Category Archives: Reflections

July Reading Reflections

My reading reflections for July are about my mother, since I spent three weeks of July with her at the end of her life. I am home now, tying up lose ends, returning slowly to routines, and trying to get used to life without her. But despite my sadness, there is also so much to comfort me — loving family and friends, many many happy memories, and an overwhelming pride in her for how she handled her life, especially life after my father passed 24 years ago, and especially again at the end. She showed great courage and dignity throughout it all, and I’m so proud to be her daughter.

The photo above is a list of the books she read in 2018. She read and listened to 10 books (including volumes 1-4 of the Harry Potter series) and  was also in the middle of three other books when she fell ill:  she was listening to the audiobook of Shanghai Girls, and reading the Kindle version of Dreams of Joy, both books by Lisa See, an author she loved; and she was in the middle of the Whitmore Library Book Club choice for July, a title I don’t remember now. At almost 99 years old, she was an avid reader to the end!

March Reading Reflections

My reading these days is both pleasure and therapy. I am enjoying the time spent immersed in my books, and feel I actually need that time away from the constantly distressing news-of-the-day. Right now, I am choosing books that are not too sad or stressful. I appreciate more than ever the really good writers. Their words are like balm, an antidote to the ugly rhetoric we are surrounded by these days. If I sound like I am complaining about the state of our nation/world… well, I am. It all bothers me a lot, and I do my part to participate in our democracy in positive and hopeful ways. But exposure to the daily ugliness takes a toll, so I choose to surround myself with as much beauty, kindness, humor, and uplifting words, as possible. My February/March reading reflects my need for escape, for humor, for fun, for perspective, for beauty, and for kindness.

Books read in February and March:

 

Books in progress, but not completed in February and March:

 

January Reflections

January is one of my favorite months. I love new beginnings and the New Year. It’s my birthday month, my brother’s birthday month, my nephew’s birthday month, and my blogging anniversary month. Lots of happy things! Lots of celebrating!

I started the month by setting a new reading goal for myself on Goodreads, and lowered the goal number from last year’s 75 books to 52 books. A lower number because I have some long books, or series of books, I want to read, so I’m giving myself extra time for them. I want to read slowly and get lost in some good long stories. Here’s a sneak preview of a couple of the chunksters I would like to read this year and some of the series that I’d like to read or that are already keeping me busy.

January turned out to be a good reading month for me and was a real pleasure! I finished 10 books in all, and I’m also continuing on with my very enjoyable rereading of the Harry Potter series. My favorite book read in January was The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning! It certainly inspired some ongoing cleaning up here at home! I’m trying hard to keep that momentum going!

Two books this month had a tremendous emotional impact on me and I am still processing them. A Very Easy Death, by Simone de Beauvoir, was beautifully written and touched me very deeply. My review is here.  Also, Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book, Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race, is a powerful must-read book. I’ve decided that I will need to reread it because there is so much in it to think about and question oneself about…I need to revisit it soon as part of my processing!

One January read that I thought I would love, but didn’t, was The Alchemist. I had heard so many people tell me it was their favorite book, and I think it could have been a favorite of mine if I had read it when I was young. But although I’m  glad I read it, I just didn’t love it.

The end of January was filled with family time — birthday celebrations, news from the Seattle part of our family that a new baby girl had arrived, and a short medical crisis here at home with my husband fighting a kidney stone (he’s doing well now.). So I’m happy to welcome February and have actually managed to finish one book so far.

January reads:

August Reflections

I had a wonderful August this year!  August is usually one of my least favorite months because of the intense and constant heat. But despite record-breaking heat in our area, I loved the month!  It was full of family — extended time with our grandson, and a family reunion in celebration of my mother’s 98th birthday. We enjoyed travel, gardening projects, 5K races, and watching the awesome total eclipse of the sun! And when it wasn’t too smoky in our area (due to the many wildfires!), I loved the daily views on my walks and drives through this gorgeous part of Oregon.

My reading time was limited, but I did enjoy 4 different books during the month. My favorite book of the month was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I am rereading the series just for fun and as an antidote to the misery of the daily news. I also reread Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, which is my least favorite of her books…still. A refreshing and delightful read was of Philippa Pearce’s The Way to Sattin Shore. And a fascinating library book was The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures. It was a fun book and brought back many memories, including a memory of volunteering in the school library at my junior high school –typing cards for the catalog!

So, I just have to say that August turned out to be a delightful month for me overall. I am now 5 books “behind schedule” with my Goodreads goal for the year, but that’s totally okay. The special memories from this delightful month of August will warm me through many cold winter months ahead.

What Happened to May?

What happened to May? It just flew by for me in a rush of travel, gardening, visits with family and meeting with old/new friends, 5k races, and unfortunately, spending evenings being completely sucked into the news of the day. It was overall a lovely month and especially nice to have some sunshine and warmth arrive after such a long winter and wet spring!

During May, both my reading and blogging took back seat to all the other activities. However, I did manage to finish reading 4 books, two of them mysteries by Donna Leon, and I’m getting close to the end of my rereading of J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Lord of the Rings.

Welcome June! I’m looking forward to getting back to my books this month and to being able to read them on the front porch!

April Reflections

“Puddle” by M.C. Escher

April flew by so quickly this year! We continued to have record-breaking rains here in the Pacific Northwest throughout the month, but the temperatures moderated and there were days when we could finally get out in the garden and start cleaning up after such a long winter. Hubby and I spent two days in Silverton, Oregon, enjoying the early Spring beauty of the Oregon Garden and a short, but beautiful visit to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival.

My reading time slowed down but April was a good reading month anyway. I completed 8 books and a knitting project! My favorite book this month was the science fiction novella, Binti!  It was so well written and enjoyable, and I loved spending some time out of this currently crazy world. I enjoyed listening to another audiobook in Craig Johnson‘s Walt Longmire mystery series. And I loved reading more poetry during this National Poetry Month!  I also read and reviewed three books for The Classics Club, books chosen from my 50 books in 5 years list.

I always love April, and the beauty of the spring flowers and blossoms is wonderful after the darkness of our winters here. May will be a busy month, including a road trip to visit my 97 year old mother and many more days to spend outdoors in the garden and on long walks around town, but I’m looking forward to my May reading, as well.

 

Around town…

March Reflections

March has been another busy month. Despite the many obligations and activities that kept me busy, I managed to finish reading the above five books and am in the middle of three others!

Early in the month, I joined The Classics Club, which was something I had thought about doing for years and so finally decided to just jump in. I put together a list of 50 books to read in 5 years, and filled my list with books I already own and really want to read, so there are some very nice choices ready for me. In March I read three books from that list and am almost finished with The Moorland Cottage, by Elizabeth Gaskell, which was the book on my list that was chosen as the “Spin” book for March/April. I’ve always loved reading the classics, for both adults and children, and so this is a challenge/group that fits me well.

Some of the other things that kept me very busy in March were my knitting and my walking. Because March was such a rainy month (record-setting, flood level rains!), I was indoors a lot and managed to finish two knitting projects — a scarf for me and a baby blanket for a soon-to-arrive grand nephew! (I love being a great aunt! My nephew calls us “Graunt” and “Gruncle”. )

I’ve also become a serious walker in the last year thanks to my 82-year-old walking partner, Gloria. She is a runner, and I’m a fast walker, so we’re the perfect match at our ages/stages of life! We walk/run a 5k distance twice a week, and meet in exercise class 3 days a week. In March, we both participated in the Shamrock Run in downtown Portland. Gloria finished 1st in her age division, and I came in 24th in my division. A very successful race for both of us!

March definitely came in like a lion, with an incredible number of storms and an amazing amount of rain. It’s going out today like a lamb, with mostly sunny skies and no rain. In between the lion and the lamb, came a lot of enjoyable reading and other activities.

February Reflections

February was a good reading month for me!  It was not a month of “escape,” however. I took on some very powerful reading experiences with The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood; and March, Book 2, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell. I thought that In the Wet would be a wonderful old romance by Nevil Shute, but it was much more than that. It turned out to be a story of political intrigue in an England of the “future.” The book was published in 1953, the story takes place in 1983.

I finished The Two Towers, by J.R.R. Tolkien, which I read slowly and enjoyed very much. Being so familiar with the story, I was able to notice and focus more on the writing itself. That was a real pleasure. Founding Gardeners, by Andrea Wulf was an interesting view of the founding fathers as gentlemen farmers. And Death Without Company, by Craig Johnson, was another enjoyable Walt Longmire mystery. I do love a good mystery!

All in all, a good reading month for me, and I’m looking forward to my March reads.

 

January Reflections

goodbye-january

My reading January was very enjoyable this year. I started the month with determination to get back to both my reading and my blogging. I’ve let many things interfere with both activities recently so the recommitment was important to me. i figured that if i could post a photo each day on Instagram, that I could certainly put a little more energy and time into reading and reflecting on my reading life. I am delighted to report that I read eight books in January and posted on my blog almost every day.

I didn’t set any specific reading goals at the first of the month, but there are a number of directions I want my reading to take in 2017. I’d like to read some of the books published in my birth year, 1949. I am also starting to read books that I am calling my “resistance reading” — books that help me as I try to understand this current political climate in my country, and books that help me better define my own beliefs. I was pleased to discover that the book I checked out of the library last week, 1984 by George Orwell, fit into both categories! Also, I would like to read, or reread, many of the classics on @roofbeamreader’s Classic Book-a-Month challenge list.

It is lovely to say that I am really enjoying my reading at this time. I loved the books I read in January, and I’m looking forward to seeing where February takes me!

Here are the covers of my January reads: