Tag Archives: read

mid-week round-up

mountain view

Hi friends! What’s been happening? Chet and I went furniture shopping on Saturday. We got a new couch and a futon for his office (among a myriad of other things…it was Ikea after all!). I’d say it was a success and I’m LOVING the total transformation our living room has undergone with the furniture update and just a little bit of re-arranging. Oh, and thank you so much for all your sweet input on this big decision! I was so flattered by your thoughtful consideration of the options. I’m definitely learning that planning a wedding takes a village! Haha! Big love to all of you on this Wednesday and here’s to a great rest of your week. Here’s the round-up…

How to keep your brain in tip-top shape.

Peter Rabbit gets his own 50p coin.

My sister was interviewed on a recent episode of Real Recovery Radio.

A weekly habit to help you read more.

Changes to America’s morning meal.

The sexist history of…pockets?

What if America looked like Dearborn, Michigan? 

Simply chucking things out won’t solve our over-consumption woes.

An awesome subscription service for the outdoor enthusiast.

Weeknight dinner: tandoori chicken recipe.

Doctors agree with John Muir’s statement that, “Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

Catfish’s Max Joseph explains how his life has changed as a minor celebrity.

P.S. Like mysteries? Check out the book “Live and Let Bee” by author D.S. Nelson. Available on Kindle from Amazon TODAY!


Please read Suspicion Nation.


In the wake of the recent tragedy in Ferguson, Missouri, where yet another one of our black youths was brutally shot and killed, my brain went into overdrive with questions. Why do we keep letting this happen? How many more mothers must bury their sons before we value human life more than guns? Why must we time and time again equate dark skin with fear and suspicion? Why is this fear perpetuated every time someone tries to warn, protect or dissuade me from going into an area populated by a race not my own? Seeking answers, I did what any analytically minded, life-long learner and non-fiction junkie would do–I bumped a book up on my reading list.

A few years ago I read Lisa Bloom’s Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed Down World and fell in love with both the book’s message and it’s attorney turned journalist author. I read books she recommended, kept up with opinion pieces she put out and followed her on Twitter. Later, when I became baffled by what I saw going on in the courtroom during the George Zimmerman trial, I turned to her NBC legal analysis for clarity. She tracked, researched and reported on this trial from gavel to gavel. And the story…the INJUSTICE…the (excuse my language) bumblefuck of a job the prosecution did…got under her skin. And rightly so. Because Trayvon Martin is not the first black kid to lose his life while a killer walks free. He wasn’t the last. So Bloom got to work; articulating what happened and why it KEEPS happening.

What emerged was the fantastic book Suspicion Nation: The Inside Story of the Trayvon Martin Injustice and Why We Continue to Repeat It. If Mike Brown’s murder has affected you, as it did me, please read this book. From a play-by-play legal analysis as to how Zimmerman walked away with an acquittal to a candid portrait of our country’s racial biases, Bloom’s book is a chilling depiction of the state things are in. But it’s not without solutions. And when you read it, you’ll probably think of a few of your own, too. Even if they’re small steps, we HAVE to do better. Acknowledging the systematic barriers forming a blockade around our country’s young, African-American males is a great place to start.


Connecting the book, Bloom and Ferguson–


Lisa Bloom is part of the Michael Brown Justice Panel, a group of legal professionals working to stop the shootings of unarmed black men.


Suspicion Nation was selected as a #FergusonReads book.


Part 1 and Part 2 of an interview with Bloom on the book and lessons for Ferguson.



Tour my shelves.


Today, I thought I’d let you take a little tour of my bookcase shelves. I’ve been contemplating a bookshelf reorganization by color (straight up Roy G. Biv style) just to change things up but also because they look so fun and aesthetically pleasing when I see colorful book rainbows on Pinterest and Apartment Therapy. (Examples: here, here and here.) For now, though, these books live categorically–in my own little library system. So go ahead and take a peek at my bedroom bookcase. I have another smaller set of shelves in my living room for books that deserve more spotlight as well as a shelf in my dining room for cookbooks–we’ll save their tours for another day. (Remember when I said I may never whittle down ALL of my belongings to fit in an actual, real life tiny home? Haha.) Want a closer look?

Some fiction…


Some favorite reads…


Kid lit…


A few for drama…


Lit class holdovers…


More fiction…


Communication Studies…


Religion and Dreams (lol)…


A teeny, tiny German language section…






Gettin’ my learn on…


and teachin’ younguns how to be orators…


How do you organize your books? Do you think I should make the switch and have all these book-babies live the rainbow life? I guess if I end up hating it I can always switch it back to my current system…especially now that I have photo documentation. : ) 

Reading nostalgia.



Did your parents read “chapter books” aloud to you when you were little? My mom would pick my sister and I up from school and drive our mini-van over to wait a half hour or so for my brother’s school to let out. In those little time slots, which could have been filled with whines of boredom, we were transported by way of Little Women, Little House on the Prairie, Pippi Longstocking, Heidi, Five Little Peppers and various Maria Von Trapp biographies to lands far away from parking lots on Price Road in Lexington, KY. Lands where little girls can live in houses dug out of a hill, lift horses clear over their head and play the piano beautifully–even when dying of scarlet fever. How lucky we were to have such stories float through our brains and imaginations as we climbed into the backseat to sneakily tug on ballet leotards. How lucky to hear stories of strong, intelligent, resilient and kind women and girls–real OR imagined.


What books were you lucky enough to hear as a young pup? What stories invoke your reading nostalgia? Do you feel they shaped who you are today? Or at least what you enjoy reading?
(Book cover photo via here.)

Book Club: In Pursuit of Female Road Narratives Pt. 2


As we continue on our literary journey, hiking alongside Cheryl Strayed in Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, I’d like to bring you some extra material and hopefully  extend your pursuit of the female road narrative beyond the confines of Strayed’s pages. Admittedly, I can fall down the rabbit hole on a lot of subjects but I think doing so in an attempt to provide a more holistic reading experience is a worthy plummet. Along the way I’ve raised some points for you to ponder and meditate on. Let’s jump right in!

More with Cheryl Strayed

Besides some online written reviews, the first press I heard about “Wild” and Strayed’s journey was on one of my favorite radio shows, Q with Jian Ghomeshi. Here, Jian asks some poignant and thoughtful questions…

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Would you hike the Pacific Crest Trail? What do you think Cheryl means when she says she “writes in the company of fear and I’m used to it”? 

Cheryl delivers a lovely TEDTalk on Radical Sincerity and explains, “our deepest treasures are buried in the crappy detritus of our life.” This idea was glaringly apparent to me with each passing chapter of her story and reiterated here. What I found so compelling throughout “Wild,” and perhaps you’re picking up on this through the pages as well, was how her physical pain throughout the hike served as a larger metaphor for her emotional pain, so much so, that it became unclear where one ended and the other began. And this is true in her speech here as well. It’s as if she could be talking about hiking 1100 miles or losing her mother at 22 or both…and for some reason I find that so beautiful.

“It was the most heroic thing I had ever done and that suffering was the greatest suffered…Carrying this weight I couldn’t bear; I bore it. Couldn’t live in a world without my mother; I was living in one.” 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What is the most heroic thing you have ever done? Was it physical or emotional?

Setting off into the great unknown as a woman doesn’t have to be scary, it can be empowering. (Plus, Oprah insists she just got a cellphone. *side eye*)

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What is the longest stretch of time you’ve spent alone? 

Cinematic Renderings of the Female Journey

When reflecting on on-screen odysseys of the feminine nature there are a few forms that come to mind:

Traveling home (NOW)…or with your peers for protection (THEN)…

To escape…when you’re “in trouble”…

When the trail eventually leads to a man…

I’ve watched these movies (multiple times each) and I’m drawn to these journeys and stories, too. Yet, I recognize that these can’t be the only paths. Surely there are other, unpaved roads for we women to pave…and movies we can make about the process. : )

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: What film journeys come to mind when you think about a woman on the road? Do they fall into these categories? Why do you think these particular narratives are more palatable to us? 

Possible Paths

Perhaps you are like me and “Wild” has struck a cord on more counts than just acting as a positive example of a female road narrative. Perhaps, you too have dreams of backpacking far off lands and long distance hiking.

To watch some kick-ass, back-packin’ the world, travelin’ expert ladies; I would recommend checking out the travel show Globe Trekker here. If you’re not feelin’ paying to watch the episodes, I’ve checked out many Globe Trekker DVDs at my local libraries and I think it comes on PBS2 if you got channels and such. They travel all around the world and highlight tips for solo travel. Great for a hearty dose of wanderlust.

To watch some kids KILLIN’ IT on the Appalachian Trail check out this. These three hiked the length of the AT and made 31 awesome webisodes documenting their journey. Their silliness and spirit was moving and inspiring. I hope to tackle future hardships by taking a page from their book–always laughing, humbled by the beauty of nature, drawing on the strength of community and love. Once you watch their first update you’ll probably accidentally binge watch them all…so, sorry about that.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: If you could write a road narrative into being RIGHT NOW, what would that journey look like? Where would the road lead?

“I hope you keep walking.” ~Cheryl Strayed

Book Club: In Pursuit of Female Road Narratives Pt. 1


The world is profoundly apprehensive when it comes to women on the move and on their own. Society has it in it’s pretty little head that a woman setting out into the great unknown will be met with a medley of hardships not shared by her male counterparts. Female travelers are viewed as progressive, doomed, and even stupid for flying solo.

When breathing life into my own daydreams about backpacking far-off lands or hiking the Appalachian Trail, the wind gets knocked out of my sails by a common response, “well, you’d have to find someone to go with you first.” And the colors in my dreams fade to ominous ones, get filled with other people’s boogeymen they assume belong in a story such as mine.


In her article, The Lack of Female Road Narratives and Why it Matters, Vanessa Veselka argues that we can’t fathom a positive outcome for a woman on the road because there is no precedent in American literary tradition, “no cultural narrative for [women] beyond rape and death.”

When a man steps onto the road, his journey begins. When a woman steps onto that same road, hers ends.

Veselka explains, we are all seeking something and this search is quintessential to our own human experience. “The Road Narrative” appears time and time again in literary canon, founded on a protagonist’s quest to go in pursuit of something greater than one’s self. From Ishmael to Frodo, Dean Moriarty to Huck Finn…

A man with a quest, internal or external, makes the choice at every stage about whether to endure the consequences or turn back, and that choice is imbued with heroism. Women, however, are restricted to a single tragic or fatal choice. We trace all of their failures, as well as the dangers that befall them, back to this foundational moment of sin or tragedy, instead of linking these encounters and moments in a narrative of exploration that allows for an outcome which can unite these individual choices in any heroic way.

The entire essay has stuck with me and I would highly recommend reading it in it’s entirety. Her words do a far better job than my own in describing to you why I have set out to find and read about women who embark on incredible journeys.

I had been hearing about “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed for some time but after reading Veselka’s essay I truly felt compelled to read it. After the death of her mother and a divorce, Strayed decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail on her own.

She would face odds, yes; she would face fears and boogeymen put into her mind by others, but in the end, she was searching for something greater than herself–her quest was to heal. This is a story of heroism. (And her last name is Strayed for goodness sake. How lovely and poetic.)


So, in the name of forging a path for lone women to travel across page and road, I would implore you to pick up a copy of this page-turner. It is at times heart-breaking and others laugh out loud relatable. Over the next few weeks I will be posting some fun, supplemental material that I scouted to elevate my own reading of Strayed’s work. If you’ve read “Wild” before or would like to read it now and join in the fun, pop on back and check it out.

Reading her story may be the first step towards creating an adventure narrative of your own. As Veselka closes her essay, women can no longer waste time justifying our right to tell these stories.

If we have a shot it’s going to be because we stopped asking permission and just started in the middle.