Category Archives: Personal Life

Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: My Goals for 2020

Hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

Click here to read everyone else’s replies to this week’s question and here to see the full list of topics for the year.

My goals for 2020 are simple.

Woman sitting on a bench in an art museum looking at large paintings. Visit More Museums. It’s been too long since I stepped foot into a museum. That needs to change.

Try New Things. It could be as simple as visiting a new restaurant or as complicated as having a full-blown conversation in Spanish. I want to stretch my comfort zone this year.

Study Spanish Again. Speaking of foreign languages, I stopped studying Spanish last year. I want to pick it up again and hopefully get to a point where I can have conversations in that language. Learning a new language is hard,  and I deeply admire everyone who becomes fluent in a new language.

Spend More Time in Nature. While I love living in a big city, there’s something incredibly relaxing about spending time in nature. I want to do that more often.

Reply to Emails Faster.  I wasn’t always good at that in 2019. Let’s see if I can do better this year.

What I Read in 2019

Black book with floral design at the topIn January of 2013, I began blogging once a year about everything I’d read that previous year.  This tradition began when my dad asked me how many books I’ve read in my entire lifetime.

I couldn’t begin to give him an answer to that question, but it did make me decide to start keeping track from that moment forward. The previous posts in this series are as follows: 20182017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013.

There are links included to the books that I also wrote reviews for here.

I had some trouble finishing books this year. There were so many more titles that I started but then gave up on. I think I was pickier about what I read over the last twelve months, and the lure of social media also made reading a little less appealing than it normally is for me.

If any of you have advice on how to get out of this sort of slump, I’d sure like to hear it!

Biographies, Autobiographies, and Memoirs

“Living like Livvy: A Mother’s Story about the Girl Who Refused to be Defined by Rett Syndrome” by Andre Govier
“Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free” by Linda Kay Klein
“Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” by Camille Laurens
“Diary of Family G” by Ami McKay
“Shut Away: When Down Syndrome was a Life Sentence” by Catherine McKercher
“Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited” by Elyse Schein

 

Mystery

“The Paying Guests” by Sarah Waters

Poetry

“Charlotte: A Novel” by David Foenkinos

“The World According to Fred Rogers: Important Things to Remember” by Fred Rogers

Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Testaments” by Margaret Atwood

Let’s Play White” by Chesya Burke

“The Lost Ones” by Anita Frank (review pending)

“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson

The Farm: A Novel” by Joanne Ramos

The Spellbound Spindle” by Joy V. Spicer

Sociology and Psychology

“Why We Elect Narcissists and Sociopaths (and How We Can Stop)” by Bill Eddy

“Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them” by Tina Gilbertson

“Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and how It Can Help You Find – And Keep – Love“ by Amir Levine

“Gaslighting: Recognize Manipulative and Emotionally Abusive People – And Break Free” by Stephanie Moulton Sarkis

Search Engine Questions from 2019

Every year I take the last two week of December off from serious blogging, so here’s a lighthearted topic for today that I’ve been slowly compiling since last winter.

The phrases and sentences in bold are the funniest, most interesting queries that have sent new readers to this site over the last year. My responses are below them.

Will we ever run out of new music

Only when we run out of people. Even then, I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t leave behind a few machines that knew how to make music and continued to churn out new songs.

How popular is the name lydia

It was #85 on the top 100 list for baby girl names in 2017. I love my name and hope it becomes more widely used someday.

How much do gym teachers make

According to this site, it’s about $51,000 a year for elementary gym teachers and $53,000 for middle/high school gym teachers in the United States. Depending on your years of experience and where you live, the salary can be as low as $35,000 or as high as $80,000.

teleport lydia to me
how to teleport lydia to me

If this is a Star Trek thing, sign me up! I’d love to explore your ship, have a few minor health issues fixed in your medical bay, eat replicator meals, and visit all of the cool holodeck programs.

achoo gif

Your wish is my command.

Gif description: a man sneezing repeatedly into a handkerchief.

What is gender treachery in the handmaid’s tale

Having a physical and/or romantic relationship with someone of the same gender. LGBT+ people didn’t fare well in Gilead at all. We’d  give it 0 out of 10 stars.

compliments that begin with t

  • Talented
  • Tough
  • Tenacious
  • Terrific
  • Thoughtful

how to summon Lydia

Other than teleportation, you could offer me dairy-free chocolate and an engrossing story. Or, you know, text me and say you want to get together for tea or something.

Is The Magicians worth watching?

Yes. I found the first season a little slow in the beginning, but the storylines become really good once you get to the end of that season and the start of the second one.

wtf facts about silent people

Sometimes we have top secret meetings about talkative people. The ones that think it’s funny to ask us why we’re so quiet or treat our temperaments like they’re a character flaw get added to the naughty list. Everyone else gets fresh, homemade cookies (unless they don’t want cookies).

I’d say more, but I don’t know that the Silent People Board of Elders ™ would approve. 😉

How do I get to Mordor

Just about any other destination in Arda would be a safer place to visit. I’d much rather visit The Shire, Rivendell, or Treebeard’s Hill. If you insist on going to Mordor anyway, I’d suggest flagging down a Nazgul or wandering into Orc territory. 

I’d follow you into the Mists of Avalon

Thank you. I’d lead you into the Mists of Avalon if I knew where to find it and that I could get us home safe again. Ideally, we’d use your teleporter and be back home again before anyone missed us.

Is Jean M. Auel dead?

Not so far as I can tell. She’s in her 80s now and isn’t particularly interested in spending much time online from what I’ve heard, so I suspect any future notices about her health will come from one of her children.

How to make lembas bread

I blogged about a recipe that’s the closest thing us mortals will ever get to true lembas bread. It’s pretty delicious, but it has yet to give me superhuman endurance.

Top Ten Tuesday: Changes in My Reading Life

Hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

While I was coming up with this list, I tried to make everything fit the same sentence structure. It bothered me just a little bit that I had to break that pattern for one of my answers.

There are five genres I read less of these days and five I’ve started to spend much more time exploring.

I Read Less Poetry

I Read Less Horror

I Read Less Fantasy

I Read Less Romance

I Read Fewer Series and Long Works

 

I Read More Biographies

I Read More Hard Science Fiction

I Read More History

I Read More Hopeful Fiction, Scifi or Otherwise

I Read More Science

In general, I find that I’m becoming more interested in books that talk about real-life issues (even if the plots themselves are fictional) and have a faster-paced structure than what I read when I was in school. It’s also nice to find authors who take a hopeful but realistic approach to their topic, whatever that topic may be.

This isn’t to say that I dislike poetic passages or metaphors. A few of them sprinkled into a book are nice, but I’m not as thrilled about reading an entire novel’s worth of that sort of thing as I used to be.

5 Ways to Fit More Reading Time In

When I was growing up, I either already knew where the books were or quickly figured it out after visiting a new place for the first time. Sometimes this involved me grabbing a book from my grandparents’ personal library and hiding out underneath the piano to read and nibble on a few crackers while the adults talked.

Since my father was a pastor, this also occasionally meant that I’d sniff out the books in other people’s churches when we visited them. I remember wandering around a particularly large church one day and feeling quite satisfied with myself when one of the doors I opened revealed a small bookshelf in that room.

Immediately, I sat on the floor and read to my heart’s content. All of the books remained in that room, and I put them back neatly where I found them when I decided that enough time had passed for anyone to begin wondering why I’d been away from the service for so long.

That is to say, I have a lot of practice in squeezing reading time out of just about any experience. Here are a few of my favourite ways to get through just a few more pages out while doing ordinary things.

While Waiting

Lego people standing in a tidy queue while waiting to talk to someone who is sitting behind a desk. I read while sitting in waiting rooms, queued up in line, or seeing if a store clerk could find that one last pair of jeans in my size.

There’s something about having a good book to read that makes this time pass much faster.

It’s easier to forget how long you’ve been waiting when you’re in the middle of an exciting scene.

On Transit

Woman standing and waiting for a subway car to stopOne of the nicest things about taking buses, trains, planes, or other forms of mass transit is that you can have a short or long block of time to do all sorts of quiet things in your seat.

I can’t read physical pages while travelling due to how nauseated that would make me, but I can listen to an audio version of a story.

(And, yes, audiobooks totally count as reading).

During Exercise

Woman listening to headphones while resting from a runObviously, this is one of those cases where an audiobook is going to be much easier to “read” than a paperback or e-book.

I have seen people reading novels while using certain fitness machines, though, and I like the idea of killing two birds with one stone that way so long as you do it safely.

One of the things I’m hoping to do this winter is figuring out how to combine reading and exercise in some way. I’m not yet sure how I’ll accomplish that, but it seems like it would be an interesting goal to try to reach.  Audiobooks aren’t the sort of thing I can sit and listen to, but I’m thinking they might be more appealing if I’m doing something else while listening to them.

When You Can’t Sleep

Woman counting sheep in her mind while lying in bed. Outside, a flock of sheep are literally jumping over a fence. Every once in a while, I have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. When this happens, reading a book is a nice, quiet thing to do until my body decides to cooperate and go back to dreamland.

The stuff I choose to read at these late or early hours isn’t the same sort of material I’d read in the middle of the day.

Calm stories are good.

Poetry is soothing.

Action-packed thrillers are not so helpful for my overactive imagination at those hours. But to each their own on that topic!

Instead of…

Birds sitting on concrete statues on a foggy dayI’m going to leave it up to you to fill in the blank here. My answer to this question would be TV shows that I’ve lost interest in. While I understand if a show has the odd episode that doesn’t meet my expectations, I’m not the sort of person who will keep watching something that lost my enthusiasm one or more seasons ago.

There are too many other interesting things in this world to stick with stories that no longer grab my attention the way they did in their first episode or season.

How do you squeeze more reading time in?

Autumn Worlds I’d Like to Visit

I’ve written about the winter, spring, and summer worlds I’d like to visit, so today I’ll wrap up this series by talking about the autumn worlds I’d spend some time exploring if I could. Some of these settings weren’t necessarily the safest places to visit, but I’m going to use my authority as the author of this… Read More