My Year in Books – 2017

year-in-booksEven though we still have a few weeks left in 2017, Goodreads was kind enough to send my ‘Year in Books’ review. I made a conscious effort to read more widely this year and I think it shows. I also did very few reviews and focused on reading for pleasure, and I’m happy to say that my overall satisfaction with what I read reflects that.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Number of books read – 56
  • Number of pages read – 18,708
  • Shortest book – Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson
  • Longest book – The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  • Number of books with 5-star ratings – 15
  • Favorite fiction book(s) of the year – The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach and My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent (I can’t choose!)
  • Favorite nonfiction book of the year – Just Kids by Patti Smith
  • Percentage of fiction books – 84%
  • Percentage of nonfiction books – 16%
  • Percentage of male authors – 35%
  • Percentage of female authors – 65%

If you want to see the whole list, feel free to check out my Goodreads page.

What about you? What were some of your reading highlights and accomplishments for 2017?

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Nonfiction November – New to My TBR

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Nonfiction November is in its last week (boo), and Week Five is a round-up of new nonfiction books we have added to our TBR this month. Lory at The Emerald City Book Review asks the question:

It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book!

I’ve added quite a few new books to my TBR thanks to the recommendations of my fellow bloggers.

  1. SPQR by Mary Beard – I can’t remember whose blog featured this book, so please let me know if it’s yours so I can link to you!
  2. The Novel of the Century by David Bellos – Recommended by Nick at One Catholic Life and Emma at Words and Peace
  3. How to Raise a Wild Child by Scott Sampson – Recommended by T.J. at My Book Strings
  4. Modern Mindfulness by Rohan Gunatillake– Recommended by Kazen at Always Doing
  5. The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan – Recommended by Allison at Mind Joggle
  6. Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn – Recommended by Catherine at The Gilmore Guide to Books

I had a lot of recommendations for other authors on the topic of mindfulness, so thank you to everyone who suggested those. I also ended up reading one book this month that I saw recommended on several different blogs–The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkle–and I thoroughly enjoyed it, so thank you to those who featured this book.

I hope you had some great recommendations for nonfiction books to add to your TBR pile. Nonfiction November, see you next year!

Nonfiction November – Nonfiction Favorites

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Doing Dewey is hosting the link-up for this next-to-last week of Nonfiction November (sniff). The prompt:

We’ve talked about how you pick nonfiction books in previous years, but this week I’m excited to talk about what makes a book you’ve read one of your favorites. Is the topic pretty much all that matters? Are there particular ways a story can be told or particular writing styles that you love? Do you look for a light, humorous approach or do you prefer a more serious tone? Let us know what qualities make you add a nonfiction book to your list of favorites.

This is an interesting question, because it’s not easy for me to define what makes a nonfiction book a favorite. My favorite book of all time, Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, is nonfiction. When I think about what made me fall in love with that book and other nonfiction works, it comes down to three main things:

  1. A good story. I believe it’s true that fact can be more interesting than fiction, and I love nonfiction that really tells a story instead of just relating information.
  2. An inspiring subject. Some nonfiction might tell a good story but have a subject matter that just isn’t relate-able or inspiring. Just as with fiction, I have to be drawn to the subject matter for it to hold my attention.
  3. An engaging writing style. I think it all comes down to how a writer tells a story, and this is particularly true for nonfiction. I never would have believed that I would fall in love with a book about a racehorse, but Hillenbrand tells the story in such a way that you can’t help but be fascinated and emotionally invested.

What about you? What makes particular works of nonfiction your “favorites”?

A Day in the Life of a Work-from-Home Mom

I’ve always had in mind to do a “day in the life” post but something (oh yeah, life) kept getting in the way. My motivation is partly because I love reading these posts myself and mostly because I am in a situation at the moment where most of what I do is unseen. Ever since we moved back to France from the U.S., I’ve been continuing to work for my U.S. employer remotely.

Working from home has its advantages and disadvantages, the main advantage being that I can be available for the kids and home stuff during the day, and the main disadvantage being that THERE IS NOT ESCAPE AND I AM SO ALOOOONE. So for this post, I chose to document a day that represents the best and worst of this dual existence. Wednesdays are half-days for schools in France, so while I have my mornings to myself,  I have the afternoons with our two daughters. Here’s how it goes:

5 a.m. – Woken up by the cat wanting his breakfast. Cat fed, I go back to sleep.

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Kitchen table: where I start the day.

7 a.m. – Up for the day. Get daughter no. 1 off to the bus and school. Eat some leftover pear cake for breakfast and have a cup of coffee.

8 a.m. – Get daughter no. 2 off to the bus and school. Sit for a few minutes to check emails and news of the world (SAD!) Say goodbye to husband as he leaves for work.

8:30 a.m. – Spend some time doing chores around the house. Dishwasher unloaded and loaded, laundry gathered and started, beds made and general straightening of the house. Unclog shower drain and decide whole shower needs to be scrubbed. Wash hands several time to remove yucky shower drain smell and subsequent bleach smell.

9:30 a.m. – Spent too long on chores so now starting work a bit late. Make some progress on a project.

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Home office: where I should be working.

11:30 a.m. – Make lunch–Lentil and Swiss Chard soup. Feel very good about using some of the veggies from the CSA box.

12 p.m. – Laundry is done so hang it up outside on the line to dry.

12:30 p.m. – Realize daughter no. 2 should be home by now but isn’t; check videophone only to see her at the gate holding back tears. Realize power outage last night reset videophone which wasn’t turned on so I couldn’t hear her ringing the bell. Open gate and proceed to cover her with guilty hugs and kisses. Remember this is the same child who once asked me what she should do if she woke up one morning only to discover our corpses and feel even more guilty.

12:45 p.m. – Daughter no. 1 comes home and we all eat lunch together.

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Music school: where I wait.

1:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. – Daughters no. 1 and 2 have activities at the music school, so we drive into town and I drop them off. While they’re in class, I run by the grocery store to pick up a few things and pass by the recycling center to get rid of the three bags of recycling in my trunk. Daughter no. 1 finishes and we stop by the library to get the next volumes in the manga series she is reading.

3 – 6 p.m. – Drop off daughter no. 2 at a friend’s house to work on a project. Daughter no. 1 and I head home for a few hours of relative peace and quiet. I get some work done, finish the laundry, and make banana bread pudding using an old baguette and overripe bananas. Daughter no. 2 returns and I prepare a hasty dinner while getting ready for my dance class. Leave daughter no. 1–the teenager–in charge.

6:45 – 8:15 p.m. – Drive to my African dance class in which I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get my body to override my brain (the struggle is real). Get invited to a birthday party the following evening and despite instant introvert urge to respond, “Heck, no!”, I smile and say I’ll be there. Feel very good about social efforts despite squicky feeling in stomach.

8:30 – 10:30 p.m. – Home, snuggle with girls before sending them to bed for the night. Husband arrives and we recap the day before he retreats to his office and I retreat to bed with a book. Manage to read a few pages before snoozing…

So there you have it–way more than you ever wanted to know about a day in my life. You’ll notice there was no mention of blogging, as that usually has to wait until the weekend. Any of this seem familiar to you?

Nonfiction November – Become the Expert

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For this third week of Nonfiction November, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness is hosting the link-up post ‘Be the Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert’. The prompt:

Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

I’ve decided to combine ‘Become the Expert’ with ‘Ask the Expert,’ as I already have several books to read on a topic but would love additional suggestions to add to my list. My topic is raising children with an awareness and understanding of nature. Basically, I want to figure out how to cultivate our family’s relationship with nature. We go hiking and live in a rural area but aren’t really “outdoorsy,” and this is something that I feel is even more important to stress as my children are getting older and as we’re becoming more disconnected.

The books I currently have on my shelf on this topic include:

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Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder

by Richard Louv

I’ve had this book on my shelf for a looong time and yet somehow never managed to do more than read the first chapter or so. Since it came out almost ten years ago, this is obviously a subject that has been on my mind for a while. I really need to read this one.

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Home Grown: Adventures in Parenting off the Beaten Path, Unschooling, and Reconnecting with the Natural World

by Ben Hewitt

I’m not looking to home school or unschool my kids, but I’ve heard good things about this book that recounts one family’s experience getting back to living in tune with nature. Even if it doesn’t replace a traditional classroom, the natural world has so many lessons to teach (for kids and adults).

Portage: A Family, a Canoe, and the Search for the Good Lifeportage

by Sue Leaf

I ordered this book recently after reading a review of it on Kim’s blog. It recounts different outdoor trips that the author’s family takes over the course of 35 years. I’ve read the first few chapters already and I can safely say that Sue Leaf is way more of a outdoorswoman than I am, but I still think there are things I can take away from this one.

What about you? Are you an expert on a topic that you can share about? I would especially appreciate suggestions on my topic!

2018 TBR Pile Challenge

2018tbrbuttonAlthough it’s still 2017 and I plan to finish up my current reading challenge before the year is out, I’m committing to a new challenge for 2018–the TBR Pile Challenge. I’ve never completed this challenge, but I am still determined to get through some of the books sitting on my real and virtual bookshelves. Here’s my list:

My 2018 TBR Pile Challenge List

  1. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
  2. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  3. Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen
  4. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  5. City of God by Beverly Swerling
  6. Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman
  7. The Submission by Amy Waldman
  8. Just Kids by Patti Smith
  9. The Moonflower Vine by Jetta Carleton
  10. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Alternates:

  1. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
  2. The Group by Mary McCarthy

Check out Roof Beam Reader’s post for specifics on the challenge. Adam always does a great job of hosting, so come and join the fun!

Nonfiction November – Book Pairings

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For this second week of Nonfiction November, Sarah at Sarah’s Book Shelves is hosting the link-up of post highlighting fiction and nonfiction pairings. The prompt:

It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story.

I love this question because I do this kind of reading all the time. In fact, it’s rare that I don’t have a fiction book and a non-fiction book going at the same time, and if one can help me to understand or get more out of the other, all the better.

Here are a few pairings that highlight books I have on my to-read list:

 

 

 

What about you? Do you like to read fiction and non-fiction that complement one another? What are some of your favorite book pairings?