Tag Archives: what I’m reading

How to Make Time for Books

After a book binge on the topic of polygamy (I know…I’m weird), I’m currently reading Honeymoon in Purdah by Alison Wearing.

WHAT ARE YOU READING?

If the answer is nothing…that’s ok. I’m here to provide some gentle encouragement that if you want to start making more time for books, you CAN! With all the back-to-school vibes hanging out in the air, I totally believe now is a great time to recommit yourself to lifelong learning. Reading books is such an important part of that.

So, you’re on board. (Woohoo!) But how can we make more time for books in our busy, busy lives? Here are a few ideas…

1. Schedule Reading Time

I am one of those people who has lots of aspirations but not a lot of follow-through. (See also: this post.) So I can saaaaay I wanna finish a book a week, but if I don’t actually set aside dedicated time to do said reading…it’s probably not gonna happen. That rogue 30 minutes in my day will go *poof* and I’ll still be sitting at my computer clicking around on pointless stuff.

INSTEAD! I really study my planner (I use this one) for those free pockets of time and schedule in the stuff I want to do.

I’ve also written a post about how you can “set and forget” self-care that you can check out HERE. If hunting down reading time doesn’t sound like your bag, no worries! Pick a recurring time slot and stick to it.

2. Read Books You Like

This might be a no-brainer but I think it’s important to point out. If you want to make reading a habit that you’ll stick with, then you’ve gotta read books that interest you! After all, you want reading to be something you look forward to.

A great way to find MORE books you like is by talking about books. Share your favorite reads with friends and family and get their recommendations. I like to keep a list of book recommendations I’ve gathered from folks I know and cool reviews I come across on the internet.

Then, bring that book you like with you wherever you go! If you get stuck waiting somewhere you can pull out the book instead of your phone. It’s amazing how a random 10 minutes at the pharmacy here and a 15 minutes in a parking lot because you’re chronically early to stuff (just me?) there really starts to add up.

Oh and, NOTE: If you don’t end up liking a book? GUESS WHAT!? You don’t have to finish it! I had a weird aversion to ditching books until like really recently and I gotta say…this way is much better. Frees up a lot of time for the books you’re actually going to enjoy. So, there ya go–I grant you my permission, for what it is worth.

3. SHARE!

Sharing is WHAT? Accountability! 

I love, love, love posting about what I’m reading (and what I’ve just finished reading) on social media. I’m sure it’s not the most thrilling of content but it holds me accountable with my reading goals. (I also enjoy tracking my reading privately which you can read more about HERE.)

Other fun ways to share about books include joining a book club, reading a book with a friend, or tracking on the Goodreads app. Find what is fun for you!

With that in mind, I’ve been thinking about kicking off an email-based book club in January 2019. Would anyone be interested in that!? Let me know below and subscribe to my email list so you’ll be in the loop!

Ok, over to you! How do you make time for books? Share your secrets (and stuff I missed) below. 

 

P.S. If you’re basically blind but also wanna double down on reading time by adding in a dose of self-care…you’ll have to wear your glasses over top of your face masks. It’s a LEWK! 🙂

Running Through My Mind

Here’s what’s running through my mind this Monday —

Yoga with Adriene. I love her “find what feels good” approach to yoga and her 30 day series TRUE, if nothing else, reminds me of the power of deep breaths. (But like, obvi, SO MUCH else.) The whole series (today is day 21 of 30) is on YouTube — I’ve been unrolling my mat every day and I don’t want it to end. I’m basically the living embodiment of those trendy sweatshirts that say things like “I just want to practice yoga & read books.” 

Speaking of reading books, I’m reading The Train to Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II. It is thought-provoking, expansive, and meticulously researched. Also – a great follow-up read to Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

Have you ever bought clothes off of Amazon? I’ve had great success with shoe purchasing but not so great with accessories (jewelry, bags, etc.). However, after a recent closet clear out, I identified a few wardrobe holes I’d like to fill and figured why not give it a try! Happy to report everything fit just fine (reviews are your best friend for this!) and there were no unwanted surprises like poor quality or weird material. I’m especially in love with this raincoat, which is really great quality for the price tag, and this white shirt with fun bell sleeves!

A reminder to rise and SHINE:

Finally, Everything You Never Thought to Ask About Astronaut Food. Because once you read about burping in microgravity you’ll never quite look at space travel the same way again.

P.S. More on yoga. More on books. More on clothes. More inspiration. And more articles. In case any of these things are running through YOUR mind, too!!

Book Review: The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger

the-newlywedsIn light of the recent immigration ban, reading stories of those who have navigated across cultures to a new life in the United States seems even more important. Even when those stories appear in the novel you turn to when you need a break from the world.

Stories, like the one found in The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger, humanize the immigrant experience. The book follows Amina Mazid who leaves her home in Bangladesh for a new life in New York. While her story is not one of religious persecution or civil war, she is in search of happiness. A different happiness than what she can find in Bangladesh. The same happiness so many are seeking when they step onto American soil. But like the immigrants before (and after) her, Amina must carve out a space for herself amidst her American reality and the other happiness she knew before. A home she can never forget.

Amina Mazid is twenty-four when she moves from Bangladesh to Rochester, New York, for love. A hundred years ago, Amina would have been called a mail-order bride. But this is the twenty-first century: she is wooed by—and woos—George Stillman online.
 
For Amina, George offers a chance for a new life for her and her parents, as well as a different kind of happiness than she might find back home. For George, Amina is a woman who doesn’t play games. But each of them is hiding something: someone from the past they thought they could leave behind. It is only when Amina returns to Bangladesh that she and George find out if their secrets will tear them apart, or if they can build a future together.

At it’s core, this book is a rather nuanced portrait of a young woman’s transition from one culture to another. This theme reminded me of another great book, The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. And I think fan’s of Lahiri’s work will also find value in picking up a copy of The Newlyweds.

Freudenberger shows an immense depth of knowledge about Bangladesh, it’s culture, and Islam. The acknowledgements section of the book makes it clear that she did her research by way of extensive interviews and immersive travel to the country itself. (Even more amazing? This research, and the subsequent novel, was inspired by a Bangladeshi woman Freudenberger met on a plane! #talktostrangers)

However, there is a note of inauthenticity to the story, most notably the character of Amina herself. Freudenberger explains the duality that I’m sure many immigrants experience…

“[Amina] had thought that she’d been born with a soul whose thoughts were in no particular dialect, and she’d imagined that, when she married, her husband would be able to recognize this deep part of herself. Of course she hadn’t counted on her husband being a foreigner…In a way, George had created her American self, and so it made sense that it was the only one he would see.”

And perhaps it is this duality, which Freudenberger explains but hasn’t experienced, that makes Amina’s character lack just an inkling of depth. Because, at the end of the day, Amina’s husband George didn’t create her American self, the author did.

The story itself is captivating and full of suspense. It is an entertaining depiction of the effects of honesty (or lack thereof) on relationships and navigating cross-cultural experiences. Check it out! 

Have you read The Newlyweds? Would you? Let me know below!

P.S. Books to read if you love the Commonwealth and a book I could NOT put down.

Book Review: A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay

a secret kept

Y’all. I read a novel with a male narrator and the world didn’t end!!! Ok, ok…I’ve read plenty of books with male narrators before but if you’ve read this post or this one, you’ll know I typically gravitate toward a female voice…especially in fiction.

A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay caught my eye at my local library as a quick, fun read mainly because I remember enjoying Sarah’s Key when I read it several years ago. This one seemed to have a similar plot-driven-by-a-family-secret vibe. Here’s a synopsis —

Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie’s birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island , where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach. It had been too long, Antoine thought, since they’d returned to the island―over thirty years, since their mother died and the family holidays ceased. But the island’s haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories; it reminds Mélanie of something unexpected and deeply disturbing about their last island summer. When, on the drive home to Paris, she finally summons the courage to reveal what she knows to Antoine, her emotions overcome her and she loses control of the car.

Trapped in the wake of a family secret shrouded by taboo, Antoine must confront his past and also his troubled relationships with his own children. How well does he really know his mother, his children, even himself? Suddenly fragile on all fronts – as a son, a husband, a brother and a father – Antoine Rey will soon learn the shocking truth about his family and himself.

If you’ve enjoyed Mrs. de Rosnay’s previous work, I would definitely recommend giving this one a read as well. If you’re unfamiliar but love psychological fiction, like Gone Girl or A Girl on the Train, then I think you’ll enjoy A Secret Kept. While it’s less of a thriller than those I mentioned, you’ll still  find yourself feverishly turning pages as you attempt to get to the bottom of things. Similarly, if you have a soft spot for pulpy family drama books this will give you your fix. (My middle school years were spent devouring V.C. Andrews books…so I’m kind of an expert on such things. No one did family drama like good ol’ V.C.) But it’s French and written by a New York Times bestselling author so it’s FANCY!

Speaking of French…I felt totally transported to France while reading. De Rosnay was raised in Paris and then Boston. She moved to England in the 80’s to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and currently lives in Paris again. Meaning, she knows her stuff when it comes to writing about life in France and creating super realistic French characters and settings. Back when Netflix first started streaming, I went through a phase where I watched a ton of French romantic dramedies from the 90’s and early 00’s. So, I was well impressed with how easy it was to imagine this book’s plot and characters existing in that realm. Yes, I am using a Netflix binge as a barometer for realistic French-ness. Whatta ya gonna do?

 

I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to folks looking for a beach read as the temperature starts to rise!

Have you read A Secret Kept? What did you think? 

Strawberry Walks into Bar.

girlwalksintobar1

I just finished this book, girl walks into a bar. by Strawberry Saroyan, that I scored last year at the Friends of the Library book sale for a buck. While at times the memoir feels a bit banal, it does paint a clear picture of life in the magazine (and pseudo-famous) world of the angst-riddled 90’s. The memoir is split into chapters which read more like individual essays as opposed to supporting an over-arching story, yet thematically they all work in the context of the title–Saroyan seems to have “come of age” so to speak in the various bars she frequented.

strawberry

Here she discusses her ritual of going to bars every Thursday night with a group of friends she made after moving cross country in her mid-20’s:

We weren’t just people who hung out at a bar one evening a week together, trying to valet our screwed-up cars as discreetly as possible before dashing in in our fancy duds. We were friends. For even though they’d all seemed so glittering to me, the truth was we were all, to varying degrees, alone: Rich or poor, ascending or not, we were almost all professionally freelance, and personally single.

We were all edging toward thirty, too, without the family and kids that some of us had been taught to expect by this time, but even more than that, without the sense of being adults that had been implicitly promised us. None of us felt like adults. And it’s something that I’ve still rarely heard acknowledged, but that I find to be almost frighteningly true: No one ever tells you that you’re never going to feel grown-up.

Proto Lena Dunham Lena Dunham-y, amirite? Basically, if you find hipster-y lifestyle blogs and Girls entertaining and painfully relatable I think you’ll dig this book. (And the last essay reads a bit like Frances Ha.) Just don’t go into it expecting a narrative because all you’re gonna get are some general quarter-life crises musings.

girlwalksintobar2

I enjoyed this book best while munching on self-made trail mix and drinking a berry smoothie. My favorite of the essays was the bounty boys.

P.S. Check out this piece Strawberry wrote for The New York Times in 2004 after Gwyneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple. Those fruit-named gals have to stick together, I suppose.