Brunch, Blogs, and Books: Be Proud, and Get Uncomfortable

 

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My philosophy, since moving to DC four years ago is: weekends are made for brunch. What better way to forget about your hellish work week than to go drown your sorrows in eggs benedict and bottomless mimosas?

This past weekend was no exception, however, this time, the brunch served a greater purpose, which was to talk about the art of blogging, and becoming a published author. Tyece, who runs the blog, Twenties Unscripted, put together an amazing event where she got two fabulous bloggers, and one sharp journalist, and let them tell attendees about their journeys in writing, reading, blogging, and more. The panel featured Alida Nugent, creator of the blog, The Frenemy, and author of the book Don’t Worry, It Gets Worse: One Twentysomething’s (Mostly Failed) Attempts at Adulthood, GG Renee Hill, creator of the blog, All The Many Layers, and author of of the book, The Beautiful Disruption: A Soul Story, and Lindsay Deustch, journalist for USA Today.

For a little over an hour, we sat and let them talk to us, and we talked back to them sharing our stories. Though I live tweeted a lot of their advice, I believe what they had was important enough to be talked about again.  

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A Novel Idea

Today’s guest post is brought to you by @thewrongshoes. Feel free to leave comments for them below and we’ll make sure they see them!

I read. A lot. I try for a book a week, sometimes it’s more, and sometimes it’s less, but it works out to between 50 and 55 books a year. I read all kinds of books for all kinds of reasons– from a new release by my favourite author to liking the cover art. I’m not dedicated to any specific genre or type of book, but overwhelmingly, I tend to read what I think is somewhat obnoxiously labelled literary fiction.

I am, by education and employment, an anthropologist which I think is just a way to give street cred to the fact that I am super nosey by nature. I always want to know why people do the things they do and how those things they do relate to everyone else. Literary fiction, despite what the good people at Pulitzer have to say about it, is alive and well and harmlessly fills my need to eavesdrop on people and watch them live their lives.

Books that win prizes and have entered popular culture as classics can usually be classified as literary fiction. But what makes a book a classic? Greater minds than I have lead entire post graduate courses trying to answer that question. From what I gather it boils down to a sense of timelessness, clever and evocative language, and possessing a kind of universality that transcends time and place. For the most part the classics we study in school are overwhelmingly written by DWEMs (dead white European males) and were written 50 to 100 years ago (or more).

So, is there such a thing as a modern classic? Can that be a thing? I think so. And in my mind the following three novels do a pretty good job of staking a claim for a place on that list. They each possess, in wildly different ways, a timeless quality, lush prose, and even though the characters and places in each might not be our own, they allow the reader to inhabit their world and find a bit of themselves in the pages.

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Keymashing The Classics

“UGH, I hate that book!” is a phrase often uttered by people when you mention a classic title to them. Maybe it’s because you were 16 years old and forced to read it over the summer for school. Or perhaps you read it as an adult and it just wasn’t what you remembered. Or maybe, it’s just really a crappy book that simply defined the era in which it was written, but really doesn’t have much else to offer. Alternatively, how many times have you said, “What an amaaaazing book!” about one of the classic pieces in literature when in reality, you’ve only ever read the cliff notes (or wikipedia), when you got tired of reading the actual book. C’mon, fess up. We won’t judge…hard.

Fangirls Unite

 

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A few weeks ago, I attended the Fangirl book signing in Washington, DC, where Rainbow Rowell, author of AttachmentsEleanor & Park, and Landline (Spring, 2014) gave an inspired talk to a packed room. She spoke on her love of fandoms, her writing process, music and more. She spent an hour speaking and answering questions from the audience, and had I not been a fan of hers prior to this event, I would have walked out of the room with a bag full of newly purchased books.

It only took me a couple of days to read Fangirl. Why? Well, it’s mostly because this book was written for us. And, who do I mean by “us”?  I mean the girl (or boy) who was awkward in school, who didn’t know what label she fell into. It’s for the girl who spent her days reading inside, instead of spending time out in the sunshine. It’s for the girl who lost herself in a world of magic, wonder and imagination because sometimes that world, and those words, were the only friends she had. Simply put, Fangirl is a love letter to fandom.

“There are other people on the internet. It’s awesome. You get all the benefits of ‘other people’ without the body odor and the eye contact.” –Fangirl, page 147

In this book, we meet Cath, a college freshman, who is a fanfic BNA, (that’s “big name author” to you non-fandom folk), in the (fictional) Simon Snow fandom. She writes as an escape from her own life where she has terrible social anxiety, a not so great family life, doesn’t quite know how to make friends, and was recently told by her own twin sister that they need to spend more time apart while attending the same college. She has a roommate — with a charming, sometimes, maybe boyfriend — who’s her complete opposite, a campus that seems too large for her, a dad struggling to watch his girls leave the nest, and the pressure of being an 18-year-old girl. We watch her struggle and grow as she decides whether or not being a fangirl is holding her back, and if she can navigate college and, frankly, life, on her own.

Here at Keysmash, we are incredibly lucky that Rainbow Rowell took time out of her insanely busy schedule to answer a few questions for us about her book! Check out what she had to say:

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Turn the Page

I moved halfway across the country recently, and I couldn’t take all of my books with me. In fact, I had to reduced the number of books to one box (which left about, oh, 15 more boxes in storage *headdesk*). So, I had to make some serious choices, and only the most important ones came with me. Included among these are most of my Foucault books (of course), The Hobbit, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and my Chicago Manual of Style.

Until I manage to move the rest of my books, I am going to be perpetually thinking I have a book that is really in a box hundreds of miles away (and then buying a duplicate) or wishing I had brought others. So, in tribute to my missing books, for today’s post, I’m sharing a book survey I stole borrowed from Goodreads.

Halfway through the packing process...

Halfway through the packing process…

Leave me your answers in the comments! (Blank questions below.)

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You’ve Got It Bad

readinggifSubstitute M/M fiction/fanfiction and the above is me in a gif. No, really. If you have learned anything about me from this blog, it is more than likely that I love to read. The longer, the better; of course I am talking about the length of a fic/novel. I have recommended a book series or two on here, but truth is, I wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to talking about my favorite books. So, I thought until I’m able to narrow it down and make a post that actually makes sense rather than keysmash all over the place, I should share my Kindle library. Here is a little glimpse into my always growing bookshelf.

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There is no friend as loyal as a book.

laptopinhammock“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” — Joyce Carol Oates

My holiday weekend was spent doing exactly what I wanted to – reading. Reading is, without a doubt, my favorite thing to do. How else can I sit in my living room or on my porch yet escape to another world? I live through words on a page and the emotions those words inspire inside of me. Whether it is published fiction or fan fiction from writers who do not get enough appreciation for their work, I love to lose myself in between pages of a paperback or the pages on my Kindle.

Come away with me.