Category Archives: On reading

Birthday Blog

…by Charles Schultz

It was a quiet January 27th morning in 2007 when I shyly started this blog. It began as another way to share books with my mother who lived 900 miles away. So much has changed in my life since 2007, but my blog has seen me through all those changes, and my love of reading and talking about books is even greater and more important to me now. And the friends I have made along the way, who share their own love of reading with me, have enriched my life exponentially.

So here’s to another year filled with books and kindred spirits! May we celebrate our love of reading and share many stories this year. 

A Chapter a Day

Reading a chapter a day is an interesting experience. I usually don’t restrict my reading in any way. Most of the time, I just enjoy getting caught up in my book and keep on reading. This George Eliot Readalong this year is a different kind of challenge for me. I am, so far, only reading one chapter a day of our current book: Adam Bede. What I find so interesting is that I read the chapter first thing in the morning, and then I find myself thinking about it during different times of the day. I’m thinking about what happened in that chapter, about what the author wanted to do with it, about the characters introduced or some new action initiated. I ruminate a lot about one chapter. I like that!

Early December

Interior with the Artist’s Daughter, by Vanessa Bell, 1935-36

Hello, dear friends,

We are well into the holiday season now. and I wanted to check in and wish you all a very happy season.  I hope you are well and enjoying life and family and good books. And as for the stresses and strains that also seem to be part of the holidays, I wish for you some quiet and some time to just enjoy the present moment.

I feel like I’ve been away forever, and I am hoping to get back to some consistent blogging again. I am getting back to my reading, choosing kind and gentle reads for now. Poetry is a balm for me. Books about grief (some of them), are helpful and appreciated. And when I found a book of poetry about grief that really spoke to my own experience, I was thrilled. Living Without the One You Cannot Live Without, by Natasha Josefowitz, sits beside me right now as my solace and one of my guides through this journey.

Recent fiction reads, such as Farewell to Fairacre, by Miss Read, and The Bookstore Sisters, a short story by Alice Hoffman, have been my bedtime reads. My non-fiction afternoon reading included Michelle Obama’s new book, The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times, which I felt was an enriching audiobook to listen to. She is, as always, full of wisdom and compassion, and hope. I really enjoyed it. I also read a library find: A Glorious Freedom: Older Women Leading Extraordinary Lives, by Lisa Congdon. It was inspiring and I enjoyed each short biography of many different women who found their passions and careers later in life.

After two-and-a-half years of pandemic lockdown and the extra precautions we had to take due to my husband’s cancer, I am beginning to get back to some of my used-to-be normal activities. I have started going back to my exercise class at the gym, although I know that Covid is still here. But I need my exercise friends, the three-day-a-week routine, and the exercise! It’s so nice to be back. I’m also getting back to my morning walks, although the weather always seems to play havoc with that routine at this time of year. And I’m also getting back to my reading. It all feels so good!

 

July Thoughts

Hello, friends. It’s past due time for an update on life and reading. Well, there’s been a lot of life going on, but not a lot of reading for me this month.

July has been an intense month for us filled with too many medical appointments. My focus, and the focus of our family, has ended up being entirely on my husband and his illness. The cancer journey truly is a roller coaster, and the last three weeks have been filled with gigantic ups and downs.

That said, we are still living each precious day to the fullest. Despite physical challenges, we still do as much as Byron’s limited energy allows. We share time with friends and family near and far (mostly on Zoom calls), and we laugh a lot, watch good shows on TV, try out new recipes or take-out food that might taste good to Byron’s chemo-damaged sense of taste, and we cherish our time with our daughter, son, and our precious grandboy.

Byron is reading more than I am right now, and what a potpourri of genres! His current read is The World as We Knew It: Dispatches from a Changing Climate, edited by Amy Brady and Tajja Isen. He recently finished the first volume of one of the graphic novels on my shelf called A Man and His Cat, by Umi Sakurai. Before that, he read
The Cat Who Saved Books, by Sosuke Natsukawa. And before that, it was a book he liked so much he bought copies for our kids — Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea, and The Deep Origins of Consciousness, by Peter Godfrey-Smith.

Early mornings finds me in the garden watering and weeding. I can’t keep up with either, it seems, but it’s nice to be out there. And I have also been working on my project of scanning old slides and photos from the last 53 years!

We are busy with life right now amid the ordered chaos of medical treatments and tests. And we are deeply grateful to our medical team, and to our extended family and friends team, and to our own little family unit team. All of whom bolster us up and help to give us the courage we need to face whatever life brings each day.

A Glimpse of our July in photos: (there are captions to the photos)

May Check-in

A hill nearby covered in Crimson Clover…

I will start with an apology for not checking in sooner and for leaving this blog sitting too quietly for the last while. It has been an up and down month, a very emotional month, since my last post. The update on my husband, Byron, is that he has continued with his chemotherapy treatments with infusions every three weeks, and we have played the waiting game now for 9 weeks to see if the chemo is actually working to [temporarily] halt the progression of his cancer.  We had to wait until a certain period of time had passed to repeat his CT scan. The scan was done last Saturday, and we finally received the results yesterday. At this point in time, it is working. *Big sigh of relief here!*

So he will continue with his three-week cycle of infusions, and our lives are adjusting accordingly. The infusions are on Mondays. That first week is a challenge for him, with deep fatigue and other struggles. The second week, he feels better but not great. And the third week, he is almost back to “normal,” feeling well enough to work on projects (although his stamina is low), and have family come to visit. Then, the cycle is repeated …until it no longer works, or the side effects become too much to offset the benefits.

With this major change to our daily/weekly routines, plus the anxiety about whether or not this treatment is working, I simply couldn’t focus enough to read a book, and writing a post seemed too difficult. But, I am very thankful that we have a lovely grief counselor who is helping us through this roller coaster time, and she recommended a book that she thought I would enjoy. I downloaded it onto my Kindle directly after my appointment and read it in just a couple of days.

 The Last Bookshop in London: A Novel of World War II, by Madeline Martin, brought me back to my reading.

Inspired by the true World War II history of the few bookshops to survive the Blitz, The Last Bookshop in London is a timeless story of wartime loss, love and the enduring power of literature.

The Last Bookshop in London is an irresistible tale which showcases the transformative power of literacy, reminding us of the hope and sanctuary our neighborhood bookstores offer during the perilous trials of war and unrest.”
–Kim Michele Richardson, New York Times bestselling author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

My counselor was right! I enjoyed it very much, and all of a sudden, my world seemed to right itself again!  She added one other recommendation for me:  she suggested I get myself over to Powell’s Bookstore for an hour of wandering.  Do you see why I love this counselor?

Back to my apology for leaving you without an update on our situation for so many weeks… I will try to check in with you here, dear blogging friends, at least once a month as we continue on our current health journey. And thank you so much for your care and concern.

Byron heading into Kaiser for his CT scan…

 

15 Years Old


Fifteen years ago on a quiet January morning, I started this blog. During those fifteen years, I’ve made many wonderful reading friends. I’ve been inspired by all of you, dear friends, as I’ve shared with you my own love of reading. The book blogging community is warm and supportive, and my life is greatly enriched by my interactions with all of you. So today I celebrate fifteen years full of great reading and great friends. Cheers!

My 2007 reading spot and my blogging spot in the background…

Reading Short Books

Renia Reading, 1910, painting by Wojciech Weiss

This week, in between my current project of reading two long books at the same time, I took a break and read two short books. I didn’t plan to do that, it just happened. I also didn’t sign up for a ‘reading non-fiction in November’ challenge, but both short books were non-fiction. I guess I just needed some delightful balance in my reading life this month.

Both short books were very interesting to read. The first one was Notre-Dame: A Short History of the Meaning of Cathedrals, by Ken Follett. It was, simply put, a love letter to the magnificent cathedral of Notre-Dame, started shortly after he heard about the fire that shocked the world. Having done extensive research on cathedrals for his book, Pillars of the Earth, and having spent much time in Notre-Dame, he was deeply shocked and saddened when he learned of the fire. It wasn’t too long before reporters started calling him, wanting his expert advice and viewpoint on the possible fire damage. Another call he received was from his publisher telling him that given his knowledge and background in the constructions of cathedrals, he must write a book in response to this tragedy. This little book was what he produced from the notes he started immediately.

The wonderful cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, one of the greatest achievements of European civilization, was on fire. The sight dazed and disturbed us profoundly. I was on the edge of tears. Something priceless was dying in front of our eyes. The feeling was bewildering, as if the earth was shaking.”

The second short book I read last week was The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter, by Margareta Magnusson. It was actually a re-read for me because I’d listened to the audiobook a few years ago, and decided to re-read it because I’m currently working on a major decluttering/downsizing project here at home. I hoped it would give me some ideas and motivation to really let go of a lot of things, and it did. It’s a common sense book, and is just straightforward in explaining the ideas and philosophy of “death cleaning.” I’m glad I re-read it.

So I am enjoying my November reading, both the long books and the short ones. I hope you are enjoying your current reading, as well.

 

Reading Long Books

A Place of Her Own, by James C. Christensen

It’s been a long time since I read a long-ish book, and now I’m immersed in two of them at the same time. Both books are on my Classics Club list, but I didn’t plan to read them right now, let alone at the same time. However, one was chosen as my Classics Club Spin book, and the other one was for a fun read-along challenge that I simply couldn’t resist. So here I am, reading one chapter a day for The Three Musketeers read-along, and listening to the audiobook of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court while doing chores or driving in the car. And I’m enjoying them both!