I grew up in a military family. One of my most vivid memories from childhood is a girl scout exchange I did as a first-grader in Japan. There are flashes of roasted chicken smoke, bright lanterns, and laughter in my mind. I appreciate books for the connection they give us to diverse experiences and perspectives. I tend to read books that offer an unfamiliar destination, whether that's a distinct perspective, locale, or writing style.

  I have different expectations for different genres. Within the genres, ratings are pretty straightforward.


Modern Literature: Fiction that explores more complex themes through skilled character development, symbolism, or other techniques.

Beach Reads: Stories that offer emotional escape--whether through humor, suspense, or romance.

Classics: Fiction that has been critically regarded for at least a few years.

YA Literature: Fiction marketed to the 12 to 18 crowd that has literary merit.

YA Popcorn: Fiction marketed to the 12 to 18 crowd that offers emotional escape without much literary merit.

Picture Books: Children's books that include illustrations that support the content as much as the text.


History: A factual or mostly factual account specific to a certain time period or important because of its historical context.

Memoir: I'm lumping biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs in this category. These are books that tell the story of a life, whether in the form of poetry or prose, in part or in full. 

Travel: Books focused on traveling, whether overviewing an area or providing a personal experience of a locale or geographical experience. 

Cooking: Books about food, recipes, or cooking technique.

Philosophy, Religion, Self-Help: Sometimes borderline memoir, these books offer spiritual insight or guidance for living well. 

Textbooks, Manuals: The purpose of these texts is to teach. I sometimes pick them up to learn something new and useful.

Coffee Table Book: Picture books for a wide audience, often collectible, perfect for showcasing on a coffee table, but also worthy of reading.

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