2015 Reading Goals

Yep, I know that it is well into February. Still, it’s only the second day of the Hub Reading Challenge, so it seems like as good a time as any to share my reading goals for this year.

The first one is to complete the Hub challenge, which I didn’t do last year even when I was blogging for the Hub. This year seems like a good time to try to get some extra YA reading in, and I successfully finished the Nonfiction Challenge (which took place before the Youth Media Awards last week), so I only have to read or listen to 20 additional books to meet the challenge. Looking over the list of eligible books, I know that I want to include at least 2 or 3 audiobooks and 3 of the Alex award (adult books that appeal to teens) winners (especially since one of them is already on my nightstand, as you’ll see below).  I’ve got some others in mind, but I’m looking forward to reading a fairly broad selection between now and June.

My other chosen reads for the year are here:       IMG_2273

The are arranged into roughly three categories:

Books I’ve Had Sitting Around that I Want to Finally Read (or finish):

  1. Les yeux jaunes des crocodiles by Katherine Pancol (with English translation by it to check phrases I just don’t get). I’ve just discovered that this one has a movie adaptation (also in French), so that gives me added incentive to finish it.
  2. Becoming Human by Jean Vanier. One I’ve thought I should read for awhile and just haven’t.
  3. Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins. YA fiction that I just haven’t gotten to, and also one that gives me a chance to read a non-white perspective.
  4. The Dirty Life by Kristen Kimball. An interesting memoir by a farmer who doesn’t start working in agriculture until her marriage–I bought this last year to read because it looked interesting, so I need to sit down and read it.
  5. Lying: An Augustinian Theology of Duplicity by Paul Griffiths. My “theology read” for the year–I started it at some point last year, and it was surprisingly easy to read, and it interests me.
  6. Wish You Were Here by Elizabeth Hudson. This is a collection of essays by the editor of Our State, which is the NC state magazine. I’ve been reading them in stolen moments, and I think they will be easy to finish in the same way.
  7. Incarnadine by Mary Szybist. Another purchase from last year, this one is poetry. I’ve liked some of the ones I’ve read, but I find this harder than some poetry books to read in snatches of time. I need to just sit down and finish the whole thing.

New Books or Books Recommended to Me:

  1. In this Mountain by Jan Karon. I’ve had several friends recommend the Jan Karon books to me over the years (I’m sure there’s no connection to my husband studying to be, and then becoming a pastor), and since a relative lent me this one, I figure I should go ahead and give them a try.
  2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This is the one that’s on the Alex award list, and it was also one that a good friend, English teacher, and librarian said was the best book she read last year. I got it for my mom at Christmas, who nicely finished it quickly so I could borrow it back. All’s fair in book acquisition.
  3. Olive Kittridge by Elizabeth Strout. Recommended by a friend at a library booksale last year. Who am I to say no?
  4. Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire. This is one I bought new this year. I’ve never read Wicked or any of his other works, but the ideas behind them interest me. Egg and Spoon is a retelling of Baba Yaga stories, which I don’t know real well, received several good reviews, and fits in with my wintertime interest in reading stories related to Russia.
  5. 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl. Not knowing anything about today’s theater world, I did not know that Sarah Ruhl was a famous playwright until I read some reviews of this book. But I’ve already started it, and it’s fabulous.
  6. The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking by Kate Payne. A Christmas gift that has so far been both fun and useful.

Kindle Books That Have Just Been Sitting There:

There are a bunch of these, but I decided to limit the list to five:

  1. The Amazing Thing About the Way It Goes by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. This is the one book I knew I would buy with Christmas gift cards before Christmas. The Yarn Harlot writes about more than yarn. It’s hilarious so far, as expected.
  2. The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielson. I’ve had several false starts of this one. It seems like it’s good (and I’ve heard rave reviews), but I keep getting pulled away to other things. No more!
  3. Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China. Recommended by friends living in China.
  4. Little Bee by Chris Cleave. I added this to my “to read” list years back, never picked it up, bought it at a great Kindle sale, and still have never picked it up. Now I want to pick it up.
  5. Oriented to Faith: Transforming the Conflict Over Gay Relationships. I’ve gotten pretty far in this one, and I like it a lot, and I just need to finish it.

Finally, there’s Harry Potter #5 on there. I am still working on rereading that series, and I have also been rereading (or re-listening to) several of the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold, and I’m sure I’ll still reread a bunch of books over the course of the year.

Still, I think this list will keep me busy but is doable if I give it enough attention. It’s always exciting to have a reading project ahead!

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Update 2/17/15: I forgot one book on my Kindle list: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel, which I have an e-arc of to read. I’ve received several recommendations and definitely want to get to this one!

Advent 2014

I have obviously not kept up very well with blogging this fall. While we as a family seem to be getting acclimated to our new home and life, I have found myself still feeling very much in transition. That’s why I am so happy that it is now Advent. I have known that Advent starts the new church year for quite awhile, but this year, I am especially eager to start a new year. I need the chance to refocus my thoughts away from the transition of the last year and on to what good things are yet to come.

One of the challenges I keep facing over and over is “not getting enough done” as a stay at home mom. The days fly by, and it seems like my to-do list at best stays the same length and at worst gets longer. I also find myself focusing too much on the to-do list and not enough on time with the kids, or even concentrating on whatever task I am currently working at. So to get ready for this Advent, I went ahead and made a huge, multi-page to-do list for the next year or so. I divided up the things I wanted to get done into categories (for example, crafts I wanted to make, household chores that needed to get done) and then I tried to choose just a few of the major things to focus on right now: celebrating Advent/getting ready for Christmas, and trying to complete “moving into” our new house. These are two fairly large items, and there are of course other small things that have cropped up and will continue to do so, but I’m hopeful that by focusing on a few things, I can feel less adrift and frenzied. I’m also hoping that this approach will help me to look at the different seasons in the year and in life, and recognize what tasks are appropriate to focus on in this season–and which ones to drop for now.

I do hope to get back into blogging, but right now, that’s not one of my top priorities, so I’m going to limit it to book posts for now. In the meantime, I will be trying to enjoy and do the work of this Advent season.

Reading and writing in 2014

I am two weeks late for any sort of New Year’s post, but that’s just how I roll, it seems.

I made three official New Year’s resolutions (going on the theory that if I make several, I have a better chance of keeping/achieving at least one), and the one that I think will receive most of my energy is trying to finish writing a book-length story that I started at least 5-7 years ago. Like my knitting and sewing projects, I seem to pick it up and put it down, but I’m hoping to pick it up for good this year. That’s part of why I started this blog in the first place–to get back into a habit of writing–so now I’m just going to shift some of the time I would spend on blog posts over to working on the story. There will probably be less posting here because of that, but hey, since I’m not the most faithful blogger in the first place, you may not even notice!

An unofficial resolution that I make just about every year is to try to read the books that are sitting on my nightstand. It never happens. This is largely due to me getting distracted by other things to read, but sometimes I’ll put something on the nightstand that I know I should read but am not really in the mood for so it sits forever. Similarly, any book that I receive as a gift goes there, some of them eagerly and others not so much. I also had some ARCs that are way past the “advanced reading” stage, and so on. This year, to help somewhat with the nightstand phenomenon, I actually took everything off and only put back books that I really do want to read. A few (the ARCs!) have been marked for giving away (don’t worry, copyright people, I gave the ARC’s to my local library to use as teen event prizes or some such thing, NOT for sale in a thrift shop or library book sale), others just put on our regular shelf, and the ones that stay on the nightstand arranged in what I hope is a tempting manner:

The nightstand in all its glory.

The nightstand in all its glory.

First, we have the whole thing, which may look deceivingly empty and easy to get through. Note the Kindle on top, which creates its own problems. I have found that to actually read something on the Kindle, I kind of have to impulse buy (buy it when I want to read it right now only), because otherwise the book sits there without even a physical dust catcher to remind me that I need to sit down and read it.

shelf1Next, the first shelf, which includes space to stick whatever I’m currently reading on top of my diary and a few books-in-progress on the side. (Finding Calm in the Chaos is a devotional book, so it will probably stay there for most of the year as I try to use it every day).shelf2

The lower shelves are not arranged in any reading order, but by how the books best fit. I do try to put books I want to read sooner in the front with others in the back. People of the Book has been there (and I’ve been truly wanting to read it…just not tonight) for about 2 years. You can also see my French book-in-progress and some kids’ books my mom lent me that will go quickly when I finally pick them up. Relic is a Christmas gift YA book that I’m looking forward to.shelf3

The lowest shelf includes some of my cheating: I’m already about halfway through rereading Little Women, and the orange book on the side is the English translation of the French book (which I’ve still only been referring to after I read a given section in French first). Also, you may notice that there is both a print and audio copy of the same book on the right, so I will listen to that one for my next audiobook.

Judging by the first two weeks, my 2014 is already off to a busy start, and I know I’ll never finish everything I want to this year. But here’s to an optimistic late start, anyway!