Category Archives: Reflections

Favorites of a Decade: the 2010s

With the beginning of this new decade, I want to take a moment and look back at my last decade of reading. I went through my notebooks and lists, and found one book that was a favorite for me for each year of the decade 2010-2019. Each of these books touched me in some special way and brought much joy to my life. I loved this decade of varied and wonderful reading and look forward to what this new decade will bring into my reading life!

2010:  NATHAN COULTER, by Wendell Berry
2011:  GREEN WITCH, by Alice Hoffman
2012:  ELIZABETH AND HER GERMAN GARDEN, by Elizabeth von Arnim
2013:  DANDELION WINE, by Ray Bradbury
2014:  A TOWN LIKE ALICE, by Nevil Shute
2015:  EMILY DICKINSON’S GARDENS: A CELEBRATION OF A POET AND GARDENER, by Marta McDowell
2016:  THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2017:  A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY, by J.L. Carr
2018:  BECOMING,  by Michelle Obama
2019:  THE MAGIC APPLE TREE, by Susan Hill

 

Looking Back at 2019


Looking back at 2019, I am happy with my reading year. In addition to my usual reading,  I took on a number of challenges and enjoyed the books I read for each one. I love the journey of each challenge and the exposure to new authors, genres, and ideas that really expand my world.

Turning seventy years old felt like a big milestone and I wanted to celebrate it in some special way. So I put together a self-challenge called “EMBRACING SEVENTY.”  I created a 1949 list of books and movies– anything to do with 70. It turned out to be a fun research project. Here are the books I read, and the one movie from 1949 that my husband and I watched:

”WANDERLUST” was another self-challenge I put together this year in an effort to read more international literature. I read both children and adult books and liked the glimpses into other cultures. I will continue this challenge in 2020 and beyond.

For a second year in a row, I signed up for Adam’s 2019 OFFICIAL TBR challenge. Last year I read 4 books for his challenge, and this year I did the same. That’s 8 books that have been sitting on my bookshelf for far too long, so I’m happy to have been motivated to finally read them. Thank you, Adam, for hosting this challenge. I’ll miss it! Here’s my list of books read in 2019:

Dolce Bellezza’s JAPANESE LITERATURE Challenge always calls to me, and in 2019 I read one book and watched three Japanese films. Meredith always puts together a really classy challenge! My 2019 books and movies:

Films:

I had good intentions when I signed up for Rachel’s (@hibernatorslibrary) A YEAR of SHAKESPEARE Challenge this year. I was going to read three Shakespeare plays, but I ended up only reading one (which I enjoyed very much!). But I also read a lot of different books about that play, so it really was an immersive experience, and a lot of fun. Here’s what I read for this challenge:

A Shakespeare Comedy : The Winter’s Tale

READERS IMBIBING PERIL- XIV was a great challenge this fall! It’s one of my favorite challenges each year, and I enjoy it more and more each year!  I love mysteries and suspense novels, good book series and good TV mystery series, so I had lots of fun reading and watching movies!

PERIL the FIRST:

  1. The Lost One, by Mary Stewart
  2. The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler
  3. Christmas in Absaroka County, by Craig Johnson
  4. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
  5. The Religious Body, by Catherine Aird
  6. An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good, by Helene Tursten
  7. The Case of the Famished Parson, by George Bellairs
  8. Rose Cottage, by Mary Stewart
  9. The House on the Strand, by Daphne du Maurier
  10. Trouble in Nuala, by Harriet Steel
  11. Whiteout, by Ken Follett

PERIL on the SCREEN:

  1. 4:50 From Paddington
  2. Murder at the Gallop
  3. The Mirror Crack’d
  4. Murder Most Foul 

I joined THE CLASSICS CLUB in March of 2017 and agreed to read 50 Books in 5 Years. This is a great challenge, so well organized and with fun activities. I’ve always loved reading classics so it’s a perfect fit for me. As of right now, I’ve read 28 of my 50 books list. This year I read these classics:

Having time to read is such a precious luxury for me and this year has been full of reading joy. And now I’m looking forward to my 2020 reading.

For all my reading friends, may 2020 be a year of joyful reading for you, too!

My November Focus


November and  December have blown by in flash! It’s been a nice Autumn this year, full of new activities, family and friends…and some fun reading. I’ve gone missing again on my blog, so it’s time to check-in and let you know what I’ve been up to and what I am reading.

My first City Council presentation on the new Oregon ERPO law.

My focus and time commitments changed recently. This retired person has taken on some new volunteer responsibilities which require training, meetings, and events. Right after the Parkland shooting almost two years ago, I volunteered to work with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. I desperately needed to DO something about the gun violence epidemic in our country. So I went to monthly meetings, occasionally helped with events.  This Fall, however, I agreed to take on more responsibility and a leadership role in my local chapter. I am now the Community Education lead for our chapter, and I have trained to talk with local community groups about the new Red Flag Law in the state of Oregon. I have also just finished training so that I can present and introduce community groups to the Be SMART For Kids program which focuses on education and awareness about child gun deaths and responsible gun storage. I’m very proud of my work with this national organization, and am happy to be able to give some of my time each month to educating the public about these important issues.

My reading has continued, despite my new obligations. It’s my blogging that got hit the hardest while my focus has been on new learnings and new experiences. But I am finding a new balance of home and volunteerism, so I am planning on returning to more consistent posting as we start the new year.

My November and December reading…I have been captured by Deborah Crombie’s mystery series with lead characters Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James. I’m now on book #7 in the series, and I just don’t seem to be slowing down on reading one right after the other. What a pleasure to get caught up in a new-to-me series.

Books read in November and December (so far…still more December reading to come!):

  • A Share in Death, by Deborah Crombie
  • Fight Like a Mother, by Shannon Watts
  • The Burglar’s Christmas, by Willa Cather
  • All Shall Be Well, by Deborah Crombie
  • Leave the Grave Green, by Deborah Crombie
  • The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, by Agatha Christie
  • Dreaming of the Bones, by Deborah Crombie
  • Kissed a Sad Goodbye, by Deborah Crombie
  • King of the Wind, by Maguerite Henry
  • The Spirit of Christmas, by Nancy Tillman
  • Christmas with Anne, and Other Holiday Stories, by L.M. Montgomery
  • The Crowded Street, by Winifred Holtby

I do hope you have had an enjoyable Fall, too. Busy and full of books!

 

August Reflections 2019

Could there possibly have been a busier August?  Here’s a brief summary of this busy, happy month.

  • Family reunion for the first two weeks of the month
  • Our 50th wedding anniversary on August 16th
  • A day trip to visit our daughter who is living in Washington State
  • Numerous walks to the library
  • Ten books read this month
  • Not enough time spent gardening and weeding, because it was awfully hot for the last two weeks

I hope you enjoyed your August, too!

 

July Reading Reflections 2019

July fields of gold…

July was another fun reading month. I am revisiting favorite books from my growing up years, reading books I missed as a child, pursuing my garden reading passion, starting a new “reading around the world” focus, and simply enjoying my time outside reading on the porch!

I read ten books in July, and spent quite a bit of time going back and forth to the library. My favorite book of this month was Susan Hill’s Howards End is on the Landing. And I loved reading two children’s classics that I hadn’t read as a child: Pollyanna (review coming soon), and A Dog of Flanders. Overall, a very pleasant reading month!

One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.
~ Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle

The books I read in July:

Reflections: June 2019

My June reading was a total pleasure! I didn’t read as many books as I have in each of the last few months, but I enjoyed every minute of the books I did read. It was the beginning of my summer reading, and the weather was nice enough to allow me to sit in my favorite reading spot on the porch for much of the time. July will get too hot for afternoon reading out there, but for now it’s just perfect.

It’s hard to choose my favorite of the month because I read some terrific books! I absolutely loved The Ravenmaster, by Christopher Skaife, a book recommended to me by my bird-loving daughter. The audiobook is the way to enjoy this book because Christopher Skaife narrates it himself which adds tremendous fun to the experience. His stories of the ravens that live at the Tower of London are both fun and fascinating. I learned so much about ravens from him!

I just loved Cider With Rosie, by Laurie Lee, which I also listened to on audiobook and which was also narrated by the author. Mr. Lee’s voice was full of nostalgia and emotion, and I felt as if he was sitting right next to me sharing his memories with just me. I was reminded of my grandfather, and my father, both great storytellers.

A different type of memoir stole my heart next — Susan Hill’s The Magic Apple Tree is one of the loveliest books I’ve read in a long time. I was so captured by her beautiful writing and her remembrances of her life in the English countryside! Even before I finished the book, I started searching for two others that she wrote in a similar vein. They were hard to find, but I ordered them from Abe Books and was delighted when they arrived. More summer reading!

Some time spent reading The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy, and then re-watching the movie with my husband was fun. A light mystery, a classic science fiction novel, and a return to my childhood with a re-reading of Cherry Ames, Student Nurse rounded out the month.

I hope you are enjoying your summer reading as much as I am enjoying mine!

The Month of May

Dear friends,
I must start this post with an apology for disappearing into silence on this blog. April and May have been a particularly busy time for me as well as an emotional time. (We call May our “tender-hearted month” in my family.) Unfortunately, once I get off track with my posting, I find it hard to get “back in the groove” again. But I have continued with my reading, even being able to read on the porch again when time has allowed, and I am here now to say HI and to reflect on my May reading.

May has been a completely enjoyable reading month. I’ve squeezed in as much reading as I can in between multiple trips to Washington State helping our daughter move and get settled into her new home; helping my husband with his shed building project in our backyard (I’ve always been his construction assistant); trips to the State Legislature with my Moms Demand Action group; and my continuing efforts to get the yard and garden in shape (it still feels like a wilderness area!). I’ve read mostly mysteries, and all have been very enjoyable. I am also half-way through the audiobook of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, and am almost finished reading Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October which I wanted to read before Hubby and I watch the movie again (one of our favorites). I also downloaded the audiobook version (free) of the Mueller Report and am very slowly making my way through it. I feel it is a very important work to read, no matter how long it takes me.

Busy, busy time…and as my friend, Les (Coastal Horizons) said, “Who knew retirement would be so busy!”

Here are the covers of my completed May reads.

 

March Reflections 2019

My reading time in March was more limited than during the winter months. The nicest reason for that was the arrival of spring blooms and occasional warm-enough days to spend outside cleaning out garden areas, and preparing one area of former garden for the big construction project my husband is undertaking — building a half-garden and half-bicycle shed. That required some transplanting, which we did in the rain.

I also increased my walking time in March, preparing for and then participating in the Shamrock Run in downtown Portland. I was very proud of myself after being relatively sedentary during the cold and icy months. It felt so good to be outside (however soggy) and back in training!

Anyway, I did enjoy my March reading, I just wasn’t as focused on reading projects, which is really OK, I tell myself. And right now, I am happy to have some gardening time (between rainstorms) and as far as my reading goes, I am particularly enjoying reading mysteries again!

Books read in March:

Favorite quote from March reading:

Eugenia Lincoln was very fond of lists. They helped her think. Lists calmed her. They made the world seem orderly and reasonable and manageable, even though the world was none of those things.

~ from Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package, by Kate DiCamillo

Some photos from March:

 

February Reflections 2019

The month of February turned out to be our real winter this year. January was mild and spring-like. February brought arctic air, snow and ice, many snow days, and dark gray days. Just the thing for staying inside and reading! So I did, and I read a lot this month.

I spent time with a couple of new-to-me mystery series, thanks to recommendations from friends. I’ve been captured by the Ruth Galloway series, by Elly Griffiths, and by the D.I. Nikki Galena series by Joy Ellis. I also revisited an older series that I read many years ago: the Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman. I listened to the first of that series on audiobook, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, and loved it all over again. There’s nothing better than having a good mystery series to enjoy!

For my own celebration of Black History Month, I finished reading Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, and read Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon. Both were beautifully written, powerful and moving stories.

My favorite audiobook of the month was Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle. My favorite children’s book read this month was Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen, by Deborah Hopkinson.

Quite a varied month for me. The only problem is…I’ve fallen way behind on my review posts! But I will just keep plugging away, one review at a time, and eventually I will catch up, right? Or not!  So many books, so little time!