“Polaris in the Dark” to be Published in the 2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide

I’ve been sitting on this for about a month now, because there wasn’t a contract and I didn’t want to jinx it. But it’s really happening, so I am super excited to tell you all that my short story “Polaris in the Dark” will be published in the 2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide anthology! It’s an anthology of science fiction stories about diverse characters aimed at middle grade readers. My story is about a blind girl indentured on the train that runs around the rings of Saturn… until she escapes. This isn’t the first story I’ve written about a blind character, but it is my first ever science fiction story, which is really cool. I had a lot of fun inventing gadgets that I actually want in the real world. Also it’s my first professional sale, so yay! If you’re interested, you can vote for the cover of the anthology here. I’ll keep you all posted as the anthology develops.

Advertisements

Favorite Books of 2016

New Years is not complete without a round-up of my favorite books of the year. So with just a few hours left in the year, I’ve updated my book recs page to include my favorite books of 2016.

 

I did not reach the Goodreads reading challenge of 100 books I set in the beginning of the year, or even my reduced challenge of 75 books. Unless you count the nearly 5000 pages of legal cases I read in the last four months, which I don’t because that’s depressing. I didn’t even manage to finish all the books I’m currently reading before the end of the year.

 

Still, I read 69 books in 2016. There was a fair amount of rereading as well. I reread all the Harry Potter books in preparation for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which you will notice is not on this list because it was a huge disappointment. And in the run-up to finals, I reread all of Tamora Pierce’s Tortoll Books. I also read the first two and a half Harry Potter books in Italian. I’m hoping to get back to that project in 2017, but it was temporarily interrupted by my first semester of law school.

 

On the whole, despite the number of books I read, I just didn’t find that many that I was absolutely in love with—not enough to add to my book recs page. I read plenty of books I downright hated this year (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Throne of Glass); plenty of books that were good, even enjoyable, but had significant flaws that really put me off or just didn’t click with me (Pastel Orphans by Gemma Liviero, The Infernal Devices Series by Cassandra Clare); and a handful of books that gave me attacks of the feels and made it onto this list.

 

So without further ado, my favorite books of 2016:

 

Ever After High Trilogy by Shannon Hale: So these books were super fun.  I loved the first two books, and the third book was also really good, but as the ending of the series, it was weird because it had different protagonists and didn’t really resolve the ongoing conflict of the first two books.  (Spoiler alert: Even the ending of the third book was weird because everyone forgets all the events of the whole book but still retains their emotional character growth from the experiences.) I know the books are based on a TV show, so that may have something to do with the weird conclusion, but I haven’t seen the show yet, so I’m not sure (it is on my list of things to watch if I ever have free time ever again).  But I still really enjoyed these books and would definitely recommend them, with some significant caveats about the ending.

 

2016 Guide to Literary Agents edited by Chuck Sambuchino: This book was exactly what I needed when I set out to query agents about my novel.  It’s a comprehensive guide on writing queries and synopses, choosing agents to target, and what to expect from an agent, as well as a list of a thousand agencies including specifics on what they represent.  It helped me figure out how to approach this whole thing.  And it wasn’t just helpful.  It was also motivating and energizing.  Or maybe I just get excited about figuring out how to organize myself into a plan of attack.

 

Princess Academy series by Shannon Hale: This is one of those rare series where each book is better than the last.  Usually, with series, I find the opposite is the case.  I read the first book a few years ago, but I forgot to add it to my book recs page when I first created it, so I took the opportunity to reread it, and when I did, I discovered there were sequels.  Each sequel took what I thought was a perfectly wrapped up ending but extended the plot to show the logical—and not very nice—ramifications of the characters’ choices and actions.  The world and the magic system were really unique.  And the ending—oh, the ending! In short, these books were great fun and I definitely recommend.

 

A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr: Though at times this book was a bit slow, it was overall a fabulous read.  It’s the true story of the legal battle over the water pollution that caused multiple child leukemia deaths in Woburn, Massachusetts.  I was working at the NH Disabilities Rights Center and waiting to hear back from law schools when I read this—and when I visited Columbia I actually attended a civil procedure class with a guest lecturer working on a similar case—and it gave me a lot of insight into the legal system.  But even if you’re not the lawyer type, this is still an excellent book and I highly recommend.  Not only does it explore the flaws of the legal system, but it also digs into the flaws of people—their fears and obsessions, their pride and their greed.  I’m not usually one for nonfiction, but this book is definitely worth it. Also it was really helpful when I took civ pro because it was a concrete example of what I was studying.

 

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer: This is a short story collection based on Marissa Meyer’s fabulous Lunar Chronicles series.  From a writing standpoint, I was a bit underwhelmed by some of the stories, which didn’t feel like complete short stories so much as detailed accounts of incidents in the characters’ backstories that were mentioned in the books.  On the other hand, there were certainly some fabulous stories in there as well, and honestly, it made me so happy as a squealing fangirl that I didn’t really care about anything else.

 

Many Genres, One Craft edited by Michael A.  Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller: I got this book way back during Alpha 2011.  I wasn’t able to find an accessible copy, so I scanned it myself, and I’ve been reading it, one essay at a time, ever since.  Over the past five years, I have learned so much and been inspired so many times by this book that I can’t even begin to quantify it.  I feel like this is the sort of book I will go back to again and again as I write.  So, if you like to write popular fiction of any kind (fantasy, science fiction, horror, romance, mystery, etc), I highly recommend getting your hands on this book.

 

The Martian by Andy Weir: I usually don’t like hard science fiction like this, but I have to admit I really enjoyed this book.  There were times when it got a little too technical, even for my astronomy-obsessed self, and the writing really got under my skin—it was way too cinematic, and we never actually got to see anyone’s emotions in real-time and sometimes not at all.  But at the same time, the book felt so realistic like I was sure everything it described had really happened, and despite my issues with it, it was a gripping story from start to finish and I would definitely recommend it.  Sidenote: The Martian is one of those rare instances when I actually enjoyed the movie a little more than the book, because it fixed the writing problems I had with the book, even though it got rid of lots of fun science.

 

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home by Catherynne Valente: This book was a fantastic finale to a fantastic series.  I loved every bit of this book, loved it so much I don’t have words.  And if you disagree, I will chew you up and spit you out the way Blunderbus makes laws—which in my opinion is the best way to make laws—and I’m a budding lawyer.  There was just so much to this world that is amazing and beautiful and perfect.  I don’t want to spoil anything, so suffice it to say that finishing this book left me both thrilled with all the awesome and heartbroken that it was all over.  But nothing is ever over, as the narrator says, and I can always go back and reread.  And I shall!

 

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate: This was the first book I’ve read in a while that I just zipped through—couldn’t put it down—and then wanted to force on people to read so I would have someone to talk about it with. So read it guys because so far I don’t have anyone to talk about it with. I’m not usually one for contemporary young adult—I’m more into the fantasy and sci fi side of the category, in case you didn’t know that.  But I was hooked right from the start of this book.  Seven high school juniors, each representing one of the seven deadly sins, each with their own issues and secrets and stories, and an anonymously reported student/teacher affair combine to make a really great read.  Seven point of view characters is a lot, and normally I would shy away from it, or read expecting a train wreck, but Riley Redgate pulled it off really well.  Not only that, but the writing was excellent, vivid and beautiful without seeming pretentious or unrealistic, which is one of the big reasons I usually don’t like contemporary young adult.  The one thing that wasn’t perfect about this book was that it felt like the climax happened too soon—only halfway through the book at Juniper’s party—and I kept expecting a further escalation of conflict and stakes from that point forward.  And while the characters did blow up at each other and do things that were super not cool, it didn’t feel like enough of an escalation to me, and it ended up making me feel like I’d been dropped, if that makes sense.  But on the whole, this was definitely a really good book, and you should read it.  It raises a lot of important issues—teen drinking, sex and sexuality, parental relationship trouble—in an intriguing, creative way,, and despite the heavy subject matter, it was definitely a fun read.

 

Birthday Surprises: Ten Great Stories to Unwrap Edited by Joanna Hurwitz: I really enjoyed this book.  Some of the stories were a bit young for my tastes—I prefer upper middle grade to lower middle grade, personally, but it was a nice, fun break from serious, high-stakes fiction I’ve been reading.  And I really like the concept of an anthology tied together by a shared premise—in this case the idea of a child receiving an empty box for their birthday—and all the different possible takes on that premise.  Some of the stories were a bit predictable, but some were really unique and heart-warming.

 

A Tangle of Gold by Jaclyn Moriarty: This is the third book in Jaclyn Moriarty’s The Colors of Madeleine series (I read the first two books last year).  A Tangle of Gold surpassed all my wildest expectations.  It was full of twists and turns, all of which surprised me but still made sense.  I found myself continually saying, “Wow! I did not see that coming!” It was the first book in a really long time that kept me up all night reading.  It had none of the problems of the first two books, and in fact, knowing what happens in this book, it actually fixes the problems of the first two books and makes the whole series shine.  And on its own, it was still fantastic, fast and furious and fun.  I felt like the plot picked me up and held me in a gut-wrenching stranglehold and didn’t let go until the last moment.  I loved how the characters were so flawed and I loved the ambiguity of not being able to decide whose side I was on or how I wanted to see things turn out.  And the ending was just perfect! While the first book may have been a bit of a slog at times, it was worth it, because this whole series is fabulous and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

 

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell: I did not expect to like this book much. I certainly didn’t expect to love it. But I did. I loved it. I loved it so much! I was hooked right from the start, and I couldn’t put it down. There was a bit when I was concerned it was going to be a tragedy. All the references to Eleanor and Park being like Romeo and Juliet didn’t help that impression, but it was not a tragedy—thank goodness. I would have been really mad if the ending had gone south on this one, but it didn’t—it left everything open and inviting, in a good way. Everything about this book, the writing, the dialogue, the characters, the plot, was perfect, and I definitely recommend for everyone, not just people who like YA.

 

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz: This book was another fun one. It’s a collection of all the Grimm fairy tales that feature Hansel and Gretel and puts them together into a novel. I have a soft spot for Hansel and Gretel, because the first retold fairy tale I ever wrote myself was a retelling of Hansel and Gretel set in World War II Germany. But my own soft spots aside, this book was great, and I was super excited to find out there are two more in the series. So you know what I’ll be reading in 2017.

 

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: This book was beautiful. Just beautiful. Beautiful in every word, every image, every emotion. It wasn’t a page-turner, but it held me fast. It’s funny, because I usually think of historical fiction as something written now about the past, but I now realize that was a dumb idea. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn is historical fiction, written during World War Ii, about the a girl growing up in the years before World War I. I could go on about the poignancy of every moment and the dual simplicity and complexity of the story, but really, if you haven’t read it, just go read it now.

 

Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne Valente: This is a retelling of Snow White in the old west, and it was fabulous. Absolutely fabulous. It got a little weird at times, but it’s Snow White, so I knew the wicked stepmother had to show up and put Snow White into an enchanted sleep. If that’s a spoiler for you I’m sorry–there’s a Disney movie you should go watch. Six Gun Snow White was beautifully written. The voice was vivid and real, and just as when I read other Catherynne Valente books, I find myself wanting to talk like her narrators. Finally, this book had the perfect ending, the ending the real fairy tale should have had.

 

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the Amereacan City by Matthew Desmond: I read this as part of my first year reading group. The reading group was called Storytelling for Social Change, about how lawyers can tell stories to create social change. You can see why it attracted me. But I have to say, not only is Desmond not a lawyer, but the writing just wasn’t as fabulous as our professor made it out to be. The book followed too many people to be fully effective, and it dropped several people halfway through and picked up new ones. But I still recommend because it is a fascinating, thorough, and very important look into the grave flaws in our country’s housing system. Warning, this is a heartbreaking book, but it is a necessary book.

 

The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan: I’ve been going back and forth about whether I liked this book enough to include it on this list. I had a really hard time with the first two-thirds of this book. It was slow, and the protagonist was really hard to sympathize with. But things really picked up in the last hundred pages—suddenly I couldn’t put it down—and there was in fact a perfectly good reason for the unsympathetic nature of the protagonist that I won’t spoil but was done very well and made the book work. There are sequels to this book too that I’m planning to read in the new year.

 

Though I didn’t find as many completely riveting books in 2016 as I have in past years, there are more books to read in 2017. I have 435 books on my to-read list—thank you Goodreads for keeping me straight. So I better get reading. Happy New Year.

How I Conquered the World in 2016 and Other Stories

I’m still having trouble believing it, but 2016 is drawing to a close, which means it’s time for my annual round-up of the year. And what a year it has been.

 

Twelve months ago, I was working at the New Hampshire Disabilities Rights Center. I’d only been home from Italy for a few months, and Mopsy and I were still working through our nerves about other drivers while walking around town. I’d just submitted my final law school appplication—and I’d already been admitted to several fine schools. Now, I have just completed my first grueling semester at Harvard Law School, and when we aren’t studying, which isn’t that often, Mopsy and I are cruising around Boston like pros.

 

The only goal I set for myself this year was to not be afraid. I think I was mostly successful, though it was hard to keep that in perspective when I first realized I was going to have to do a lot more cooking than I originally anticipated, or when I was exhausted from studying for seven days straight and terrified I was going to fail my civil procedure exam, or when I woke up from my recurring hospital nightmare this morning feeling like I couldn’t breathe. Or when the election happened.

 

But with my signature optimism, when I look back at all the things I did this year—so many of them brand new—I have to give myself credit.

 

Everything I did at the DRC was totally new to me, from attending hearings to investigating voter accessibility. After I finished my internship, I went on a road trip to visit all the law schools I was still considering. When we were in New York visiting Columbia and NYU, my mom and I also went on two tours of Alexander Hamilton’s New York—one of the financial district and one of Washington Heights, Hamilton Heights, and Morningside Heights. They were fascinating. Then my Italian host parents, Stefania and Bruno, came to America for three weeks, and we visited Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, New York City, Boston, and of course New Hampshire with them. my older brother got married. I went to the National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind for the first time, where I tried ballroom dancing, swing, and 1Touch self-defense. Then I spent the summer learning my way around Harvard, Cambridge, and Boston.

 

And then I started at Harvard Law School, where every single thing I’ve done has been new. I’d never read a legal opinion before. Now I feel like I read nothing but legal opinions. I learned how to do legal research and how to write in legalese. I learned how to think in a completely new way that I’m still not used to and I can’t describe. For the first time, I took final exams with no indication of my grasp of the material—an experience I’d never like to have again but unfortunately I will have to repeat five more times. And right now I’m in the middle of my first ever job search, complete with cover letters. So many cover letters.

 

But I haven’t done only law stuff. I joined a book club with some of my amazing sectionmates. So far, we’ve read Kindred by Octavia Butler and Cinder by Marissa Meyer (the last one was my recommendation if you hadn’t guessed). Right now we’re reading The Dinner by Herman Koch (well, I haven’t started it yet). I also tried out for the law school a cappella group—I didn’t get in, but it was fun to try—and I also applied to write for the law school parody—didn’t make that either but it was both the first script and the first parody I’ve ever written.

 

I’ve also started becoming politically engaged this year. I’m not going to go into the election too much here, because it really isn’t what I want this blog to be about, but I have written about my feelings on the election,and of course you’ve seen my posts on Braille literacy and the Foundation Fighting Blindness’s #HowEyeSeeIt campaign. I was chosen as a section representative for HLS’s law and government program, and I’ve applied to volunteer for a 2017 gubernatorial campaign.

 

All along, I’ve kept writing. At the beginning of this year, I started queryingagents about my novel. I paused when law school hit, but I’m going to send out a new batch of queries in January.

 

My story “Dissonance” was published in Abyss and Apex in April. If you haven’t read it yet, you can read it right here. And over the summer, I wrote and revised three more stories in the Phoenix Song universe—what i’m calling the world where “Dissonance” is set. I also wrote a poem set in the same world, my first poem since tenth grade. With a lot of luck, you might see those some day ever.

 

Once law school started, while I did write less, I did keep writing. I made sure to find time to write at least a couple times a week, not only because I love it, but also because I’ve found if I don’t write, I become first cranky, then miserable, then practically nauseous. When I feel like I’m drowning in law, my stories keep me sane. I finally got back to revising my memory-wiping academy novel, and I succeeded at my summer writing goal of getting the number of projects I’m working on down to two. And in the last couple months, I’ve been trying new things with my writing too. I wrote my first ever 250-word flash fiction story. I usually have the problem that every short story I write turns into a novel, so I was convinced I wasn’t going to be able to do it, and I was pretty darn shocked when I actually did. And right now I’m almost finished with the first draft of my first ever science fiction story. This story was actually inspired by whatever happened with my left eye back in January when my vision went all dark and shimmery for a day. Funnily enough, that was the same incident that inspired my first blog post of the year, about my decision to be brave.

 

Finally, I added some new sections to the blog this year too. Now, in addition to links to my published short stories, you can also read the stories behind the stories to find out what I was thinking when I wrote the stories and why I made the choices I did, as well as other fun facts and even some of my own illustrations. I’ve also been having a ton of fun writing the posts from Mopsy’s point of view, and I hope you’ve had fun reading them, because there’s more to come.

 

And after I don’t know how many New Years resolutions, I finally learned to use Twitter. The secret was  linking my Twitter and Facebook accounts so I only had to worry about one. I also entered a couple Twitter pitch slams for my novel, which not only got me in touch with some agents but also got me into the habit of checking Twitter and tweeting—twelve hours of tweeting and constantly refreshing does that sometimes.

 

I didn’t really conquer the world in 2016. In fact, especially in the last few months, between the pressures of law school, the election results, and the feeling that I just wasn’t writing as much as I wanted to or moving forward with my writing career as fast as I thought I would, I’ve often felt like the world was doing a good job of trampling me into the dust. But looking back on all I’ve done and all the new things I’ve tried, I’d say all and all, 2016 was a reasonable success. Now that I have a handle on how law school works, I feel like I can balance things a little better second semester. We’ll see how well that actually goes, but after a few more good nights of sleep, I’m ready to hit the ground running in the new year.

 

So bring it on, 2017.

Welcome

I am a law student by day, writer by night. Sometimes I sleep. This site is mostly about the writing, with other fun things thrown in.

 

Recent site updates:

Added “The Story Behind Seven Signs Your Roommate Is a Vampire” page

Added the “Tails of the Neutron Star” category. You can access all the posts about Neutron in the categories menu on the left. You can also get to all the “Mopsy the Magnificent” posts there as well.

Updated book recs page with my favorite books of 2016.

 

Favorite Books of 2015

There are only hours left in 2015. At this time last year, I was in Florence with my family, dodging literal bombs in the streets (a New Year’s Eve tradition in Italy, I’m told) and watching fireworks from the roof of the apartment we’d rented. But I already talked about all that’s happened to me since then. Now, I want to talk about all the books I’ve read this year. There were a lot of them. I read my way through Italy, and then I read my way through the summer and fall. I read some books that were interesting but just all right, and I read some books that I wanted to throw across the room because I hated them so much, but I’m a completionist, so I had to finish them anyway. But I also read a bunch of books that I absolutely loved. I have already updated my Book Recs page with my favorites from 2015, but I wanted to share with you why they are my favorites.

 

Beauty by Robin McKinley: This was the perfect book for reading in front of a warm fire during the winter, when the bitter wind from the mountains to the north seemed to make all of Assisi shiver. The writing is beautiful, and the story is both familiar and unique. Also, I really love retold fairy tales.

 

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland by Catherynne Valente: This is the fourth book in Catherynne Valente’s Fairyland series, and it was an excellent next installment. I really enjoyed seeing different aspects of Fairyland, and it took the series in a direction I was not expecting. I loved the paralells between the characters’ stories, though it did feel a bit awkward to me to see September in someone else’s story, even though we really haven’t finished September’s story yet. Can’t wait for the fifth book!

 

Howl’s Moving Castle and sequels by Diana Wynne Jones: I can’t believe I haven’t read these before! I just loved Howl’s Moving Castle and Castle in the Air. House of Many Ways was also good, but it didn’t sweep me off my feet like the first two books did.

 

A Glory of Unicorns edited by Bruce Coville: I read this when I was working on a middle grade story for a contest. I found the stories aimed at a younger audience than I like to write for (I prefer upper middle grade personally), but there were still a lot of really great stories, and I had a lot of fun reading them.

 

Sunshine by Robin McKinley: I picked up this book with no idea what it was about and literally read it in a day. It was fabulous and intense and made me really, really want baked goods. It’s about vampires, by the way.

 

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline: This book was on my wishlist for a really long time. My mother read it over Christmas and said that the minute she finished it, she turned back to the beginning to read it again. So I read it over Easter break, when we were visiting Matera, and I couldn’t put it down either. I really admire how Kline weaves the two stories together. They really don’t feel like separate stories at all, by the end of the book, because each story has influenced the other so profoundly, but at the same time they are both complete stories in their own right. This is the sort of layered storytelling I’m aiming for with my honors novel, and reading Orphan Train actually gave me some ideas for how I want to revise it. Now, I just have to do that.

 

The Bloody Jack Adventure series by L. A. Meyer: There were like three weeks when I just blew through these books and no one heard from me. I really enjoyed the history in them, and I loved traveling with Jacky all over the world. In retrospect, though, I do have some reservations about the series. After the seventh book (the series has twelve books), I started to look for an end to the story, because it just started feeling like it was going on too long and why can’t they defeat the bad guys already? Also, there was a lot of Jacky being rescued by other people, and in every single book, someone attempts to rape her. Every single book. Not only did it get a bit old as a threat, but the image of a female character as being nothing but a sex object and also the image of men as only being able to think of having sex with her was troubling to me. Guys I finally understand what can make fiction problematic! But I still had fun reading them, and I would recommend the first seven books of the series, if not the whole thing, with a clear warning about what you might be getting into.

 

The Colors of Madeleine series by Jaclyn Moriarty: A Corner of White, the first book, was interesting but not my favorite thing in the world, but the second book, The Cracks in the Kingdom, was fabulous. The third book isn’t out yet, but I’m really looking forward to it. Madeleine, in London, starts communicating with Elliot, in the fantastic world of Cello. For Madeleine, it’s fantastic, but if Elliot is caught having contact with Earth, he could be killed. And both of their fathers are missing. Cello is really unique, and it also makes me want to eat lots of baked goods. I’m noticing a trend in the books I was reading last spring.

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: If you haven’t read this book, go do it now. Right now. It’s beautiful and epic, spread over something like thirty years and at least two continents, and it has the best romantic subplot I’ve ever seen. Because the romantic subplot is integral to the plot, and it isn’t even a romance. Also, for audiobook fans, the audio version of this book is narrated by Jim Dale.

 

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: I’ve read a lot of World War II books. And I mean a lot. One of the pitfalls I’ve noticed in many of them is that they try to cover too much. World War II was massive in scope, both in time and place, but it can’t all be contained in one story. That’s what I thought until I read The Nightingale. Kristin Hannah managed to tell a story that was very broad in scope, covering many aspects of the French experience in World War II from the point of view of two sisters: one with a German officer billeted at her house; the other fighting with the French resistance. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in World War II history or anyone just looking for a good story.

 

The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer: Again, if you haven’t read these books, stop what you’re doing and go read them now. They are amazing, possibly my favorite of my favorite books of this year. Retold fairytales set in a vivid science fiction world. Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White team up to fight an evil dictator. Need I say more?

 

A Series of Unfortunate Events: I read the first three books a long time ago, but this year I finally sat down and read the whole series. I actually had the opposite reaction that I had to the Bloody Jack series, because I felt the books got so much better after the seventh book, when the Baudelaires stopped simply letting themselves be shepherded from one awful guardian to another where they were forced to foil Count Olaf’s latest crazy scheme, and instead took it into their own hands to solve their own mysteries. And even though I’d heard the ending was disappointing, I actually really liked it.

 

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor: This was my first ever alien invasion book, so I can’t really compare it to anything, but I enjoyed this book a lot. It was very different from what I normally read, and I appreciated the diversity of the setting and the characters.

 

Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien: It took me more than two years to do it, but I finally finished Lord of the Rings, and now that I have, I can definitely say it was worth the ride. There were certainly some very slow parts, and now I understand why people object to including songs in novels, but on the whole it was a great experience to read.

 

The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland – For a Little While by Catherynne Valente: This novella on Tor.com was lots of fun and added a lot of insight into the Fairyland books. (I love the Green Wind!) You could probably read it at any time after you’ve read the first book, but I personally think it’s better having read all four books that are out so far. If you enjoyed the Fairyland books, you will enjoy this.

 

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson: Honestly, when I read the description of this book, I was not sure it was something I would enjoy, but I know the author (Seth was a staff member both years I attended Alpha), and I know he’s a really great writer, so I read it. And it was fabulous. The fantasy world was incredibly rich, and the plot was complex, but not so complex that I couldn’t follow it, and Baru was a fascinating protagonist whom I both cared about but also was someone I was a little wary of. I highly recommend this book.

 

So that has been my literary year. I doubt I’ll be able to read as much next year–law school is coming, after all–but if you have recommendations for books that should be on my list, let me know. Happy New Year, everyone. Here’s to all the fabulous stories of 2015, those we read and those we created ourselves, and here’s to all the stories to come in 2016!

Too Dark to Read

Groucho Marx once said that “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” And that’s what I want this blog to be about: how the creation and absorption of literature impacts my life.  In other words, I’m blogging about reading, writing, and occasionally the warm fuzzies of having a dog.

 

I am blind, but that’s not what I’m writing about.  It’s just a fact.  I’m me.  I’m blind.  Moving on.

 

I’m not blogging about it in general, but the fact that I’m blind does lend itself well to the title of this post, because the fact is, for me, it’s never too dark to read.  When I was little, when my brothers and I had early bedtimes and our parents turned out the lights, my older brother always complained that I could still read in the dark.  In fact, sometimes I would read so late that I would fall asleep with the book still lying open across my chest, and I would wake up some time after my parents had put it on my night table to find my fingers still moving across the sheets, reading a story even in my dreams.

 

Now, I’m going into my senior year at Kenyon College, where I’m studying English, creative writing, and Italian.  I read every book I can get my hands on, and I write young adult fantasy and literary fiction.  I love language.  It never fails to fascinate me how one word plus another word plus another word and on and on for hundreds of thousands of words can create a story that can make me laugh until my ribs ache or cry until my ears pop.  I hope to write a story like that one day too, and since my career after college is going to have something to do with literature, I feel like I should get some practice talking about it in a public way.

 

But this isn’t about literature in the scholarly sense of the word, not really.  This is about stories, and what stories can do for all of us.  For me, my favorite books are like old friends who are always there, whatever is going on in my life, and there’s nothing like the joy of discovery that comes with a new book.  And writing a story is just the same, a journey of discovery and emotion.  Stories of all kinds have gotten me through the hardest times in my life, so I guess what I’m really blogging about is how, even if you’re inside a dog, it is never too dark to read.