One less thing to worry about.

November 23, 2015

There is quite a bit going on right now: the holidays, a kiddo who found out certain things about the holidays, Avent(ure) calendars to plan, going out of town for Thanksgiving, and then there’s that giant health thing going on right now that we’re not talking about until we know more because SOMEHOW my mom will find out (the way moms always do) and she’ll both worry and kill me, so let’s just keep shoosh about it for right now.


So! Things! That are going on! Like… we finally rented Jeff’s house. Huzzah! There were a few promising prospectives that we got all hopeful about, but they didn’t pan out. Either the money fell through, or the timing didn’t work out, or the terms weren’t just right, or for whatever reasons, it just didn’t work out. Jeff – even more impatient than I am, if you can believe it – was getting a bit restless. “Don’t worry,” I told him when yet another couple hadn’t called back. “I bet we hear something when we’re in Colorado.”

I was wrong. We heard last night. After I was all packed for Colorado, but days before we even left. My (ex) mom-in-law, my mom-away-from-mom, who is nice enough to serve as our real estate goddess, called to say she had rented the house to a new couple, one she had shown the house to just that afternoon. It was meant to be, she thought, because they couple had been in church, had prayed over finding something, and got a good feeling about meeting somebody. Which was kinda neat because it turns out this couple had just moved here from Ohio, from near where Mom-away-from-Mom grew up in Ohio, in fact. And adding to the “Well isn’t that weird?” factor, yesterday morning, unaware that any of this was going on, I was telling Jeff stories about when Mom lived in Ohio with the girls’ dad and his brothers. (Like how she used to buy the boys ice cream and sit in the town square and eat it, surrounded by piles of snow, because then the ice cream wouldn’t melt.) So everything seems to be working out.

Even better, our new favorite renters don’t even need us to repaint the bedrooms. Mom had mentioned that a few people who had looked at the house expressed a desire for the bedrooms – which are a soothing shade of blue, but maybe not every one’s favorite soothing shade, although my bedroom (coincidentally) is the same exact shade – to be repainted a more neutral shade of blue.

It’s all very good news. Jeff is currently panicking about the timing of everything. We’ll have to move the rest of the furniture and boxes out of the house and garage and into storage as soon as we get back. He’s worried that the two weeks it’ll take us to completely vacate will scare them off. I get that – it’s taken awhile for us to get a signed application. But it’ll work out. I believe.

In that, if nothing else.

Five for Friday.

November 20, 2015

Ohmygoshthisweek. I am very glad today is Friday. Need a snapshot?

1. Jeff returned home last night after a very long week partying conferencing. I learned a lot last week. Like that it’s pretty easy to snap back into pre-dating routines (hello late nights with YouTube and a glass of wine) and that I didn’t mind all the extra room in bed and my own fair share of the blankets. Still, I was happy to have him back. Until he began snoring and kept snoring all. night. long. Those little Breathe Right strips have become my best friends, but they failed me last night.

2. Let the holiday schedule begin! I got invites to two Christmas parties yesterday. Uncoincidentally, this is also the time of year when I’m most likely to start making out with my Erin Condron planner. (Which reminds me: time to order a new one.)

3. I would like credit for the fact that we are leaving for Denver in four days and I haven’t freaked out AT ALL (out loud). But this weekend I definitely need to game some outfits and pick out some books. I haven’t so much as even peeked at the weather, though my sister mentioned something about it being single digits. As far as books go, I’m thinking of picking up In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick, about the real-life inspiration for Moby Dick (and the book the movie’s all about, natch), and maybe I’ll give #nonficNov a bit of a break and pack The Devil and Winnie Flynn from my YA Quarterly Box that I haven’t gotten to yet. I hate packing hardcovers, but I’m not sure what else to go to.

4. Which kind of brings me to… I briefly contemplated taking the next book in my Stephen King re-read project, but it’s Desperation, and that was not a favorite. Pros: I’m much more likely to read a book if I’m blizzard-bound at my boyfriend’s family’s house. Cons: Do I really want to be stuck with a book I don’t even like? More pros: I only read it the once. Maybe I didn’t hate it as much as I remember. More cons: Really??

5. I’m having sushi for breakfast because I had to get rid of the evidence leftovers before someone saw that I’d been twice this week they sat too long. Shhh. Don’t tell. Also, I’m skimming through Humans of New York. Not a bad way to start a Friday, I must say.

Hunh. You *can’t* hear me now.

November 19, 2015

Every parent knows about those special little moments when you feel like the Mom or Dad of the Year. You know, like when your 11-year-old lifts her head up off the couch and mentions to you that she can’t hear anything when that ear is covered, because that’s her only working ear, but then you forget all about it because it’s right before the rush of bedtime and prepping for the next day.

Forgetting your kid is half deaf? Mom of the Year Award, right here.

Because then you get a note from the school nurse saying your daughter has failed her hearing test at school – twice – and should probably get that checked out. Then you remember the half-deaf thing. And then you schedule her (and her sister’s) well-check at the doctor because you haven’t done that yet, either. Hey, I mentioned the Mom of the Year Award, right?

So, yeah. That’s happening. I don’t even have a guess as to what’s going on. The ear Gracie can’t hear out of is the ear that gave us the most trouble when Gracie was little. She had constant ear infections as a toddler, so we had tubes put in her ears. That helped tremendously. About a year later, maybe a year-and-a-half?, one tube fell out and the hole in Gracie’s right ear closed on its own. The left ear? Not so much. The tube came out, sure, but the hole didn’t want to repair itself. We waited and waited and eventually her specialist recommended a tympanoplasty. They explained that because of the hole and the damage to her eardrum, it was like Gracie was hearing everything through an ear full of glue.

So maybe that’s at play. I can’t imagine the graft could separate or detach after seven years, but the symptoms seem to be the same. Or maybe Gracie has had an ear infection and just didn’t notice? She has been stuffy and drippy and congested pretty much non-stop thanks to her Fall allergies. Or maybe she just has an inordinate amount of glue-y wax in her ears. (Yeah, that’s disgusting, but it seems like the simplest solution, so I’m rooting for that.)

Then there’s the fact that my dad suffered from a bit of hearing loss long before it was age appropriate, and my sister has such severe hearing loss that it impacts every day life. I can’t say that’s not percolating in the back of my imagination.

Her first doctor’s appointment – that forgotten-about well-check – is on Friday with a new pediatrician. (On top of everything else, her old doctor has retired. Boooo!) I guess we’ll have a bit of a better idea what we’re facing then. Fingers crossed it’s something manageable.

Nonfiction November: Week 3

November 18, 2015


It’s non-fic November round-up time again! This week our lovely event is hosted by the fabulous Rebecca over at I’m Lost in Books, who poses:

Nonfiction comes in many forms  There are the traditional hardcover or paperback print books, of course, but then you also have e-books, audiobooks, illustrated and graphic nonfiction, oversized folios, miniatures, internet publishing, nonfiction short stories, and enhanced books (book itself includes artifacts, audio, historical documents, images, etc.) So many choices! Do you find yourself drawn to or away from nontraditional nonfiction? Do you enjoy some nontraditional formats, but not others?

I split my reading between traditional print books and e-reading (via my desktop, phone, and Kindle), but I don’t spend much time reading non-traditional formats. I will spool up an audio for hiking (my poor restless mind), but I tend to favor listening to music when I’m doing chores or running. I sneak in so much reading time during the rest of the day that my brain just wants a break! So, normally this question wouldn’t be the best suited for me, but! as it runs out, one of the books I read this week was non-traditional non-fiction.

Let’s pick up where we left off last week, shall we?

6. Sisters in Law: Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the Friendship That Changed Everything, by Linda Hirshman. (Harper, 2015, 320 pgs.) I loved the stuffing out of this book! I was already a huge fan of the Notorious RBG, but now I might have passed into “rabid” territory in my fandom. I can only hope my girls will be half as smart, half as steadfast, half as loyal – to themselves, their dreams, and their beliefs – and half as memorable as these leading ladies of the Supremes. Now, Hollywood: give me a movie starring Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. It’s a must. (And someone please buy this for me when it hits paperback – I borrowed an e-copy from the library.) 5 of 5 stars.

7. Falling into the Fire: A Psychiatrist’s Encounters with the Mind in Crisis, by Christine Montross. (Penguin, 2013, 256 pgs., used book) This was a good (and thoroughly disturbing) read about abnormal psych and how far we can fall off the deep-end without losing any of our humanity. Montross is careful to treat each case with grace and dignity while still revealing enough to satisfy even the most morbidly curious reader. There wasn’t anything that just jumped off the page, but you don’t always need that. If psychology is your thing, you’ll want to read this. 3 of 5 stars.

8. Meet the Writers: The Steinbeck Project 1978-2002, by William Peterson.  (Harbor Electronic, 2002, 216 pgs, used book) If you like books about books and reading and the hidden world behind it all, you’ll like this. It was a microcosm about creating a community – a book fair, a writing room, a place to come together – for the readerly and writerly crowd of the East Side. Learning so much about John Steinbeck’s widow (and a bit about Steinbeck himself) was a bonus. 3 of 5 stars.

9. History Decoded: The Ten Greatest Conspiracies of All Time, by Brad Meltzer. (Workman Publishing Company, 2013, 152 pgs.) And here we have my non-traditional format book! Not only that, but it’s not the sort of book I’d normally read. Conspiracies? Whatever! But I didn’t have anything else to read, so I picked it up. Each conspiracy has a pocket of “evidence” you can examine, as if that would be somehow better than having the author write that up, as well. I found that part to be a bit gimmicky, but then, I didn’t give the book that much weight either. It did make me wonder whether John Wilkes Booth was really assassinated, but other than that, I found it a bit boring. Maybe geared more towards the mature readers of the kids’ crowd. Or conspiracy nuts. Either way. 2 of 5 stars.

10. The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman’s Journey to Love and Islam, by G. Willow Wilson. (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010, 320 pgs., e-book) You guys. You guys. I was so tired of listening to small-minded people this week. Governors closing their borders, as if the refugees were to blame for the terrorist attacks on Paris. Pilots questioning every little thing, wondering how we were supposed to tell what religion a passenger was, and why we couldn’t just ask. As if that held answers! (I don’t know – is terrorism a religion? Or radicalized political thought? And is it compelled to honesty?) I happened across a venty tweet by the lovely Andi, wishing everyone could be forced to read this book. It’s been on my TBR and I immediately knew it was the right time. Boy, was it – I sucked it down in a single day. And I agree with Andi: everyone should read it. 4 of 5 stars.

So there you have it. Right now I’m still sipping on King’s Bazaar of Bad Dreams (the downside of short story collections is that I’m never compelled to keep reading to see what happens) and I’ve started The Wilderness of Ruin about a 12-year-old serial killer who terrorized Boston during the late 1800s. I’m sure they’ll be in my updates next week!

Je Suis Paris. Again.

November 16, 2015

Three days have passed since the terrorist attacks on Paris first ripped us open. But three days isn’t long enough to stop thinking Not this. Not again.

Three days isn’t long enough to heal. It isn’t long enough to turn to other matters. It’s not even long enough to wrap your minds around what exactly happened? Who was behind it? Where are the perpetrators hiding? There will never be enough time for Why? Or How could someone possibly hate a people, a nation, a world so much that this seems reasonable?

Three days.

Three days is almost long enough for some of those who couldn’t look, who couldn’t watch, to peek from inside their hastily constructed sanctuaries. I’ve talked to so many people who just couldn’t, who had been traumatized by similar attacks of violence, or who wore their fragility, their scars in other ways. A few were seeking forgiveness? No…permission…to look away. To protect themselves. It’s okay. It’s okay to care for yourself first. To be responsible to your own mental, emotional, psychological well-being.

Three days isn’t nearly long enough to understand the small minds of some critics, those who bashed the strict gun control laws of France, or who blamed the victims for allowing in refugees. Do they truly not see that the refugees were running from the very people perpetrating these horrific crimes? Would they persecute New Yorkers who no longer felt safe living in the city after 9/11?

Three days of manhunts and bombings and talk of invasion. Three days of rumors and breaking news and endless news cycles to hide from the kids. Three days of heartache and overtime at work and wondering if this world is just going to keep sliding further and further towards a place where this is just what happens.

Three days without answers. Three days without expecting any.

Three days closer to a new “normal.”

Three days ain’t nothin’.

Five for Friday.

November 13, 2015

We did it! We made it to Friday! And I have such Christmas-shopping, all-the-crafts, clean-the-house, try-on-clothes, call-the-family kind of plans this weekend! But before we get to that…

1. Even the might and responsible stumble sometimes. Gracie-girl pretty much spins on her own. She might need a hug from her mama from time to time, but other than that, she does her own homework, remembers her own deadlines and runs her own little world. But occasionally, she reminds me that she’s only eleven. Like when she forgot to bring back her clothes to her dad’s house and so she had to wear shorts to school on a day when it was only in the 50s. Brrrrr! But I bet she remembers for a good long while to bring her clothes back.

2. Maybe it’s a Through the Looking Glass kind of week because my other child, she who perpetually has us worried about her schoolwork, scored the highest score in the 4th grade on the reading benchmark test. Yes – reading!!!! I was so proud of her, I thought about doing flips and cartwheels across the living room. Seriously thought about it.

3. Non-fiction November is taking over completely. Not only am I reading only non-fiction, but I’m watching it now, too. Jeff and I tore through the World War II Apocalypse documentary that was on Netflix, and quite a few others that popped up as suggestions, too. Isn’t it funny how your tastes and craving can be so streaky? All I know is that curled up under a throw blanket with my sweetheart, letting the fall breeze float over us through the window, watching historical documentaries on the TV and chillin’ just feels so right, right now.

4. The Bee-girl had a stomp concert this week. She had to be to school by o’dark-thirty one morning this week, but she didn’t even care about having to get up early. She was so. excited. about getting to perform! A few of the girls weren’t able to go, and so Bee had to be the one who yelled out the call-and-response, so she was nervous, but more excited than nervous. Well. Mostly. The mayor was going to be there and the chief of all police and reporters and Wikipedia… I nearly lost it when she got to Wiki. I couldn’t help it. But my baby had fun and that is all that matters.

5. I need some fun craft ideas for Thanksgiving that go beyond paper plate turkeys. (Which are great, but still…) I’m afraid of falling down a pinterest-shaped hole, but I have a feeling that’s exactly what’s in my future. Maybe I can set a timer to wake me up when I’ve been under too long? Sigh. It really is unavoidable if I want to survive the next few weekends without resorting to cupcake everything.

So there you have it! A few quick hits. What’s floating around you brain that you need to download? Any fun plans for this weekend?

NonFic November: Week 2 Update!

November 10, 2015

NonFicNovWow, November is flying by! We’re already a week and some-odd days in, and I have a few books to talk about! Non-fic November is hosted by the lovely crew of Kim, Leslie, Lu, and (other) Katie, and this week, Leslie over at Regular Rumination has the talking stick. Go see what she’s stirring up!

For those not making the immediate hop (what’s wrong with you?!), this week’s topic is book pairings! Pair a fiction book with a non-fiction book, or two non-fiction books together, or hey, this made me think of this… It can be a referral – If you like this, read that – or it can be an explanation of a theme, like how most of the books I’ve grabbed so far this year have been variations on psychosis, mental institutions, and madness. Pretty nice way to slip from the horror books of Halloween into non-fiction without the jarring scratch of the needle across the record, right?

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1. Triggered, by Fletcher Wortmann. (Thomas Dunne Books, 2012, 272 pgs.) I mentioned I have a thing about mental illness, differences, compulsions, and, of course, memoirs? Triggered is a memoir of a young man who grew up with intense obsessive-compulsive disorder…only his was undiagnosed for so long because it didn’t manifest itself with stereotypical symptoms. But the crippling doubts were ever-present and inescapable. It was like…if Sheldon from Big Bang Theory was a million times worse, only not so bright. Truly, the book read like a There but for the grace of God sort of cautionary tale. My anxiety might be annoying from time to time, but it’s nowhere near what it could be. Thank you, universe. 3 of 5 stars. Paired with: Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork, a story of a high schooler who must overcome his own disorder to prove he can be his own person in the “real” world…whatever that means. It’s one of my favorite YA novels out there because I cared so deeply about Marcelo, because his problems (and their imperfect solutions) were believable, and because the book struck that perfect chord between perfectly plausible and optimistically escapist. (No, I’m not very demanding – why do you ask?)

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2. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach. (W. W. Norton & Company, 2003, 320 pgs.) Holy bananapants! This is one of my favorite books ever. Like EVER. It was incredibly engrossing, never gross (I read it during lunch, even)(although that might say more about me than the book), laugh-out-loud humorous, impeccably researched, and thoroughly entertaining. Never, not once, did I want to skip ahead. My favorite chapter was probably the one that explained how human remains from aircraft accidents help explain what happened…so much so that I maybe even ordered all of the books Roach mentioned in that chapter. I just find the entire thing so interesting! Also: I’ve decided to donate my body to science. Go ahead and read it and just see if I’m not crazy. 5 of 5 stars.
Paired with:
Working Stiff: Two years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, by Judy Melinak. It wasn’t quite as entertaining as Roach’s non-fiction, but I’m starting to think nothing ever could be. Melinak’s was a very specific niche-piece on what happens to a person who has passed, whereas Roach’s focus is more about what happens to corporeal remains after the person’s soul is gone.


3. The View on the Way Down, by Rebecca Wait. (MacMillan, 2013, 308 pgs.) Um…wait a minute. This was supposed to be a memoir about a girl whose brother died five years ago, and whose other brother left home that very day and has never returned or talked to anyone since. Except…it turns out that it’s not so much a memoir, and not so much non-fiction as it is fiction. Not only that, it’s Wait’s debut novel. How I got that turned around, I have no idea. But it was pretty good! Don’t worry – I stopped once I thought to check why everything was still so third-person sixty pages in.

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4. The Mad Bomber of New York, by Michael Greenberg. (Union Square Press, 2011, 336 pgs.) Crime novels – and procedurals and explanations and think pieces and great big documentaries – how I love you! This read just like a novel (only this time I was sure it wasn’t) and did a thorough job exploring the terror that enveloped New York City for sixteen years before that knucklehead was caught. The book maybe could have been slimmed down a little, but I found skipping ahead didn’t hurt the tale any. 3 of 5 stars.
Paired with:
The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson. A YA fiction book that I read way back in the summer of 2012, but it immediately came to mind. It tells the story of a young girl who can see the “shades” of those who have passed, which helped her to figure out the whole Jack-the-Ripper dealio. Not too paranormal-y, if that’s not your thing. Just a good, quick, juicy story.

So there you go! Four books in, plus I’m halfway through Sisters in Law (about Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg) and the new Stephen King, my on-purpose fiction “cheat.” I can’t wait to tell you about them next week, because they’re amazing!

How Santa Claus is different from dinosaurs, I’m not sure.

November 9, 2015

The Christmas season is in full swing at Casa de Katie – and you can just hold all your moans and groans because it almost undid me, and I think that’s punishment enough.

It happened not this weekend, but last. (It’s taken me a few days to adjust.) I was starting to pull out presents I had tucked away, get them all sorted into spreadsheets, and then, as a reward, wrap a few. Bee-girl was off playing with Xman and Gracie was just sort of tumbling about the house from one random project to another, and so I did what I seem to be doing a lot these days as Bee pairs off with the Xman instead of her sister – I asked Gracie to help me.

All of this bonus mama-and-Gracie time is great. We’re bonding at a time when we really need to be; it’s almost time for Gracie-boo to start teening hard, and I really want our relationship to be as rock solid as it can be before she starts hating me and rebelling and figuring out who she is apart from me. I like cranking open the lines of communication and having long pointless (no really) talks because she needs them. And I need her to know I’ll listen, even when I really don’t want to.

So we were hanging out, Christmas-ing. And when we were about to dive back into my closed-off room for Round Two when Bee got her feelings a bit trampled. She insisted on knowing what was going on. She knew it had something to do with Christmas. She knew we were wrapping presents. And finally she asked, “How can you have so many presents to wrap?”

There it was.

Look, Bee-girl is in 4th grade. She’s 9. Nine. She made it both further than we ever thought (she’s nine) and showed no signs of stopping at the same time (she was rock solid in her believe just days ago). But her dad and I had decided that if – when – she asked any more pointed questions, questions that showed she knew, that she was ready, we wouldn’t lie any more.

And so I told Bee that if she wanted to know, if she wanted me to confirm what she suspected, I would…but it might break her heart. I put it just like that so she could walk away. But that Bee-girl of mine figured it out (you could see the flash and fizzle in her eyes), squared her chin, and said yes she did want to know.

So I told her. And then I prepared for the worst. Bee is so spirited, so full of whimsy and magic and pure belief, I thought for sure she would be my princess who cried. After all, two summers ago she had cried when she found out that the little slimy plastic dinosaurs who hatch from eggs when placed in jars of water weren’t real, live dinosaurs. This Santa thing was going to destroy her.

Only it didn’t. She instantly declared that she didn’t believe me. My jaw might have dropped open. I might have started arguing with her in a yes-it-is, no-it-isn’t sort of way. Then I asked if she wanted to see a present all wrapped and labeled from Santa to show her it really, truly was me. When I showed her one that Gracie and I had just wrapped, her shoulder sagged even as she I-TOLD-YOU-SO insisted that she had known for a Christmas or two but didn’t want to say anything. And then immediately asked if she could wrap Gracie’s presents since Gracie was wrapping hers. She wanted – no, she demanded – in on the sneakery. And that is kind of when I smacked myself upside the head for not counting on brave, never-let-them-see-me-cry, sneaky Bee-girl to save the day. Yes, she is full of whimsy, but how had I forgotten how stubborn and sneaky and AWESOME my kid is? Of course that’s how things played out.

So it turned out once again that I was left asking my child if she wanted to cry a little, and my child staring at me like I was nuts. I am, a little. Or a lot. We went through the routine about not telling anyone and how it’s up to us to make sure the Xman believes for years and years and Bee rallied like I had told her the Battle of Britain was entirely up to her.

We’re down one believer in the house. My heart hurts – god, the ache is crazy – to think that I have no more believers. But then I remember that the universe brought me another Little and that we still get to pretend. It’s like I’m being gently ushered into Grown-Up Land, myself.

Dang those kids of mine for making it so hard to go kicking and screaming, and instead making grace the answer. Guess I’ll have to do it their way: with sneakiness and strategery and big, big hearts.

Well hello there, handsome.

November 4, 2015


I looked over and saw the Xman playing with a Ken doll on the coffee table, counting and making grunting noises as he made him do pushups. I chuckled and caught Jeff’s eye to make sure he saw what was going on. And then had to connect the dots for him.

“He’s doing crossfit, from all the times you took the Xman with you.” Obviously the Xman had been paying attention while off in the kids’ “cage”, playing with his toys. Because now we had…

“Hey! It’s Crossfit Ken!” I delightedly commented out loud, over Jeff’s laughter.

“His name is Brian,” Xman corrected us, total deadpan. We don’t even know any Brians.

But, okay then. Crossfit Ken Brian. Welcome to the family, dude.

Everyone give it up for this month’s guest challenge: Nonfic November!

November 3, 2015

If you weren’t picturing me announcing that in my best Kermit impression, complete with wild Muppet arms and a very big YAAAAAAY! there at the end, you’re doing it wrong.


NonFicNov Guess what time it is? Aside from the OHMYGOD, November already?! Yes, it’s November! And that means the return of #NonficNov, where – you guessed it – the big crazy lot of us read nothing but non-fiction for the entire month. (Well, I’m giving myself a pass to enjoy the new Stephen King novel that will be in my hot little hands come Thursday. Which is funny because I think the same thing happened with Revival last November?)

Nonfic November is being hosted by Kim, Becca, Lu, and (other) Katie. Stop by and say hello and tell them how awesome they are for stepping up and diversifying our reading! They’re diversifying mine, at least. I love non-fiction, but it never seems to just fall into my hands. I have to seek it out. I wish I could say I did that more, but only 28 of my 190 books have been non-fiction this year. Last year it was 30 of roughly the same total – and then I added 20 more during November. So I’m very happy to join in the fun again this year!

This week’s theme is Your Year in Non-fiction. So let’s take a gander, shall we?

What was your favorite non-fiction read of the year?
Book31As I’ve said, I’ve read 28 non-fiction books this year. Hands down my favorite has been Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things, which was recommended to me by my book twinner, Trish, from over at Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity. I was looking for a “Self-Help Book” that I wouldn’t hate for my Read Harder challenge (hosted by the lovlies over at Book Riot). I’d heard a bunch about the book, but I was hesitant. In fact, I would say “outright resistance” might more closely describe my feelings. But Trish knows my book tastes, and I did have to read something, so I tried the free sample. And then immediately ordered the book and took to it with a pen and highlighter. A pen and highlighter, folks. Strayed is my writing goddess. She writes like a motherfucker, but makes it sound like the most beautiful, insightful prose you have ever heard. Plus, she gives awesome advice that always seems to illuminate whatever you’ve been thinking about, even if she’s talking to a mom who can’t get past the death of her child, and you’re wondering if you should switch careers. I read the book straight through twice, back-to-back, word for word.

What non-fiction book have you recommended the most?
I certainly told everyone about Tiny Beautiful Things when I finished, and quite a few people took me up on it. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ timely and deeply affecting Between the World and Me was a close second for favorite read of the year, so that got a lot of play, too. It certainly makes you realize how much privilege – and lack of it – exists and how painfully unaware so many people still are. My dear friend Bert Ashe published his hair manifesto, Twisted, earlier this year. He was my mentor in college and was kind enough to let me in on the journey from the very beginning, and so naturally I bought a dozen copies and made my friends read it. It’s an introspective and comical, at times, glimpse into hair and culture and identity and trying to untangle the chaos where it all tangles up – without accidentally imposing too much suffocating order, ya know? Perfect for book clubs, if you’re looking.

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What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?
Gosh. All of it! Um… I’m trying to read a biography of all the presidents (and eventually, first ladies, too), but even though I’ve been working on it for the past two years, I’m only up to Madison. Heh. I don’t read a lot of world history or politics. I tend to gravitate more towards memoirs, biographies, and tales of death, madness and psychology. And cultural history and conflict. Oh, and, big surprise, books about reading.

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
I’d like to get my non-fiction totals back up to a respectable percentage. I’d like to read quite a few of the non-fiction titles on my TBR that I never seem to happen into naturally. I bought a few of them – Triggered: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (that I’m reading now); The Mad Bomber of New York; The View on the Way Down; The Wilderness of Ruin; and Falling into the Fire. I’m reading Stiff by the fabulous Mary Roach right now as one of the last few Read Harder challenges I have left. And my hold for Sisters in Law, about the friendship between Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Sandra Day O’Connor, just came in at the library and I’m stoked!!! It’s going to be a good, good reading month!

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So there you have it, folks! I hope you’ll join us in our mad literary adventures. There’s really something to be said about bouncing recs and reading ideas off some of the awesomest people you’ll ever meet. Readers – we’re family for sure!


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