TBR List Declutter: Week 11

It’s hard to follow last week’s impromptu lesson about Latin numeration, so I’m not even going to try. Instead, let’s just jump into books CI to CX (centum unus to centum decem)!

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 101-110: Read More

TBR List Declutter: Week 10

Today I hit the century mark! The first of seven. When I’m done, I will celebrate the TBR Declutter’s sesquisepticentennial, if I continue to use anniversary names to count my books. If I just use Latin numbers, today’s post ends with centum, and I’ll (eventually) be counting up to septingenti quinquaginta. And that concludes our lesson on Latin numbers for today.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 91-100 (nonaginta unus (XCI) – centum (C)): Read More

TBR List Declutter: Week 9

With these ten, I had apparently finished with the book of books. The New York Times had a “Top 20 Writers Under 40” thing a few years ago, and based on my tags, I seem to have started gathering TBRs from that list.

Just today I added a handful more books to my TBR because I’m incorrigible. I’m not counting the ones I add right now because hopefully by the time I get to the end of the list, I will have read a few titles and it will all even out. Of course, lately I’ve been reading titles that aren’t on my Goodreads TBR, so that doesn’t bring my TBR numbers down.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 81-90: Read More

TBR List Declutter: Week 8

As of this week, I’ve gone through more than 10% of my original 750-title TBR. Motoring right along with ten more from March 9, 2010, from the book of books.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 71-80: Read More

Bookends: July 2017

July was a mix of hot, muggy days interspersed with phenomenal, California-like weather that left me feeling renewed and (almost) ready to put up with the mugginess again. It’s difficult on days like these to imagine that snow is only a few months away.

I’ve continued doing work around the house, and I find myself looking around the house wondering what else to do and/or what else to get rid of. There are just four big jobs left to do, three of which I’m hiring out (if I can get people to schedule the work). The quotes I got for the fourth job made me choke on my kombucha, so I’m going to try reupholstering my kitchen set with my own hands and a book about upholstery I’m getting from the library. And some fabric. I would leave it, but the vinyl is cracked and it looks pretty tacky and unkempt. Not that I generally have a problem with looking tacky and unkempt, but I prefer my kitchen to look, if not stylish, at least kempt. If I think that my ham-handed attempts will leave it looking better than it does now, I’ll give it a try.

I kept up with my TBR List Declutter this month. Each Thursday, I post the titles of ten books that are on my TBR, why I added them in the first place, and whether I’m keeping them or taking them off of the TBR. This week I’ll pass the 10% mark of my initial TBR. Crawling right along!

Speaking of crawling, July also brought our annual shipment of monarchs to rear.


Totally cute, right? Hopefully we’ll have nine to eleven healthy monarch butterflies to release at the end of the month.

And now to the primary purpose of this monthly post—books!

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TBR List Declutter: Week 7

Another week, another ten books! All of these were added on March 9, 2010, from—you guessed it!—the book of books. If you see me blogging about wanting to check out a “500 books you must read” book from the library, please leave me a firmly worded comment reminding me of my current dilemma.

I decluttered my kitchen today and am in the mood for more tossing. I hope that helps me make some cuts to my TBR.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 61-70: Read More

Howards End by E.M. Forster

Howards End was the July SBC selection, and finishing it, I’m no longer behind on my reading for my own book club! Check out the SBC page for the titles we have coming up and to look through the ones we’ve already read. You can join the conversation in the comments or in our Goodreads group.

This novel is beautifully written and, for a book written before World War I, surprisingly relevant to today’s political and social climate. The central conflict seems to be between Margaret’s ideals and how these manifest in real life. She is intellectual, well-educated, and has a strong will, which makes it disappointing to see her make choices that seem counter to these aspects of herself. I felt so irritated with her for some of the mistakes I saw her making, for seeming to choose bad relationships over good ones, but in the end, she seems to come to a place of compromise that is better for (nearly) everyone involved than what would have been available had she dug in her heels from the beginning.

The novel seemed to be gearing up for a grand confrontation and dramatic decisions, and so at first this compromise ending was unsatisfying to me. But upon reflection, I decided that the ending is all the more realistic for the lack of fireworks. Gradually I saw that the decisions Margaret made that were so frustrating to me were frustrating because they’re the kinds of decisions I think anyone makes who has ideals and also lives in the world. It’s more satisfying to read about people bucking convention, throwing off everything they once valued and making a clean breast of it as a shiny, new person, but it’s not realistic. We can make changes, but we don’t really become new people, or if we do, it’s a slow metamorphosis and one governed by forces outside of our control, contrary to the promises of self-help books, talk shows, and websites selling fitness programs (and I don’t mean religious or supernatural forces, but the natural forces of biology, economics, politics, environment, and genetics through which we all muddle as best we can).

Compromise doesn’t trigger the dopamine release that I crave, and it doesn’t feed the desire I still feel despite my constant efforts to the contrary to see punished people I think have done wrong, but it provides a much more loving and sustainable model for change than the dramatic ending. Only connect.

Some quotes that spoke to me (page numbers from the 2000 Penguin Books paperback edition):

p.25: “It is the vice of a vulgar mind to be thrilled by bigness, to think that a thousand square miles are a thousand times more wonderful than one square mile, and that a million square miles are almost the same as heaven.”

p. 52: “I’m tired of these rich people who pretend to be poor, and think it shows a nice mind to ignore the piles of money that keep their feet above the waves.”

p.91: “Actual life is full of false clues and signposts that lead nowhere. With infinite effort we nerve ourselves for a crisis that never comes. The most successful career must show a waste of strength that might have moved mountains, and the most unsuccessful is not that of the man who is taken unprepared, but of him who has prepared and is never taken…Life is indeed dangerous, but not in the way morality would have us believe. It is indeed unmanageable, but the essence of it is not a battle. It is unmanageable because it is a romance, and its essence is romantic beauty.”

p. 128: “The feudal ownership of land did bring dignity, whereas the modern ownership of movables is reducing us again to a nomadic horde. We are reverting to the civilization of luggage, and historians in the future will note how the middle classes accreted possessions without taking root in the earth, and may find in this the secret to their imaginative poverty.”

p.132: “I don’t believe in suiting my conversation to my company. One can doubtless hit upon some medium of exchange that seems to do well enough, but it’s no more like the real thing than money is like food. There’s no nourishment in it.”

TBR List Declutter: Week 6

Ten more titles, nine from the book of books—and one not!

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 51-60: Read More

TBR List Declutter: Week 5

Well, what do you know? Ten more titles from the book of books (added January 15, 2010). I really went to town adding titles from that book.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

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Footloose and Fitness Tracker-Free

In June 2014, I bought a fitness tracker. I got myself a Fitbit One to wear on my hip rather than a wristband tracker because I really liked wearing my watch.


Snazzy watch, much nicer than any fitness tracker.

I wore the tracker all day and all night, every day and every night. In 2016, hoping to shake things up by increasing the intensity of my exercise (coincidentally, this was also the upshot of Fitbit’s advertising at the time), I added a Charge HR to the mix. I wore the new tracker for daytime activities and the One for sleep tracking and felt confident that positive results would follow.

If you believe the reports, many people only wear their fitness trackers for a few months, but not me. I wore one fitness tracker or the other twenty-four hours every day for three years, even under my dress at my brother’s wedding. Gotta get credit for the Chicken Dance! (N.B., There was no Chicken Dance at my brother’s wedding.)

And then today, I deleted my Fitbit account. Read More