12th October
written by Steph

*only you're not at all surprised, are you? As we saw from my recent post regarding our newly acquired bookshelf meant to deal with our overwhelming TBR book situation, clearly the last thing I needed was to buy more books… so you know that that’s exactly what I went out and did! It’s a sickness I tell you! And McKay’s is no help since I trade in most of my books there once I’ve read them, so the cycle is never-ending. Based on our instore credit, this haul cost a whopping $2.20, so while my shelves might not thank me, I promise you my book buying habit isn’t sending my family to the poorhouse. Full rationalization of my haul after the jump… (more…)
27th September
written by Steph
I have spoken before about the rather perilous state of my TBR collection at home. Some of you might think that I am prone to exaggeration or hyperbole, but I assure you, when I say my TBR stack was teetering skyward, I was speaking the truth. In fact, last week, due to what I can only assume was the slightest of breezes the three towers of books we had stacked along the wall in our living room toppled over. I remarked that if either of the dogs had been drinking or eating at that moment, either of them could have been seriously hurt (but especially Rory, our corgi!), since the books would have fallen right on top of them. That was all the motivation we needed to finally go out and get another much needed bookshelf. Behold our success!

Most of the books pictured are unread...

The shelf on the right is the bookshelf we have always had, and most of those books, I am happy to report, have actually been read. The new bookshelf—which we bought for the express purpose of housing our UNREAD books that were simply scattered about the apartment in random, precarious piles—is the hulking one on the left. I think that at most, five of the books contained therein have been read.

N.B. We have two other bookshelves + two nightstands that are filled to the gills, predominantly with unread books... So when I say I have a TBR book/book buying problem, I mean it!

But at least it's a pretty-looking problem to have, and one that will no longer threaten the safety of our loved ones! So let's call it an upside.

4th August
written by Steph
For those of you who have those new-fangled fancy devices known as ereaders, do I have some news for you: for the month of August, Harper Perennial is offering up 20 ebooks for the price of $20! And no, you don't have to buy all 20 in order to enjoy HP's generosity, individual titles can be purchased for just 99¢ apiece. What a steal! If this summer has seen you burning through your current home library, now just might be the time to stock up for the Fall and Winter like a good little ant. What got me particularly excited about this promotion is that most of the books on offer are ones that I've never even heard of before, but nothing grabs my attention like cheap books! Because as we all know, cheap does not necessarily mean crummy. Anyway, of the 20 books on offer, I've only heard of four of them, and not all that much about two of those options... more I just knew that they existed, since reading their titles wasn't a wholly novel experience (pun intended?). For those of you interested, the titles involved in this promotion are:
  • The Gospel of Anarchy by Justin Taylor
  • Celebrity Chekhov by Ben Greenman
  • Stretch by Neal Pollack
  • Everything is Going to be Great by Rachel Shukert
  • Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky
  • Diary of a Very Bad Year by Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager
  • Kapitoil by Teddy Wayne
  • It Could be Worse, You Could be Me by Ariel Leve
  • Who By Fire by Diana Spechler
  • Grab On To Me Tightly As If I Knew The Way by Bryan Charles
  • Down and Out on Murder Mile by Tony O'Neill
  • Everything is Wrong with Me by Jason Mulgrew
  • Postcards from a Dead Girl by Kirk Farber
  • A Common Pornography by Kevin Sampsell
  • 86'd by Dan Fante
  • Ugly Man by Dennis Cooper
  • I am Not Myself These Days by Josh Kilmer-Purcell
  • Town House by Tish Cohen
  • The Average American Male by Chad Kultgen
  • The Summer of Naked Swim Parties by Jessica Anya Blau
Isn't that a glorious selection? And it can be yours for just $20!!! Purchasing is easy, as this promotion is available through all your usual ebook purveyors. BUT, best of all, if you check out IndieBound, you can potentially purchase some new reading material through a local bookseller who sells Google ebooks and send a little love their way. What could be better? Actually this: if you're on the fence about plonking down your hard-earned dinero for all of these titles, HP is hosting a giveaway for a $20 giftcard, which if I'm not mistaken, would cover the cost of all of these books! Funny how these things work, no? If you're located in the U.S. and have a Facebook account, you can enter the sweepstakes here. And for those of you wondering, I'm not getting anything for writing this post. I just thought this deal was too good to keep quiet about and wanted to live up to my self-dubbed nickname of The Book Temptress. Hat tip to GalleyCat, where I first read this happy news. Tell me, which of the books on this list are most tempting to you? Personally, I have my eye on Bad Marie, Everything is Going to be Great, Grab Onto Me Tightly As If I Knew the Way, Postcards from a Dead Girl, and Town House. Of course, if I were lucky enough to win that giftcard (which, for some reason I'm not eligible to enter for... durrrrr), I would be a fool to turn down any of these titles.
24th July
written by Steph

It's been a few months since Tony and I last made our way to McKay's. Preoccupied with Borders bankruptcy sales, we haven't had much time for used books when so many new ones were looking for homes, but this past week, all that changed. We were in the neighborhood (McKay's is very close to our favorite Vietnamese restaurant), and decided to stop by to see if I could get a cheap copy of the movie Whip It, my latest obsession. We couldn't, but no trip to McKay's would be complete without a quick jaunt down the fiction aisle, where I swiftly found two books I just had to have! The Distance Between Us is a Maggie O'Farrell title that my collection is missing, and now I only lack her very first novel before I'll find myself in possession of all her novels to-date. I also picked up Old Filth by Jane Gardham, for two reasons: 1) I am convinced she and I will get along swimmingly once I actually get around to reading her; 2) I picked up a copy of The Man in the Wooden Hat on one of my other shopping jaunts which is a retelling of Old Filth from another character's perspective, so I know I would be better served by reading Old Filth first! The other three books, I am happy to report, were actually Tony's choices, as he has a bit of an obsession with Everyman Library editions, so could not resist picking up these beautiful copies of Pale Fire and Pnin by Valdimir Nabokov and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. You'll recall that I didn't have the best luck with Lolita when I read it last year (it was definitely one of those books that made me feel like I was simply not smart enough to be reading it!), but you may be surprised by the Marquez acquisition. After all, I have been very vocal in the past of my love One Hundred Years of Solitude, so surely I must already have a copy of it on hand, right? And indeed I do! In fact, I actually already have an Everyman's copy of this book. So, why the double acquisition? Well, my first copy was also picked up second-hand, and I wasn't exactly diligent about checking the pages, and it wasn't until I got home that I realized it had been marked up with highlighters. It in no way diminished my enjoyment of the book (or Tony's for that matter), but the prospect of having a pristine copy was too much to resist.

And so now, I find myself with two near identical copies of a favorite book and have decided the best thing would be to share the love. So I am offering up my original, much-loved and marked up copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude to a new home. Apart from the markings (that sadly cannot be erased, but are quite minimal... maybe only 5 - 10 pages of the total book), the book is in excellent condition, including its original dust cover and a ribbon bookmark. If you're a reader who would like to experience this amazing book and have no compunctions about nominal marginalia, then please let me know in the comments below. I'll ship anywhere in the world, for great literature truly should know no boundaries. If more than one person expresses interest in the book, I'll randomly select a winner next Sunday (that is July 31)... so make your desire known by Saturday night at the latest! I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming... which I realize has been far from regular. Two words: SO. BUSY. I should have some new reviews up this week, however, so you'll have that (and maybe this book?) to look forward to!
8th June
written by Steph

Notice Emmy stage right thinking "One day I will be crushed to death by these papery things"...

So, Nashville is now a one Borders town. We used to have three, but two have now officially closed for good, which greatly saddens me since the closest non-used bookstore to me is now a BooksAMillion, which I hate because they have a religious bent that makes me uncomfortable, plus they're 5 miles away (and I used to be able to walk to one of the RIP Borders in just 10 minutes!). Other than that, you have to drive all the way out to West Nashville in order to go to a Barnes & Noble or out to Brentwood if you want to see the last remaining Borders. When I happened into Borders on the final day of their closing sale, a mother and her daughter wandered in and started asking where they could find a fully functional bookstore and it was so depressing because there no longer are any in the vicinity. Within the past year, Nashville has seen three bookstores close and that makes me REALLY sad.

Anyway, it was a total fluke that I happened to walk to Borders on what was their very last day in operation, meaning all of their merchandise was 80% off. Things were largely picked over, but I did manage to find several books to rescue from the pulp pile. Normally I find that my reading tastes don't match those of the most bookstore patrons, but this time I did enter into something of a competition with another shopper, as we kept reaching for the same books. I admit, I got rather cutthroat and managed to walk away with the following books: (more…)
12th May
written by Steph

It seems like I spend all my time on this blog apologizing these days! Prolonged absences punctuated by a post promising that I am back for good (à la Take That circa 1995), only to disappear into the real world for another extended period. This time, real life whisked me away to a six-day conference in Naples, Fl where I sometimes hobnobbed with vision scientists from around the globe, but mostly spent the time lizardlike, lazing by the pool and taking the occasional dip in the ocean. I brought four books and managed to finish one, but I never seem to get as much reading done at these things as I think I will. Probably because of all that quality programming on HGTV and Animal Planet that I am otherwise deprived of when at home!

So I am back now just as many of you are planning to fly away to BEA and take your own little blogging breaks, which is amazing timing, no? Well, there’s nothing to be done about that, so as I scramble about and try to get my life in Nashville back in order, I present to you my latest acquisitions from a mini-splurge at McKay’s a few weeks back when dissertation proposal stress was making my brain bleed. Because in the end, is there anything more soothing than new books? Get the complete low-down on my haul after the jump! (more…)
11th April
written by Steph

Please support your local bookstores so that I don't go to the poorhouse...

By now, many fellow bloggers have posted about the spoils of trips to Borders locations that are closing in the face of the corporation's recent declaration of Bankruptcy. In the Nashville area there are three Borders locations and all but one are closing their doors. The first location that is slated to close does so at the end of this week, so Tony and I decided to go check it out one last time to see if there was anything left worth bringing home. With literature prices slashed to 70% off, I didn't expect to really find anything, but as you can see from the above picture, clearly I did. Turns out that my reading tastes are perhaps not quite as mainstream as the general public's. Their loss is my gain, and all that, but I feel like one thing that has been missing from many of the posts I've read about these store closings is how unbelievably depressing the atmosphere is. The closing of any bookstore makes me sad in principle, but to actually witness a repository of books being dismantled, the shelves bare, books carelessly shelved any which where... depressing is the only word. Thankfully I was able to bring some lovelies home with me so they can escape the indignity of the pulp pile, but my visit to Borders did reiterate to me just how little most people value and treasure books. Sad. But enough maudlin musings. Let's revel in the good stuff after the jump! (more…)
21st March
written by Steph

The end of The Worst Book Slump Ever of 2011?

I have seen the future, my friends, and apparently my life ends with me being crushed by the piles of books that have taken over my apartment. What a way to go, eh? Seriously though, I think my reading slump may be nearing its end. I mean, I can’t go and buy 21 books over the course of two days and claim that books and I aren’t on speaking terms, can I? I mean, that would just be silly.  These two piles of books are from two separate hauls… on Friday, I took a personal day because the weather was so nice… which doesn’t exactly justify how I wound up spending two hours INDOORS at McKay’s, but just roll with it. The books in the right column are the ones that I picked up there. Then on Saturday, Tony and I took a little roadtrip up to Louisville, Kentucky which just happens to have several Half Price Bookstores! After hearing so much great stuff from so many bloggers who live in HPB cities, I knew we had to visit one. And that is how the second stack of books (the one on the left) happened. So what exactly did I pick up? I’m so glad you asked! (more…)
26th February
written by Steph

The first (and last?) books of 2011

If you'll recall, I vowed at the start of the year that I was going to refrain from purchasing books and would instead focus on reading books I already own. Obviously, this little pile here is proof that I was unable to keep from bringing new books into our home. I really tried to refrain, but McKay's did me in once more. In my defense, I will say that I went and traded in some books that I had culled from our shelves and did not leave with more books than I dropped off AND we only had to pay about $2 after getting our trade-in voucher. So here's what I wound up with:
  • The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw - One thing that's been harder for me in terms of sticking to my own books is that I have way more US & and UK authors than I do international authors, so I have felt I've been quite limited in my reading scope so far this year. When I read about Tash Aw over at Chasing Bawa recently, I flagged him as an author that I needed to read. I've never read a Malaysian author before and think his first novel will be a great introduction.
  • Kiss Kiss/Switch Bitch/My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl - I like that Dahl's short stories and writing for adults is quite dark and twisted. This seemed like a good investment as it compiles some of his best non-PG work in one handy volume.
  • The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh - Ghosh is another author I've been wanting to read and while there were a few of his books at McKay's I decided to try this one because it spans Burma, India, and Malay, which are all places I'm interested in. I'd like to read more (South East) Asian writers in particular when it comes to reading internationally, so I'm happy to add this to my collection.
  • The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin - We all know that An Object of Beauty made me a big fan of Martin's fiction writing, so while I'd already snagged a cheap copy of Shopgirl on a past visit to McKay's it seemed only right that I should also rescue his second novel from the bargain section as well. I'm intrigued by this one because while I've heard less about it, some people argue that it's better than Shopgirl...
  • Memento Mori by Muriel Spark - I am on a wicked Muriel Spark kick at the moment. I read The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie right before I started blogging back in 2008 and didn't think much of it. But for whatever reason, I felt compelled to pick it up again and just recently finished a vastly superior re-read of it and now I feel like I must own and read everything Spark has ever written. Was very excited to find this one at McKay's as many feel this is even better than Jean Brodie.
  • Mantissa and The Collector by John Fowles - I am also obsessed with the idea of John Fowles of late. I haven't read anything by him, but I feel like I've been wanting to challenge myself of late and think his writing may fit the bill. I will probably tackle The French Lieutenant's Woman again before I try either of these, but I am sure I'll be happy to have them.
So there you have the proof of my lack of will and resolve. Rather than lashing myself for my bad behavior, I think I shall just look on the bright side about accruing these new lovelies and will satisfy myself with the knowledge that this splurge could have been so much worse. Compared to past expeditions this is a positively restrained and meager haul, wouldn't you say?
14th February
written by Steph
Last week I teased about a super awesome birthday present that I received for my 28th birthday. In truth, the new addition to our family that I'm sharing with all of you wasn't really a birthday present as such since it's something for both Tony and me and certainly wasn't purchased with only me in mind. That said, the timing of this purchase was such that we figured we might as well call it my birthday present and call it a day. So, without further ado, I introduce, the newest member to our family, the lovely and luxe Sofia!


Sofia is a 2008 Sidewalk edition Mini Cooper S convertible and she is the bee's knees. Her joining our family was the result of a rather haphazard but fortuitous jaunt to the local MINI dealership to check out the new 4-door Countrymans (which were well out of our price range!). There I spotted Sofia and begged Tony to let us test-drive her. Upon sliding into her plush interior, I immediately cooed, "Isn't Sofia beautiful?!", and our fate was pretty much sealed. I mean, once you name a car, it's hard to go back! While it was certainly hard to say goodbye to Pip, our loyal and faithful steed of the past two years, upgrading to Sofia made a lot of sense financially, and if we do say so ourselves, she is SO PRETTY it was hard to resist her charms. Now that the weather is finally starting to warm up here in Nashville, we've been enjoying having a car that lets us take the top down and our hair fly. We expect as we truly enter Spring and Summer this thrill will only increase; we really can't wait for drive-in season! But please, a moment of silence for Pip, who was awesome and my very first car. He will always have a special place in my heart and I know that whoever owns him next will have so much fun with him. [Apparently I am the kind of person who gets emotionally attached to inanimate objects. But then again, I already knew that since this IKEA commercial always made me cry. Clearly I am crazy.] YouTube Preview Image As an added bonus, we are also debuting another recent addition to our family, though this one entered our lives around Thanksgiving. Alas, the weather hasn't allowed for an appropriate photo shoot until now, so you can all finally see why Tony and I were taking a weekend motorcycle class a few months back:


This is Biba, our Genuine Buddy Italia 150cc scooter! After riding a friend's Honda Metropolitan 50cc scooter a few month's back at a group bike ride (obviously she cheated by bringing a scooter!), I was hooked by the fun and freedom of zooming about the city on two wheels. Nashville actually has a few scooter shops, and after doing some browsing, we decided Biba was the scooter for us. Biba is ideal for us because she's petite enough to accommodate my 4'11" frame, while she has the engine power that Tony required in a scooter. She is a great addition to our family, not only because she is so much fun to ride, but also because she gets great gas mileage (90mpg!). During warmer weather, Tony can easily ride her to work which will certainly help cut down our gas bills. She's also big enough that we can ride together so she'll be perfect for those spur-of-the-moment jaunts for frozen yogurt or just joyriding around town! So those are our two big purchases of late and we really couldn't be happier with either of them. We've compiled a little gallery of additional images for those of you who'd like to ogle our new babies some more. As you can see, they make a rather striking pair together!