Thursday, August 20, 2015

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

Aging. Death. Passing On. Dying. 

It's not really the sort of topic you bring up when you're trying to make people feel at ease.

Roz Chast's parents wouldn't discuss the subject at all with her, which made things difficult for their only child. Her book, Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? is an illustrated memoir of the years Chast spent with her parents in their senescence.

The book is excellent. So excellent that I *want* to talk about it.

This is my Grandma Mary, who passed away in 2009
I actually moderated a panel about aging and eldercare for my church in April this year. It was a fascinating experience. I knew that there was a lot I didn't know about caring for the elderly, but I still don't think I've done more than scratch the surface. On the panel we had a lawyer, a financial planner, an elderly woman who had taken care of her mother for many years, and a young woman who had cared for her elderly grandparents until they passed away. There were so many good questions and people wanting to keep talking about the subject that the panel reconvened for a second night. Unfortunately round two was just after we made the move to Connecticut.

One of the main things that I took away from the panel was that though caring for your dying relatives is unquestionably complex and taxing, it can also be life-changing in a good way.

So, when Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant came on my radar, I was interested, and reserved it at the library. Come to find out Roz Chast is a cartoonist for The New Yorker.

Amazon affiliate link, in case you'd like to shop for this one.
I don't even think I can articulate how well this book was paced. You know, going into it, that her parents are going to die. So Chast guides us to the questions she had during the experience: Which parent is going to die first? How is this different from what I expected? How bad do things need to get before someone steps in here? How much is this going to cost? How do I feel now that it's all over?

The book was so thought provoking that I found myself mentioning it in casual conversations. Someone would say something and I'd respond, "that reminds me of this book I'm reading..." I found it fascinating to read the little details of their lives that came up in the book. I determined not to hoard things. I made myself a cheesetainer.

I want my parents to read it. I think we could have some great discussions, since I know they're more open to the subject than the Chasts were. Though, heads up, Mom: the book has maybe 3 or 4 uses of unsavory expletives. It's worth it, though.

"Well. Here we are. In our lives." says my dad, every so often.
The coloring is great. The lines of the artwork are imperfect and expressive. Chast's style reminds me a bit of The Far Side comics by Gary Larsen. I tried to read another graphic novel memoir right afterward and just felt like it was overloaded with text. This one is really artfully composed and layed out. It's easy to read. I should say that it's visually easy to read. Whether or not you find it "easy to read" will probably depend on your own experiences with aging, death, passing on and dying.

Anyway, I recommend it. I feel like reading it helped me think more deeply about what I want out of life and about how I can support and comfort others.

Will you talk to me about this uncomfortable subject?
If you've lost a close relative or friend, what advice do you have for those who face this certainty in the future?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Bookroo book subscription: A Free Coupon and a Funny Story

Good morning, friends! Today I have something fun to share with you. Jane Tanner, one of the co-founders of Bookroo, is going to share some stories with us.

But first let me introduce Bookroo. It's a book subscription box, like Kiwi Crate or something, but instead of being filled with crafts, it's filled with books! 

all photos via Bookroo

This idea is so good. I will brag that I had the same, excellent idea once; I just didn't do a single thing about it. The Bookroo team, on the other hand, has made my dream come true.

So. You can order an ongoing subscription, or pay in advance for three or six months and get a discount. What kind of books do you get? You can choose whether you'd like to get board books or picture books. If you choose board books, you'll get a box with three board books in it. If you choose picture books, you'll get a box with two picture books in it. And, the best part, the books are wrapped up like presents. I just love that! But then, receiving gifts is one of my strongest love languages, second only to words of affirmation. :)

Anyway, Jane reached out to me about collaborating on something and I think we're kindred spirits: we adore books, we read to kids, we cheer for the BYU Cougars. No surprise then that we decided to swap guest posts on each other's blogs.

Since I had once fantasized about starting a kidlit subscription box, I asked Jane to write about "something funny or embarrassing or amazing that happened in the very earliest days of Bookroo." I wanted something to make me laugh, really, and Jane delivered. Her post starts out with the two brothers who started it all. . .

Bookroo was Kesler and Tayler’s brain child. They’d worked on a couple of entrepreneurial endeavors in the past together, and when Tayler was looking for fun ways to get new books for himself to read but couldn’t find a program he liked, he called Kesler. They batted the idea around and then realized that doing a book subscription service for children would be way more fun. And so Bookroo was born.


They shared the idea with their older brother, Chandler, and soon the three of them were having discussions about it. First, Kesler just enlisted my help with the logo, and the imagery for the site, but since reading to children was something I so passionately believed in, soon I had officially joined the Bookroo team, followed shortly thereafter by Chandler’s wife Tiffany, and Tayler’s wife Becca. It was just such a FUN idea to work on! And thus our team was formed. Three brothers (or “bro-lers” as we sometimes call them since all 8 brothers in the Tanner family’s names end in -ler) and their wives, out on an adventure to make reading accessible, convenient, and affordable for parents and exciting for kids and parents alike.
tiffany_tanner.jpgjane_tanner.jpgrebecca_tanner.jpg
chandler_tanner.jpgkesler_tanner.jpgtayler_tanner.jpg


Since some of us live in Utah and the rest in California, Bookroo has given us a wonderful opportunity to keep extra in touch and work together even though it’s long distance. We’ve perfected the Google Hangouts team meeting and use a number of tools to keep us coordinated throughout the week. Unfortunately, with all businesses there’s the occasional snafu, especially if you’re coordinating long distance. Probably the funniest moment thus far was when our supplier sent us the wrong book! We’d been debating between these two different books to be the last one included in the month’s shipments--they were both great books--but we’d ended up deciding to go with Book A rather than Book B. The books arrived, our Utah contingency wrapped and shipped them out, and everything was great--pictures were pouring in and people were loving the books!


bookroo.jpgbookroo monthly book subscription for kids.jpgbookroo book subscription for children.jpg


Then at our Google Hangouts sync up a week later, we were talking about how things had gone that month. Someone mentioned the books we’d sent out at which point Kesler said, “Wait, I thought we sent out Book A.” It came out that we had in fact sent Book B, because that’s the book that the supplier had sent us! The Utah crew had assumed the California crew switched the order on them, and the California crew assumed the right books had shown up! To this day, we still aren’t sure how the supplier even knew we were considering Book B, and why they thought it was ok to switch our order, but we had a good laugh about it, and are glad that we liked both books so much!


To us, Bookroo is an exciting opportunity for families--both ours and yours. Bookroo boxes unite us behind a common mission--to improve the world and the minds and imaginations of children through reading! Come check out our site, and start sending Bookroo boxes to the children in your life--it’s an investment in their future!

Thanks, Jane! I definitely chuckled about "bro-lers" and about the mix-up!

Time for coupons and special offers, yes? If you order through my Bookroo booster link, you'll get $4 off your first box of any subscription length. If you order before the end of August, you'll also automatically get a coupon code sent to you that allows you to send a FREE box to a friend. (But seriously you have to send it to a friend or relative. Share the love!) What's in it for me? If you order through the links in this post then I get shop credit for future Bookroo boxes. So hey, thanks! Books all around!

How does checkout work? 
1. Click over to Bookroo
2. Select whether you want board books or picture books. 
3. Select how long in advance you want to pay. The longer you go, the cheaper it is per box. One month prepay is 19.99/box. Three month prepay is 18.66/box. Six month prepay is $17.50/box.
4. Fill in shipping info, billing info, and create a login to track your orders.
Hooray! Surprise book presents once a month!

But what if I already have a lot of books and I get one that I already own? No problem; send a photo of you giving the book to a friend and get $5 off your next box. Bam!

But what if I can't decide between picture books and board books? No problem; tell them and they'll switch off between the two, month by month. So easy!

More info and FAQ's on the Bookroo site of course, those were just my two big questions.

To me, Bookroo sounds like the perfect thing for grandparents to send to grandkids. (Feel free to send them my post via email. Copy and paste: http://www.evereadbooks.com/2015/08/bookroo.html)

It also sounds like the perfect thing to gift at a baby shower

It also sounds like the perfect way to get cousins in a book club together. Sign both families up for Bookroo and then have a little Skype session once a month. Baby book club. I'm dying of the cuteness.
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Ok, I think that's all I've got. What questions do you have? Of everyone you know, who would be most excited to learn about Bookroo? Share this post with that person and you'll bring a little more "hey that's cool" into her day.

UPDATE: I've received and reviewed a Bookroo box! Check out my thoughts here.

Friday, August 7, 2015

"It's better than being the kid that breaks the pinata at a party."

Hello, all! I was thrilled to be contacted for an interview recently (so flattering!), and now the interview is live. It's up at Freado, which seems like it could be a cool service for book bloggers. Anyway, my interview is part of a series: Life as a Book Blogger. I've had fun reading some of the other interviews.

So, head over to Freado if you want to read what motivates me to maintain this blog, what happens to the books I don't finish, and my top three tips for newbie book bloggers.

In the new house, reading The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
Oh, P.S.! Since someone asked, the blogging course I took was Rock Your Blog by Bonnie Andrews. She's offering something new now, and it looks good, too. And you better believe that's an affiliate link because Bonnie's the one that taught me how to use those handy little things!
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