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Month: September 2016

A Book a Day, Day 30 -Looks like I made it!

A Book a Day, Day 30 -Looks like I made it!

“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” Henry David Thoreau

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I’ve been hearing Barry Manilow singing looks like you made it in my ear ever since I finished Ethan Frome this morning.  And just like that my first 30 Day Challenge in the books. Get it?  Yesterday I read John Sandford’s Extreme Prey after I saw it at the library and couldn’t resist picking it up.  It’s about some fringe, crazy people trying to take out politicians that are running against their favorite. It was a little scary since I’ve seen some of those feelings come out this election cycle and the end didn’t exactly leave me with loads of hope.  As with all Lucan Davenport books it teases a new job for the currently retired Minneapolis cop.

This morning I read the classic Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton and was surprised by how much I liked it. I chose it because it was short, on my shelves, and counted for my classics reading challenge, but after a few pages I was hooked.  I can’t wait to see the movie (Maybe there was more than one? I only remember seeing the promos for the one with Uma Thurman) I took myself to breakfast this morning to finish the book and celebrate.

What worked – Having a stack of books to choose from was great. Otherwise I would have spent way too much time each morning going through all of my shelves.  The extra time spent pulling books out beforehand was worth it. Not being married to the stack was good too. I ended up reading four books that weren’t there originally and that’s okay.  Making 250 pages my rough limit for pages was a good idea. I’m not a fast reader.  I reached my Goodreads goal for the year!  So far I’ve read 62 books.

What didn’t work – Well, to be honest, I wasn’t prepared for the isolation.  Reading is not a social activity so the hours I spent on the challenge every day, while rewarding, did grow tiresome by the end.  My initial book pile also grew problematic by the end. I mean I’m looking at the same 50 books every and by day 20 I’ve repeatedly skipped over the same books. They didn’t get more appealing on day 25.  This is why it’s best not to be too attached to the stack.

What would I have done differently – Looking back at what I read I wish I’d read a few more non-fiction books.  I only read nine and wish it had been more like 12.  And this challenge was probably not the best one to start the blog with. Reading and blogging take time and I haven’t found the time to focus on getting the blog in order.  I could have started with something easier!

I’m so glad I did it, it for no other reason to prove to myself that I could.  Knowing that it was for 30 days gave me the confidence to keep going on the hard days.  That and those of you who came by to cheer me on. Thank you so much!!!  I’m hoping to convince some of you to join me in these challenges 🙂

The month by the numbers

Books read – 30

Pages – 7185 (that averages out to almost 240 pages per book)

Shortest book – 74 pages

Longest book – 406 pages

Authors who stopped by and left a comment when I read their book – 3 (Tom Fields-Meyer, Scott Nagele, Matthew Thorburn)

1- Following Ezra by Tom Fields-Meyer

2- A Housefly in Autumn by Scott Nagele

3- Vengeance Follows by Scott Lax

4- Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti

5- The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

6- First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

7- The Croquet Player by H.G. Wells

8- Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh

9-Talking About Detective Fiction by P.D. James

10- D is For Deadbeat by Sue Grafton

11- Bleachers by John Grisham

12- The Lovers by Vendela Vida

13- Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn

14- Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

15- The Watermark by Travis Thrasher

16- Best Staged Plans by Claire Cook

17- I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells

18- Children with High-Functioning Autism by Claire E Hughes-Lynch

19- Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Rowling, Tiffany and Thorne

20- 31 Hours by Masha Hamilton

21- So Much Pretty by Cara Hoffman

22- I Dare Me by Luann Cahn

23- Seven Spiders Spinning by Gregory Maguire

24- Tinkers by Paul Harding

25- Discovering Ohio by Barbara Shangle

26- Home by Harlan Coben

27- Still Alice by Lisa Genova

28- Practically Green by Micaela Preston

29- Extreme Prey by John Sandford

30- Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

Tempted to give this challenge a try?

A Book a Day, Day 29, Practically Green

A Book a Day, Day 29, Practically Green

“Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. ”  P.J. O’Rourke

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Practically Green by Micaela Preston was a nice change of pace yesterday.  I’ve spent the past few years ‘greening’ our house in bits and spurts and thought this book was a nice guide for beginners and beyond.  I found new info and lots of reminders of things I still want to do.  I loved the layout which only added to the enjoyment.  It was published in 2009, so some of the information is common knowledge now, but mostly it’s still up-to-date.  It even has handy information sheets that you can cut out of the book for reference.

Our city has a wonderful curbside recycling program, they take almost anything, and just started providing bags so that we can recycle things like clothes and shoes too.  I feel spoiled in that regard, but even without extensive recycling you can make your house safer for your family and future families by buying less chemicals, processed foods and cheap clothing.  It’s always a work in progress around here. There are always things to improve upon.  And buy less.  We heard several times on our trip to Boston that much of the of the city is build on landfill.  The less you buy the less landfill we need to live on.

What’s it about – Greening your home through your food, your cleaners, and your clothes.

What did I learn – If everyone in the US replaced one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper with 100% recycled paper we could save 423,900 trees. About 80-90% of energy used in clothes washing comes from heating the water.  Lots of facts like this pop up throughout the book just so you have something to think about and consider.

Who would like it – Anyone who would like to start the process of living in a way that puts less of a burden on future generations.

In the home stretch now and not a day too soon!  28/28.

 

 

A Book a Day, Day 28, Still Alice

A Book a Day, Day 28, Still Alice

“A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.”   – President Abraham Lincoln

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G is on his first field trip without me.  They don’t like parents to go at this new school, so here I sit while he spends the day at the apple farm. This morning when I told him I couldn’t go he told me he would miss me and that made me happy/sad.

I am limping in to these last few days of this challenge.  Even with a book as great as Still Alice by Lisa Genova it was hard to drum up excitement for taking the time to listen and read it.  I finished it at 11:40 last night.  I’m even less motivated today, so I chose a different kind of book hoping it will energize me.  The good news is that tomorrow when I finish my book I will reach my Goodreads yearly goal of 61! Yay 🙂

Last year I saw the movie with Julianne Moore and really liked it, even though it was sad.  I knew the book had been well received by bloggers but it sat on my shelf for years.  This is one of the few times when I think the movie held up well. Yes, the book was better and had more nuance, but the movie and Moore’s performance were spot on.  It was also a good time to read it since we just visited Cambridge, where this takes place, last week.  Interestingly, I enjoyed the audio even more than reading and found myself wasting time in the kitchen just so I could listen.

What’s it about – A well-respected 50 year old Harvard professor is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.  There is a fast decline and family relationships are tested.  Her husband, just as in the movie, made me want to hit him even though I could see his pain too.

What did I learn – Before I saw the movie I hadn’t really known that people got Alzheimers so young.  The book provided even more details about the choices of treatment and support (or lack of, really).  I also had no idea that there was a gene that you could be tested for and was surprised that her daughter could use in-vitro and eliminate the risks of passing it on.

Who would love it – Anyone who loves or has loved someone with dementia or Alzheimers would appreciate the insight.  I think anyone, like myself, who enjoys a great story even if it’s depressing.

A Book a Day, Day 27, Home

A Book a Day, Day 27, Home

“A book is the most effective weapon against intolerance and ignorance.”   President Lyndon B Johnson

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I was so happy to pick up Harlan Coben’s new Myron Bolitar book, Home.  I love many of his standalones, but it’s Myron and company who have my loyalty and since the last book of the series came out in 2011 I was craving me some Myron and Win.  It was a perfect book to curl up with on a chilly and rainy fall day.

What’s it about – Win, Myron’s best friend since college, asks for help in finding his cousin’s son who has been missing for 10 years.  They start on the London sex trade streets and end up in an uber wealthy New Jersey neighborhood where the families have au pairs, not nannies. Or maybe they start in New Jersey and end in London, either way it’s a wild ride.

What did I learn – Young kids know way too much about technology. They need to get outside and spend some time in the sun!

Who would love it – Oh, I think most everyone would like the series, but you’d have to start somewhere earlier. It wouldn’t have to be the first book, this one is #11, but maybe by 4 or 5 you should be on board.

I’m 26/26 and looking forward to Friday, the last day of the month.  I’m looking for nature walkers who want to join me in October.  I need to get some exercise after this month of curling up with good books and what better place than outside where the trees will be changing.  I want to fill the blog, FB, Instagram with pictures of gorgeous trees! More details in a few days.

A Book A Day, Day 26 – Discovering Ohio

A Book A Day, Day 26 – Discovering Ohio

In Ohio seasons are theatrical.  Each one enters like a prima donna, convinced its performance is the reason the world has people in it. –Beloved, Toni Morrison

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Yesterday was a busy day so I chose my last short book, Discovering Ohio by Barbara Shangle. I’ve had this in my unread stack for years, at least since 2008 when I started taking a yearly picture, so it’s good that I finally got around to reading it.  I think, the problem for me at least is that when you read something about a place that you know and love you are overly critical.  The pictures were great and I do like how the author tried to paint a picture of Ohio through the years, all the way back to when white settlers came here, but she made a choice not to focus on the cities which I think does a major disservice to the state.  Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland are top 50 cities in population. I know from living in Cleveland just how much history there is here.  Yes, Ohio is full of farms and mining and industrial places, but that is really only half of the picture.  Reading this I think you’d get a fairly one-sided picture of the state.

What’s it about– It’s a gift book for Ohioans.  Pictures and history combine for a easy to read story of Ohio.

What did I learn– Ohio started the nation’s first unemployment compensation program and the first nature conservancy.

Who would like it – Ohioans that want a little history with some pretty pictures.

I’ve already started reading Harlan Coben’s latest and reading it is pretty much all I want to do today!

A Book A Day, Day 25, Still on Track

A Book A Day, Day 25, Still on Track

“Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.”  -Tom Landry

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Jason and I flew to Boston early Thursday morning (Seriously. I set my alarm for 3:50 am) and flew back home to Cleveland at 10:30 last night.  I hate to fly and this was the first time I’ve been on a plane in years.  When I was pregnant we flew to France and San Francisco and, as hard as it is to believe, that was 6 years ago!  I hated to leave Gage but was really craving a mom vacation, so my wonderful parents took Gage in off the streets while we were gone.

Boston was great. I loved the city, the vibe, the history, the water…I told Jason that I would be okay with living there if the need ever arose.  In case you were wondering, the JFK Library & Museum at UMass was my favorite thing.

More importantly, I continued to read a book a day!  Could I have taken those three days off? Sure, but isn’t that the point of a challenge?  It’s so easy to make excuses not to do things, but with a 30 day challenge it’s challenging but doable.  I was pretty proud of myself as I finished Tinkers as the plan landed last night.  I took short books, one being a book for the younger set written by the author of Wicked.

I Dare Me by Luann Cahn was the perfect choice for the early morning plane ride.   This woman did something new EVERYDAY for a year and documented it.  One of the earlier chapters was about the things she’d done to conquer her fears and she mentioned flying. I found the book inspirational.  Her point, “You don’t have to run away from home to change your life” is one that resonated with me. I think you’ll see a Do Something New Everyday 30 day challenge soon.  Anyone want to join me?

I read Seven Spider’s Spinning by Gregory Maguire Friday night after we were back to the room for the night.  I must have picked this up at a book sale after I read Wicked and it was a perfect, easy choice for the trip.  Seven huge, tarantula-type spiders escape and try to take out the girls at a local elementary school.  There were spiders drawn on the margins of the pages and it was creepy, but at 132 pages I wasn’t going to complain.

Tinkers by Paul Harding is a Pulitzer Prize winner and I did not care for it. I was mostly bored out of my mind, with a few pages here and there that gave me a half-hearted reason to continue. If I taken another book I would not have bothered to finish it.  But at 190 pages it was an easy plane book.

24/24 with the finish line in sight.

 

 

 

 

A Book a Day, Day 22, So Much Pretty

A Book a Day, Day 22, So Much Pretty

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Okay. I am getting up in 4 1/2 hours to catch a plane to Boston, but I am a night owl and here I am getting in this last post before I try and snooze.  I finished the audio at 11 pm.  It is totally messed up  (or is that me since that isn’t my first glass of wine?).  I would recommend reading instead of listening because there is a lot of jumping from viewpoints and different years.  Yesterday I read about the making of a terrorist and today I read about…well, I don’t want to spoil anything but it’s not too far off.

What’s it about – a reporter, a kidnapped young woman, and a girl live in Hayden, New York with a sad bunch of citizens.

What did I learn – although I know rape is something that happens often, this book really put it in context.

Who would love it – mystery lovers who enjoy the darker side.

21/21

 

 

A Book a Day, Day 21, 31 Hours

A Book a Day, Day 21, 31 Hours

“Fanaticism and terrorism have no place in Islam.”  Feisal Abdul Rauf

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31 Hours by Masha Hamilton was published in 2009, but the realities of home grown terrorism is just as relevant today.  It’s such a tricky subject because so many things go into the making of a terrorist that if you focus on one part, say the Islamic aspect, then you might lose sight of the many other pieces to the whole.  Anyway, this thriller was well reviewed by friends of mine, but I just couldn’t get into it. I started it few months ago and had the same problem but this time I powered through finishing at 11pm last night 🙂

What’s it about – It’s the story of a young American, Jonas, who has decided to strap on a bomb and blow up himself and others in the name of Allah.  It’s told from the alternating viewpoints of Jonas, his mother, girlfriend, his girlfriend’s sister and a homeless man.  Jonas’s decision and how he reached it was important but the focus wasn’t on Jonas, it was on everyone he was going to leave behind.

What I learned – I empathized with the homeless man who considered asking for money in the subway his job.  I empathized with the mother who knew something was wrong and blamed herself.  I learned that, as with any horrific act, there are people who need our support and understanding.

Who would like it – If you have any interest in martyrs or just like a good thriller this might be for you.

I’m 21/21! Tomorrow I leave for Boston for 3 days and will try my very best to finish a book a day.  I won’t blog until Sunday, but I’ll keep myself honest on my Facebook page.

 

A Book a Day, Day 20, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

A Book a Day, Day 20, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

“We’ve all got light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on.  That’s who we really are.”  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Rowling, Tiffany and Thorne.  Oh, how I’d missed my wand wielding friends.  I read the Harry Potter series, along with a large percentage of literate world and loved it.  Muggles and wizards, yes, but at its heart it is about friendship and loyalty, right and wrong.  I was sad to see the series end, but felt it was complete (well, except for the pairings at the end).  I hadn’t heard great things about this screenplay, based on the story by JK Rowling, that takes place decades later, but I wanted to know what happened just like everyone else.  It was so great to be back in the company of Harry Potter and his pals, even the beloved ones that were gone by the end of the series.

What’s it about – Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Draco are all back, but this time it’s their children that are off to Hogwarts.  Albus and Scorpius are outcasts and best friends who decide to make their daddies proud.  Silly kids.

What did I learn – There’s still plenty of juice in the Harry Potter world.

Who would like it – Anyone who has read the first 7 books.  I did miss the novel form and the great writing, but accept it as it is and enjoy.

20/20

Book A Day, Day 19, Children with High-Functioning Autism

Book A Day, Day 19, Children with High-Functioning Autism

“Who do you think made the first stone spears? The Asperger guy.  If you were to get rid of all the autism genetics, there would be no more Silicon Valley.”  Dr. Temple Grandin

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Children with High-Functioning Autism:A Parent’s Guide by Claire E. Hughes-Lynch has been on my shelves for a few years and that’s too bad because it would have been more helpful earlier in my autism journey.  There are so many books and so much information on the internet about autism that when you first start looking it is completely overwhelming.  And all the information tells you that time is of the essence when treating children on the spectrum, so hurry, hurry, hurry.  The author was a professor of special education before her daughter was born so clearly she had a good, solid foundation, but even she was overcome with too much information when she experienced it from a mother’s side.  So many truths in this book.  She is also very evenhanded in her research.  I appreciated that Hughes-Lynch could share both things she agreed with and things she wasn’t sure about, knowing that what is true and works for one family doesn’t for another. It’s up to the parents to weed through the information and make their own decisions.

What’s it about – She talks about autism from suspecting your child has it, through the new vocabulary and therapies to hopefully coming out the other side in a good place.  It’s a primer, of sorts, laid out in a way that would be useful for newbies.  She shares her own story throughout and provides understanding and hope.

What did I learn – Okay, I’ve been at this almost four years, so much of it wasn’t new ground,  but I did learn a little more about sensory processing disorder. There are a few aspects that I always struggle with understanding and she gave me new insight.

Who would like this – Any parent or family member who has recently had a child diagnosed on the autism spectrum.  As a matter of fact, I’m willing to mail this to the first person who leaves a comment with an email address.  Information is your friend.