Tag Archives: books

summer reads, just add water;

oyeyey{oh, woops! well, howdy there. as it is always doing, life had to be lived and summertime means laptop-thigh-sweat started happening. you know how that goes. we’ll just let my little absence slide, right? i thank you kindly. as a bartering tool, here’s one of my favorite things to put up on this little space.}

some of you might be wondering why i am in new york this summer. and most of you aren’t which is okay, because there are plenty of other things to wonder about like where to get a doris day tattoo {foot + ankle, all the way}, or what brand of tj’s hummus to get {white bean, guys}, or which corgi on reddit is the cutest {all of them. just all of them}

meanwhile, back at the ranch, i’m here doing the all-too-familiar grind of interning. which is great! i love that grind, especially when the intern in question involves something i didn’t even know people could do as a job.

kind of like when you realize that people train bears for movies. or everything tina fey manages to do. and the olympic sport of curling. but i digress. i’m interning at a fancy-schmance film studio in their literary department. “what does that mean, mackenzie?” you might ask, but probably aren’t. well, friends, that means i read not-published-yet manuscripts, book proposals, all the newspapers ever, and movie websites and comb it for any little nugget of adaptation news or books that could possibly be adapted into movies for aforementioned fancy studio.

usually the combing results in a lot of this. regardless, the combing is mega-fun. my life is essentially the devil wears prada {one of the movies the fancy-schmance studio has distributed *wink*}

except i work with a bunch of dudes and they don’t care that most of my outfits involve bike shorts of some sort. i also haven’t had to rush into oncoming traffic for the never-before-seen copy of harry potter book #8. at least, not yet.
…and also the internship means exposure to all of these books i think ya’ll would love.

where’d you go bernadette by maria semple {i know this is everywhere, but rightly so}
just kids by patti smith
how to be a woman by caitlin moran (life.changing. ya’ll.)
kiss me like a stranger by gene wilder
swamplandia! by karen russell
wild by cheryl strayed {don’t read the first 50 pages in a public place. you will want to cry and call your mom or both at the same time. one of those ugly-snot tears.}

*currently reading:
even cowgirls get the blues by tom robbins {for the mental livelihood of all girls-at-heart}

*to read:
the group by mary mccarthy
what she saw…:a novel by lucinda rosenfeld {can’t find this anywhere. what is this nonsense?} mr. penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore by robin sloan
someday, someday, maybe by lauren graham  {lorelai gilmore ftw}
vampires in the lemon grove by karen russell
my year with eleanor  by noelle hancock
the astronaut wive’s club
by lily koppel
the yonahlossee riding camp for girls by anton disclafani
high fidelity by nick hornby {or rather, finish reading it}

*internship reads {top secret, except not really, but i like to tell myself that}:
-neat YA novel about a 17 year-old girl spy in WWI-era england {loved it! can’t wait for it to publish}
-a new david levithan {!}
-some mega-bad british sci-fi.{like really bad, guys. weird short stories about sexual tension between androids is just awk.}
-romantic memoir about a romance editor, i.e. the dudes in the office didn’t want to read it.
-a new sarah dessen{!!!}

what have you read lately and loved {or hated!} ?

i want to go to there, a reading list;

{old orchard beach, maine}

basically, ya’ll, my wanderlust is going crazy enough to make me want to say “ya’ll”. luckily, a one bedroom in manhattan is my destiny this summer, so thankfully i have some place to walk my new mom-ish shoes around {baby girl loves sensible shoes, even if they age me ten years}.  never have i been more excited to kiss my little floridian weiner dog, or buy mass amounts of mangoes in crates on a street corner in new york. these books are helping homegirl in the meanwhile.

{berlin} berlin stories by robert walser

{berlin + france + boston}  my berlin kitchen by luisa weiss
{the happiest places} the geography of bliss by eric weiner
{britain + america}  i’m a stranger here myself by bill bryson
{ireland}  irish journal by heinrich boll
{europe} neither here nor there by bill bryson
{actually, just read all of the bill bryson: appalachia, britain, australia, small town america}
{paris} the dud avocado by elaine dundy
{italy} la bella figura by beppe severgnini


post-grad reading list;


the other night i had the pleasure of meeting a really kindred spirit in the unlikely place of a new frozen yogurt shop  where i was attending a babysitters-parent networking event (feel free to laugh. this is my normal.) we hit a lull in the event, the other babysitters really weren’t talking to other babysitters and hardcore ENFP that i am, i just couldn’t handle not talking to other human beings.

i ended up talking to the girl next to me, a nice, bubbly post-grad and we shortly began gabbing to our hearts content about work, preferred take-out restaurants (indian food court restaurant @ the pru/ chili duck) and the like. admittedly, she met me on a rough day of realizing hey, i don’t think i want to work a job in my major (which tends to happen when you just got finished with a two hour lecture on paper.) and hey, maybe i want to do this one really “unpractical” thing that i’ve always wanted to do since i was eight. and hey, i’m graduating this year and i’m very scared i might have to work at a quiznos. 

the girl was the best part of the event. since my post-grad woes had been distracting me all week (and also the coordinator of the event mistook me for a mom as soon as i walked in the door, grumblegrumblegrumble) i was feeling a bit disgruntled and distracted. “you don’t have to work in your major!” she said, calmly. “you can literally do anything you want,” she said after hearing my questions about post-grad life. and then i thought about all the books i’ve read in the past few years or so that said the same, stupidly simple little reminder that i’ve heard a million times, both in books and by multiple elementary school teachers. once again, i’m nope-ing to doing a job in my major because it’s “practical”. i’m nope-ing to working at quiznos. boom.

so for your reading pleasure (and because i hope/know i’m not alone in this feeling) here are some “hey, you don’t have to work at [insert fast food establishment here]“ book list for post-grad survival

100 demons by lynda barry (a coming of age omic book!)

great gals: inspired ideas for living a kick-ass life by summer pierre

the artist in the office: how to creatively survive and thrive seven days a week by summer pierre

i was told there’d be cake by slone crosley + my boyfriend wrote a book about me by hillary winston  + the new york regional mormon singles halloween dance by elna baker    (the three women who are essentially doing what i want to do, no biggie.)

the happiness project
by gretchen rubin (reading this right now and my mind is bubbling over with ideas, ya’ll.)

what i know now: letters to my younger self by ellen spragins (one of my dearest friend’s mothers gave me this book when i graduated high school and it is actually the best little nugget of wisdom i’ve ever received.)


{what are your favorite reads for the post-grad-i-don’t-know-what-i’m-doing-but-i’d-like-to-still-have-money-to-eat group?}

january favorites;


golden retrievers curbed outside the library just ready for mackenzie hugs.

the diamond-encrusted violin at the ra ra riot concert (third time i’ve seen them in less than two years…whoops.)


crunchy snow. and going “CRUNCHCRUNCHCRUNCH!” outside whenever i stomp on it. even though for every time i smile when there is fresh snow i usually whisper under my breath “moving to california to avoid this baloney.”

the fact that brookline has smelled like potato pancakes for the last month and a half.


running out of coffee creamer, so i had to resort to putting soy ice cream in my coffee.

anything containing mayonnaise. my mother spent 21 years of my life trying to get me to like mayo (#thesouth) and now i order things based on their mayo content. not sure who is the winner or loser in this situation.

ethan hawke’s dimples in “before sunrise.”

swing dancing in brookline synagogues.


practicing the robyn “call your girlfriend” dance in my room. still trying to acquire the platforms and sweater that looks like it was made with yorkie fur, but whatever.

the lower depths $1 veggie hot dogs covered in the aforementioned (garlic) mayo and seasoned french fries (mel, you were so right. i just…i died.)

preferring to ring in the new year with two favorite college girl cakes: cheesecake acquired from colombian churches and cupcake (wine).


oliver’s clinginess. and his “draw me like one of your french girls, kenz” pose.

 the fact that cookie pies last <36 hours in this house.

my gender studies professor asking us to kindly sit in a circle on the floor. and talk about feelings. on the first day of class. a dream among dreams.


and now for a not-favorite….this book. has anyone read it? i spent whatever time i wasn’t cringing over this book, throwing it repeatedly at a wall. care to share your feelings? i’ve texted everyone in my phone enough about how much i hated this book and am running out of friends. help.

coming soon: {the library girls};


….like books?

wait, let me clarify: do you like empowering lady-books that make you want to punch the air and yell out a big “EFF YEAH, FEMALE EMPOWERMENT!” (also the name of a playlist i have on my ipod. whoops)??

like the idea of reading classics, but want a group of sassy lady friends across social media to help you get through anna karenina and pygmalion and the bell jar without tempting you to throw all of your clothes off the top of a manhattan apartment rooftop (seewhatididthere?)

like having all of this hand-delivered to you every week by two big-haired awkward white girls (aka me and the lovely emily rack)?

look no further, babes. coming this march 2013, this can be yours and more. my dear blog friend emily and i are launching a virtual book club.

interested? keep your eyes peeled for updates on the twitters. the facebooks. the instagrams (@thelibrarygirls) . and the tumblrs.  first book will be the apropo pride and prejudice  we’ll be updating ya’ll with lots more later this month (more ways to get involved! video/live twitter chats! #hashtags! fun shall be had by all!) 

not interested? don’t worry, i’ll post about this like at least five more times until we launch this badboy.

xoxoxo m.


Pinned Image
itemized receipt of finals:
four papers due by this coming tuesday. two exams on a saturday.
one paper about wombs. one paper about disembowelment. one paper about an awkward beard-filled first kiss.
one paper about lesbian sisters being drenched in fruit pulp by goblinmen (why is british literature the best?)
one too many coffees. or, just enough coffee. you decide.
brb, gotta get rid of these finals-induced ulcers! until then, my dears.

a literary halloweekend;

as is my usual fashion, this halloween was a nerdy one. i decided that the best use of my closet to make a “sexy emily dickinson” costume (isn’t it sad that it took me five minutes and my closet to make this costume? don’t answer that.) i pranced around a party with final harvest in tow and recited poems all night, making my best dead fish-eyed face, and made sure to punctuate all of my speech with dashes and a wild amount of exclamation points. i hope i made “e-dicks” (how i refer to good ol’ emily in my head) proud.

and then the next day i met lemony snicket (daniel handler). he yelled at small children, played an accordion, sat in an old woman’s lap, and flailed his arms around old south church at the bbf.

and then i died. and then he signed my copy of why we broke up with a simple “to mackenzie! yes! hello! how are you? me, too. daniel handler.” and then i was reborn again. and then i died again. it was that glorious.

and then i met junot diaz (!!!!!!) he was actually the sweetest man ever. and i am now crying over the fact that five minutes separated these two pictures of us, but his look remains the same. like zoolander, junot diaz has one look, and that is a super adorbz one.

now if you’ll excuse me, i have to get my “sexy virginia woolf” costume ready for next year.

on the bedside table;

i’ve developed a bad friday habit. after relinquishing the throes of required reading from class each week, i walk myself to my local bookstore (way, way too close to my new apartment), perch myself on a piece of carpet in their bargain basement (most likely to be found in: classics, cookbooks, $1 books in plastic milk crates), and gradually pile books on top of each other. you know, just making mental to-read lists, i’ll say to myself. “oh, i won’t buy all of these. no, i’ll just write them down for next time.”

HA! good joke, self. you should do stand-up, self. why don’t you host the emmy’s next year, self. i end up with eight books and a ticket to an author event. every.time.

the result of this weekly habit is  my the book mountain that has taken over my bedside table. the bedside table is a beautiful thing for a reader. you can get an appetizer’s worth of reading done before you pass out. five pages of  historical fiction, twelve of a graphic novel, seventy-five of that guilty pleasure  (extra points if there is a bare-chested valiant knight on the cover, it’s called a “beach read”, or the lead heroine is described as “mousy”.)

this is the resulting mountain. :

spook: science tackles the afterlife by mary roach
the wonder spot by melissa bank (reading this right now and i can’t put it down….at least until i succumb to the warmth of my electric blanket and fall asleep, because i am sixty seven years old. just call me mildred.)
transformations by anne sexton
all the sad young literary men by keith gessen
best american essays 2007 and 2009 edited by david foster wallace and mary oliver, respectively
i like you by sandal stoddard warburg
meadowlands by louise gluck
the bitch in the house: 26 women tell the truth about sex, solitude, work, motherhood, and marriage edited by cathi hanauer
clarissa by samuel richardson
everything beautiful began after by simon van booy
i am charlotte simmons by tom wolfe
the iliad by homer
northanger abbey by jane austen (a special little project i’m doing with this lovely lady will be happening in the near future….after i can get the handle on reading 300 pages of required reading each weekday, that is.)

what does your bedside table look like? any bare-chested fabios that i should know about?

genre love;

{true story: i moved to boston with two books. as of june 2012 i had over 100. whoops.}

probably the first question i get asked when people find out i am a writing+literature+ publishing major is “oh, what’s your favorite book?!” and each time it makes me a different kind of clammy. my palms start to sweat and i start to mentally picture all of my bookshelves in hopes that one little novel will have a heavenly glow around it and that’ll be my answer.

people usually assume my favorite book is the great gatsby because of my blog name.
i can assure you now that it’s not.  that has a longish story from a high school inside joke attached to it.
people usually assume my favorite book is one of the harry potter books because i have a tattoo of the dewey decimal number for the seventh book on the left hand side of my ribcage.
i can assure you it’s not. but i can say that the date of the seventh book’s release in 2007 was a pretty important date for me.

instead, i usually respond with another question that arguably puts me in the category of “d-bag lit majors you should avoid”: “hmm, depends. what genre?”

what it boils down to is that i can pick a favorite book as easily as you can pick a favorite song or a favorite sentence of a favorite letter sent by your great-grandmother or a favorite moment in a movie or a favorite pet.
and maybe you can do these things. and be able to sleep at night knowing all of the non-favorites are staring at you out of distaste of your choice. or something like that.
but i can’t.

…which is why i am about to be a d-bag lit major and break up my favorite books by genre.

historical fiction (or takes place during ww2, i am an addict):
helen of troy by margaret george
the kitchen boy by robert alexander
the madonnas of leningrad by debra dean
suite française by irene nemirovsky

plain good non-fiction (most likely linguistics-related):
the mother tongue by bill bryson
talk talk talk by jay ingram
word myths by david wilton
live from new york: an uncensored history of saturday night live by tom shales
battle hymn of the tiger mother by amy chua (take with grain of salt)
bonk: the curious coupling of science and sex by mary roach (bought this one when i was in nyc, and even then it got me some stares)
stiff: the curious lives of human cadavers by mary roach

science fiction/fantasy:
stardust by neil gaiman
the salmon of doubt by douglas adams
the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy series by douglas adams
the silent gondoliers by william goldman
the gates by john connolly

she walks in beauty compiled by caroline kennedy
the collected poetry of frank o’hara
100 selected poems by ee cummings
the book of love: poems of ecstasy and longing by rumi
selected poems by anna akhmatova

the new york regional mormon singles halloween dance by elna baker
a heartbreaking work of staggering genius by dave eggers
my boyfriend wrote a book about me by hilary winston
born standing up: a comic’s life by steve martin
naked by david sedaris

love in the time of cholera by gabriel garcia marquez
anna karenina by leo tolstoy
zorba the greek by nikos kazantzakis
lolita by vladimir nabokov
pygmalion by george bernard shaw
mayor of casterbridge by thomas hardy

the seven silly eaters
the velveteen rabbit
the invention of hugo cabaret by brian selznick
i want my hat back by jon klassen
grandpa green by lane smith
from the mixed-up files of mrs. basil e. frankweiler
matilda by roald dahl
when hitler stole pink rabbit
hatchet by gary paulsen

the entire princess diaries series by meg cabot (just do it. you won’t regret it)
the entire georgia nicolson series by louise rennison
the book thief by marcus zusak
why we broke up by daniel handler and maira kalman
vegan virgin valentine by carolyn mackler
the future of us by jay asher and carolyn mackler

mindless summertime reads:
memoirs of a geisha by arthur golding
practical magic by alice hoffman
juliet, naked by nick hornby
starter for ten by david nicholls
big fish by daniel handler
the art of racing in the rain by garth stein

a history of love by nicole krauss
the time-traveler’s wife by audrey niffenegger
the paris wife by paula mclain
one day by david nicholls
the romance of tristan and iseult by joseph bedier
the princess bride by william goldman

neither here nor there: travels in europe by bill bryson
the geography of bliss by eric weiner
la bella figura: a field guide to the italian mind by beppe severgnini

eye-opening (non-fiction + fiction):
the girl’s guide to hunting and fishing by melissa bank
a room of one’s own by virginia woolf
the awakening by kate chopin
the dud avocado by elaine dungy
breakfast at tiffany’s by truman capote
the good body by eve ensler
blue like jazz: nonreligious thoughts on christian spirituality by donald miller

what are your favorites?

a washington, d.c. itinerary;

be greeted by the lovely maya at union station. regret not having a baby wipe handy because you are sweating like a sinner in church, as it is hotter than a witch’s teat (approximately) outside in d.c.

try to forget the heat because there is a hopeful plateful of fried vegetable dumplings coming your way. priorities, guys.

watch some twilight zone marathon with some of maya’s bros. because for some reason the universe is smiling on you.

be the lucky guest star of maya’s radio show, where you play the tunes that were the theme of your friendship and amurrica, for it was the day of the birth of our great nation. which naturally means a lot of songs like these. have a police officer break you into the radio station because you don’t have keys. have said police officer tell you to “shout out to the po-po!” on his way out.

…awkwardly find out that your face has been on maya’s photography business cards for many moons.

almost bike vomit on your ten mile bike ride into d.c. it wasn’t pretty. there was a lot of swamp-butt involved. and a lot of missing boston’s lack of hills.

remark to yourself “man, all of this construction on the mall is really going to get in the way of my instagram pics.”

air out in the air and space museum and feel nostalgic for your floridian upbringing (i.e. eating space ice cream, trips to cape canaveral, watching rockets shoot off in the middle of third period, always. god bless the swampland.)

pose in front of statues and the like at various smithsonian museums (my nerd heart couldn’t believe the price tag for all of them: free! my favorite price!).

nearly get thrown out as maya gets hit on by a guard. such is life.

as per your dear friend and former neighbor naomi’s request, go off to the venezuelan embassy for a free concert and some pure,innocent fun.

pillage the open bar of drinks and foodstuffs. realize there aren’t any vegan foodstuffs, so scraping the pork off of a sandwich (and into the nearby bushes) and eating the bread will have to do. sorry, venezuela. the bread was really good, though.

notice a  really cute boy off to the side of the main room. think nothing of it.

dance with strangers to some venezuelan tunes. wonder why you haven’t immigrated to venezuela, because good bread and tunes are basically all i need in this world.

pose in front of a picture of hugo chavez. of course. when in venezuela. YOVO (you only venezuela once). and so on and so forth.

somehow begin talking to aforementioned cute boy. somehow get boy’s number. somehow have plans to go on date with boy the next day.

such is life.

pre-game said date by doing the obvious (?): learn to dance “the wobble“, see the aids quilt and go to the holocaust museum! i mean, right? that was bad planning on my little heart.

most girls like to actually spend an hour getting ready, but this is me we are talking about. a quick swipe of a baby wipe over your face and airing off at an au bon pain (it was at least 102 degrees outside) and off you go to an ethiopian restaurant…for a “punk dance party”. of course.

stroll around d.c. with said boy ’til midnight and end up eating at ben’s chili bowl and wondering if a bowl of beans could change your life and the final verdict says yes, yes it can.

let your inner history-dork flag fly proudly (and blink in front of the crazy-small white house).

guys, america is really neat. like really, really neat.


spend the day berry picking in maryland. secretly pretend you live in a quaint provincial town like you’re belle from beauty and the beast

….because you are about to see a beast of a library….

at georgetown’s riggs library. um. i had to stifle happy tears.

(i wanna give a shout out to the caterers inside the riggs library that let me gawk at the gloriously smelly books for ten minutes.
it made my world complete. in so many ways.)

spend the rest of your last day in d.c. biking around with the dear maya. sangria and ethiopian food and facebook chatting and giggling from across the room included.

resolve to go back to d.c. very soon. as in like, two weeks.

because you are. (true story. see you soon, d.c.!)