Monday, January 31, 2011

January Reading Wrap-up

It's been a decent month of reading. I want to highlight two books I read and then I'll finish with the completed reading list for the month.

Poser by Claire Dederer is a memoir based on the author's journey into the world of yoga after the birth of her first child. Dederer titled each chapter after a yoga pose and wove throughout the chapter her experience with the pose as well as life story. She did title five chapters "Child Pose" and each of those dealt with her eccentric upbringing in the 70s. As with many memoirs, the author is finding herself and that journey can be a bit self-centered, but I am by nature a curious girl, so I went along for the ride. Dederer is a writer, wife, mother, and yogi with the knack for weaving a tale.

In general I enjoyed this read, particularly because of my recent foray into yoga. I could relate to some of her distress from different poses and the personal comparison to others in the class. However, my one complaint was what she wrote in her Author's Note at the beginning: Some of the events and people in this story have been "run through the scrambler," to use Clive James's phrase. I've tinkered with the chronology of a few events for the sake of narrative flow or discretion. I've changes the names and identifying characteristics of some, but not all, of the people. Those changes aside, this is a true story, constructed from memory.

Okay, I appreciate the fact that Dederer was adhering to the pattern of full disclosure; however, knowing this made me question which friends were true to life and what facts she twisted to fit into her yoga-pose pattern for her book, etc. Would that bother you?

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin was my first read of 2011 (Betsy's Wedding aside as I had to finish that series first!) and a fitting read it was! Outside of my reading goals, I'm not so much of a New Year's Resolution kind of girl. But, I do know that something I want to focus on this year is contentment and cheerfulness.

The Happiness Project follows Rubin's year long project of focusing on building happiness in particular areas of her life. This is a very methodical project with monthly measurable goals that build on each other. Marriage, work, parenting, organization, fun, self-fulfillment are some of the categories she tackles.

I found myself encouraged by this book; it caused me to think more deeply about my life. Rubin doesn't come from any sort of spiritual perspective, so some of her process I took with a grain of salt, but I was quite glad I read the book. And even contemplated embarking on my own happiness project (nothing started yet, but the seed was planted). If you're in need of a happiness perspective boost, consider reading this.


Betsy's Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
Crispin by Avi (read for work)
Poser by Claire Dederer
The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis (read for work)
Feed Me!: Writers Dish About Food, Eating, Weight, and Body Image compiled by Harriet Brown

I am currently in the middle of Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell and have a pile of library books waiting to be read.

Did you read anything good in January?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Comedy Diet

We've been on a comedy diet around here.

Jeremy and I don't really share much of the same taste in movie/TV viewing. He indulged me a bit more while we we're dating. :) I enjoy The Bourne Identity and Italian Job like movies, but can't handle watching them all of the time. And those are actually on the tamer side of Jeremy's enjoyment. And Jeremy quickly gets his fill of my BBC shows, Gilmore Girls, Everwood, etc.

However, we both love to laugh and I am an adherent of the "laughter is the best medicine" thought. Plus, it's winter and we can always use more laughter during these sunless days. So, a few weeks ago Jeremy suggested that we go on a comedy diet--mostly TV on DVD--and I'm so glad he did! I still watch my BBC sometimes and he still watches his thriller/suspense movies sometimes, but in general, our together viewing time is comedy related. It's been quite fun and laughter filled!

Our newest discovery is The Big Bang Theory. Nerd related comedy is hilarious! Before our comedy diet plan ever started we'd watched lots of The Office, some Arrested Development and some Flight of the Conchords. M.A.S.H. and Seinfeld are staple shows we watch in snip-its. (Update: I forgot to mention that we thoroughly enjoyed both The IT Crowd and Modern Family.)

We're always on the lookout for other great comedies. So, what's your favorite show? What are we missing out on?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Donuts and Money

About every 2 months, at the end of my grocery shopping, I'll treat myself to a donut. I figure that I deserve a little treat for all the shopping I do each week. (Terrible logic, I know! But I do crave my gluten-ized baked goods on occasion.)

Today I picked a cinnamon roll. As I enjoyed my donut it brought me back to childhood days. We lived in a smallish town, home to Comstock bakery. On our birthdays we'd have fresh baked donuts for breakfast. The best donuts I think I've eaten. Though I suppose memory can alter such reflections.


After I finished my grocery excursion today and prepared to climb into my car in the Meijer parking lot, I was accosted by a flustered, youngish man with a story to tell. He expressed great embarrassment at his situation, but asked if I had some change to spare. His unemployment check wasn't deposited on time, he had little money and needed to get to a city about 3 hours away.

I feel uncomfortable giving money to strangers as I feel the likelihood of it being misspent it quite high. However, today I handed this sincere fellow a $5 bill. I can't say that will put much in his gas tank, but perhaps he'll receive some other charitable gifts from grocery-shoppers.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Reading Goals for 2011

It's January, which means I evaluate and plan my reading goals for the new year. I'd read no matter what, for me it ranks up their with breathing and eating, but I find purpose and enjoyment in setting myself stretching, but attainable goals.

The last two years I've set myself quantity reading goals (a book a week in 2009, a classic book a month in 2010). This year I'm going in a different direction with my goals. I tend to read a variety, but this year I hope to be more intentional about it. And perhaps if I'm really on top of it, I'll take time to review the books that are the fulfillment of each goal.

My reading goals for 2011:

1 Russian novel (because I haven't even read one and I've been told to so many times)
1 science-fiction book
1 fantasy book
1 mystery book
1 graphic novel
1 volume of poetry
1 book on writing
1 book on marriage
2 books on Christian spiritual growth

Along with the above list, I hope to continue reading classic literature and a few more non-fiction books this year.

Do you have any reading aspirations for 2011?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Snow Angel

Yesterday Jeremy was scheduled to work. But, inches of snow kept him home. We watched from our upstairs window as snow piled high all around. A 36-hr stretch resulting in some 30 inches snow.

Dinner with friends canceled, we settled in to an unexpected evening at home. After a morning/afternoon of cleaning and catching up on busywork, we were a bit stir crazy.

We bundled up and headed out into the winter wonderland. The snow was so crunchy that many cars and trees looked like cakes covered in thick, molded frosting. We walked down the narrow tire tracks left by plows; right down the middle of streets, deserted of all but snowed-in cars.

On our return, just down the alley from our apartment, I could tell Jeremy was getting antsy to do something mean to me. Sure enough, he toppled me to the ground in a bank of unmarred snow, spread eagle on top of me. I naturally spluttered and shrieked and demanded he get off because I couldn't breathe.

Since I was already snow covered, I laid down in a parking lot nearby and made a snow angel; something I haven't done for several years.

We both came back refreshed, with smiles on our faces and very cold noses!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2010 Reading Log Conclusion

This is my second-half of 2010 reading list. You can find the half-way list here.

I came in with a total read count of 69. My goal to read 12 classics was fulfilled, though not how I imagined, as I did read some classic children/YA books, not just the longer adult fiction. So my classic count came in at 18.

No Impact Man by Colin Beavan (NF)
The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman (F)
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana deRosnay (F)
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde (F)
The Doctor and the Diva by Adrienne McDonnel (F)
Home Game by Michael Lewis (NF)
The Writing Circle by Corrine Demas (F)
Romancing Miss Bronte by Juliet Gael (F)
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (classic)
The Book of Fires by Jane Borodale (F)
The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard Morais (F)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire J.K. Rowling (audio)
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees (F)
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (YA)
Bitesize Theology by Peter Jeffery (NF)
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte (classic)
Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker (F/classic)
Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas (NF)
A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse (F)
Between the Dreaming and the Coming True by Robert Benson (NF)
At Home by Bill Bryson (NF)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (audio)
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix (YA)
Great House by Nicole Krauss (F)
Edible Stories by Mark Kurlansky (F)
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (F)
Louisa May Alcott: a Personal Biography by Susan Cheever (NF)
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (classic)
The Dirty Life by Kristin Kimball (NF)
Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott (classic)
The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (childrens…read for work)
One False Note by Gordon Korman (childrens…read for work)
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace (classic childrens/YA...series spans age 5-22 of Betsy)
Betsy-Tacy and Tib
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
Heavens to Betsy
Betsy in Spite of Herself
Betsy was a Junior
Betsy and Joe
Betsy and the Great World

The Stats:

41 books

14 Classics
13 Fiction
8 Non-fiction
2 Audio
2 YA
2 Childrens
7 Re-reads (Harry Potter books and first 5 Betsy-Tacy books)

Looking over this list I'm reminded of the many fantastic books I read this year. Though Cranford, Northanger Abbey, and A Novel Bookstore were probably the most delightful reads of the fall. At Home was definitely the most informative and interesting read. Shades of Grey was the most bizarrely entertaining read (Fforde never fails to entertain and bring an ironic twist to his fiction). And finally, I ended my year re-reading/reading the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. Revisiting old favorites from childhood proved to be two weeks of sheer reading pleasure! (Sadly I couldn't fit the tenth book into 2010, so Betsy's Wedding was read #1 for 2011.)

What was your favorite book you read in 2010?
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