Stacey Loscalzo

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Nov 19

Why the Library is a Rebel’s Best Friend

by Stacey

About a year ago, I admitted something really important to myself. I am a rebel. For those of you who know me in real life, this is going to seem totally wrong but stick with me. Gretchen Rubin, of The Happiness Project fame, released a book called The Four Tendencies that has changed the way I think about myself. In this book, Rubin describes four personality types and through a series of simple exercises, it is pretty easy to figure out which one best describes who you are.

For a while, insisted that I was an Obliger; someone who meets outer expectations but struggles to meet expectations they impose on themselves. After coming up with all sorts of plans to get things done according to strategies that work for Obligers, I only became more frustrated. I would sign up for a reading challenge, complete the tasks for one month and then just quit. I would register for an amazing online writing class, complete the first assignment and then disappear. Around the time that I was getting really annoyed with myself, I had lunch with a good friend and we got talking about The Four Tendencies. She told me she was a rebel, someone who resists both outer and inner expectations. At first glance, as with me, this made no sense. She, like me, appears to be a rule follower and someone who, on the surface, is a person who gets things done easily. But no. When we both really thought and read about this tendency we understood that we are both rebels. We are going to do what we want to do when we want to do it.

After coming to this realization, I have gained a greater understanding about some things I do naturally. One came to mind last week while I listened to one of my new favorite podcasts, Currently Reading. In the most recent episode, the co-hosts, Meredith and Kaytee discussed how they choose the next book they are going to read and both referenced that they were mood readers. They also commented on the fact that if they set a goal to read a certain book, they had almost always doomed themselves to failure. All the bells and whistles went off and I realized that they were describing me. Enter the definition of a rebel. I have to read what I want when I want to read it. Suddenly I knew why I have never completed a monthly book challenge no matter how great it is (like The Read Harder Challenge or the Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge and why I can’t create a beautiful Monthly TBR post on Instagram.

And this realization also helped me to understand why, as a rebel, the library is my best  friend.

I can check out as many books as I want without spending a dime. When I walk in to the library, if a book catches my eye, I check it out. If I get home and I no longer feel like reading it, I return it.

If I am reading a library book and I decide I don’t like it, I stop reading. I can do this if I am ten pages in or if I am 100 pages in to a read. No harm no foul. No money spent so therefore far less guilt if I choose not to read a book at all or choose to stop reading at any point. 

The library hold list helps the rebel in me too. If I hear about a book I want to read, my first inclination has always been to hop on-line and buy it. Over time, I have gotten much better about pausing and requesting the book through our library website. There have been countless times that I will get a message that a book I have requested has arrived and by the time it has, I really am no longer interested in reading it.

This post came to mind as I was scrolling through The Be A Bookworm Challenge sheet. Today, even though I have done it already, I am going to follow the prompt, ‘tag your library.’ For those of you have been completing the challenge alongside me, thank you! And for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about it, it is never too late to jump in and join us. Details can be found right here.

 

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Nov 15

Quick Lit: November 2018 Edition

by Stacey

I’m excited to join in on the fun at Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit again today. This month was a funky reading month for me as there were some real hits and a couple of disappointing misses.

Here goes…

Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman- Waiting for Eden is an example of why I love book subscriptions. I would have never picked up this book on my own if it had not arrived in the mail as part of my Shelf Subscription from the Bookshelf. This was not an easy read but I’m glad I read it. Yesterday I wrote about how reading helps me to see other people’s perspectives and Waiting for Eden is a perfect example of that.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid- This was another ‘not easy to read’ book. It’s also one that I can write next to nothing about without spoiling it. That said, I’d love to hear what you thought of it if you read it and if not, go read and then come back and tell me what you think happens at the end. Holy confusing ending! And if you like this one, definitely read Reid’s latest book, Foe. After finishing Foe last month, I had to read something else by the author because Reid clearly has a very unique mind.

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager- I think I have a love-hate relationship with Riley Sager. I read his first book, Final Girls and didn’t think I really liked it but then when his next book came out I was super excited to read it. I think I will feel exactly the same way when Sager’s next title is released. I liked the beginning of The Last Time I Lied, I hated the middle and then came the ending that I can’t stop thinking about.

And then there were two titles that I did not finish this month. I am disappointed that I didn’t love them but I guess it is what it is. I really want to like Tana French because so many readers that I typically agree with do but I started The Witch Elm and just couldn’t get through it. This is one that I may try again but it was a miss for me right now. And then there was The Girl Who Smiled Beads. This is a great memoir and again, I might come back to it. For now though, it was just too sad and too heavy. I need a bit more escapism in my reading these days and this book is totally not that.

So… what was your reading month like? I hope it was a great one!

 

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Nov 14

Six Reasons to Read

by Stacey

A few months ago I decided to get out of my own way and start writing again. I want to write here in this space but I also want to grow my community on Instagram. I want to talk about reading and writing and parenting girls and the state of the world. As I tried to focus (something that seems to be increasingly difficult for me) I talked with a friend who pointed out something really important. She said that in order to grow a community, I had to be clear in what I was going to do to help people. This was  a new way of thinking for me but an idea jumped in to my mind almost immediately. My goal is to help people realize how easy it is, even in our complicated and busy lives, to be a reader. And beyond that, to show people why being a reader especially in our ridiculously complicated and busy lives is super important. I plan to delve in to these ideas in greater depth in the future but for now…

Six Reasons to Read

Reading increases our sense of empathy. By reading a book, you can truly feel like you have walked in someone else’s shoes. I feel like now, perhaps more than ever, it is super important for us to understand what life is like for other people and reading is a pretty efficient way to do this. Just in the past month, I have read books about refugees, veterans and people suffering from mental illness.

Reading increases our understanding of ourselves. Of course this kind of understanding comes when we read self-help books but I don’t read a ton in that genre and I still feel like each time I read a book, I learn something about how I interact with people or react in certain situations.

Reading gives us something to talk about with other people. I can talk about our family all day but sometimes it is nice to have topics to discuss that don’t revolve around our daily lives. People know that I am a reader so often, when I am out and about, people will ask me for book recommendations. I love the kinds of conversations that come from these questions.

Reading is forced downtime. It is pretty hard to multi-task while reading a book. LIstening to an audiobook is a whole different and worthwhile way to do different things at the same time but that is a topic for another day. For me, I need a tangible reminder to stop for a minute, take a deep breath and just be. Sometimes, it isn’t until I lie in bed at the very end of the day but at least once every day, I pick up a book and just read.

Reading can distract us, in a healthy way, from stress in our ‘real lives.’ Sometimes I think this is why I prefer fiction to non-fiction. We all have enough to worry about in our day to day lives. Picking up a work of fiction and escaping into someone else’s life for just a little bit can often be a refreshing and much needed break from what is on our minds.

Reading models a reading life for our children. Children who have parents who read are far more likely to become readers themselves. Of all the habits I hope our girls pick up from me, reading for fun is high up on my list. By now, I have really internalized the truth that children do what we do not what we say. For every time I tell the girls to get off their phones while scrolling through Instagram on my own phone, I also tell the girls to go find their books while reading my own book. For now, they are both readers and I know that. in part, this is because they grew up watching me read.

If you need a little motivation to pick up a book everyday, please join us in the Be A Bookworm Challenge. Details can be found here. It is never too late to join in on the reading fun!

 

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Nov 12

A Few of My Favorite Reads: From A to Z

by Stacey

Over the weekend, I brainstormed writing ideas and this one came to me. I can’t believe I never had this thought before. With the exception of a few letters (you can probably guess the culprits!), titles came to mind pretty easily and it was super fun to remember so many awesome reads. Of course, if I created this same like tomorrow, my list would probably be different but for now…

…here goes! My Favorite Reads from A to Z:

A- A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

B- Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

C- Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

D- DaVinci Code by Dan Brown

E- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

F- Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

G- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

H- The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

I- Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

J- Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

K- Kiss the Girls by James Patterson

L- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

M- Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

N- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

O- The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory

P- Prayers for Owen Meany by John Irving

Q- Queen Bees and Wanna Bees by Rosalind Wiseman

R- The Road by Cormac McCarthy

S- Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

T- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

U- Us Against You by Frederick Backman

V- The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

W- We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Folwer

X- Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold- coming up with an X title proved impossible 🙂

Y- The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Z- Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

 

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Nov 06

Today’s the Day

by Stacey

I have been waiting a long time for today to come. I woke up the day after the 2016 election and started counting down the days until the midterms. Rob read a funny tweet today that pretty much summed up how I am feeling. The tweet read- “I am as nervous as a balloon in a group of porcupines.”  Yup. That feels just about right.

This election feels like so much more than an election. It feels like a statement on who we are going to be as a country. As a state. And as a Village. I am a bundle of nerves because I have very strong beliefs and I worry that we are headed in the wrong direction. I want to stay positive. I do. But right now, my heart is heavy and worried.

I can still see though the good that has come out of all of this. The good is engagement at all levels of government. I know I have gotten far more engaged this time around than I did in 2016. Out of frustration and anger and guilt. I sat by in 2016 assuming that the most qualified candidate would win. I brought the girls with me to our polling place so they could be in the place where I voted for the first female president. I really had no doubts until I did.

I know I am not alone this time around. People are involved. They have gotten educated on the issues and they are ready.

If you have sat by until now, you still have time. Please VOTE. If you have any questions, please reach out to someone who can answer your questions. I can be that person or feel free to find others.

Fingers and toes crossed friends.

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Nov 01

Be A Bookworm Launches Today

by Stacey

Be a Bookworm launches today! After years of answering the question, “How do you read so much?!” I finally realized that the answer is simple. I read a little bit throughout every day. Reading, for me, is a habit. Like brushing my teeth, drinking coffee and walking the dog in the middle of the afternoon if it’s not rainy or cold. I always have a book that I am reading and I bring it with me everywhere.

So today I kicking off a month-long challenge to help you make reading a habit.

The challenge is simple. Details and prompts are below. Please join me here or on Instagram (@staceyloscalzo) to Be a Bookworm. I can’t wait to read along with you this month!

Here we go!

  1. Choose a book. Any book. If you need a suggestion, I am here! Stay tuned for some recommendations. Make this ‘your book’. Bring it with you everywhere.
  2. Look at the Be a Bookworm Checklist and start snapping pictures. You can download the PDF and print it as a reference!
  3. Check my Instagram feed (@staceyloscalzo) each day in November to see which prompt I chose for the day. Feel free to follow the same prompt or choose your own.
  4. Post a picture each day with the hashtag #beabookworm2018.
  5. It would be great if we made bookish friends along the way so definitely search #beabookworm2018 and start chatting books with fellow bookworms-to-be.

 

 

 

 

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Oct 29

Be a Bookworm: Great Short Books

by Stacey

 

Three days and counting until Be A Bookworm: 30 Days to a Reading Habit begins and I can’t wait! Over the weekend, I shared a few favorite fiction titles but today is all about short books.

My goal for Become a Bookworm is to show people that being a reader is all about getting into the habit of having a book with you and reading a little bit here and a little bit there. I consider myself a bookworm for sure but sometimes I get in a slump. And the fastest way I have found out of a slump is simple- pick up a short book. I figure if you are not in a reading habit right now, it is similar to being in a slump. My reading slumps last a few days typically but the concept is the same if your slump has been going on for years or even decades. You just need a compelling book to get reading again.

For me, short books are the way to go. You can get into the story quickly and feel an immediate sense of accomplishment when you read a pretty big chunk of the book in a short amount of time.

So… here are a few of my favorites short(er) books!

  • Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman
  • Foe by Iain Reid (and I have just started Reid’s first novel which is also short- I’m Thinking of Ending Things- I don’t like to recommend before I finish a title but so far, so good!)
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
  • The Mothers by Britt Bennett
  • The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  • Exit West by Moshin Hamid
  • The End We Start From by Megan Hunter

And in case you need a few more short titles…

Anne Bogel is one of my all time favorite book bloggers. If you haven’t visited Modern Mrs. Darcy yet, you should definitely pop over to her site. Anne’s post, 20 Short Novels You Can Read in a Day, is full of lots of great titles.

Sarah’s Bookshelves is a new-to-me site. Check out her post, Great Books Under 300 Pages, for more great ideas.

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Oct 27

Be a Bookworm: Fiction Recommendations

by Stacey

 

Earlier this week, I announced a fun new challenge- Be a Bookworm: 30 Days to a Reading Habit. Pop on over to that post if you haven’t had a chance to learn about this challenge yet.

I can’t wait to spend November reading a little bit each day with current bookworms and lots of new bookworms-to-be. The challenge is simple- have a book with you everywhere you go and sneak just a few pages in here and there throughout the day.

While it is awesome that there are millions of books to choose from, I sometimes find the sheer volume of choices to be completely overwhelming. So… I thought, in the days leading up to our challenge, I would share some recommendations.

And if none of these options strike your fancy, comment below, email me (see the contact tab above) or come on over to Instagram (@staceyloscalzo)- I’d be more than happy to help you choose your next book.

I’ll be sharing some non-fiction titles next week but for now… a few of my favorite fiction titles. And of course, for me, choosing a favorite book is a lot like choosing a favorite child. It’s super hard so know that these are my favorites today. If you ask me tomorrow, my answer will be different. Hmmm. I guess it is just like choosing a favorite child- lol! To make it a littler easier to choose, I went back in time a little and chose some older favorites.

If you want to read a book about families… Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

If you want to read a book that will scare you… Bird Box by Josh Malerman

If you want to read a book that will make you cry… When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanathi

If you want to read a book set in the past… Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

If you want to read a book about about the apocalypse… Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

If you want to read a book about nature… State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

If you want to read a coming of age story… A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

If you want to read a middle grade story… Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

If you want to read a young adult story… We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

 

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Oct 24

Be a Bookworm: 30 Days to a Reading Habit

by Stacey

 

Drumroll please….

Introducing ‘Be a Bookworm: 30 Days to a Reading Habit’. We will launch on November 1st but read so you are ready to join us!

I oversleep sometimes. I forget to drink enough water. And journaling my daily gratitudes? Forget about it. But I DO read. Every. Single. Day. And you can too. I am not a lady of leisure, sipping tea while curled up by the fire reading a book. Nope, my days are super busy but I’ve learned that I can read a page here and a page there and by doing this, I read a ton of books. Reading, for me, is a habit. I don’t think about it much or schedule it I just do it.

Like all good habits, I believe being a reader helps me to be a stronger and happier person. Through reading, I gain empathy, I learn about people, cultures and places, I feel joy and sadness, I model a reading life style for my girls and I take a few minutes to do something just for me.

During the month of November, I invite you you to make reading a habit too. I can’t wait to show you how much reading you can get done in tiny chunks of time. Join me on Instagram as we share ideas and Become Bookworms Together!

Each day, I will post a prompt and a picture. The prompts will be simple invitations to encourage you to have a book, any book, with you throughout the day. During the small snippets of time that we all have, I will remind you to read. Even if it’s one page. One page a few times a day for a month. I can’t wait to see what we can read together this month. You are free to choose any book you want. Of course, I will post recommendations and you can come to me with specific requests. Helping people choose a book is my favorite thing to do!

The challenge is simple. Here we go!

  1. Choose a book. Any book. If you need a suggestion, I am here! Stay tuned for some recommendations. Make this ‘your book’. Bring it with you everywhere.
  2. Look at the Be a Bookworm Checklist and start snapping pictures.
  3. Check my instagram feed (@staceyloscalzo) each day in November to see which prompt I chose for the day. Feel free to follow the same prompt or choose your own.
  4. Post a picture each day with the hashtag #beabookworm2018.
  5. It would be great if we made bookish friends along the way so definitely search #beabookworm2018 and start chatting books with fellow bookworms-to-be.

Happy Reading Friends!

 

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Oct 17

Permission to Be a Mediocre Reader

by Stacey

I read Tim Wu’s In Praise of Mediocrity a few weeks ago and I can’t stop thinking about it. The entire article is worth a read but this paragraph is what has stuck with me.

“If you’re a jogger, it is no longer enough to cruise around the block; you’re training for the next marathon. If you’re a painter, you are no longer passing a pleasant afternoon, just you, your watercolors and your water lilies; you are trying to land a gallery show or at least garner a respectable social media following. When your identity is linked to your hobby — you’re a yogi, a surfer, a rock climber — you’d better be good at it, or else who are you?”

Of course I have thought about this idea as it relates to the girls and their extra-curricular activities but the fear of mediocrity extends to me as a reader as well.

Sometimes it is easy to think, “Gone are the days when you read a book and maybe talk about it with a few friends over coffee. If you are a reader, you are certainly in a book club. And often you are in a real life book club and a hand full of virtual groups as well.” Or, “As a reader, when you finish a book, it’s not enough to sit back and think about how you felt about the ending. For many, the end of the book means that it’s time to post an image on Instagram and a review on Facebook.”

As I think about what is next for me as the girls get older, I always consider how to extend my love of books and reading into something more professional. Ironically, as I consider the power of being a mediocre hobbyist, I plan to write and share more about books in an organized and thoughtful way. Where is the balance I wonder between doing something purely for enjoyment and then extending the love of that thing to others in a professional way?

I will be playing with these ideas in this space over the next few weeks. I believe it is still possible to be a reader simply for the fun of it and I can’t wait to find some new readers to bring on this journey with me. Stay tuned for more details….

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