- Ramona’s World by Beverly Cleary
- Ramona Forever by Beverly Cleary
- The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
- An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn
- The Once and Future King by T.H. White
- Aiding and Abetting by Muriel Spark
- The Prime of Miss Jean Brody by Muriel Spark
- The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
- Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary
- Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
- Gabi, Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
- “An Oral History of the Next Battle of the Sexes” by Lucas Schaefer
Let’s start with an update on my great “holy shit, I need to return these library books before maternity leave” project. I am down to 9 items out on my card. One is a DVD that Hubby and I are about half way through and I think we’re just going to return. (The last time we put it on I was really enjoying it and then I was dead asleep.) Then there are two audiobooks still out, one that I am super close to finishing. This weekend I started and gave up on a book pretty rapidly, not even committing to 50 pages before deciding that I just didn’t care. By the end of the week, I should be down to 6 or less items out.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I made it to my used book store this week. I made it to my used book store on a day when I was feeling angry and hurt, which was probably not the best time to be there. I spent way too much. But I found so much that I had been looking for! Muriel Spark books have been on my seeking list for a couple of months. I’ve been looking for the Bridgerton books since I finished The Duke and I a couple of weeks ago. I’ve been seeking Liane Moriarty books for months too! I regret nothing! Except maybe that I didn’t stick to my budget so well last week and I really, really need to get better at that.
In audiobook world, I am still really enjoying my Ramona books. I relate to Ramona so much. It would be such a drag to relate to Beezus, wouldn’t it? Instead I can’t help but be delighted when Ramona finds a new game or pretends to be a firefighter or throws up in school and is embarrassed. I remember what it was like to be home with my father when he was laid off and I know how it feels to want to be your mother’s favorite. I get her. Only two more left!
In book world, I absolutely adored Gabi, Girl in Pieces too. It was a great reading experience. I also relate to Gabi. It made me hungry for tacos and fiery Cheetos. (Did you know that I LOVE Cheetos? I do.) I am ticking along on When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams as well, taking my time with it and underlining things. It’s been a great experience. It’s amazing how much has changed since the last time I read it just three years ago. My thoughts have changed. My life has changed.
And, finally, in ebook world, I am 7% done with War and Peace. I’m actually really enjoying it. Sometimes I’m not even disappointed to wake up in the middle of the night. The key to reading such a long book is patience and I have caught mine wavering just a tad. I really am enjoying it but something I catch myself thinking, “I’ll be reading this forever! Maybe I should read something shorter.” I have to remember to just submit to the journey and let it take me where it may.
Whew. I’m sure that this was a really dull post and I apologize. I am TIRED again today. I slept from 10:30 to 1:00 and then from 2:00 to 5:00 last night. My body does this new thing where it apparently is waking me up to feed my not yet born child, no matter how much I could use the full night of sleep. And I could use it. The weekend was spent working on the nursery and while Hubby had the hardest jobs it still has pretty much kicked my ass. Plus, weekend naps are how I have been catching up on my sleep and I never got one this week. Sigh. Only four work weeks left until maternity leave! Then I can sleep whenever I get a chance which won’t be a lot.
I started keeping a journal religiously when I was in high school. Recently, I read back through some of my earliest entries and rolled my eyes and laughed at myself while also being struck but how serious things were. I don’t remember a lot of those serious things that were going on but they were there. Maybe this is part of the reason I LOVED this book, which is presented in diary form.
Gabi is a seventeen year old Mexican-American whose life is crazy to begin with and about to get even crazier. She is overweight and her mother is constantly poking at her to lose weight. She’s gotten very clever about hiding her secret jerky stash. She’s entering her senior year of high school with high hopes for college and a low Algebra II grade. Her brother is a little bit of a delinquent. Her father is a meth addict. Then, at the very beginning of the book, her best friend announces that she is pregnant. Gabi is shocked because, well, Cindy never told her that she had even done it. Next, her friend Sebastian comes out to his parents and finds himself sleeping on Gabi’s couch for a while.
Gabi takes us through her tumultuous senior year with honesty and humor. She gets her first and then her second boyfriend. Her very religious aunt comes to live with the family. She has to help her enemy out of a situation. Gabi is never overly dramatic about the big stuff but can be humorously over dramatic about the little stuff.
I loved this book. It made me laugh out loud and bite my fingernails. Don’t let the cover throw you off. This one is definitely worth the read!
It’s been a kind of rocky week around here. There has been some negativity floating around and I’m having a hard time with it because, you know, I’m tired and very pregnant and trying to keep myself together and trying to stay on top of things and the whole thing wears me out but I also have to pretend that it doesn’t because I’m Rachael and that’s what I do. So there. Fuck you. Nothing phases me.
I think a lot about self care and all of that but something that I often forget about is that there are things that I can do to make myself feel better when I am feeling shitty. There are things I can do that are NOT just working harder. That’s the key here. My go to: Work Harder. Right now? Not so much. Sometimes working harder is actually not an option.
Things That Make Me Feel Better That Aren’t Working Harder
- Reading. It really does make me feel better. The only problem is that sometimes I have a hard time settling into it when I am really upset. If I am patient, I can usually do just fine.
- Eating. Okay, but you guys, I totally forgot that I can eat my feelings. It’s obviously not something that is advisable but it definitely works in a pinch. Monday night I ate an irresponsible amount of chip dip because I was upset. And I felt better. Chip dip is a great go-to.
- Shopping. This is another thing that is not necessarily advisable but works. Today I was upset so I bought myself some books. I went to a used bookstore and spent $29 on six books, five of which I had been looking for in used stores for a while. It felt good and I was excited about my purchases.
- Take a nap. Obs, preferably with cats.
- Rachael Time. This is something I discovered that I liked to do a couple of years ago when I came home from work and Hubby was asleep on the couch and the chair was otherwise occupied. I make a cup of tea, grab a snack, get my book, go to my room, and prop myself up on my bed rest pillow and enjoy. It’s kind of like a combo of a lo of things above but it’s totally nice. In the summer there’s the fan. In the winter there are throws. If I’m alone the house is quiet and nice.
After another crazy day, I am already looking forward to getting home and doing a variation on #5. Book, bed rest pillow, hip tilt and reading. Close enough.
Sad to admit but last spring I got in the mood for something different. I wanted a good, light read. I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted. A romance, I thought, which is strange because I don’t usually read romance. Then I read an article about romance to read if you are not a romance reader and Quinn’s series was on the list. Whatever, I thought. It was checked in and I could take it home that day. So I did and it took me nearly a year of returning and checking back out to get around to it but I eventually did.
And I really enjoyed it. For the most part.
I gave this book four stars but probably would have given it 3.5 if that had been an option. It was delightful. I laughed out loud while I read it. I giggled a little. I enjoyed the characters and the budding romance. I would have been happy if the first half of the book was it. I just got a little over it in the second half.
Daphne Bridgerton is in her second season and her mother, having eight children to marry off, is concerned that she will never find a husband. She’s being pushy and Daphne keeps turning down suitors. Daphne has never been a favorite with men but that’s because she’s such a good sport and a good friend to them. She has four brothers, after all. When her eldest brother Anthony’s friend Simon, the newly titled Duke of Hastings, comes to London for the season, he walks in on Daphne handling an overzealous suitor and helps her to get the situation under control. Then they hatch a plan.
Every mother wants to foist her available daughters on the Duke and Daphne, meanwhile, is being foisted on every eligible bachelor. The two decide to work together. The Duke will feign interest in Daphne and that will keep the mothers off of everyone’s backs while also making Daphne more desirable to other bachelors. Simon himself has no plans to marry but instead wishes to let his title die out while Daphne wants a husband and a big family like her own. They would not work out. Except, neither of them can seem to help that the fake courtship feels less and less fake.
There are more than a couple of tropes in this one but when you don’t read romance on the regular, you don’t even notice. These were characters that I enjoyed spending time with and, like I said, it made me laugh out loud and giggle and tell my husband what was happening while he rolled his eyes at me. I may even give the next one in the series a chance.
This was one of those books that I spent a large amount of time debating whether or not to read. I have no idea, really, how I ended up listening to Eat, Prey, Love on audio a few years ago but I did and in spite of myself and my preconceptions, I really liked it. It didn’t change my life but it did that thing that I want my books that have a self-help flavor to do: It lit a fire under my ass. I ended up picking up Big Magic because I was feeling stuck and like I needed a fire under my ass and I happened to listen to an old podcast where one of the hosts talked about how she didn’t necessarily agree with Gilbert’s magical side of creativity but that the book did make her want to live a more creative life.
So, I checked it out on a whim.
And then I ordered a paperback copy from Amazon so I could highlight it.
Because I did end up really liking this.
As a creative person who is always trying to build a better life, it really did make me feel like it was time to actually do something. It made me appreciate my ideas a lot more. It made me feel better about the things that I have been incapable of finishing. It kind of took the pressure out of all of that inspiration stuff because Gilbert believes that ideas find us and that sometimes they find us at the wrong time and that is okay.
I really like this very serendipitous view of things. I like to think of it both ways. Writing is just as much magic as it is work and it should be fun. A couple of years ago, I was working steadfastly on a project and I was getting more and more frustrated with it and with myself. (Gilbert notes that there is always a point in a project where she thinks, “Oh, this is the part where I start to hate this book.” That may not be an exact quote.) I caught myself thinking one day, “What would happen if I just decided not to write? If I just gave it all up?” It was the scariest thing that I had ever thought and I have not thought about it since. That’s the kind of love of writing that Gilbert brings to this book. She loves it. She enjoys it. She does it.
Gilbert’s ideas about creativity are accessible and relateable. They apply to everyone, no matter your art form and no matter your skill or professional level. I can’t wait to start highlighting my copy.
- Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary
- Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary
- Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Ramona and Her Father by Beverly Cleary
- The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
- Be Here Now by Ram Dass
My first reaction after typing up this week’s list was, “Man. I didn’t get through two of my main library books. What a bummer.”
What a bummer???
I finished five books this week! My reading life was deep and wide! I killed one book of comics, which was hilarious and I loved. I killed two audiobooks, one of which I actually bought in paperback so I can highlight it. I killed a highly entertaining romance. Finally, I killed a book on spirituality.
See me over here? Standing on the corpses of books, celebrating in my victory?
It’s true that I did not make it through everything that I intended but I also made it through a lot more. AND, the next book on my library stack is Gabi, Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero. Yesterday I took down the first 90 pages with ease. It’s funny and fast and serious and wonderful so far. I have every intention of tearing through it. My next two books are young adult and should go pretty quickly, but I make no promises. I could get worn out on the whole YA thing.
I have five work weeks left until maternity leave and 7 library books left. I had better get on it.
The past week has been rough on my sleeping. Last week I had three rough nights in a row. I was awake 1, 2, and 3 hours in the middle of the night. The final night of my anti-sleep pattern was the 3 hour wake up and I was pretty sure that I was going to die. Thursday night I slept well enough and Friday I night I slept like a rock. Then Saturday I entered the pattern again. Just five hours of sleep and I couldn’t fall asleep when I tried to nap yesterday. Last night I managed about 4.5 hours of sleep. It’s going to be a rough day.
What I find so frustrating about it is that I could be using that time to read but I don’t. Instead I stubbornly lay in one position with my eyes closed and insist that I am falling asleep for hours. Last night I could have read so much War and Peace. Or maybe I could have just read a chapter or two and actually gone back to sleep. When I got up this morning I could have kicked myself.
I have a lot that I want to do this week and it looks like I am going to be working on minimum energy. That’s okay though. We’ll see what happens. It’s all an experiment.
May you stand on a pile of book corpses as well, dear reader.
I told you guys about my little podcast problem on Tuesday. I have a lot of podcasts to listen to. I have a lot of podcasts to listen to. I meant to repeat myself, there. To emphasize my point. I follow a lot of podcasts but I have some that I have NEVER listened to. Why? Because I have a way of doing things. I have a way of doing everything. I start at one end of my podcasts, and work my way to the other, completely catching up on one before I move on to the next. So here I present a list of podcasts I subscribe to.
(Did I tell you guys that I am planning on plowing through my Ramona books and then slamming down my podcasts until I get back from maternity leave? I finished Big Magic by Elizabeth Gillbert today and put in my next Ramona. I have 5 audiobooks to get through and they are all about 2 hours long so it shouldn’t take me too long at all.)
Podcasts I Subscribe To
- The Writer’s Almenac
- NPR Books
- Philosophize This!
- Welcome to Nightvale
- Alice Isn’t Dead
- Book Riot
- The New Yorker: Fiction
- The Readers
- The Moth
- Adventures with Words
- The Splendid Table
- All the Books!
- Literary Disco
- Fat Feminst Witch
- Get Booked
- 99% Invisible
- Eliza Starting at 16
- The Allusionist
- The Mortified Podcast
- The Thrilling Adventure Hour
- On Being with Krista Tippett
- The Baby-Sitters Club Club
- In the Dark
- The Archers
- Biblioclast Podcast
- Book Club for Masochists
- BookD Podcast
- Book Fight
- The Librarian is In
- The Penguin Podcast
- Reading Envy
- Reading Women
- What Should I Read Next?
- Happier with Gretchen Rubin
- My Favorite Murder
See what I mean? I have a Problem. Of these podcasts, I have listened to at least one episode of the first 20. The others I have subscribed to, downloaded, and planned on getting to eventually. Most of them I’ve only downloaded episodes that have come out since I subscribed but some I have the whole run of. When I try something and like it, I go back and download every episode I can and binge.
Because I have a problem, you guys. lol