TBR List Declutter: Week 2

Another week, another ten books from my TBR to scrutinize. For background about this weekly event, check out the introductory post.

In December 2009, I visited the Salt Like City library and got one of those books that lists the 500 books you should read before you die (because presumably reading after you die isn’t something one should bank on). Any titles that were added on 12/31/2009 were likely the result of the fit of New Year’s Eve optimism incited by that book of books. And since I was probably nursing a baby while putting those titles on the list, some oxytocin probably played a role, too.

TBR titles 11-20: Read More

TBR List Declutter: Week 1

If you go to my Goodreads profile, you’ll see that my to-read shelf has only seven books on it. “That looks pretty good,” you might say. “That’s a minimalist TBR that a reader can be proud of,” you’d aver. And you’d be right, if that were the whole story, which it isn’t. Turns out, I’m a little sneaky. I didn’t like how many books were on my TBR, so under the guise of tidying up, I shelved my TBR by year. Rather than having one to-read shelf, I now have twelve to-read shelves, a generic one and one for each year from 2007 to 2017.

If I add up all of the shelves, I have not seven books but 750.

This actually isn’t nearly as many as I’ve had in the past, but it’s still kind of a lot. Between 2008 and 2016, I averaged 76 books read per year. Even if I can maintain that average, which even I think is a little ambitious seeing as how someday I might actually learn to value sleep, it would take me ten years to read all of these books. And that’s if I don’t add any more books to the list.

So, inspired by Adam at Roof Beam Reader, who was inspired by a project by Lia at Lost in a Story, I’m embarking upon an incremental clean-out of my rather stagnant TBR on Goodreads. Each week, I’ll look at ten titles from my TBR, going in order from first added to last, and decide whether to keep it on the list or delete it. This will also help me to refresh my Cavalcade of Classics list, which has gone a little stale in the past year or so.

I like the categories on Roof Beam Reader, so I’ll be basing mine off of those.

Here, then, are the first ten titles: Read More

Bookends: May 2017

May found me celebrating my daughter’s twelfth birthday and realizing that there’s less than 1.5 inches between her height and mine, writing and mailing our homeschool annual reports to the school district, removing my first tick (from myself; I’ve removed them from both kids in years past), having our front yard dug up by the gas company, and watching the gypsy moths chew holes in the leaves on all of our trees.

It’s been an eventful month.

Something I’ve not been doing this month: blogging. I’ve thought up some really cool book-related ideas for the blog, but none of them have gotten to the implementation phase. In the next month, I’m hoping to revise and relaunch my Cavalcade of Classics list and kick off a weekly feature to whittle down the number of titles on my TBR from “ridiculous” to merely “aspirational” and to give me some direction in choosing which books to read next.

But in order to move forward, we must first examine where we’ve been. I’m not sure if this is true, but it sounds like a meme, and that’s just as good. In this spirit, here’s what I read in May:

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Bookends: April 2017

April in Massachusetts was a stop-and-start process towards spring. We heard spring peepers peeping, watched the maple trees bloom and then make itty-bitty seeds, and now we’re seeing leaves galore. The lilacs and cherry trees are in blossom, and I can smell flowers on my walks around the neighborhood. And unlike last year, there’s been no late freeze (knock on wood), so it’s likely we’ll have LOCAL PEACHES this year!

What kind of monster looks at bunnies and thinks good things about coyotes?

I also see bunnies, bunnies, and more bunnies, which I bet thrills the coyotes and foxes in the neighborhood. The small-dog owners and keepers of outdoor cats aren’t thrilled about the predators traipsing around, but I’m a fan. Small furry creatures are adorable and I love them, but they spread deer ticks, which are awful already this year, so we can benefit from having a food-chain-related way to keep the furry population in check. I also like hawks and falcons.

Another wonderful thing about April: Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon! To read about my progress during the readathon, check out my wrap-up post.

Here’s some of what I finished reading in April (funny…I felt like I didn’t read much this month, but my list argues against that):

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Dewey’s April 2017 Readathon Wrap-Up

Here I am, another readathon in the books. So to speak.

I ended up reading from 8am Saturday until about noon on Sunday, with a 7-hour break to sleep and do some yoga. After I’d stayed up an hour past my bedtime, I considered going the distance, but my cat was too exhausted to continue.

Readathon Cat April 2017

During the official readathon period, I completed one novel, the audiobook of Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl. During my unofficial morning session, I finished Lionel Shriver’s Big Brother.

There’s a closing survey, but I don’t feel like completing it this time around. I still love the readathon, though, and definitely plan to participate in the next one, coming up on October 21, 2017.

Dewey’s Readathon, April 2017 Edition

Today is one of the best days of the year: readathon day!

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Readathon TBR Stack

My TBR is this stack plus a download of the audio version of Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl, a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. I know I won’t be reading all of these. In fact, I’ll be lucky to finish even one, but I like to aim high. At least my list is more realistic than the one I made for October’s readathon.

Keeping with tradition, here are my responses to the opening survey:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Sunny central Massachusetts.

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Probably Big Brother by Lionel Shriver, but mostly because I’ve already started it and I think I have a decent chance of finishing it today. After that, I might try to sprint through Gods and Warriors by Michelle Paver.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Kale salad with tahini dressing. I can live on that stuff. I’m also looking forward to popcorn, but that’s a logistical challenge because I use the same bowl for popcorn as I do for kale salad.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I’m trying to keep to a regular sleep schedule, so I’ll only be reading until about 9:00 tonight. That’s a really boring thing about me. Nominally more interesting: I’m wearing my hair in two French braids today. I worry that’s a little silly for a forty-year-old to do, but it’s a little hot today, and the two braids keep the hair off my neck. It’s pragmatic, so it’s okay.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?

I’ve already mentioned the quitting early and the braids. I’m also wearing yoga clothes all day and I did forty-five minutes of yoga before starting the readathon. Gotta stay limber. Oh, and I might take a break in the afternoon to watch the first Harry Potter movie with my family.

Now off to read!

 

Pushing Appliances to Their Limits

Tonight while we were making dinner, our twenty-six-year-old stove went kaput.

Luckily, just yesterday we got a new toaster since the one we bought in 2003 stopped working the day we got back from vacation.

“What timing!” I thought. Surely we can use the toaster to do some of the tasks we normally delegate to the stove!

Alas! The warnings in the toaster manual make it clear that there’s not much one can do with a toaster besides toasting stuff.

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Looks like we’ll be shopping for a new stove instead of heating pots of soup on top of the toaster, and I guess I’ll dry my nails the old-fashioned way.

But I have no idea how I’m going to heat my curtains.

Bookends: March 2017

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One of the things I love about Massachusetts.

My time in central Massachusetts, experiencing the discourtesy people here call “direct,” has been six years of cultural fatigue. There are things that I love about the area, but the people are consistently prickly. Yes, people can be impolite anywhere and in a surprising variety of ways, but most places I’ve lived and visited, the rudeness has been shocking in part because it happened so infrequently. In Massachusetts, discourteousness is like an element: living here, we swim in rudeness, whether we participate in it or not.

Late in March, my family spent a week in California. From the moment we landed, the difference was obvious. Sure, we lost thirty minutes in the rental car place because the guys working there were inept, but at least they were friendly. Everywhere we went, people smiled, they were cordial, they spoke kindly to one another. I felt little to none of the social anxiety that clings to me in Massachusetts. For the first time in ages, I felt like I could exhale.

Going to San Diego was like jumping from a polluted river into one that ran with fresh, clean water; coming back has been the opposite experience. Just this morning I observed a cashier and her customer openly ridicule another customer for thinking the cashier had given her a friendly look. “She thought since you looked nicely at her that meant it was her turn!” said the first customer, and she and the cashier brayed together as the second customer apologized and got back into line. If the three had been friends, I could understand it as rough but good-natured joshing, but I saw nothing to indicate that these people knew each other.

On the plus side, this kind of interaction makes travel even more appealing. Time to put our passports to work.

Aside from this unpleasant but not unexpected welcome back, March has been wonderful. Not only did I spend a week in a place that felt like home, but I got a lot of reading done, and I’ve had the pleasure of watching my children write and illustrate their own books and stories.

My seven-year-old has moved from filling journals with his stories to typing them out on legal-sized paper on the Smith Corona my dad used in graduate school in the early 1980’s. My son will kneel on a chair at the dining room table, typing for hours and yelling at anyone who tries to interrupt him for something as trivial as dinner or bedtime. All he needs now is a bottle of scotch, an overflowing ashtray, and a fedora.

Something to look forward to: Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is April 29! I’m especially excited because this time around, a goal of the readathon is to raise money for Room to Read, a non-profit focusing on literacy and girls’ education across Africa and Asia. To learn more about this part of the readathon and to donate, visit the Dewey’s Room to Read campaign page.

Reading through the night won’t be happening for me on April 29, but I plan to clear my schedule at least for the daylight hours. If I take part, I’ll post about it here and on Instagram.

Until my children finish their masterpieces, I’ve had to content myself with what’s already on the shelves. Here’s some of what I finished reading in March:

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Minimalist Blues

Inspired by the hip, minimal furnishings in the West Coast rental in which we stayed last week, I’ve decided to do some deep decluttering at my East Coast home.

Today, I got through one half of a closet full of unfinished crafts.

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Before decluttering, but after I took all of the crafts out of the closet.

I still haven’t figured out what to do with our hard-drive from 2008 or data backup CD-ROMs going back to 2003, but at least we made room for the microscope and the sheet music.

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After.

We might have a better shot at “hip” and “minimal” if we just buy the rental house. Or maybe I can just share pictures of that house and pretend it’s mine.

Bookends: February 2017

Well, what do you know? It’s March. I’ve been so distracted by the crazy rollercoaster weather here in New England the past couple of weeks and so consumed with the books I’ve been binge-reading in March so far that I totally spaced on doing the February Bookends.

Here are the titles I finished reading in February:

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