1 Jul

Bingo Square Brainstorm

Hello all our lovely bingo players!
Thank you so much for ALREADY knocking our socks off with all the bingo square submissions posted! We are super excited to see what kind of new stuff you all get into over the next few weeks.

In order to help you in your epic quest to cross off all the squares, we've come up with some ideas for what to read for a few of our squares. No need to follow these suggestions! And keep in mind that we're pretty lenient folk, so if you come up with a book that you're not quite sure fits, give us a shout and we'll... probably just give you the go-ahead.

Anyway! Without further ado: HERE ARE SOME IDEAS!

There are one million books that fit into this category, but these are some of our favorites!

"But Athena, Calypso was just released, how could it be your favorite already?"

Well, Dear Reader, anything Sedaris is our favorite. AND ALSO, Calypso made our ribs hurt. So, like, it can be our favorite if we want it to be.

And haven't you wanted to read Bossypants for like 5 years now? Do it already! Also also, btw, if you can't choose which one of these you want to read, we will also accept the Poehler, Day and Fey books as books with Lady-Heroes!


So we put Twilight and 50 Shades in this round of suggestions because they are well known books that people think they should (or really shouldn't) read. In the center there, though are some maybe lesser known hot hot books that should make you blush a little while you're chilling on your beach towel.

Super not into smut? I mean, that's fine, I guess. We're lenient, like I said. So read Time Traveler's Wife, Eat Pray Love, you know the type. Or if you want to get wild and crazy, you could read a book about recycling and how it affects the ocean. Get it? Trashy beach book? GET IT??? (credit goes to my gf for that one, folks, she's the smartest, cutest cookie)


It is entirely possible that we put a square involving dragons on our bingo card every single year. But DON'T YOU WORRY! You will NEVER run out of dragon books to read, I guarantee you. Dragon books come in all shapes and sizes. And people love dragons, so they are always writing new books about them.

These 5 dragon books are our faves. Maybe. Probably. I can personally speak for Dealing with Dragons, which is a super quick read and very fun!! And also Dragonriders of Pern, which I read five million times growing up. And The Hobbit, which is beautiful... you know what I'm going to take back the "maybe, probably" thing. these dragon books are our faves.

Okay, so we're (clearly) being EXTRA lenient here, because actual real "Choose your own adventure" books are not really super available everywhere. So two of these books are actually choose your own adventure books where you turn to page 57 for yes or 76 for no. The other three are some fun ideas that we will totally accept. And feel free to expand on these ideas. Let's explain our thought process here so you understand where we're going

The Kama Sutra: I mean, if sex is a wild wild adventure, which sometimes it should be, then The Kama Sutra is a perfect book for CYOA!  Now, we're not asking you to go out and have this adventure and then tell us all about it. I mean, we love deets, but like, some people aren't into sharing that kind of stuff and that is fine with us. Just read the book and maybe think about what your own personal adventure would include. Which line-up of positions would rock your socks off? And why are you still wearing socks at this point though, shouldn't you have taken them off by now?

Where's Waldo: This is an activity book, basically, and activities can totally count as adventures. If you're not into Where's Waldo, maybe do a book of crosswords or suduko or pull out that cute craft book you bought 5 years ago and actually MAKE some of the crafts. Have fun! Have an adventure! Take pictures!

Short stories: To us, a book of short stories is a world of opportunities. One book can take you on a myriad of journeys, meeting a multitude of characters. It absolutely qualifies as an adventure to us. So if you want to pick up a book of short stories you've never read, we'll gladly accept that as a CYOA book.


There's something for everyone here. The classic mythology lover, the modern hip chicklit reader, the lover of prose....

TBH, if you've read The Once and Future King, you know it can get a little serious towards the end. That's fine though. We said a HUMOROUS retelling, not a COMEDIC retelling. So if you chuckle a few times, it's all good. Post it.


Such a classic trope. You can't possibly have difficulty finding a book on your "to-read" list that includes this theme. But in case you can't, here are five suggestions! The quickest read among these is probably The Hunger Games or Shadow and Bone, so if you're looking for quantity over quality, those are good choices. Actually, quality isn't the right word here. These are ALL quality books, it's just that some people don't think that reading YA books is for grown-ups. Well. They're wrong. We can ALL be young adults at heart.


Summer Bingo usually has some sort of book award square, and we didn't want to skip that this year. So we chose the Thurber Prize because it's awarded to funny books and this is Summer FUN and Adventure Bingo. To see the full list of Thurber winners, visit their website. TBH, we'll take runner-up books too in addition to winners, so you got some options here. The 5 books above are ones we have at the store. Notice that there are two David Sedaris books there... That's because David Sedaris is hilarious. And amazing. I think we may have already gone over that though.... You know, you could probably cross off a lot of squares JUST reading Sedaris books. We'd be into that.


We want some broody, swearing, unusual, do right for the wrong reasons, do wrong for the right reasons kind of books! Hey, the latest movie from Larsson's series is coming out soon, so you could read that before the movie comes out. Or whatever, you know? It's a pretty common trope. I'm sure you can find a book that fits.


The definition of 'hero' is pretty broad. We don't need a superhero, although I hear that The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a pretty amazing read. We also don't need a lady knight who saves the day, but you could read The Hero and the Crown if you want. And you should want. Heroes can also be regular everyday people who make the world around them better. As Edna Mode says in Incredibles II, "done properly, parenting is a heroic act." So..... plain and simple I guess we're looking for female protagonists really. But Lady Hero sounds cooler.


Listen, if you're reading a book and someone gets their winter coat out of the wardrobe, bam, you're done, that's it. Done. Was there a trip to the zoo and a lion enclosure in the background story? Good to go. But in case you don't run across any accidental lions, witches, or wardrobes in your already planned summer reading, here are some very clear cut options that absolutely count for this square.


Okay, so it was a little bit harder for us to spontaneously think of books with talking animals that aren't in YA, but I bet you know a few. The talking animal does not need to be a main character. They just need to have said words.


You really need to see these books in person to understand why they are the coolest covers. Also, it was kind of hard to just pick 5. These are the kind of book that when we open the box, we go, "OH MY GOSH LOOOOOOOOK I'M DROOLING". Totes happens. And then we all buy ourselves a copy. So really, you're lucky we have good looking books in stock ever because KU staff is a bunch of nerds and we like to buy our pretty books right out the box.


....I don't think we actually had to brainstorm this category with yinz. It's pretty self explanatory. But just in case, here are some good choices.


16 Jul

Even More Summer Reading Lists!

Summer Reading

We've given you a LOT of lists this week, but if you STILL aren't sure about what you should be reading this summer, HERE ARE SOME MORE! These are lists we've used in past summers, but they are still just as hot as they were when they were posted the first time!
Read on, Readers! 

15 Jul

Jessi’s Summer Reading picks!


Jessi is the Queen of Geek Culture and Board Games. That is her official title. Her other titles include "Boss Lady", "Duchess of Kards" and "Jedi Princess". Everything you want to know about good Science Fiction can probably be answered by Jessi. Also, she will kick your ass HARD in any game of any kind probably. Just saying.
Here are Jessi's Summer Reading suggestions!















14 Jul

J.D.’s Summer Reading Picks!


So you like graphic novels? Well. You've come to the right place. J.D. is now KU's unofficial Graphic Novel wizard. Why? Well, he's read a lot of them. And he has opinions. And from we can tell so far, his opinions are pretty good quality!
J.D. has some regular books suggestions as well. Check 'em out!







13 Jul

Mariann’s Summer Reading Picks


Mariann has been here at KU for just a few months, but she's got our jive down pretty well. She's a quiet one, but damn is that girl good at organizing things. In her previous life she was probably a dragon that kept her hoard filed alphabetically.
Check out her Summer Reading selections!



Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami
Murakami’s latest work of fiction is a must for even the most casual fan. Ethereal and wistful, this story follows our despairing protagonist on a quest to seek closure in a lonely life defined by comparison. One question haunts the narrative and when answered leaves us troubled by the unfortunate nature of miscommunication.


From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Running away to live in a museum has never been more fun. Part mystery, part brother-sister bonding tale, this is a timeless classic (not just for children!) that deserves a re-read.


A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
The more I’ve thought about it, the title of this book is strikingly apt. Apt in that it is joking, playful, snide, and knowingly self-aware, much like the work itself. A meditation on the endurance of the human spirit, the “genius” is in the journey I was happy to take and you will be too. With a superb navigator, this is a fantastic introduction to the genre of creative non-fiction


If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino
As the protagonist of the text, “you” fall in love with a beautiful woman you meet in a bookstore. As the protagonist of the text, you are ensnared in the inner-workings of the literary world. As a reader of the text, each chapter is the beginning of a new genre-specific novel that is interrupted right as the text begins to evolve. Somehow these two parallel narratives impressively mix and mash together to create an intriguing work of postmodernist fiction.


Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
A good place to start if you’re at all curious about Virginia Woolf’s writing. A woman of high society questions her marriage and social obligations. In a world before the diagnosis PTSD, a veteran experiences flashbacks that push him into the darkest of places. How do we age with passion, how do we experience time? Float down the stream of consciousness with Woolf’s musings on past, present, and parties.


New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
The ultimate detective collection twists and turns through a few gumshoes’ persistent search for the truth in conflicting realities. Originally published in installments, these three stories complement one another in their meta-fictional essence. This collection doesn’t take itself too seriously and instead offers a refreshing take on the traditional hard-hitting crime story.


Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
A vague account of dreams, maps, skydivers, and oil spills, an anthropologist is tasked with writing a report for a suspect mega-corporation. This text examines why we analyze society and culture and who this analysis benefits. I read it in one sitting.


Still Life with Woodpecker by Tom Robbins
Before the illuminati conspiracy craze swept the American underground, there were hypotheses about presidential destiny and the imagery hidden on a pack of Camel cigarettes. What does this have to do with redheads, blackberries, and the city of Seattle? Read along to find out.


The Stranger by Albert Camus
This existential classic will have you grappling with the implications of a person’s moral constitution. As far as the perfect summer reading book, well, it does take place on a beach…


Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
The near dystopian future is falling in love online. It is an awkward negotiation between digital avatars and a global economy on the political fritz. Immortality and image collide to bring a satirical take on unexpected, cloying romance.


A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Are you an aging record producer? Someone’s personal assistant? A former punk, a future parent, a love-struck fool? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, this book is for you. Travel through the years with a cast of characters who are truly rock and roll. Egan crafts a hilarious and heart-wrenching tale of broken dreams and new beginnings. As a homeless bassist utters mid-way through the text, “time is a goon.”


The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
The memoir to end all memoirs. The emptiness of grief is explored with such complexity from a journalistic and personal perspective. The jarring and sudden death of a spouse. The illness and decline of a daughter. If ever there were a book to make you cry, this is it.

12 Jul

Adam’s Summer Reading Picks!


Adam wears birkenstocks and regularly uses a fountain pen. He also at one time was heard saying that he was "what hipsters wish they were." So this list may or may not be full of books that he knew were good about before you did. But honestly, he has pretty good taste, so give his list a try!



Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
I read this book in a post-modern lit­er­a­ture class in col­lege.  I went into the class not really liking post-modern lit.  I found it over­wrought and vac­u­ous and largely com­pletely unin­ter­est­ing.  There were sev­eral books over the course of the class that changed my mind and this was one of the first and best.  If you like sto­ries of freak shows and weird cults, and family bonding, this book is def­i­nitely for you.


The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I had never heard of Donna Tartt before my good friend Jody handed me this book, told me that it was one of her favorite things she’d ever read, and told me to read it.  This book inter­ested me from the out­set because the main char­ac­ter goes to col­lege and majors in Clas­sics and if a book about a Clas­sics major in col­lege sounds bor­ing to you, just trust me that the tip of this ice­berg does not begin to do jus­tice to the remain­der.  Intense friendships, bacchanalia, and creepy secrets make this piece by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of
The Goldfinch is absolutely a must read.


The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling
The Jun­gle Book and The Sec­ond Jun­gle Book were orig­i­nally pub­lished sep­a­rately, but are fre­quently printed and sold as one vol­ume now.  This is one of those books that no film adap­ta­tion has ever even come close to touch­ing, so if you saw Disney’s newest adaptation earlier this year and either liked it or didn’t like it, just forget about it and pick up the book.  It’s fun, a great story to share with kids, and one of the most sur­pris­ingly emo­tional sto­ries I’ve ever read.  As an added bonus, the book is actu­ally a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries, which makes it per­fect as a bed­time story option or com­mute book!


The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
It is (hope­fully) glar­ingly obvi­ous to any­one who’s read this blog even a bit (or talked to me in per­son) that I absolutely love Tolkien.  He is basi­cally a deity to me.  
The Hob­bit is a great Sum­mer Read­ing option because it’s light and fun and about a trip, which makes it the per­fect vaca­tion book!  Plus when the vaca­tion­ing is done and you’re ready for some­thing with a lit­tle more grav­i­tas you can grad­u­ate to The Lord of the Rings, The Sil­mar­il­lion, or even Unfin­ished Tales of Numenor and Mid­dle Earth!


Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl
First of all, every­one should have at least one Dahl book under their belt.  He’s a clas­sic children’s/young adult author for a rea­son, folks.  
Fan­tas­tic Mr. Fox is my favorite Roald Dahl book because sto­ries about crafty ani­mals out­smart­ing humans are pretty much my life blood.  Plus, one of the char­ac­ters sub­sists on noth­ing but hard cider, which is how I aspire to live my life.


The Widow Clicquot by Tilar Mazzeo
I’m not a huge oenophile (though I like wine a lot) nor am I an espe­cially eager reader of non-fiction, but this book hooked me. In fact, this book is one of the reasons I’ve been more into biographies lately. The story of how Barbe-Nicole Clic­quot Pon­sardin not only han­dled her husband’s com­pany like a boss after he died but also com­pletely rev­o­lu­tion­ized the cham­pagne busi­ness, ran block­ades to sell her lux­ury wine, and basi­cally was an all-around hero for, like 60 years until Death finally showed up and was like, “Come on, lady, you’re mak­ing me look bad here,” is one that I can read over and over again.  She was
OG, man.


Little, Big by John Crowley
The novel picked for the inau­gural meet­ing of the
KU Book Club (and also the sec­ond meet­ing when we showed up and dis­cov­ered that none of us had fin­ished it) has stuck with me in a huge way since then.  This book got me into read­ing tarot cards.  It also uses the ubiq­ui­tous idea of Faerie in a supremely fas­ci­nat­ing way and basi­cally is every­thing you could pos­si­bly want in a book.  I’ve never really been able to ver­bal­ize this until right now, but you know what Lit­tle, Big is?  It’s a Neil Gaiman novel from before Neil Gaiman was writ­ing nov­els.  I don’t know if Gaiman was directly influ­enced by Crowley’s book, but I have to say, I’d kinda bet on it.


I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle
I’ll be hon­est with you, I read this book because I saw the movie and really liked it.  I saw the movie because Hay­den Panet­tiere was in it and I really like her.  My moti­va­tions notwith­stand­ing, though, this book is excel­lent.  Any­one who has ever gone to high school will find some­thing to relate to here.  It’s funny, heart­felt, and makes you glad you grad­u­ated years and years ago.


Mother, Can You Not? by Kate E. Siegel
I started following the Instagram account @crazyjewishmom months and months ago.  At that time, it was just an account where this young woman posted screenshots of text conversations with her overbearing, hilarious, and completely filter-less mother.  It has since grown into a huge viral phenomenon and Kate has rolled with the punches, coming out with this book earlier this spring.  It’s just as hilarious as the IG account, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s ever had a conversation with their mom that turned into something resembling an Abbot and Costello skit from a crazy parallel universe.  


The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
I found this book in my elementary school library when I was in 5th grade or so.  It enchanted me in a way that no book had done before and few have done since.  It’s rare to find fantasy, high or low, that so perfectly captures the world it creates.  Magic and sword fights and pet big cats are things that all of us have wanted (and/or currently want) in our lives, and this book will give you those feels in abundance.


The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Before I read this book, I noticed that one of the blurbs on the back said, “Shelve
The Name of the Wind with The Lord of the Rings and look forward to the day when it is mentioned in the same breath and perhaps as first among equals.”  This, to me, constituted extremely - almost impossibly - high praise.  Having read it, I can say unequivocally that Rothfuss’s book lives up to that praise.  If you enjoy fantasy at all, you should give this book your undivided attention at your earliest possible convenience.  


Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
This is a book many of us knew from our childhoods.  If you’re around my age or a little older, you probably have fond memories of the animated film of 1973, which is an excellent adaptation of what is probably White’s most famous work.  If you have or know a young child who loves animals, or if you just want to nourish that small child within yourself, pick up Charlotte’s Web and share it with someone.  It’s a book best read with a friend.


A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
The first book of Martin’s epic
Song of Ice and Fire is a fantastic book to read over the summer.  While fans of the series may enjoy the later books more (book 3, A Storm of Swords is most fans’ favorite), A Game of Thrones is the perfect first book of a series, making grand introductions, setting the stage for the incredible events to follow, and drawing the reader into the universe so completely that you’ll be hard-pressed to put any of these books down (until, of course, you throw one of them across the room in a Martin-inspired rage.)


Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
This is literally one of the most perfect books of all time.  Even if you don’t like period pieces; even if you don’t like romantic comedies; even if you don’t like British literature; even if you don’t like the Classics, give this book a chance.  Austen’s incredible command of comedy and emotional depth make P&P one of my favorite books.  You’ll be laughing and ugly-crying in equal portions due to the snark and mooshy-ness in this book.  If you don’t love it, I will literally eat my hat.

11 Jul

Alexander’s Summer Reading Picks


Alexander is a recent addition to Kards Unlimited, but we're super glad to have his talents on our team. His resume includes Pro-Shark wrestling and a brief stint as a ninja, and you know, those are super helpful skills here at this particular book/gift/card store.
Alexander's list is pretty intense, I'm not going to lie. But if you read all of these books this summer you'll probably end up feeling like you could be a ninja too.



Food of the Gods by Terence McKenna
For serious seekers only. McKenna’s radical hypothesis on the origins of human consciousness is the only Creation Myth that has ever made any sense to me, and has the unignorable characteristic of being concurrent with both scientific data and personal experience. If any element of it approaches the truth, the ramifications are as daming as they are potentially salvific.


The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
I’ve read a lot of holy books, but this absurdist’s bible is undeniably my favorite and has guided my life more than any other. Whenever I find myself taking life too seriously (my cardinal sin), I know that it is time to reread the Guide, laugh at life, and thumb my way into a new adventure.


Civilization and Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud
If you find yourself questioning the therapeutic validity of your psych meds and suspect that your therapist may simply be adjusting you to a deeply pathological culture instead of helping heal you, this book, from the Father of Psychoanalysis himself, may fuel your paranoia and catalyze a self-realization-or-bust journey of transformation. At least, it did for me.


The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
This book is an introduction to that lost continent in the Western psyche, the world of mythos. If you’re looking for something to help you pass the time while you wait to die, this isn’t it. But if you’re hungry for a life of adventure imbued with self-generated meaning, this is a good place to start.


Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan
A whetstone for the intellect. Internalizing the logical razors Sagan presents in this field guide to truth-seeking has been of incalculable benefit to me in my life for avoiding a whole lot of bullshit while investigating the lunatic fringe and the varieties of weird experiences. I reread it every so often to keep my wits sharp.


Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
For all that I knew about psychological conditioning and the massive social engineering projects undertaken in the 20th century, this book was the boot in the ass that I needed to rip myself out of my culture and begin the painful process of unlearning the insanity that I had assimilated to. Nothing like a good story to render a body of facts into impetus for action.


The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
Inspire your inner revolutionary with this underdog tale of Libertarian rebellion on the Moon. Featuring my favorite weapon in all of science fiction for its engineering simplicity and my favorite familial social organization for its communal strength.


Paradise Lost by John Milton
No other intellectual endeavor has carried out so thorough a meditation on Evil over the centuries as Christianity has. Paradise Lost is the crowning jewel of that investigation into the personality of Evil. It has helped me understand the path that people like Eric Harris to Adolph Hitler have walked down, and helped me avoid that path myself.


Valis and Later Novels by Philip K. Dick
All of Dicks’ works render opaque the dubious wall of separation between fact and fiction, reality and delusion, and your life and the character’s, but the VALIS series is a mind bender for mind-benders on a bender. Historians should keep tabs on this book, because it will likely become incorporated into some future religion’s canon of revelatory literature.


Here are three more books to try as well!


6 Jul

Athena’s Summer Reading Picks!



Athena believes in fairies and dragons. She spent a while in Ireland and she will swear up and down that she saw things that can't possibly be real. But you know, she was also drinking quite heavily the whole time, so maybe that has something to do with it.
Check out what she's (re)reading this summer!