For the Bibliophile On-the-Go

It’s no secret that I openly identify myself as a bibliophile, one who has great love for books. I’ve even decorated my former apartment with literary-inspired decor and shared several (though it’s been awhile) reviews of my latest reads. It’s such a joy connecting with other readers, whether it’s sharing recommendations, commiserating over the latest predicament our favorite heroes and heroines have found themselves in, or discussing how the act of reading a specific book has transcended into our personal lives, making it that much easier to face.

All readers have their opinion over the rise of e-readers and tablets versus the weight of a book in your hands. For me, nothing will beat the experience of turning the crisp pages of a physical book and being able to “mark up the text,” but I welcome e-readers with open arms, too. I love the idea that all books are accessible at your fingertips and that you can take it anywhere you go. I especially love that you can read all through the night without keeping the light on, making it that much easier to dive into the story (and forget that you really should be going to bed because it’s already 3 AM…).  It’s exciting knowing that so many people are choosing to read because of the sheer convenience of an e-reader and converting into bibliophiles themselves.

While tablets certainly have their place in the realm of convenience, productivity, travel, and entertainment, sometimes I feel like all of the bells and whistles can be distracting when trying to escape in a novel. We already have our phones and computers calling our names every ten minutes to check Facebook or mindlessly scroll through Pinterest. That’s why I am itching to get an e-reader that is free from these distractions, but still allows me all of the reading tools I need.

Knowing that this is something I would truly love and enjoy, I’ve decided to team up with a group of amazing women and give one of our special readers a Kindle Paperwhite. I’m so beyond excited that we are able to do this and I can’t wait to see who wins! I hope you will enjoy the gift of reading whenever, wherever, free from distractions.

Enter to win a Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite includes a next-generation built-in light for those late night reading sessions and wi-fi capabilities for easy use no matter where you are. The high-resolution makes it easier than ever to read clearly and enjoy without the glare from the sun. Best of all, it’s light enough to hold with one hand. You’d be surprised at how important this is!

This giveaway was made possible by the following ladies! Be sure to stop by and say thank you for their contributions:

You can enter the giveaway daily by clicking the Rafflecopter Giveaway link below. Please note the following terms and conditions:

  • The giveaway will run from August 4th-18th at midnight.
  • Open to Continental US residents ONLY
  • Winner’s entries will be verified

Best of luck to all of you! Check back each day to earn more entries into the giveaway!

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Book Review: Women in Bed by Jessica Keener

Women in Bed: Nine StoriesWomen in Bed: Nine Stories by Jessica Keener

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Despite my English degree, I have embarrassingly little experience with reading a collection of modern short stories, especially in the form of adult female fiction. So when I dove into Women in Bed by Jessica Keener, I tried to stay keenly aware of how the length of each story shaped the characters’ tales and my interpretation and enjoyment. That being said, I was surprised by how quickly I latched on to the staggering reality Keener so poignantly shares in mere pages.

Arguably, I think the weakest aspect of this collection is its title: Women in Bed. When I first heard the title, I was turned off, but it certainly caught my attention–a decent marketing strategy at least. And after reading these nine stories, I understand that what links them all together is that they each share the tale of a woman who, of course, is in bed at some point. But there’s so much more depth to each situation and why she ends up in bed (alone or not) which is why I feel the title is lacking. It doesn’t accurately capture the beautiful honesty Keener delicately weaves together.

There are many authors who don’t take the risk to explore the truth deep below the surface of human nature, especially when it comes to love. It’s an ugly, confusing, and often fearful place, and most people don’t like to admit that it’s there. But Keener exposes it from the very beginning, highlighting the unconventional and “unpretty” relationships, thoughts, and questions from within.

Women in Bed is a collection for readers in all stages of life because every person can find themselves mirrored back in at least one aspect of the stories, whether one is prepared to look or not.

*Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book from Keener’s publicist to review, but all opinions are my own.

Want to read another book review? Check them all out here.

And for all you bibliophiles, you have a chance to win your own e-book copy of Women in Bed, too! Simply enter in the Rafflecopter giveaway below by Friday, April 25th! I’ll announce the winner this weekend.

Jessica Keener eBook Giveaway

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The Perfect Daytime Reading Nook

If you’re a self-proclaimed bibliophile, you’ve probably dreamed up what your ideal reading location would look like. Maybe you imagine an old-fashioned library with dim lights, ladders that stretch high into the expanded ceiling, and oversized leather chairs. Maybe you prefer a window seat, snuggled up with a blanket and a cup of cocoa while the rain lightly taps the glass. Perhaps you think of your bed with crisp white sheets and lots of feathery pillows. In any case, it’s perfect and there’s no place better.

For me, my ideal reading spot changes depending on my mood, the time of day, and what kind book I’m reading. Recently, I’ve been craving fun and easy reads and imagine being curled up in a bright and comfortable space, tucked away in a corner.

Perfect-Reading-Nook

Most importantly, my reading nook needs to be comfortable. How perfect would this oversized bean bag chair from Bean Bag Boss be? It can be molded into different shapes depending on how you want to sit and it looks really comfortable.

Underneath the bean bag, I’d love a fun and soft carpet to sink my toes into, like this fun printed number from IKEA. Of course, I’d have snuggle up with this incredibly soft throw and fun chevron pillow from West Elm! I’d store all of my books in my IKEA Expedit shelf, artfully styled a la Pinterest, naturally. And for a wink to my favorite girl Jane, I’d hang her Persuasion litograph on the wall.

Simple, colorful, bright. Sigh.

What would your perfect daytime reading nook look like?

A Friendly Reminder: The Spring Pantone-Inspired Color Challenge starts on MONDAY! Will you be joining us?

Disclosure: This post contains a few affiliate links to products and brands I love. As always, thank you for supporting the brands that make The Modern Austen possible!

Confession: I Have Always Been a Harry and Hermione Shipper

Listen, guys. I know many of you are upset that J.K. Rowling recently announced that she was wrong to have Ron and Hermione end up together. Romione shippers are crushed, people feel like their childhoods were lies, and others are, quite frankly, rather ticked that the lovely Joann had to inform us about it in the first place. I can hear choruses of “It’s just like when she told us Dumbledore was gay. I mean, why now?” 

I get it. I know that it seems like a big slap in the face to say that you “take back” something that has had such a profound effect on many loyal readers or to not even include such important information in the first place. Some fans are personally hurt by it, believing that making this statement is so much more than who-ends-up-with-who but rather that perhaps Joann wrote parts for the wrong reasons, making Harry’s story less authentic than it “could have been.”

I, on the other hand, take all of this in stride for multiple reasons. Confession: I have always been a Harry and Hermione shipper. And if that wasn’t confession enough, hear this: I wrote fanfiction about it with my cousin Kim. Dozens. Our own fantastical versions of what would’ve really happened if things had gone differently for the golden trio. And man, were they GREAT. (Actually, they’re completely unrealistic and lack any sort of real plot structure, but to us, they’re GOLDEN. They’re probably the best sources for roll-on-the-floor humor that I’ve ever read.)

Harry-Hermione-Shippervia

But as much as I internally (and okay, a little externally) gloat about knowing the “truth” all along, this isn’t the reason I’m not upset with J.K. Rowling for making this statement.  I believe any author should have the right to say and believe whatever they want about their own creation. Joann knows these books better than anyone in the entire world and she has been blessed and cursed with the gift of time and distance from the series to reflect properly on its entirety. Knowing that Dumbledore is gay or that Harry and Hermione end up with the “wrong people” doesn’t ruin the books. These details, however raw and imperfect they are, make them more real. Sure, they could have been included in the books, but would you have changed your experience in any way? I know I wouldn’t. And you know the magical thing about Harry Potter? This world can become whatever you want it to be. These characters have made a real home in your hearts and you have the power to believe whatever outcome you want, even past the pages. Of course it’s happening inside your head, but why on earth should that mean it’s not real?

If you really want to know my thoughts on who-should’ve-ended-up-with-whom, read ahead. Our versions may not match, but that’s the beauty of it all . . . Thanks J.K. Rowling for giving us all that special kind of magic.

Harry + Hermione: Oddly enough, I think the movies actually did a decent job at exposing the special relationship these two have. I’m thinking of two scenes in particular: in CoS, Hermione runs full-speed towards Harry with this absolutely adorable grin and they hug. Granted, I know Ron and Herms awkwardly exchange glances because “they like each other,” but if you look back at my journal from 2002, I wrote a full-page gawking over H & H. Embarrassing? Who cares. Secondly, the dancing scene in DH when Hermione needs cheering up after Ron leaves. It’s an intimate, friendly moment, but really showed how loyal they are and how they understand each other’s needs. In the books, there are countless moments like these (that’s when I felt the strongest about their ship and wrote fanfic) and I would’ve loved to see more had they been written in that direction. I get that people would’ve loathed the leading man and leading lady getting together, but why should that be the reason? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Harry having something go his way for once!

On another note, now that I too have had time and distance from the series, I also could have seen Harry and Hermione end up with other people, too. Admittedly, I’m sure much of my H & H support comes from identifying with Hermione and being in love with Harry, myself. Other shippers support Hermione/Malfoy (Lily/Snape redemption? ooh this would make some juicy fanfic), Harry/Luna, but I’m not 100% sold on these either. I do know that Hermione would have needed someone ambitious and creative to keep up with her, a guy who finds her long-winded rants about Ancient Ruins absolutely enlightening and also maintains some sort of high-profile job at the Ministry of Magic. Is it possible that Harry would end up alone? (I’m imagining Frodo’s choice to travel “into the west” because he’s just been so far removed from reality after it all.) That’s really sad to imagine. He’d have to be with someone who could empathize but not baby him–someone who could make him laugh and encourage him to move forward.

Ron + ?: I still don’t have Ron pegged with a name, but I can imagine him with someone truly great who appreciates his sense of humor, but still keeps him in line. I know Hermione could definitely fulfill this role, which is why J.K. put them together, but honestly, he needs someone who is more go-with-the-flow and patient with his learning curves. I think Ron would continue to pour his love out for this lucky lady in small, but significant ways and she wouldn’t need any sort of reassurance of his love because she would be confident. Ron would like that.

(Side note: I think most people are upset about this latest news from J.K. because they feel it’s a stab at Ron’s personality and they are rushing in to defend him; in reality, everyone has quirks and faults and just because his might not have aligned with Hermione doesn’t make him any less amazing of a character.)

Neville + Luna: I mean, duh. Two fantastic outcasts-turned-amazing-friends who basically save the whole damn series? Match made in heaven. Oddly enough, I could have also seen Neville/Ginny.

Ginny + Hot Quidditch Player
Malfoy + His Mom   Rich Daughter of Powerful Family
Hagrid + Madame Maxime

Who would you have paired together? Are you upset about the latest news? Share your thoughts in the comments (but keep it friendly; no need to get your dress robes in a twist!)