#GetLit: A Libromance Round-up 

I started this blog in January 2016 and since then, I’ve posted over thirty book reviews, literary features and weekly lists. I’ve learned so much as I continue to devour the most fascinating and enlightening books, and it is my hope that I am able to impart what I learn through Libromance.

I am ever grateful to all my readers and subscribers — for you, for the time, generosity and love you’ve shown my little corner of the world. Thank you so much.

In the coming weeks (and months and years!), you can expect more book reviews, features and weekly musings. If you have any ideas or suggestions, say hello and drop me a line!

Here’s a round-up of the best Libromance reads:

The Rituals and Routines of Creatives A Sunday Spotlight piece featuring the habits of writers like Bob Ong, Stephen King and Annie Dillard.

A Personal Cartography with the Work of Junot Díaz A post on my personal experience reading Junot Díaz’s work — from Drown to This is How You Lose Her.

Can Buddhism & Activism Ever Co-Exist? Reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book led me to question the possibilities of Buddhism and activism.

A Different Way of Looking with Marcel Proust and Alain de Botton This is a compendium of how I was inspired and influenced by the French author, through the eyes of British philosopher Alain de Botton.

Finding Time to Read An honest-to-goodness list of ways on carving out precious reading time.

#GetLit: Bay Area Lit Festivals

Literary heads in the Bay Area, rejoice!

I know most of us would rather curl up with a book on the weekend, avoid the crowds, be content with the company of a warm cup of coffee, a book in hand. Or maybe that’s just me. Weekend plans aside, the Bay has been blessed with some serious lit action happening soon (as in this month!) that I personally choose not to miss.

Oakland Book Festival (May 22, 2016)

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On its second year, the Oakland Book Festival aims to “serve the reading public, to encourage debate and celebrate the City of Oakland.” The festival program features panels on incarceration, workers’ issues, struggles of farm workers, on #BlackLivesMatter and many others that I’m looking forward to participating in. For the full program lineup, click here.

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Bay Area Book Festival (June 4 & 5, 2016)

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The Bay Area Book Festival is an indoor and outdoor festival to be held at downtown Berkeley in June. With the San Francisco Chronicle, the festival features a whopping 120 literary sessions (panels, interviews, etc.) – it’s almost like a literary Coachella! Spoken word artist Saul Williams will also open the festival with a performance on June 2nd, with Black Spirituals and Chinaka Hodge. For the full schedule, click here.

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Litquake (October 7-15, 2016)

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Ah, Litquake. Even though I’ve been living in the Bay Area for about 10 years now, I haven’t been able to participate because of, well, life. This year will be different though, because I’ve got my eyes (and reading glasses!) on the week-long event. Litquake “seeks to foster interest in literature for people of all ages, perpetuate a sense of literary community, and provide a vibrant forum for writing from the Bay Area and beyond as a complement to the city’s music, film, and cultural festivals.” Full lineup here.

Hope to see you in one, or all!

#GetLit: April 30 is Indie #BookstoreDay!

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April 30 (Saturday) is Independent #BoosktoreDay, the third year of celebrating independent book stores that have withstood time (and e-readers), and have weathered the shifts in the publishing industry (and Amazon.com).

According to the American Booksellers Association, independent bookstores have gone up from 1,651 in 2009 to 2, 227 in 2015. That is major cause for celebration. This year, the event features 16 exclusive books and art pieces only available at participating bookstores, like the delightful Neil Gaiman Coloring book. Or a stencil featuring Fran Lebowitz. Literary tea towels. All the good stuff.

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I am lucky to work in the Presidio neighborhood of San Francisco where two bookstores are within a mile radius — Green Apple Books on Clement St. and Books Inc. on California St. I’ve been going to both bookstores for ten years now, and there’s quite nothing like being in the refuge of these places.

On #BookstoreDay, the following bookstores in San Francisco are hosting various fun activities like the “Silent Book Club,” onsite puppy adoptions (!), as well as book signings:

For a list of all participating locations, check out the event’s official website here.

See you at the nearest independent bookstore!

#GetLit: Finding Time to Read

I can’t find the time to read!” is something I always hear from friends and family members, as books waiting to be opened and explored sadly go unnoticed, gather dust.

People always ask me: how do you find the time to read? I think this is the wrong question to ask because “finding time to read” kind of sets you up for failure, in a world that glorifies busy-ness.

We simply won’t “find time” to do things we haven’t prioritized so easily.

What we need to ask instead is: how do we make time to read? This way reading time becomes a priority, instead of being a mere afterthought.

Here are a few ways to help you move closer to your reading goals that I’ve adopted:

1. Have a visual reminder. I did this by downloading a nifty iPhone wallpaper from the writer Austin Kleon’s website. I admit I’ve grown dependent on my phone for a lot of things, so I’ve had to figure out how it could work in my favor. Every time I pick it up with the intent of checking emails, tweets or other updates, I see this:

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It works every time.

2. Always carry a book with you. I practice this quite religiously because you’ll never know when you’ll have some downtime: waiting in the car, on your midday break, waiting in line, at a red light (just kidding). Aaand… it goes hand in hand with tip no. 1.

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3. Create a list of books you want to read within a certain time frame. Since starting Libromance, I’ve had to create a blog & book editorial so I can plan ahead and keep track of my reading progress every month. This process is exciting as it gives you the opportunity to really be intentional about the books you want to read!

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4. Set some actual reading time in your schedule. My reading time each day is between 30 minutes to an hour, right before bed. I’ve discovered that my mind is more receptive to information after the day’s done, and that mornings are prime time for writing.

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5. Have fun reading. I think this is the most important — you won’t make time to read if you actually don’t find it an enjoyable and worthwhile pursuit. You have to love living inside the novel for awhile, completely immersed in its world. You have to believe that your reading time is sacred. At the same time, also feel it out. I’m one of those folks who can stop reading midway through a book if it doesn’t connect with me, and move on to the next one. Know what you like and know what moves you.

Got tips to share? Leave them in the comments below. Happy reading! 

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#GetLit: The Power of Women’s Poetry

#GetLitFor women, then, poetry is not luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.

Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.

I first read Audre Lorde’s essay Poetry is Not a Luxury a few years ago and knew at that moment: the “quality of light” she referred to was exactly what propelled me as young child to turn to poetry.

I don’t think I owned a book of poetry until I was much older. I also don’t remember the first poem I ever read. My mom said that my birthday cards to her consisted of drawings with poems, but I’m not sure if they actually were or I was just being liberal with spacing.

As soon as you’re eight years old in my old elementary school, you had the option of joining a club for extracurricular activities. I joined the school paper, The Blue Quill. It must’ve been through TBQ that my interest for poetry was nurtured, exchanging naps during siesta time with a pen and paper. Continue reading