Sunday, January 4, 2015

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation by Deb Nance




My Christmas vacation was two weeks of dreary, rainy, cold days. Two weeks of dreary, rainy, cold days that were...perfect. Yes, perfect.  I'd have been dismayed if I'd hoped for two weeks at the beach but that is not what I'd hoped for. They were perfect for me. They were perfect for reading.

I planned the weeks carefully. Three weeks before the start of our Christmas break I requested every wish list book I could find from two libraries that (1) have enormous and diverse collections and (2) are a little too far away to visit more than a few times a year. Happily, twenty-one books came in from the two libraries on the first day of break. Perfect.

I also got eight books for Christmas (wowza!) that I added to my reading stacks. And a couple of review books arrived in the mail.

And so how did I spend my Christmas vacation? Yes, I think you see how I spent my days. A nice pot of coffee. A big comfortable reading chair. An enormous warm quilt. And a huge stack of possible reads.

I Read-at-Will. I read and I read and I read. Then I read a little more. And a bit more. 

Some of the books I'd eagerly anticipated did not work for me. I'd read and adored The Roads to Sata: A 2,000 Mile Walk Through Japan last year and I couldn't wait to read Alan Booth's only other travel narrative, Looking for the Lost: Journeys Through a Vanishing Japan, but I never could get into it and sadly set it aside. Making Marks: Discovering the Art of Intuitive Drawing would have made a better magazine article than an entire book. There were several other disappointments that I won't share here, but I will say that's how it goes with books: Not every hoped-for book delivers.

On the other hand, I read three incredible browsable books and three fiction books that I must share with you now. 

First the fiction books. One is Station Eleven, and you've probably already heard enough about that one (you may have even already read it yourself!) I'll just nod my head to Station Eleven and say, Dark and sad and spell-binding and thoughtful. A yes to Station Eleven. The second is The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories, Volume 1. It's a collection of the shortest short stories you ever did read. The stories are the length and breadth of a whisper, but they echo with such deep truth and clever wordplay that you feel compelled to read them again and again. The other fiction book is The Rosie Effect, and I have to remind you that it's second in the series, so you need to read The Rosie Project first, but that's quite good, too. Our main characters, Rosie and Don, are completely unsuited for each other, and both, in their own ways, are totally unsocial, so their unexpected romance in Project and their complicated marriage in Effect are delightful reads.

Now the browsable nonfiction books.  If you have any interest in the Big Questions about the Universe, you need to find What If today. I have to admit that I didn't understand most of the science, but the questions asked and the author's cartoonish drawings and the gist of the answers that I did understand were good reading. The Lives of the Novelists could have been an awful, textbook-ish thing, but it wasn't; instead, I spent hours and hours reading through all the stories about novelists I thought I knew (and didn't) and novelists I'd never heard of (and should have and now I do and I'm glad). Letters of Note is a vast collection of the most interesting letters you have ever read. Lots of them you probably already know, like Virginia's letter to Santa Claus and the letter of an aspiring poet to Rilke, but there are zillions here that you haven't and you really should.

So there it is. I also read Murakami's new The Strange Library; and a graphic novel from Lucy Knisley, An Age of License; and a baking story, In Search of the Perfect Loaf; a book on creativity by Sir Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds; a memoir by the wonderful writer Mark Salzman about his years spent coping with anxiety called The Man in the Empty Boat; a book about play (since that's my word for the year) called Play; and a memoir about a girl who fought her troubles with alcohol by restoring an early love for birds, The Bird Market of Paris. All quite good reads.






The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! As part of this weekly meme Book Journey loves to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Here's to a Wonderful New Year!




Here I am, ready to start reading my first book of the year! Wowsa! I loved The Rosie Project and I was thrilled to get this copy of the sequel, The Rosie Effect, in the mail from the publisher this week.
I've read just a few pages, but I feel sure this will be a perfect choice for my First Read of the Year.

Take a look at Sheila's blog, Book Journey, today and 
see what everyone is reading on this first day of the brand new year!


The enormous live oak tree in our town, all lighted up for the holidays. So beautiful.

I am so hopeful for 2015.



For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Little Nonsense1



I make resolutions every year. And (this is the amazing part) I keep them. Over the years, my New Year's Resolutions have led to some wonderful habits. I exercise at least twice a week. I walk or ride my bike instead of taking the car. I read at least a book a week. I gave up watching tv. I am learning Spanish. 

Lots of people make resolutions. Not that many people keep them2. How do I do it?

I set small, do-able goals. I don't resolve to exercise every day; I resolve to exercise twice a week. That's do-able. I don't resolve to read a book every day; I aim for a book every week. That's do-able. I don't resolve to post on my blog every day; I try for posting once a week. That's do-able.

So what are my goals for 2015? Of course I am going to try to keep maintaining some goals: I hope to keep reading a book a week, to keep exercising twice a week, to keep practicing my Spanish, to keep posting here on my blog once a week.

My word for the year is...Play. I want to play this year. Play when I write. Play when I draw. Play when I take photos. Play when I read. Play when I cook. Play when I blog. Play when I work. Play.



We don't know what the future holds, do we? But as St. John of the Cross said, "If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark." So let's close our eyes, shall we? C'mon, grab my hand and let's go play this year.





1"A little nonsense, now and then, is cherished by the wisest men." Roald Dahl
"Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought." Albert Einstein

2Forbes Magazine says only 8% of people keep their resolutions. 






Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Old Christmas Letter






For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing This Year






Year of Reading Dangerously


Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives


The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami


Midnight in Siberia: A Train Journey into the Heart of Russia


Living Color: Painting, Writing, and the Bones of Seeing


My Favorite Things by Maira Kalman


Making Marks: Discover the Art of Intuitive Drawing


HeadButler.com: The 100 Essentials: Books, Music, and Movies for People With More Taste Than Time


The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert


Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town



What did I forget? Any suggestions for me?


Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Treasure Chest






Have you joined in for my Best of 2014 Giveaway?! Follow me and choose one of my Best of 2014 books and you may win it for your very own!



For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Browsable Books, or...(GASP!)... I Don't Always Read Every Word in a Book!

I don't care who knows it...I don't always read every word in a book.

Some of my best book experiences have been these sorts of reads. I might read a few chapters, and then skip a few chapters. I might read Chapter 3 first and then Chapter 7 and flip back to Chapter 2.

I can do that, if I want to.

And that's what I'm doing this weekend and for the rest of the year. I've got a huge pile of browsable books accumulated for this busy Christmas holiday season and I'm RAW (that's Reading At Will).

I've just read bits and pieces of Letters of Note: An Eclectic Collection of Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience this afternoon. It's a delightful collection of letters. I've read E. B. White's magnificent reply to a jaded young man twice already and I feel like copying it down to save it for those days when I might need to read it two more times.

I roamed around through The Doodle Revolution: Unlock the Power to Think Differently this morning and I'm inspired to doodle more.

I know that the 818 page Lives of the Novelists is going to be perfect for browse-able-ness later today...what 818 page book isn't?

And doesn't Forty-One False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers by Janet Malcolm sound like it's going to be quite browsable? I'm pretty sure it will.

Have I shocked you? Are you composing a letter to my former teachers right now, informing them of my scandalous reading behavior?

Well, I urge you to let that go and give this edgy way of reading a try. It's quite freeing.

Then go ahead and really stick your neck out...write down the book you browsed on your official List of Books Read. Do it, if you want. It counts, if you say so.

Do you read this way? Any browsable favorites?



And have you joined in for my Best of 2014 Giveaway?! Follow me and choose one of my Best of 2014 books and you may win it for your very own!