Finishing a Book Journal – 17 Years in the Making

Even though I entered my Master’s of Library Science program at the age of 27, I’ve been an organized, bookish reader since my elementary school days. Somewhere there exists in my parents’ house a textured 3 ring binder, with wide-ruled notebook paper, where I’ve written details of what I read in my adolescent and teenage years: Berenstain Bears, Boxcar Children, Roald Dahl, Mark Twain award nominees, oh so many Baby Sitters Club and Sweet Valley Twins, and gentle Christian romance novels by Jeanette Oke and Lori Wick.

Then during the Summer of 2001, I purchased the Books to Check Out journal at Barnes & Noble, which they still have for sale, and began logging the books I read.

That summer, between my Sophomore and Junior years of college, I worked in an ice cream shop in my hometown, contracted a severe strain of mononucleosis, quit said job, and recovered physically, emotionally, and spiritually from having made some very poor choices the previous school year. Looking back, I now see how this journal might have begun as bibliotherapy, but quickly turned into a lifestyle of logging the books and authors I read throughout my young adult years and beyond.

It’s a simple method. I just wrote down the name of the book and the author, noted the season and the year, and, lately, designated if it was an audio book. In another section I recorded favorite quotes and passages that stood out to me.

But at the beginning of September, I filled in the final rows – The Long Way Home by Louise Penny and Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery.

This is my new book journal that I bought from Amazon.

BookLoversJournal

It has a lot more note-taking features, which we’ll see if I actually use, and due to these enhancements, there are fewer actual pages to record the books I’ll read. Therefore, I’ll probably fill up these pages within the year, but it’s a new approach and I’m happy to try something different.

And yet, before I move forward, it’s been fun to take a step back and examine memorable highlights from the book journal I’ve used for the past 17 years.

2001

I discovered authors Adriana Trigiani, Billie Letts (I would later work with one of her sons 9 years after reading Where the Heart Is) and Jan Karon, re-read several Little House books, and bought a hardback copy of a then little known book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and distinctly remember reading it under a tree on the lawn outside my dorm room.

Total books read = 22

2002

I bravely read about Big Brother in 1984 and revisited several books in the Narnia series, which has become an ongoing tradition.

Total books read = 20

2003

I student-taught in the Fall, felt like The DaVinci Code jumped off the shelf at Borders and begged me to read it, graduated from college, discovered Francine Rivers, and yellow-highlighted passages in Fahrenheit 451.

Total books read = 18

2004

The new year found me with my first job as a music teacher in St. Louis where I bought The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke at the school’s Scholastic book fair. I had just traveled to Venice the summer before and vividly pictured Prosper and Bo racing beside the canals. That Fall I transitioned to a job at our local community college, my first glimpse into a love for working in higher education, and found myself laughing out loud to the snarky humor of Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris, especially Six to Eight Black Men.

Total books read = 35

2005

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier was a classic on my unread shelf, which absolutely sucked me in. I read a handful of popular Nicholas Sparks books, several stage plays since I was working in a Fine Arts department, and traveled to London, accompanied by The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

Total books read = 29

2006

The writing of Pulitzer Prize winning author Jhumpa Lahiri was forever etched into my heart, I was left very disappointed after reading/listening to all of the Lemony Snicket series, I used my public library’s reserve system to request numerous Dee Henderson titles, read my first Jodi Picoult, was bowled over by The Time Traveler’s Wife, and was given a book by Neil Clark Warren that firmly established my “must haves” and “can’t stands” in a future spouse.

Total books read = 52

2007

IMG_2468

Like a lot of other women, I loved Eat, Pray, Love, enjoyed the friendships of the girls in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, found the bleak surroundings of The Road mesmerizing, and said goodbye not only to beloved friends on the page in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows but also dear friends in real life as I moved away from my hometown to begin graduate school.

Total books read = 34

2008

BreakingDawn

I began graduate school with an emphasis in vocal music performance, but in 2008 I officially declared myself as a student in the Library Science program. The public library became my home-away-from-home and I gained my first experience as a librarian working as an aide in an elementary school library. Here I discovered loads of wonderful middle-grade novels and The Magic Treehouse series, in particular. Thanks to friends in my MLS program, we all read Twilight at the height of its popularity, even went to the book release party for Breaking Dawn, and around the time of my maternal grandmother’s death, the writings of Karen Kingsbury provided great comfort.

Total books read = 52

2009

The novel American Wife was one of the most sweeping stories I’ve still ever read, I stayed up wayyyy past my bedtime to finish Dead Until Dark at the height of the Sookie Stackhouse craze, wanted to go to culinary school in Paris thanks to The Sharper Your  Knife, The Less You Cry, and was enamored with the process of being a couture shoe maker in New York after having read Very Valentine.

Total books read = 53

2010

During my last year of Library School I took a Reader’s Advisory class that exposed me to many wonderful books, including the epistolary classic Dracula, I caught Hunger Games fever, flew to Oklahoma to interview for my (now) job with Little Bee in my carry-on, was hired for my job as an academic librarian and moved to Oklahoma after graduating. Here I discovered the Sequoyah Awards list based on votes by Oklahoma librarians and children.

Total books read = 71

2011

I began the year immersed in Sweden thanks to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the little girl in me who loved (still does) the country group Alabama was thrilled to read lead singer Randy Owen’s memoir Born Country, I re-read/listened to the entire Harry Potter series before the 8th movie released, couldn’t pry myself off the couch to stop reading The Help, loved learning about contemporary application of agrarian themes in the Bible through Scouting the Divine by Margaret Feinberg and finally read the Oklahoma children’s tear-jerker classic Where the Red Fern Grows.

Total books read = 59

2012

The Optometrist asked me to marry him so The Shoemaker’s Wife took on a whole new depth as a woman in love, we married, and I have such fond memories reading Gold by Chris Cleave and Home by Julie Andrews in our  upstairs bedroom suite and on the back porch that overlooked a little grove of pine trees outside of our townhouse duplex.

Total books read = 34

2013

This was the year I overcame my luddite fears and The Optometrist convinced me I needed a Kindle Paperwhite; one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as a reader. Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson from the public library’s Overdrive collection was my first e-book, followed by many free digital ARCs via NetGalley and Edelweiss. The modern day classic The Red Tent, amazing middle-grade book Wonder, laugh-out-loud funny A Little Salty to Cut the Sweetand the Lily Bard/Shakespeare murder mysteries by Charlaine Harris rounded out my year.

Total books read = 46

2014

As is often the case, I checked out a book through the library I originally saw in a bookstore, this time being the Songbird series by country singer Sara Evans, I got around to reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane – a surprise end-of-the-2013-fall-semester gift from The Optometrist, we read our first book together aloud, Wicked, after seeing the musical on tour, and I was deeply impressed with the YA novel The Impossible Knife of Memory.

Total books read = 45

2015

2015 was perhaps my best reading year ever with so many newfound favorites I now frequently recommend to others: 11/22/63, The Year of No Sugar, Orange is the New Black, Station Eleven, Grace for the Good Girl, the Wayward Pines trilogy, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, and The Coincidence of Coconut Cake.

Total books read = 40

2016

I finally joined the Jojo Moyes bandwagon, read both Ready Player One and Dark Matter twice (once on my own, once aloud to The Optometrist), participated in reading selections from the Modern Mrs. Darcy summer reading guide for the first time, felt my soul breathe as I read Shauna Niequist’s Cold Tangerines, wanted to bake apple pies from The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, and listened to my first Audible streaming book, Alice in Wonderland.

Total books read = 56

2017

Not since my Mitford days have I enjoyed a series as much as the Chief Inspector Gamache books. The Optometrist patiently bore witness to me starting The Lord of the Rings, I discovered I love southern fiction with The Almost Sisters being a prime example, firmly believe the audio performance of Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan is one worth shouting from the rooftops, finally began my journey with Anne Shirley, and made a conscious effort to read outside my comfort zone.

Total books read = 72

2018

So far, this year Ruth Reichl has proven to be a deliciously safe harbor, I cried buckets of tears during the final pages of Two Across, finished The Lord of the Rings and a re-read of Narnia, and have consumed loads of audiobooks thanks to Overdrive and Hoopla, including Tom Hanks’ Uncommon Type.

Total books read = 71

Total number of books read in this journal = 809

 


How do you keep track of your reading? Do you have any words of wisdom to share with me as I begin a new book journal? If so, please comment below!

Advertisements

Read: Banned Books Week 2018

BBW-Jane MountIdeal Bookshelf 1042: Banned Books Week by Jane Mount

***Climbing onto my soapbox.***

This week in libraries around the United States and abroad, we celebrate Banned Books Week, highlighting titles that have drawn ire and scorn from the public. You can read more about the history of Banned Books Week here.

And as a librarian, an American, and a Christian, let me just say, I am a believer in freedom.

The quote, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” from Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s The Friends of Voltaire, concisely sums up my feelings. It’s only human for us to have differing viewpoints, but polite and intelligent dialog about our personal choices and decisions is the only way we will ever see beyond ourselves.

If you aren’t a proponent of reading banned books, I encourage you to select one that has been banned or challenged, read it, and then draw your own conclusions. It’s okay if you still oppose it, but you can now articulate why.

If you are a supporter of banned books like me, I encourage you to continue reading outside your comfort zone to understand others’ world views and to offer informed kindness to the opposition who think and act differently.

***Climbing down off my soapbox.***

Read: July 2018

OnlyHuman

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

The Optometrist and I read aloud the first two books of the Themis Files last Spring, Sleeping Giants in April and Waking Gods in May, so we were very excited to wrap up this interview/epistolary-style trilogy this summer.

Picking up where Sleeping Giants left off, we enjoyed the journey Rose, Vincent, Eva, and Eugene took to Ekt, their struggles to adapt there, their (mostly) desire to return to Earth, and their plans to help restore needed peace on Earth upon their re-arrival.

My thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine and NetGalley for access to both the print and digital ARC.

SummerBeachStreetBakery

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

I had been waiting for summer to arrive in order for this to be a seasonal read, after having read Little Beach Street Bakery in May. What a delight it was to return to the lighthouse in Mount Polbearne to revisit Polly, Huckle, and Neil the puffin, and to root for her bakery career and their relationship. Now I just have to wait for the final Christmas installment in this sweet (all puns intended) series.

Read via: academic library InterLibrary Loan

RoadBackToYou

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

For a while now, I’ve been hearing a lot about the Enneagram (especially from No Thanks We’re Booked and Anne Bogel) and was curious to learn more about this ancient method of better understanding not only your strengths, but your weaknesses, and how this knowledge better allows you to live a healthy, Christian life. Enneagram teachers Cron and Stabile outline each of the 9 types/numbers with practical examples of what each number looks like in healthy and not so healthy situations, providing great encouragement to embrace who God has made you to be. (And I’m pretty sure I’m an Enneagram 1, The Perfectionist or The Reformer, which really wasn’t a surprise at all.)

Read via: Hoopla audio

The-Book-of-M-1

The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

I forget where I heard about this post-apocalyptic story, but after having loved The Road by Cormac McCarthy and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, the premise immediately appealed to me.

Around the world people are beginning to lose their shadow and when they do, their memories soon follow suit, which has upended civilization. Told through a series of perspectives of interconnected “shadowed” vs. “shadowless” people in search of an illusive man in New Orleans, this is a story of clinging to memories, hope, and love even in the worst of circumstances.

Read via: public library

InConclusion

In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham

These words of wisdom were originally given as a commencement address at Langley High, actress Lauren Graham’s alma mater (I loved her memoir Talking As Fast As I Can). The audio book is narrated by her and is less than 30 minutes in length – perfect for a short car trip (like when I listened to it).

“Love yourself and what you’re doing, even if you’re not yet at the place you hope to land. Let joy be the thing that drives you and I bet you’ll get there faster. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. … Your job doesn’t define you – your bravery and kindness and gratitude do…you are enough just as you are.”

Read via: Libby audio

ThePresidentIsMissing

The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Former President Bill Clinton teams up with writing juggernaut James Patterson to create a fictitious, but not unlikely scenario of how the president would deal with a cyber attack – its impact, the terrorists at its inception, potential fallout in the United States and around the world, and how it can be prevented. Written in Patterson’s distinctive short-chapter style, Clinton’s influence is apparent with true insider knowledge and a positive perspective of how we are always stronger together.

Read via: public library

outofleftfield

Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages

This children’s historical fiction story is set in 1950s San Francisco, centering around Katy Gordon, the best baseball pitcher in her neighborhood and school. The fact that she’s a girl and restricted from playing Little League, as per their rules, inspires her to fight back through research, leading her to learn more about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. While her story is fictitious, the female baseball pioneers she discovers are not, making this a great story to be used in an elementary classroom for American history and sports history alike. (And watching A League of Their Own with older kids would be a fun tie-in, too!)

My thanks to Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House, for the ARC.

ConvenienceStoreWoman

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

This novella explores the ordinary life of Keiko, whose job at a Japanese convenience store gives her not only an income, but deeper purpose and identity. (As an educator, I would hazard a guess she would likely be classified somewhere on the Autism spectrum.) While she lacks understanding of how society functions, she possesses keen insight into human observation, making her a valued employee, until a male worker begins to disrupt the status quo with her job and life. Overall, this is a story of belonging and remaining true to yourself, quirks and all.

Read via: Libby e-book

kind-is-the-new-classy-cover

Kind is the New Classy by Candace Cameron Bure

So much of what comes out of Hollywood seems to be trivial, negative, or shallow, but this call to kindness and living a life of intention from actress Candace Cameron Bure is filled with Biblical truth, positivity, and depth. She shares first-hand examples of how she has stood up for her faith and values with conviction, covered in grace, which serves as a friendly and approachable reminder that we can all show ourselves and others kindness and respect.

Read via: public library

whiskey-in-a-teacup

Whiskey in a Teacup by Resse Witherspoon

In this lifestyle guide, actress Reese Witherspoon shares with fans and readers insights, photos, and recipes into what it means to be a Southern woman – well put-together on the outside with a fiery spirit inside, hence the title of her book. Releasing September 18, look for a full review on my blog then!

My thanks to Edelweiss for access to the digital ARC.


August means the start of “fall” for me, since our academic year begins soon. What are you excited about reading in the upcoming season?

6 Bookish Tote Bags

Ever since I was a little girl I’ve had a fondness (read: weakness) for bags and purses. Typically my taste for purses/handbags falls into the classic with simple lines category, but when it comes to tote bags, the zanier the better. As I was going through my giant plastic bin (yes, I’m serious) of tote bags the other day, I discovered there was a bookish theme to several of them, which I thought would be fun to share!

1.) I’d Rather Be in Mitford

 

Purchased at Barnes & Noble in Springfield, MO, in the early 2000s, this is one I’ve had the longest. Jan Karon’s Mitford series is a longtime favorite, with quirky characters whose humanity and faith intertwine into a humorous and wholesome look at small town life.

Read more about Mitford and shop for similar bags via Etsy.

2.) Gryffindor

In 2011 my parents and I went to Florida on my spring break, which included a visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where I bought this Gryffindor tote. My folks have never read the books, maybe saw The Sorcerer’s Stone movie once, but still took me to a librarian’s favorite theme park. They’re the best!

Similar merchandise can be found via Universal Studios, but other Hogwarts houses can be found from The Cursed Child web store and the official shop from King’s Cross Station in London.

3.) Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

I was fortunate to see the original cast of Mary Poppins the musical in London in 2005 and when The Optometrist and I knew it was on an American tour in 2012, we jumped at the chance to go much closer to home. As soon as I saw this at the merchandise table that evening, I knew it was going home with me.

Similar ones can be found via RedBubble.

4.) Library Card bag

When The Optometrist and I traveled to Seattle in 2015, lots of folks told me I would love visiting the Seattle Public Library. We both enjoyed spending the better part of the afternoon walking around this architecturally engaging hub of learning in downtown Seattle and just before closing time I picked up this little gem at their Friends of the Library gift shop.

This exact bag, and/or the companion socks, can be found via Amazon.

5.) Blue Q Shopper

Given to me as a birthday gift by a dear friend and former librarian colleague, I always receive complements when I carry this one around and if people don’t know me it’s a great segue to reply, “Thanks, I’m a librarian!” It’s sturdy enough to not tip over in the floorboard of the car, but accommodating for movement under a chair and can hold big and small items alike. The day this photo was taken it held my work tablet, a legal-sized zipper folio, a pashmina, my yearly planner, a book, and my Yeti water bottle. It’s a workhorse!

If you’re interested in this one, it’s currently on sale for $5.99!

6.) Booklahoma

It’s thrilling to live close to a vibrant, independent bookstore and Magic City Books in downtown Tulsa, OK, is doing some excellent work in promoting and encouraging literacy in our region. Of course I’m going to promote them by carrying around this lightweight canvas tote bag!


What’s your preferred method of carrying around your books, knitting, and more?

Learn: Spring 2018

Linking up with Emily P. Freeman and others, sharing the silly and sublime of what I’ve learned throughout this spring.

  1. Social media break

    Throughout Lent I made a conscious effort to pay attention to how I spent my free time and this meant abstaining from social media, especially Instagram, and let me tell you, it was freeing. Now that we are beyond both Easter and Pentecost, I find I am happier when I give myself more parameters to only check in periodically throughout the week.

    I follow a few in-real-life (IRL) friends, but a lot more are accounts of fellow readers I don’t know personally, which I hadn’t realized had begun impacting and overwhelming my bookish decision making. Taking a step away allowed me to not only spend more time reading, but tapping back into making more thoughtful decisions about what I read this spring and how I spent my time.

  2. Yeti to the rescue

    Ever since I was diagnosed with a cyst on my vocal chord in college and given a more stringent set of guidelines for vocal health, I’ve been a diligent water drinker. Over the years I’ve gone through my share of Nalgene bottles and a nice Lifefactory one, but after some hesitation about BPA in plastic and the tendency for glass to break, I had my eye on something a bit more easily cleanable and durable .

    Over Spring Break The Optometrist and I took a little road trip to Springfield, MO, to visit the Wonders of Wildlife Museum and Aquarium at Bass Pro Shops (highly recommend!). At Bass Pro he kindly bought me a Yeti water bottle, the 18 oz. “Rambler” in Seafoam. Sturdy, girly, and the ability to keep my water chilled throughout the day makes me realize why this brand has such a loyal following.

  3. Immunity to book allergens

    Over Christmas break my parents, The Optometrist, and I visited one of my favorite used book stores. After a little while they all began getting a tickle in their throats and had to step outside for a breath of fresh air, whereas I was just fine. After 8+ years of working in libraries, I find it ironic that I’m now more allergic to plants outside than books inside.

  4. Billy Graham and Queen Elizabeth were friends

    I’ve slowly been working my way through episodes of The Crown on Netflix. In Season 2, Episode 6, “Vergangenheit,” a plot point is illustrated that the Queen and Billy Graham met together on several occasions in the 1950s (story via Time), which was a complete surprise to me.

  5. Carry the big umbrella

    It’s thankfully been a rainy spring in our corner of Oklahoma and after realizing we own not just one, but three large umbrellas, I decided it was time to grab an unused one and keep it in my trunk for rainy days.

    For years I’ve carried around a small-ish Totes umbrella, which has performed admirably, but anything hanging off my person (usually both a purse and tote bag) is inevitably left a little bit damp on my walk from the parking lot to the Library.

    This is one of those times where “bigger is better” certainly lives up to its moniker.

  6. I can get by with less than I think

    A few weeks ago The Optometrist and I performed with one of our local music groups and our call time was around 5:00, which is about the time we eat dinner. Due to warm ups and stage set-ups before the concert, we only had time to eat the granola bars we had with us, which surprisingly got us both through the entirety of the performance (but I was still glad to eat a bite afterwards).

  7. Duplicates come in handy

    In an ongoing quest to live a simple life, I’ve recently discovered having two of something is not redundant or wasteful, but can be helpful and a time saver. (Example: cleaning supplies in each bathroom). However, this idea was really “driven” home during a recent road trip through Oklahoma and Kansas to Missouri.

    After leaving home I discovered we didn’t have the atlas with us (in the other car) and while I had road maps for OK and MO, states where I’ve lived, we were going to be driving through Kansas with only our GPS. Of course, it was in Kansas when we experienced a complete road closure, as in the road had been ripped up for repairs and was a field of dirt, and a 10 mile back-track to a gas station resulted in, you guessed it, The Optometrist buying me a second atlas to consult during the rest of our trip.

  8. Yes, you should try to stay at the Pioneer Woman Boarding House

    As good fortune would have it, The Optometrist and I were able to book a room at the new Pioneer Woman Boarding House in Pawhuska, OK, the night reservations became available last month. And even though we live an easily drive-able distance away, we hadn’t had the opportunity to visit the Pioneer Woman mecca yet, but as soon as our room at the “BH” was confirmed (the Prairie Room), we knew the time was right for us to visit.

    Even though reservations are booked until March 2019 (yowza!), if you have the chance to go in the coming years, her staff will take very good care of you and it will be a restful, memorable stay.

    Look for a more thorough blog post about all things Pioneer Woman soon!


What noteworthy moments have defined your Spring? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Read: April 2018

GarlicSapphires

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl

My fascination with Ruth Reichl continued from March and this memoir was a slight deviation from her other two, focusing entirely on her years as the restaurant critic for the New York Times. Included are her actual reviews, after sharing the back stories behind her positive and negative dining experiences (and a few personal recipes, of course).

And to see glimpses of the beautiful home where she and her husband now live, and how she navigates around her personally designed home kitchen, you will enjoy this 2015 video from the New York Times.

Read via: academic library

Countingby7s

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Willow Chance is a highly gifted 12 year old girl, whose favorite number is 7 and whose cerebral ruminations are reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes. After a family tragedy turns her world upside down, she learns to cope thanks, in part, to some unlikely individuals (strangers, really) whom she also ends up inspiring. The overall theme of this middle-grade story is a child’s grief over the loss of her parents, which is often underrepresented in children’s literature.

Purchased during a past Scholastic Book Fair in our academic library, Allison’s recent mention of this middle-grade novel reminded and encouraged me to finally pick it up. I’m glad I did!

Read via: home library

Feynman

Feynman written by Jim Ottaviani, art by Leland Myrick, coloring by Hilary Sycamore

This graphic novel about American Nobel-Prize winning physicist  Dr. Richard Feynman (quantum electrodynamics, the Manhattan Project, and investigating the Challenger explosion) was the perfect format to not feel intimidated by such advanced and scientific breakthroughs. It inspires me to keep learning more about scientific and mathematical concepts I’ve never formally studied before.

Read via: academic library

Dolly

Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You by Dolly Parton (audio)

When you grow up on the Ozarks, country music is rather a way of life. And nothing says country music more than Dolly Parton. While I’ve known the highlights of her career, eaten at Stampede in Branson, and visited Dollywood in East Tennessee, when I heard about her Imagination Library during library school, this was her achievement that impressed me the most.

Elaborated upon from her 2012 commencement speech given at University of Tennessee, this isn’t a memoir, simply an opportunity for her to share some brief personal anecdotes about what has inspired her to dream big and give back to others.

Dolly’s unmistakable speaking and singing voice give heart and passion to her thoughts in the audio version, which is an easy listen at around 2 hours.

Read via: academic library InterLibrary Loan audio CDs

NotIfISaveYouFirst

Not if I Save You First by Ally Carter

Logan and Maddie are no ordinary 10 year old best friends since Logan’s dad is President of the United States and Maddie’s dad is head of the President’s Secret Service detail. During a state dinner, Logan and Maddie help deter a Russian attack on the President’s family, but the strain takes its toll and Maddie and her father move as far away from Washington, D.C., as possible; off the grid in a remote part of Alaska.

Fast forward six years and Maddie’s numerous letters to Logan have never been reciprocated, but when teenage Logan shows up on the doorstep of their cabin after getting himself into a bit of trouble, Maddie quickly realizes trouble isn’t as far away as any of them would like to believe.

For those unfamiliar with Ally Carter, her books contain smart and tough female protagonists, with a suspenseful but clean story line. She’s one of my favorite young adult authors (and is from Oklahoma)!

Read via: home library

beautiful mystery.jpg

The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny

The 8th Chief Inspector Gamache novel is filled with beautiful descriptions of sacred music and Gregorian chant despite the fact that Gamache and Inspector Beauvoir have been summoned to a remote Canadian monastery to investigate the murder of one of the monks. Layers of intrigue abound with the monks relationships to one another and also between Gamache and Beauvoir. This one ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, so I’m anxious to find out what happens next in How the Light Gets In!

Read via: public library

NotBecomingMyMother

Not Becoming My Mother: And Other Things She Taught Me Along the Way by Ruth Reichl

My fascination with Ruth Reichl continued during the month with this short homage written in honor of her mother Miriam after her death. By looking through a box of her mother’s notes and correspondences over the years, Reichl comes to better understand her mother’s personal frustrations and ambitions, along with her desires for Ruth’s own life. This was a terrific read, especially with Mother’s Day right around the corner.

Read via: public library

LastBattle

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis

My 5th grade teacher read our class the entire Narnia series during the course of that school year, long ago. Since then I have re-read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe several times, but had never re-read The Last Battle. And while I possess a classic paperback set of the entire Narnia series, I was inspired to listen to this book once more, this time narrated/performed by Patrick Stewart; a real treat.

Read via: public library Overdrive


The end of our collegiate semester culminates with graduation this weekend, which, to me, means summer reading can begin!

Read: March 2018

The57Bus

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

My quest to read more from the ALA Youth Media Awards list led me outside my reading comfort zone with The 57 Bus, the true story of a white, transgender teen whose skirt was set on fire by a black, male teen while riding a city bus in Oakland, California, in 2013.

A co-winner of the Stonewall Award and selected as a Finalist in the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults, the reader gets to know both teens, their families, their hopes and dreams, and while the issue of gender is at the heart of the story, so are the choices we make, consequences, repercussions, kindness toward others, and forgiveness.

Read via: public library

WeAreOkay

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

Rounding out my current reads from the 2018 ALA Youth Media Awards, this YA novel was this year’s recipient of the Michael L. Printz Award.

College freshman and protagonist Marin has fled her life in California to the unknown East Coast to begin her first year of college after enduring “tragedy…heartbreak…betrayal” and who possesses a profound sense of “broken longing” for answers and love from those who know her best. The story unfolds a little bit at a time with vulnerable moments grounded equally in the present and in the past.

Read via: public library

TenderAtTheBone

Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl

After reading two YA books fraught with high emotions, I needed a break, and nothing makes me happier than to read an outstanding food memoir. This was a $3.00 find from my favorite used book store while visiting my parents at Christmas; money very well spent.

In this memoir Reichl weaves recipes into stories and adventures from her early and young adult life in the most inviting way. Whether it’s homemade cheese she ate on a farm in France, a stacked pastrami sandwich discovered at a diner in Montreal while in boarding school, or fixing food for her hippie commune from her garden while living in 1970s Berkeley, you are drawn into each mouth-watering moment, experiencing life along with her (and growing hungrier by the second).

I previously read Delicious!, Reichl’s only fiction novel, in the summer of 2014 and enjoyed it just as much as I did as this, her first memoir.

Read via: home library

LOTR

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

Yes, it’s been the better part of 9 months since I read the last installment from The Lord of the Rings, but I’m hanging in there! Since The Optometrist and I are reading these aloud together, I have him to thank for continuing to guide me into all things Tolkien, including character and plot information, and so many world-building details. Now on to Return of the King!

Read via: home library

Jan-Karon-To-Be-Where-You-Are-cover

To Be Where You Are by Jan Karon

Although this has been out since the Fall, it wasn’t until this month the time was right for me to return to Mitford. After a very hectic winter, my schedule and mind have begun to slow down a bit, and I relished reuniting with beloved characters.

In this latest installment of Karon’s longstanding series, Dooley, Lace, and Jack are faced with many real-world challenges in their new family’s personal and professional lives, but make diligent and ongoing choices to love, support, and cling to one another. Father Tim and Cynthia continue to find ways to love and serve the quirky denizens of Mitford, and the supporting cast of characters can always be counted on to bring a smile to my face and a moment for my soul to breathe.

My thanks NetGalley for access to the the digital ARC.  https://www.netgalley.com/

Trick-Light

A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny

7th in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, the Chief and his investigative team from the Sûerté du Québec return to Three Pines when an unknown woman is found dead in the garden of recurring characters Clara and Peter. When the identity of the woman is revealed, the question remains if her death is coincidentally timed with Clara’s debut, solo art show. Meanwhile, the Chief and his investigators continue to deal with grief, honesty, and loss from a previous attack to members of their team; an ongoing struggle.

Read via: public library

Comfort-Apples

Comfort Me With Apples: More Adventures at the Table by Ruth Reichl

What a dual-find it was to discover both Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples over Christmas at my longtime favorite used book store! However, after enjoying Tender so much, Comfort was more gritty for me to read as it centers around Reichl’s affairs, divorce from her first husband, remarriage, and longing for motherhood. And yet despite her personal woes, her professional accomplishments and influence in the food world continued to grow, often illustrated by corresponding recipes. (Danny Kaye’s Lemon Pasta is one I’m anxious to try…)

Read via: home library


Spring has sprung! I await a slower pace as the semester gets closer to reaching its conclusion as I am accompanied by delightful books like Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl and perhaps a few more Newbery medalists, too.