Read: [v] The act of interpreting and understanding language, symbols, and the written word.

Furiously: [adv] To do something with excitement and passion.

Congratulations to Lianne Cruz!

Pursit: A Collection of Artwork

has been selected as a Finalist in the Art category for the 2020 International Book Awards!

Showing posts with label furious readers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label furious readers. Show all posts

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Bookish Pauses and Quiet Musings

It's been a long time since I've included a regular blog post, Furious Readers. While this may read as a cause for alarm, the time away has been a blessing. We've had major changes within our personal lives, but we've also in the middle of major changes here at the Read Furiously office. Big things are happening and I couldn't be happier with how everything is playing out.

When I began this blog years ago, I had done so out of sheer inspiration. I had just finished a couple of books that left me with that full-on-Thanksgiving/cat-sleeping-in-a-sun-spot/perfect-London-foggy-weather/New-York-City-in-the-springtime feeling and I wanted to share my love of reading and my pure joy at finding these books with all of you. Then, as things happen, this idea began to gestate and transform into something bigger. Something that allowed me to continue to adore books - to read as furiously as I can - but still make a bigger impact.

And here we are today. Still reading furiously, but now we have a community of furious readers - some friends, some friend-of-friends, some complete strangers that are now friends - doing our best to ensure that reading can happen at any time to anyone. Over the years, we have published prose, graphic novels, a children's book, and poetry, making sure that every book finds its true reader. On a more personal level, I've learned what I am capable of, as a publisher, as a writer, and as a reader. And now we enter the final stages of the year with so many brilliant and wonderful plans on the horizon.

Forgive me if this all sounds very wordy and unclear - I am not intentionally keeping you all in the dark. I promise that as soon as we can share the news, we will via this blog and our social media. We are preparing to grow and to share more stories with the world. We are also expanding our creator roster and adding more submission calls (if you haven't seen the details for our first NJ anthology, check it out and be sure to tell a friend).

The next coming months will feature a lot of changes that we hope will create a stronger community of furious readers inside and outside of your friendly neighborhood bookstores. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to our emailing list so you can hear about our good news as they happen. Like us on social media, send us positive thoughts, read our books - any support and/or love is always appreciated and reciprocated. Starting today, we will have a new blog post, featuring all things book or bookishly related, every Thursday.

Until then, read often, read well, read furiously.
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Friday, August 19, 2016

Happy Book Birthday to Brian & Bobbi! In Stores Now!!

Happy Friday, furious readers! First of all, I am so happy I had my 5th anniversary edition of Brian & Bobbi before our book buying sabbatical (the perks of working for Read Furiously...and being married to the author). Otherwise, I would be in serious book agony trying to figure out how to get my copy.

I am so excited to put the spotlight on Brian & Bobbi, especially since it falls on the one year anniversary of The M.O.T.H.E.R. Principle, Volume 1. An anniversary edition on the anniversary of Read Furiously's first title! I think it is a good sign.

Five years ago, author Adam Wilson and illustrator Franco Viglino released the graphic novel Brian & Bobbi, a classic superhero story for the 21st century. Brian is born with superpowers, but no one seems to care while Bobbi is the daughter of a superhero who doesn't seem to care about her. The two find each other and their friendship gives them both an agency to help them find their place in the world. That's the classic part of the superhero story. The 21st century lens is illustrated through characters that are both flawed and inspiring. One of the largest concerns about female comic characters is their lack of development, but that isn't the case with Bobbi. She manages to be funny, endearing, selfish, desperate, and powerful throughout the graphic novel. She wants Brian to make a name for himself so others will notice her - she is left abandoned by family and culture, but learns very quickly she won't win if she strings herself to the classic hero narrative, AKA Brian. One of my favorite parts of this novel is watching Bobbi realize her own worth while still keeping her friendship with Brian. She is her own woman, with her own destiny, and this is something that young readers - both male and female - need to see in the comics they read.

Conversely, Brian's story begins in a vague-stereotypical hero's journey and ends in an extraordinary destiny. Once he moves out of the "typical narrative" of crossing the threshold, Brian discovers that he can become his own superhero on his own terms, which is more of a blessing than he realizes. Choice is the theme throughout Brian & Bobbi - both characters have to decide whether to be their own original creation as they navigate the superhero narrative that is expected of them. Adam Wilson plays with these boundaries of expectation versus reality seamlessly and creates a story that is character-driven through the action and humor that drives so many human stories (or in this case, not human?).

Franco Viglino brings his own style to the panels the same way Adam Wilson tells his story: using influences we are familiar with (you will notice the panels have a manga feel to them) while creating something completely different that is entirely his own. The panels are well-paced, to match the quick-wit dialogue, and the action sequences provide us with more than superhero grimaces and closeups. There are beautiful moments of skyline views that allow us to inhabit Brian & Bobbi's world.

Read Furiously is proud to introduce its release of the 5th Anniversary edition of Brian & Bobbi, complete with a new cover and featuring a cover gallery that includes all of the concept art by Franco Viglino for the original cover. With this edition, we are including a pin-up gallery featuring artwork by the talented Alex Schumacher, Randi King, JC Grande, Lynn Carper, Nolan Moore, and Rodolfo Maximiliano. You can purchase your copy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and (most importantly) at your local independent bookstore. You can also get your autographed copy from us at The Furious Reader.

Enjoy your new #FridayReads, furious readers! As always, I remain your humble book blogger telling you to: read well, read often, and read furiously!

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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Do You Book Freeze? Part 2

Once we figured out how many books we had, we began to consider the growing trend of participating in a "book freeze." For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, a "book freeze" or "book ban" is the decision, made by the reader, to abstain from purchasing books for a specific number of months. Some book freezes last a year or a few months, or some don't last at all (as The Odyssey Online delightfully pointed out).

BookRiot and Broke By Books offer a great start to readers hoping to begin and to survive their own book ban/freeze, and I found them to be the most helpful in my research. Collectively, the blogs and reader websites all share the same idea:
  • It is usually referred to as a "ban" or "freeze" 
  • Most participants stress the importance of having a library at your disposal (to fight those book buying urges and to keep your TBR in tact)
  • There is a strong emphasis on creating wishlists and cashing in on a reward after the ban/freeze
These are all great pieces of advice, but the amount of books that are before and the idea of "banning" or "freezing" my book buying leaves me to believe that we at Read Furiously can take this one step further. I like the idea of putting a stop to book buying in order to assess and to play catch-up with my TBR, but I feel the process can be more reflective than disciplinary.

Let's be honest - if I were to "ban" myself from buying books as though I did something wrong each time I bought a book, my book ban would look a little like this:

Beginning on August 1st, we at Read Furiously are entering what we wish to call a "Reader's Sabbatical." Similar to a book buying ban or freeze, we will not purchase a book for 3 months, ending the sabbatical on November 1st. We chose to rename our book buying ban or freeze by following in the footsteps of Marie Kondo's concept of "sparking joy." I am so proud of our book collection and I don't want to think we are entering this book buying ban to punish ourselves for loving books. Instead, I want to take these 3 months to finish my TBR pile and to consider what books bring us joy and what books can be donated or gifted to bring others joy. 

And so it begins, furious readers! Time to enter the "Reader's Sabbatical." Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been purchased (via midnight Potter party) and our reading lists have been created. Along with my usual posts, I will also keep you updated on our 3 months of bookshelf bonding.
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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Do You Book Freeze? Part 1

All furious readers understand two fundamental truths: 1) books are expensive, and 2) we purchase more books than we have time to read, resulting in overflowing TBR piles and overwhelmed bank accounts. Yet, all furious readers understand the thrill and joy that comes with walking into a bookstore, making a purchase after choosing a title carefully (do we go with a favorite author? do we take a chance on a new title?), and bringing home said title to meet the rest of our books. It is a beautiful experience that can be understood universally by furious readers - to us, a book is more than a book and this desire to read and to collect drives our overstuffed libraries. As we all know, there is no better illustration of happiness and contentment as a house filled with books (maybe if it is also filled with coffee and tea as well?).

Recently, we decided to move, which means we had to pack up our books. Nothing strikes fear in the hearts of readers more than having to figure out how to pack their books. Luckily, we have a method that works - using tote bags instead of boxes to fit more titles and to eliminate sore backs - but we decided to catalog our books before we packed them.

Our app of choice is LibraryThing which allows you to scan your books, organize them, and connect with a community of readers. You can catalog a certain number of books for free or you can catalog and pay a yearly or lifetime membership fee for an indefinite number of books. So we cataloged, and we packed, and we purged, and we ended up with...

...over 2,000 books. In case you want to know what 2,000 books look like in one room, don't worry, we have a few pics for you.

Obviously, this number provided us with a moment of reflection and gratitude for the chance and means to have this many books, while also allowing us to take stock in what it means to be a furious reader. Our culture has the tendency to be concerned with quantity over quality, and with store coupons, employee discounts, professional writing perks, and library sales, we have built a collection we are both proud of as furious readers...but still a bit intimidated by it. However, it also makes me wonder - can a furious reader have too many books? Is there a "magic number" for a library? If we can only read so many books in a lifetime, combined with our usual rereading habits and new titles that come out every month, why hold on to so many titles? Do all of them bring us joy, to invoke the KonMari method?

The bigger question lies in curation. In the act itself, curating offers a chance to self-assess, to validate, and to annotate our literary artifacts.

And so I ask, furious readers:  Do you book freeze?

As per usual, I have some thoughts (and plans) on the subject.

To be continued....
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Monday, June 8, 2015

Being "Completely Beside" Myself

"Language does this to our memories - simplifies, solidifies, codifies, mummifies. An oft-told story is like a photograph in a family album; eventually, it replaces the  moment it was meant to capture."
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Happy summer, Furious Readers! It has been some time since we last met, but I figured the best way to reappear is to share a book that I can't really discuss with you. Doesn't that sound exciting? Please don't take it personally; I really, REALLY think you will enjoy this one.

Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is a heartbreaking, dark, fragmented look into the bonds of sisterhood and family trauma. We know something is wrong with protagonist Rosemary, but we can't quite put our finger on it. Rosemary begins her narrative with the declaration that, as a child, she loved to talk - so much so that she was a bother to her family. But now, as an adult, she doesn't say much. This is common among those who have experienced trauma and it is with this confession of silence that Rosemary takes us along into the labyrinth of her family's history. Her narrative begins in the middle, which means the reader gets to make a few wrong turns before Rosemary breaks through the hedges and rescues you. That is, if you trust her. Since we are hearing all this from Rosemary, it takes time to get used to her fragmented storytelling (not to mention her amazing vocabulary).  In this story, no one is what they seem - and (thankfully) for the reader, that is a very, VERY good thing.  I got to be an innocent (and then not-so-innocent once Rosemary's story comes together) bystander as I sat back and listened to her tale. I was a sympathetic ear...until I was not.  For that, I want to thank Fowler. She is a powerful example of how language and stories create a world we would not otherwise inhabit in our daily lives. Fowler assures that these worlds do exist, as long as we trust the storytelling medium. We won't get everything we want with these characters, but Fowler's Rosemary has everything we need from them...

...are you curious yet?  Allow me to make things "curiouser and curiouser" for you: Rosemary is a brilliant character and her memories - including the missing pieces - create a shifting truth, an almost fluid fairy tale, where deconstruction is the only way to make sense of the entire situation (thanks, Derrida). Rosemary repeats a few parts of her tale, and we are asked to assess certain parts of the narrative, for a second time, while using the knowledge we have up to this point. This alone makes it a fantastic read, since I found myself struggling to decide if I believed, or still liked, our reliable/unreliable narrator. If you've ever had a sibling, especially a sister, this book will speak to you on yet another level. The bond Rosemary shares with her siblings, especially her sister, is beautiful, but unsettling at the same time. In telling her story, Rosemary attempts to cleanse her family's soul and make sense of the rules, behaviors, and scripts that control our interpersonal dynamics.

Again, I don't want to give away ANYTHING, so please, Internet users, refrain from googling this story.  This is the time of year, as the days are getting longer, that anything is possible and stories were meant to be told. This summer, my furious readers, take a chance on Rosemary's truth. Use the long, lazy days ahead of us to listen to another coming-of-age story set in an overgrown labyrinth of Rosemary's signals and words.
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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Why I Read Books That Make Me Sad

I'm having a tough week so far...and it's my own doing.  I have a light workload this week, summer days are still long and warm with endless possibilities and I chose - ON MY OWN - to read two books (at the same time) that are both horribly sad and graphic.

To echo my mother, "Why would you do that to yourself?"

I teach classes on trauma and war, so one could argue that I gravitate toward sad material.  However, on my days off, I try my best to find something lighthearted.  So why these two books, why this week, why keep reading?

The books in question were Your Fathers, Where Are They?  And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever? by Dave Eggers and The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson.  Different subject matter, but the same loss of breath and sinking dread every time I turn the page.

With this breathless feeling still in my lungs, this is why you should read books that make you sad:

To begin, Your Fathers, Where Are They?  And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever?  is written entirely in dialogue - right away, this is a brilliant choice for the tried-and-true novel genre.  Dave Eggers is no stranger to having people call him a literary genius, but this is the novel in which his ingenuity should be celebrated.  Eggers is not the first writer to compose a narrative entirely out of dialogue (just ask my students, who groan every time I bring up Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants"), but I feel he is part of the small percentage to get the pacing just right.  Setting and plot are easy when it is narrative, but imagine crafting characterization, setting, plot, and theme out of speech patterns and the rhythm of conversation.   Our antagonist (and protagonist by default) is Thomas who wakes up his "friend" Kev the astronaut after he just kidnapped him and chained him to a post in an abandoned military base.  Thomas explains calmly to Kev that, based on their history that he HOPES Kev remembers, he has a few questions for the astronaut.  Just like that, we have become Kev - stuck in Thomas's dialogue loop and frantically trying to find a way out in case things get "too real."  Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for Kev, I didn't want to leave and instead allowed Thomas to continue his line of questioning, even grimacing as he collects a few more "pieces" (word used very loosely) of information to weave together a narrative that I was no longer privy to as the novel continues.  I read nervously, I read with one eye, I read as my tomato sauce began to bubble and almost burn (practically ruining Sunday dinner).  I texted my best friend Andrea and told her to pick this up immediately.  I put it down and paced around the room. Thomas made me sick, but so did the responses that he was getting.  I was passing judgement of everyone, including myself.  Finally, I put the book down on Sunday and told myself I will not pick it up until Tuesday morning.  It was difficult, but I kept my promise and I finished it breathless and nauseous in my office that morning.  Now that it is sitting on my desk, I suggest you give yourself two days to read this as well.  Do not be manic like Thomas - allow yourself the dignity of a breather.

Between Eggers, I picked up The Daylight Gate.   Unlike Your Fathers/the Prophets, I was well aware of Winterson's subject matter and unlike Eggers, I was a bit more familiar with Winterson's work.  I knew this would be a tough read, but Jeanette Winterson's words always make it worthwhile.  This woman is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest writers we have today.  In college, I had taken a few women and gender studies courses on witchcraft and the witch trials, so I already understood what I was getting into.  The Daylight Gate tells the tale of Alice Nutter and the Pendle Hill witches - which is a story I know all too well from my classes as student and as professor.  This novel dances in and out of the veil between reality and imagination, superstition and magick, the masculine abuse of power by those in charge and the feminine struggle to not let this abuse cause more destruction.  The Daylight Gate is horribly graphic, extremely devastating, and must be read by everyone who doesn't know the true story of the witch trials.  The witch trials are more than an Arthur Miller play, they are more than the horror movies we pay money to see every summer, and they are more than faceless women that no one cared about or forgot about today.  Winterson takes this unspeakable tragedy and reprehensible violence against women (and a few men) and gives it a voice through her main character, Alice Nutter.  Alice Nutter is a heroine I can be proud of and a victim that I am still mourning after I finished the novel.  Thanks to this book, Alice and the rest of the Pendle witches have not died in vain.  I am so grateful to Winterson for having the courage to venture into the dark, diseased, and despicable side of humanity.  I would like to think that I am that brave as a writer and reader, but I know her writing puts me to shame.  As I tell my students whenever we discuss the Holocaust, we need to make ourselves uncomfortable so we cannot forget.  The Daylight Gate is an eloquent example of this unsettling moment of remembrance.

Furious Readers, I encourage you to seek out books that offer to take you out of your comfort zone.  Always know that, as the reader, you hold the power to stop reading if it doesn't feel right (and I've done that with many books as well...I like to think that I was not ready for their message just yet).

However, if you can keep reading, please do.   The reward will stay with you long after the book has been returned to the shelf.

Continue Reading...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Thank you, World Book Night

This morning I had very sad and unfortunate news waiting for me in my inbox: World Book Night U.S. will be suspending their operations.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with World Book Night, it is a program in which people can apply to be "givers" and hand out 20 copies of a book (chosen from a list provided by publishers to World Book Night) to non-readers on a particular night in April. The point of this program is to be part of group that hands out millions of books, for free, all in one night. Did I mention this program is free to the giver? If a giver's application is accepted, all one has to do is show up at an appointed "drop-off" location (whether it is your friendly neighborhood Barnes and Noble or a local library) and pick up a box of twenty FREE books to hand out. Again, did I mention this was an opportunity to hand out FREE books for FREE at NO COST to the giver?

I suppose this is where programs like World Book Night U.S. go "wrong." Since the program has to depend on the kindness of publishers and donations from others, the costs got to be too much for this wonderful program and they had to say goodbye to the program.

Why this program? Why should World Book Night U.S., which gives back to so many people, suffer due to lack of funds? Is it a self-fulfilled prophecy that when the going gets tough, we have to cut all arts, music, and reading programs? All of these questions are rhetorical, for I never expect an answer in time like this. However, I do have a question that could be answered: Now what?

In honor of what this program did for us, in only three short years, I ask all of you, our furious readers, to continue what World Book Night U.S. started. I have something taking shape in the back of my mind for Read Furiously, but that will come later. One day, in April (maybe around the 21-24, which is the usual World Book Night festivities), take some time to give a book in this program's memory. In honor of the authors and their publishers who participated, the booksellers and librarians who helped organize the book drop-offs, the people at World Book Night and World Book Night U.S. (who, by the way, are working for FREE throughout the summer to complete the vision of this year's World Book Night) who worked hard to create this experience for all of us, and - naturally - to the readers who were passionate enough to send books and to the readers who benefited from this act of kindness. Give a book to someone and wish them a happy World Book Night. Give a book to someone and say, "I hope you enjoy this." Perhaps that someone will pass the book along to another person. Or perhaps this person will remember this kindness and pass along another book to someone else.

The key, furious readers, is to celebrate reading which is what World Book Night did. On behalf of furious readers everywhere, thank you World Book Night U.S. for your work, your passion, and your FREE books.

If you are interested in viewing the World Book Night mission, you can visit them here

In the meantime, happy summer reading season! As always, I am reading well, reading often, and reading furiously and wish you same.
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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Finding Time to Read Furiously

When I was a kid, my favorite activity was reading.  Maybe that's an understatement - my favorite activity was reading everything in my path.  Books, TV Guides (especially TV Guides, I really miss them), newspapers, Avon books, street name it, I read it.  I read as though I couldn't get the words into my brain fast enough. My mother would send me to clean up my room and she would catch me, two hours later, in a pile of stuff on the floor reading a book that I found under the bed.  Although I come from a family who reads, it drove my mother crazy.  But I couldn't stop; I always needed more books to read:  The Egypt Game, the Goosebump series, Judy Blume, The Babysitters Club series, Tuck Everlasting, A Book of Mermaids, The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, etc. We never had a lot of money, so my saving grace was the library.  I would take out so many books that we created a designated library tote bag.  I was proud of that tote bag - I insisted on carrying it myself, all the while thinking about where these books were going to take me.

Fast forward to high school and I was still reading everything I could get my hands on.  I fell into a group of friends who loved reading as much as I did; soon, we were in a book club that consisted of us eating lunch in the school library and reading silently (occasionally, someone would pause and read a line aloud to the rest of the group - quietly, of course). Together we discovered, among others,  Francesa Lia Block, David Sedaris, the Jessica Darling series (Megan McCafferty's mother was our home economics teacher!) and Perks of Being a Wallflower.  

Going to college was terrifying - my biggest fear was I could not decide what books to bring with me (oddly enough, one of my students is transferring to another college next year.  It's far from home and she needs to live on campus.  She sat in my office and kept asking, "But which ones do I bring?  How do I choose?"  In the next beat she says, "Well I have to take Perks."  Some things never change, thankfully.  Don't worry - we made a tentative list of books, which I'm sure she will change in the coming months.  I know I did.).  Another fear had been that I wouldn't find a roommate who loved books as much as me.  Luckily, I brought the right amount of books and my roommates loved to read.  Some of my happiest memories are all of us lying about our one bedroom apartment (for five girls) and reading.  The patio door would be open, a breeze would be blowing in, and we would be sprawled like cats reading our books and magazines.  As I began to try my hand at film, my reading experience expanded to screenplays and graphic novels.  One of my favorite writing professors, Dan Pope (author of In The Cherry Tree) was known to hand out books to students.  When he stopped teaching, he continued to send his previous students boxes of books to read (I mean, a BOX of books, super heavy and super worth carrying up the many flights of stairs to my apartment...I still have every single one).

Today I still consider myself to be a furious reader (for all the obvious and not-so-obvious reasons).  However, my furious reading comes in waves - some days I am too tired from reading student papers to even think about picking up a novel.  Other days I want to binge-watch a new show on Netflix.  What had been so easy for me as a child, a teen, and a college student has now become another bullet point on my list of things to do.

But that's the problem, isn't it?  It is on the list, but it isn't a priority on the list.  Most of the time I'm thinking about what else needs to be done - laundry, dishes, student conferences, oh Lord, did I forget a paper somewhere, preparing for a conference presentation, visiting family, which job do I need to go to today? - while I'm reading.  Can I consider this to be *me* time? Am I allowed to take this moment to celebrate reading furiously?  

According to our current cultural norms, absolutely not.  We need to keep moving, we need to keep constructing the City upon the Hill.  And that city does not need more books.  My favorite lie to tell myself is that I will read furiously when I have time.  Guess what, my furious readers?  We will NEVER have time to read unless we make the time to read.  And why not?  It's just as important as going to the gym or making ourselves a healthy meal.  Reading is food to the soul; it tames the mind and enlightens the spirit.  Don't we feel that way after a good walk or a good meal?  We are told that children should read twenty minutes a day, yet we never think about how many minutes an adult should read every day.   I think the twenty minute rule should continue to apply, even as we enter our busy labyrinth of adulthood.  

I still read a lot (between 75-100 books a year), but I want to make reading a priority.  A real priority.  Twenty minutes a day is  good start;  I'll still allow the amazing days of binge-reading, but I won't wait for them to present themselves.  Twenty minutes is doable and it can be done every single day. It's time for a revolution - grab a book, take a seat, and begin to read.  It may not be as simple as it used to be, but it is still worthwhile.  

Twenty minutes.  Each day. Seven days a week.  Four weeks a month.  Twelve months a year.  Every year.  

Go forth and read furiously.>
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