Armchair BEA Introduction

Today’s post comes from a prompt provided by Armchair BEA. Armchair BEA runs concurrently with Book Expo America (BEA) and the BEA Bloggers Conference from May 28 to June 2. Armchair BEA is composed of volunteers and created for book bloggers who are unable to attend BEA in New York but would still like to connect with other book bloggers and publishers from the comfort of their own home.

Design credit: Nina of Nina Reads

I’m a few days late because I didn’t discover this wonderful event until yesterday but I still wanted to participate. What better way to get started than with the introduction prompt? Check out the Q & A on the following page!

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A Brief Update

Hi thinkers!

I thought you would be interested to know that I have been asked to contribute to another blog! It belongs to the book club I’m a member of on Goodreads. It’s called Classics Without All the Class — the blog is dedicated to making reading more accessible to everyone as well as sharing our love of books. They’ve asked me to share my thoughts on graphic novels. I’m also providing them with a roundup of fun, book-related events each week. This is the first time I’ve ever been asked to contribute to another blog and I couldn’t be more excited! Please check out some of the links below to learn more about the book club and my involvement.

Do not fear! I will still be updating here regularly. You didn’t think I would leave you hanging, did you?

Thanks for reading!

Links:

The Importance of Community and a Book Review

I want to start by saying thank you for your patience and for sticking with me. I was on brief hiatus, but now I’m back to blogging!

I consider myself in a lucky living situation: nice apartment, dog-friendly, safe neighborhood, ocean view, and having good neighbors. I live in a big city where having one of those qualities is considered grounds for celebration. But the quality that is most easily taken for granted is having nice neighbors — the kind that turn your neighborhood into a community.

In my last neighborhood, we lived on a small street tucked between a popular (but rather unsafe) neighborhood and a quieter, more family oriented one. The weather was warm nearly year-round, public transit was within walking distance, and restaurants were king. One of the major disadvantages was one that is typical of living in a big city: anonymity. While some people move to big cities for that very reason, I found it lonely and unsafe. I think the only neighbors on our street that actually spoke to each other were related. There was no real sense of community. Coming from a small town, this kind of behavior wasn’t only disappointing, but foreign.

Things changed dramatically when I moved into the apartment I live in now. I attribute that partly to my neighbors. There are two in particular that have been friendly, kind, and generous. My upstairs neighbor in particular has gone out of her way, more times than I can count, to be friendly. And it’s because of her that I ended up with a copy of The Last Resort: A Memoir of Mischief and Mayhem on a Family Farm in Africa in my hands.

I had never heard of the book before, I had never been to Africa, and I know very little about farming. But when someone lends me a book, I read it. Not always right away, but I read it.

The Last Resort is hard to put down. It’s exactly as the title suggests: a story of a family, their farm in Africa, and the crazy journey they embark on to keep it. The story is written by the son of the couple that runs the farm, Douglas Rogers, who happens to also be a travel writer. He chronicles the struggle his family faces as the country plunges deeper into political unrest after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe orders the “reclamation” of  white-owned farms. This puts a target directly on Drifters, the travel lodge that Rogers’ parents own and operate.

The Last Resort book cover

One of the few book covers that is explained by the text.

What makes The Last Resort engaging are the interwoven stories of Drifters, the Rogers family, and the cast of characters Douglas knows (and meets) along the way. Their stories seem unreal times, with their celebrity, secrecy, and tales of the past, but they help to tell a larger narrative: the people’s history of Zimbabwe. It is inspiring the way that the Rogers family, and Zimbabweans alike, manage to survive, rather than simply suffer, each challenge thrown their way. They seem to have a never-ending ability to roll with the punches rather than get bogged down by a world of constant upheaval and uncertainty.

So what does The Last Resort have to do with the earlier discussion of my living situation? It was the community the Rogers family is part of during the book prompted this entry. While neighbors came and went over the course of the story, there is much emphasis placed on the connections between people and one’s hope for stability. What I mean is, it was the connections between friends, and other times strangers, that seemed to help the Rogers. Whether it was exchanging currency or maintaining the lodge, those connections were crucial for their survival and continued hope. Without a good community, life can seem lonely and bleak, making the simple task of putting one foot in front of the other, monumental.

The Last Resort is a great book and definitely worth a read especially if you’re interested in politics, Africa, and/or travel. But I’m warning you — you will turn the last page with a lingering curiosity. I finished the book with an additional item tacked on to my list of life’s to-dos: visit Zimbabwe and stay at Drifters. And I know I’m not alone! Until then, there are other ways to connect with the book and the author which I have listed below.

Ways to connect with the book:

  • Purchase it from your favorite book seller or borrow a copy from your local library.
  • Check out the group on Facebook. Mr. Rogers participates and responds to comments.
  • Watch a promo for the documentary and donate if you’d like.
  • Visit Mr. Rogers’ website to learn more about him and the book.
  • Stay up-to-date with the author on his blog.

Book Club for the Bibliophile

 

What does a bibliophile get excited about other than getting new books?

Joining a book club.

Nerdy, right?

Up until college, the only thing I remember enjoying in school was reading. Not textbooks, but books. Novels that transported me from the time I saw the title and picture on the cover. I didn’t just read for homework — I read for fun. One of my neighbors was a girl who loved to read too, and we used to climb trees and read books silently as we sat on different branches.

Each time I finished a novel, I had the sudden urge to talk about it. I wanted to discuss every detail and ask a thousand questions that bubbled up during the course of reading. I still have the urge to this day — a Book Emergency I’ll call it (a term adapted from the brittawrites post on Movie Emergencies). College was a great place for that. I once took an 8am class my senior year (I know, unbelievable right? It’s true. It was only offered once a year and at 8am. I felt like I didn’t have a choice!) called American Politics Through American Literature taught by Professor Emeritus Jack Schaar. The required reading included ten novels, which quickly morphed into some of my all-time favorites. Professor Schaar was deeply insightful, quick-witted, and directed the discussions in a meaningful manner that made getting up early well worth it. I didn’t miss a single class.

Fast forward to present day where I have a hankering for reading the classics and am armed with the Internet! That’s how I found the Classics Without All the Class group on Goodreads. It’s a great way to get your foot in the door to reading the classics in a fun and simple way while offering a chance to engage in discussion with other readers via the forums. December’s book is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I can’t wait to start reading — and chatting! It’s the perfect book to get in the mood for the holidays.

Want to join the group? Click this link and join with your Goodreads account. Don’t have one? You can sign in with Facebook.

<Thanks to ali edwards for making her photo of books available for reuse.>