summer reading

I’ve had quite a book stack going this summer. I don’t normally have more than 3 books going at a time, but I think right now I’ve got at least 5!

I recently finished All the Light We Cannot See, which I saw floating around all the bookish people I follow on the web. It came highly recommended and it was a great summer read. The premise is the story of two different people during World War II in Europe. One is a German boy who ends up being “enlisted” by the Nazi’s and the other is a blind girl living in France. Their stories finally meet up towards the end. It’s an interesting book in that it’s one where the character stories flip back and forth every chapter – but some of the chapters are super short. While some people weren’t too fond of that – I kind of liked it. It was a different style of writing than I had read in a while. I couldn’t put the book down and the descriptions in the book were amazing and beautiful. But I have to admit I was a little bummed with the ending even though it was a very real ending to a book.

After that I picked up Rules of Civility. This one I wasn’t too sure about when I got started with it. It’s about New York in the 1930’s, which was fun to read. It was a mixed bag for me. There were parts of the story I really loved and parts that I thought were just silly. I feel like I should have been more deeply engaged with the transition of some characters. It is a great summer read for sure. It is good, easy writing – but not like brainless easy 🙂

Now I’m onto the last Harry Potter. No spoilers please!

The other three books I’m slowly trudging through are The Warmth of Other Suns (which is about the great migration of African Americans out of the south and into the north and west – it’s really eye opening), Extravagant Grace (which was highly recommended and borrowed by a great friend and I’m really loving it – as much as one can enjoy reading about the depravity of one’s soul) and Better Than Before (I love Gretchen Rubin). More on all those books when I’m actually done with them!

And this stack of books is waiting for me to figure out what to do with them…

you guessed it. We are homeschooling this year. Yikes!

What are you reading this summer?

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a “happier” 2013 {book review part 1}

I’m trying to narrow down my goals for this year with home life, blogging, sewing, etsy and everything else in my life. I’m really trying hard not to have this crazy long list, but rather up to 3 goals for different areas…and in some places maybe only one.

One of my few goals for this space is to be more consistent about doing book reviews. I read all sorts of different books and I can be a pretty voracious reader. The problem is I don’t give myself time to digest what I’m reading either while I’m reading or even afterwards. Goodreads has been a good place for me to record the books I’ve read, but I needed to encourage myself to do something more than just list them. So, one thing you can look forward to in 2013 is hopefully some good honest book reviews. I can’t promise any kind of regularity, so if you are interested in following along this might be the perfect time to becoming a regular subscriber to this little spot (just click over there on the right or just happily add me to your reader).

Enough of that.


Book Review: Happier at Home

One book I finished right towards the end of the year was Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. The title and cover intrigued me so I grabbed it up at the library, only to find out this is her second book about happiness. Her first book was the Happiness Project which you don’t really need to have read before to follow along in this one (at least I didn’t).

Rubin pretty much lives her life by personal commandments that she has set for herself and is absolutely driven by the writers William Morris and Samuel Johnson. If you are on Pinterest, I’m sure you have seen this little illustration floating around with this great William Morris quote:


And in the book she quotes Samuel Johnson many times, but this was one of my favorites:
To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition the end to which every enterprise and labour tends.”

Book Review: Happier at Home

To be fair to her, for all of you grumbling out there with the word “happy” I really think after reading this book she means “contentment”. At least, as I processed through her book that is the word that I kept saying in my head. I long for contentment at home, in my work, in my relationships etc and so much of that contentment (or lack of) stems from my issues…not the issues of those around me. As she states in the book happiness {contentment} is realizing how happy I am and how much I have to be happy for. Another way to think about this is gratefulness. So much, so, so much of our bah humbugness comes from just our lack of opening our eyes to the things around us we should be grateful for. In that comes happiness ~ contentment ~ joy.

In the book, she goes month by month through a year and chooses one area of her life to focus on and then makes a few goals for it. Some examples are: marriage, neighbors, family etc. She goes through month by month and clarifies her goals and then writes about the results. This was the part I loved…her honesty. In one example she tried acupuncture. It was something that she had wanted to do for a while and it fit into her month on basically getting healthier. She tried it, realized it didn’t really work for her and then stopped. And she was ok with it. I’ll write more on this tomorrow, but she just accepted what she needed to accept and. moved. on. That is SO not me! But so where I want to be.

While there were parts of this book and her philosophy that don’t really mesh with mine, there were many things I could take from this book. I think it’s a great one to pick up and use her definitions and her goals to frame questions for yourself. It was an easy read and fun to read at times. She is very whitty and honestly her struggles relate so much to mine in so many ways (oh…I am so selfish!).

So as you think about setting goals and framing your year, I heartily recommend this book.

Interested in more? Tune in tomorrow for my favorite quotes and some of my changes and goals for this year.

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