Read More! Join me?

As you may have guessed, I’m a big fan of the Goodreads Reading Challenge. Last year, it helped me reads more than 50 books; see Goodreads: A Year in Books (2018).

This year, I’m hoping to get to even more of the books on my To Read list.

Join me? Visit Goodreads to sign up today!

(If you’re a Goodreads members, click here and we can follow each other’s progress!)

Goodreads: A Year in Books (2018)

Several years ago, actress Lena Dunham tweeted “Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading.” Would that it were possible, right?

Lacking an eighth day, we’re left to our own devices to make time for reading. For me, there are treasured Sunday mornings — pre-dawn, coffees at the ready, reading side-by-side with my boyfriend Matt. Then good habits, like carrying a book in my purse, weekly visits to the library, and reading before bed help keep the spirit alive through the work week right back around to those quite Sunday hours.

And all of that good reading mojo has paid off…for the first time in six years, I exceeded my personal Goodreads Reading Challenge goal, reading 54 books in 2018! This year’s tally of 15,121 pages included fiction bestsellers and some classics, one cookbook, poetry and nonfiction, along with a handful of self-published books by some amazing local authors.

Following closely in the footsteps of 2017, you’ll find several Young Adult novels on my list again, including Ransom Riggs’ new book in the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series: A Map of Days. (“Fair warning: you’ll realize about 2/3 of the way in that you’re going to finish the book soon and you’ll have to wait – again – for the next in the series to magically appear! Pace yourself.”)

Another fun find this year was the Penguin Drop Cap Series, 26 collectible hardcover editions of classic works of literature, each featuring on its cover a specially commissioned illustrated letter of the alphabet by type designer Jessica Hische. This year I read H, Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. My local library seems to have a good selection of these special titles, and it’s fun to try to spot them on the shelves. Click here to see all 26.

According to star ratings, some of my least favorite books in 2018 were Brida by Paulo Coelho (“insipid romance”) and The Book of Hidden Things by Francesco Dimitri (“Nope. Nope. Nope.”). I disliked 1984 by George Orwell so much — “a terribly wretched book” — it completely subverted my attempt to read the 100 books featured in The Great American Read.

Brida was not the only “insipid romance” that earned one or two stars. I was also not a fan of The Atomic Weight of Love (Elizabeth Church), An Obvious Enchantment (Tucker Malarkey), or An Itailan Wife (Ann Hood). Which is not to say I don’t like a good love story. I adored The Course of Love by Alain de Botton — “This should be required reading. For everyone. Period.”

New reads from some of my favorite authors included Keri Smith’s uber-clever book The Wander Society (“Solvitur ambulando!”), Anne Lamott’s  Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (“A balm, antidote, inspiration…Wow! and Thanks!”), and Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone (“We need this kind of thoughtful examination and heartfelt solutions now more than ever!”).

I recently recommended One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd (Jim Fergus) to a friend, and realized it was one of the most memorable books I read this year. (“we want this to be a true story…and are ever-surprised that it is not”)

Other books that stand out include Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy (“a clever piece of dystopian fiction”), Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffengger (“Wonderfully, weirdly delicious!”), and The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan (“I savored it slowly… ”).

But if asked specifically, I would put at the top of my list The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley (“Magically, magically good!!”)

It was, apparently, a good year for reading. But I suspect I’ll run out of superlatives if I don’t stop here. You can read my complete list of 2018 books on Goodreads (click here)…but I want to know about you, too. What were your favorite books in 2018? List them in the commend section below!


Read More: Memories of My Melancholy Whores


Memories of My Melancholy WhoresMemories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

AMAZON SAYS: Memories of My Melancholy Whores is Gabriel García Márquez’s first work of fiction in ten years, written at the height of his powers, the Spanish edition of which Ilan Stavans called, “Masterful. Erotic. As hypnotizing as it is disturbing” (Los Angeles Times). On the eve of his ninetieth birthday, our unnamed protagonist — an undistinguished journalist and lifelong bachelor — decides to give himself “the gift of a night of wild love with an adolescent virgin.” The virgin, whom an old madam procures for him, is splendidly young, with the silent power of a sleeping beauty. The night of love blossoms into a transforming year. It is a year in which he relives, in a rush of memories, his lifetime of (paid-for) sexual adventures and experiences a revelation that brings him to the edge of dying–not of old age, but, at long last, of uncorrupted love. Memories of My Melancholy Whores is a brilliant gem by the master storyteller.

MY REVIEW: I first heard about Garbriel García Márquez’ novel Memories of My Melancholy Whores through a series of quotes posted on Once a Loyal Lover, a blog by Jem Magbanua. The sensual words she chose to highlight from Márquez’ 2005 novel piqued my curiosity so much, I literally grabbed the book out of a friend’s hand at a bookstore recently. And I am so glad I did…if for no other reason that a chance to get reacquainted with this author I haven’t read in many years.

Memories of My Melancholy Whores is classic Márquez’ — filled with rich juicy details that drip from your fingers as you turn the pages. It is a sad tale of an old man facing the end of his life in the shadow of his solitary existence, punctuated by the absence of love. Heartbreaking and frustrating in many ways, I had great empathy…sympathy?…for the 90-year old protagonist who slowly begins to understand his ability to love—finally.

It was a short tome, and as I turned the last page I found myself aching for just a little more. Thankfully, there are plenty of other Márquez’ novels to choose from—including my favorite Love in the Time of Cholera.

View all my Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge Books.

Read More: Girldrive

Girldrive: Criss-Crossing America, Redefining FeminismGirldrive: Criss-Crossing America, Redefining Feminism by Nona Willis Aronowitz

FROM GOODREADS: Do you consider yourself a feminist? What does feminism mean to you? What issues and topics are most important to you? What do you hope for the future? These are just a few of the questions Nona Willis Aronowitz and Emma Bee Bernstein posed to the 127 women profiled in this book, ranging from well-known feminists like Kathleen Hanna, Laura Kipnis, Erica Jong, Michele Wallace, and Starhawk, to women who don’t relate to feminism at all.

MY REVIEW: Every March, sometime towards the end of the month, I (single, female, 40s) meet with my accountant (married, male, 60s). We sit across from each other at his desk, he eyes my left hand and asks, “Married, yet?” And every March, I respond — enthusiastically — “No!” He never knows what to say next, so I add “I own my own house. I run my own business. I love my life.” He never understands, I doubt he ever will.

Am I a feminist? I don’t know — but it’s a question I’ve been thinking about since reading Girldrive this past week.

Girldrive was a gift from my friend MaryAnne—research for the cross-country trip I’m planning in celebration of my 50th birthday. While my plan includes stops at National Parks and foodie destinations, Girldrive’s authors Nona Willis Aronowitz and Emma Bee Bernstein had a more significant goal: redefining feminism.

Told through photos, essays and interviews with more than 100 women of all ages and interests, backgrounds and experiences, Girldrive offers up an interesting conversation, and a wealth of history, opinions, and points of views. While I didn’t always relate to or understand the varied perspectives, it did make me think, a lot, about my experience as a woman, about the impact of feminism on my life and choices, and the role or lack of a role it plays now, in my day-to-day. Am I a feminist? I don’t know—are you?

View all my Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge Books.

Read More: The Boxcar Children


The Boxcar Children (The Boxcar Children, #1)The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

FROM GOODREADS: Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny, four orphaned brothers and sisters, suddenly appear in a small town. No one knows who these young wanderers are of where they have come from. Frightened to live with a grandfather they have never met, the children make a home for themselves in an abondoned red boxcar they discover in the woods. Henry, the oldest, goes to town to earn money and buy food and supplies. Ambitious and resourceful, the plucky children make a happy life for themselves – until Violet gets too sick for her brothers and sister to care for her.

MY REVIEW: While working on some new writing of my own, I remembered this favorite book from my childhood. I picked up an old copy and immediately found myself transported back in time. Back to when I used to play in the woods and pretend I was like the Alden children from the book – living in the forest, eating wild blueberries, making fun things from found objects. I suppose, in many ways, I do still “play” in the woods, and it was fun to catch a glimpse of my early inspirations to do so. I can’t wait to share this with my nephew when he is old enough to read!

View all my Goodreads 2013 Reading Challenge Books.

Resolve to Read. More.

I used to be a reader. You know, those really cool folks who are always reading books? On the train. In the coffee shop. In the waiting room. Reading!

I used to be that person. But being an English major took the joy out of recreational reading sometime back in the 80s, then cable television and running my own business vyed for my attention…and here we are, the start of another year for which my top resolution is READ MORE.

Ever year for years: READ MORE.

It’s not that I don’t read — I manage maybe five to ten books a year. But compared to those college days when I was reading five to ten books a week, my efforts pale.

By fun coincedence, I was thinking on this last week when my friend and fellow blogger C.B. Wentworth wrote about her reading achievements for 2012, lining up a delicious assortment of bookcover thumbnails with her post “Goodreads 2012 Challenge: Achieved!”

A challenge? Now there’s an interesting way to READ MORE, don’t you think?

Sure enough, Goodreads, the social network for readers, is hosting what looks to be its third annual Reading Challenge. So far, they have 173,203 participants, all pledging to READ MORE books!

All you have to do is join Goodreads, set your personal goal for 2013, then start reading! Click here to check it out. You pick your own books, you set your own limits and then you just READ. MORE.

An added bonus is you get one of these fun little status bars that celebrates your progress as the year moves along. Who doesn’t love a little positive reinforcement! Mine is in the right sidebar over there >

So far, I’ve got two books under my belt for 2013: Julia Cameron’s The Creative Life: True Tales of Inspiration, and Anaïs Nin’s Collages. If you click on the Goodreads icon, you can read about both books (and my reviews).

So…are you up for the challenge? Let us know if you’re participating in the 2013 Goodreads Challenge already or if you’d like to join me — maybe we can all start to READ MORE!

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ABOVE: Ideal Bookshelf 484: Travel reprinted with permission from artist Jane Mount of Ideal Bookshelf. If you have not yet seen her wonderful, custom bookshelf portraits, then you simply must visit her website today. I want one of these so badly it hurts — I suspect you might, too! Click here now!