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NaRMo: National Book Review Month

When November rolls around, we hear talk of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), a challenge where writers nationwide pick up their pens in a mad scramble to a 50,000-word finish line. March will see the start of the slightly less well-known National Novel Editing Month (NaNoEdMo), where writers attempt to edit their November masterpieces. But in between the two, there’s something new and exciting.


This February, SUNY Geneseo launches the first annual National Book Review Month (NaRMo). NaRMo seeks to popularize the too-often-overlooked book reviewing process, and to promote reading in general. Have you found a book you loved, a book you’re just bursting to talk about, or even a book you couldn’t stand? Tell people about it! The more we share our thoughts about what we read, the more we can talk about the wonderful writing available to us!


In order to participate, simply read a book, write a review of at least 100 words, and share it!


– Post to
– Tweet to @getreviewing with hashtag #narmo
– Let the publisher/author know!
– Instagram/Snapchat yourself with the book
– Come up with your own way of sharing the review
– Host a reviewing event at a local library/bookstore/school


Help readers come together to share books!



For more information, visit:

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Literary Love Stories

Love is in the air. Valentine’s Day approaches, with its boxes of chocolates and heart-shaped cards with curly, elegant cursive. Needless to say, thousands of couples this weekend will be flipping through Netflix, HBO, or what have you, looking for that perfect romance flick. Be it a rom-com, a history drama, or something in between the two, there’s no denying that Valentine’s is the perfect night for love stories. But if you’re like me, sometimes it’s hard to decide on something to watch. You flip through channel after channel, watching the night trickle away, and nothing really jumps out at you. Not the most exciting way to spend a special night in with your loved one! So if Sunday night rolls around and you find yourself trapped in the dreaded cycle of flipping through channels, why not set a new trend and pick up one of these literary love stories instead?

Here are some of our staff’s picks for their favorite literary love stories!

Joe Flaherty, Executive Director:


My favorite literary couple is Holden Caulfield and his sister Phoebe, from Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye.

Tate DeCaro, Development Associate:


I feel like I should probably choose something cultured like Scarlett O’Hara & Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind, which I’ve never read or seen, or the obvious Romeo & Juliet, which I’ve both read and seen many times, but no matter how much I love Shakespeare, all of his love stories are kind of absurd (though always a great read). So, I’m going with another obvious, though more contemporary, choice: Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley. Because they’re actually really good for each other (which I don’t often think is true in “great literary love stories”). Because they build a strong friendship first. Because they don’t hinder each others plans/needs/emotions/true characters. And because obviously Harry needed to officially be a part of the Weasley family somehow.

Sally Bittner Bonn, Director of Youth Education:


I’m going to have to go with Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables. Their courtship (i.e. him calling her “carrots” and her getting so infuriated) is so human and honest. Witnessing them growing up together is heartwarming. She is one of my favorite feisty literary characters, and he is a great match for her—as they are both so stubborn, smart, and truly thoughtful.

Karen vanMeenen, Director of “If All of Rochester Reads…”


Jake and Ennis from Annie Proulx’s short story Brokeback Mountain. As young men, Jake and Ennis share an immediate soulful connection they cannot deny. They find it painful to be kept apart but the challenges of the social mores of their day (the narrative begins in 1963), including their marriages to others, leaves them struggling to live authentic lives and to honor their love for each other.

Kathy Pottetti, Director of Gell Center Operations:


My favorite literary couple is Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.   It’s an all time classic movie and novel. I’ve been to Atlanta, GA. to Margaret Mitchell’s home and purchased her book there, a genuine   “Sense of Place.”   They are classy, romantic and feisty together. It’s such a dramatic story of the Civil War, and the emphasis of Scarlett O’Hara, the southern belle living on her plantation “Tara”, during this period of time, and how she survives during the Civil War and Reconstruction. She’s such a damsel in distress… her love affairs with Ashley Wilkes and Rhett Butler and Rhett’s famous line to her “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn” is classic! It’s the constant tug and pull that makes them so exciting together.

Emma Lynge, Blog Coordinator and Front Desk Representative:


My favorite would have to be Faramir and Eowyn from The Return of the King by JRR Tolkien. At the start of the story, they’re both looking for someone to validate their self-worth in a really unhealthy way. Faramir craves his father’s approval and love, and Eowyn wants the same from Aragorn. Over the course of the war, all of the terrible things that happen help to strip away what’s unimportant and let Faramir and Eowyn find themselves again. Faramir defends Gondor not for his father, but because it’s the right thing to do, and Eowyn slays the Witch-King of Angmar not to prove herself to Aragorn, but for herself, because she’s awesome. That they end up together at the end of the book is a little unexpected and exciting for both of them, but they’ve finally figured out what it is they really want and they don’t really care who judges them for it. It’s a really sweet story about not looking for someone to validate you, but rather letting your self-confidence guide you where you want to go.

Albert Abonado, Director of Adult Programming:


When I think of literary couples (fictional or otherwise), I often think of Larry and Sally Morgan from Wallace Stegner’s lyrical Crossing to Safety. It’s been a while since I’ve read this book, but here is a couple that has never left me. We watch Larry and Sally struggling to make a living,and suffer alongside them when Sally is struck with polio. I loved the book for its quiet and careful observations of the ordinary, how Stegner so wisely understood the interior workings of marriage and friendship, and admired Larry and Sally Morgan for their deep and resilient love throughout their years.

Chris Fanning, Public Relations:


Not my favorite literary couple, but a couple non the less would be the character Quint and the shark from Peter Benchley’s novel JAWS. Though the relationship may be one-sided and at some points border on an Ahab-like obsession on Quints part, at the end of the book, after a long pursuit, the characters end up together….(insert rimshot sound effect)


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Writing & Yoga

This blog post was written by our development associate and resident yogi, Tate DeCaro!

When I signed on for Breathe Yoga’s 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program in September of 2014, I didn’t really know what to expect. Would it be 200 hours of doing yoga? Would it be a combination of yoga plus sitting in a classroom learning history and theory, chakras and the yamas and niyamas (don’t worry, you don’t have to know any of these things to do yoga!), and the correct alignment for poses? The answer, in part, was yes – we studied all of those things, and we did a lot of yoga. What I didn’t know or expect was how much writing we would also be doing, particularly to do with self exploration.

Yoga is a lot about self exploration. The idea is to turn inward. To focus on your breathing and your movements, and turn off the parts of your brain that think about your work day that just happened, or what you need to get at Wegmans after class, and to turn off the parts that wonder what everyone else is thinking of you and how you can’t touch your toes, or how you’re sweating all over your toes, or how you forget to reapply nail polish to your toes.

(By the way, the answer is that no one is looking at you, and no one cares, because they’re all wondering what you’re thinking of them, or they’re just trying to drop their shoulders away from their ears, or they’re so in the zone that they don’t even remember you’re there).

My point is – your yoga teacher is trying to remind you to turn your gaze inward during a yoga class. It’s hard, and that’s why it’s a constant refrain. What I hadn’t thought about before YTT was how writing can be so useful in helping people focus their thoughts (of course!). During YTT and since then I have done a lot of writing about my thoughts on my yoga practice itself – how I feel when I’m in it, thinking about and analyzing the kinds of thoughts that crop up when I’m in certain poses (those “who’s looking at me and what are they thinking” types or the self-doubt/self-beratement), and what yoga adds to my mental and physical well-being. I’ve found it helpful to process the work done in the yoga studio.

And it works in the other direction too – I think doing yoga can help you process whatever writing you are working on outside of the studio. Both writing and yoga are practices that require effort, time, and a lot of self examination and reflection.

If you’re only into writing, give yoga a try! You could find that it clears your head for writing, opening up more space and allowing for some new thoughts to wiggle their way into your head. If you’re only into yoga, give writing a try! Do it a little bit before and a little bit after a yoga class. If nothing else, you can write about how you feel before and after class and take note of the influence a little movement and breath have in your day!
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Celebrating the Genesee Reading Series

Genesee Reading Series Celebrates 34th Anniversary


Rochester, NY: On Tuesday, February 23rd, Writers & Books will be celebrating the Genesee Reading Series by inviting back six readers from the programs past. Event begins at 7:00 PM. Admission is $3 for members, $6 for general public.


The Genesee Reading Series (GRS), now in its 34th year, has been a constant in Writers & Books programming almost as long as the organization itself has been around. Started in 1982 by Executive Director Joe Flaherty, the reading series offers the opportunity for the audience to hear- live, extraordinary writers, whether published or not, read their works in the City of Rochester.


Currant curator of the program Wanda Schubmehl says about the program:

“There must be something in the water of the Genesee River, or the rich soil of its Valley, that produces this wealth of writing talent. The GRS is like a literary wine-tasting tour of the best literary creation in our area.


Celebrating the Genesee Reading Series will include the following readers:

  • Anne Coon
  • Peter Conners
  • Kathleen Wakefeild
  • Steven Huff
  • Tony Leuzzi


Bios on all readers can be found here:


Readings will begin at 7:00 Pm with each reader having 15 minutes on stage in the Performance Space. The evening will conclude with a reception in the bookstore.


For more information on Celebrating the Genesee Reading Series, contact Chris Fanning, PR Associate at



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Exciting and Wonderful News from YELP Rochester!

WOW! What an adventure these past few weeks have been.

Just over two months ago, Yelp Rochester came to us with a huge gift, an enormous opportunity and a tantalizing challenge. We were selected as one of three organizations in Rochester to be considered for a $5,000 grant from #YFGivesLocal. All we needed were votes!

And so we asked for your help.

The response we received was stunning, humbling, and just downright wonderful. You voted, spread the word, refreshed your browsers, and voted again! Thank you! Thank you all so much! We are truly very lucky to belong to a community that is as supportive, creative, and enthusiastic as Rochester.

Today, we’ve received some amazing news!

We are enraptured, elated, euphoric, overjoyed, on cloud nine, in seventh heaven, jumping for joy, delighted, thrilled, exultant, on top of the world, and over the moon to hear from Yelp Rochester that Writers & Books is the recipient of the $5K ‪#‎YFGivesLocal‬ Grant!

WE did it—and I mean “we”! Writers & Books couldn’t have done it without you. Again, both YELP and the community of Rochester have our sincerest thanks.


We’ll be using this grant money to improve our operations & services to the Rochester community! More details to come.


SallyDanChrisTate KathyAlexaJoeSarah

Read up on the Yelp Foundation on their blog here: