About

About the Blog

I started Books Without Any Pictures back in 2011 because my friends were tired of me ranting about books in bars.  I needed a way to channel my creative energies, and a book review blog seemed like a perfect fit.  More than two years later, I’m still here, and reviewing books has become my passion.

My reviewing style has evolved over the years, but generally my goal is to take an informal approach to book reviewing.  Most book reviews answer the question, “Does this book have literary merit?”  My reviews answer the question, “Will I enjoy reading this book?”

For review requests, please see my Review Policy.  You can also contact me at grace (dot) troxel (at) gmail (dot) com if you have any further questions, or leave a comment at the bottom of the page.

“and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversation?”

~Lewis Carroll

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About Me

I grew up in a very small town in Western Pennsylvania.  It had approximately 2,500 people, and no bookstores or coffee shops.  Looking for a change of scene, I moved to Washington, DC for college.  I received my BA in International Affairs and Russian Language and Literature from the George Washington University in 2010.  I quickly became disillusioned by politics, and decided that libraries were a much better fit.  I received my MSLS from Clarion University in 2013, and currently work as a digital librarian.  I live in a small apartment that also resembles a library.  I enjoy philosophy, tea, and shenanigans.

76 Responses to “About”

  1. The Shoeless Wanderer

    Figured I’d check out your blog since you were nice enough to comment on mine! :) Looking forward to reading future book reviews…maybe we can get some good book conversations going!

  2. Jorie

    Thanks for commenting on my review of Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits. I’ve been a librarian by trade for more than three years now. It’s been a rewarding experience, especially when I can link people to good books. I look forward to reading more of your reviews!

    Jorie @ Jorie’s Reads

  3. MrPopularSentiment

    Thank you for liking my review! It’s great to see more book review blogs out there, if only because it’s evidence that people are still actually reading!

    I’ve had dreams of being a librarian as well, but it’s about six years of education in my country and the finances are lacking (maybe if I stopped buying books…).

  4. Ugly Bug

    Thanks for checking out my blog. I’m impressed with yours here. I’m curious if you’ve read Megan Whalen Turner’s Attolia books (The Queen of Attolia is my favorite) or Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles? Anyway, I’ll be visiting more often!

      • Ugly Bug

        The first book in the Lymond Chronicles (The Game of Kings) is very hard-going for the first two thirds, since all this seemingly random stuff happens, which turns out to be not random at all, not to mention all the untranslated quotes in Latin and French! By the third book in the series, you might as well shelve everything else in your life, because you won’t be able to do anything else but read on.

        (sorry, I get carried away on the subject.)

        • Grace

          That sounds awesome. I actually studied Latin in high school, so it would be really cool to put it to use. I love life-eating books!

  5. Brad Wirz

    Hey Grace!

    I just ran across your blog and decided to contact you about my new philanthropic organization called Gone Reading International.

    We market a line of gifts for readers and donate 100% of company profits to fund new libraries in the developing world. You can read more about us at http://www.GoneReading.com.

    Any chance you can mention us in your blog???

    We’re finding that readers love what we’re doing, but spreading the word on a philanthropic budget is a challenge! Let me know what you think, and thanks in advance for your time.

    Regards,

    Brad

    P.S. If doing a simple link swap works better for you, that’s certainly fine by me. Just let me know!

  6. Anastasia

    Hey! I’m loving your blog and have started following you. You write thoughtful reviews that I enjoy reading. I’d also love to get a conversation going with you about Russian literature; I’m from Belarus (which isn’t really Russia, but we like to claim Russian literature as our own) so I’ve had the good luck to be able to read it in the original. I never could make myself get through Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, though, and prefer Pushkin, whose poetry is gorgeous. What are your favorite Russian authors? Did you read them in Russian?

    Anastasia
    The Itinerant Bookworm

    • Grace

      Thank you! I love Russian literature, although I tend to read it in translation. I like reading poetry though in the original, generally beside a translation, so that I can figure out words that I don’t know while also being able to get the sound of the original Russian… Pushkin and Akhmatova are great to read that way! Dostoevsky is my favorite Russian author, and I like the way that his characters all represent different conflicting ideas, but with no clear winner. Gogol and Turgenev are also fantastic. =D

      • bookwormhermy

        Hi (again)! Sorry it took me a while to reply to your reply (bit busy obsessing over Sherlock…isn’t everyone on the web, or do I live in a very particular part of the internet?)

        I tried reading Dostoyevsky this summer (crime and punishment) but couldn’t get past the first hundred pages or so. Raskolnikov just…bugged me. And I admit that I am fairly tolerant, I realize that the author is not the character and that the author created a certain kind of character for a particular purpose, but it seemed like Raskolnikov just never knew what to do, couldn’t make up his mind, and his indecisiveness just started to really irk me. That, and the way his crime bothered him reminded me quite a bit of the Tell-Tale Heart by Poe, and it seemed like Dostoyevsky was stretching out something I’d already read. So yes, that’s my rant on Dostoyevsky. I do like Gogol’s The Nose, though, and really should read more of his things. Apparently somewhere in St. Petersburg, there is a nose somewhere on the wall of a building as a monument to the story. Cool, eh?

        • Grace

          I saw The Nose sculpture while I was in St. Petersburg. It was so unexpected to run into it, and it made my day! Gogol is fantastic, and especially neat considering he was one of the pioneers of surrealism.

          I haven’t seen Sherlock yet (I don’t watch much TV)… how is it?

          Raskolnikov’s indecisiveness when roaming the Haymarket is such that it almost makes St. Petersburg into a character that guides him to where he needs to be. It is a bit like Poe, but with more redemption. There’s also a lot of commentary on good vs. evil, as another main character is a prostitute who is extremely moral and entered her profession out of necessity. She and Raskolnikov are cute together.

          • Anastasia

            So sorry to have taken so long to reply (again). Having a blog is actually really time consuming, as I’ve discovered. I have so many thoughts in my head, all the time, about everything I read, but formulating them into a polished piece requires more effort than I’d thought.

            The thing I noticed about Russian literature (well, however much of it I’ve read) is that it doesn’t seem to make location as much of a part of the story as, say, French literature. I definitely remember Raskolnikov wandering St. Petersburg, especially Sadovaya st (or was it Sennaya?) and I knew where that was, which put the story into some nice context. But mostly I think things just happen “in St. Petersburg,” whereas in French and English literature authors bring up certain parts of London and paris much more. Of course, maybe that’s just my skewed view…

            And Sherlock is *amazing.* I don’t watch much television either (have you ever heard the following quote? “I find TV to be very educational. whenver someone turns one on, I go into the other room and read.” …. very applicable). I don’t have time to watch that much TV because it’s a choice between books and TV, and then there’s the difficulty of acquiring shows to see. But Sherlock is the one exception I make. It’s one of the most brilliant literary adaptations I’ve ever seen and well worth time and obsession. Truly, it’s made with love, care and adoration for the original stories.

            • Grace

              I know the feeling; when I started my blog, I had no idea how time-consuming it would be.

              I haven’t read as much French or English literature as I have Russian, but place might also stand out for me more in the Russian because I’ve been there. One of the things I love about Russian literature is that it tends to focus on ideas more than any other that I’ve read. My pet theory is that because censorship was always a major issue in Russia throughout history that authors made sure that anything they published would be good enough that it would outlive them.

              I’ll have to see if I can find an episode of Sherlock to watch. Generally I end up spending my free time either reading or playing MMOs… computer games are more fun for me than television because they’re more interactive.

              • Anastasia

                Any tips for juggling school/work, having a life, and blogging? (and for getting one’s blog out there).

                I totally understand what you mean about a place making literature come alive – Paris made French literature come alive for me so much! It’s the reason I decided to study abroad here. I love St. Petersburg, but somehow it’s never really connected me to the literature, though, interestingly enough.

                I assure you, Sherlock is totally interactive. The writers never give all the answers – you have to sort of play a game and figure things out with Sherlock and use clues to solve the mystery of what Sherlock’s up to. It is very, very far from simple entertainment where you stare dumbly at the screen.

              • Grace

                Juggling everything is tough. One thing that I’ve done since starting my blog is to make sure to set aside small amounts of time for myself to read, as it helps me relax and de-stress. I also like having a couple blog posts written and saved so that if I have a really busy week I can still post something.

                I’ve never been to France, but I’ve heard lots of good things from friends who have either visited or studied there. I miss Europe… everyone there is so much more laid back.

              • Anastasia

                Haha, a little too laid back (see recent post on my blog complaining about things wrong with France. It summarizes everything perfectly). Nevertheless, it’s a great country to be living in, really interesting, and there’s lots to do and learn.

                A perk of being in France is that I take the metro everywhere, which means I’m usually guaranteed at least an hour or so of reading every day. I’ve made my way through the Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Lady with the Camelias, and 1000 pages of a Dumas book while riding back and forth…

              • Grace

                I do a lot of reading on public transit as well. I don’t have a car, so I either take the buses or Metro to get to work/etc. It’s one of the things that I love about cities, although I wish that the public transportation here would be in better condition and that the buses were more reliable. I get angry every time I wait for a half hour for a bus to show up and then it doesn’t stop and just drives past me…

              • Anastasia

                Have we run out of space to reply? Or do I just fail at commenting on blogs?

                In any case, I totally understand what you mean about the buses (you live in NYC, right? kinda jealous) public transportation is quite efficient here compared to Chicago, which is where I lived last year…it does break occasionally in Paris, but at least it doesn’t take me 2 hours to get from the south side to the north side! Still, I’m a stickler for taking notes in books and that’s pretty hard in a crowded metro when I’m standing and not holding on to anything and wearing heels.

              • Grace

                It’s set to only let replies go down something like 10 levels… otherwise it just gets squishy. :P

                I live in DC, although I love the occasional trip to NYC. The problem is that the public transit was built back in the 70s/80s and hasn’t been updated or maintained well since, and since it doesn’t get much funding, it can’t afford to add more routes and/or run more trains/buses on the existing ones. It works out that you can get where you need to go during rush hour, but during the rest of the day you’re screwed.

                On a completely unrelated note, I refuse to wear heels anymore. The college I went to had an Inaugural Ball, and I’ve never walked well in heels… I ended up tripping down a flight of stairs in a ballgown and decided it just wasn’t worth it, lol.

      • katelivinginlondon

        England is sunny. I don’t really miss America as a whole. I mostly miss seeing my friends, family, and dog on a regular basis. Plus I made the mistake of watching Man vs. Food recently…so I’m starving for some BBQ.We should skype soon! How is DC? Eat at Ben’s Chilli Bowl for me when you get a chance.

        • Grace

          I will next time I’m on U Street. DC is pretty much the usual, although I went to campus a month or two ago and it looks totally different. I wish that Whole Foods would have been there when I was there.

  7. Anastasia

    So, since we’ve run out of space to reply up there ^^ (or down there once this comment appears?)..hi again.

    What you describe with the DC transportation system is like what happens in Chicago, pretty much….we already have 10% tax in Illinois, and taxing people even more to pay for the L would be an explosive disaster. So we have the terrible elevated trains that only barely make their way along the rails when it snows…

    As for heels, I make it a point of pride to be able to sprint in stillettos. Men love to assume that heels are incapacitating and then I take off sprinting across the street after a bus and, needless to stay, there are impressed. Plus, they’re great weapons.

    • Grace

      Sorry for taking so long to respond.

      Today was totally one of those days that I’m running behind schedule because my bus never showed up and I had to wait a half hour for the next one.

      Haha, I wish I could run in heels, or even walk in them… instead I either fall down or my feet hurt so badly that I can’t walk. I stick with flats.

  8. Robin Jean Marie

    You’re got quite an ecclectic background, Grace! My mother was a librarian for many years, and we grew up surrounded by books. I am pleased to say that I also now have my own family of readers–and I am so happy to have found your blog. :-)

    • Grace

      Thanks! I’ve been obsessed with reading ever since I was little because I lived in a tiny town where there was nothing to do. Even after traveling and seeing more of the world, I’ve got a great love for books and literature. I wish more families would encourage reading. :)

      • Robin Jean Marie

        Well, as the poem goes, “Richer than I you can never be, I had a mother who read to me.” (I tear-up every time I think of that line!) My mom loved books, as you do, and she reads them aloud wonderfully, and my siblings and I had the benefit of that. It is such an enjoyable and bonding activity for parents and children, and it’s a perfect way to instil chidlren with a love of reading.

  9. Jessica

    I’m a fellow Grad Student as well (PhD in English – focus on early American literature) so I can relate. Juggling is the hardest thing. I also set aside personal reading time. Without it, I don’t function very well. Life is crazy enough … I don’t need to add to the crazy by being all stressed out.

    • Grace

      Oooh, nice. A PhD is awesome. I’m working on my masters, then I’m going to take a break from school for a little while and try to find a non-student job. It’s hard to find time to do everything, but making time for fun reading definitely helps preserve the sanity!

  10. Jean

    So you must be a terrific multi-tasker to read, review books and also pursue your MLS studies. From an MLS ex-librarian who is working in knowledge and document management. Oh, my blogs aren’t all about KM or library science. Just other stuff ..for fun. :)

  11. Ellie

    Thanks for stopping by and for following! I live in DC area too, and happen to have a library degree (which I am not using at the moment, though). I also speak Russian (and I’m not using it much these days either, except to talk to my parents).

    • Grace

      Oooh, thank you! I don’t normally do blog tag type things, but you asked some pretty fun questions, so I’m thinking I should do it this time!

  12. Jean

    Well hope that you keep a personal library the size that you have. I did own a lot but after 2 relocations to 2 different provinces, I had to slowly dissipate my book collection to something a lot less.

    Best wishes in career journeys ahead.

    (Oh yea, I’ve been special librarian.now something else but still in information field.)

    • Grace

      Thank you! My books are pretty much my children, so they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. :P

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