On Twitter, where brevity reigns supreme, I sum myself up as: Writer, educator, yogi, runner, general nerd & wearer of many metaphorical hats.

While that’s great place to start, a list of labels only gets you so far in learning about someone. In addition to the above, I…

  1. Work a day job in Student Affairs and teach two 100-level courses
  2. Fill my phone with pictures of Azula, my Blue Heeler puppy with a personality fitting her Avatar: The Last Airbender namesake a little too well
  3. Am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, but currently live in Pittsburgh
  4. Love a good buffalo chicken…


I was a professional book nerd, and I hated it

Woman leaning over laptop with her head in her hand, looking sad and tired.
Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplashc

The pressure to take everything we love and monetize it is a massive side-effect of the side-gig economy we live in. Because so many of the things we consider hobbies could be careers, many of us think that they should be.

As someone who loves books and reading, who is also a writer, it felt very natural to me that I should start writing for the bookish websites I loved. So, in spite of assuming I’d be rejected, I applied.

To my utter astonishment, when I received the response, it was… yes?

And so, I got what I believed to…


Thunderdome

Why Willow is the most essential Scooby

Still from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, sourced from the Buffy wiki
Thunderdome is a FanFare series where our writers good-naturedly debate some matter of pop culture and then leave it to the readers to decide. Read each post and vote at the bottom!

When it comes to the Scooby Gang, I’m in Willow’s corner for Most Essential Sidekick. Why, you ask?

Well, for starters, you’d have difficulty denying that of the members in Buffy’s inner circle, Willow is the most powerful.

I mean, the woman brought Buffy back from the dead, had her own stint as a Big Bad in which she very nearly destroyed the actual world, and managed to…


Goals, stats, and best books, oh my!

Photo by Lê Tân on Unsplash

Holy July, Batman! The first half of the year has somehow come and gone. That means it’s about that time that lists of the best books for the first half of the year hit the interwebs.

Here at Your Book Friend, I’m doing things a little bit differently (what else is new?). Rather than check-in with the best books from the first half of the year, I’m checking in with reading goals and stats to see how I’m doing compared with where I hoped I’d be.

Will I also mention my favorite reads of the year so far? …


Mini-reviews and recommendations to expand your TBR

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

How are we already halfway through 2021?

This month came in with high expectations for a kickboxing challenge and a new round of running training. Then, I fell down and badly scraped/bruised my bad knee, which needs a nice, tight, painful-on-a-scab brace when I do any kind of higher-impact cardio. Ah, the best laid plans.

The bonus of being couch-bound is… more reading time!

Here are the best books I read in the month of June, with mini-reviews and links to full reviews where relevant!

(Full disclosure: Book links are affiliate links, and I may earn a small commission if…


At what point will it feel like we’re actually getting married?

Photo of the author, by Sunshine Studio

The day Andy proposed, it was mostly out of luck that I was even wearing a bra.

He asked me to take a walk with our dog, Azula, at the park where we had our first kiss. This wasn’t unusual, considering we go there all the time. So nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

Aside from the fact that he wore a button down instead of a hoodie, or that he’d texted me while I was at work Friday to ask if I wanted to go for a walk the next morning. …


I just couldn’t bring myself to watch it again

Image property of Warner Bros, sourced from Wired.com

How we define “hero” says a lot about what we value as a society. Who gets to be a hero, what they look like, act like, hold up as true and important, matters.

Or at least, I think so. Which is why I teach an introduction to writing course around the theme of superhero identity and social impact. Because I’m a nerd, it’s called “Great Power, Great Responsibility.”

Though I’ve kept to this theme throughout my three years of teaching the course, the model and framework have shifted year to year.

In part, that’s because new films and TV shows…


But not for the reasons you’d think

Photo by Nickolas Nikolic on Unsplash

Preparing for a day of staring at my own face in Zoom meetings, I lingered a little longer in front of the mirror. As I brushed my bangs, a flash of bright white grabbed my attention.

Huh, I thought, tracing my fingers through my hair to find the strand. My dog’s hair must’ve got stuck in mine somehow.

Only once I held the thin white strand between two fingers did I realize it was not one of Azula’s. It couldn’t be, since it was clearly emerging from my own head.

I held it up against other strands to confirm its…


Let’s chat about our current reads, no polished thoughts required

Image created by the author in Canva

Happy Wednesday, and a belated happy Summer Solstice as well! Summer has greeted us here in Pittsburgh with a few thunderstorms, which is some of my favorite reading weather.

Speaking of reading weather… now that the longest day of the year is officially behind us, I find myself surprised to realize I’m a bit excited for fall. I’ve always been a spring and summer kind of girl, and yet… I’m looking forward to lighting all the candles and curling up under a blanket with a good book.

Does this have anything to do with the lack of central AC in…


Kerry Winfrey has done it again, my friends

Photo by Amanda Kay Oaks, originally posted to Instagram

Have you ever been so excited for a new book to come out that you were inevitably disappointed?

I felt that way back when the final Harry Potter book came out, because I couldn’t handle holding it in my hands and knowing it was the end. No matter what lived between those covers, it couldn’t live up to the anticipation of a new book, that midnight release party feeling.

When Kerry Winfrey’s Very Sincerely Yours landed on my doorstep on release day, though?

Yeah, that was an entirely different story.

(Full disclosure: Book links that follow are affiliate links, and…

Amanda Kay Oaks

Pittsburgh-based writer & wearer of many metaphorical hats. Making words about self, health, books, travel, and more! She/her.

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