A person, place, and thing that make my literary life better

I could technically spend all my time reading and writing, but for an extrovert, that would get real lonely real quick. I am obviously passionate about reading and writing and I love to share that passion with people (re: this blog). Of course, I also go out and seek other things to do with reading and writing to connect me to other people and enhance my literary life. In fact, if it wasn’t for this person, this place, or the thing (website) that I’m about to list, I would have never stumbled upon some wonderful books, some excellent writing tips, and much needed camaraderie.

Alright, on with the list!

Person

There are many, MANY undiscovered worlds and communities on the internet, and one I’ve recently come across is a thing known as BookTube. Holy cow, is there a lot going on there. BookTube consists of video bloggers posting videos all about books on YouTube. They talk about the books they’ve read, issues in their reading community, and share lots of stuff about their lives. It’s pretty overwhelming at times, but I do watch a few of them, mostly because I like seeing what’s going to be the next big thing.

The first Book Blogger I came across is booksandquills, or, Sanne (pronounced almost like the English word ‘sauna.’ She’s Dutch!). I am now a loyal viewer. She works for Hot Key Books in London and studied English translation in college, so her videos about being bilingual and reading in multiple languages are super interesting. She loves books, especially pretty books, and I’ve added many a graphic novel to my TBR or a beautiful classic edition because I saw it on her channel.

A lot of the bloggers are pretty erratic, excitable and generally loud. That’s fine for certain things, but I always find Sanne to be just plain pleasant when she’s speaking to you. She’s never rude or gloomy or snarky. When she doesn’t like a book, she’ll be perfectly honest why she didn’t, but she won’t hate on you if you did. If you’re going to go down the BookTube rabbit hole, I suggest starting with her.

Place

About a year ago, I started tossing around the idea of going to school to get my MA/MFA in Creative Writing. I even applied to places, but ultimately I ruled it out. My main reason for deciding not to was purely financial, but I still longed to have that classroom setting. I craved feedback and guidance from those smarter than me. So I simply Googled ‘creative writing classes in Denver’ and the very first result was the Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop.

The Lighthouse in in an old historic building in Denver, down in the Congress Park area off of Colfax and close to the Tattered Cover and East High School. They offer something I really needed—affordable classes and workshops. Through a workshop I met two people and we started our critique group. I’ve relied heavily on them ever since.

The Lighthouse also offers great programs. They host author visits and events such as Write-a-thons and Willfully Submit parties. My two favorite events at the Lighthouse happen once a year. The first is LitFest which takes place for three weeks in June and it’s bananas. It’s basically a lot of literary events; classes, workshops, readings, a book fair, business panels, and brown bag lunches. Whew! Last year was my first year participating and it was fun, even though I felt like I barely made a dent in the monstrous schedule.

Just a few months after LitFest we have the annual author visit. This year it was Jennifer Egan who wrote ‘Visit from the Goon Squad,’ a Pulitzer Prize-winning book that I actually enjoyed! The featured author comes for about two day and does a reading and Q&A session, and then hosts a ‘craft talk’ in which they basically teach a class. I loved Jennifer Egan’s craft talk. I wish I had recorded it so I could listen to it again!

Thing

This is going to be challenging, but I’m going to have to attempt to write something short on my love for the website Book Riot. In truth, I could write a Homerific epic on my love for this website, but I’ll refrain for now.

How do I explain this website? Well, it’s for people who love books. Like, REALLY love books. There’s at least one post every day having to deal with bookish news, literary lifestyles, or basically anything involving the reading life. They have great articles that detail things like new books or book deals, they have great roundups of links, lists, and something called Book Fetish which is a series about bookish stuff you can own. They conduct research on the reading life and they have a whole host of contributors from all different backgrounds.

Like all successful websites, Book Riot has spawned a podcast hosted by two of the higher-ups, Jeff O’Neil and Rebecca Schinsky. I feel like they’re my friends since I listen to them to and from work every Monday. Through the podcast I learned about the Quarterly Box, a subscription package that comes once a quarter. Of course, every package contains a book, but these books are special because they come with fun bonus material, almost like having cool extras on a DVD. They also include loads of fun bookish things like magnets and pencils. I’m currently drinking tea out of my Banned Books mug I received in my most recent box.

Another thing they have that I love is the ‘Read It First’ series. They’re cheap ebooks put together by the contributors that are basically a Godsend because they tell you where to start with certain authors. Everyone from Toni Morrison to Roald Dahl’s adult stories (I also did not know he wrote adult stories until this came out).

Phew! That’s enough gushing for now. Tell me, is there anything that makes your literary life better?

Photos courtesy of katiesbookblog.com, confluence-denver.org, and article.wn.com. 

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