Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Books, Books, Books

This year, I read 55 books. I was hoping to make it 56, but I haven't read in a day or two and I don't think I'm to increase the count as the year winds down in the next 30 hours. We walked to the library on Friday to pick up Anne Lamott's Small Victories, but it's just been following me around the house. Various priorities (and distractions) and trying to get some work done during this holiday week have kept me from what I really would like to be doing - reading.

Since 2009, I've kept a log of the books I've read. Over the past six years, I've read 289 books. Some great, some terrible, most falling somewhere in between. In the category of "I'm sorry I read this," this year's winner is Bittersweet, by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. A talented writer, but literature devoid (in my opinion) of any moral and ethical content gets a thumbs down from me. I probably shouldn't have given it the repeated chances I did, but I kept holding out hope.

I'm not sure which book would receive the blue ribbon this year. As I look back over my list, there were many that I truly enjoyed. I finally read Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird and wish I had read it years ago when I first learned of it.

My list still weights toward the side of fiction, but I read a fair amount of non-fiction this year. Emily Wierenga's Atlas Girl was breathtakingly honest. A Deadly Wandering  by Matt Richtel was simply riveting and I think of it every time I am tempted to pick up my phone in the car. Lee Strobel's A Case for Christ was eye-opening, challenging, and affirming.

I'm looking forward to what books I'll read in 2015. I've pre-ordered Dee Henderson's latest, Taken, slated for May publication. I was delighted to see that Kristin Hannah has a new novel, The Nightingale, coming in January. I just learned that writer and neuroscientist Lisa Genova has a new book coming in April, Inside the O'Briens, a novel about a family facing Huntington's disease. If you haven't read her, you must pick up Still Alice, a fascinating work of fiction about a woman descending into Alzheimer's disease (movie coming out in January but read the book!). Genova's Left Neglected about the traumatic brain disorder of left neglect and Love Anthony focusing on autism were also great reads.

At the encouragement of my brother, I also hope to read Marilynne Robinson's trilogy, Gilead, Home, and Lila. And then there's always something to find on the yet-to-read shelf of my bookshelf and in the cache of my Kindle.

Here's to a great new year of good reading!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What I Learned in November

Linking up today with Emily at Chatting at the Sky

I haven't done a "What I Learned" post in quite a while, and I'm toying with whether to write seriously and introspectively or offer a more lighthearted take on the month. I suppose I'll settle for a little of each.

Oxtail tastes like roast beef. Glad I was able to sample this exotic-to-me dish at a food and beverage pairing event. It was one of those cases where I just needed to try it and not think about it.

Cutting an onion doesn't have to result in a huge mess.

Christmas tree lights are expensive! We discovered that probably half of our Christmas tree lights aren't working this year. We've gotten a lot of mileage out of those lights and the extreme temperatures of the attic probably contributed to their demise. I invested in new ones and took quite a hit to the budget.

Deicing a plane takes 30-45 minutes. I know I've sat through the deicing process before, but don't remember it taking this long. Perhaps I paid more attention this time because we had to go through it twice for this particular flight (with a roll back to the gate for a medical emergency in between).

Using an app to present your boarding pass is a mixed bag. It's great if it works. It's a little unnerving if it doesn't.

Being part of a team has definite benefits. I am generally a lone wolf. I'm not one for group projects or activities. However, when the chips are down (way down; way, way down), it sure is great to be part of a team who has your back ... and to have theirs.

Words matter. Once we utter words, they are out there. They have torn down or lifted up. They have enhanced relationship or broken it. The lyrics to a childhood song keep running through my head: "Oh, be careful little mouth what you say." Great advice for all ages.

Here's to a new month ahead and all that I'll learn in December!