Tag Archives: reading

January – Goals and Resolutions

New Year's Decorations

New Year’s Decorations

Ahhh, January. The month of new beginnings, of fresh starts, of plans and goals and motivation. Of post-holiday depression, of dark mornings, of bleak weather (yes, even in Arizona). It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

We’re a whole month into the new year, and I’ve had plenty of time to think about how successful I was on my resolutions for last year (surprisingly successful!) and what I want to do with the year ahead of me.

Last year was about the little things – the minor elements of daily life that tend to pile on top of each other to put me in a foul mood. With a few little adjustments, I started chipping away and the things that stressed me out the most. I took a test, tried to be on time to work (which worked out until the time changed), flossed my teeth (sometimes – I guess, slightly more than usual), started running, and compiled and began reading a very long book list. And then, as with everything else in life, huge gigantic upheaval entered and I was worried that all my work was for naught.

Arizona mountains in December

Arizona mountains in December

Turned out that was totally false. As far as helping me achieve my goals, moving has been one of the best things that’s happened in a long time. Of course, I’ve always loved moving. Yes, it’s hard. It continues to be hard every single day. But talk about new beginnings! I wrote a little about how moving has changed very basic things about my habits. Since getting our stuff back and moving into a new place, those habits have changed again, and not necessarily for the better. But I have the unique chance to re-organize my life, basically from scratch.

I have big plans for 2013. This year is about the big things, the goals that will pay off in the long term, but will take some work today.

In 2013 I’m going to:

  • take all my architecture tests. And hopefully pass them all, too, but let’s set reasonable goals, OK?
  • get an architecture job
  • move to a long-term house
  • continue my reading project: my goal is 52 books this year, 30 from my classics list. so far I’ve read 2 – both from the list!
  • grow a garden and start composting again
Snow covered tree in Cincinnati

Snow covered tree in Cincinnati

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What I’m Reading: Two Books at Once?!

Looking through my Goodreads friends, it seems that everyone but me is reading several books at once! It’s really not my style – I prefer getting wrapped up in one story at a time, savoring it, living in it, and fully putting it aside before I embark on a (usually completely different) new journey through the next book. I always wonder how they do it – keeping stories and characters and plot lines straight.

Well, this past Saturday, as Nate was watching the 4,839,025th football game of the day, I decided I wanted to read a book. I’ve been reading Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men, and I have really been enjoying it. It is the first book in quite a while where the writing is as good as the story. Warren tends to drift off into descriptive and explanatory passages without me even noticing, then he ties it back into the story seamlessly and easily. But All the King’s Men takes a bit of mental energy to read. Not much, but I lose focus pretty easily especially if the TV is on, so I knew it would be useless to try reading it while watching football.

All The King's Men

Luckily, I had just been to the library to pick up a few books that had arrived off my (incredibly long) reserves list. One book that arrived was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I reserved it because it was another book on my reading list but I didn’t expect to like it. I’m not a huge fan of science fiction or fantasy and I certainly would not have read it if it hadn’t made the magic list. But, as soon as it came (and I saw how short it was) I really wanted to read it!

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

And so, when I was looking for a book to fill my football-watching time, I picked up The Hitchhiker’s Guide and started reading. I’m not entirely sure this counts as reading multiple books at once, since I finished the book the same day. But I did enjoy The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It was fun, easy, and short. I think the most interesting part was the different technologies Adams wrote about in the 1970’s that actually exist today! The Hitchhiker’s Guide itself exists on a small box with a screen and buttons, which I saw in my mind as a clunky smart phone, and there is a passage describing how volume knobs on the radio progressed from knobs to buttons to touchscreen to waving your hand around. Very interesting. Of course, there are many technologies we haven’t quite figured out yet!

There are several more Hitchhiker’s Guide books, so I might put them on my reading list too – after I finish the first 140 or so books, of course. And! The best part! Nate seemed interested in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy too! I always get excited when I can share my love of reading.

Now I just have to finish the FIRST book. Which I don’t think will be too much of a chore. Then it’s on to The Secret History by Donna Tartt.

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What I’m Reading

One of my favorite things about having all this extra time on my hands is that I FINALLY get to read again! I grew up literally with my nose in a book – at lunch, walking down the halls, when I was supposed to be paying attention in math class, weekends, holidays, all summer long. And then I met DAAP, and all (novel) reading (for fun) ceased.

Thesis Books

Bookshelf of reading for my thesis

I didn’t even have time to read the required reading for my classes how was I supposed to devour a good novel? In short, I didn’t. I probably read 5 (non-school-related) books the whole time I was in school, and 3 of those were while I was on planes and trains in Europe.

Reading in the Airport

Reading in the Airport – it’s a terrible picture, but the only one of anyone reading. We flew home the day the last (I think?) Harry Potter book came out.


Because we were doing things like looking out at Paris from the Eiffel Tower

Sacre Coeur

And climbing to the top of Sacre Coeur.


And seeing the Colosseum


And riding the canals of Venice


And eating at amazing cafes.

Airport Sleeping

Here’s an awful picture from the Harry Potter reading night – when we spent the night in the Dublin Airport and it was probably about 3am at this point.

Even after I graduated I was super busy. Wedding planning! Getting Married! Figuring Out How To Live With Nate! Moving! Buying a House! So, when I made my list of resolutions in January, I put reading on it. Then, I had to find a good reading list. Since I moved around so much in high school, I missed a lot of the required reading. I read some books twice, many not at all, and ended up running out of English and Literature classes. I also skipped all the college lit classes, thanks to AP (see: running out of English and Literature classes and making up AP classes for myself) and a major that is not all that concerned with “literature.” Although I think it should be, architecture is very steeped in culture. However, there were a lot of classes to pack into those 6 years, so I was not sad. Until I graduated and realized how many classics I had missed.

And where did I turn for a list of classics I must read? The BBC, of course. Isn’t that where everyone goes? Actually, I think it was just the first list that popped up in Google, and it looked pretty good, so I went with it. I used this list (that I actually found here first, then tracked back to its original, which it didn’t exactly match, so I mixed them together) and added books from my Goodreads feed that look interesting. Which means that my list grows significantly faster than I can read the books off it. But that is OK, I am enjoying making the list and reading the books and keeping the library in business. I currently have 144 classics on my list and maybe 40 or so currently popular books. I have read 22 books since I picked up The Paris Wife by Paula McLain in March. Pretty good progress, if I say so myself.

The start of my second reading career.

I’m not really going to review books here. If you want book reviews, go see Mary Jo at MeReader or check out Goodreads (and if you do that, be my friend), but I do like to track my progress and at least offer whether or not I liked a book and would recommend it. For example, I started Animal Farm last night. At about 12 pages in, I’m not amused. I will finish it because those are THE RULES, but so far I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, classic or not. It will be interesting to read, for sure, as will 1984, which is packaged in the same book. But there is a difference between “interesting” and “I would recommend this book.”

Anyway, I just finished The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. They were so much fun to read! I can see why they inspired such a following, as readers can easily get wrapped up in the adventures of the characters. I enjoy reading because I get to create my own pictures of the characters (especially the villans – trolls and orcs and black riders) so I don’t think I will watch the movies. I enjoyed creating images of the hobbits and elves, the talking and walking trees, and the ring itself.


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Goals & Resolutions

Way back in January, I wrote about resolutions and monthly goals.  I tried really hard for a while (January, February, some of March?) to always be working toward a goal, then to add another the next month.  But changing your habits is hard!  Fortunately for me I had a major life event that up-ended every part of my life.  A great time to make new habits!

In a Fresh Air episode from March, Terry Gross talked to Charles Duhigg, the author of  The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business.  Several of the points in that interview were really interesting, like how it’s easier to break a habit in a new environment.  And so I took this chance (and the extra time I have) to make some new habits, many that I had been trying to convince myself to do for a long time.  The most interesting thing, I think, is that on our trips back to Cincinnati, I so quickly fell out of my new patterns and into my old, especially since we were staying in our house with our familiar stuff and patterns around us.

Most exciting to me are the little things – I added a bunch of things to my bed-time routine.  When before I would brush my teeth, squint at myself in the mirror, and flop into bed, I now wash my face, floss my teeth, brush my teeth, and put scar cream on my knees!  Because I really would like those scars to fade, pleasethankyou.

Also, I’ve started running pretty steadily.  It’s super hot, so most of my running is done indoors on the treadmill.  It’s kind of miserable, but between the 8 TVs and my NPR podcasts, I manage to not get too bored.  Plus, the treadmills are at an actual gym, so I’ve been lifting weights too!  I love to lift but I refuse to pay for a gym membership when I can just run outside FOR FREE.  So this treat won’t last forever.  Right now it comes with our apartment, and our next apartment, so I have at least 6 more months available to me.


But when I do run outside, there are mountains to run toward in every direction.

Finally, I’ve been reading a TON.  I’m on my 17th book since we moved!  It’s been great to get back into reading, and I mostly read in the evenings so I hope it will be something I continue to do.

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