• Bookish,  mental health,  Writing

    Reading & Mental Health

    This post was meant to be my June wrap-up. I wrote it, edited it, deleted it and finally started over.

    I love posting big stacks of books read just as much as the next bibliophile. But what happens when that stack represents far more than books completed?

    When that stack represents a month marked by struggles?

    You write about it.

    May was mental health awareness month and I felt great. I even wrote about it to increase awareness. But then June happened and how disingenuous would it have been to pretend that I felt good and June was just another month?

    I couldn’t do it.

    I’m a slow burner. Things happen and I go into crisis mode. I hold it together and make sure everyone around me is taken care of first. The crisis is endured and once everyone else is back to “normal”, I implode – long after most think to ask how I’m doing. And that’s my fault, not their fault.

    There are many studies out there on the benefits of reading and the correlation to mental health. I have found those studies to be true with one exception:

    What do you do when you feel so bad that you can’t concentrate enough to read a few pages?

    My answer is audiobooks. They engage a different part of the brain, are a great distraction, and dull the roar of anxiety in your mind. This has been my experience at least.

    So here’s my honest wrap-up for June:

    I struggled with depression and anxiety. I needed my medication adjusted. I saw my therapist more and I read when I could.

    I listened to three audiobooks this month and they made a difference in my days – and sometimes even nights when I couldn’t sleep.

    I still read four books this month. I finished The Recognitions at the very beginning of the month and the other three I finished towards the end.

    I’m feeling a lot better now and all in all, I’d say June was a good reading month.

    Here’s to July and a little extra vitamin D!

  • Bookish,  Himalayas of Literature

    2019 Reading Goals: the super-nerdy book reading schedule

    When I decided to read more books in 2018, I had no plan other than to read a book a week. That worked out well and I felt like I read a decent variety of books. But it was very haphazard; most book selections came from glowing reviews on Goodreads or Instagram.

    Late last year I joined the Himalayas of Literature group through Book Oblivion. The experience thus far has been exceptional. So when I had the opportunity to enroll in the How to Read More course series in combination with their Critical Theory & Philosophy course, I jumped in with both feet.

    These two courses fit perfect with what I was looking to accomplish in 2019: read more and read more books covering a deeper subject matter. Plus the added bonus of great instruction and a community of like-minded readers.

    The first assignment for the How to Read More course was to create my super-nerdy book reading schedule – yes, it’s really called that and it is the perfect description of what you’re about to see. Super nerdy.

    Broken into months and then seven reading categories, I was able to plot out my entire year of books.

    For the first six months these are my categories:

    • Himalayas of Literature assigned book
    • Critical Theory & Philosophy assigned book
    • Book Club for Introverts monthly pick
    • Female Written Fiction
    • Person of Color Author
    • Poetry or Essay
    • On Writing

    For the last six months of the year here are my categories (the first three are the same as above):

    • Feminist Fiction or Nonfiction
    • Classic Lit
    • Short Story or Poetry
    • Research

    From there I went to the books I already own and filled as many monthly categories as possible. Another one of my reading goals was to read the books I already have because I might have a few that bookstagram made me buy. If you’re on Instagram, I know you are nodding in agreement right now.

    Don’t worry, I won’t tell your significant other if you don’t tell my husband. 

    I filled in the remaining categories with books that are on my to-be-read list on Goodreads.

    This exercise took all of 30 minutes to complete and I am thrilled to know what I’m reading each month. Maybe it’s just me but I used to get overwhelmed wanting to read all the good books and struggling to choose. I know, I have problems. If that’s not just me then you don’t have problems and neither do I.

    Win/Win

    I did not include audiobooks in this schedule as those are going to be my free picks so I don’t feel completely left out of the latest and greatest book releases.

    This was a nerdy but fun exercise and I can see this being a part of future years as well.

    What are your plans for reading this year? Do you have any particular goals set beyond the number of books you want to read?

     

     

  • Bookish,  Lists

    2018 Books: favorites, surprises, misses, and reflections

     

    2018 was a lot of things but at the top of my list was re-discovering my love of reading. In January I set a goal to read 52 books in 52 weeks. Once I realized I was going to surpass that goal, I set a new goal of 75 books read for 2018 and I met that goal. Here’s the breakdown:

    • 75 books completed
    • 26,121 pages
    • Longest book – A Little Life, 720 pages
    • 38 audiobooks (I drive A LOT)
    • 30 five star books
    • 13 nonfiction books

    My Top 10 Books of 2018:

    1. Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
    2. A Little Life – Hana Yanagihara
    3. The Incendiaries – R. O. Kwon
    4. The Nix – Nathan Hill
    5. The Rules of Magic – Alice Hoffman
    6. Bitter Orange – Claire Fuller
    7. Bear Town – Fredrick Backman
    8. Heavy – Kiese Laymon
    9. Next Year in Havana – Chanel Cleeton
    10. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows – Balli Kaur Jaswal

    For me, the top 10 list is always the hardest to write so here are a few surprise favorites that didn’t quite make the list but should be on your To-Be-Read list:

    The misses a.k.a the books other raved about that I didn’t love:

    • The Great Alone – Kristin Hannah
    • Still Lives – Maria Hummel

    Both of these were misses for me for the same reason – graphic domestic violence/violence against women to the excess and wasn’t necessary to the plot.

    My one abandoned book was Less by Andrew Sean Greer. I just didn’t get the Pulitzer award given to this book. And maybe I would have liked it more if it hadn’t had that hype before I picked it up to read.

     

     

    2018 was one of the hardest years of my life both personally and professionally. On the personal front, I’m happy that our family is bringing this year to a close and we are all healing and healthier. On the professional front, we will have to see what 2019 brings but I’m encouraged by the direction I am headed and so very thankful for my husband and his unrelenting support and encouragement.

    I am also thrilled to have reconnected with my love of writing here on my blog as well as other outlets and I’m looking forward to seeing where that takes me in 2019. In addition to that, the bookstagram community on Instagram is a wonderful and supportive place to find fellow bookworms and I am so happy to have connected with so many like-minded readers and writers.

    And last but not least… two communities I connected with late in the year, The Himalayas of Literature and Book Club for Introverts. Both of these groups have been highlights of 2018 for me and I can’t wait to continue with both in 2019.

    All in all, 2018 has been a year of goals met, lessons learned, new directions, and finding the things to be thankful even in the midst of the valleys.

    Here’s to a new year full of promise! Happy New Year!

  • Bookish,  Lists

    Top Ten Tuesday: favorite platonic relationships

    paper-romance-symbol-valentine-159526

    Happy Top Ten Tuesday! After a week of cooking, cleaning, working, writing (NaNoWriMo), and event going, this list was a fun way to get back into the blogging routine.

    Today’s top ten is all about my favorite (platonic) book relationships. Here goes!

    1. The Owens siblings from Practical Magic – Franny, Jet, and Vincent had a unique bond because of their magical abilities. They, and their family, were avoided by most people who believed that the family would ensnare them in back luck and tragedy. As they grew up in the novel it was interesting to watch their relationship change and mature as it does with most siblings.
    2. Madeline, Celeste, and Jane from Big Little Lies – Female friendships are tricky and I thought this book did a great job of accurately portraying their lives as individuals with different backgrounds that become friends.
    3. Leigh and her mother from The Astonishing Color of After – This book handled such a tough subject (the suicide of her mother) with such grace and dignity. The way that Leigh sought out her mother and her family from Taiwan turned into a beautiful remembrance of her mother and her life.
    4. Willem, JB, Malcolm, and Jude from A Little Life – Following four college friends through their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s – the author did a wonderful job of capturing the ups and downs of friendship in the midst of success, failure, tragedy, and love. Warning: this book will make you cry.
    5. Mia & Pearl from Little Fires Everywhere – I love a good mother/daughter plot that has tension, love, and secrets. This duo had all of these elements and watching them unfold slowly made this a great book.
    6. The Sedaris family portrayed in Calypso – Nonfiction relationships are allowed too, right? David Sedaris is known for writing about his family and his life experiences. But this newest book was different as he tackled some tough issues: aging parents, fractured sibling relationships, mental illness, drug use, etc. It was raw, honest, and makes you feel a little less alone.
    7. Hanna & her mom (Suzette) from Baby Teeth – If you want to read about a parent/child relationship that is creepy and downright frightening, this is your book. Little Hanna spends most of her time plotting to kill her mother while charming her father. Her mother goes to great lengths to love her daughter and get her the much needed help she needs all while trying to preserve her own sanity and safety.
    8. Mary B. Addison and her mother from Allegedly – Nine year old Mary was convicted of killing a baby who was in her mother’s care. Allegedly. Mary’s mother can be syrupy sweet and viscous all in the same visit when she sees her daughter in the group home. The book tackles tough issues and the relationship between Mary and her mother keeps you guessing until the end.
    9. Offred and Serena Joy from The Handmaid’s Tale – Classic tension in a female relationship with a dystopian spin. What could possibly go wrong?
    10. Scout & Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird – He is her father but she and her brother don’t call him anything other than his first name. He is a single father but unconventional. He teaches, rather than telling and demonstrates tolerance and reason through his actions. I loved reading how he and Scout interacted throughout the book – there was a mutual respect that wasn’t common in that time period.

     

    If you could be friends with any fictional character, who would it be?

  • Bookish,  Lists

    Top Ten Tuesday: bookish wish list

    Today’s Top Ten, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl , is essentially a holiday wish list. I pretty much buy what I um, need so feel free to use this list for the reader in your life.

    1. Book cart – I have two of these and they are not only cute, they are useful. I use them to keep my to-be-read books organized, a place to hold and charge my iPad, and hold the occasional plant.
    2. Book totes – always handy. I love this banned books tote from Out of Print
    3. Enamel pins – I’m a big fan of enamel pins and these are so fun!
    4. Post-it notes – But not just any post-its. These Wizard of Oz notes came in my most recent Page 1. box and I have loved using them as I write.
    5. And speaking of Page 1… A monthly subscription book box is a great gift. Page 1. is my favorite out of the several I have tried.
    6. Bookplates – I’m big on putting these in my favorite books that I want to loan out. I also think they turn a book into a heirloom. Some of my books have old bookplates in them and they make the book unique knowing who loved it before.
    7. A favorite Little Golden Book – I found my favorite childhood one, The Poky Little Puppy, here. Fun fact: this puppy looks like a beagle and I now have two beagles.
    8. Clothing – if you know they love a certain book or series, there are tons of options. I have actually seen the full Handmaid outfit which is a bit much for me but this hooded sweatshirt is awesome.
    9. A donation of books in their name – if they have kids, their classrooms most likely have a classroom library. Teachers frequently come out of pocket for the books and this is a fantastic way to support local schools and teachers.
    10. When all else fails – a gift card to their favorite independent bookstore!

    This post does contain Amazon affiliate links. You pay no more for the item(s); I just receive a little extra money from Amazon to buy more books!

    What’s on your bookish wish list?

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