Bookends: January and February 2018

We started January with a cross-country road trip, and ended February with the sale of our house in Massachusetts and are only a few days away from closing on a house in California. No wonder I missed posting January’s Bookends. Never fear: Here’s a two-for-one post to catch both months at the same time.

Books I read in January and February:

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2017: My Year in Books

Here at the end of 2017, I’m in the midst of my 17th relocation since I graduated high school (and my 23rd move since birth (not including the relocation from my mother’s uterus into the world at large)). That’s a lot of moving when I put it like that. It feels like a dubious accomplishment.

I vowed to make 2017 a travel year, but I didn’t know until November that in addition to the trips we took to California, Utah, Washington, DC, and Spain, we would also be relocating 3,000 miles southwest.

At the time this post publishes, if all goes according to plan, I’m sitting in a rental car with one spouse, two children, one cat, and a box full of muffins and pretzels, driving farther and farther away from the below-zero temperatures of this New England winter. I’ve spent the past few years in New England assembling a wardrobe largely made up of black and gray wool, which I trust will be of great use in San Diego.

Planned and unplanned travel and wardrobe choices aside, 2017 was, as usual, a year of books.

I read 101 books this year. The average (mean) books read per month was 8.41, and the average (mean) per week was 1.94. Total number of pages (according to Goodreads) was 27,931 (76.5 pages per day, 537 per week). Of course since a lot of these were audiobooks, not all of these were pages, per se.

Of these books, 69 were fiction (including children’s books), 10 were memoirs (up 100% from last year), and the remaining 21 were other nonfiction (an increase of nearly 150% from 2016). Of these, 16 were audiobooks and 6 were DNFs.

My Cavalcade of Classics list expired in January with disappointingly few books checked off. I plan to use my TBR List Declutter to help assemble a new, more reasonable Classics list. I’m not terribly skilled at “reasonable” when it comes to books, but it’s a laudable goal and probably something of a spiritual practice. Biblioasceticism or something.

Between Dewey’s and 24in48, I think I hit my readathon stride this year and learned a lot about how to assemble a readathon pile that holds my interest throughout 24 hours of reading.

As 2018 dawns, I am reading White Tears by Hari Kunzru. I predict that the first week of January will be filled with audiobooks, but after that I hope to be able to spend at least a little bit of time with my reading-with-my-eyes books in between house-hunting and connecting with homeschooling groups, orthodontists, veterinarians, pediatricians, dentists, and the myriad other members of our entourage.

 One of the biggest downsides of this late-breaking moving madness (we didn’t know we were moving until November 30; yippee!) is that I didn’t get my usual birthday/Christmas present of five library books selected for me by my spouse. Maybe I can convince him to get me a half-birthday/Christmas-in-June stack of books. Or maybe once we’re in the land of perpetual good weather, I’ll no longer want books as gifts. That would be strange development, indeed, but I rule nothing out anymore.

Below is my book list for 2017, by the month I finished each book. Click on the month name for the “Bookends” for that month, which includes other information about my reading progress throughout the year. I also cross-post most of my reviews on Goodreads. If you’d like to just go straight to Goodreads to see my reviews there, here’s the link to my Goodreads profile. You can also go there to see all 1163 books I’ve read and logged on Goodreads. If you’re not a Goodreads fan, you can check out my collection on LibraryThing instead, although it’s not as up-to-date as my Goodreads (alas).

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Bookends: November 2017

November. Holy moly. November.

It was fun, but oh, so tiring. My family traveled 15 out of 30 days, were in the capitals of three nations, and I lost ten pounds (not intentionally; I always lose weight when I’m traveling and then my son got a stomach virus, and, well, there you are). Sometime I’ll write about all of it (except the stomach virus), but it might have to wait until January. In the meantime, check out my Instagram (see sidebar) for images of our adventures.

In between all of that, I read a few books, and that’s what this is all about. I would have read more if those movies and games on the airplane seat backs weren’t so compelling. I’d say I hope to have more titles to report in December, but December’s going to be a whole different brand of crazy, so more reading is probably too much to ask.

At any rate, here are November’s books:

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Bookends: October 2017

With October’s Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, I have read my way out of my September slump, but I’ve developed an unhealthy taste for YA novels. Unhealthy not because YA is inherently non-nutritious (although oftentimes it is) but because I feel like I’ve become accustomed to fast-paced, plot-based, and/or melodramatic fiction, and that doesn’t bode well for all of the more substantial books on my TBR. Alas!

An update on our pet snails: We released them a few weeks ago, and I presume that they are now cavorting happily in our garden, storing nuts and seeds and building cozy little cabins in preparation for the New England winter.

Now on to my October books!

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Dewey’s Readathon Wrap-up (Oct 2017)

3:00pm, October 22: I tacked seven more hours onto my reading time to make up for sleeping overnight, and I finished two more books (one of which is shown below).

Final stats:

Books Completed:

1. Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips (definitely recommend!)

2. Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

3. Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

4. A Spoonful of Sugar by Brenda Ashford (audiobook that had only about an hour left on it when readathon started)

Books Started:

If I Stay by Gayle Forman (43 pages read)

Total Pages Read: 1,238

I definitely want to participate in Dewey’s in April 2018, and since that’s so long to wait, I’m going to try my best to do the next 24in48, too. Hopefully I will one day learn how to put together a somewhat realistic readathon stack.

In the meantime, here’s my victory lap:

Readathon Check-in: One book down!

1:30pm: I finished one whole book! 

Fierce Kingdom is awesome, and if you’re familiar with my book reviews, you know that I rarely call a book “awesome.” It drew me through the pages, and when I got to the last page, holy heck. I’ve cried at books before, but this is the first time I’ve ugly-cried.

The whole book was just so real and vivid and it didn’t let me fall into the “good guys, bad guys” dichotomy, which would have been very comforting. 

I’m going to keep this mini-review obtuse because I don’t want to reveal too much, but I’ll say that I do wonder if I would have reacted so strongly before I had kids…and if I weren’t the main character’s age and if I didn’t go to zoos all over the United States and so have a clear mental picture of just how this might happen in real life. Too much to relate to.

This would make a great movie, but I really hope they don’t make one out if it, even though that’s probably not fair to Gin Phillips.

Bookends: September 2017

A lot happened in September. Heck, a lot has happened in the first three days of October. The hits just keep on coming.

On the reading front, September was a fairly dry month for me. I let too many other things distract me (like my TBR List Declutter ). But October 21-22 is Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, and I’m getting excited for that, so hopefully this month will be more read-y for me.

In caterpillar news, I am sad to report that although the long-lived last caterpillar formed a J, he/she did not successfully pupate and is now at rest in our compost bin. Our snail pets are doing well, but we’re thinking about setting them free before cold weather because snails are really only so interesting, and I think they’d be happier in the garden than in a plastic terrarium listening (do snails have ears?) to my kids practice piano.

Now to the point of this post: The list of books I read in September!

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Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

Not only was this a great book to take with me to Utah, it’s also one of the books from my TBR list! The TBR List Declutter is working!


Shortly after my daughter was born, my in-laws came to visit us in California. While there, they drove to Yosemite National Park for a few days. When they got back, my spouse asked them what they’d seen while they were there.

Everything,” his dad replied.

What he meant, of course, was everything they could see within a fifty-yard walk from their car.

On that trip, my in-laws were just the kind of national park tourists Abbey pities and despises. “So long as they are unwilling to crawl out of their cars they will not discover the treasures of the national parks and will never escape the stress and turmoil of those urban-suburban complexes which they had hoped, presumably, to leave behind for a while.” (52)

Abbey opines in 1968 that automobiles are ruining the parks by necessitating the construction of roads and parking lots and ruining the experience for the visitors by keeping them encapsulated in steel and separated from the very experiences they’ve come to experience. He proposes a solution: ban automobiles from the parks. Read More

Bookends: August 2017

August ended with uncharacteristically awesome weather. 70s and low humidity doesn’t often happen in Massachusetts, and we had a nice long stretch of it. I missed the last couple of days of the good weather because my kids and I went out to Salt Lake City for hotter temperatures and even lower humidity. We had a wonderful time and, although we missed my spouse, were a little disappointed to leave the land of walkable streets, functional public transit, a phenomenal library, incredible gelato, and fun times with friends so soon. And did I mention the low humidity? Seriously, I think I’m in love with the desert.

My TBR List Declutter chugged right along this month, thanks to the post-scheduling capabilities of WordPress. For those new to Imperfect Happiness, each Thursday, I post the titles of ten books that are on my TBR and whether I’m keeping them or taking them off of the TBR (and why).

Against all odds, we still have one monarch caterpillar hanging on. This one is more than a month old now, which is ridiculously old for a monarch caterpillar. We think it has a genetic problem based on the change in its coloration and its extremely slow rate of growth. It’s still alive, although not very lively, so we keep feeding it.

“Not dead yet!”

 

My Utah trip did interfere with my Bookends post for August, but I’ll remedy that right now:

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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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