Hey folks, check out my co-host Melissa’s lovely blog post kicking off our Trollope 2014 Barsetshire Readalong. I am finishing up a non-fiction work and then I will be cracking open The Warden. Hope you all will join us!
Today I hung out with one of my favorite people- Catherine – and her equally awesome little girl, Z. I declared today Caturday.
The best part!!! I told Catherine today was Caturday. Then her little girl, Z, said to me, ” don’t forget it is also Amanderday. Cathereine and I both said, “last night I dreamt I was at Amanderday again.” We had a giggle fit in the middle of the thrift store.
I wanted to pop in for a minute to do a brief roundup on the graphic novels I read this month. I read a graphic novel each Sunday in February. I’m going to try to keep the reviews brief and tweet-like:
Cubs in Toyland, Fables #18 by Bill Willingham: A favorite. One of the cubs becomes a queen of her own land but at a dreadful price. The reader also learns of how Bigby Wolf “earned” his fate. Highly recommend.
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol: A Russian-immigrant teen is navigating life in her New England prep school and struggles with identity. Then she meets a seemingly helpful ghost Emily. Commence creepy shenanigans. I liked this book at first but hated the ending. If only Joe Hill had written this. Meh.
Relish by Lucy Knisley: This graphic novel memoir was a treat. Lucy manages to discuss all of her life’s major events: her parent’s divorce, her first period, college, first jobs, etc… in relation to food. There are even recipes! My favorite of the month!
Calling Dr. Laura by Nicole Georges: I was draw-in by the beautiful artwork and the chickens, I stayed for the story. This graphic memoir is part coming-out story and part coming to terms with the author’s tumultuous childhood with an unstable mother who tells Nicole her father is dead. I enjoyed this, but I thought the transitions weren’t very smooth. Fans of Fun Home will enjoy it, but it isn’t as good as Fun Home in my estimation.
Let me know what graphic novels you read this month? Do you agree or disagree with my reviews. Let’s chat!
I started thinking about “when” I read and how that contributes to how much I read when I saw this video from Andi on YouTube:
And then I listened to this podcast from Simon and Thomas (aka The Readers).
The wheels were turning after listening to the video and the podcast. I had this blinding realization that I’m not alone. Finding time to read is a struggle for most of us. Readers read because we read intentionally and whenever we can.
Whenever I start talking about books and reading I usually illicit a sigh from friends, family, and coworkers and they either say, “I don’t know how you read so much” or “I wish I had time to read.” Here I am feeling like I am merely skimming the top of what I read, but these non or light readers feel like I am reading a ton. They have no idea how much more I want to read.
Thinking about my life and how full it is (full time work, three kids, and a husband working full time and in college) I knew that to read as much as I could and ENJOY IT I needed to empower myself to read. My reading is certainly up for this year since I’ve claimed reading as my focus for the year. I’m no expert and I still have days (sometimes several in a row) where little to no reading is done, but I thought I’d share what’s working for me.
1. Scheduling: I have times set aside to read every day. I use my lunch break for reading. I avoid the internet or the urge to pay bills or make a grocery list. I find if I read on my lunch break I feel like I’ve had an actual break and return to work refreshed. I also use time if my schedule changes. For example, I’m on a hiring committee at work and we are interviewing folks next week. I needed to move my schedule to accommodate the interview time, so now I have an hour between when I drop the kids off and when I need to work. My butt is sitting in my van, outside the library, and reading.
2. Snippets of time: When I thought about my ideal reading time I always had in my head that around 30 minutes or more would be “perfect.” Then I realized I was wasting time when I am waiting in the car, or those 5 minutes before folks show up for a meeting, or getting at a doctor’s appointment. It has taken some getting used to, but I am now able to read in tiny snippets of time.
3. Chunks of time: I am also really bad at reading in chunks of time. On Friday’s I’m off and the kids are at school and I feel such pressure (pressure coming from myself) to do “something productive.” Now my mornings are for grocery shopping. Then I eat lunch and read for about an hour. Next, one hour of chores followed by a few hours of reading in the afternoon. I don’t care if my house goes to hell in a laundry basket of unfolded clothes.
4. Audio books: I’ve never liked audiobooks. Then I realized I keep trying to listen to Thomas Hardy or Virginia Woolf… poor choices for my attention span. Instead I like to listen to a modern novel or Sherlock Holmes stories. I listen at work when the task allows and I listen on my daily walks. I also knit in the evenings and listen to audiobooks and that is pretty much perfection.
5. My Kindle: My Kindle is endlessly useful as a parent trying to read. When the kids had a stomach virus I could read while holding a sleeping kid. I pull out my Kindle at family functions when I leave the room to nurse Persy Jane. An added bonus is I don’t lose my place when I abruptly have to put down a book.
6. Kindle App: An extension of my Kindle use is the Kindle app on my phone. A few weeks ago I was stuck in a long line at Subway. It ended up being a ten minute wait and I spent that time reading a novel on my phone rather than tweeting my annoyance at the long line.
7. Gifts of Time: For my birthday in April I told Sam that I want the Saturday before — Readathon day — to read. When we go on dates we often set aside time for him to draw and me to read at a cafe. Last Saturday I was off work and took a couple hours to leave the house and finish MaddAddam. I get up early and handle the kids and housework on a Saturday morning to have an afternoon to read instead of sleeping in. I consciously chose books over napping. My reading time is precious and I treat it as such.
10: Not Reading: I don’t struggle to read books I don’t enjoy. I don’t make myself read if I am tired or sick or in a funk. I bounce back to reading sooner if I don’t force myself to read.
This has been working really well so far. Tell me, how do you find time to read? Anything to add to the list? Something on here doesn’t work for you? Do you have other suggestions?
That’s it. Now time to call it a day online and pick up a book!
1. Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose. This is my ongoing Kindle read for times when I am stuck without a book. That usually happens during Persy’s unexpected nursing and/or napping sessions.
2. The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin. I’ve wanted to read this ever since I read Tomalin’s biography of Charles Dickens in 2012.
3. Emma by Jane Austen. This is my Classics Club Spin #5 read and I have a lovely Penguin Threads edition.
4. The Warden by Anthony Trollope. This is the first book for the Chronicles of Barsetshire readalong I’m co-hosting.
5. Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood. Finally! I’m going to read one of my books for the TBR challenge.
6. My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead. I finished Middlemarch in January and squealed with delight when I learned about this book.
7. A Question of Upbringing by Anthony Powell. Volume 1 of A Dance to the Music of Time.
8. A Buyer’s Market by Anthony Powell. Volume 2 of A Dance to the Music of Time.
9. The Acceptance World by Anthony Powell. Volume 3 of A Dance to the Music of Time.
10. Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope. If I have time I might dig into the April Chronicles of Barsetshire read. April is a crazy month and I want to tackle as much in March as I can.
So how — with my busy life — am I planning on reading so dang much? I am planning a future post to talk about intentional reading, but suffice it to say I’m carving out time that is expressly for reading. Not paying bills, or blogging, or updating Facebook. For one I’ve actually put my lunch time down on my work calendar. I’ve been taking a quick lunch anywhere between 11:30 and 1:00, but usually it involves me eating at my desk and working or eating at my desk and bullshitting on the internet. My new plan is to eat my lunch and then hide in the back of the library and read. There are also several days where I come in maybe an hour later or I leave a bit early. Those times will be spent reading in the van parked outside work. On March 17th, a Monday, I have the day off work because I’m doing a Sunday shift the day before; that Monday will be an impromptu reading time. Lastly, I am making sure that I always have a book with me and I take advantage of lulls between meetings, standing in line, and other times where I find myself waiting.
Cheers for crazy reading goals! I may not read all ten books, but by golly I’m going to try!
1. How do you feel about the way this novel wrapped up? Too clean and tidy? Just right? How about Fosco’s tell-all confession? I loved the confession. I knew this novel would wrap up tidily because that is usually the nature of Victorian sensation novels and penny dreadfuls. Fosco’s confession was perfect because I love his flowery, evil, bombastic voice. I love to hate him!
2. Did you feel the characters got what they deserved in the end? Namely, Sir Percival. But also Marian? Fosco? I think the characters got what they deserved. Except Marian. I would love for Marian to find her own future and happiness outside of her sister. Marian is bright, but yet she will be stuck playing spinster aunt to Laura and Walter’s children and caring for “poor Laura.”
3. What do you think of Wilkie’s treatment of the ladies? Heather, Amanda, and I all sort of wondered if he was screwing with us at times. The sticks to convention but it also seemed a little tongue-in-cheek at times. Or maybe those are just our contemporary female sensibilities…and wishing. I think Wilkie did okay with how he treated the ladies based on the standard of his time even though Marian acted “manly” and she survived. Most Victorian heroines who are unconventional die — especially if they are smart, determined, and passionate. I don’t like how Laura was written. I know that for this novel to work she had to be a sweet, stupid baby, but I wish she was a bit brighter. Actually, by the end of the novel Laura seems to be written as extremely childlike. No doubt she is somewhat traumatized. But Marian and Walter end up acting like Mom and Dad (don’t upset Laura! Don’t let her know anything!) and that makes Walter’s marriage to Laura creepy. If she is that traumatized she probably doesn’t need to be married and sleeping with Walter. The paternalistic nature of Walter’s love is icky. Real icky.
4. Wild card! What other issues did you take note of in this epoch? I love LOVE love the multiple narrators. I wish Laura had more backbone and could voice some of the action. I think Marian and Fosco’s sections were the best and I love how Marian was Sherlock to Fosco’s Moriarty. Yeah, Walter did the investigating, but Fosco was beaten by his respect for the wit and wonder of Marian.
Today you are 14 years old. For some reason this seems HUGE to me. I thought 13 would be the birthday that would knock me for a loop, but it didn’t. 14 seems big because you have grown so much this year.
– You’ve moved to the basement escaping from the little ones. When we open the basement door the smell of Bath and Body Works “Be Enchanted” body spray wafts up.
– You are FAST. I had no idea how much you would love running and how dadgum fast you would be.
– You’re the most expert eye makeup artist I know. I envy your ability to apply eye makeup with such perfect results.
– And married (mentally) to Liam Hemsworth! And here I thought you’d never crush on a boy!
Last year you were upstairs, not running, didn’t care two hoots about makeup, and I don’t think you even noticed boys.
This year. WHOA.
Peanut, you’re growing up.
I feel like I can never adequately express to you how much I love you. I love all my children, but I will admit, you are special in your own way. You are my first. My first love. When I heard your heartbeat at 10 weeks of pregnancy I knew that you were mine. My baby. You taught me how to let my heart be vulnerable after so many hurts. I held you and I knew that every thing would be okay because I had YOU. My girl. My peanut. My Hope.
My birthday wish for you this year: I hope this year brings you lots of new and exciting opportunities. There will be so many changes for you this year from cheer tryouts to high school to MAYBE getting a cell phone. My ultimate wish for you this year is that you keep being yourself: spunky, loud, excited, completely unique, funny, filled-with-sunshine Hope. You light up my life.
I love you and Happy Birthday!