Summer Reads 2017 update

Monday, June 12, 2017 0 No tags Permalink 0

 summer reads 2017

I’ve been slowly working on my reading, and so it is time for the Summer Reads 2017 update, the first of its kind. I am still managing to get some done on the John Kabat-Zinn. Much of it is similar to what I learned in the eight week MBSR course through the Grand Rapids Center for Mindfulness but it’s a good reminder to stay in the moment. I did finish Lincoln in the Bardo, which was indeed a very unusual book.

 

lincoln2

I’m not sure it’s everyone’s cup of tea. It takes a bit to get used to how it’s written. The story is strange and it’s stayed with me after I finished reading it. I found the ending was not entirely satisfying. If you want to read it, let me know and I will mail it to you. If not, it will likely wind up at the library as a donation. I have started My Grandmother…which also seems to be a very unusual book. I believe I may need a palate cleanser of a breezy beach read when I am finished with it, so for sure I will be adding to my book list as I go. I always seem to do that.

What are you reading? Have you read any of the books on my list? Let me know your thoughts!

 

Summer Reads 2017:

Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel by George Saunders

Like reading? Check out previous summer reads:

Summer Reads 2016

Summer Reads 2015

Summer Reads 2014

Summer Reads 2017

Thursday, June 1, 2017 0 No tags Permalink 0

summer reads 2017

It’s that time of year again – ready for Summer Reads 2017. It seemed to go straight from February to Memorial Day; time really moves more quickly the older you get. While I’ve been reading off and on this past winter (Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson which was really excellent, Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett which I hated, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood which was amazing, Commonwealth by Ann Patchett which was ok), I never get as much reading done as during my Summer Reads project. It is a true hedonistic endeavor…I pick eight or so books to read from Memorial Day through Labor Day. I generally pick my books from Amazon.com recommendations, the New York Times Bestseller list and book reviews by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan.

Anyhow, I  believe I have set my list for Summer Reads 2017:

Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel by George Saunders

The Gustav Sonata: A Novel by by Rose Tremain

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, Abraham Verghese

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Perfect Little World: A Novel by Kevin Wilson

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman, Henning Koch

I started adding books to the list several months ago and don’t even really remember what all of them are about. I suspect I will slide in a nice easy beach read in the mix as well. You really have to have a book like that in the summer, don’t you? I have started the Kabat-Zinn and am reading a bit each morning before I start the day. I started the Saunders book on Memorial Day and it’s so unusual. What are you reading this summer?

Like reading? Check out previous summer reads:

Summer Reads 2016

Summer Reads 2015

Summer Reads 2014

The Final Chapter – Summer Reads 2016

Friday, September 23, 2016 0 No tags Permalink 0

Summer Reads 2016 Update

It is now officially autumn and I haven’t done a Summer Reads 2016 Update since Week 9. I finished The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander. While it was very good, it was also rather sad and is probably not everyone’s cup of tea. If you are interested in reading it and live in the continental United States, comment on this post and I will snail-mail it to you. I also read the third and final Miss Peregrine book:

Summer Reads 2016 Update

 

It was excellent. Loved the whole series. I do have Honeydew: Stories by Edith Pearlman sitting on my desk to read, and will get to it once I feel like taking a break on crocheting. This is, apparently, the Fall of Shawls for me. I’ve completed two now, and have started on a third.

Summer Reads 2016 list:

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel by Elizabeth Poliner

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel by Dominic Smith

Honeydew: Stories by Edith Pearlman

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin

The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story by Dan Harris.

2016 Summer Reads Week 9

2016 Summer Reads Week 9 Update

The past few days have been hot, hot, hot! I finished the second book in the series fo Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children, Hollow City. It was just as good as the first. And, on thinking on it, I’ve determined that the writing and the way the tale unfolds sort of reminds me of the My Father’s Dragon books by Ruth Stiles Gannett. I will be getting the third in the series, but probably won’t start it until after summer.

hollowcity

I’ve been working on another project as well.

iSUP

You may remember that I did an ill-fated land paddling thing summer of 2014. This new project is safer, if you don’t count drowning. I am wearing a life vest and a leash, and sticking to the shallows. I looked back on my notes from the land-attempt and found this “First, the balance thing. Try standing on one foot for more than sixty seconds. You might not enjoy it. Your foot might hurt. And your knee. And your shin. And your calf. At first, I could only do ten minutes and it was agony.” Um, yeah. Same thing on the water, although my first attempt was 15 minutes and involved suddenly sitting down on the lake bottom twice (I was only in up to my knees, so it was no big deal). Last time around I was getting better by the fourth time I did it. Loving it by the 11th. And unfortunately the whole thing finished up on #13.

Anyhow, I am reaching out and grabbing a firm hold on summer. Hope you are, too.

Summer Reads 2016 list:

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel by Elizabeth Poliner

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel by Dominic Smith

Honeydew: Stories by Edith Pearlman

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin

The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story by Dan Harris.

Like Summer Reads? More here:

2016 Week Eight Update

2016 Week Five Update

2016 Week Four Update

2016 Week One Update

2015 Summer Reads Introduction

2014 Summer Reads Introduction

2016 Summer Reads Week 8

Friday, July 22, 2016 0 No tags Permalink 0

2016 Summer Reads Week 8 Update

summerreads2016

Holy cats, we are already on 2016 Summer Reads Week 8. Past the Fourth of July and into the dog days of summer. I was off work for a week (use it or lose it vacation time), and got a lot of reading done in addition to making pickles from the garden and other assorted projects.

2016 Summer Reads Week 6

As I mentioned in the last post, I went off-list and read 10% Happier by Dan Harris. It was a fantastic read. His story is interesting, and he makes the thought of regular meditation more reachable. He cites recent studies that show how regular meditation can change the brain and yield not only happiness but also health. Often, introductions to meditation make it seem too new-age or that it’s just as easy as sitting down and doing it. Dan Harris makes it seem possible in a real way. Loved this book, and am interested in reading his new book, too. Sending this one on to my sister, along with a previous read. Because 10 percent greater health and happiness? Of course I want to share it with her.

2016 Summer Reads Week 6

Next up on the reading list was the latest Dominic Smith book, The Last Painting of Sara De Vos. It is split between three timeframes – the 1600s when Sara De Vos was alive, the 1950s when Ellie Shipley was in her 20s and forged a painting, and in the year 2000, when everything comes home to roost. Now, you know I love when an author can really suck you in with words. Sometimes, you read and something conveys a point or an idea. Sometimes, you read and you are fully immersed in the author’s mind. Dominic Smith’s writing is like that: “Q is roughly Ellie’s age but of another time — a man of pressed handkerchiefs and pomade who smells of wood glue. He wears a navy dustcoat with his monogrammed initials above a pocket crammed with mechanical pencils.” And “It’s only a little after four but already nearing dusk. A heavy bank of clouds has formed in the west. Through the trees, Ellie watches as a sunburst streaks through and turns the harbor from slate to sapphire and back again.” Love it. Love. The story is interesting and the book is good. Well worth the read, and I think my Mom will like it, too.

Next up is the second in the Miss Peregrine books, Hollow City.

Summer Reads 2016 list:

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel by Elizabeth Poliner

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel by Dominic Smith

Honeydew: Stories by Edith Pearlman

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin

The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman

Added in Progress:

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story by Dan Harris.

Like Summer Reads? More here:

2016 Week Five Update

2016 Week Four Update

2016 Week One Update

2015 Summer Reads Introduction

2014 Summer Reads Introduction

2016 Summer Reads Week 5

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 0 No tags Permalink 0

2016 Summer Reads Week 5 Update

summerreads2016

Here we are, the last week of June and 2016 Summer Reads Week 5. As always, I am trying not to freak out about the passing summer, but it’s not working. Why must the nice weather go so fast and the bad weather last so long?

2016 Summer Reads Week 5

I heard Ishmael Beah on a podcast (pretty sure it was The Moth), and knew I had to add his book to my summer reads list. I figured it would be a “good for me” book to read, and maybe a challenge to get through. It was the first book I purchased, but I put off starting it until this weekend. I expected it would take a week or two to read, but I completed it in just over a day. It is honestly the best thing I’ve read so far this summer. Yes, it’s graphic, but not unnecessarily so. He is a storyteller, and his writing really pulls you in. I think that, instead of having high school students read Shakespeare, every student should have to read this book (now, I am not saying a student shouldn’t read Shakespeare, but just that given the limited time perhaps there are more important things they could be reading as required texts. Like this book, which is a fine example of storytelling prose as well as inspirational. We all need to try harder to make the world a better place, so that what happened in Sierra Leone, what is happening in Syria, what happens all over STOPS happening). Anyhow, I highly recommend this book. And I will be picking up his next book, Radiance of Tomorrow: A Novel by Ishmael Beah, to read. 

ascloseasbreathing

You might recall from my last post that I was going to read As Close to Us as Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner. And I did read it this past week, before the Ishmael Beah book. I just got through it really quickly, so I wound up getting two done in a week. It was a good, solid novel. The story was told in an interesting way; the ending is stated right away, and the novel works backward to the day of the incident. It qualifies as a beach read because it takes place at the beach. I did enjoy it, and I think my Mom will too so I am passing it on to her next.

I’m halfway through the Summer Reads 2016 list already. I wound up ordering a book not on the list that I am reading this week – 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story by Dan Harris. Harris was an ABC News anchor who had a panic attack on live national television; I read an article about this book and it sounded like a good read.

Here is my Summer Reads 2016 list:

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel by Elizabeth Poliner

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel by Dominic Smith

Honeydew: Stories by Edith Pearlman

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin

The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman

Added in Progress:

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — A True Story by Dan Harris.

Like Summer Reads? More here:

2016 Week Four Update

2016 Week One Update

2016 Summer Reads Introduction

2015 Summer Reads Introduction

2014 Summer Reads Introduction

 

2016 Summer Reads Week 4

Monday, June 20, 2016 0 No tags Permalink 0

2016 Summer Reads Week 4 Update

summerreads2016

Can you believe we’re already on 2016 Summer Reads Week 4? Time goes so fast in the summer (and so very slow from October through May!). Today is the summer solstice and the strawberry moon, which is apparently a lifetime experience, as the two events coincide once every 70 years. It was super-hot today, 77 and humid at 7am. However, I like my summers where I can really feel ’em, so it works for me. It would be interesting to be in Sweden today. They really know how to celebrate Midsummer.

Anyhow, I need to get back to the topic at hand, instead of flights of fancy about the solstice. I am having difficulty keeping my feet on the ground and my thoughts in my head today.

2016 Summer Reads Week 4

This past week, I finished A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin. It’s a book of short stories. There are a ton of them, some characters or similar going back and forth between some but not all stories. I’ll admit, it took me some time to really get into this book. About 100 pages in, I was still thinking maybe I’d stop reading it. But then something happened, and it became delightful. Her writing style is lovely. From “Mourning”

I’ve been working for Arlene, at Central Reality. Cleaning empty houses mostly, but even empty houses have stories, clues. A love letter stuffed way back in a cupboard, empty whiskey bottles behind the dryer, grocery lists . . . “Please pick up Tide, a package of green linguini and a six pack of Coors. I didn’t mean what I said last night.”

In the end, I liked it so much, I plan on saving it and re-reading it again so I can savor every word. If you are like me and are generally not a fan of short stories, but want to try something to work on a bit, I suggest this book. You should do what I did not, however. Read the introduction and forward first. They will give you some ideas for what to look for and how to read the book. If I had read them first, I’d probably have enjoyed those first hundred pages a bit more.

Next up is a lighter read, As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel, by Elizabeth Poliner.

Here is my Summer Reads 2016 list:

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel by Elizabeth Poliner

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel by Dominic Smith

Honeydew: Stories by Edith Pearlman

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin

The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman

Like Summer Reads? More here:

2016 Week One Update

2016 Summer Reads Introduction

2015 Summer Reads Introduction

2014 Summer Reads Introduction

Summer Reads 2016 Week One

Wednesday, June 8, 2016 0 No tags Permalink 0

Summer Reads 2016 Update

summerreads2016

It is already time for our Summer Reads 2016 Week One review, and we are already down a book! This year, I started with Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman. It was beautifully written. I love a book I can enjoy word for word, sentence for sentence. Mr. Hodgman’s writing allowed me to feel like I could see his surroundings and know his family. My favorite line from the book: “Kindness may be the most difficult of virtues, but when I have encountered it, it has meant everything to me.” As I review my life, I feel much the same and I endeavor to be more kind every day. Somedays I am successful. Most days I am not. But I am working on it.

Summer Reads 2016 Week One - Bettyville

I just can’t even stress how beautifully written it is. And I did cry on the last page, mostly because the book was over. Highly recommend this book, especially if you are into the written word and like memoirs. I suspect I’ll hold on to this one, to read again in the future.

Next up on my reading list is A Manual for Cleaning Women. 

In retrospect, I’m not sure I added any really fluffy, good-feel beach read books so I may wind up sliding one in the middle somewhere. What are you reading this summer?

Here is my Summer Reads 2016 list:

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel by Elizabeth Poliner

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel by Dominic Smith

Honeydew: Stories by Edith Pearlman

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin

The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman

Summer Reads 2016

Sunday, May 29, 2016 0 No tags Permalink 0

summerreads2016

As you know, I love to have a good book going. While I did get some reading done this winter (Kathleen Alcott’s Infinite Home; Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You and After You; Kate Morton’s Lake House; Christina Baker Kline’s Orphan Train; Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train), I never get as much reading done as during my summer reads from Memorial Day through Labor Day. I wound up reading all eight books in 2015.

As always, I picked the books from The New York Times Bestseller list, my amazon.com recommendations and Maureen Corrigan’s Best Books list for 2015.

Here is my Summer Reads 2016 list:

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel by Elizabeth Poliner

Hollow City: The Second Novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos: A Novel by Dominic Smith

Honeydew: Stories by Edith Pearlman

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin

The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

Bettyville: A Memoir by George Hodgman

What are you reading this summer?

Previous Summer Reads

2015

2014

Misc. Monday

moon

Wooooo dog, this post has it all. It’s been months since I’ve done a general, non-postcard update. So here it is, the fruits of the summer.

tomatillos

Our veggie garden did great this year. I made two batches of salsa verde (tomatillos, onion, garlic, jalapeno).

tomatos

In addition to tomatoes for eating, I made a batch of sauce and cooked down two batches of tomato paste (boil and peel tomatoes, puree, cook down, put in pan in 350 degree oven and bake until paste).

cabbage

And I made a batch of sauerkraut. We got a fair amount of radishes. Three heads of cabbage. Lots of tomatoes. A few carrots. Good lettuce and arugula. Next year we’re planting more green beans and more peppers. This year we also got a compost barrel (and inside bucket) and we’re composting our kitchen waste. Right now I also have a batch of hard cider cooking. It’s exciting!

crochetblanket

I’ve been crocheting up a storm. I made a mint lap blanket for a friend. Then I made this lap blanket with a ruffled edge. LOVE the ruffled edge. The yarn is Simply Soft Paints Yarn in Rose Garden.

crochetscarf

I loved the yarn so much (and overbought), so I made a scarf and sent it to a friend who needed a scarf. Now I’m working on another scarf for another friend.

I’ve been reading, too. Just finished Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri (very good) and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (excellent). Here’s how I turned out with the Summer Reads 2015:

 

What Comes Next and How to Like It: A Memoir by Abigail Thomas

The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David Mitchell

American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest by Hannah Nordhaus

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

The Wishing Thread: A Novel by Lisa Van Allen

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews

All but two done, but I made up with two others. Not bad.

I’m getting ready to start sewing again. I have to make my Halloween costume for Howl-O-Ween at the shelter. And I have a new pattern to make a dress. Just need to pick up the fabric and I’m ready to go.

How about you? Can you believe summer is over and we’re well into autumn already?