Summer Reading List

I would describe myself as a lot of things. A wife. A friend. A Donnie Wahlberg Addict. A writer.

But the one description I’d never leave off the list is Avid Reader.

I’ll read anything if it’s not nailed down. My bookshelves bloom with murder mysteries, trashy romances, classic novels, biographies, pop fiction, science fiction, and fantasies. I was the kid who always kept my text books: “Literature: Structure, Sound and Sense,” and “AP Style” and “Elements of Fiction Writing: Characters and Viewpoint.” Authors reign like rock stars on these shelves: Steinbeck, Wells, Lamb, Franzen, Tolkien, Austen, Rice, Card, Bellow, Follett. I have a separate shelf in my room for my childhood books: Light in the Attic, Dr. Seuss, Chatty Chipmunk’s Nutty Day, The Great Bunny Race, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and the entire Little House series.

In short: I love books.

I love the way they smell, the way they feel in my hands, the delicious anticipation of turning to the next page. I love the way words look, the weight of a 700-page book, the feeling of completion when the last page is finished. I savor each book like a treasure: I never turn down pages or write in margins; I save book jackets, carefully peeling them away while I’m in the process of reading the book so I can wrap it back up for safe keeping; I’m a re-reader so keeping the book in bookstore-shape is important to me.

When the world first introduced digitalized reading, I was hugely skeptical. What about BOOKS? Am I supposed to give up all those things I love so much about the physical BOOK in order to read from a tiny little screen? What about the smell, the weight, the actual PAGES? Can you still refer to your favorite new novel as a “Page-Turner” if you’re not actually turning pages?

I was never one who was held captive while reading from a monitor. I found researching on the internet tedious, and would often just print off pages to read later. The stark white backgrounds, so many black words swimming in space, would trigger headaches for me. I just didn’t like reading anything digitally.

Then I stumbled upon the blogosphere.

As a member of the blogging community, it quickly became obvious to me that, in order to gain the respect and readership of fellow bloggers, I had to, in turn, read and comment on their blogs. It was a slow process at first: there are a LOT of blogs in the blogosphere that are less than appealing. A lot of artificial facades for selling insurance or software or other less interesting wares.

But for every 500 blogs, there’s one that’s an absolute treasure.

These are a few of my favorite treasures:

Meet Alex, author of Late Enough. Alex is the kind of blogger that is so good at what she does, she inspires me to do better. From slap-your-knee funny posts to thoughtful, emotional posts about motherhood, Alex always has something to say that is actually worth hearing.

One of the first blogs I read at “Late Enough” was one about how Alex was preparing her family for the apocalypse, and the resulting zombie take-over of the world. Clever, witty, funny, and just strange enough that I know we’d be instant friends. (Who doesn’t worry about how they’ll deal with zombies?) From that post, I ventured into the depths of her blog, and discovered a family who’s creativity knows no bounds, a mother who parents her children with thought and fastidiousness, but who’s not afraid to laugh about life’s awkward moments. But seriously, if you read no other blogs of Alex’s, you must read The Yellow Bow and Princess Solidarity. They will break your heart, make you smile, open your mind, and make you an instant Late Enough fan. I know I am. I never miss a post.

After my daily visit to Late Enough, I point my browser to Ryan’s blog, The Woven Moments. Ryan is a mommy of two whose blogs revolve around the business of parenting. Thoughtful, funny, well-illustrated posts, paired with a laid-back writing style, will have you feeling like you’re sharing a conversation with a friend over coffee.

The first thing that really sucked me in to these Moments is Ryan’s description of her own great love affair. When you can compare your marriage to a cicada, you’ve definitely got something worth talking about.  Coming from experience, I know how rare it is to have something so special, so when I read about Ryan’s wedding, I knew we had something very rare in common. Ryan is another thoughtful, careful Mom who blogs her daily lessons with those of us wanting to learn. One of my favorite posts of hers is about her daughter’s frustration with her lack of jungle-gym-climbing-ability, and the lessons Ryan learned from her daughter in those moments.

One thing I know for sure, Ryan’s blog is the type of blog you bookmark and return to daily. Check her out and I think you’ll agree.

As a blog reader, I look for blogs that are well-written, funny, witty, delectable and downright beautiful. Few have the gamut. But when you find one with all of those aspects and more, it joins the list of “My Favorite Blogs.” And GreatFun4Kids, written by New Zealand resident Simone, is that very blog.

The first thing you’ll be struck by upon visiting this blog is the delicious photography. Seriously delicious. If you don’t read a word, you’ll be struck by beautiful pictures of landscape, family, children–Simone’s life.

But if you’re smart (and I’m betting you are) you’ll sit down with a hot cup of coffee (or tea), read the first post you come across, and spend the next 2 hours with Simone’s blog. Her recent post about watching her daughter run her first race, was thrilling and heartwarming, all at the same time. Her advice to new bloggers is helpful, informative, and supportive–all the things a new writer needs to be successful. If you’re looking for an inventive party idea, Simone’s your girl. Check out this adorable Toy Story party she threw for one of her children. Simone’s posts feel like illustrated poetry to me. And I love that!

One of my favorite things about Simone is her support of new bloggers. She wrote a post very similar to this one a few days ago, introducing ME to her blog world. (For which I am still awed and SO grateful for!) So check out this gorgeous blog–I’m betting you’ll find it as scrumptious as I do! And thanks, Simone, for being so supportive of AbbyGabs!!

Finally, I’m going to point you to one of the funniest blogs I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. This is the blog I go to when I’m in desperate need of a pick-me-up. I’d skip the coffee while reading Hyperbole and a Half, because it’s very likely it would end up spraying out of your nose before it’s all said and done. And truthfully, that would REALLY hurt.

Allie’s blog is a combination of a comic strip and a blog. Her sense of humor is a bit twisted, a lot warped, and right up my alley. There are very few posts on this blog that I haven’t read and laughed out loud, and that really does make Hyperbole a special blog. Her blog about spiders was so hilarious, it inspired my own version, which you might remember as the post titled “I Finally Know I’m Not Alone.” The tales she weaves about her slightly neurotic, incredibly moronic dog are gut-busters for pet owners. Her colorful, hilarious encounters from her childhood, particularly the story about her birthday cake, are pee-your-pants funny.

While Allie is busy writing a book and doesn’t post nearly as often as we (her fans) would like, you will entertain yourself for HOURS reading her previous posts. Seriously, bookmark this blog. It’s better than prozac.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that I admire women who blog. I hope you’ll join me in reading some of these fantastic blogs–and I’ll keep reading each of them daily.