Thursday, March 21, 2019

20 Things You Should Probably Know About Me

We're in a small restaurant with a small menu.  They're serving breakfast now.  The booths are cozy and there are a few old-timers adding to the vibe.  I'd have a cup of coffee (they have great coffee) and eggs (#teamsavory for breakfast y'all).  We'd talk about books and kids but then the conversation would wind around our lives.  

Before we begin asking deeper questions, here are 20 things you should probably know about me.  

1.  I have four kids.  They are 14, 13, 10, and 8.  The first three are girls and the baby is a boy.  Before you ask, we weren't trying for a boy.  When you have three girls you're expecting your fourth child to be a girl.  You are ready for a girl.  We got a boy and were delighted/overwhelmed with the change of pace.  And now...we are so busy.  

2.  My husband and I both love to read.  We're kind of competitive about it even though we read very differently.  Date nights often end with a trip to Barnes and Noble and we spend a good deal of time talking about what we're reading.  


3.  I am an English major (aka unemployable) with a focus on literature (aka really unemployable). 

4.  My faith is important to me.  Our family goes to church and some of my closest friends and best reading buddies are there.  

5.  Our family has a big dog named Ruby.  I waited 15 years to get her and she was totally worth the wait.  

6.  Every morning I teach kids in China how to speak English.  I'm pretty good at it and my job allows me the flexibility I need the rest of the day (see #1).

7.  I love crafts but am a serial monogamist.  I knit for a while.  I cross stitch for a while.  I scrapbook for a while.  Learning a new craft is half the fun for me.  When I walk through a Michaels store I feel like a kid in a candy store.  

8.  I've started my own book club a couple of times.  One of them lasted for a long time.  I'm now in a book club at my local independent bookstore and it is by far my favorite: no cleaning, no cooking, and the others always read the book.  

9.  I am the fourth child out of five.  

10.  Being outside keeps me sane.  I don't always remember this about myself, but when I do I'm much happier for it.  

11.  I started reading to each of my kids when they were in the womb and I haven't stopped.  Reading is important to me because it means connection and empathy.  Reading out loud has gotten us through some tough days. 

12.  I can't read before bed because...sleep.  

actual footage of me at 9:30pm

13.  Reading goals are my jam but I am a total mood reader.  I prefer number goals because they let me play around with what I read instead of being committed to a certain book or certain genre.  

14.  I love long books and classics the most.  Have I mentioned I read War and Peace???

15.  I only cook with a recipe.  And I cook a lot.  So a lot of planning goes into our dinners each week.  My favorites right now are Ina Garten and Pioneer Woman.  

I want to be their best friend/neighbor

16.  I love Toms shoes so much.  

17.  I am a podcast junkie.  I also listen to audiobooks.  Sometimes, if I'm not careful, I will have spent the day listening to people talk and then wonder why I feel so annoyed when my kids come home and want to talk.  

there are so many good ones and so little time

18. I am writing a novel.  It's slow going and who knows if it will ever see the light of day, but I'm 73 pages in and still going.  

19.  My husband is Persian and I try to include elements of Persian culture into our family.

20.  I am an Enneagram type 1 and an INFJ and an introvert.  Learning about personality frameworks has helped me understand some of my tendencies and be more intentional in how I approach others and myself.  

Now that you know all of these things about me we could order another cup of coffee and compare notes on personality types and reading goals and what we are knitting/cross-stitching/painting these days.  

It would be lovely.

What's something I should know about you?

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Reading Recap: February Edition

We all know that January is never-ending, but February flies by.  Every month I set aside a stack of books I'd love to get through in the month.  Every month I'm over-ambitious.  But I think that's a mix of optimism and excitement that I'm ok with.

are you following me on instagram?  this is the kind of quality content you will have access to.  trust me it's worth it. 

Looking back at my stack fills me with more optimism and excitement.  I'm optimistic about reading the ones I didn't finish some other time (maybe in the next month, maybe not) and excited that I actually finished a few of the titles I meant to read.

Here's what I finished in February:

The Wife, The Maid, and The Mistress

This novel has been featured on the What Should I Read Next podcast often.  The premise sounded intriguing and I was looking for something on Libby that I could listen to right now.  This was available so I downloaded it to listen to while I was getting ready for my day.

The more I read the more I learn about myself and this book taught me that I am not a major fan of historical retellings.  That being said, this was well written and had me on the edge of my seat until the end.  More than the dramatic plot, I was surprised by the way the author made me feel for all three women.  I really liked all three of them, flawed though they were.

I will recommend this to friends who like historical fiction because it was good but just not my jam.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley

I got this book for my husband because I heard that this was literary fiction with a father-daughter relationship at the center.  He liked it but didn't love it so I figured I wouldn't give it another thought.  And then my book club picked it for February.

Technically, it was well written.  Themes were woven throughout the novel and allusions to Moby Dick and Hercules popped up here and there.  The story was interesting though a little far fetched at times (almost mythical).  For me, the issue was that there was a missing connection with Samuel or Loo, his daughter.  I felt removed from them, watching them live their lives far away instead of feeling like I was there with them.  Not connecting with the characters makes reading hard work y'all.

not connecting is no fun

That being said, my book club almost universally loved it.  Different strokes, different folks, you know?

Meet Me at the Museum

This was the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club pick.  It was a gentle epistolatory novel.  I chose the word gentle intentionally.  I wouldn't call it "slow" or "dull" or "lagging."  I loved picking it up to see the unfolding of a friendship between a woman and a man that happened somewhat randomly.  The letters they write to each other are about everything and nothing and they made me want to pull out some pretty paper and write to someone (I wrote to my Grandma).

This book made me think about life and starting over, physical and emotional infidelity, and what we chose to value in the course of our lives.


My husband watched this movie a few weeks ago and told me I'd love it.  I looked for the audiobook on Libby and it was available so I figured why not read the book before I see the movie?  So that is what I did. 

It was a moving story about a young Irish girl coming to America.  I don't know exactly how the author did it, but I felt like I was with her on the boat, with her in her cramped little room in Brooklyn, and with her at the department store she worked in.  The narrator of the audiobook had a great accent and that added so much to the experience. 

I kept wondering if the story was intended for YA readers or grown-ups.  So often books are either/or but this one was very much and.  The story and writing really reminded me of A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, though this narrator is older and experiences the things that Francie's mom and dad would have experienced.  

The Color Purple

@diverseclassics on instagram made this their book of the month.  I've been meaning to read it for years and this was the push I needed.  

The book is short and told in letters.  I may have been a little naive about it at first, thinking that it would be well written but not challenging.  It was both well written and challenging.  It became clear quickly that this novel is real and raw.  

I was often surprised by the way the plot twisted on one small sentence.  There were many times I went back to reread parts to understand better what had just happened.  Walker's writing talent took my breath away.  

It was a hard book, but it was beautiful and encouraging.  There is hope as Celie continues to pen letters to God and her sister in the face of extreme adversity.  I kept thinking that if the people in the book could find beauty in a field of purple flowers and each other, then surely I could find beauty around me too.  It made me pick up my head and look around me.  

So...that was February.  What did you read in February?  What are you thinking about reading in March?  Leave a comment and we can share our bookish excitement.