Before heading up to NY for Book Riot Live (or book nerd camp for grown-ups, as I’ve decided to call it), I spent an evening at the Free Library of Philadelphia listening to a conversation with Patti Smith. She was on tour to promote her new memoir M Train, but spoke a bit about Just Kids as well.

I’d re-read Just Kids in a sort of semi-preparation for the event and was experiencing a flurry of mixed emotions. I loved Just Kids the first time I read it. I’ve proclaimed (often) that the book changed my life and when that thing about listing your 10 most important books was all over Facebook, you better believe that it was on my list.

And so, when I re-read it (with pen in hand to underline all the lines that changed my life) I felt a little bit let down. Much of the language is poetic, and I still find the evolution of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe beautiful and inspiring, but something was missing — I didn’t feel the same stirring in my soul as the first time I read it and I found this troubling.

Hearing Patti Smith speak was lovely, but the amazing (for me) moment came during the audience Q & A at the end. A woman stood up and said that Patti Smith had been a great role model for her as an artist, a mother, and a feminist and asked her what advice she would give to a young girl growing up right now. Patti Smith started talking and I found myself taking fevered notes on my phone:

  • Do the best that you can
  • Think for yourself
  • Don’t judge based on superficial things
  • Feel yourself as an individual
  • Connect with the world, but remember who you are [when] unconnected

In hearing this advice I was able to identify why Just Kids meant so much to me when I initially read it and why it didn’t hit as hard upon re-reading.

I will be the first to admit that I definitely don’t have everything figured out, but I can say with some amount of confidence that I’ve begun to figure myself out. I think reading Just Kids had a lot (though admittedly not everything) to do with that; it showed me the merits of embracing my “authentic self.” The process of being who I want to be — quirks and bizarre enthusiasms and all — began long before I read Just Kids and continued after, but I think that the book helped something click in my brain. And so when I began my re-reading, that switch was already flipped and the book didn’t feel as revolutionary.

Without this revelation, I’m not sure how I would feel about this book right now. In acknowledging what I took from it the first time, I feel like I can still call it a book that is important in my life. And it’s entirely possible that I’ll pick it up again some time in the future and have other, entirely different feelings about it. I believe that I have changed a lot as a person, especially in the last 5 years, so it makes perfect sense for the way I experience books to change.

I don’t have to give up books that meant a lot to me at the time just because I’ve grown and changed. And that realization has been particularly freeing.

Book Riot Live!!

November 10, 2015

Book Riot Live was in New York this past weekend and I had such a blast that I’m having trouble adjusting to “regular life” again.

It was exciting to meet Rioters and spend time with so many glorious book nerds. The atmosphere was incredibly positive and inclusive and representative of why I love the bookish community so much. One minute you’re geeing out with other fans about an author and their work, and the next moment you’re geeing out with that author.

All of the panels that I had the opportunity to attend were fantastic and really echoed the values that I’ve come to associate with Book Riot — enthusiasm for all kinds of books and fandom, inclusivity and attention to diversity, and devotion to inspiring thoughtful conversations about important topics in the bookish community. My main complaint about Book Riot Live is that there were too many interesting panels happening at the same time and I hate choosing! Clearly next time around there should be some Book Riot time turners so that attendees can go to everything.

This weekend at Book Riot Live was fantastic. I learned about (and bought) so many new books, connected with other enthusiastic book nerds, and met some amazing authors. Now it’s time to sit back, brew some tea (or, let’s be honest, open a bottle of wine), and dive into my pile of newly acquired books. I probably have enough books and recommendations to last until Book Riot Live 2016. Probably…

And now, I bring you some of my favorite photos from the weekend. Follow me on Instagram (@poindextrix) for future real-time book nerd-dom!

Posing with my badge. I also got a wizard/activist ribbon from the Harry Potter Alliance!

Posing with my badge. I also got a wizard/activist ribbon from the Harry Potter Alliance!

The pigeon's name is Reginald. We became fast friends.

The pigeon’s name is Reginald. We became fast friends.

Lithographs made temporary tattoos of lines from The Handmaid's Tale for the Book Riot Live tattoo chain. They saved the first line for Margaret Atwood.

Lithographs made temporary tattoos of lines from The Handmaid’s Tale for the Book Riot Live tattoo chain. They saved the first line for Margaret Atwood.

This is my line.

This is my line.

Speaking of Margaret Atwood, she had some great things to say at the "Writing What You Don't Know" panel.

Speaking of Margaret Atwood, she had some great things to say at the “Writing What You Don’t Know” panel.

The shelf for the Harry Potter Alliance's apparating library was overflowing with fantastic choices.

The shelf for the Harry Potter Alliance’s apparating library was overflowing with fantastic choices.

A peek at my purchases post-cocktails at the Strand.

A peek at my purchases post-cocktails at the Strand.

Liberty and Rebecca show off their big spoon/little spoon shirts at the taping of the All the Books podcast. They're kind of fantastic (the people and the shirts).

Liberty and Rebecca show off their big spoon/little spoon shirts at the taping of the All the Books podcast. They’re kind of fantastic (the people and the shirts).

Speaking of amazing people, did I mention that I met and took a picture with Margaret Atwood at the cocktail party at the Strand?! Because that happened!

Speaking of amazing people, did I mention that I met and took a picture with Margaret Atwood at the cocktail party at the Strand?! Because that happened!

Another awesome thing: In what will probably be the best idea I'll ever had in my life, I got some of the women of Book Riot to sign my copy of Bitch Planet.

Another awesome thing: In what will probably be the best idea I’ll ever had in my life, I got some of the women of Book Riot to sign my copy of Bitch Planet.

And here's my full book haul! Lumberjanes (books 1 & 2), Nimona, Bats of the Republic, Life After Life, I Capture the Castle, And Sometimes I Wonder About You, Faceless, All Fall Down, Saga (book 5), Bitch Planet (book 1), A Darker Shade of Magic, Housekeeping, and The Handmaid's Tale.

And here’s my full book haul! Lumberjanes (books 1 & 2), Nimona, Bats of the Republic, Life After Life, I Capture the Castle, And Sometimes I Wonder About You, Faceless, All Fall Down, Saga (book 5), Bitch Planet (book 1), A Darker Shade of Magic, Housekeeping, and The Handmaid’s Tale.



I’ve been a terrible book blogger recently in that even though I’ve continued to consume loads of books, I haven’t been writing about them (I have, however, continued to post stuff on Instagram and twitter, so you should clearly follow me @poindextrix on both #shamelessselfpromotion).

But since I’m about to embark on what I can only describe as a book nerd-dom bonanza, I thought I better pop in with a quick update (with the obvious fingers-crossed promise that I’ll be better about updates in the future).

Last week I went to a Free Library of Philadelphia author event in which Ruth Reichl talked about her new book My Kitchen Year. She was fabulous, this book is fabulous — and gorgeous — and I’ll hopefully start making things out of that and tell you about it soon.

But tonight. Tonight I’m heading back to the Free Library to see Patti Smith talk about her new memoir M Train. You may remember how much I love her first memoir, Just Kids. For those just joining us: the answer is a lot. A whole lot. M Train talks more about the later years, the less Robert-centric years, I take it. I’m incredibly excited to read it and super excited to meet/see/breathe the same air as Patti Smith and hopefully get her to sign my copy of Just Kids, which I just finished re-reading.

Crazily, I won’t even have time to come down off of my Patti Smith high, because as soon as I leave the library, I’m heading up to New York for Book Riot Live. When people ask me what my plans are for this weekend I’ve been saying I’m going to a book nerd convention, and I think that’s describing it pretty accurately. It’s not like BEA in that this is way less industry-centric. This is an event for readers and it’s mostly about what readers love and care about and I’m so excited in case you couldn’t tell by my complete incoherence.

I’m really looking forward to this weekend. I think it’s going to be fantastically bookish in the best ways. If you’re at Book Riot Live and see/recognize me, come say hi!

Readathon In Review

October 14, 2015

I’m a bit delayed in this, but I’m finally sitting down to recount my Popepocalypse Readathon experience. I think it ended up going really well. It was nice to have a few days in which I decided to just devote the time to reading and relaxing. Also, the weather was great, so I spent a ton of time out on my balcony (did I mention my new apartment has a balcony? It’s fantastic and I’m kind of obsessed with it) and at the local coffee shop’s outdoor seating just enjoying the lovely weather with tea and books.

Yeah, yeah, I get it. I should stop blathering on about the weather and tell you about the books.


First up was Woman Rebel by Peter Bagge. It’s a graphic … biography? (like graphic novel, but a biography. Can I just call it a graphic novel even though it’s a true story?) about Margaret Sanger, who is generally regarded as the mother of birth control. She’s was a bit of a complicated woman and remains a polarizing figure since she wasn’t super intersectional in her feminism, but I think that this was book was a fair representation of her. The art style of this wasn’t my absolute favorite, but I think that’s just personal preference.


After that, I moved on to Peter Pan. I mean, it’s a classic. I don’t even have much to say about it beyond that. It’s a good deal darker and a kind of more bizarre than all the Disney-fied versions that we see these days.


The next book I read was Bloggess Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy. I honestly recommend that everyone read this because it is touching and inspiring and hilarious and so many other things that I don’t even have words for. But careful reading it in public because after a while it becomes really difficult to stifle all the laughter.


Then I moved on to Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older. This had been on my list for a while and I realized that this readathon was the perfect time to dive in. You guys, this book was so good and so much fun. So. Much. Fun. It’s part of the Bone Street Rumba series and I’m excited to read the other books that take place in this world.


The book I closed out the readathon with was Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. Again. So good. This is one that I think I want to read again even though it’s only been a couple of weeks since I finished it.

I had so much fun doing this readathon and sharing pictures of what I was reading and my progress on social media (and if you’re not following me on Instagram, why not? You’re missing out on some awesome bookish pics. And random shots of food and my cat for variety). Can I just have a three-day weekend to do this every couple of months? That would be spectacular.

The Pope is coming to Philadelphia later this week and that means that the city is basically shutting down. There are something like three or four perimeters, you need special passes for public transportation, and streets are lined with port-a-potties. Penn is closed Friday (some other places have Monday off as well, but I couldn’t be that lucky), giving yours truly a three-day weekend.

And while I still have a ton of unpacking, organizing, and decorating to do (I moved! I love my new place and once things are organized and decorated I’ll have a post showing off my shelves and book nook), I decided that I really want to make this weekend about reading.

And thus the Popepocalypse Readathon was born. It has no real rules (because I’m lazy and I’ve never really done this before). Basically, I’m just going to read as much as I can that weekend (maybe starting Thursday night), checking in periodically with posts on social media.

[This is where I encourage you to follow me on social media if you aren’t already. I’m @poindextrix on basically everything. You know you want to see all my book and cat pictures on instagram!]

So if you’re in Philadelphia — or even if you aren’t — join me in the #PopepocalypseReadathon! Post your own pictures. Tell me what you’re reading. Use the hashtag, tag me, do it all! Even if you’re in Philly to see the Pope, I’m assuming that there will be a ton of down time waiting for him to speak or drive by in the popemobile (and seriously, somebody send me a picture of him in the popemobile!), so you might as well get some reading done! It’ll be awesome, or at least mildly entertaining.


You know you want to.


Captain Underpants is in the bookish news right now and this time it has nothing to do with being challenged (this series is frequently banned for being inappropriate or encouraging children to disobey authority).

The full story can be found here, but the long and short of it is that in the course of the newest book, it is revealed that one of the characters is gay. And it isn’t a big deal. In fact, it isn’t even remarked upon.

This is incidental diversity and it is exactly what needs to happen in literature. Kids (and all readers for that matter) need to see characters who are like them in books, but the stories they read don’t always need to be about how they’re POC, gay, differently-abled, etc. In some ways this just highlights differences and reinforces ideas that a white/straight/cis experience is the norm and anything else is a variation.

Incidental diversity shows that a gay character can be gay without that being the story. A character who is a POC or differently-abled or of a different religion can have varied experiences in a multitude of genres and that part of their identity is just that: only a part of who they are.


So while I don’t care very much about Captain Underpants, I am super excited about this. Hopefully more authors/illustrators and publishers will take note and we’ll see more diverse characters being regular characters.

A couple of weeks ago, I got home from a packed weekend and took the following Monday off to sleep, rest my incredibly unhappy back, and read my copy of Go Set A Watchman. I finished it in a single day, but I haven’t written much about it until now (partly because I’ve been busy and lazy, but partly because I had a lot of thoughts and it has taken me a while to sort them out).

OK. So, initial thoughts: I kind of liked it. I liked seeing this older Scout and I think that even though much of this was rough, Harper Lee’s talent for creating complex characters is evident.   There were scenes in Watchman that really shined. Atticus is a complex man and this version of him is harder to love, but I think Lee makes him that way for a reason (though that hedging toward the end made me uncomfortable).

Watchman feels incomplete. Because it is. This was an early draft before an editor got involved and steered Lee in a new direction. The pacing is off and while there are great scenes, there are cringeworthy ones as well.

This does not detract from To Kill a Mockingbird for me. I don’t think it mars Harper Lee’s legacy, though I do think that the publisher has done her a disservice in publishing Watchman without a disclaimer of some sort indicating the circumstances of its publication (i.e. early draft, little-to-no editing, etc.).

I think that there are many interesting papers/books that can (and probably will) be written about the evolution of the treatment of race in these two books. Even though Scout is horrified by Atticus’s segregationist ideals, she’s got some of her own issues that rub me the wrong way.

All in all, this isn’t a great book. It probably isn’t even a good book, but the novelty of it and looking at it through the scope of TKAM has brought it up a little bit up in my eyes.


I am part of a kickass library group on Facebook. Discussion topics run the gamut from dealing with difficult boards/government committees, to bizarre patron interactions, to what we’re drinking.

And tonight, one librarian walked into her local Wal-Mart and saw a huge display selling Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. Those of you following along are probably calling shenanigans right about now. The release date for Go Set a Watchman is Tuesday, July 14. There are some insane embargoes on this book. Copies come in boxes with labels stating that books cannot be sold/checked out before the release date. Taking/posting pictures of the book or even the box it came in violates the agreements that libraries and bookstores make with publishers.

So the fact that this HUGE book is on the sales floor days before its release date is a big deal. When the librarian said something to the store manager, the response was “what are you going to do about it?” Now, I’m not going to say that that was the store’s first mistake, but it was definitely a big one.

After a post on the group’s page, what I will now call the librarian mafia (in the most loving of ways) took action. They contacted Harper Collins with the store information and even though it was already kind of late on a Friday night, HC was ON. THEIR. SHIT. and the librarian crusaders received very prompt responses that HC would be contacting the store in question.

If you’re out shopping at a store (not just Wal-Mart, though based on previous incidents they appear to think these kinds of rules don’t apply to them) and see a book displayed before its release date, you can usually find a phone number or email address for reporting issues to the publisher.

The email address and phone number to report violations to Harper Collins are below. If you see displays of Go Set a Watchman before Tuesday, I encourage you to report it.


In conclusion, if you ever thought about pissing off a librarian, you might want to reconsider that course of action. That guy at Wal-Mart who naively asked “what are you going to do about it” had no idea what he started. It’s a lesson everyone should learn: don’t screw with the librarians.

I know that book nerd-dom comes in many varieties, but I’ve always felt that going to book events (assuming they’re available) was a good book nerd behavior. And so it’s embarrassing to admit that even though I’ve lived in Philadelphia for over a year, I haven’t gone to a single book/author event. Until tonight. 

Caitlin Moran, author of How to Be A Woman and How To Build A Girl, as well as comedian, columnist, TV/film writer and all-around awesome human being was at the Free Library of Philadelphia tonight. She was honest and raunchy and absolutely hilarious. It was a fantastic event.

After the talk/reading and Q & A she signed books upstairs. The line moved a little bit slowly, but that was just because she actually spoke to every single person, giving them hugs and taking pictures. When it was my turn I was a little star-struck, but she was just so lovely —thanking me for coming and saying all of these amazing things that I want to cherish forever — that I kind of just felt like I was talking to a friend. A friend who is hilarious and spectacular and makes me feel better about myself and the world.

Caitlin Moran comes across like a hella-awesome lady in her writing, and she really, really is. Her books are amazing, she’s amazing, my night was amazing.

And because I am that kind of book nerd, here are my pictures from the night:

The fabulous Caitlin Moran.

The fabulous Caitlin Moran.


Reading from How To Build A Girl


Close-up of Caitlin Moran reading from How To Build A Girl


Seriously, she’s so nice and enthusiastic.

IMG_1223 - Version 2

We just had a little chat before she signed my book.


Also, she’s super silly, and it’s fantastic.

IMG_1228 - Version 2

Love her!


My signed copy. It has such a great memory to go along with an already fantastic book.

Playing Catch-Up

June 29, 2015

So I’ve really fallen down on this blogging job. It’s not like I haven’t been reading or talking about books. I just kind of forgot to write about them. Whoops.

Anyway, now I’m so far behind that the idea of writing reviews for all the books I’ve read since I last posted is overwhelming and crazy-making, so instead I’m just going to give you a list of the things I’ve read. If you want to know more about a specific book, comment and I’ll write more about it.

The Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique

Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, the Couple Who Taught America How to Love by Thomas Maier

The Empathy Exams: Essays by Leslie Jamison

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley

The Room by Jonas Karlsson

Euphoria by Lily King

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

Find Me by Laura van den Berg

The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon

Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Year of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood

Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez

How to Be Happy by Eleanor Davis

2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino (I just finished this one today. It was so much fun and it takes place in Philly, so it gets a little extra shout out)

Wow, it’s even more intimidating when I have it all written out like that. Yep, I think I made the right call in terms of starting fresh from now. That’s way too many reviews to write while I’m still reading stuff.

And yes, I am, as usual, reading many books at once. Hopefully I’ll finish a few of them and get reviews out in a timely manner this time around. Meanwhile, I read on.


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