all the reasons

Okay so this post is my attempt to deviate from the books and events a little and be a real human being who writes things. I’ve been writing some reflections on things in life and I’d love to start posting them. Most have to do with literature in some way simply because my life revolves so closely around it. And I’m always, always reading, so there’s that. But anyway, it’s not a blog if there’s no personality, so, hello!

June has been busy, and I’ve been absent.

Reasons for not blogging:

  1. Every time I get home, I pull on comfy clothes, grab a drink and my book, and attempt to plop down on the reading chair ASAP. Almost immediately, my male cat starts meowing and scratching at walls, the closet doors, the tapestry, the furniture… He knows it drives me nuts. So instead of peacefully reading before starting to make dinner, I chase the cat around with a squirt bottle for sometimes 3 hours because I’ve already played with him for 30 minutes and he’s not letting up. My husband usually comes home to me fuming in anger while the cat has magically decided he’s had enough of torturing me. #truestory
  2. Summer means the I’m-not-outside-enjoying-this-nice-MN-weather guilt meter is on full blast. If it’s anywhere between 60-90 degrees, I feel like I should be outside on my patio. Laptops and patios don’t mix.
  3. Ermergerd, ervernts!! So many in June. Not that I’ve been able to go to all of them, but still.
  4. And summer stuff like visiting family, beach days, road trips…
  5. Adulting means there are always things to do! And when you’ve had enough and need a break, there’s always a book or Netflix. Or the Game of Thrones finale, or Orange is the New Black Season 4. I’m not a binge watcher anymore, but sometimes blogging requires too much thinking for my ideal downtime.
  6. Lots of work and a new season in life! My last day as a barista was today, and I’m starting an internship this week! I’ll still be working 40-something hours a week, so bear with me as I go through another transition!

Reasons to blog:

  1. Things to say. Great books to blog about, and great thoughts about life to share.
  2. My readership. I’m only hoping to grow from here, but I’m realized I need more realistic goals, and ones that fit with my schedule! So no guests posts yet, sorry readers!
  3. So many books to review!

There you have it. What have you been busy doing this summer? What’s been keeping you from your writing? 


where I went in May

Here is my long overdue recap of the literary events I was able to attend in May! It’s a big season of change in my life right now, so bear with my lateness. I will also be posting very soon a post of literary news of things happening in the Twin Cities area that aren’t event-specific.

May was a busy month due to a wedding I was in and being out of town, but I caught some really great events featured below!

May Event Recap

On May 1, I was able to attend the Twin Cities bookstore Rep Night where we listened to Random House representatives talk about the exciting new books coming out this summer. I landed an ARC of Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (review to come soon!) as well as some others I’m really excited to dive into quite soon. We also listened to short readings and talks by authors Peter Geye, author of recently released Wintering and Nathan Hill, author of The Nix. Other perks of being a bookseller include meeting other booksellers in the area and nerding over our love of books.


Poetry bingo & Strongbow at honey mpls!

Later that week on Wednesday, May 4, my partner and I went to honey mpls for a poetry reading with Coffee House and Graywolf presses complete with POETRY BINGO, and it was bomb. The release of Amanda Nadelberg’s Songs From a Mountain from Coffee House Press. She was hilarious and, in honor of Mother’s Day, read excerpts from her mom’s journal from when Amanda was a baby. Good drinks with good publishing friends.


This is my ACR of his short story collection along with teasers of 3 of his re-released novels!

Over the weekend on Saturday, May 14, Andy and I listened to Brian Evanson read at Magers & Quinn from his new short story collection A Collapse of Horses just out from Coffee House Press! It’s a delightfully spooky short story collection best read in Evanson’s voice himself. Saw friends from Coffee House at this event as well!

alimon_brightdeadthingsOn Monday, May 16, Milkweed hosted “Taking the Risk to Change Your Life for Art: A Reading & Conversation with Ada Limón and Joan Vorderbruggen” at Open Book/The Loft Literary Center, which was an absolutely fantastic evening. Ada Limón read from her latest poetry volume Bright Dead Things, which was incredible, and they all had a lovely discussion about creativity and how it does or should fit into our lives. I will be writing up a whole separate post about this talk because it was just that good. And check out Ada’s poetry collection if you want to read some great poetry!

Unfortunately I didn’t make it to many events last month, but we are making up for it in June for sure!

Did you attend any awesome literary events in May, or listening to any readings on NPR or any book-related podcasts? Please share in the comments! 

my 2016 reads so far

It’s June! Can you believe it? It means we only have 6 more months of reading left in 2016! For those of whom have reading goals on Goodreads or otherwise, it can either be an encouragement or a source of fear.

As you may know if you follow my Goodreads, my goal for the year is to read one book for every week totaling 52 books. I’m probably going to surpass that, especially since I consider reading a job now (the books I get in exchange for reviews). As of today I’ve read 40 books of the 52, which is 17 books ahead of schedule!

(At this point, do you think I should nearly double my goal and try to read 100 books? I’m still not so sure. I would hate to not reach it! Maybe 75 is a more realistic number.)

Here’s a small selection of what I’ve been reading lately, along with whether it fits into my summer reading goals or not:


This morning I finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, a heart-wrenching debut about two half sisters in Ghana, following their descendants both in Ghana and America. It’s pub day was this last Tuesday, so you can definitely find yourself a copy in bookstores today! This fits into my goal of readings more books by authors of color (and one of my 5 ARCS, along with another I just finished) and making sure they get represented equally in bookstores! I think M&Q does a good job of recommending literature of all backgrounds.

Currently finishing up Dark Sparklera poetry collection by Amber Tamblyn that I got signed when I met her earlier this year. These darkpoems about dead actresses are raw, gorgeous, haunting, and poignant. I’ve been taking it slow because I don’t want to be finished yet! I also Google quite frequently while reading, which is what Amber wants her readers to do. This is my May book of poetry goal! So yes, I already failed at reading a new one in June, ahh! But it’s so good!!

ongoingnessI recently started reading Ongoingness: the End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso from Graywolf Press and am loving it so far! I’ve also started to keep a journal again and opted for a 5-year one where I only have to record a few lines every day. It’s nice because now I can look back and remember each day, but I don’t have to be so steeped in recording the details, as Manguso stresses she was. “I wanted to remember what I could bear to remember and convince myself it was all there was.” It’s truly beautiful guys, and short, so you should check it out (: This counts as a book of essays, albeit short ones, for my summer goal.

On audiobook for my car rides, I listened to Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain because I big magicdecided non-fiction would work better for stressful Minneapolis driving. Next, I’m starting Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. We’ll see how this goes, since I never finished Eat, Pray, Love, and I suspect this book is a lot of fluff. But I like knowing I’m getting reading done even while driving though! This is my second non-fiction book of the summer.

itTo fulfill my horror genre goal, I’ve started a classic: It by Stephen King, to a lot of peoples’ horror (haha, I know I’m terrible). It’s so long! Definitely feels like a summer book to me. I blew through 200 pages at the cabin a few weekends ago and feel like I’ve made zero progress when normally that’s at least half a book! But I really like it so far. I just can’t read it when my cat’s in one of his moods because he’ll scare me out of nowhere, it’s absolutely terrifying. This fits my summer goal of reading a horror novel.

Still working on my classic on my phone during random times of tesswaiting: Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. Unfortunately, I think it’s boring even though I’m sure it’s actually lovely. Maybe e-readers aren’t conducive to classics, like, at all. There’s a huge disconnect for me when I’m using an e-reader, almost as if I’m dreaming I’m reading the book but not actually. I like the physical experience of holding the book and having that relationship with it (hence, why I’m a good fit for being a bookseller! Yay!). This doesn’t count towards my summer goal of reading 3 classics, unfortunately, since I started it a while back.

That’s it for me, for now. I’ll probably start a new book today. I know some people think I read too many at a time, but I can’t just plow through a book like It without breaks to read something non-fiction or beautiful 😉

What are you reading? Making progress towards your summer or yearly goals? Tell me in the comments! 

Updated event: Max Porter on June 23

briefOriginally I posted about a reading at Magers & Quinn on Thursday, June 23 that I am SUPER excited for: Max Porter reading from his debut from Graywolf Press, Grief is the Thing With Feathers.

BUT let me tell you, I just found out that Man Booker Prize winner and author of A Brief History of Seven Killings Marlon James will be joining him (and reading from his own book)!

WHAT. Oh my gosh I’m excited. I saw Marlon James at Friends of the Hennepin County Library last year even though I didn’t get to personally meet and he is incredible. You don’t want to miss this, guys.

Excerpt from the M&Q event page41xE70s+S8L._SY344_

“One of the only accurate representations of grief I have ever found in literature. [Porter] combines verse, narrative, essay, myth, drama, jokes, bad dreams, and the language of therapy in a way that seems magical, permanent, utterly integrated, as impossible to distill to its components as it would be impossible to remove or isolate grief from love, or from life itself. Says Crow of grief, ‘It is everything. It is the fabric of selfhood.’” —Sarah Manguso

P.S. Sarah Manguso also happens to be a Graywolf author, and I am reading her book Ongoingness: The End of a Diary, and it is beautiful. Just sayin’.

get these June events on your calendar!

june events post graphic

You guys, June is seriously rocking it with well known and esteemed authors coming to town. It’s like, each day gets better and better. SERIOUSLY, I was blown away! I regret to say that I already have to miss many of these, but I hope you don’t have to. Here is your rundown of awesome June events coming to a Twin City near you:

(Each month, I will be posting a “looking ahead” post of events coming up that month to stay tuned for! These are events that are on my radar, either via Facebook or events I am personally interested in going to or have knowledge of the author/book. As always, in the “Events” tab above you’ll find the Rain Taxi official literary calendar and other resources to help with finding book readings in the Twin Cities area. If I’ve missed any that you think need more media attention and marketing, let me know!

  • Also that day: The June meeting of the MN Publishing Tweet Up from 5-7pm!
    • I REALLY HOPE TO BE THERE this time, so please come! We could go to Natalie Goldberg together afterwards (: Also, it’s at the Community Keg House which is wonderful place where you get to pour your own beer or cider! So yummy.
  • Tuesday, June 21: Rebecca Kanner at Common Good Books, 7pm

If you can, I encourage you to check one or two of these great events out and perhaps discover some new awesome reads along the way! Let me know in the comments if there are any others you’re excited about this month! 

The Twin Cities first Lit Crawl is tomorrow! 

Hey guys! I know I’m late on the June events post, but only because I’ve been so busy! Not for lack of awesome event because MAN, June has some great ones. It’s coming soon!

Right now, however, I am only writing to tell you about tomorrow’s Twin Cities LIT CRAWL!!! Can you say excited? I am PUMPED for this. 

It starts at 3pm and extends to 1am, and it’s truly something you don’t want to miss. While I could try to tell you each and every event that’s happening, I’ll only be reiterating what others have said, so please read about it here and go!

Hope to see you there! If you can’t make it, stay tuned for my recap of all that went down. 

Review: Spritz by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Parizeau

I think it’s no secret that I am in love with Italy. I have been since I was 11 and always will be. As I daydream about going back there very soon, I’m always immediately enchanted by any book about the country, whether it’s history, the food, or traveling its diverse and bustling cities. This book was no exception. I can still remember the bubbly, red aperitivo, or spritzer as I call it, I had at probably the wrong time of day and which most likely made the bartender either scoff or laugh at me. Even though it was only one in the whole three months I lived there, it’s a beautiful memory because I know exactly where it was and where my love affair with this drink began.

I anticipate making many, many more in the years to come. Ahem, if you ever, um, want to try one with me, you know where to find me 😉

spritzSpritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, With Recipes by Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau(Ten Speed Press, 176 pages)

Have you ever fallen in love with a concept, a state of being, a glamorized item that you just want to think about and experience constantly? For me, that is the infamous Italian spritzer, a drink that enraptured and enticed me from the bars of Italy’s most beautiful cities. Though I only had one spritzer while I was there (the horror, right?!), in Trieste while visiting one of the world’s largest underground caves, I was again sold from the moment I saw this book. My love affair with the spritz wasn’t over, nor was I the first to be drawn by the enchantment behind the drink—or as the authors would argue—this “mantra, an attitude,” and state of being and drinking.

Spritz contains the history from ancient Rome, evolvement of the aperitivo throughout Northern Italy, and modern culture everywhere of the iconic cocktail and its “golden hour.” Aperitivo means a drink “meant to open a meal,” which is a part of the Italian culture and its importance on food and refreshers. Be prepared to learn some new words and many, many new brands and names of mixers—the ingredients that will make up your perfect spritzer. In Italy, the drink is enjoyed by nearly all at 7pm complete with snacks, transforming piazzas in every town into people’s very own social sitting rooms.

Baiocchi and Pariseau would know—they traveled from Trieste to Turin on their “Spritz Trail” in the region where it all developed to learn all they could about everything that goes into making the perfect spritz. Among many other juicy facts, here are the basics: 1) A spritz is not a spritz without bubbles, whether that be through champagne or soda water, 2) the drink is low in alcohol due to the young hour upon which it is enjoyed, and 3) it will always be slightly bitter, which is what a traditional spritz is most famous for. Your basic recipe is as follows: 1 ounce of bitters, some soda water, then top with white wine and some citrus.

That seems pretty straight forward, until Baiocchi and Pariseau launch into the history of the most famous bitters and many argue is the true way to assemble a spritz. They follow with a delightful ensemble of cocktail and simple syrup recipes, both well known and original submissions from others, as well as some Italian recipes for the aperitivo table snacks. Even though some of the ingredients may be hard to get one’s hands on, the recipes are easy to follow and the colorful, gorgeous pictures here and there certainly help.

While I know I won’t be buying all those different mixers anytime soon (ain’t nobody got the budget for that!), and this complete book is truly for the spritz aficionado who wants to try it all (I will not be trying the sardines recipe near the back, no thank you), I learned a lot from these pages and will keep them very near my home bar from now on. Spritz made me fall in love with the drink all over again and I would recommend it to any person wanting to explore more into Italy’s beautiful culture.

I received this book free from Blogging For Books as part of their Book Review Blogger program in exchange for an honest review.