Your Reading Life

Good for Book Clubs

We RIFers are voracious readers and we love to tell a good story. Your Reading Life features personal essays, reader reviews — anything that embraces our literary lifestyle. Pull up a mug of your favorite cozy beverage and join in on the conversation.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

When I Discovered Books Are My Home

The exact moment I became a book geek has been immortalized forever on film, in the photo that accompanies this article.

I don’t remember which book I was reading at the time; I just remember that I didn’t want to put it down. But it was a nice day outside, and I also wanted to ride my bike. So why not do both at the same time? It was a terrible idea—I fell down a few times and skinned my knee through my very fashionable denim jumpsuit. Rather than admit defeat, I decided that I could still read on my bike if it wasn’t moving. I put down the kickstand and kept turning the pages, perched on the uncomfortable seat.

I will forever be known as the girl who tried to read while riding her bike. For me, it’s a source of pride.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

18 of the Prettiest Books with Flower Covers

April showers … bring books covered in pretty flowers.

We love spring. And we love a pretty book cover. So we’ve collected some of our favorite books with flower covers.

We figured gardening books would be too easy, so we stuck with novels and memoir. Some are brand new this spring, some are older, some are covers you may find in a used bookstore. We just couldn’t resist them! (Wish they were scratch ‘n sniff …)

Imagine these beauties stacked on your bedside table … a bouquet of books. Hello spring!

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Famous Literary Quotes About Rain

Rain is the subject of countless poems and paintings; the top of the weather report; the source of the world’s water.

Spring showers nourish the earth as it comes back to life. A freezing winter rain chills us to the bone. Even a light sprinkle after a hard drought cleanses the dust off the world.

Yet Rain: A Natural and Cultural History by Cynthia Barnett is the first book to tell the story of rain. In honor of the upcoming release of Rain, we’ve gathered some of our favorite literary quotes about rain, from Ray Bradbury, Truman Capote, Nabokov, Jodi Picoult, Terry Pratchett, Sylvia Plath, and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

In Praise of Spoiled Endings

Why knowing the ending doesn’t always ruin a book.

At a time when many of us binge-watch and binge-read, and when the Web has made possible a nearly ceaseless proliferation of recaps, reviews, forum discussions, and fan fiction, it’s become difficult, if not sometimes impossible, to keep dramatic turns and twist endings (whether they appear on the screen or on the page) under wraps.

As a result, the fear and loathing we feel for spoilers has become intense.

It sometimes seems that me that, by focusing on the end of a book as its single greatest source of pleasure, we lose sight of other, equally satisfying aspects of reading. If a book is good, it’ll still be good, even if you go in knowing where it ends up.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

The Best Books Written with Accents

Would we feel the same way about Oliver Twist if he spoke the King’s English? Or Scout without the southern drawl?

Just as an actor feels he can get into the role with the right pair of shoes or hat, we too get a deeper understand of our literary characters – where they’re from, what they do, even the essence of who they are – by the way they speak.

Take this great example from Thomas Wolfe’s short story “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn.” It evokes the rat-a-tat-tat of a Cagney-era New York but starts more like Waiting for Godot, with characters debating the best way to get to “Bensonhoist”: “So den, dis big guy steps up to a little guy dat’s standin’ deh, an’ says, ‘How d’yuh get t’ Eighteent’ Avenoo an’ Sixty-sevent’ Street?’” he says.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Pets Who Want to Get In on the Reading Fun

Our cats and dogs really want to get in on the reading action. Can we blame them? Enjoy the cuteness!

We loved this post about pets interrupting reading from The Dodo so much that we had to create our own version – except this time with our own pets!

RIFers! Add a photo of your own pet to the comments and we’ll include them in our list.

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better of than a lot of humans.” ~James Herriot

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

10 Beautiful First Lines that Capture the Essence of the Whole Book

A good first line can be beautiful, provocative, strange. The best ones capture our attention.

But in addition, first sentences often serve an alternate, less obvious function: they act as a microcosm of the book itself.

Here we look at examples in which the whole of a novel is summed up in its first few words. From contemporary novels: “Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person” (Back When We Were Grownups, Anne Tyler), to classics: “No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be a heroine” (Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen), we’ve collected some of the best first lines that hint at the entirety the book in just one sentence.

Your Reading Life Good for Book Clubs

Celebrate National Poetry Month with Haiku about Reading

It’s National Poetry Month, everybody! Let’s celebrate with haiku about reading.

Here’s how to write haiku: begin with a poignant moment. Include a reference to nature. Create a shift. A traditional Japanese haiku is a three-line poem with seventeen syllables, written in a 5/7/5 syllable count. Often focusing on images from nature, haiku emphasizes simplicity, intensity, and directness of expression. Here’s one about reading – share your own!

Letters on the page
Worlds created in my mind
I live many lives.