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Archive for the ‘Lush’ Category

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. 

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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!

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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?

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Spring/summer at the farm

Making to-do lists to match my yearly theme always delights me. This is especially true when my word of the year is something like “lush.” In the spirit of Joy The Baker’s summer bucket lists, I’ve been musing about the next few months.

I’ve decided that my lush summer starts now. As I was reminded by Tsh Oxenreider’s newsletter this morning, the pursuit of beauty is important, especially in hard times, so why wait? Also, let’s face it – the weather in Texas basically thinks it’s summer from April-September anyway. And to my amazement and mild chagrin, April is LATER THIS WEEK.

The first step is to find some things to drop so that I have the freedom in my schedule and the energy to do the fun stuff listed below. I’ve already been practicing. My typical response to busyness has been to tough my way through something, even if a pounding headache or sensory overwhelm or exhaustion from panic attacks or some other not-at-all-subtle signal is telling me not to. I have been really good at paying attention to those signals lately, though, and canceling things when I need to. Sure, I’ve missed some things that I wanted to do. But you know what? The world did not end, and I got the rest I needed. Then, I got to actually enjoy the next thing I wanted to do instead of having to trudge my way through it, too. Ultimately, I hope that listening to my body better looks like not making too many plans in the first place instead of having to cancel them, but baby steps.

Here are some snapshots of how I want my lush summer to look.

Plants

Despite my angst about the heat and the pollen, this is a great time of the year for plants. I never met a fruit I didn’t like, but in-season (and I cannot stress that distinction enough) spring/summer fruits—specifically, blueberries, peaches, apricots, and cantaloupe—are my favorites. I have a small space for some containers on my porch, but most of my produce during this season comes from farmers’ markets.

  • Buy fresh produce and/or seeds from Denton Community Market (opening day for the season is this Saturday yay!)
  • Plant tomatoes and basil and all the random seeds I have in my containers 
  • Go to a pick-your-own flower/fruit/veggie farm. Perhaps one of these?
    Wow! U-Pick Farms – veggies
    Gemini Peach and Rose Farm – peaches, roses
    Green Valley Gardens – flowers 
  • Keep fresh flowers (carefully chosen, because allergies) on the table and around the house
  • Repot the office plant and perhaps pick up another new green friend or two along the way

Food

  • Try a new local restaurant. Osteria il Muro is the one I have in mind, but spaces are super limited. Maybe I’ll be able to get a reservation someday.
  • Make sun tea and lemonade
  • Buy cold brew from Coffee Hog once(ish) a month (yes, I could make it myself. But will I?)
  • Snow cones!
  • Make ice cream (or at least an icebox pie or two, which frankly is more likely than dragging out the ice cream maker. But hope springs eternal.)
  • Test some of the updated recipes for my Epic Meal Planning and Feast projects

Events/Travel
(if the aforementioned improved minding of my schedule allows, of course)

  • I’d like to take a small road trip if I can make room in the budget for it. San Antonio to see Hope and Nowhere? Beach getaway?
  • Attend a summer festival (or two). Maybe these?
    North Texas Lavender Festival (June 26-27) – TX-Ture Farm
    North Texas Book Festival (Aug 20, 3-7pm) – Greater Denton Arts Council
  • Visit the family farm once a month
  • Hang out at a winery with friends
  • Enjoy afternoons/days on the Denton, McKinney, and/or Gainesville square(s)

Social/Miscellaneous

  • Pool time with friends
  • Girls weekend with Maggie and Michelle
  • Lounge around in bookshops
  • Continue my cleaning streak by cleaning out closets and actually taking donations where they need to go
  • Redecorate or organize one small space in the apartment each week

What do you love most about warmer days? Anything you’re looking forward to?

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Reading Alone

Sometimes I miss this little nook. Lots of good reading happened here.

I am a big fan of reading in community. I like gushing about my favorite parts of a book, and I enjoy hearing what others thought of it. This is why I am a member of more book clubs than I can usually handle and also why I enjoy readathons (such as the Dewey that is coming up on April 30).

I also really love reading alone.

Despite the fact that I talk about books almost constantly (particularly when I post here), there is also a rich inner life that comes with reading. In fiction, I get to wrap my mind around other alternatives and worlds, and it helps me better understand my own. In nonfiction, I get to learn from the perspectives of others who have lived very different lives than I have in a way that doesn’t often happen in passing conversations. The best books accomplish both of these things, regardless of genre. Reading sparks imagination, empathy, creativity, and wonder. It can be a solace or an awakening.

This is where I started with my reading life. I didn’t join my first book club until well after graduate school. That doesn’t mean I didn’t love reading just as much back then as I do now. In fact, there are some elements of reading strictly solo that I miss sometimes. I weighed what I read solely against what I knew and believed, and the ideas that made the most sense at the end of this wrestling match were the ones that endured in my worldview. There are other ways to learn how to think critically, of course, but being mostly left to my own devices for what is still the majority of my reading life is what makes doing so seem like second nature to me now.

While my bookish life has become markedly more social in the last decade or two, I carry over some elements of solitary reading. I track most of what I read, but there are some things that I hold so close that I don’t even mark them on my Goodreads lists. I still argue out loud in my living room with authors I don’t agree with (you’re welcome, neighbors). Whenever I have a mostly free weekend (or when I’m so exhausted I cancel everything I’m planning and force a free weekend…like this one coming up), I hunker down with my current TBR list, only surfacing to drink coffee, eat and sleep.

If you love reading but have zero desire to join a book club, you’re not alone (well, technically you are alone…that’s the point…you get it). You don’t have to be social about it. It can be just as rich an experience as reading in community. Maybe even more so, sometimes.

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March TBR

I finally finished bingeing (is it really a binge, though, if it takes you the better part of a year?) Once Upon a Time last month. The final season had a mostly different cast, and I was not a fan of one of the new actors in particular, so it took me a little more time to get through it. But I kept coming back because Alice (in Wonderland but she’s “been to lots of places”) was one of the key characters in the last season. I loved her part in the storyline as well as Rose Reynolds’s portrayal of the character.

So this month, in addition to tracking down the Once Upon a Time in Wonderland spinoff, I’m prolonging the Alice magic by re-reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. As I love all manner of tweaks and retellings, I may also read one or several of these:

I’m open to other Alice/Mad Hatter/Queen of Hearts/Wonderland retellings, of course. Fortunately, there are so many. Hit me with your faves. 

Book Clubs

Reading Challenges

Most of the books I’ve read so far this year have completed prompts on my challenges. A proper update on how each one is going is coming in the next few weeks, but these are the ones I’ve picked out specifically for this month.

  • Read Harder – Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust (queer retelling of a fairytale)
  • Girlxoxo – The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh (keyword: beautiful)
  • 52 Book Club – The Maid by Nita Prose (we’ll try this January book club selection again to fulfill the prompt “published in 2022”) 
  • POPSUGAR – The two original Lewis Carroll selections listed above (from the advanced section – a duology – although I do have a lot of duologies on my general TBR list)

Lush Reads

A nice blend of challenge and comfort.

Additional Options

Mostly books that need to go back to the library soon but also some long-standing TBRs.

What are you reading this month?

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In no particular order…

  1. The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan – I grew up on a farm, and my parents still live there, so I get to go back and visit frequently. I am drawn to any story about farm life and making it work. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have the resources of two successful actors to fall back on, but I digress. Actually, that’s not a digression. This book is a good example of how much work it takes to make a farm functional, even if you have a lot of resources. She also charmed me with various instances of finding things and causes they loved and throwing all their excess money at them rather than just buying more stuff for themselves. I really enjoyed that.
  2. Wintering by Katherine May – I took so many notes on this book that I’m not sure I can summarize them. Instead, I leave you with some of my favorite quotes (lifted shamelessly from Goodreads because I’m wintering and reserving energy for other things because…just read the book):
    – “If happiness is a skill, then sadness is, too…[that] is wintering. It is the active acceptance of sadness. It is the practice of allowing ourselves to feel it as a need. It is the courage to stare down the worst parts of our experience and to commit to healing them the best we can. Wintering is a moment of intuition, our true needs felt keenly as a knife.”
    – “Here is another truth about wintering: you’ll find wisdom in your winter, and once it’s over, it’s your responsibility to pass it on. And in return, it’s our responsibility to listen to those who have wintered before us. It’s an exchange of gifts in which nobody loses out.”
    – “Doing those deeply unfashionable things—slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting—is a radical act now, but it is essential.”
    – “Winter is when I reorganise my bookshelves and read all the books I acquired in the previous year and failed to actually read. It is also the time when I reread beloved novels, for the pleasure of reacquainting myself with old friends. In summer, I want big, splashy ideas and trashy page-turners, devoured while lounging in a garden chair or perching on one of the breakwaters on the beach. In winter, I want concepts to chew over in a pool of lamplight—slow, spiritual reading, a reinforcement of the soul. Winter is a time for libraries, the muffled quiet of bookstacks and the scent of old pages and dust. In winter, I can spend hours in silent pursuit of a half-understood concept or a detail of history. There is nowhere else to be, after all.”
    – “Much to my regret, I have yet to befriend a robin.” (ME TOO I HAVE THIS SAME REGRET)
    – “The right to sing is an absolute, regardless of how it sounds to the outside world. We sing because we must. We sing because it fills our lungs with nourishing air, and lets our hearts soar with the notes we let out. We sing because it allows us to speak of love and loss, delight and desire, all encoded in lyrics that let us pretend that those feelings are not quite ours. In song, we have permission to rehearse all our heartbreaks, all our lusts.”
    – “Now my evenings have the consolation of mugs of emerald-green tea made with fresh mint. It’s not so bad, but the time seems to stretch, and I’m finding myself in bed by nine, perhaps earlier if I can get away with it. It’s a profoundly unsociable way of living, but it gives me those clearheaded early mornings in the inky dark, when I light candles around the house and relish two straight hours when nobody can make any demands on me.”
    – “That’s what humans do: we make and remake our stories, abandoning the ones that no longer fit and trying on new ones for size.”
    – “They say we should dance like no one is watching. I think that applies to reading, too.”
  3. How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell – Do you sense a theme? The title is a bit of a misnomer, because it advocates actually doing quite a lot. Just…things that are important and not necessarily the things that society/patriarchy/capitalism and other such nonsense wants you to believe are important. Is it possible that when you can truly stop doing those things you may have time for the things that matter most to you? I hope so.
  4. Loveless  by Alise Oseman – “Give your friendships the magic you would give a romance. Because they’re just as important. Actually, for us, they’re way more important.” Oh, the young adult angst! Perfectly captured. Reading this book was like listening to my students/customers. I had never read a rom-com with an ace main character, and it was lovely. I particularly enjoyed the parts that illustrated the impact and importance of friendships.
  5. Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade – I only read this because it is the first in a series brought to my attention by a Happy Endings Book Club selection from a few months ago (I have a habit of only reading series in the order they are written if possible, so the book I received as part of my subscription had to wait). I’m so glad I started with it! It’s basically a fandom fantasy wherein the fan meets/befriends/falls in love with the celebrity. It reminds me of good times on the MRMB (Michael Rosenbaum Message Board). Now I’m excited to see what happens with Alex and Lauren in All the Feels

What have you enjoyed reading lately?

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February TBR

My library is going to be stoked to get some of these back soon.

The problem is that there are too many books in the world. And by “too many,” I do mean “Yay! So many!” And by “problem,” I do mean “luxurious, lovely happenstance.” My TBR list is always going to be bigger than my time frame for completing it, and I’m just going to have to make peace with that. 

Here are a whole lot of books that I will likely start (and for the most part, finish) this month.

Book Clubs

  • Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson – I meant to read for two hours Monday night and then finish up the rest yesterday before book club, but then the pace abruptly picked up and so I had to read to the end before going to bed on Monday. Worth it. Who even needs sleep. 
  • The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray – I want to be a personal librarian. Anyone reading here who would like to hire me to do that sort of thing? References available upon request.
  • A Match to the Heart by Gretel Ehrlich – Memoir about being struck by lightning. We are all fascinated and curious.
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal – Fantastic Strangelings coming through with the magical again.
  • Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur – Happy Endings selection for the month of love
  • To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara – This is a pretty long book, Roxane Gay. You’ve never steered me wrong before, though, so I’m in.

Reading Challenges

I’ve added a couple of reading challenges (surprising no one – we all knew this would happen). Partly for me, but mostly because I know some of you like a little structure and I want to highlight challenges you may enjoy that I’m also participating in. If you want a challenge and none of the four I’ve chosen fit your tastes, fret not. Girlxoxo does this so much better than I do; here’s the master list of challenges they compiled for 2022

A lot of my selections fit categories on all of the ones I’m doing (although my personal meta-challenge is that, no matter how many I end up tracking, I won’t use the same book for more than one prompt on the same challenge). In fact, I may do a separate reading challenge update in the middle of the month to outline all the prompts and the books I read to match them. Here’s just a taste for this month.

Lush Reads

The lush themes for this month are food, love, rest, and dreaming. And chipping away at long-time TBRs. Happy.

  • Babette’s Feast by Julian Baggini – loved the movie and just recently found out it was a book. 
  • How To Do Nothing by Jenny Odell – I really feel like this month is going to be the month I finish it. It’s just so inspiring…to do nothing…
  • All About Love by bell hooks – in honor of the recently departed icon.
  • The Alchemist by Paul Coelho – Approximately 12,341 people have recommended this book to me – will it live up to the hype? My expectations are pretty high.
  • Warrior of the Light by Paul Coelho – Might as well pick up the companion manual, too.

Additional Reads

This list is mostly an assortment of books due at the library soon-ish and racy/romantic recommendations from friends.

Clearly, I need to set aside at least one reading weekend this month. 

What are you reading now?

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Bookcore

I thought I had to take another picture for this post. But then I looked through my phone and discovered what I really had to do is just narrow the selection.

With my focus on joy last year and my exploration of lush this year, I’ve been thinking a lot about my aesthetic, not just in my home but also in my personal style. Once upon a time (like two decades), a friend commented that I dressed like a cartoon character. I tried to protest but then looked down at the black t-shirt, oversized green cardigan, and bright blue pants I was wearing. Ok, he had a point.

That may be the time in my life when I loved my look the most. It was mostly pieces in solid colors tempered with a lot of black, as it coincided with my goth “phase” (which, let’s be real – I never really grew out of. It’s a fun look that I still often enjoy breaking out today).

Then I read this article about bookcore (i.e., dressing like people who frequent bookstores). And I am fascinated, enchanted, and enthusiastic. Of course, this is my look. There’s not really one distinct thing that sets it apart (although the writer gives some key elements to look for toward the middle/end-ish). But looking at the pictures at the end, and reading through the whole piece, I think my particular brand of bookcore looks something like this:

  • Layers – Depending on the season, my trusty pea coat, sweaters, t-shirts, scarves. I particularly enjoy the suggestion of “a questionable hat.” After reading this article, I may have to start wearing blazers again (throwback to my early teaching days). Layers allow me to adjust to the store’s temperature so that I can spend a while there and still be comfortable. Speaking of comfort…
  • Low-heeled boots or other comfy footwear. I don’t know that I can commit to ugly shoes, but I do enjoy something with some support.
  • Knit skirts/tunics/dresses with leggings – Again, comfort is key. I technically own a pair of jeans and one or two pairs of trousers, but I don’t remember the last time I actually wore real pants. And why would I, when there are leggings? Real pants are so uncomfortable with their hard seams and lack of give. Also, they cover up my cute boots.
  • Backpack and/or tote bags – For my everyday bag, I need something that I can wear – leaving my hands/arms free for book browsing – that can also hold a book if I know I’m going to be standing in lines a lot that day and will need something to read. And I have so many tote bags, but I also use them regularly. Nice to think of them as an actual part of the look.

Bookcore definitely has taken over my home, as there are shelves and/or stacks of books in every single room. When you basically live surrounded by books, it just makes sense to dress the part.

I may have to do some reconnaissance this weekend to see how well I match the local bookcore aesthetic. Do your local bookstore patrons have a particular style?

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I love my book club selections this month!

I have a slightly bigger reading goal this year (150), so I’m starting out ambitious. Some of these books are ones I started in December and hope to finish up this month, and some of them are books that I’m starting but know they will take longer than the month to finish. At any rate, I hope to get a good start on the 12.5 books a month needed to meet my year’s goal!

Book Clubs

I am a member of six book clubs (not counting the library club, where we talk genre instead of a specific book we’re reading together). Three meet at a specific time (in-person or Zoom, depending on various factors), and three are ongoing discussions online. All add fascinating reads to my TBR list.

  • Dial “A” for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto – We discussed this one on Tuesday, so I’ve already finished it. It was a wild ride. I listened to the audiobook. Highly enjoyable.
  • The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich – I love this author, and I’m looking forward to reading and discussing it over beer with the church folk.
  • I Forced a Bot To Write This Book by Keaton Patti – We were going to read this last month in Follow the Reader, but several had a hard time finding a copy so we pushed it to January. I’ve read some of it already, and it’s pretty entertaining. This is the sort of thing I’d enjoy reading aloud to party guests when I’m schnockered (aw, remember when I had parties? I…don’t miss it. But also I do. It’s complicated).
  • Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon – Happy Endings selection that sounds fun.
  • The Maid by Nita Prose – I’ve had this on my list since it was announced, and I’m so happy that it’s finally out and it’s our Fantastic Strangelings pick for the month. It sounds like a great read for fans of Clue, cozy mysteries, and charming characters. 
  • Noor by Nnedi Okorafor – My Christmas present to myself was a Literati subscription so I can just have Roxane Gay’s book picks mailed directly to me. I don’t choose a lot of science fiction on my own, but I think I’ll like this one.

Reading Challenges

In addition to my book club selections, I want to be more intentional about keeping up with the two reading challenges I’m doing this year. 

Lush Reads

Committing to my word for the year through reading/study/reflection worked really well in 2021, so I’m going to continue the practice. Part of this is to get back in the habit of journaling, so I’ve chosen four books that help me explore topics on well-being-esque topics with daily or weekly prompts. Real talk – I’ve already gone off the rails and completed several “days” in one sitting for at least two of these books, so I’m not sure it’s going to take me all year to finish them as designed, but at least they will get me back into the habit of daily journaling, which is my purpose in reading them in the first place.

I also am finishing up/starting three books that talk about living abundantly and seeking delight and remaining healthy and sane in the process, all of which go along nicely with “lush.”

  • The Book of Delights by Ross Gay – If being utterly charmed is something you’re into, just go ahead and keep this one by your nightstand.
  • Don’t Overthink It by Anne Bogel – Practical advice from Modern Mrs. Darcy.
  • The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell – I ran into this one as I was going down a hygge rabbit hole after seriously cozying up my bed linens. Intrigued.

Other Selections

December was one of those months I couldn’t settle on just a few books. So I have a couple of books I’ve read a few chapters of and want to finish up. Also, I have quite a few books that I need to return to friends or the library soon, so they’re on the list, too.

  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I have been slowly reading this one for about three months now. The story and characters and language are all wonderful. 
  • How the Word Is Passed by Clint Smith – I started listening to this on the way home for Christmas and the chapter on Angola Prison made me madder than it’s responsible to be while driving. So I’m only a little bit into it, but it’s a fantastic tour of several monuments and landmarks and their significance. Highly recommend. Check your blood pressure beforehand.
  • Role Models by John Waters – I borrowed this from Sarah 14,000 years ago, and I found it while dusting shelves last week. Past time to read and return it!
  • Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro – This has been on my TBR list a long time and is due at the library this week, so I want to hurry and finish it so the person waiting for it can get to read it. It’s so lovely.
  • Music on the Brain by Arlene R. Taylor, PhD & Michael R. Hudson – I received several copies of this from my friend Matthew (thank you!), who works across the hall from Dr. Taylor, so I have a couple left to loan if you’re local. Great read so far!
  • Blood Hollow by William Kent Krueger – Gosh, I love mystery series. And I want to get this one back to Lois so someone else can enjoy it. 

So the list may look a little daunting, and I’m not expecting to actually finish everything this month, but this is what’s on my current pile.

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