Will vacation ever come?

This post by Enneagram & Coffee today asked,

Are you escaping into the future today?

Truth is, I 100% am. And while I do like being mindful and embracing the moment, I’m also a-okay with my current status.

We’re just about three days until we are up, up and away on vacation and, I’ll level with you: I need the break.

I’ve set my week up so that it *should be* a little bit on the light side. I devoted some extra time to getting ahead and my boss is away on his own vacation so my plan is to simply get through what’s in front of me. I do have one tiny project to address, but otherwise it’s business as usual and I’m hoping it goes smoothly. As in many offices, summers can be pretty quiet in my hallway.

Unrelated: I started to read Educated by Tara Westover this weekend. You may have seen/heard it talked about over the past year. It was one of last year’s most acclaimed books and I do love a good memoir. My mom recently read it and then Lesley left her copy in my mailbox. I’d put it on hold for a little while because I was planning to take this on our trip next week. At first it was tough to get into, but once I was hooked, I was hooked. And a super hot afternoon made reading a perfect and complete plan.

What I read: July 2019

It’s official. I’ve completely lost track of all sense of time. I find myself looking forward to events that took place in May and June, yet I’m also catching myself referring to next month and meaning September.

I didn’t think this month was going to be a very productive one, reading-wise. I knew I’d finish two books, but thought that might be it. A productive reading (and unproductive otherwise) weekend and I was able to double the books I finished in July.

Here they are.

I was still reading The Library Book when this month started. I was thrilled because the longer I could enjoy that book for the first time, the better. If you have an ongoing love for the library, this book is for you. If you haven’t stepped foot in a library in decades, this book is also for you.

It focuses on the fire that took place inside LA library’s central location during the 1980sand walks the reader straight through modern day library life.

When Things Fall Apart is a bit of an intro to Buddhism, mindfulness and meditation all in one. It was a lovely, inspiring and empowering read. It’s definitely a book I’ll continue to refer back to.

Every so often, I like to indulge in something a little bit ridiculous. The Unhoneymooners was a perfect example. It was cute and corny and totally unreasonable, but it was adorable for all of those reasons. I couldn’t get enough of it really. It was a lot of fun.

I grabbed my library’s copy of Life Will Be the Death of Me because a friend told me she’d started it and that it had really surprised her – in a good way. I’m a sucker for a good memoir and this was no exception. I was surprised to read how much Chelsea Handler and I have in common, actually. There are several photos of my phone to help me remember all the times she described something about herself and it felt like I’d written it myself.

What did you read this month?

Book obsessed

This post I saw on Instagram this morning got me all riled up. Whenever a list of celebrated books comes out, I frantically add the titles to my to read list. I’ve resisted so far, but it’s only a matter of time.

Here’s a link to the books on The Booker Prize longlist for 2019.

For the past several months, I’ve actually been trying to cut back on books. Not the reading of them, but the hoarding of them. I first tried to limit myself to only checking five out from the library at a time. Then I started going to two different libraries so I limited myself to five books from each of them. Then I was getting bored of managing my holds list so I deleted a bunch and activated the ones that were paused so that I could get them, read them or decide I don’t want to, and have a clean slate again. I’m down to four holds, but I have sixteen books checked out between New West and Vancouver.

I swear when I get this sorted out, I’m going to stick to my limits. Honest.

What have you been reading lately?

My favourite books: January-June 2019

I started to think about this topic last week. With the approaching midway point of the year, I started to think about my favourite books of the year so far. IMHO there will never be too many posts about books so I figured I’d turn it into a post.

By the end of the month of June, I’d read 42 books and from that pool, I’m going to select my favourite six titles. New or old, fiction or non, the only criteria was that I loved them. I’ve selected six books, one for each month (though not necessarily one that I read during each month.)

Here goes, listed in the order I read them.

  1. French Exit – January
  2. My Year of Rest and Relaxation – February
  3. Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love – February
  4. Sex Object: A Memoir – February
  5. The Light We Lost – June
  6. The Library Book

Three were fiction which does surprise me a little. 2019 has been much more fiction-focused than the last several years. Two are memoirs. One is non-fiction.

The Library Book is a bit of a cheat. I only finished it today, but I’d primarily read it throughout last month. It was a one-week loan from my library and I didn’t quite get through the whole thing before it had to go back. So, I waited for a hold to come in (I’d had it for months before I grabbed it from the bestseller express shelf) so I could get to the end.

What were your favourite reads during the first six months of this year? What are you looking forward to reading in the final six months?

What I read this month: June 2019

Up until last weekend, I’d finished just one book this month. I was surprised to learn that, but I wasn’t particularly disappointed. It just felt strange to learn it. I knew I’d done a bit less reading than I had in months past, but I didn’t know I’d neglected to finish any of those books.

Here goes with what I read this month.

Women Talking by Miriam Toews

I’d picked this up assuming it would be written in the classic quirky Toews style I’ve grown to know and love. It wasn’t. That isn’t to say that it isn’t a fantastic book, but it has a more somber tone. A group of Mennonite women who’ve suffered grave mistreatments gather to decide their fates. They have three options, stay and fight, leave or do nothing. This book chronicles their discussion and debate over the day that will change everything. Like all her other works, this story is superbly written and will challenge the reader’s beliefs in religion, truth and the moving target of establishing what’s right.

Finger Lickin’ Fifteen by Janet Evanovich

I felt like we’d gotten somewhere with Fearless Fourteen, but with this next installment in the Stephanie Plum series, I found myself wondering what I was still doing reading along. Yes, they’re light and they’re funny and totally over the top and ridiculous, but they’re also kind of, well, bad. I probably won’t quit now and I’ll probably continue reading, but the whole time I’m doing it, there is a part of me that can’t help thinking about all the novelists who are out there toiling over their life’s works while this flimsy series can seemingly go on forever and ever. That’s a little tragic.

The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

I loved this book. It was right up my alley. I’m not generally one for a love story, but when they get complicated my ears perk up. When it becomes impossible? I am hooked. And that’s the story here. I devoured this book in just over one day because it was beautifully written and a delightful experience all at once.

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

This was my first audiobook. I am not really convinced I’m going to count it towards my yearly total, but we’ll see. I’ve talked a lot about the four tendencies here, but here’s a quick breakdown of what the book is about.

During my multibook investigation into human nature, I realized that by asking the suspiciously simple question “How do I respond to expectations?” we gain explosive self-knowledge.

I discovered that people fit into Four Tendencies: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers, and Rebels. Our Tendency shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding this framework lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage more effectively. The Four Tendencies explain why we act and why we don’t act.

I’ve listened to every episode of Gretchen Rubin’s podcast and she talks a lot about the framework. I’ve learned a lot about the tendencies already and I preordered the book when it was originally published. I also never read it. (Rebel.) 

When my friend started talking about this book in depth, I was inspired to listen to the audiobook so I could catch up on what she was telling me. I had to wait two months for my library hold to materialize, but it was worth the wait. I used the physical book in concert with the audiobook. When she hit on specific topics that were of real interest, I’d consult the book to help me further digest the information. It was nice to have the authour reading her own material and it was also nice to have a friend to work through it with. We are different tendencies so it was interesting to compare notes.

Ultimately, if you are interested in understanding yourself and the people around you more thoroughly, this would be a great investment of your time. Check it out and let me know if you want to chat about it.

Bad Ideas by Missy Marston

A Twitter friend messaged me out of the blue and told me I should read this book.

This is a story that’s based in a 1970s small town and a family that’s working to survive it. The characters are endearingly written and a wonderful combination of oddball and real. The events are a perfect fit for the group and the makings of a great and entertaining story. There were several times when I laughed out loud through the shock of how it all played out. This is definitely an enjoyable read if you can get your hands on it.

What were your favourite reads this month? Do you have any goals for summer reading?

My first audiobook

I’ve never quite been sold on audiobooks before. I was skeptical both before and after I solicited opinions on whether listening to an audiobook is the same as reading one. (The resounding response was that they’re not the same.)

Over the past sixteen months since I wrote that post, one thing has come up on several occasions and piqued my curiousity. In fact, I’d never even considered it until it was mentioned more recently. That thing? The advantage of having an authour read their work on the audiobook version. Hmmm. There is a certain appeal to that. You can get the emphasis on the parts they considered most important. You get the vibe of what’s going on straight from the source that bore the work. You can hear the ideas in literally the authour’s own words.

Somehow I’d never really contemplated that. I was intrigued.

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of personal development work with a friend. It all started when she approached me saying, “you’re into the work of Gretchen Rubin, right?” 🙌🏻 The angels sang. I finally had someone to talk to about it.

Long story short, my rebel self had bought a copy of The Four Tendencies on pre-order, but had yet to crack the spine of the book (FROM WHEN I GOT IT IN SEPTEMBER 2017.) I’d done a lot of research and work online and listened to every episode of her podcast, but I hadn’t read the book. Hillary was midway through it and once she’d finished, she encouraged me to actually listen to it (with Gretchen reading it) instead of reading it myself.

I took her advice and put it in my library holds list. Now, maybe eight weeks later, it’s finally my turn to borrow it.

I downloaded the book immediately after I got the email and hit play as soon as Kevin had left for practice tonight.

Here were a few things I was afraid of beforehand.

  • I wouldn’t be able to focus
  • I’d be easily distracted
  • I’d get annoyed by listening to the same person talking for so long

In reality, I haven’t felt a hint of any of those things. Not yet, anyway. And in a subject like this one, I have it a little more enjoyable to hear Gretchen speaking than I’d expected. Since I’m accustomed to listening to her, it’s been easier for me to adjust and I’m already looking forward to taking this book on the road with me during times when I wouldn’t normally be able to read – when I’m walking, running or at my desk at work.

Do you like listening to audiobooks? What are some of your favourites?

Happy Father’s Day!

My day was pretty low-key. Thankfully my family isn’t super high maintenance when it comes to days like these. Getting together is mostly good enough and that’s exactly what we did.

I spent most of the morning digging into a book I picked up from the library yesterday – The Library Book. You may have heard of it since it was rather highly acclaimed in 2018. I knew very little about it, but I’m sure glad I picked it up when I saw it. It’s a bestseller express book which is what my library calls a super short loan. I can only borrow it for a week and fines are $1 per day that it’s late. Bestseller expresses are, as the name implies, new and popular books. I’m not confident I can polish it all off by Saturday, but I’m hopeful. All along, I’d thought it was fiction, but it isn’t. It’s the story of when the Central Branch if the Los Angeles Public Library caught fire in 1986. Never heard of it? I hadn’t either and that really shocked me…until the authour implied that I wasn’t alone since the fire took place during the same week as Chernobyl. I’m only about a third of the way through so far, but it is really enjoyable. Hopefully it stays that way.

In the afternoon, we went over to visit my folks. My dad asked for two things leading up to Father’s Day this year.

  1. No gifts.
  2. That we barbecue hot dogs.

We made neither wish come true. Well, technically, anyway. We did buy him a gift and we didn’t eat hot dogs, but he did and that’s really all that matters, isn’t it?

We had a nice time with my parents and my brother even in spite of the fact that golf was on the tv.

By the time we got back home, it was already late, but I did manage to spend some time preparing and setting intentions for the week ahead.

How was your weekend/Father’s Day?

What I read: May 2019

This month was a little slower than last month, reading-wise. I think things just started heating up when it came to lacrosse and my interests shifted a little, too. I’ve enjoyed being more focused on relationships and that takes time – time that I used to spend reading, perhaps.

Here’s what I finished this month.

Outer Order Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Gretchen Rubin and I have been for some time. I preordered this book without much thought about it – because it was her latest work, because I read everything she writes. It didn’t occur to me that outer order doesn’t have a lot of importance to me. Nevertheless, I read the book, a long series of short, stand alone snippets of advice around organizing, decluttering, simplifying and living intentionally, in is entirety. And it wasn’t all for naught. I did enjoy certain parts. For instance, you may recall that the chapter Spend Out was quite meaningful to me.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

There’s a reason this book is at the top of many to read lists. Don’t be fooled by its inclusion in Reese Witherspoon’s book club.

This book was pure magic in the way it felt like you were reading your way through the world we were exposed to via Almost Famous nineteen years ago. And I have loved that world ever since.

Daisy Jones is a singer who joins an existing band, The Six. Billy is the lead singer and his work with Daisy is as complex as it is productive. They make great music together despite a precarious relationship. The story isn’t only Daisy and Billy, however, the other members of the band, their managers, producers and Billy’s wife also contribute to the retelling.

This book is unique in the fact that it’s written in the format of many cut and pasted interviews with all of the characters mentioned above. I was intrigued by the concept and I think the authour succeeded in her concept.

I also cried for forty of the last fifty pages which is always a positive for me.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid

When my friend Sarah messaged me saying that she’d made a special trip to the library to get this book out of her house and kind of challenged me to read it, I couldn’t resist. I didn’t hate it. In fact, if I could refer to a book as having an aftertaste, this one’s was delightful. I read it really quickly, in a day or two and when I look back on it, I like it more and more every time. I’d call it a psychological thriller, but when I double checked that I wasn’t the only one, it was also referred to as horror fiction. It’s a fast read that you’ll either love or hate.

Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks

This book took me a long time to read. I thought about giving up on it several times, but I finally decided to just push through. It is labelled a psychological thriller, but it was a little hard to find the thrill because everything just felt like it took so damn long to play out. I liked it, I did, but by the end I was really ready for it to be over.

Feeding My Mother by Jann Arden

I had no idea that Jann Arden was so eloquent and such an admirable person. I say that not about her decision to dedicate so much of her life to caring for her aging parents, but because of her thoughtful response to the experience. She is truly an inspiration in developing a healthy approach to living a good life.

I wrote more about reading this book here.

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

This book had a funny structure. It was semi-short stories told about an overlapping group of friends. Each player appeared in stories related to the other characters, but they were never really woven together too tightly. I don’t have distinct feelings about that format, but it was definitely different than anything else I’ve ever read.

It was quirky enough to satisfy me and it felt like reading a slightly younger version of the Sex and the City crew’s stories which I liked. It’s a good book to pick up for some light summer reading if that’s what you’re into.

Sunday (low-key) Funday

I will admit that I felt a little gloaty about our special Canadian long weekend for Victoria Day last week. Now that our neighbours to the south are off for Memorial Day tomorrow, I’m extremely envious. Sigh.

We did all the usual things this weekend – the library, the grocery shopping, the reading, the gardening and, of course, the lacrosse-ing.

We – and by we, I mean the Lakers because, let’s be honest, this is my life for the next few months, too – we are in it now and every day it is going to occupy some of our attention. That’s just how it is. After a day of being overwhelmed with preparation (and jitters) yesterday, I just wanted to hang out with a book or two today. So that’s what I did.

I finished this book that has had me just kind of scratching my head the whole way through. I couldn’t make any real sense of it. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. It was sort of disjointed in that it told a bunch of short stories about people who were all related through friendship, but it seemed neither a whole novel nor a book of short stories. It was Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close. It reminded me of a younger Sex and the City and a little bit of a book I read and loved last year, Sorority. Close is a popular novelist with my reader friends and this was my first foray into her work. It probably won’t be my last, but I will need to set aside my confusion before I try either of her other novels.

We got over our rainy and grey day and the skies cleared up this morning so I was distracted from reading only by my garden. My too many tomatoes season has now transitioned to my too many peppers season. I love the challenge of raising seedlings so much. I should probably just start a nursery. Could I make a living off reading and selling plants? Hmmm.

What did you get up to today? This weekend?

“What I’ve learned is that no matter what comes you’ve got to wrap yourself in all the goodness you can muster.” – Jann Arden

I was starting to feel like I was in a bit of a reading funk, but maybe I was just in a reading selection slump.

I’d thought it might be possible that my passion for reading would wane as the weather got warmer and we spent more time outside. I finished up an okay book that took quite a while on Sunday night and then started one I was kind of enjoying (though it was still early) yesterday morning. Last night as I was heading to bed, I picked up a different book (contrary to my 19 for 2019 resolution, I know) I’d bought on a whim on the weekend, Feeding My Mother by Jann Arden and it is the most beautiful thing I’ve read in a very long time. I stayed up late with it last night, I got up early with it today and I was actually thankful for long commutes and waiting room times this morning because I could read more of it then.

As you may have read, heard or watched in interviews, Arden has spent the last several years caring for her ailing parents. In this book, she details the experience of watching them suffer through dementia and Alzheimers diagnoses and supporting them through the end of their lives. The stories inspire a span of emotions and Arden truly presents as an inspiration. As much as she can recognize when she lets her frustrations get the best of her, she also frames the situation realistically – the heartache as well as the bright spots, the triumphs and the defeats.

As the dog and I walked home with the wind at our backs and the sun streaking through the trees, I thought to myself how good people are. How kind and helpful and hard-working and empathetic. Even though my faith in the human race is challenged at every turn, I still believe that goodness is abundant and that bad people will not be able to turn us into the bitter, hateful souls they seem to want us to be. They want us to be like them, full of dark and dread and doom, to become wicked beings set on causing pain for the sake of pain. I will find the good people and I will surround myself with them. I’ll keep trying to be decent and thoughtful and helpful and creative. I’ll leave good things behind me when I pass. I promise this to myself.

She shares all sides of her experience and it’s made me think a lot about my relationships – not just with my parents, but with everyone. How do I give to others? How do I offer my support? What do I do to show others that I care about them? How do I love?

This is a really thoughtful and heartwarming/breaking book. I’d thoroughly recommend it to everyone (just maybe not while riding public transit. Or bring some tissues at least.)

Also, it includes recipes. As you may have guessed.