Looking Back at 2014

Hello Everyone,

The end of the year always seems like it's about the "Top Ten" list.  While these can often be overdone, I decided it was still worthwhile to do for the books I have reviewed in 2014.  (These books have certainly not all been released in 2014.)  I have not sorted this by genre, but rather this are my overall picks that I felt blew my mind and I think about often.

Top Books Reviewed of 2014

  1. S. - J.J. Abrams & Doug Dorst
  2. The Opposite of Loneliness - Marina Keegan
  3. Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand
  4. Touched (The Marnie Baranuik Series)- A.J. Aalto
  5. The Enemy Within - Lucy Varna
  6. The Antithesis - Terra Whiteman
  7. Escape from Camp 14 – Blaine Harden
  8. Soulless - Gail Carriger
  9. Sabriel - Garth Nix
  10. Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life - Joshua Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus


Honorable Mentions for 2014

  1. Skunk Works – Ben Rich
  2. Humans of New York - Brandon Stanton
  3. Girls With Slingshots Vol. 1 - Danielle Corsetto
  4. True Believer - Lucy Bellwood
  5. Kitchen Confidential - Anthony Bourdain
  6. Daring Greatly - Brené Brown

Was there a book you read this year that wasn't on my list?  Do you agree or disagree with any of my rankings?

Cheers and enjoy New Years Eve!


Snail Mail and Holiday Spirit!

Hello Everyone!

Hope you're enjoying your day.  Recently, I've caught the holiday bug and have been enjoying all things festive.  I typically don't get into the celebrations until right before Christmas so this is a fun new experience for me. 

As such, I signed up for two fun events:

The Christmas card exchange is nice since it means you're not spending $$, but the Secret Santa (or Kris Kringle as it were) will be a fun surprise!

Just thought I'd share in case anyone would be interested in joining.  But sign up soon the deadline is coming up quick!

Happy Holiday!


Literary Gift Ideas!

Happy Thanksgiving Folks!

I am thrilled to be able to say that; I love getting into the holiday season.   Whatever holidays you celebrate this season, everyone could use some extra gift ideas.  So in advance of the Black Friday (and other shopping days), here are some of my favorite picks for your bookworms and writers!

Note: I do not get any kickback for referencing any of the following sites.  There were just some of my favorite picks while doing some shopping myself!

Happy Shopping!

Unique Gifts

Cherlysorg on Etsy

Cherlysorg on Etsy

Thumbprint with literary titles:

This is a very neat idea, though certainly pricey!  The artist custom-creates each piece tailored to individuals.  Your thumbprint is the model and the books you have read are the lines!  You DO have to narrow it down to 50-60 books, but that certainly would create a unique and interesting piece of art.




Clock that will fit on bookcase

I like this idea simply because it's simple.  This is a clock created to look like books so you can just pop it on the bookshelf and presto! a clock and your favorite books.  Of course, if you're like me you'll just ignore the time as you curl up with you latest read...




100 Penguin Postcards

I love snail mail.  As far as I'm concerned it's the best thing ever.  I also may be solely keeping USPS in business simply with the large volume of letters I feel compelled to write.  In an electronic world, what's better than a surprise in the mail?  These are a collection of Penguin Covers created into postcards, which look like so much fun!  


Quotes/Book Posters

Poster Text

Poster Text

There are so many fantastic book and quote posters out there, I'm just going to list some of the best ones that I found.  I'm particularly in love with the posters with entire books creatively made into posters and accessories!

Entire books creatively manipulated:


iterary Maps

Another literary/infographic trend that has become popular is manipulating words into pictures.  I'm sure many of you have seen the neighborhood maps where each neighborhood is represented with the name?  These literary maps are similar but, as you may have guessed, literary themed.  Some are authors, some are books, but all are clever tributes!



Quote Pillow

There are SO so many literary inspired accessories and clothing these days, you might overdose.  Possibly.  I'm not sure if you can over-dose on literary awesomeness though I probably will try.  Here is just a small selection of the many creative examples I saw!

None of these ideas sound quite right?  Check out these literary-inspired stores for many more ideas:

Series Sunday!

Good Morning!

I've been thinking recently about how to do reviews for series.  Thus far, for the most part, I've only been doing reviews for the first book in a series or the most recent release.  I've been doing that because I'd find it annoying to read four reviews in a row about a series I decided I wasn't really interested in.  It can still be valuable to have reviews for a full series because occasionally I wish I hadn't continued reading.  Or I had only read the second one as a stand-alone etc.

As such, I will be starting "Series Sunday" where I post reviews for subsequent books in a series.  If a new book in a series is released I may still post that during the week, but will make that call as it comes up.  

Hope you enjoy!


Bookstore Spotlight: Quimby's


Specializing in “Unusual Publications, Aberrant Periodicals, Saucy Comic Booklets, Independent Zines and Assorted Fancies”; Quimby’s was a store that I just had to check out and it did not let me down.  It is located at the Chicago Bucktown/Wicker Park border and has something for everyone.  In fact, I was quite excited to see a few titles that I have wanted to read, but haven’t been able to find such as “Fun House”.

I am not familiar with the “zine” scene, but this store certainly has me intrigued now.  Looking through some of the magazines, there was every kind of interest to be fulfilled.  I also enjoyed seeing all of the comic booklets of up and coming artists, many in the Chicago area. 

Unfortunately, I was short on time, but I will certainly be going back soon!  As you can see, we had already done some excessive shopping and were running out of hands for new purchases.  I have a hunch that this is a store I may end up spending a full afternoon at in the near future.


Announcing Inaugural Reading to Distraction Book Club

Good Morning Everyone!

If you haven't seen the Facebook/Twitter announcement yet, I am officially kick-starting the Reading to Distraction book club!  Hopefully a more creative name will be coming soon as well.  Lapse in creativity aside, please see more details on the book club page.

As I know everyone has busy lives, unlike most book clubs, this one will run bimonthly to allow folks more time to read the book.  Additional details to follow, and guidelines can be found on the book club page.

The first book for November/December will be "The Opposite of Loneliness"!  I know I already wrote a review on this book, but it's one that I know many are interested in reading and will prompt some great discussion.  If you are interested in joining, comment on the Facebook announcement so I know who to keep in touch with.  Don't have Facebook?  Drop me an email at to let me know instead.



Bookstore Spotlight: Myopic Books


Myopic Books is a famous (perhaps infamous) new and used bookstore in the Chicago Bucktown/Wicker Park border.  This past Sunday, I convinced a few friends for an outing to the nice coffee/crepe shop next door before tackling Myopic.  I was not quite sure what to expect, but we had a blast wandering around and perusing through everything.  While not looking like much from the outside, it has a never ending stash of books on four floors and charming stacks to weave through.  I particularly enjoyed the genre placements: mysteries in the basement for an extra creepy factor, religion and psychology on the upper floors for “high-level thinking” etc.

Standing on the "half floor"

Standing on the "half floor"

The first stop was spending too much time in the graphic novel section drooling and feeling a bit overwhelmed, but I found some great used finds that I would not have purchased at full price.  After some additional wandering around (basement, main floor), I went upstairs and fell in love with the half-floor placed between the main and second floor.  The half-floor is built like a display shelf along the edges of the first floor, but is full-sized and contains a few dozen book shelves.  I took a picture to attempt to provide the perspective.  (Sorry, on breaking the no picture rule – hopefully my subtle single photo and body weight in purchased books makes up for it!)  Moving on to the second floor, I was thrilled to see two different areas of comfy seating for setting up shop and scoping out potential purchases.  I didn’t have enough time to linger a long time, but loved the airy and bright atmosphere.  The staff clearly knows their stuff, were friendly and helpful if a bit no-nonsense in their approach.  All in all, this is a fantastic book store I’d highly recommend visiting if you’re in the area!

See more on their website:

More Frequent Book Reviews!

Hi All!

Lately, I have noticed that I have had a backlog of book reviews and my buffer is HUGE.  (Yes, somehow that did happen.)  As I like to read both my own interests AND have the opportunity to read new releases, I am going to post every weekday for the month of November and see how long I can maintain it.  I make no promises, this may teeter out quickly, but we'll see how it goes.

Hooray for more book discussions!

Cheers,  Marisa

Author Talk: Garth Nix and Veronica Roth

Garth Nix & Veronica Roth

Garth Nix & Veronica Roth

Hi Everyone!

Monday night I had the opportunity to go see a panel with Garth Nix and Veronica Roth.  Even though I covered some of it through twitter (@Read2Distract), I figured I’d share some of the highlights here:

Moderator: What were your favorites growing up?

Garth Nix: Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander, classics and more.

Veronica Roth: Garth Nix! (laughs) The Giver, Madeline L'Engel and Marilynne Robinson

Moderator: What’s the most important aspect to becoming a successful writer?

Veronica: Write, write, and write. Attack every day! Then get lucky.

Moderator: What is your writing process?

Garth: Recently, sticking to the 9-5 work schedule.  Working the same hours as other folks adds another level of focus.

Veronica: DESPERATION! Desperation to get it done, but above all else a burning desire to tell the story.

Moderator: Has your relationship with your characters changed over time?

Garth: I try not to go back! It’s almost as if they grow and become their own being after the book is published.  It’s almost like letting go of an adult child.

Veronica:  No, I try not to go back either.  So much so I actually forgot some of the plot lines! It’s like, “Who wrote this? Good job old me!”

Moderator:  What's editing like?

Garth:  It’s painful.  You’ll often completely reject things the editor will cut out, but realize 12 hours later they’re absolutely right.

Veronica: Agreed, it's like going through the stages of grief. Denial. Acceptance. Confirmation.

Moderator:  How did you celebrate your first contract?

Garth: Banging my head against a bookcase… Well, drinking beforehand may influenced the reaction slightly!

Veronica: A bath in marshmallows. Here’s the video!

Moderator: Your new releases (Clariel and Four respectively) are both prequels, are they new ideas or old notes?

Garth: The story line was inspired long ago, but truly new content.

Veronica: Tobias was actually the main character at the beginning, but I quickly realized the story line didn’t feel urgent enough.  Switching to Tris’ perspective quickly made it clear I was onto something more.

Hope you enjoyed a few of their thoughts!  This was a great event to attend.