TTT – Favorite Things to Eat and Drink While Reading

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is my favorite things to eat and drink while reading.

harley tea

I don’t make a habit out of eating while reading; mostly because I typically get so involved in my book that I forget I have food! I do tend to keep a nonfiction book at the table to read while eating breakfast and lunch, though, because nonfiction can occasionally make my sleepy, and sitting at the table eating counteracts that. Plus it’s something I’m okay with reading in small chunks.

So I guess Breakfast and Lunch are the first two things!

After that, I like crunchy things to also keep me awake while reading – I have to fight that fatigue that sneaks up on me. So corn chips, trail mix, and granola bars are my go-tos. (Thank you, Aldi and Costco!)

As for drinking, there’s always the old standby of tea. Hot tea in the winter – I have some delicious vanilla caramel black tea – and iced tea in the summer. Celestial Seasonings makes a watermelon zinger that is DELICIOUS as iced tea. We usually brew up a giant stock pot with a few bags of watermelon zinger and a few bags of black for some caffeine, and then pour it in a pitcher and keep it in the fridge. The orange-tangerine zinger is pretty good, too.

Lately I’ve taken to brewing coffee and keeping it in the fridge to make iced coffees with – even using as much creamer as I do, it’s cheaper than getting iced fraps at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts all the time!

I know that’s only eight things, but that’s all I can really think of; snacking pulls me out of immersion into the story! It’s far more likely that I’ll set down a book and realize I’m starving because I haven’t eaten anything all day. I’m a little wary of surfing the Top Tens today – though I suppose it’s possible I’ll find healthy snacking ideas, instead of things I shouldn’t eat.

Anyone have healthy snacks that are still salty or sweet or crunchy?


TTT – Books I Enjoyed That Are Outside My Comfort Zone

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is, as the title says, Books I Enjoyed That Are Outside My Comfort Zone.

So right off the bat, we have the book I reviewed yesterday, Hollow Kingdom. Joining it, for many of the same reasons, are World War Z and I Am Legend. Though those last two gave me nightmares, and Hollow Kingdom did not. All three are excellent zombie apocalypse books, but Hollow Kingdom has enough eccentricities to make it stand out from the pack. (To begin with, it’s narrated by a crow!)

Also outside my comfort zone, because they brought up things I’d rather forget about my childhood, are Educated, a memoir, and The Book of Essie, which is fiction but felt all-too-familiar.

Tears We Cannot Stop, Eloquent Rage, and This Will Be My Undoing are all about racism in America. I’m not sure “Outside my Comfort Zone” is exactly the right term, but “made me uncomfortable” is. I read them on purpose, knowing they would. It’s hard to read about racism as a white person without being profoundly uncomfortable at what we’ve done in America. It’s some pretty abhorrent stuff. All the more reason to read it.

astroI read An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth as part of the Read Canadian challenge. Commander Hadfield is a Canadian and wrote the book after his stint on the International Space Station. I’m not usually interested in nonfiction about space, but I really enjoyed Hadfield’s voice.

Last on my list is an entire series, actually. I haven’t read a lot of translated books, though I’d like to read more, and I also don’t usually read murder mysteries. So a series of historical murder mysteries originally written in German? Definitely out of my comfort zone. But The Hangman’s Daughter series is one of my favorite series ever. I’ve featured it in a few Top Ten Tuesdays now, because it’s just that good.

This was actually a really hard Top Ten to write, because I don’t consider many subjects “outside of my comfort zone.”  I read so eclectically in general! I’m looking forward to reading what other people post today.

TTT – Books I’ve Read That I Would Like to Own

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is the top ten books I’ve read and would like to own. Since I get most of my books from the library, this is actually pretty easy for me! These are primarily nonfiction and reference books, as I don’t tend to re-read fiction, so there’s no point in buying something I’ve already read. There are a few exceptions, though!

First we have several I’d like for my Survival Library. (To read more about that, look here.) I’m also probably going to write more about it this Sunday.


The Complete Guide To Saving Seeds is a GORGEOUS reference book. The Suburban Micro-Farm has a ton of ideas for gardening in the city, and The Food Forest Handbook has SO much information. I’d love to add all three to my personal collection.


Storey’s Country Wisdom and Know-How is one I currently have out from the library, so I haven’t reviewed it yet, but it’s excellent. Storey also has a ton of manuals on farm animals – I’ve read the ones on Ducks, Sheep, and Chickens. I’d like to own the entire line.

Rage Becomes Her
In NON-homesteading books, I’d like to pick up Rage Becomes Her. It was a fascinating look at women’s anger – why we’re angry, and how we’re treated because of the perception of that anger.


My last few will actually be fiction – I’d love to own Red, White, and Royal Blue, The Power, Vox, and The Priory of the Orange Tree. Four of the best fiction books I’ve read over the past couple of years. And yes, I know this means I went over ten. I’d buy everything if I could!


TTT – Book Besties

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is top ten characters I’d like to best friends with, but I’m tweaking it slightly. These are ten books that have been my best friends. They’re not necessarily my favorite ten books; but they are books I have repeatedly gone back to; books I have found comfort in, books that have taught me things I needed to know, or simply books that I have lugged around the country with me because I couldn’t bear to give them up.

First off are two classics; my Norton Shakespeare, and my Complete Works of Lord Byron. My Shakespeare is still in very good condition; it’s a hardcover, with those tissue-thin pages like a Bible. My Byron, however, is missing its cover, title page, and the contents pages are starting to look pretty ragged. I have highlighted and dog-eared and beat the crap out of that book, and I keep going back to it. In my high school Emo phase, I hand-wrote Lord Byron’s The Tear onto a huge sheet of paper and posted it on my bedroom door. (Now I look back on that and think OMG I was so melodramatic…) Regardless, Byron and Shakespeare are still always there for me when I need them.

Next we have three childhood books whose plots have embedded themselves in my mind and are partly responsible for my lifelong love of fantasy and dragons. I mentioned Dragon’s Bait and The Forbidden Door a few weeks back, in childhood favorites. They remain two of my most-loved books. The third is Black Beauty and Thirteen Other Horse Stories, an omnibus of amazing stories for the young horse-obsessed girl I was.

In the category of friend-who-tells-you-the-hard-shit-you-need-to-know, I have Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything, which opened my eyes to how awful my science and history education really was, and The Jealousy Workbook, which helped me work through the beginning of our journey in polyamory. Both books are full of truths in very different ways, and helped me immensely at different stages of my life.

god bless the gargoylesGod Bless the Gargoyles is that friend who you absolutely adore for no real reason that you can define. It is a gorgeous gothic picture book and I just love it. I’ve tried my best to keep it in nice condition, but as a picture book, it’s prone to getting bent up. My copy is starting to show its age, which makes me sad, as I want it to stay pristine because I love it so.

cheesecake extraordinaireLastly we have the food friend. You know the one. Always making amazing things for dinner, always baking new experimental things and bringing fantastic things to parties. That friend. Cheesecake Extraordinaire taught me how to make cheesecakes and have fun with it. From that book I learned that cheesecake is an extremely versatile dessert and can be turned into almost any flavor you can imagine. (I won three blue ribbons at my county fair back home and use to dream of starting a cheesecake cafe!)

TTT – Cover Redesigns

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is my Top Ten Favorite (or least Favorite) cover redesigns. I have a feeling this is going to be a lot of “and then the movie came out and we got this godawful movie tie-in cover” but we’ll see!

So I think I’m going to do five I liked, and five I didn’t like.

Five I liked:

The whole Rebel of the Sands trilogy. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the first three covers too, but the redesign – unf. It’s AWESOME.

Gender Outlaw. I think the new cover (on the right) illustrates the mood of the book so much better.

And I recognize this one is an amazingly minor quibble, but give me the red and black cover for The Power any day. I strongly dislike the white one.

I guess technically that last one belongs in the next category, as I think the black and red was the first cover, and the white was the redesign. But I’m having trouble finding redesigns I like, so I’m leaving it.

Cover Redesigns I Hated:

Here we have the first cover I remember of this book, and Goodreads’ default cover. Give me the first one EVERY day. That redesign is – ugh. Makes it look like the whole book is about Smaug. I’m sure it’s largely nostalgia, but I loved those old 70s covers.

Another travesty of a redesign – most of Marguerite Henry’s books were re-released with terrible covers, I’ve found. The Mustang cover especially – the original’s art was gorgeous.

Pride prejudice2There have been a lot of covers of Pride and Prejudice, but this one is absolutely the worst. (I told you I’d get a movie tie-in cover in here!)

That’s ten for me!

TTT – Settings I’d Like to See More Of

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Settings I’d Like to See More Of (Or At All).

tigers daughterWell, first, because my husband has been talking about it, more set in Mongolia during the era of the Huns. There were a lot of fascinating things happening there, and at least here in the US we don’t see much fiction set during that time. It’s possible it exists but hasn’t been translated. One notable exception is the trilogy beginning with The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera, which my husband just finished and has been poking me to read!

I’d like to see more post-climate-apocalypse fiction about surviving the world as the climate changes. I don’t like zombies, so a lot of the standard apocalypse fiction is not to my taste. Disease-based apocalypse just aren’t that interesting to me, though they don’t give me nightmares like zombies do. (I’m not someone who jumps at shadows, but zombies trigger something in my subconscious that flips out while I’m sleeping!)

clock dance book clubI always enjoy finding books set in Baltimore, or the wider Maryland area. I love reading books in which I can personally recognize some of the landmarks. That’s about the only thing that got me through Clock Dance, which is absolutely not my normal kind of read. (It was a Barnes & Noble Book Club pick, back when I didn’t have a D&D game on Tuesdays!)

Similarly, anything set in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon specifically, since that’s where I grew up. Every time I run across Eugene mentioned in a book (which is always unexpected, and happens far more than you’d think!) it makes me grin.

I want to see more dragons coming back to present-day. There’s plenty of dragon-shifter romances, but I mean like Smoke Eaters and The Great Zoo of China, where the dragons suddenly come back and modern society has to deal with them. I wouldn’t mind seeing intelligent, non-animalistic dragons come back, that could be interesting.

I don’t read a lot of hard sci-fi, but one setting that always intrigues me is Generation Ships, or spaceships that are huge enough to be worlds unto themselves. The Diabolic and Dust are both examples of this, and so, apparently, is A Memory Called Empire, which I have yet to read but really want to. Bonus, the author is local! Tor has a roundup of this particular setting, so I now have more books to read!

More underwater settings. Whether that’s mermaid kingdoms, cities built in domes underwater like Bioshock, humans genetically modified to breathe underwater, I don’t care. Just get us in the oceans!

Honestly, just things set in countries we don’t typically see things set in. Often this means written by people from those countries and translated, which is even better. The Hangman’s Daughter, (and its sequels) set in Germany in the 1600s, is a great example of this, but more far-flung would be even better. Madagascar? Taiwan? Nigeria? Guatemala? Peru? Finland? I don’t read much contemporary, so historical (or fantasy!) written in those settings would be my preference.

red white & royal blueSo here’s one I have seen very little of, but watching Legally Blonde 2, and reading Red, White, and Royal Blue recently made me think of: I want to see more fiction set in the halls of Congress. Give me characters who live and work in the White House and the Senate. It doesn’t have to be political intrigue – I don’t want Bourne-style John Grisham stuff. I want politicians living their lives.

I could only come up with nine this week – this was a really difficult topic! I have such wide-ranging tastes in books that I don’t have too many settings I’m really committed to. I can’t wait to see what other people came up with this week!