Tally Monday- December 17, 2018

Checked Out

  1. Animal Speak by Ted Andrews
  2. Archie, vol 6 by Mark Waid

Bought

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  3. A Calendar of Wisdom by Leo Tolstoy

Read

  1. A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck
  2. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Reading Archie, vol. 6 (comic), Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (book), Ancient Ways by Pauline Campanelli (nonfiction), Deep in the Valley by Robyn Carr (ebook), The Reef by Edith Wharton (audio), Best Loved Poems of the American PeopleSimple Abundace by Sarah Ban Breathnach

It’s Monday and I have officially returned to my VERY CONFUSING BUT SATISFYING READING PLAN.  In the morning I read my Simple Abundance for the day.  I read 10 pages of my nonfiction every day.  At night, in bed, I read my ebook.  I read one poem a day.  I read one comic a week.  And the rest of the time I read my book book.  I listen to my audiobook every other day and podcasts every other day.  Currently, I am working on a new project to catch up on podcasts.  I counted how many I had, used a random number generator, and started working diligently on catching up on that one.  In the long run this will help to clear out the list.  I follow a number of podcasts that I have never even listened to a single episode of and I follow quite a few that are done.

I know that it is convoluted but I don’t care.  It works for me.  After I get my stack of books down to one stack of books again, I’ll start in on listening to series on audio again.

This is the fourth year that I have read Simple Abundance. I came across this book a long time ago on a Christian homeschooling blog that I was obsessed with and sought it out and read it the very next year.  At the time it was probably not for me.  I was in college and engaged and working but my life was pretty… easy in hindsight.  The second time was the year that I first moved out of my parents’ house and in with said fiance, only to have a spectacular break up and move back in with my parents.  It was also not the time but I went along, needing that little ritual every day.  And that was a tough year, the first half of it was very lonely and confusing.  I was suffering through an emotionally abusive relationship, marooned in a house by myself, and working on my masters degree.  The second half of the year was spend trying to piece it together and going out to bars with my new boyfriends band and drinking too much.  The third time I read it was a couple of years ago and I don’t actually remember the circumstances but I remember thinking, “I don’t need this.”

Now, though… Whoa buddy do I need this.  Mothering, wifing, friending, working, and trying to follow my dreams and figure myself out.  That’s a fucking lot, you guys.  But I do it and I have to say that Simple Abundance has really hit the spot.

I’ve had some other great “devotional” or “day book” experiences in previous years.  I read the Intellectual Devotional and enjoyed the random information gathered and I read The Daily Stoic and enjoyed that as well.  I have THREE of these kinds of books currently or nearly in my possession and I’m not sure which one to do next.  I have A Celtic Devotional365 Devotions to Embrace What Matters Most, and A Calendar of Wisdom.  Maybe I should do two?  Is that too much?

To be honest, I am not intending to get much reading done this week.  Gardenscapes has the Christmas set out and I have to collect them all because I never have before and I just have this crazy drive to do some.  No worries.  I run out of lives quite frequently.  I might be reading some yet!

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Recallibrating

My theory was that I was going to spend the month of December just “pounding it out”.  I was going to read, read, read and listen to nothing but audiobooks and put my comics and my e-books aside.  One month.  The theory was that one month would give me a little bit of a leg up on the pile of books currently residing on my desk.  And it’s been fine.  Just fine.

Except.  Except.

You know how crazy my reading life was for a while?  You know?  When I was listening to audiobooks and podcasts on alternating days and reading a nonfiction book, a regular book, and an ebook?  It was a little crazy but I also loved it.  I was getting somewhere and I always had something to read and it was kind of like I was in my element.

And so, I am going back.  The books will get read and the stuff will be heard.  Slow and steady wins the race.

Tally Monday- December 10, 2018

Checked Out

  1. Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

Bought

  1. Evening in the Yellow Wood by Laura Kemp

Read

  1. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
  2. Keeper by Kathi Appelt

Reading A Long way From Chicago by Richard Peck (book), Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer (audio), Just Over the Mountain by Robyn Carr (ebook), Ancient Ways by Pauline Campanelli (nonfiction), The Best Loved Poems of the American People (poetry), Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King (short stories), and Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach

Last week I told you guys about how I had spent a weekend retraining my brain to read for more than a couple of minutes at a time.  I’ve had a very similar experience with my reading and writing these past couple of months.  They are both things that I’ve realized I want to do more the more that I do them.  When I write 1500 words or more in a day, I want to write again the next day.  When I read 50 pages instead of 5, I want to read another 50.

It’s been kind of refreshing.  It’s like I am rediscovering my passions.  My life is busy.  All lives are busy.  I work full time, commute 45 minutes one way, and have a family, including one crazy toddler and four ninja cats.  It is easy for the things that I love to do to slip away from me.  It’s easy at the end of the day to just melt into the couch and forget about it.

But reading last week made me feel so good and I am trying to do more of it.  Yesterday I read 40 pages which is still 40 pages more than I have been reading on the weekend!

On the other hand, this push to read more has also given me the longing to READ EVERYTHING.  I am proud to say that so far I have stuck to my one book in for every two out plan for a solid week.  Baby steps!  Eventually, like in a decade or so, I’ll have a small pile that makes sense instead of two giant stacks that are easy to topple.

Currently I am reading a ton for work.  It’s time to preview the books for Battle of the Books and I am also working my way through the Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide.  That last one also pointed me to a suggested reading list which I am itching to dive into.

I am almost done with Christmas.  All I have left to do is book a hotel room for me and Hubby and wrap presents.  Pretty proud of myself.  Maybe being so on top of things will clear the way for more reading…

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis

Whew, boy, do I have opinions on this one…  This year has been a deep dive into self help and motivation for me.  I decided to give this one a try after it came up on a couple of podcast I listen to.  I knew going into it that Hollis was religious but at this point in my own journey I draw wisdom and inspiration from all faiths so I didn’t think it would bother me.  I got the audiobook and was pleased to see that it was only six discs long.  I got started right away.

I enjoyed probably the first two thirds of this book.  Sometimes I found Hollis a little annoying, a little too religious or a little too preachy or a little too “sunny side up” or a little too naive BUT it was kind of like listening to a podcast and I kept on because it was just fine.

I was on disc five out of six when I seriously considered completely chucking it and I honestly only finished because at that point I was damn well going to count it as read.

First, if you’ve ever read a self help book there is a good chance that you are not going to get anything new from this.  There’s nothing wrong with that, most self help is like that I think there’s value in hearing things again and again.  Hollis definitely represents a demographic that I recognize.  It’s true that a lot of her problems don’t seem big to other people that doesn’t mean they aren’t big to her.  I am one of the luckiest women alive and I have still struggled with trauma, anxiety, depression, weight issues/eating disorders, drinking to deal with my toddler.  And it’s true that a lot of people find her approach of choosing happiness and choosing to pull yourself up to be belittling and grating.  I get it.  On the other hand, maybe her advice matches her problems.  This is what is valid for her.

And now… Hollis started to lose me first when talking about the relationship she first had with her husband before he “changed” and how unhealthy it was but it all worked out in the end but it probably won’t for you.  I shrugged it off.  That’s not really what her story was about, anyway, it just hit me wrong… Then there was the chapter about foster care and adoption.  It was long and heavily peppered with judgments and A LOT of holier than thous.  She followed that one up with talking about her weight, at which point she complains about being a size 10.  I’ll admit I was getting a little throat punchy…

Then there was the chapter about drinking and I swear to God that this was what pushed me over the edge.  I don’t think it’s right to tell people that they are doing the best they can and then right away tell them that they need to face their addictions and their lies, and not just alcohol but also she mentions food and romance novels.  Running totally isn’t an addiction or escapism, though, apparently.  I also found it really annoying that she compares self medicating to taking antibiotics when you’re sick.  If you’re sick and you take antibiotics your immune system will never get strong, she argues, and this bothers me and makes me feel very icky on so many levels.  Where do we draw the line with what we consider to be medicating?  Can you have no indulgence if you’re a mother because it will make you too weak to be there for your children?

Hollis means well and I know that there are some people who will definitely find something useful in all of this.  She ALWAYS makes it clear that this is her personal experience and she suggests seeking therapy a number of times and I have to give her kudos for that.  She’s upfront and honest about her experiences, life lessons, and feelings.  However, this just was not for me and I can’t see it being for a lot of people.

Nightingale by Amy Lukavics

When I first read the description of Nightingale, I knew that it would be a book that I added to the collection.  It sounded right up my alley.  1950’s, not wanting to conform to the norm, wanting to be a writer.  Then add the insane asylum (an iffy trope for me) and something that sounds like maybe cannibalism and I knew that I would have to read this.

Nightingale goes back and forth in time, dividing this time into “the institution” and “days past”.  We learn that June is in the institution because she believes that her parents have been replaced.  Leading up to this incident, June has been under a lot of stress.  She has been writing a horrific sci-fi novel and wants to be published someday.  While her parents map out the perfect future for her with her father’s boss’s son, June has secretly applied to a writing program.  But the morning after her disaster of an engagement party, June’s mother calls her “nightingale” and June is sure that her parents are no longer her parents.

Shipped away to Burrow Place Asylum, June finds herself in a strange kind of nightmare.  She befriends her roommate, Eleanor, who thinks that she is dead, and Eleanor’s friends and quickly discovers that things are not normal here.  The nurses and doctor seem off.  The medical treatments are brutal.  The sanitation is questionable at best.  Even worse, when someone speaks up they are bound to disappear or die.  Can June unravel the mystery of the asylum and of herself in time to save them all?

I was surprised by the direction this one took.  It definitely had a twist that I should have seen coming but didn’t.  I don’t know what was more horrifying: the institution or watching June being forced into a mold at home.  This was a great read and much more horror than I expected.

Tally Monday- December 3, 2018

Checked Out

None! I didn’t even realize this was possible…

Bought

  1. Road to Nowhere by Christopher Pike

Read

  1. The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran
  2. Firestarter by Stephen King
  3. 10% Happier by Dan Harris
  4. “Escape from Vienna” by Erin Snyder
  5. Nightingale by Any Lukavics

Reading  A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck (book), Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis (audio), Keeper by Kathi Appelt (audio), Ancient Ways by Pauline Campanelli (nonfiction), Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach

In all honesty, I did check out some books this week but they were audios of books that I already checked out so I didn’t list those.

As you can see, I kind of killed it this week.  I was over half through all of those books at the start of the week but it felt great to finally finish them up.  I enjoyed everything that I read this week and variety is the spice of life.  A book on meditation, a book on productivity, a book that wasn’t quite horror but more of a chase style suspense, and a book that was way more horror than I expected.  I’m still behind and I still have a lot of books to get to but I feel… better.

Friday night I had grand plans for drinking and gaming and having a generally great night but Hubby fell asleep on the couch and I spent it the next best way: laying in bed, reading, and drinking beer.  It was great but I noticed that I had a hard time getting myself to read for more than a couple of minutes at a time.  Reading is a habit and it is susceptible to habit forming.  Say you read when you can, dipping into and out of the books as, say, a toddler urges you to sit on the floor or color or get him more juice.  After a while, you start to read like that.  What’s more, you have a harder time settling down for a good long read.

Well, Friday night I read and Sunday I read again.  I read a chapter at a time on Sunday for the first time in recent memory.  Today I stayed home sick and I read the last 100 pages of a book, pausing between chapters but pretty much in one go.  It was good.  It felt good.

Now I’m listening to two books, nearing the end of one.  I’ve got a short story to read and then I’m onto a middle grade book for work.  I’m in a good place.  I just have to keep chugging along.

Firestarter by Stephen King

It always takes me a little longer to get through a Stephen King book than I would like.  That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy them.  Obviously I do.  He’s one of my top three favorite authors.  i do go into the books expecting it to take me a while, though, and coming out of a King in less than three weeks is almost unheard of for me.  So, when I read reviews and people talk about reading a King book “in one go,” I almost die of jealousy.  Now that you know all of this back story, I can tell you that I had the audiobook checked out for three weeks and was just shy of finishing and then switched to the print version, which I owned, and lost a few days convincing myself that this was the right thing to do.  My reading experience was a little disjointed.

But the day I started Firestarter was the day I used a vacation day to practice some self-care and I listened to the first quarter of this book in pretty much one go.  It was magical.

This is the story of a broke college kid, Andy, who needs money to go into the graduate program and signs up for an experiment.  There he meets Vicky and they have a telekinetic experience together.  They marry and have a daughter and they also have some side effects from the experiment.  Vicky often does things like turn the radio on and off without noticing and Andy can “push” people, use his power to convince them to believe things and do things.  Soon after her birth, it becomes apparent that Charlie can start fires.

Only, The Shop has been watching the participants since the original experiment and when they become spooked that Andy and Charlie may have ran, they kill Victoria and start chasing Andy and Charlie down.

I don’t want to give away too much because there is so much to enjoy here.  This was one of those books that pulled me right in.  I wanted nothing more than for Charlie and Andy to be free in the world and I audibly swore at characters and I shook my head and I argued with the narrator.  It was great.

This is probably not in my top 5 Kings but it was a fantastic book.