May Author Events with BookBarCT

Hello book pals!
I have two fabulous BookBarCT author events coming up this month and
you are invited! Scroll down for details and graphics.

MAY 8–I’m thrilled to share that author Susan Conley will join me in
conversation about her latest novel Elsey Come Home on
Wednesday, May 8 at 7-9pm. I hope you’ll come party with us!
Bring a friend or your entire book group–this event is free, 
please register via email at
I’ll be serving up light refreshments, wine, a book signing,
and loads of great book talk! 

MAY 14–JCC Summer Reading Event–Start your summer with
great reads from bestselling authors B.A. Shapiro and
Susie Orman Schnall, Author and their newest fiction
titles – The Collector’s Apprentice and The Subway Girls, respectively.
It will be my pleasure to moderate our lively conversation this evening!
Tix are $20 and available here:
I’d love to see you at one or both! Happy reading!

Audiobooks are not cheating

Cognitively, there’s no difference between reading a book and listening to a book. Why then, do some folks suggest these activities are not the same?

If one suspects that listening to a book is cheating, one is implying that the listener gets some sort of reward without investing any effort. What? How?I’m confused.

Psychologists confirm that listening is less work, but after fifth grade it actually isn’t easier than reading. Listening and reading comprehension have direct correlations and reading requires decoding which IS more challenging for emerging readers. However, around age ten it is automatic and no more effort than listening. When you read, 10% of your eye movements are to go back to recheck what you’ve just read. The same thing happens when you listen. Have you ever been in a conversation but then tuned out just long enough to realize the speaker has stopped talking and asked you a question? You think, ‘oh, shit, I totally wasn’t listening.’ So then you fumble and ask, ‘I’m sorry, could you please repeat that?’ but just as the words tumble out of your mouth your brain replays the initial question and you can provide the answer. You did, in fact, hear the speaker, you just weren’t listening.  In both scenarios you are backing up to fact check which strengthens your comprehension. Sounds like we are even here. Can we put the science aside for a moment? I think the next part is key.

Claiming audiobooks are cheating is like meeting your college roomates in Chicago for your reunion and saying, “You flew here? I drove myself, you big cheaters.” Let’s agree that the point of reading for pleasure is to enjoy the journey. The mode of transportation doesn’t matter. Each method is good for various consumption purposes, neither is superior. Use them interchangeably to figure out how they best serve you. With that, allow me to make a few recommendations for your listening pleasure!

I think memoirs are one of the best genres for audiobooks, especially self narrated titles (and most certainly if the author is in the comedy industry or motivational speaking arena.) Delivery is everything and audiobooks provide the intonation, inflection, sarcasm and emphasis in the perfect places to convey exactly what the author intended. My recs in this genre are: *Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, *Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler, *Bossypants by Tina Fey, *Becoming by Michelle Obama, *The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, and *Rising Strong by Brené Brown.

So go ahead and listen. I’ll never judge you, I’ll join you!

Bail on as many as you finish…

The DNF. Did. Not. Finish. Do you break up with books if the magic just isn’t happening? Here’s why I think you should.

There are millions of books out there for your reading pleasure. So why should you only feel proud of the books you finish? Maybe the reason many people don’t read is because they aren’t choosing books they like. Bestsellers seem like a logical place to start, however those titles often come with unspoken expectations of satisfaction due to popularity, so when you don’t like that bestseller you now feel like 1) you’ve failed as a reader AND 2) you’re a loser because everyone else liked it so what’s your problem? Here’s the deal, reading should be inspiring not tiring, pleasant not punishing. So don’t force yourself to finish!

You’ve probably heard me say this before: Life is too damn short to read books you don’t like. Permission granted. Walk away. Return it to the library. Donate it. Put it back on your unread shelf…it could be the right fit at another time, sometimes it’s YOU or your mood or place in life at the moment, not the book.

This is entirely different from suggesting that you only read books that are joyful and positive. I firmly believe that reading should challenge you, change you, make you uncomfortable, open your eyes, turn up your empathy dial, and educate.

How do you know when it’s time to close the cover and kiss it goodbye? Here are some good indicators:
1–When you find yourself reaching for your phone to scroll mindlessly through social media, kiss it goodbye.

2–When the laundry pile seems wildly attractive and easily seduces you, kiss it goodbye.

3–When you’re asked what you’re reading and you can’t remember the title or plot line, kiss it goodbye.

4–When you constantly check your page count/percentage until ‘the end,’ kiss it goodbye.

5–When you could care less about the characters’ tragedies/triumphs, kiss it goodbye.

I know you’re wondering, and yes I did issue a DNF stamp on a load of books last year. So many books, so little time. Don’t waste your time on the ones that don’t appeal to you. The liberation is lit. Try it, you’ll like it!

Goal Squad

Do you want to read more books in 2019? ME TOO! Let’s do this together. With a bit of preparation and a plan, you can get started today.

Here’s how I approach a new reading challenge each January:
* set a numeric goal
* choose a tracking system
* pick a challenge
* share it

Simple, right? It really IS that easy. I can sense you may be skeptical so give me 3 more minutes to convince you.

Pick a number and map it out. Setting a goal serves as a guide not a mandate. Remember, you can adjust it later! A good place to begin with a new goal is by looking in the rear view mirror. How many books did you read last year? Can you do that again? Feel like you could read more? If you didn’t meet last year’s goal, don’t worry, you can reuse it! Maybe you didn’t set a goal last year so you don’t know where to start. Why not one book a month? (For the longest time my annual goal was 12 books. My babies were really young, I was in the parenting vortex of newborns and toddlers, dreaming about sleep yet still carving out a few minutes in the day to get lost in a book. My monthly book group gatherings were a calendar highlight and motivated me. I never wanted to miss out on the discussion, plus there was wine. 🙂 )

If you’re going to commit to a goal you should keep track of it. Start a list in your notes app on your iPhone, create a spreadsheet, use the Goodreads app, or select a paper notebook for this purpose. One word of advice here, make reading a daily habit like hydration or exercise. You’ll find that your tracking will be fueled with positivity and optimism instead of negativity and dread.

So you’ve set a goal and you’re going to maintain a list of those books. Now what? There are millions of excellent books out there waiting for you. That can be both intimidating and inviting. I suggest creating or joining a challenge. Here are 8 motivating options for your consideration:
1–Book Riot curates a list of tasks called the “Read Harder Challenge.” Check it out here:
2–Participate in the Goodreads challenge. You can see what your friends are reading and rating and add interesting titles to your list.
3–Try a new genre each month (I did this in 2018 and discovered I love memoirs, especially on audio when narrated by the author.)
4–Pick 10 countries you’d like to visit and read books set in those places. Wanderlust is strong here, get your book passports stamped!
5–Choose a literary award and read the shortlisted titles. (ie National Book Award, Booker Prize, Orange, Pen, Nobel, Pulitzer, Newbery, Coretta Scott King.)
6–Reread the classics you were assigned in high school or college. (Possibly better the second time around, also no prom drama.)
7–Select 10 authors you’ve loved reading in the past and read another book by them. (I also love playing the matchmaker game, where you tell me an author you like and I pair you with another author whom I think will delight you. Try me!)
8–Read books by authors who share different identities than yours (race, sexuality, culture, religion, gender, nationality, etc.)

Sharing is key. Whisper it to one person or blast it on social media. Either way, tell someone what you’re aiming to accomplish. Your friends and family want to see you succeed. You may even inspire them to join you! I highly recommend sharing this with the kids in your life. They’ll see you role modeling reading as a positive behavior while trying to do something challenging. Kids often have the impression that both of those things are easy for adults. One fun tradition in my family is a celebratory ‘book dance.’ It’s like a touchdown dance when you finish a book. The reader exclaims ‘hey guys, guess what, I just finished my book!’ and the rest of us whoop and cheer and chant ‘book dance, book dance.’ IT IS TOTALLY AWESOME. A goal is a dream with a deadline. Get your cheerleaders on board and start dancing!

How to shop for a book lover this holiday

Books are the gifts I most love to receive. And they are precisely the item my family and friends are most terrified to gift me. I get it. I read a lot, I have a tbr pile (okay, it’s actually an entire bookcase) stuffed with titles I have yet to devour.  I have reviewed loads of books. Certainly their hesitation is warranted. So how do you shop for a bibliophile and not duplicate something they’ve already read? Present a bookish gift!

Here are six gift suggestions for bookish accessories, guaranteed to delight the book lover on your list!

Library Card: Yellow socks

‘Well Read Woman’ Strand Book Tote:

Banned Books matchbox set

Etsy Book Lover Mug

NYPL Library Card Ornament

Sassy Blue Q Socks (warning-curse word ahead!)

Greeting Card 8-Pack – Ideal Bookshelf 628: Tweens

“Reading Journal”

***But if you REALLY wanted to get them a book, here are three tremendous suggestions:

1–Give a gift certificate to a bookstore that requires a road trip. Offer to drive, buy lunch and join them.  Voila, now it’s an experience present!

2–Hook them up with a book subscription, like Book of the Month, where they can select their titles each month.

3–Choose one of these spectacular books about books:

I’d Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores: True Tales and Lost Moments from Book Buyers, Booksellers and Book Lovers by Bob Eckstein

Books for Living by Will Schwalbe

1,000 Books to Read Before you Die: A Life-Changing List by James Mustich

My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul (NYT Book Review Editor)

Happy Holidays!


November Reading Challenge

Every month I announce a new reading challenge for my followers to consider. Participation is optional.  From time to time we all can suffer from a reading slump. This is a five alarm crisis for book lovers! 🙂  So in the spirit of reviving your reading mojo, I propose a new genre, format, or author to read near the start of each month.  November’s challenge is…

SHORT STORIES. I think they get a bad rap and I am guilty of passing them over in the past. I used to think that I wanted more of a commitment, a big chewy novel with interesting characters to whom I could commit and cheer for.  I was wrong about short stories. All that juicy action happens in them too, but on a condensed timeline, in a snapshot of their life story. Short stories are really quite satisfying, especially at bedtime, because you can start AND finish an entire story before you turn in for the night!

Below are several titles I’ve enjoyed immensely, along with a few that have been recommended to me. Have you read any short stories? Share your recommendations with us in the comments!

What is Not Yours is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi

How to Love a Jamaican by Alexia Arthurs

Florida by Lauren Groff

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez

Ayiti by Roxane Gay

Books Are a Lifeline

Many of my favorite childhood moments include books and fostered my love of reading.  My grandmother’s house was a beautiful mess —it always smelled like bacon and coffee with towering piles of books everywhere (plus National Geographic stacks.) She let me read anything I wanted and I treasured those magical afternoons. The cottage we visited in the summer didn’t have a phone or a tv (gasp!)  You can imagine how many books I devoured on the beach and before bedtime. Mom was always in the car shuttling my two sisters and I back and forth between various activities so the front seat usually had a stack of books along for the ride to maximize her downtime. My dad is a library fanatic and I have inherited that gene! As my kids will attest, I often say that my library card makes me feel rich because I can choose armfuls of books and travel on countless journeys between their covers.

Today I still love to surround myself with stacks of books, there’s a pile in every room of my house (in fact, my ‘to be read’ pile has its very own bookcase!) I love the smell of books, the welcoming ambiance of a cozy independent bookstore, and I’m positively giddy when I meet authors. My book group has been meeting for over 20 years, (I just celebrated my 11thanniversary) and is one of my favorite calendar highlights every month. This past March I launched three local monthly book groups. It is my distinct honor to gather these amazing women together to connect and converse about an array of books. They inspire and motivate me and it’s a joy to share my passion for reading and deliver an authentic experience for them.

So you see, I feel compelled to share my reading passion with everyone; my kids, your kids, YOU… it’s contagious!