Burn Your English Textbooks: Read to Keep Your Heart Beating

It wasn’t until recently that I thought there might be something wrong with my impulse to read widely. Do you ever have one of those moments where you feel like you just woke up and everything you know is different? I had a chill come over me in the last month when I started paying more attention to what books I was buying and borrowing and realized you could say absolutely nothing concrete about the person who was reading them. I have a pretty elaborate system wherein I determine whether or not to read a book, and from there, to borrow it from the library vs. request a review copy vs. purchase new at a bookstore or used bookstore vs. buy from Amazon. And then there’s the second or two when I can’t remember if I’ve already purchased the books. Ultimately, however, it’s hard to say what kind of reader I really am. This revelation has made me rethink the supposed merits and drawbacks of reading widely and of reading narrowly, of having tightly constrained “canon” vs. a free for all, and what is best when using reader’s advisory to help readers find their next favorite reads.   To give...

Some Writing Advice for YA Authors: Why Your Novel Is A DNF

In fall 2014 I took an elective in Young Adult Literature and Services through my graduate program in library science. My best friend knew I would love this class—because, well, I already loved YA—but he knew I would run into difficulties because, well, I’m super, super picky about all fiction but especially YA. And yet, when that YA novel comes along that so utterly crashes my world and leaves me with a book hangover, that hits on all the feels, I am reminded that YA has the potential to totally disrupt my jaded soul and electrify my desire to live fully and love totally. I am, at heart, a full-blown YA geek, the kind who bulk pre-orders upcoming YA in one fell swoop and then realizes by chance that she already ordered Passenger three times in three separate orders over the span of three months. Yes! It is kind of a gnarly mess, my Amazon “Open Orders” section. But of course, as with any other genre (literary fiction, romance, mystery, etc), the quality swings widely from high to low. When I start feeling particularly bitter I think about how I suspect some YA just gets churned out of the publishing mill because it’s a premise novel—a novel whose...

5 Reasons Not to Do the Goodreads Reading Challenge

This year was a very strange reading year for me. I read more than I ever have before—I’ll finish out the year with 60ish books marked as “read.” My professional world started to center on books, too—writing for Book Riot, Kirkus Reviews, NoveList, Psych Central, etc…my writing career was (is) headed towards “books” as my niche specialty. I also bought a ton of books, invested in bookshelves (which I promptly filled), and even got some awesome review copies. But something felt off. Starting in August I felt this kind of choking anxiety as I realized I was sick of books. I didn’t want to think about books at all, didn’t want to describe books, write about them, write descriptions of them, or even look at them or read them. Yeah, I was having an off year of reading. And now, as I wrote on Book Riot, I’m trying to bounce back. One of the ways I will try to “bounce back” is by not doing a Goodreads Reading Challenge like I’ve done in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. My colleague at Book Riot, Jess Pryde, wrote a really insightful article reflecting on her time this year when she did not set a reading challenge on...

Why I’m Reading Jonathan Franzen’s “Purity”

I am currently reading a book to impress a guy. This is a rare occurrence nowadays since I usually read whatever I want whenever I want to read it, and read widely at that. That’s how Outlander, The Goldfinch, and Battling Boy all get read in the course of a few months. But the book in question to impress said guy is one I’ve wanted to read for a while now anyway, so I really don’t mind. Anyway, I used to do this all the time, especially back in high school. If a guy I pined for was reading A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man or Ezra Pound, I added it to my list. I was especially susceptible to reading novels to impress my teachers. I mean, I was a little bit of a Hermione Granger in high school, kind of a suck up, definitely an obnoxious know-it-all… I’m surprised I still have friends from that era since I think if I could I’d go back in time and smack that girl in the face and tell her “Stop name dropping T. S. Eliot and Modernism. You don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about and nobody cares anyway! Also, in...

Why We Don’t Need the New York Times Book Review

Ten years ago, I was convinced I was destined to be the editor-in-chief of the New York Times Book Review. I can’t claim I was modest, or, for that matter, rational. My favorite publication at the time, the New York Times Book Review (NYTBR) was a weekly gift that arrived every Saturday. I would wake up at six and wait for the telltale smack of the paper on the lawn, the sound breaking up the chatter of birds in the dark hours of the early morning. Then I’d venture outside in my pajamas, come rain, snow, or a soupy, thick humidity. Back inside, I’d shimmy the thick weekend paper out of its thin, electric blue plastic sleeve, watch it uncoil into a thick, inky platter on my dew-sprinkled lap, and pour myself another mug of black coffee, settling in for hours of reading. Everything else could wait since for all intents and purposes, time stopped. It was my gospel. At this time I also wrote a column called “World Literature Vestibule” for my high school’s newspaper. I was engaged in a fierce–and largely invented–battle against declining standards of excellence and trivial fiction. In other words, I was insecure, trying to befriend a group of intellectual guys whom...

Greetings Fellow Reader!

Welcome to Broke By Books, a blog by Sarah S. Davis, where the guiding mission is to spread a contagious love for reading through helpful, thought provoking, and enjoyable writing about books. Please join me in growing an inspired, engaged, and fearless reading life.

Broke By Books Monthly Newsletter

Broke By Books Newsletter


Read with Broke By Books on Facebook!