Saturday, December 1, 2018

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing


A big perk of working at BookPeople is having access to a room full of ARCs—but it's not something I'm very good about taking advantage of usually. I either forget to check or I'll grab one and never get around to reading it before the book is actually published (which really defeats the purpose). It also doesn't help that I typically only work at BookPeople once a week, so the ARCs I'm interested in have usually already been taken.

But when it came to An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, I was determined to get my hands on a copy and read it before its release date. I enlisted my dear friend Christina to watch out for ARCs since she works full-time at BookPeople, and she found one for me by the end of July! (Get you a Christina in your life.) I read it in a week and it was so fun. Below is the tiny synopsis and review I wrote for BookPeople's monthly newsletter and holiday catalog.*

It's 2:45 A.M. in Manhattan, and April May has found (what she believes to be) a giant robot sculpture standing in front of a Chipotle. She and her friend Andy make a silly video with the sculpture (dubbed "Carl") and upload it to YouTube, unaware that other Carls have appeared overnight in dozens of cities around the world and their lives were about to change forever.

In An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, author Hank Green takes a look at the idea of fame in the age of viral videos, YouTube stars, and social media influencers—but more than that, it is a declaration of his belief in humanity. In such a turbulent time, when it can be so easy to only see the bad in the world and in each other, Green reminds us that humanity is overwhelmingly good. April May's story will make you proud to be a human.

-Maggie

* Speaking of the holidays, BookPeople is teaming up with thirteen local nonprofits and hosting give-back days throughout December. It's a great way to support your local independent bookstore and these amazing organizations this season!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Lately

As much as I like to label myself as a "blogger" on every social media profile I have, I am really bad at it. Truly awful! And I'm not sure there was a time I was ever good at it—but then again, the definition of what makes a "good" blogger is relative. It's all relative!

So here I am again, after months away, just to say a quick hello and give an update to the one or two people that might read this blog and not actually know me in "real life." (Hello, imaginary people!)



At the end of March, while randomly scrolling through a local shelter's adoption page, I found the saddest dog I had ever seen in my life and thought, I must have her. I brought her home a few days after my birthday and named her Edie.

She is scared of most things, but seems to be scared of less things as time goes on. She is always cold, so she really loves blankets and wearing sweaters and sitting in the sun. She is pretty much always asleep, and she would probably never get out of bed as long as I was there too. She is the sweetest puppy in the world! I love her so much!



Our BFFs KaCee and Kyle (and Gretel) moved to Portland in July. We threw a goodbye party for them the night before they left, which was fun until I started crying towards the end, which made Melany and KaCee start crying too. (To clarify, this was not the first time we'd cried.) We went for one last breakfast at Snooze the next morning where we cried some more and attempted to smother our feelings with pancakes.

The four of us had so much fun living together and we were so sad they were moving out, but we were excited for them too. And it was also exciting because Dylan moved into their room.



Speaking of Dylan, we have been dating for nearly a year (our anniversary is on Sunday!), which is crazy and exciting and a lot of other feelings. He is so silly, sweet, and thoughtful, and I feel very, very lucky to have him in my life. Living with him (and Melany) has been so much fun, and I'm really looking forward to the next year.

There are few more things that I missed blogging about within the last year (namely my trip to San Francisco and my birthday weekend), as well as a few things sitting half-finished in my drafts, that I might go back and post. (They're months old, but who cares! It's my life and it's now or never, you know?) We'll see—but for now, that's all I've got.

-Maggie

Saturday, May 19, 2018

6 Before 27



On every birthday since 2012, I've made a list of goals I want to accomplish before my next birthday, starting with 20 Before 21 and going up each year. But I've always been really bad at completing these lists. It's not only because there were so many goals to begin with, but I had to come up with more every year and ended up filling lists with goals that were either unrealistic or not that important to me.

I wasn't going to make a list this year, but then I realized that, well, I really wanted to, but also there's not a rule that says I have to set 26 goals. I'm going to cut down the number so I can focus on a few things I really want to do. So, without further ado and even though my birthday was over a month ago, here are six goals I hope to accomplish before my 27th birthday.

01. READ 30 NEW BOOKS.
I got so close this past year! So close! I always set my goal for thirty and can never seem to crack it, but this year it's going to happen.

02. MAKE IT TO 100 CHECK-INS AT CAMP GLADIATOR.
Last year, I set a goal to go to Camp Gladiator twice a week, which was optimistic, to say the least. I thought it might be easier to set a goal I could actively work towards, so I'm shooting for 100 check-ins. With where I'm at now, that averages out to just one workout a week, which is totally doable!

03. PAY OFF MY CAR.
I was hoping to pay off my car last year, but soon after I set the goal I ended up having to pay for $1500 worth of work–so let's hope that doesn't happen again! If I'm able to put a little extra towards the principal each month, I should be able to pay it off by next April!

04. OPEN A ROTH IRA.
I contribute to my 401k through my job at the credit union (and just increased my contribution from 6% to 8%–you should do this too! You won't even notice the difference in your paycheck!), but I want to start contributing to a Roth IRA as well.

05. TAKE A TRIP SOMEWHERE NEW.
This past week I devised a plan to maybe hopefully visit Washington D.C. and Philadelphia in September! It's still very tentative, but I'm already planning all the museums and bookstores I want to go to, so cross your fingers for me.

06. GET ANOTHER TATTOO.
I've known for awhile now that I want to get a floral tattoo inspired by a needlepoint my grandmother made, but I've had trouble finding an artist whose style I liked (who wasn't in Australia). I think I've finally found the right person, but if you have any recommendations for Texas tattoo artists specializing in florals, let me know!

-Maggie

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2017

True to form, I'm more than two weeks late with my yearly recap post (take comfort in the fact that some things never really change), but I was bound and determined to finish this damn post, so let's get to it.

The year before last was a really tough year for me personally, so I went into 2017 with a "something's gotta give" sort of mentality and, well, it was... something. Somehow, things in 2017 were both better and worse than 2016. I'm not going to expound on the worse things because, honestly, I'm tired of thinking about them (and I'm sure you're tired of hearing about them, too).

So here are the better things, the bright spots from my 2017, in no particular order and in bullet points and pictures because you deserve a break.


• I marched for equality with some of my best friends and thousands of other people in Austin and millions more across the world.

• I caught a couple of plays at the Austin Playhouse and saw four musicals—Mamma Mia!, Kinky Boots (on Broadway with Brendon Urie!), Fun Home, and Rent. All of them made me want to cry.

• My roommates and I moved out of our apartment and into a very cute house.

• I finally watched Parks & Rec and discovered I am the worst combination of Leslie Knope and Chris Traeger. (Melany, my faithful friend: "I wouldn't say the worst combination... Both of them are passionate people and can be... a lot sometimes, but Leslie went on to be president!")


• Natalie, Dillon, and I spent a super fun week in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. (#ohsayVANyouSEA), which was my first time outside of the U.S. I loved Vancouver and hope to go back sooner rather than later.

• My book club moved to BookPeople, read eleven new books, and consumed a lot of cheese and wine.

• There were a ton of great BookPeople events that I either worked and attended, including but not limited to Zadie Smith, Joy Wilson (a.k.a. Joy the Baker), Lemony Snicket, Samantha Irby, John Darnielle, and Chelsea Clinton (again).

• My friend Rachel invited me to see John Mulaney in San Antonio, and I laughed so hard my head hurt.

• I hung out with Tom Hanks while he signed 1100 books at the Texas Book Festival. He was absolutely lovely and exactly what you imagine him to be. We share an inside joke about tacos and he called me "Mags," so we're best friends now.


• After years of putting it off, I took the GRE (twice) and applied for graduate school. It's still a work in progress, but dammit at least I finally started.

• For my birthday, my best friends and I spent a weekend exploring New Orleans. I'm hoping to go back at some point this year because we barely scratched the surface of that super cool city.

• In October, I watched the Astros win the World Series with my BFF and ultimate Astros' fan Christina and dressed up as Lizzie McGuire for Halloween.

• I stood next to Hillary Clinton for three and a half hours while she signed books and gave people high fives. At one point, someone said the words "Maggie, we have to go upstairs to get briefed by Secret Service" to me. It was a weird day.


• My high school friend Mary visited from Portland with her two little girls, Whimsy and Glory. We babysat one afternoon and took them for their first ever sno cones. They were big fans.

• We hosted the third annual Friendsgiving and everyone really liked my mashed potatoes.

• My roommates and I went to a trampoline park for Kyle's 30th birthday where I hurt my knee and almost drowned in a foam pit.

• Melany and I met a few of my favorite bloggers in New York City (#bfgtnyc) where we explored, ate a ton of good food, got very little sleep, and walked so many miles.

• I got to see a few of my favorite bands again, including Quiet Company (of course), Two Door Cinema Club, and Les Hay Babies. I wore my red cowboy boots for the first time (thanks, Emmy) to the Les Hay Babies show and three different people asked if I was in the band.


• I downloaded Tinder only to almost immediately delete it again, like, five different times—but the sixth time I downloaded it, I met a very surprising boy. (Hi, Dylan.) He's so sweet, thoughtful, and silly, and has me feeling both terrified and excited... but definitely more excited.

• I drank some bourbon and sang karaoke for the first time by myself at the BookPeople holiday party. ("Aaron's Party (Come Get It)" by Aaron Carter, in case you were wondering.)

• Thanksgiving and Christmas were spent with my mom and siblings (and Uncle Kim for Thanksgiving) in Albany where I watched a lot of movies and pretty much didn't ever leave my house or change out of my pajamas.

• Also, it SNOWED TWICE in AUSTIN a few weeks ago. SNOW! IN AUSTIN! (Also, Austin was cancelled today due to an ice storm (which is why I'm home now and able to finally finish this post), so this winter has been a little crazy as a whole.)


I know I said this last year, but I'm hopeful for 2018. Yes, in ways 2017 was both better and worse than 2016, but I think it was mostly better. For me, at least. The first few weeks of the new year have been really good to me, and I'm hopeful the trend will continue.

-Maggie

Monday, December 25, 2017

My Favorite Reads of 2017



I love being home for the holidays for the obvious reasons, but also because my family and I never have any plans. We stay home and in our pajamas, watching movies, eating food, and taking naps. It's a few days of much needed rest, and it gives me a little time to read as well.

I'm sadly not going to finish my Goodreads reading challenge, but I did better this year than last and I read a lot of great books. I'm still trying to finish a couple more before the new year, but I wanted to go ahead and share a few of my favorites from 2017 (in no particular order).

Shrill by Lindy West
This memoir made me laugh and cry, which is the best kind of memoir, in my opinion. Lindy West writes about growing to accept herself and her body and fighting to be heard and respected both as a woman and a fat person, and she does it so well.

Us by David Nicholls
I read One Day a few years ago and it quickly became one of my all-time favorite books, so I was a little nervous to read another of David Nicholls's novels, but Us did not disappoint. It has the same heart and wit as One Day, but it's a totally different book with strong and endearing characters that stand on their own.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. by Samantha Irby
You know the phrase "bust a gut"? Pretty sure it was coined in reference to this book. I had to stop, like, every other page to read sections (or entire chapters) to Melany because it was just too good to keep to myself.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
I'm so proud of John Green, guys. This is his first novel in six years, and it's far and away his best. It's a bestseller and has made all of the end-of-year lists and, dammit, it really does deserve it. Please read it so we can talk about it.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Technically, I didn't read this book as I borrowed the audiobook from Melany, but I maintain that that's the only way to take in Yes Please. Amy Poehler (as well her friends and family who "guest star" on the audiobook) is hilarious and a really wonderful writer. This one is really fun, guys.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
This gorgeous novel starts with two half-sisters in 18th century Ghana and follows, not two storylines, but two bloodlines throughout the years. Even though you really only get to know each character for one chapter, Gyasi manages to flesh them out and bring each of them to life.

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson*
Aside from the few authors I already know I love (like John Green), I don't really read a lot of YA anymore, but I'd heard a ton (a literal ton) of great things about this book—and everyone was right. It follows a set of twins at different times in their lives, each with half of the story, and it's passionate and beautiful and so filling.

Have you read any of these? If you have, hit me up so we can talk about them, please. Otherwise, let me know what your favorite reads of the year are!

-Maggie

* Not pictured because I borrowed it from the library. (Support your local library and your local independent bookstore!)

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