2016 Read Harder Challenge

It’s down to the wire and I really have to get it together in the next month to accomplish this challenge.

The 2016 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge:

✔ Read a horror book: Uzumaki, Vol. 1 by Junji Ito.

✔ Read a nonfiction book about science: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Read a collection of essays.

✔ Read a book out loud to someone else.

✔ Read a middle grade novel: I’ve read lots. But The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket for the first time was a treat.

✔ Read a biography (not memoir or autobiography): Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik.

✔ Read a dystopian or post-apocalyptic novel: Sweet Tooth, Volume 1: Out of the Deep Woods by Jeff Lemire – I’m on Vol. 3.

✔ Read a book originally published in the decade you were born: The Giver by Lois Lowry.

✔ Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award: Yes Please by Amy Poehler.

✔ Read a book over 500 pages long: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling.

✔ Read a book under 100 pages: We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie… another great one that’s fiction: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami.

✔ Read a book by or about a person that identifies as transgender: George by Alex Gino.

✔ Read a book that is set in the Middle East: Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkeyby Ozgë Samanci.

Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia: I was going to read The Sympathizer but it will take forever to get to me from the library, so I will probably read The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Singaporean author Sonny Liew.

Read a book of historical fiction set before 1900: Still debating what to do for this one. I thought I’d do Burial Rites by Hanna Kent or Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon, but we’ll see.

✔ Read the first book in a series by a person of color: March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. I’m on book 3 and still rating them five stars.

✔ Read a non-superhero comic that debuted in the last three years: Lucky Penny by Ananth Hirsch and Yuko Ota.

✔ Read a book that was adapted into a movie, then watch the movie.
Debate which is better.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. I think I decided I liked the book better, but the film was great.

✔ Read a nonfiction book about feminism or dealing with feminist themes: Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer.

Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction): Thinking of doing Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume.

✔ Read a book about politics, in your country or another (fiction or nonfiction): America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t by Stephen Colbert.

✔ Read a food memoir: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley.

✔ Read a play: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two

Read a book with a main character that has a mental illness: Going to do Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson on audiobook.

as of late, books, history, podcasts

As of late | May 27, 2016

It’s been almost two months since my last “as of late” post, but that will be mitigated today! I have been keeping track of stuff I want to talk about on my Google Drive, but haven’t sat down and actually written the post. Alright, enough rambling, here’s what I’ve been into as of late…

Booktube’s influence in my life –> What Should I Read Next podcast

I’ve realized that booktube has been influencing the books I’ve been reading lately – more so than I really want it to be influencing what I’m reading. I don’t remember the last book I picked up that wasn’t even tangentially a recommendation from outside of booktube. YouTube is a great platform to get across to others that you love a book and that they should pick up said book and love it too. For this reason, I have been picking up more booktube recommended fiction and YA fiction than normal. There is nothing wrong with either, but I want my reading experience to be more diverse genre-wise and for my recommendations to come from more diverse sources, too.

As a result, I found a new podcast! Podcasts are the second most common way I find recommendations (typically On Point or Fresh Air or On the Media) will talk about books in segments they are doing, thus piquing my interest. Then, I’ll get the book, I’ll read the book, and I’ll love the book (best example: Matt Bai’s All the Truth is Out: the Year Politics Went Tabloid, which was a recommendation of On the Media).

I haven’t been following up on podcast recommendations lately, so I found “What Should I Read Next,” a podcast by Anne Bogel. She has guests with very different reading tastes and asks them about books they’ve loved, hated, and what they are currently reading. Then she finds them new books based on that. My favorite thing about this podcast is that Anne has “normal” readers like you and me on her show – it’s not a show with authors, or well-known people in the book world, so it’s very grounded.

So far I am really loving the format and the book picks. I shall get to reading some of them soon. (I need to find more reading podcasts that match my tastes, so if you have any you should drop them in the comments.)


booksareweapons 2Books as weapons

Librarians were important in the war effort during WWI and WWII. They provided books for soldiers to lift morale, to offer technical education, and often to help soldiers connect with the world they knew back home. During WWI and WWII, librarians were responsible for collecting 10 million and 17 million books, respectively. You should read the short piece on NPR if you’re a fan of libraries and history (hey, that perfectly describes me).

Recently added to my TBR

One of my favorite past time is adding new books to my monstrously huge TBR (it’s well over 200 books… I don’t have enough hours in the day and I don’t have enough years of life!!).

I have been fascinated by White Trash: the 400-Year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg. I first heard about it on On the Media and it pretty much has all the history things I find interesting: the intermingling histories of culture, race, and class. I’m also really excited to read Peggy Orenstein’s new book, Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape. Again, topics I find fascinating: culture and how it impacts sexual ideals and sexual pressures.  Another Jon Krakauer book (I read Missoula this year): Into Thin Air. I’ve been researching Mt. Everest a lot recently since in the past week a handful of people have died trying to climb or descend the mountain. I’ve heard Into Thin Air is gripping, so it might be the perfect non-fiction book to get me back to non-fiction. Ok, I will stop writing about TBR books after this one: Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams. This one I got from What Should I Read Next as a “beach read” that still has great, well-developed characters you can connect with, AND a 1960s historical setting. We shall see if I like it!

A really fantastic YouTuber I found recently

Typically I watch either booktubers or family vloggers on YouTube. The other day I found a new YouTuber that is neither of those. Evelyn from the Internets makes more comedic videos based on stuff that happens in her life. I found her through the VEDA videos she was creating in April after I saw a link to her videos on Rosianna Halse Rojas’s Twitter. The one that made me laugh the hardest – like my belly hurt from laughing – was one about how Kanye West saved her life. Her video about Beyonce’s Lemonade album got featured at Beyonce’s concert tour. She also made a reaction to that a few days ago which is amazing (linked below). I haven’t watched all of the VEDA videos but hopefully I can make my way through them soon.

The cicadas are here

Have you guys heard? A brood of cicadas that have been in the ground for 17 years have started to come out. They are mostly found in West Virginia and Ohio, but will also make appearances in some parts of the surrounding states. David Attenborough’s video about these long-in-the-ground cicadas were my first introduction to what these cicadas sound and look like. I have already started to see them on the ground and on trees. Of course, nothing is as gross and aggravating as cockroaches, so I think I am good. However, the 17-year cicadas haven’t started “singing” to mate just yet. If you go to 1:52 in the David Attenborough video and listen to the noise the cicadas make you can get an idea… I don’t know if I am ready for that mental torture.

Great stuff in short

New currency featuring women and people of color. I am really happy they decided to not just re-do the $20, but to re-do a bunch of other bills. I love that Eleanor Roosevelt will be on the back of the $5! 

New national monument to women’s equality in D.C. I will be taking a trip to D.C. with my dad and brothers this June, so it’s definitely on the list of things I have to see.

Jeffrey Golberg on On Point with Tom Ashbrook about Obama’s foreign policy. This hour honestly explained everything I could ever imagine asking about Obama’s foreign policy and how he sees the world. If you’ve ever been stumped about how to think about Obama’s foreign policy, Jeffrey Goldberg explains it in terms we easily understand, and then we can compare Obama’s policies and ideologies with how we (ourselves) think foreign policy should be done.

The Lonely Death of George Bell by N.R. Kleinfield. This story is just, wow. It was first published in 2015, but I never read it until it was nominated for a Pulitzer. At first I was like, “This is way too long” but then I started reading and soon I couldn’t stop. A great piece of journalism, which also poses lots of questions about journalistic ethics (would George Bell have wanted this published?). 

This is what happens when I rack up all my favorite media things for a month and a half: 1200 words… hopefully I’m back sooner than this next time!


books, splitreads

Most anticipated reads of 2016 (TBR)

I made a video discussing the books I am most excited to read this year. A lot are really long (500+ pages) and many are also nonfiction reads. Some can help me meet my goals for 2016 as well as Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, so LET’S GO, VANESSA.

Thanks for watching! You can subscribe to my channel here if you like my videos!


books, splitreads

Recent videos

Long time no see, blog! I haven’t really been in the best place to type lately (I’ve been having hand/wrist problems and have been trying to limit my computer use). But, I have made some videos recently (I bought a new ergonomic mouse to help!) and thought I should link them here for posterity’s sake.

My new reading goals for 2016. You better hold me to it!

My goals include reading more graphic novels, reading in Spanish, reading more diversely (internationally and also authors/characters of color), and reading bigger books! And I also have more booktube-ish goals of joining in on read-a-thons and connecting with other booktubers and making at least two videos a month!

And today’s video is about my favorite books of 2015!

I read a lot of good books this year… I ended up reading close to 50 books with the amount of graphic novels I consumed at the end of the year. In the video I discuss books I thought were worthwhile reads!


books, splitreads

My Graphic Novel Rampage (Part 2) | Vlog

I’m still reading lots of graphic novels! Here is part 2 of my read-a-long vlog… I read Deogratias by Jean-Philippe Stassen, SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki, and Drowned City by Don Brown. My favorite was probably SuperMutant Magic Academy.

Hopefully the rest of the graphic novels I requested at the library come soon – I’m having a lot of fun reading them and editing these videos.


books, splitreads

My Graphic Novel Rampage | Vlog

I made back to back videos… that’s right! This is how I’ve been spending my winter break – but honestly, I had a lot of fun recording and editing this video blog. Sit-down videos are nice because they are easier, but vlogs and lots of clips are way more fun to work with. I even got some music/4x speed action going (Oh, you fancy huh?).

So far I’m really liking getting to play around with editing, figuring out all the new Youtube necessities like thumbnails and end slates, so sooner or later you might get a 100% put-together video from me. For now, get a Vanessa that is still very much learning.

And like I said in the video, this is part one because there is more footage and I didn’t want to make it too long. Part two will be coming up soon. Now back to reading more graphic novels…


books, splitreads

Reading in 2015

I’ve seen a real transformation in my reading habits lately. Beginning in January, I read for pleasure! While taking credits! This is something I failed at every year I went to college. And this past summer, I read quite a bit more… And now it’s December and I realize that the past three months I’ve lived in West Virginia I’ve also been consuming more books than usual. So, for the first time in years, I’m hitting my Goodreads goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the year.

I made a video discussing these changes. I also discuss how I did in the Goodreads challenge and the Popsugar reading challenge.

I know a 30-book goal may not be a lot to others, but getting back into reading has been hard for me. I have cut down on the amount of television shows I watch and I’ve unfollowed many blogs on Tumblr (it now seems to only take 20 minutes to go through my entire feed every day whereas I used to spend hours on that website every day).

Overall, this has been a worthwhile experience. I have learned so much from books like Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and All The Truth is Out by Matt Bai. I’ve gotten lost in worlds such as those in Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter and I’ve felt like a teenager again reading books like This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. Rediscovering my love for books has even inspired me to start yet another Youtube channel (how many Youtube channels am I at now? I’m hoping this time I don’t feel as incompetent at creating videos and give up in a few months).

So, alas, here is the video.

P.S It was so ridiculously hot in my room when I recorded this. Why is it 85 degrees in December?

P.P.S Merry Christmas!