26 Books to Read in 2016

Reading Challenge

I came across this idea last year and thought it was a smashing idea…so I’ve crafted a list that makes me happy.

  1. A book with water on the cover:  The Lake House by Kate Morton
  2. A book set on a school campus:  The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont
  3. A book with a murder or mystery:  The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood
  4. A book about siblings:  The Frozen Lake by Elizabeth Edmondson
  5. A book with a great first line:
  6. A classic:
  7. A book you started by never finished:
  8. A book that will help you: Back Care Basics (A Doctor’s Gentle Yoga Program for Back and Neck Pain Relief) by Mary Pullig Schatz, M.D.
  9. A book you should have read in school but didn’t:
  10. A banned book:
  11. A book that will make you smarter:
  12. A book you loved – read it again:
  13. A book based on historical events: Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
  14. A book you’ve been meaning to read:
  15. A book set somewhere you’d like to visit: 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helen Bertino.  It’s set in Philadelphia.
  16. A book you read with a friend: Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas
  17. An autobiography or memoir:
  18. A book set in your home state:
  19. A book you own but haven’t read:
  20. A book over 400 pages:
  21. A book you picked solely for the cover:
  22. A book of poetry:
  23. A book at the bottom of your “to read” pile:
  24. A book based on a true story:
  25. A book that will make you laugh:
  26. A favorite book from your childhood:

And I’m not off to a bad start…check back for updates.  What’s on your list to read in 2106?


Monday Musings

Hello, peeps!  I’m having sort of a lazy Monday morning to finish off a pretty lazy weekend.  I had an acquaintance (notice how I didn’t say friend?)  ask me what I’d “been up to” lately.  I don’t cross paths with this person often so that’s probably a fair question.  A few answers came to mind.

  1.  Well, I’ve spent the last year recovering from a traumatic accident and surgery.
  2. I’ve been solving all the world’s problems like famine, disease, and terrorism.
  3. Spiritually? Physically? Socioeconomically?
  4. I’m alright, slight bruises here and there, nothing i can’t handle (this is probably close to the truth).
  5. Today I’m a rutabaga, but tomorrow I’m thinking I’ll be a coconut.

But what I actually said was, “Nothing much.  Same old stuff.”  This must not have been the answer she was looking for because after few more minutes she repeated the question.  And then followed up with the zinger:

Haven’t you gotten bored yet since you aren’t working?

WHAT?  Bored?  Me?  She must not know me well at all.  Now, you must keep in mind that I have never in 22 years known this woman to “work”.  She stayed home with her children (which is ALL KINDS OF WORK) but did not have a job outside the home.  Then after the divorce, she lived off support from her ex-husband and talked about trying to decide what to do with herself. She did that for years.  And all of that is fine. Fine for her, but apparently not for me because she was all sorts of judgmental about me not working  for the last 6 years.  Never mind that I put in 25 years teaching science to high school students!  In the end, I just shrugged her off and said, “I knit.  I read. I have hobbies. I keep busy.”

But last night at meditation class, a retired friend said, “We are’human beings’ not ‘human doings’.  The meaning of life is to live it fully in each moment.  Our worth doesn’t come from a job.” She makes an excellent point!!  And she also pointed out that they aren’t hobbies at all; they are passions.  And she’s right again!

So here’s what I’ve “been up to” in the last few weeks.

  1.  Hubby and I put in a no-dig fence for  the dogs.  It’s not a tall fence, but it looks nice and works for our two dogs.  The golden is too old and not a jumper or otherwise we would have needed a taller option.

Shawzy looking out.  She’s adorable, is she not?

2.  I finished up a few knitting projects.  One,  a pair of socks for the hubby (to be discussed at another time) . The other is a baby sweater for a friend.  I think the sweater turned out quite cute.  Entirely made from leftover sock yarn.  One solid gray and the other a self-striping.  Thrifty and cute both.

3.  Exploring local coffee shops.  I take my dog to Pittsfield, IL to be groomed.  While I wait, I support the local economy.  There’s a gift shop, a diner, and a coffee shop that I love there.  Not to mention a few antique shops.   Free Press Coffee and Tea is a favorite.  Great atmosphere (and it’s attached to a historic hotel), good coffee, and even some gluten-free choices (with more to come).  It was pouring down rain last week when I was there so it was a cozy place to kill some time reading and enjoying a breve.  (We did have snow on Saturday though!)


Free Press Coffee last winter.

While I was there I bought a cup to add to my hand-thrown coffee cup collection.  I love it.  It makes me happy having my tea in it.  Small pleasures.  Isn’t it a beauty?


Cup by local artists at Crooked Clay Creations.  

4.  Yoga.  I’ve started a gentle yoga class to help improve my core strength in the hope it will alleviate some back pain.  It saddened me a little to feel like the youngest member in the class, but it’s okay.  I like it.  I love the instructor who’s very helpful at guiding me away from moves that might cause me trouble.  She’s one of the those people that you meet and know instantly that you could be great friends. AND, I’ve flexed my stiff spine in ways that it hasn’t been in over a year.  That’s a good thing.  I pay for it a bit afterwards, but that’s getting better too!   I’m only going once a week since it’s a 40 minute drive, but I bought a DVD to try to add a couple of days on my own at home. I’ve committed to 10 weeks and from there we shall see.  Maybe I’ll switch classes or add another class to the schedule.


A class at my yoga studio.  Not MY class (notice the “youngsters”).  My class would look much more “mature”.

5.  Reading.  Always a given.  But this time I am reading a book that I have looked at many times but always put it back.  I don’t care for the circus.  Never have.  I’m not sure why either.  I just don’t like them. I’m not sure what kept drawing me to this book but I can’t tell you how many times I read the blurb on the back.   We have a locally owned bookstore that I try to support,  so last week I didn’t put the book back on the shelf.  Instead, Andy wrapped it up for me in brown paper.  (I love that old-fashioned nod to times past.)


Isn’t it lovely?  Sort of like a living room filled with friends.

Anyway, the book that followed me home is The Night Circus.  It’s very well written.  Reads like a dream. . .both literally and figuratively.  It’s not what I expected.  It’s much, much better.  It’s not a dash to the end, it’s more of a slow contemplating read with stops to imagine the magical circus the author has created.  And I think it may be one of those books that I will be sad to see it end.


6.  Watching Blackhawks hockey with the family!

7.  Getting my pictures in order so that I can begin the scrapbook of last year’s vacation.  I think I’m about ready to start it.  It’s an overwhelming number of pictures to sort through.  Plus the idea of telling the story which turned out so different than we had planned. I know I’ll cry often while I do it.   It’s daunting.  But soon I will get to it.

8.  Laundry.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Grocery shopping.  And all the other mundane things we do to keep a house running.

9.  Tangling.  Doodling.  And drawing.

10. Cleaning up the yard and raking leaves.  I love my big trees – but oh my- the number of leaves to rake!

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The front yard leaves.  Doesn’t include the back yard at all.  That’s a ditch under there.

11.  Sometimes I just sit in my chair with the dog on my lap.  Small pleasures. (Again.)

So!  That’s what I’ve been up to.  It’s been pretty damn awesome too.  Part of me wonders if that acquaintance can say the same.


My Book Shelf

What I’m Reading

I’ve been reading a lot lately.  Here’s a run-down of the most recent.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarity

This was one my book club books.  And for once everyone who read it really enjoyed it.  It was funny and full of smart, clever writing.  And it covered a lot of area:  domestic abuse, helicopter parenting, women’s relationships, and bullying.  But it did it all with humor, mystery, and a touch of romance.


Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch

This one came from a quick browse of the shelves at the local library.  I read this one fast – started one evening.  Finished the next day.  I did enjoy it despite it’s mixed reviews on Goodreads.  I loved the setting – I’m a sucker for a story set in the south.  This one was also quite funny in places.  It was a little predictable in places.  But I did enjoy it.  I would have given it a solid 4 stars until I read the next book and then I had to rethink that rating.


32 Candles by Ernessa T. Carter

I loved this book. Yes, some things were predictable – it was inevitable with all the Molly Ringwald references. (I’m not sure I ever watched 16 Candles, but now I want to. ) But predictable can still be a lot fun along the way when the writing is sound, which this was. It was intelligent writing. Just enough twists and turns to be interesting. Very engaging characters. Plenty of humor. A+ Ms. Carter!


Soaring by Kristen Ashley

This one pains me a bit to write.  In all honesty, I’m not finished with this one, but I will be in a few hours.  I have read most of what the author has written – which is quite a few books and at one point I considered her a favorite.  Not so much anymore.  Don’t think this is fancy literature because it’s not.  It’s romance.  Some people classify it as erotica but I wouldn’t because it’s more of a story with sex (also pretty boring and repetitive after the first time) rather than sex being the story – if that makes sense.  I don’t think this book is much different than her others, I think I’ve just “gotten over her” as an author.  Why?  There are several reasons, but the main reason is the writing.  She constantly repeats stuff.  Again and again.  When a character says something, the protagonist repeats it in her head – which means I have to read it again.  Or every time she looks at the man we have to read about his amazing blue eyes or his rock hard chest.  I got it the first time.  Or the first 50 times.  I’m not kidding.  The books aren’t short, but they could be if she edited out some of that crap.  Her writing is starting to remind me of “Awful-50-Shades-Writing”.  She’s also overly descriptive about the most inane things. . . shelf-bra cami.  I’d like a dollar for each time she’s used that term in her books. Almost EVERY book.  Seriously. Wouldn’t just plain cami work?  Do I NEED the visual that this cami has a built in bra?  Is it important or  does it add something to the scene?  Hardly.  I find myself re-writing her sentences.  To me, that’s not a good thing.  Then there’s the fact that every single male character seems to be unable to speak in a complete sentence. Mostly she leaves out the actual subject.  Do you get me?  (Incidentally, that’s a phrase she uses a lot.  Along with “giving it to him/me/you” – not in a sexual sense – just in the sense of an agreement.  It’s damn odd.)  I could go on, but I’m sure you have a sense of how I feel about the book.  Get me?


So, that about sums it up for my last few books.  Next up is Orphan Train and I have high expectations for it.

Oh, and I found this woman’s reading journey interesting.  Not sure I could do it.  How about you?