappropriate joke here.) I’m not opposed to gigantic brick-sized books- Alaska and Hawaii, both by James Michener, were gloriously enormous books and some of my favorites ever, despite being close to or over 1000 pages- but at this point in my life, I prefer shorter reads. Hit me up again when my daughter’s older, giant books.

Man vs. nature books. There are exceptions; Jon Krakauer’s books are awesome for this, but in general, I’m not a fan of ‘the plane crashed and now we’re all fighting to survive in the jungle/desert/side of a mountain!!!’ books. I find them stressful. And in that vein…

Books about or containing animals. If there’s a beloved pet in the book, you can be sure I’m stressing from the first mention that that pet is going to die (or be horribly injured) somewhere in the book. This was like the Number One Plot Device in books when I was a kid; the author would kill off the main character’s pet in order to foreshadow the death of someone even more important, like a parent or sibling. It was horrible and traumatizing and to this day, I get uncomfortable when the plot centers too closely on an animal. I LOVE animals and don’t need to stress about them more than my own two cats make me. (See pic of me doing yoga and Turd Cat Reba, also known as The Bitey One, getting all up in my face. Not shown: the blurry pictures of her climbing across my face, the pictures I couldn’t take because she was jumping on me when I was trying to downward dog, and the other cat, Piglet, who likes to stand at the edge of the mat and scream at me. Yeesh!)

I’m half-tempted to put religious fiction here, but I’m not entirely opposed to that. I don’t enjoy religious fiction when it comes on too strongly, but I’ve read a few that were okay, so that’s not a never for me. It doesn’t necessarily have to be my faith for me to appreciate how it works for someone else.

Very Serious Biographies About Historical White Men. I don’t necessarily want to read, say, a biography of Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln. It’s not that they’re not interesting people; I just got my fill of that in school. Now, say, a Very Serious Biography about Harriet Tubman or Maya Angelou? YES PLEASE.

Literary Fiction. When it gets too literary and the writing gets too flowery and convoluted for my tastes, I’m out. Just not my thing.

That’s about it for me. What about you? Are there things you run screaming from in the bookstore or library? Any certain genres you refuse to engage with? Certain tropes you can’t stand? (I’m not adding this to the list, but years ago, I somehow managed to read three or four books that year that involved cousin love, and not like, “Here is your cousin, the Earl of Moneyton. Marry him to increase our fortunes!”, more like, “Dude, my mom’s sister’s son is freakin’ HOT!” NO NO NO. SO gross, and I will nope out of books that do that, because seriously, there are so many other people you can get it on with besides one you’re related to.) I’d love to hear what doesn’t do it for you, literarily-speaking!