2016 reads + 2017 bookscape

Wanna chat about books with me? I love seeing what other people have read and what they plan on reading, so that’s what I’m doing today.

Reading is so important in my life. I can feel my cup of happiness fill up even reading 10 pages. Things can come and go in my life, but reading will always be a pillar for me. 

Ok. Book chat. Last year first. I grabbed screenshots from my Goodreads page and plopped them here. I set out to read 50 books. Actually read 23. Whoops. 

Books that made me cry: (one) The Nightingale

Books that made me laugh: (three) Naked, I Feel Bad About My Neck, The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Septic Tank

Novel I’m still thinking about: Peace Like a River

Books worthy of a standing ovation: All The Light We Cannot See & The Kite Runner

Surprisingly good: Scott Adams’s (creator of Dilbert) book 

Surprisingly great: Lord of the Flies (for that feeling when you know you’ve just read a perfectly crafted story)

Enjoyable page turners: Big Magic & Ready Player One 

Books that made me say “meh”: In This House of Brede, You are a Badass, and Jesus 

Great book, wrong reader: Present Over Perfect

Most helpful due to expertise: The Power of Habit

This stays here (books I will keep on my shelves): For the Children’s Sake

I read pretty regularly this year until we kicked off the school year. It’s been random bursts of reading since then but not nearly as much as what I would have liked.  My reading typically picks up this time of year again. No doubt in part due to my enthusiasm to reignite all interests with guns blazing January 1st. 

Looking back through these titles I can recall times I woke early in the morning to catch a few pages, when I texted friends or my mom with my thoughts, when I propped my feet up on the patio furniture, pausing from time to time to watch the breeze weave through the green leaves overhead. 

It’s a chapter of reading closed. And now it’s time for a new one.  Each years means a little bit more intentionality in my reading. It means new opportunities to discover new ideas, new characters, new settings to contrast and complement my own. 

So, 2017.  How’s the reading landscape shaping up? 

Well, for starters, a good chunk of my reading will be determined by my participation in the Book of the Month Club. Yay! Paul bought it for me for a Christmas gift. I was really, really happy. My 1st box should be coming in soon.  I can’t manage a face to face book club during this season of life, so this feels like the very next best thing.

Another big difference I’m making is setting up most of my non-fiction reading, in part, by the quarters. So, each quarter (quarter 1 = January, February, March) I’m choosing a book in each category:

Spiritual  *   Homeschooling  *  Self-Improvement   *  Poetry

**These were the four types of books that I wished I would have focused more on last year. 

I did fill out Modern Mrs. Darcy’s book challenges & spent too much time one night when I was sick digging into blog lists and Amazon reviews for book I could possibly, potentially read.  I’m not dead set on completing these challenges but I’ll pick a book or two from time to time throughout the year. You can check out the not one, but two challenges here

I plan to do more reading books with friends & family this year.  I dabbled in that last year & I really loved it.  Paul and I have set a goal of reading one book a quarter with each other too.  And my mom and I chatted about that with spiritual reads… need to check in with her to see if she is still up for it! If any of you want to read a book with me, let me know! I will absolutely take you up on the offer!!

Last year I used 1 trick that helped me fit more reading into my schedule and that was setting the timer for 20 minutes of reading as part of my morning routine.  This year, I want to do a better job of putting away my phone when I get to bed and reaching for a book more often...as well as getting to bed earlier so I have more time to enjoy.

aaaaaannd I've got 81 books on my "to read" list in my phone, so that should serve me well. 

Enough about my reading life. What about yours? 

Did you read any great books this past year? Do you have any you are excited to dig into this year? Do you have any book recommendations for me?

I hope you are having a great start to the new year! xoxox, Ash



What I've been reading lately

This is my first time linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for a what I've been reading lately post. I had a lot of fun writing my little reviews / reflections for each of these books. It was an unexpected digging for little bits of gold & happy closure too. I've been texting friends and family for a sort of book-club-at-a-distance experience (my mom and I read Peace Like a River together and my friend, Allison, and I read All The Light together), and that's been so cool. Sitting down and writing helped me see even more about the books--a lot of which I'll just have to sit on because #spoileralert is not welcome here. I'm sharing, but not oversharing, and I hope you enjoy! 

Peace Like a River - This book’s cover is all wrong, and what a shame because I think it is quite a good book, one definitely worthy of our time and consideration. A controversial murder scene sends a family on a heroic quest. Their search is one to enjoy, however chilly both in setting and complexity, and to think about later—book finished and returned to shelf. I’m still thinking about it, particularly these things: unseen miracles, family dynamics, misdirected heroism, and the role of goodness in the face of evil. 

Retire Inspired: It’s Not an Age, It’s a Financial Number - Enjoyable. That’s not the word you might associate with a book about finances, but that’s exactly the chord Chris Hogan struck. If you’re familiar with Dave Ramsey (I listen to his podcast every single morning while I unload dishes), then just imagine someone picking up from the spot Ramsey stops. It’s a great book for those who are just beginning to take retirement seriously (at any age) or those who already have a plan in place but want a little inspiration.  

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear - If The War of Art and On Writing had a baby and she had just the kindest nature—Big Magic! Gilbert is able to untangle cynicism from the raw work of the creative life. Her voice is refreshing and light without losing grip on the realities of what it takes to be an artist, to make art, and to be okay with how that art is received. Here’s something. If you are going to read this, consider collecting some quotes and notes. I had so much fun reading Gilbert’s writing that I didn’t feel like grabbing a notebook or sticky-notes, but I really should have! 

All The Light We Cannot See - Doerr spotlights two individuals, one young woman and one young man, in parallel plots during WWII. What we have, drawn out with ridiculously beautiful prose, is a nudge at the responsibility and the capacity of the individual. There’s something else though too, and I think it plays a really interesting part in the larger themes of the novel. Hobbies and interests. How we play with them. How far we let them lead us. What we do with those things once they are fully grown. And how, in incredibly unforeseen ways (and how true to life this is!) those seemingly random hobbies and interests can come to bring life and meaning to others.  Excellent book. Painfully beautiful. Timeless. Good.

And now it's your turn. What have you been reading lately? Any reflections or suggestions you want to share? If you've read any of the books I mentioned, I would love to know your thoughts!