Feeds:
Posts
Comments

August TBR

Last month’s reading plan got a little off the rails. Some of the library selections that I’ve been waiting on for a while became available, so I jumped at the chance to read them and get them back for the next person waiting in line. 

I’ve started this month with a few books I am finishing from July (The Lonely City, The Maid – which is really for book club this month anyway – and A Field Guide to Getting Lost), but then I’m diving right into this list. As I’ve been transferring my massive TBR to a spreadsheet, I realized I needed a whole tab that’s just various series I am reading/want to read. I read something on it every month anyway, so I’m just adding it as a section here this time.

This month comes with a lot of audio selections, too. August is typically a busy month at both jobs, leaving less time at home to wind down enough to sit still and read, so audio will be helpful. Also, I’m visiting my parents later in the month, so I’ll have several hours of listening time in the car.

Book Clubs

Reading Challenges

Series

Lush

Still summer. Still hot. You know what’s fun to do in the summer that I always forget to add to my summer bucket list? Read. Especially when the alternative is leaving home to do literally anything else. So I’m going to bask in the last books in Ali Smith’s seasons collection and a book about more books I will inevitably need to read.

Excellent. Now all I have to do is finish a book a day. That’s doable, right?

I’m cheating this month. I refuse to narrow down my choices to five. One might argue that it’s my own rule and I can break it or change it however I like, and that’s what I’m doing. Instead of choosing just five of the books I read last month to gush over, I’m going to gush over three books separately and then talk about the five favorites from a particular genre.

Agatha of Little Neon was Follow the Reader’s selection last month. The main character is a nun (sister? The distinction was made in the book, and I think she’s a sister, not a nun. I was that day years old when I learned this.), and the overall theme was friendship and its quirks. It was easy to relate to her, especially those moments when she felt like part of the group but also an outsider. My favorite line from the book was “It’s my belief that many men sleep too soundly at night.” Same, Agatha.

I gave Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris five stars on Goodreads. I was utterly charmed by this book. I’m a sucker for good, character-driven stories. It was quirky and witty and a delight to read.

Of course, I want to listen to Viola Davis narrate her memoir Finding Me. I would listen to Viola Davis read a grocery receipt. This book broke my heart and made me cheer. Parts of it are hard, but she’s a fantastic storyteller. Highly recommend.

Summer is the time for beach reads, which for me can mean anything from foodie fiction or books about books that I can imagine myself finishing in a few hours while drinking a mai tai and listening to the waves to a story that actually has the beach as a setting. In other words, my definition is fluid at best. They usually include a little bit of romance and/or sex, and they typically have happy endings (but not always). These were the five summer/beach reads that I really enjoyed last month:

  1. By the Book – This story has two things going for it right off the bat. Jasmine Guillory, so you know it’s going to be good, and it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling that focuses on story crafting. Adore.
  2. Book Lovers – Um, if Emily Henry writes steam this well in every book, let me go read all of them right now. This one is also about the book industry, and it was fantastic.
  3. The Love Hypothesis – Olive is me (socially, at least). Now all I need is to plot a fake relationship with an attractive, available, brilliant guy so that he can go ahead and fall in love with me.
  4. Instructions for Dancing – A meet-cute through ballroom dancing? Yes, please. Also, fair warning and generically spoilery – per her usual, Nicola Yoon will rip your heart right out with this one.
  5. Meet Cute – This book makes me want to work on my own collection of short stories that I’ve started (or…one of the three that I’ve started…). I really loved most of these selections and found a couple of new-to-me authors whose work I’d like to explore.

Tell me the one (or eight) books you’ve really loved recently.

July TBR

Welp. Definitely summer. July is here, and I want nothing more than to stay inside and not be out in all that nonsense. It’s a good thing I have plenty to read.

There are a lot of books this month, but some I have started already and many of them are pretty short, so hope springs eternal. 

Book Clubs

Reading Challenges

Lush

The selections this month focus on finding lush moments in daily life. They’re also research for my 31 Days series coming in October (specific topic TBA).

La Dolce Vita Weekend(s)

Speaking of living lush, I have a stockpile of books from multiple genres about the sweet life in Italy. I’m going to take at least one weekend this month to binge and cook out of them. Right now, I’m planning on that weekend being July 22-23, as I will be participating in Dewey’s Reverse Readathon that Friday and Saturday, but don’t be surprised if I block off the weekends before and after it as well. After a trip to our new-ish Italian market, first, of course.

General

These are a few just-because books I’ve been wanting to read for a few months, so here we go.

Narrow it down to five from two months’ worth of reading, I thought. That won’t be hard, I thought.

I thought wrong.

This is not really a judgment on the ones that aren’t included. I’ve read a lot of great books recently. These are just the five that impacted me the most. It has not escaped my attention that four out of the five are from authors I’ve read and loved before.

  1. Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor – Every time I read a Laini Taylor book, I think, “This is it. This is my favorite one she’ll ever write.” Then I read the next one, and it’s somehow better. Exquisite world-building, believable characters/relationships. I really don’t see how the next one I read can possibly outshine it.
  2. Bittersweet by Susan Cain – I’ve followed Susan Cain on social media for a while, so I was really excited about this one. It did not disappoint. Artists, dreamers, and those generally prone to melancholy may find it comforting.
  3. The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell – Ok. Ready to move to Denmark. Or…ready to move to Denmark seven years ago before the outside world’s nutty political climate encroached upon it. I’m sure it’s still nice in a way America never ever will be. *sighs* I just want to be able to afford a house. Not even necessarily to buy – just to live in and have a yard and a garage and walls that I don’t have to share with anyone who doesn’t actually live with me. And foresee a time when I can really and truly retire without having to maintain a side hustle to supplement the meager future income I’m scrimping to save for. Those really are the highest financial goals I see as ever being remotely possible right now. But I digress…
  4. Heartless by Marissa Meyer – An origin story for the Queen of Hearts? Yes, please. Marissa Meyer is another author who is an instant yes for my TBR. I have been a fan since The Lunar Chronicles.
  5. Feral Creatures by Kira Jane Buxton – This is my favorite book I’ve read this year. It’s clever and sweet and a perfect companion to Hollow Kingdom. I really do need to work on my friendship with the crows in my neighborhood. Do they like peanuts? I think they need peanuts.

What have you read recently that you loved?

June TBR

I am just back to work today from a fantastic (one might even say luscious) almost-two-week vacation. I got to go to the farm, visit friends I haven’t seen in a while, and shop at Daiso for the first time! Today, I’m glad to see my coworkers, and my inbox is not too outrageous. But I have to tell you – having to be places before noon is bullshit. Highly overrated. 0/10. Do not recommend. Other than my mild, justified melodrama over being anywhere but my armchair and doing anything other than nursing a French press of coffee this morning, though, I’m pretty excited about the month ahead. 

Vacation time also let me make a decent dent in my backlist TBR. I finished 16 books, which isn’t quite my personal record, but it’s close. I’ll talk more about my favorites from May either tomorrow or next Friday, but for now, let’s look at the plans for June!

Book Clubs

Reading Challenges

And yay! The Modern Mrs. Darcy Summer Reading Guide is here! Several books I’m already excited to read are on it, so I’m going to start with at least these three:

Lush

June is the month when summer tries to sucker me into liking it. I mean, it’s a pretty good month. Bountiful produce, temperatures not quite as hot as they’re going to get, work not quite as frenzied as it’s going to get, fun Pride events, etc. My reading challenge and lush selections this month are a rampant revelry in meet-cutes and beach reads and nature essays and travel novels. Some of my favorite comfort read categories.

May TBR

An accurate representation of my perpetual TBR list. Aw, Booked Up.

We are officially one-third of the way through the year. In some ways, it doesn’t seem possible. In other ways, isn’t it November 2027 yet?

The TBR list looks a little different this month. You’ll see why in a minute. First, though, the book club selections.

Book Clubs

Good Intentions

So do you remember all those books I have listed in previous posts to read? With the exception of The Joy of Cooking (which is taking a ridiculously long time to read but is so, so worth it), I haven’t started all of them. Like…a lot of them. I put some of them off because a new installment of a beloved series came out. Or I received them in a subscription, but it turns out they’re the second or third in the series and I don’t read series that way, Happy Endings Book Club! Or I did start them, put them down because I wanted to finish a book club selection before we met, and never picked them up again, and now I need to restart them to remember what the heck is going on. Or I put them on hold at the library, and they didn’t become available that month, so I canceled it and there they remain, still unread by me.

This list is so long. I told Maggie yesterday that I was intentionally delaying this post to finish up a few of them before I hit publish. But it’s going to take all month to make a significant difference of any kind, so I’m just going to jump right in.

Anyway, there’s quite a list (and this is just the planned-to-read-but-haven’t-yets since October). Feel free to use this to feel better about your own unfinished and neverending TBR list. That just means we’re immortal, right?

Heh. 

The bulk of my reading in May is going to be working on that backlist. I know I won’t be able to finish it this month, but I bet I can make a dent. 

This post is for the schedule nerds. Those who mark “set up new planner” as the last thing on the to-do list in the old planner. Those who put the release date for next year’s edition of their favorite planner on their calendars as an actual event.Those who send out the office invitations for fun events that everyone else misses because they’re buried in a mass email that no one else reads.

My people.

It’s also for people who are curious about what reading for 24 hours in three days looks like. Spoiler alert – it involves way more sitting than you imagine. Plan active breaks and audiobooks you can take on walks or listen to while cleaning. All types of reading count. Not all my 2-hour blocks of reading will be done sitting down.

This is the tentative schedule for my retreat this weekend. I say “tentative” for two reasons. First, I find that I follow a schedule more easily when I give myself permission to veer from it (i.e., don’t view it as set in stone or something I have to do). Having to do things is a lot of pressure for a weekend that’s supposed to be fun, and if I need a more extended break, there are several things that I may decide to do that aren’t on the schedule. Also, my focus has been shit lately, so a certain degree of playing it by ear may be necessary. Shorter, more frequent breaks may become the rule.

Second, individual pockets of activity may be shifted depending on how much of my to-do list I get done before the weekend officially starts. For example, ideally, I will have time to make the Earl Grey shortbread dough tonight so that all I have to do tomorrow afternoon is bake and box the cookies for cookbook club. If that doesn’t happen, though, I have allowed space for this task to cut into Friday’s proposed reading time without derailing the whole read-24-hours plan just as it’s getting started.

I started planning my schedule by putting specific activities during the breaks, but I think breaks will work better if I leave them flexible. So just know that a break without a specific activity listed next to it may involve one or more of these things:

  • Dancing
  • Doing Pilates
  • Switching out/folding loads of laundry
  • Washing dishes
  • Tidying something that’s been visually harassing me out of the corner of my eye while I’m trying to focus on what I’m reading
  • Journaling (writing or art)
  • Taking a walk
  • Eating a snack

I also have potential reading times that I’m not including in my planned hour count. This gives me even more flexibility just in case I go rogue (a very real possibility). Additionally, I have planned 26 instead of 24 reading hours, just in case. So there’s a lot of wiggle room.

Friday, April 29 (8.5 hours)

12a-2a – Going to get it started at midnight, per my usual habit (2 hours)

10-11:30 – Leisurely wake up/scroll social media/have breakfast/watch an episode of Boston Legal or Arrested Development

11:30-2 – Read (2.5 hours)

2-2:30 – Make shortbread dough (or another break activity if that’s already done)

2:30-5 – Read  (2.5 hours)

5-5:15 – Check personal email/social media

5:15-6:45 – Bake/box shortbread for cookbook club. Listen to audiobook while baking (1.5 hours)

7-? – Cookbook club

?-bedtime – Potential reading time (or just go to bed early because carbs and wine)

Saturday, April 30 (10 hours)

10-11:30 – Leisurely wake up/scroll social media/have breakfast/watch an episode of Boston Legal or Arrested Development

11:30-1:30 – Read (2 hours)

1:30-2 – Put lasagna in slow cooker for evening

2-4 – Independent Bookstore Day Festivities at Patchouli Joe’s or read (potential 1.5 hours + break)

4-6 – Read (2 hours)

6-7 – Dinner/break/TV/social media

7-9 – Read (2 hours)

9-9:30 – Break

9:30-11:30 – Read (2 hours)

11:30-12 – Break

12-2 – Read (2 hours)

Sunday, May 1 (7.5 hours)

10-11:30 – Leisurely wake up/scroll social media/have breakfast/watch an episode of Boston Legal or Arrested Development

11:30-2 – Read (2.5 hours)

2-2:30 – Break

2:30-5 – Read (2.5 hours)

5-5:30 – Eat sandwich or salad

5:30-? – Attend private concert event to which I will definitely take a book and sneak in at least an hour of reading (1 hour)

?-bedtime – Read (1.5 hours, or however many are left at this point)

It’s likely that I’ll post updates on Instagram or maybe here (if I have actual commentary about how it’s going) throughout the readathon. Whether you are reading or spending time with family or working or doing a little bit of everything this weekend, I hope you have a good one!

Readathon Retreat!

Do you ever put aside a large block of time just to read? Isn’t it decadent? I occasionally take my own extended reading breaks, but I mostly do it when I participate in online readathons. I love these events, but my planning and execution usually goes like this:

  1. Get SUPER excited and exclamation-pointy about it when I read the save-the-date post months in advance!!!!!!! I’m going to read so much! I’m going to catch up on the TBR for the whole year!! I’m going to read for 24 hours straight!!!
  2. Put it on the calendar (in ALL CAPS!!!!)
  3. Promptly forget about it.
  4. Remember that I’m doing it (and was super excited about it) when I make my daily to-do lists for the week in my planner the Sunday before it’s scheduled.
  5. Get excited again!!!!
  6. Spend the week stacking up more books next to my favorite reading chair than I could feasibly read in a month, much less a weekend. Post pics of it on the Instagram, acknowledging the impossibility of the task I’m setting myself up for in writing while secretly believing that somehow I really can perform the bending of space and time that it would take to finish all those books during the readathon.
  7. Drink a strong cup of coffee on the Friday night it starts (because I’m fried from the workweek but feel compelled to start the readathon at the moment it officially begins – usually at midnight). 
  8. Read for a good 2-3 hours (typical for any Friday night, although most weeks I definitely start earlier than 12:00), and finally give up and go to bed when I notice that I keep nodding off and thus have been re-reading the same page for the last 20 minutes.
  9. Wake up late Saturday morning. Briefly and half-heartedly mourn the lost hours of reading I’ve missed in a sigh-oh-well but also not-sorry, well-rested fashion. Have breakfast and a vat of coffee while watching an episode of whatever show I’m currently bingeing to give my brain time to wake up and start doing that following-a-plot thing.
  10. Read for an hour or two.
  11. Get a sudden wild hair to do the laundry/dishes/sweeping/cleaning/Marie-Kondo-ing my bedroom or whatever task that I have inexplicably decided I need to accomplish immediately (this can last anywhere from half an hour to early evening). I may listen to an audiobook while I’m doing it if the activity is fairly mindless and not too loud.
  12. Read for an hour or two more. 
  13. It must be time to eat something, right? I should eat something. And watch another episode of my stories.
  14. Scroll through social media while trying to convince myself that, technically, memes and captions are a type of reading.
  15. Read a little while (i.e., less than an hour) longer and then go to bed. 

If the official readathon lasts into Sunday, repeat the pattern above, only with more frequent and longer interruptions because I usually go to church to sing with the choir and have at least one meeting in the afternoon and often spend a few hours on my writing job in the evening if my teams have a lot of work they need to be finished.

Well, Dewey’s  24-Hour Readathon is this weekend, and real talk – it may turn out a lot like that. And that’s ok. That is still an enjoyable, relaxed weekend, and I still get to read a lot. I’d like to make it a real retreat, though. More on that in a minute.

For you morning people, Dewey’s is a good readathon. It starts at 8:00 a.m. EST on Saturday, April 30 (that’s 7:00…on a Saturday…for those of us in the Central time zone. I can 100% guarantee I won’t be awake and reading at that time unless I happen to still be up from the night before.). For the rest of us, I (and also the staff of Dewey’s) give us full permission to adapt the schedule to fit whatever we want. Just watch the Dewey’s Instagram for the day if you want to be a little social about it.

My personal goal for this weekend is to actually read 24 hours total but stretch it out over Friday-Sunday. Inspired by this post, I am preparing to succeed by doing the following things:

  • Take Friday off work (both jobs) to get a good head start. This also gives me during-the-workday time (i.e., the best time) to go grocery shopping for easy-prep, retreat-ish foods if I haven’t managed to make it to the store before then. I already have to go to the store tonight because I am out of coffee (How, though. How did I not even realize I was running low? I must really need a break.), so hopefully all I’ll need to pick up later in the week is bread, fruit, or other easily-perishables.
  • Take Sunday off, too. Have a real weekend. Reserve the right to change my mind Sunday morning if I’m restless or I really like the songs we’re singing in the service.
  • Make a personalized schedule for my readathon. Ok, that gets some !!!!! That’s just as exciting as reading all weekend! It allows me to plug in planned breaks for cleaning, cooking, eating, doom scrolling, etc., with specific stop times. It also takes the non-reading but still bookish activities I will be indulging in into account. For example, this particular retreat will include making cookies from Eat this Poem for our cookbook club on Friday. I may go to Patchouli Joe’s for Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, but I’m not committed to actually attending in person because 1) I want it to be successful and thus crowded but also I hate being in a crowd and 2) isn’t every day Independent Bookstore Day for me? Depending on how lovey I feel about the schedule when I get it finalized, I may post the itinerary here for fellow planner nerds to enjoy.
  • Meal plan with an abundance of snacks and cozy beverages. I’m currently thinking croissants or toast with butter/jam (maybe an egg) for breakfast, sandwiches/charcuterie for lunch, and delicious things I can slow cook in the Crock Pot all day for supper. This would also give me lunches for the next week, so that’s an extra bonus.
  • Create a big, impossible book stack like the one above, all of which I am likely to start and none of which I may actually finish that weekend. Or maybe I’ll include books I am close to finishing that I started a while ago and put down for a practical (i.e., ran out of time/needed to finish something else/etc., not because I wasn’t enjoying it) reason. Perhaps a mix of both, as well as some shorter books I can read in one sitting. I still have a couple of poetry collections I planned to read this month but haven’t yet, so those will probably be included, too.

If you’re participating in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon (or just doing your own self-designed reading retreat someday soon), I’d love to hear about your experience. Do you plan ahead? Do you wing it? Which do you enjoy more?

April TBR

April is National Poetry Month. Most of the bookish newsletters I follow are making great poetry recs at this time, so naturally, I am even more inclined than usual to pick up a few new volumes or chapbooks. If this post looks a little poetry-centric, that’s why. Also, you’re welcome.

First of all, my beloved friend courtney marie just released their newest collection, Songs We Used to Dance To, which I highly recommend that you buy and read immediately. Treat yourself to this wonder of a book.

Book Clubs

Reading Challenges

Lush Reads

All about poetry. Practically going to bathe in it. Perhaps while listening to jazz (as it’s also National Jazz Appreciation Month) and drinking glasses of wine.

Library

So many books, so little extra shelf space in my living room.

I was about to type “I didn’t read as much in March as I usually do…” but then I looked at how long some of the books I finished in March are, and turns out I did read quite a bit. These were my favorite five, in no particular order.

  1. A Match to the Heart by Gretel Ehrlich – The telltale way to know I really enjoyed a book is that I immediately seek out other books the author has written. This was a memoir about getting struck by lightning, and it was fascinating. I’m super excited to read The Solace of Open Spaces.
  2. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – Ok, I lied. There is somewhat of an order. This was my absolute favorite of the month. Laini Taylor is a world-building rockstar. I’m about halfway through the second book in this duology (Muse of Nightmares), and it’s just as good.
  3. Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust – This was my second time reading this one, and it was just as lovely this time around. If you like fairytale retellings, check it out.
  4. Microscripts by Robert Walser – A collection of essays compiled from notes the author scribbled on scraps of paper. I picked it up because Maira Kalman is the illustrator, and I love her. I’m so glad I did.
  5. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll – Technically two books but my copy has both of them in the same volume, so I counted it as one. I don’t remember how many times I have read this and I love it just the same every time.

What is the best thing you’ve read recently (books, articles, bumper stickers – whatever)?

%d bloggers like this: