Welcome to Fatherhood

IMG_44601.jpgI am extremely happy to announce that I am now a father to a beautiful baby girl. Emily and I welcomed Violet Skye Yarber on June 5th at 11:48pm. She was 8lbs 1oz and 20.5 inches long. I cannot state how incredible Em was during this past year, but especially during birth. She was an absolute champion and has continued to be during this first week of being new parents and taking care of little Violet. She is the best wife and mother.

I am overwhelmed and overjoyed at this new adventure into fatherhood. I hope to raise this little one to be an avid reader like myself, but that is still a few years away and will of course be her choice. We have plenty of kids books thanks to our wonderful group of family and friends.

I’m not going to lie, this first week has been a bit rough, but I think we are slowly getting the hang of things and hopefully it will get a bit easier. Violet is just so amazing for a tiny human that mostly sleeps. Then again, I am biased.

I am a lucky man. I hope to be a great father to this beautiful little girl.

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Book Hangover

Book Hangover is real and I have been experiencing one of late. For anyone unfamiliar with the term, I would define a book hangover as the inability to move onto a new book due to a lingering connection to the story you recently finished. Basically, you are still processing or thinking about the events or characters of the story you finished and need to take some time before moving on.

This can occur after reading a great book or a story you connected with strongly. It happens to me from time to time and usually occurs after I finish a series I really enjoy. There are many definitions the internet will provide because this is a fairly common occurrence but it affects people in different ways. There are several good memes out there that will give you a laugh. I enjoyed a few while writing this post. It's just a book;

The term “hangover” makes it seem like a bad experience, but I don’t consider it to be bad in any way. Yes, I am not yet ready to move on from a story I recently finished, but I just experienced a great story and need some extra time. Granted, a book hangover can be caused by a less-than-ideal experience or even a traumatic one (I’ve never cried during a book but some events can hit hard), but I wouldn’t consider relatively negative experiences in fictional worlds bad for us. It just means we were invested and being invested in a story or character is a good thing. I just wish more of us were as invested in our real-world friends and family (though these are longer-term commitments that require much more effort but they are that much more worth it).

Stories are amazing things. Books are simply vessels for stories. We create the connection and our imaginations bring the world and characters to life. My favorite, absurd description of reading a book goes like this: Reading a book is just staring at a piece of dead tree and hallucinating.

I’m curious if you have ever experienced a book/story hangover. Can you think of a book, series, tv show, or movie that stayed with you long after you finished it?

I think I am near the end of my own book hangover and will be ready to move onto the next experience. I wish you all a great story in the near future.

Reading Challenge

I’ve been participating in a reading challenge at work. One of my favorite things about working at a university is being able to participate in campus activities geared toward faculty, staff, and students, and meeting so many interesting people with specialties in different areas. This challenge recently made me think about my reading habits and what reading means to me and others. The challenge encourages participants to read books that will promote inclusivity and diverse perspectives. The challenge is split into months and cover the following categories:

  • Read a book about Activism, Advocacy, Antiracism, or Allyship
  • Read a book featuring a character with a [dis]Ability – to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Read a book in any genre by a Native, First Nations, or Indigenous Author
  • Read an LGBTQ+ book, graphic novel, memoir, or comic featuring an LGBTQ+ character and/or written by an LGBTQ+ author
  • Read a book written by or about a refugee
  • Read a book written by an author of color
  • Read a book written by or about someone that identifies as neurodiverse
  • Read an #ownvoices book set in Mexico or Central America

I have completed 7 of the 8 reading challenges on this list and will be reading the final one before the challenge is done. The recent self-reflection made me realize that although I read a lot and try to read widely, I also fail to venture into certain literary areas or pick up books that would be good for me to experience.

I am absolutely a big fan of science fiction and fantasy and many of my reading decisions sway toward this area. I read “classics” and memoirs and books on science and I try to remain open to all types of books. Granted, my reading list is forever long, but I couldn’t help but notice that there are many areas I should be including. I did take advantage of a few of these challenges to read authors I’d always intended to read but hadn’t yet picked up their work (like Octavia Butler and Viet Thanh Nguyen), but a few of the challenges above steered me toward a few new areas.

Reading, for me, is an enjoyable experience that lets me escape into wondrous worlds, learn new things, and meet great characters. Reading, especially fiction, is a great way to build empathy. I consider myself a highly empathetic person and I credit my enthusiasm for reading as a part of this. That being said, I think I was a bit surprised that my reading habits do often tend to stay on the same highway. One or two challenges above made me make a few pitstops I wouldn’t normally have made, and I realized I need to maybe make more pitstops on my journey through life. I will always read what I love to read, of course, but I think some great experiences may be waiting for me outside my standard fields of interest, and these experiences will likely make me a better person. To put it simply, I realized I need to read more widely than I have in the past. Libraries are great for trying new things.

I hope you examine your own reading habits and perhaps try a few books outside your own comfort bubble. Perhaps you will try some of the challenges above. Maybe you will find a new favorite arena to explore.

Happy Reading.

This is 30

Well, I’m officially 30 years old as of a few days ago. Three decades and a milestone that often calls for reflection because ten years prior I was 20, and hitting 20 years meant you were out to claim the world (or so it sometimes feels is expected). A lot has happened in the past decade and a lot has not happened. Of course I expected to accomplish things by now that have not been accomplished. Such as having written, and wishing to publish, my first novel. All I have is two novels started that now gather dust and one flash fiction piece that was published in 2017. So it goes to say my writing aspirations have fallen a bit short.

However, life is not just one endeavor. It is a multitude of adventures some of which we never knew we would experience. So I am focusing this post on what I have done over the past ten years that I treasure and will leave off on a few of my upcoming achievements.

First, I have maintained this blog for four years. I have remained (fairly) regular with my posts as well and I enjoy discussing books and related matters here. It is a place where I can geek out about things I don’t often get to run on about with an attentive listener or fellow fan. It is only when looking back that we see how far we have come because four years is not a short time. I hope to maintain this blog for years to come and, hopefully, be able to discuss the books I will eventually write and have published (I will make it happen).

Moving a bit further back, toward my early twenties, I had the privilege to travel outside of the U.S. for the first time and visit New Zealand for an extended period. I absolutely love the country and hope to visit again some day. I made several lifelong friends as well that I would never have been able to meet otherwise. Staying on travel but several years later, I had visited England for just a few days and then explored Ireland. I later took a little vacation in the Dominican Republic. I love to travel and hope I will be able to make more trips in the future as there are many places I still want to visit. Though time will be a more scarce the next several years.

Shortly after that first international traveling experience, I finished my Bachelors degree and went on to obtain a Masters degree in the Fine Arts. I am currently working on a Masters in Business Administration which will likely be the final degree I obtain as there will need to be very special circumstances to encourage me to obtain a Doctorate. I will be finishing the MBA later this year. I have always loved learning, which is one reason I love reading, and I intend to continue learning about this universe we live in until the day I die. I enjoy it and remain fascinated with what is out there to discover.

It was near the very end of my Bachelors degree when I met a girl. We knew immediately that we were stuck with each other for life and after waiting a bit too long, primarily due to my working on my MFA, we eventually became engaged and shortly after married. This year we will have been married three years. Time has definitely not slowed down. I became an uncle nearly two years ago and will be welcoming another niece in the near future. I will also become a father this summer. I know my life is about to change in ways I can only guess at, but I have wanted to have children for some time and I cannot be more excited to welcome our little girl when she arrives. We have already prepared her room in the house. It is astounding how much joy it brings me when I have a moment to think about the fact that we will be parents. There are times when I catch myself staring at my wife and our growing child and simply melt away into the excitement of what is to come.

So despite the many goals I had wished to accomplish by the time I turned 30, I feel extremely lucky about all I have accomplished and all that is happening in the near future. There are many things that have happened these past ten years of course. These are just my favorites that come to mind today.

I think any dreams and goals change as life happens and expectations get derailed. But that is life and sometimes it turns out better than we can ever expect.

The Parable of the Sower

The Parable of the Sower book coverI have been meaning to read Octavia Butler for some time. She is an author who I have heard about from several sources and I finally got around to reading one of her books. I started with The Parable of the Sower. I had no idea what it was really about, and I’m sure if I had known, I would probably not have read it at this time. Though I really did enjoy the book despite my reasons for saying I would have put it off a bit longer.

The Parable of the Sower is basically a pre-apocalyptic novel. The events of the story show a fairly realistic degradation of society into the fairly popular apocalyptic scenarios we see today with such shows as The Walking Dead or Mad Max (they did make a new one) or what have you. I honestly envisioned the events of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road taking place a decade or two after this story. But this book isn’t all doom and gloom. It definitely doesn’t shy away from darker material, but uses it only in a realistic way. It doesn’t contain anything simply for shock value and it is overall a compelling read that is excellently written. I kept picking it up despite the need to decompress at times.

This book is part one of a duology titled The Books of Earthseed. Though we see the world slide into chaos through young Lauren’s eyes, we see a resilient character build a community around her beliefs that may shape the future of humanity. The story begins in 2024 and spans about 4 years. This book was published in 1993 when 2024 seemed a long way off. Now, here at the start of 2021, we are close enough that the events of the book seem near impossible (but not entirely, unfortunately). Though the dates within the book began as a solemn foretelling of a potential future, it will soon become a (hopefully) alternate timeline story of what may have been. A future I hope we all avoid. Except, of course, for the part where we have settlements on the moon and Mars.

The second book is titled The Parable of the Talents. I will not be reading the sequel right away for two reasons. The first is that this first book wraps up well and can be read as a standalone novel. The second is that I hope to read something a bit more uplifting before returning to this story. Again, I really did enjoy this book despite the subject matter. I don’t often read end-of-the-world type books though I have read a few and enjoyed them. This one was no exception. If anything, it has encouraged me to read more by Octavia Butler. Her novel Kindred is more well-known and I may try it some time this year.

If you are a fan of these types of books, such as Wanderers by Chuck Wendig or Stephen King’s The Stand, then you will likely enjoy this book as well. If you have never read Octavia Butler, like I had not until now, I suggest trying her books even if you don’t choose to start with this one. I look forward to reading more by her myself.

Happy Reading.