Thursday, February 2, 2023

January Recap 2023

I did not finish any books in January, but I AM reading some great books! In a few weeks I should finish Madame Bovary (a reread), and Marriage to a Difficult Man

Gustave Flaubert is splendid with his character formation in Madame Bovary, all of which are caricatures of human personalities and each strikingly imprudent and grandiose in his own way. Even though it is a reread, I am being exposed to parts of the story that I had forgotten or sections that I remembered differently. It is so good to reread a great story. 

Marriage to a Difficult Man is about the relationship of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards -- you know, the American revivalist preacher and theologian? Because I enjoy biographies, the people and this time period are very intriguing. It is more told from the POV of Sarah who had to endure much while (as was typical) her husband was always traveling or studying. In addition, Edwards was a "difficult man," but Sarah was, as eighteenth-century women had to be, resilient.

I do hope to finish Anna Karenina this month, also, but I am only half way through. I am rereading this for book club, and we meet to discuss at the end of February. Nonetheless, I know enough to discuss it, but I will still finish it because it is, I think, one of the most accomplished, absorbing, and satisfying classics you can experience. It is so excellent because Tolstoy is a first-rate author and writer (and my Garnett translation is readable). There are numerous plots and subplots simultaneously being woven, easily determined (you cannot get confused). When I first read this novel, I was confounded by the long Russian names and the shorter ones, but not this time. I remember everyone by his shorter name. 

I also started reading The Self-sufficient Backyard. I am mostly interested in the gardening sections, but I hope to get other ideas on how to be more efficient with our property. 

* * *

I wish it did not take me so long to finish a book, but part of the problem is that I read multiple books concurrently. And technically I still care for three kids, one husband, a father who has Parkinson's, and a high-maintenance dog. Some weeks all I do is drive people back and forth to doctor's appointments, the dentist, the optometrist, the post office, the bank, the dance studio, the grocery store, and the vet. I Uber all day long! I still homeschool two high schoolers, do some laundry, clean up after people, and make a meal once a day. 

Every once in awhile I get to read outside in the sun while I wait for the kids to finish work that I need to check; but usually I try to read at the end of the night until my eyes start to close. Then I know I am done. Until tomorrow. 

* * *


I just wanted to add that I was thinking about Virginia Woolf's essay "A Room of One's Own" while I was reading Married to a Difficult Man -- how Sarah, Jonathan Edward's wife, was left to hold down the home-front with numerous young children, even while he was home because he was always off studying and reading and writing and thinking. Woolf wrote about how important it is for a woman to have her own room where she can go off for hours or days at a time, without interruption, to think and do likewise. 

And it occurred to me that I finally have a Room of My Own!'s a little closet space, but it has everything I need to think, study, read, write, and learn. It is connected to my bedroom and was intended to be a closet, but there is a second large closet, and my husband and I did not need two. So I snagged this one for my "office." Plus it has a window. It's perfect. 

SIDEBAR: At one time I wanted to go to Alaska and live in an igloo. 
I've since changed my mind. 
But I still like the poster.

After I donated all the books I imagined I would never read again, I managed to fit everything I have left on two bookcases. My husband wanted to buy me more book cases, but I said I would manage with these two. So far I have. 

The bookcase above is mainly books for school or other non-fiction books on parenting, education, and miscellaneous. The tall bookcase contains all of my novels, histories, biographies, poetry, plays, and the like. Last night I organized everything. Each shelf is double layered, so you cannot see the books behind the first row. 

The top shelf holds all of the biographies I have read; the next shelf is for histories and Christian non-fiction I have read. The next shelf down contains plays and poetry. Some I have read; most I have not. The shelf below that contains all the books I own and have not read. My TBR shelf. And the lowest shelf are already read classics, novels, and other fiction.  

I love my little space. But the problem remains. I cannot, like Jonathan Edwards, disappear all day to read, study, and write. So the issue really is not having a space or a room of one's own. The issue truly is, (finding): Time of One's Own

To be determined...

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Goals for 2023

Top Ten Bookish Goals for 2023

I haven't done a Top Ten for several years. And since I have already posted my reading goals, meaning what books I hope to read this coming year HERE, I am thinking more broadly for this list. Therefore, here are my "bookish" goals for 2023, God willing...

#10. Write more in my commonplace journal, collecting inspiring, purposeful ideas. When I am done, it will be a compilation of what I value and cherish most.

#9. Write more blog posts on all of the books I read, even of the ones less memorable and maybe the ones I bailed. 

#8. Read all of the books from book club. Last year I had too many interruptions and I missed out on some good books and great discussions.

#7. READ, period! Force myself to read even when I don't feel like it because I am distracted by other matters. Instead of doing something mindless (you know that mindless, wasteful thing we do?)...JUST READ!

#6. Stop being intimidated by door-stoppers. Jump into those tomes! No excuses!! You must start somewhere and you know that reading a few pages or chapters a day eventually equals the end. And you'll be glad you did. (I'm talking to myself.) 

#5. Look up words. I usually circle unfamiliar words while reading, but never return to look them up. That's silly. I learned not to pause to look up words while reading because it disturbs the natural flow, but I forgot the second part: to look up the word afterward, note it in the margin, and reread the passage for better understanding. Enough of that laziness this year. 

#4. Keep to suggestions for book bailing (DNF). To repeat, if I am dragging myself through a book beyond a month or 100 pages and it still has not inspired me, it is time to cut ties. But most of all, before I get to that final decision to bail, I want to make sure that I have genuinely given the book a fair shake. I can't expect to leave the book on my nightstand with an intent to read it -- after having only read a few chapters or for a few days -- while actually avoiding it. I have to put in more effort and time to determine if it is truly over. 

#3. Find something more creative to do with my book journal. I'm so boring and I keep doing the same thing.

#2. Spread more book love! (That is: suggest particular books to others instead of keeping great literature to myself.) Imagine if more people read and discussed books, especially the classics and biographies? If we want to change the world, we should start with ourselves; reading takes us outside of ourselves and makes us think deeper about human nature, problems, resolutions, perseverance, and inspiration. (Knowing Scripture helps, too.)

#1. Seriously stick to and meet all of my bookish goals. Then revisit this list next year and see how I did. But if life takes me off course, that's ok, too. It happens all the time. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Reading Goals 2023

This is the time when I make my long list of books I intend to read all year, and then never touch half of them. 

Well, that's an exaggeration. I read over 2/3 of my 2022 reading goals list. It was a challenging year for reading because most of my books were tucked away in boxes, and I instead utilized the library, reading  books that were not part of my initial reading goal. 

Now that we are in our own house, and my books are finally on shelves, I do not know if it will make a difference -- if I will do a better job reading through my unread books on the shelves, or if it has more to do with personal focus. No one can predict a whole year, and I do not know how life will affect what I am reading or if I will read at all. 

Here is the problem I have currently: when I look at the unread books on my shelves, I do not feel like reading them. I want to reread books that I know I already love. However, Whitney at The Unread Shelf suggests reading an unread book each month. If by the end of the month you have not finished it (because you are dragging yourself through it), then get rid of it. (Or if after 100 pages you still have not connected with it, drop it. Or if after 25%, it is taking all your strength to read it, let it go. You get the idea.) 

So, I've got 79 unreads to start with, and I chose more than ten I may read this year. I also have a list of rereads, my book club list, and at least six titles for TWEM poetry. I may add more to that later depending on how I do. And there are always miscellaneous books that I will add as the year progresses. 

Dodds: Marriage to a Difficult Man
Stockett: The Help
Rand: Anthem; The Virtue of Selfishness; The Romantic Manifesto; 
          Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal; Atlas Shrugged
Lewis: The Four Loves; The Great Divorce
Zusak: The Book Thief
West: Adam Smith: The Man and His Works
Buck: The Good Earth
Morgenstern: The Princess Bride
Achebe: Things Fall Apart
McCullough: 1776; John Adams; The Pioneers


Flaubert: Madame Bovary
Hardy: The Return of the Native
James: The Portrait of a Lady
Wharton: The House of Mirth
Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby
Orwell: 1984

Book Club:

Tolstoy: Anna Karenina (reread)
Hanff: 84 Charing Cross Road
Applebaum: The Red Famine
Orszy: Scarlet Pimpernel (reread)
Oke: Love Comes Softly
Lewis: The Great Divorce (unread)
Rand: Atlas Shrugged (unread)
L'Amour: Walking Drum
Hugo: The Man Who Laughs
Zusak: The Book Thief (unread)
Rowlings: The Christmas Pig

Coleridge: Selected Poems
Keats: Complete Poems
Longfellow: Selected Poems
Tennyson: Tennyson's Poetry
Whitman: Leaves of Grass
Dickinson: Dickinson's Poems


Begg: Truth for Life #2
Hardy: The Woodlanders

Have you read any of these? Any favorites? Any you want to send encouragement?


Thursday, December 29, 2022

Year End Recap 2022

A reading journey enhances life. It creates memories each year, along with the joys and disappointments -- some years having more of one or the other, and a lot of in between. I can look at my year of reading and remember what it was like by the titles, recalling their connection to events. Twenty twenty-two was a time of disruption, change, melancholy, and blessings. In February, we moved from California to Florida, and in December we moved into our new home. I finished my typical number of books, but I bailed more than usual; flopped at keeping up with book club; and I did not review as much as I had wanted to. 

This is a recap of the books I finished or started to read in 2022, including my rating. Some I re-read (RR) or bailed (B). I was compelled to donate a large percentage of books that I know I will never read or reread. I had to downsize because I have less bookshelves, and I mean to keep it that way. 

In addition, the Unread Shelf Project (by Whitney at The Unread Shelf) is my attempt to read  unread books I own, to decide which to keep and which to donate. 

In the end, I did my best to choose my favorites, which is not an exact science. It changes. (Like science.)


  • Hardy: A Pair of Blue Eyes ⭐⭐  
  • Greek Lyrics  ⭐⭐⭐
  • McCarthy: The Road ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 
  • Orwell: Animal Farm ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR)
  • Ingalls Wilder: Little House in the Big Woods ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR)


  • Ingalls Wilder: Little House on the Prairie ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR)
  • Kennedy: The Real Anthony Fauci ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 
  • Wister: The Virginian (B) (read a few chapters)


  • Horace: Odes ⭐⭐ (read selections)
  • Spiegelman: Maus I & II ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Shaffer: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Ingalls Wilder: Farmer Boy ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR)
  • Ingalls Wilder: On the Banks of Plum Creek ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR)
  • Cervantes: Don Quixote (B) (RR) (read a 1/3) (I love this book, BTW, but it wasn't a good time to read it again.)


  • Torrey: To the Edge of the World ⭐⭐⭐
  • Myers: A Place Called Heartbreak ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Popper: Covid Operation ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Bunyan: Pilgrim's Progress ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR) 
  • Ingalls Wilder: By the Shores of Silver Lake ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR) 
  • Skousen: The Five Hundred Year Leap ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR) 
  • Park: In Order to Live ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Steinbeck: The Pearl ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR) 
  • Beowulf ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 
  • Cohn: From Sea to Shining Sea ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Marrin: Stalin ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR) 


  • Ingalls Wilder: Little Town on the Prairie ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR)
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR)
  • Foley: These are the Generations ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Steinbeck: Travels with Charley ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Beamer: Let's Roll ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR)
  • Weiss: Helga's Diary ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Hansen: The Dying Citizen ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (B) (read 1/2 but had to return to library)


  • Lewis: The Abolition of Man ⭐⭐⭐ 
  • Austen: Pride and Prejudice  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR)
  • Donne: (selections) ⭐⭐
  • Blos: Gathering of Days (B) (couldn't get into it)
  • Brink: Caddie Woodlawn (B) (read a bit, but had to return it to the library)


  • Jankovic: You Who?  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 
  • Hemingway: A Moveable Feast ⭐⭐⭐⭐


  • Newsom: Polycarp: The Crown of Fire ⭐⭐⭐ 
  • Dickens: Bleak House (B) (read nine chapters)   
  • Chambers: If You Will Ask ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Milton: Paradise Lost ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Blake: Songs of Innocence and of Experience ⭐⭐⭐
  • Popov: Tortured for His Faith ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐    


  • Merkle: Eve in Exile ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 
  • Ten Boom: The Hiding Place ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR)
  • Wordsworth: The Works of William Wordsworth [selections] ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 
  • Ham: Creation to Babel ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 


  • Wein: Code Name Verity ⭐⭐⭐ 
  • Wells: The Invisible Man ⭐⭐⭐ 


  • Hemingway: For Whom the Bell Tolls (B) (read 15%) 
  • Twain: Joan of Arc (B) (read 16%)


  • Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (RR)
  • MacArthur: Because the Time is Near ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 
  • Begg: Truth for Life ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 
  • Beck: The Immortal Nicholas (read 52% and was unable to renew it from library)

* * *

The 2022 Totals:

total books read, including some bails: 55

total books reread: 17

total books bailed: 

total books donated: -34 

total new books added: +7

total unread books remaining: 79

* * *

The 2022 Winners:

* most beloved children's/y.a.

The Little House Series 

* most haunting fiction 

The Road  

* most memorable biography/memoir

In Order to Live

* most impressive history

The Dying Citizen

* most appreciative non-fiction

The Real Anthony Fauci

* most enjoyable poetry (tie)


Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

* * *

What was your reading journey like this year???

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

October Monthly Recap 2022

The entire month of October has been too distracting with a hurricane and house hunting. I haven't been able to read very much at all. At this point, if I could just finish what is already on my plate by the end of 2022, that would be awesome; but the way things are going, and with  holidays coming, I still may not be able to read much at all. 😢

Unread Books Beginning October: 105

Finished Reading in October: 2

Wein: Code Name Verity (unread -1)
Orwell: The Invisible Man (kindle)

Bailed: 0

Un-shelved (donated): -2

Training Hearts, Teaching Minds
Luther's Small Catechism

Added: +0

Unread Books Remaining: 104

* * *

Currently STILL reading:

Begg: Truth For Life 

Schweikart: A Patriot's History of the United States 

Hawthorne: The Scarlet Letter 

Twain: The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc 

Hemingway: For Whom the Bell Tolls

MacArthur: Because the Time is Near


Recap for January 2022

Recap for February 2022

Recap for March 2022

Recap for April 2022

Recap for May 2022

Recap for June 2022

Recap for July 2022

Recap for August 2022

Recap for September 2022