Click on bee to visit group!
In August of 2008, I first discovered Goodreads, which is truly an enabling site for book junkies. If you have never checked it out, you should abandon this site immediately (temporarily please!) and get thee to one of the best places on the internet. When I first logged on, I was enamored with the shelving system, the reviews, the quizzes, the lists, the groups...I just couldn't get enough. (Luckily, I was on summer vacation from teaching and had lots of free time on my hands!) I have always dreamed of moderating a book group and failed twice with "in-the-flesh" groups who either didn't read or didn't show up; when I discovered Goodreads, I discovered that I could finally bring readers together and talk about books on a regular basis. I was ecstatic.

I created a group called Busy as a Bee Books. Why? I don't know. I have always liked the expression "busy as a bee" (although not as much as "I'll be back in two shakes of a lamb's tail" but how would that work as a book group title?) People are busy. Like bees. (Simile.) They don't always have time to commit to a book group. They don't always want to read the Designated Book. (In one of the aforementioned failed book groups I was forced to read Steve Berry's The Third Secret, as voted upon by a bunch of women who A.) didn't read it themselves, or B.) didn't show up. I was bitter. I thought the book was horrific and was mad I wasted my time!) I wanted to create a book group for the busy person so he/she would be connected, engaged, and motivated to discuss books with people from around the world. I wanted flexibility, time, and options. Oh, and I wanted to assemble the entire thing in one day so I could get reading with other addicts immediately.

Busy as a Bee Books was born in a day, but has evolved significantly since 2008. In our book group, currently frequented by approximately 90 members, one person designates a theme and members nominate books related to that theme. I ultimately decide which books make the list, and everyone has two months to read whichever books look interesting. If two months is not long enough, it doesn't matter, because we never close discussion threads; this way new members can jump in and feel included immediately by talking about books they might have already read. Between the themed reading, we also have book/reading games we play with one another, post questions about reading, monitor the worst and best books we have just finished, and create "best" lists. And that is just a SAMPLING of the fun known as Bees. New for 2010 is a year-long book challenge with tasks and points that is causing quite a stir right now, but it will all come together! (This is really my problem because I am in a constant state of confusion right now.)

The reason I share this information with you is not because I am desperately seeking Bees (although we'd love to have you), but because we have established a reading community that really does feel like a little hive. I have "met" so many incredible people through Bees - people who have turned me on to different genres of lit, people who have added way too many books to my to-read shelf, people whose opinions of books I have really come to respect, people who write beautiful reviews, and people that make me laugh at the computer screen. One of the reasons why I started this web page is because of Bees, and you will hear me refer to them often because I consider them to be fantastic contributors to the blog. They are already being interviewed for upcoming postings! 

The Bees have taken my reading addiction to an entirely new and sick level, and I thank them every day for that. They have also unknowingly helped me through a really rough patch in my life, as I have been sick and home from work for several months. The Bees keep me busy and distracted, which is a good thing, and they inspired this undertaking of a project. Mainly because they are also a bunch of enablers, codependents, and junkies and will take anything reading-related I have thrown at them. HA!

Thank you Bees! Your support means everything! This web page is especially for you! 

So where does a book addict go in order to get a book fix? The obvious answer is the local library or bookstore, but what happens if you are at home (perhaps snowed in east coast readers?) and are in desperate need for book time, but not necessarily "reading time"? All book addicts love reading about reading as much as they enjoy the activity itself!
I have found two phenomenal sources for exactly this.

For a visual fix, I first must mention the incredible book review magazine Bookmarks. I remember the day I discovered this at Library C (we haven’t even TALKED about this library yet!) and I was hooked immediately. The magazine not only provides reviews of upcoming releases, but features a book club spotlight, recommended reading lists provided by subscribers, an author feature, an occasional theme feature, a grouping of books for one specific topic (e.g. Best Art Books), and a year reviewed in books (for example: 1961-historical and pop culture events are mentioned and an overview of award-winning books and bestsellers are provided). This magazine is neither stuffy nor bland; the editor and his staff continue to produce a colorful and informative product every other month that subscribers swoon over. (Really. Check out the discussion group. This magazine has GROUPIES, and I am one of them!) You can find the magazine at major bookstores and even your local library…but the very best way to get your book fix is through a subscription. By owning your very own magazine, you can highlight, write your own reviews, dog-ear pages, and show it the love that a true book addict would. I even have a Bookmarks journal for keeping lists of all the titles I want to read. Rolling your eyes? Most subscribers do. Bookmarks is the magazine for the book addict.

Bookmarks has a discussion group on goodreads, called Bookmarks Subscribers which I moderate with my friend, Lisa.  Anyone may join and we would love to see some new members. You can also check it out at www.bookmarksmagazine.com.

For an audio fix, I head to my iPod and listen to the latest episode of Books on the Nightstand presented by Michael and Ann. They market their podcast as “a conversation about books” and this is truly what you will find if you subscribe or just tune in for an episode. The podcast is divided into three segments: a book topic, books pertaining to that topic, and two books Michael and Ann can’t wait for all of us to read. As a new feature, Michael and Ann have started to include listener voicemail and email for even more book reviews and recommendations. I find myself hoarding podcasts so I can listen to several at one time, and my to-read list has grown considerably since discovering it and downloading all of the back-episodes. I have spent a great deal of time in the iTunes directory trying to find reading podcasts, and this one is simply the best if you like a casual tone. Michael and Ann both work in the industry, so their insight to books and publication is perfect for the addicts. Books on the Nightstand also has a discussion group on goodreads called Books on the Nightstand and a blog that is much more technologically advanced than mineat www.booksonthenightstand.com.

Where do you go for a book fix? These are my two favorites, but I would love to hear about yours as well! Add a comment by clicking on "comments" at the top of the posting.
I watched dozens of school closings scroll across the bottom of the television this morning as I ironed my husband's work shirt. The impending doom of another winter snow storm was already upon us, and many schools to the west were shutting down for the day. Forecasters predict hundreds more for tomorrow morning as the flakes continue to fly. This provides me with another great opportunity to squeeze in more reading from my list. After the husband departed and the house was clean, I settled onto the couch to finish the incredible page-turner Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon. A "best book of 2009" according to many sources, this was a two-sitting read for me. Look for a strong recommendation to come. (For the Ohioans, Chaon is a Cleveland Heights resident and professor at Oberlin College. In his book he references many local landmarks from Euclid Avenue and Higbee's to the Millennium Force at Cedar Point.)

On a lighter note, I moved on to Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery and wondered,  "How could I have not read this series in my youth?" Anne Shirley is one of the most lovable characters I have ever met, and you cannot help but smile when she launches into one of her pre-teen monologues littered with the language of an English major. Who says juvenile lit is not for adults? Pick this one up and have some fun.

As winter winds and snow blow around northeast Ohio ensuring a weekend full of boot-stomping and ice-scraping, The Book Addict (yes, I might refer to myself in the third person on occasion) relishes the perfect excuse for staying in. The roads are bad. Blowing and drifting snow might be dangerous. You know how cold I am all of the time. I will seize any of these ridiculous reasons to stay at home and work on my reading list. And really, these reasons are all TOTALLY ridiculous. I have lived near Cleveland my entire life. I have driven through blizzards, spun out on several occasions, and have learned to dress like the kid from A Christmas Story. I just want to READ. Besides the occasional chore, which I know I must also do when bad weather strikes, I am settling in this weekend with Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, which I am really enjoying and hoping to finish. (More about books will be posted in that particular section of the page.) On deck, the ever-uplifting The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath to be closely followed by ______. Still can’t decide. Don’t worry, there will be an entire posting dedicated to how difficult it is for a book addict to choose his/her next book.  

To all of my book-loving friends who are enduring this winter blast, especially those of you further east than I, don’t cuss out Jack Frost…thank him, grab a blanket, select a book and work on that to-read list. Oh, and toast me with your hot tea, your hot chocolate or your wine – your very own personal reading enabler.

At a later date I will share with you my book-buying habits (oh, there are stories there, believe you me); however, my book addiction steers me more often than not to my two local libraries. One library is en route home from my weekly tutoring job and one library is en route home from my local fitness center; this translates to me being tempted to stop at least twice per week at one of these most amazing of facilities. My to-read list is literally more than 1500 books to date (I know because Goodreads monitors *taunts* me with this each time I log on), yet I cannot help but walk the library for “hidden treasures.” Library A (the tutor library) has more square footage, thus providing me more steps on the pedometer and a more scenic walk. I have successfully logged approximately 2000 steps in one browsing session, usually stopping along the way to pick up books that haven’t yet made it onto my to-read list. (I keep trying to whittle it away, but authors just keep writing. SO frustrating. I just want to CATCH UP.) Library B (the fitness center library) is much smaller and has a thermostat that keeps the temperature just below sweltering, so while the routes aren’t as enticing, I am still able to work up a good sweat trying to find the latest cozy mystery or new general fiction read.

If you check out enough books and load them into a tote, you can manage a few bicep curls on the walk to the car. If you park your car an admirable distance from the entrance, you can usually switch hands and get in some solid reps. I often run into the problem that I have so many books to pick up on reserve the husband needs to assist me with bag-carrying duties, but this is usually when we are on our way home FROM the gym, so at least I still had some exercise before settling on the couch to read one of my new 27 books I just brought home.

I love my local libraries and am very lucky to live so close to two fantastic branches. I love anyone or any place that will give me free reading material. I love that I can justify a workout by walking a mile through the aisles of Library A gathering books to stack on the shelf. I love that I can sweat off two pounds perusing Library B for hidden gems.

Strap on your tennis shoes and attach a pedometer to your waist. Go explore your library and tell everyone you’re “going for a workout.”  No one needs to know.

Don’t forget your bottled water.