Reading Life – July/August 2019

I feel like my reading life the last few months has been pretty disjointed. I’ve been desperately trying to finish up some books and I’ve also had to start doing all my weekly pre-reading for the kid’s school. I’ve also found myself putting aside more books than I’ve ever done. Here’s a quick recap –

Currently:

Mere Christianity (pre-read) – I read this back in college as a pretty new believer and my son is reading it later on this year as part of his school. I’m about four chapters in and I’m sort of trying to figure it out honestly.

The Road Back to You – a pastor friend gifted this to us a while back and I just threw it on the shelf to read later. I’ve read a handful of “personality” books and some about the enneagram and I just couldn’t get into it. For whatever reason, I pulled it down about 2 weeks ago and I can’t stop reading it. It’s honestly the first book I’ve ever read that really does make sense when it comes to talking about your tendencies and sort of your make up.

Richard Halliburton’s Complete Book of Marvels (read aloud) – we’ve been reading through this since last year and it’s really fabulous. If you like anything about geography you would probably love it.

The Sea Around Us – (pre-read) We are reading the junior version of this and while it starts out super heavy with evolutionary ideas (some I’d never even heard of before) it’s moving into the world of the oceans and it’s really amazing so far.

Church History in Plain Language (pre-read) – my son is reading this for his history class this year. It’s a pretty readable history book and has been fascinating to see how church history weaves around “regular” history. As one who was educated with that great distinction between church and “state”, it’s really kind of neat to study history in light of the Bible – I can totally understand Paul’s letters to the new church in such a different light.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (pre-read) – I read this in high school and it’s pretty interesting. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Stevenson’s work.

The Inklings – this has been on my to-read list for like two years and I am determined to read it before the end of 2019. So far it’s totally fascinating.

Abandoned and/or set aside

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – I started this and then my Inklings book came in from the library so I had to set it aside since I own it. I was also reading two “nature” books at the same time and was getting both of them mixed up in my head.

Great Possessions: An Amish Farmer’s Journal – I had to return this book to the library, but I’m hoping to get it back again soon. I really loved it and have learned so much – really just about paying attention to the world outside. The rotation of the seasons and the birds and insects that come along with those.

Everything that Rises Must Converge – this was on my to read list this year and I finally got it from the library. I made it about half way through before I decided I just couldn’t read it. I really, really want to love O’Connor, but this book was way too much for me. The stories are filled with such anger and frustration and then end when these horrible endings. It’s almost like reading stories of what people wish in their minds they could do in the midst of their anger and frustration – only they actually act on it.

Read

The Scarlet Pimpernel – this is up there as one of my favorite books ever. I really need to buy a copy to have and I want to re-read it again. It was so, so clever and just so good.

Finding Quiet: My Story of Overcoming Anxiety and Practices that Brought Peace – I really liked this book at first, but then after a while it sort of grated on me. There were some really good practices in there that I do think I’ll pick up in the midst of anxiety issues, but I’m sort of not sure what to do with this book.

Man, The Dwelling Place of God – This was a really great little book. The chapters are short, but rich and there was much to be gleaned from it. I read it over the course of a year – very slowly – and it is one to be picked up year after year and go through again. Tozer is one that can say really thought provoking and amazing things in two sentences.

Emily of New Moon – I was reading this because I wanted my daughter to read it and also because so many people say they love this series more than Anne. I’m not sure. I think I recognize more of myself in Anne and will always love those books – but I’m curious which way my daughter will lean as I see way more of Emily in her.

Beate Not the Poore Desk: A Writer to Young Writers – this was a super little book about writing. I really love reading Wangerin, he has such a conversational style of writing it is like he is sitting there with you.

I think that’s it for what I’ve been trudging through. I need to start Les Miserable, because I’m supposed to be reading it along with my son this year – he’s way ahead of me already. And I also need to start Watership Down to read along with my daughter.

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Starling Quilt

The quilting bug has certainly taken hold; so much so that I finally joined our local Modern Quilt Guild and have already attended the first two meetings.

My mother’s birthday was coming up this month and I felt like I really needed to gift her with a quilt. The Fat Quarter Shop released this Starling Quilt pattern as a freebie and when I saw it I knew it was the perfect pattern for her. (I also knew that there was a pretty good chance I could get it done in time too).

I searched high and low for some fabric for her and when I saw this Steno Pool line from Cotton and Steel I knew that was it. My mom went to secretary school way back and learned shorthand. When we were growing up, my mom would write our Christmas lists in shorthand, which used to frustrate me to no end because I couldn’t decipher them. I even think I tried to use her shorthand dictionary at one point to try and figure it out! This shorthand panel was the tipping point for her quilt.

I found some coordinating fabrics to go with the line, including this lovely, sparkling chambray and got started.

This is a pretty simple quilt to cut and piece. The pieces are bigger and after making so many quilts with tiny pieces it was a welcome respite! I’m still working on my exact piecing skills and I know that some of these don’t line up perfectly, but I’m getting better.

I had originally purchased some fabric for the back, but the color was totally off from what I thought it was and I actually miscalculated and didn’t order enough. Instead of purchasing more, I decided to piece the back (a little inspiration from my quilt guild meeting show and tell) and I’m super happy with how it turned out.

I quilted it with a wavy block with my machine.

This quilt is super soft and washed up really well and I’m beyond thrilled to gift it to my mom on her birthday!

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Reading Goals 2019

I’m sort of in denial or rather amazement that 2018 is over. When I started looking over what I had read last year and the goals I had set for myself, I realized they were a little lofty. I actually didn’t do such a bad job with my main list, but when I looked back I thought my list wasn’t all that realistic and intentional. It was more a list of stuff I either had to read or hoped to read.

This year I want to be more intentional. It’s going to be a different year I think, where I am stepping back from some commitments I’ve had the past few years and I’m hopeful that it will open up space to cultivate some different habits that I’ve been hoping to build up. I’m pondering working through a few of the different reading challenges that I’ve seen in my blogo’sphere but I’m still not sure I’m ready to fully dive into those yet.

So here’s to reading in 2019 – reading with intention and some fun too…

For my Book Club:

  • January: Eothan (Kingslake)
  • February: Blind Justice (Alexander)
  • March: Ghost Map (Johnson) this is a re-read for me
  • April: Humble Roots (Anderson) another re-read
  • May: Fidelity (Berry)
  • June: Persuasion (Austen)
  • July: Becoming Mrs. Lewis (Callahan)
  • August: Oedipus Rex (Sophocles)
  • September: Scarlet Pimpernel (Orczy)
  • October: selections from Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
  • November: Code of the Woosters (Wodehouse)
  • December: Silent Night (Weinbraub)

My Personal List: Fiction

  • The Alchemist (Coelho) **started but abandoned
  • The Tattooist of Auschwitz (Morris)
  • Odd and the Frost Giants (Gaiman)
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane (this is a re-read) (Gaiman)
  • Little Men (Alcott)
  • Anna Karenina (a re-read, but I read it in high school, therefore I remember little)
  • That Distant Land (Berry)
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Everything that Rises Must Converge (O’Conner)
  • The Great Alone (Hannah)
  • The Chosen (Potok)

My Personal List: Non-Fiction

  • The Curve of Time (Blanchet)
  • A Year in Provence (Mayle)
  • Circle of Quiet (L’Engle)
  • The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (Dillard)
  • The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings (Zaleski)
  • First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies

My Personal List: Personal and Spiritual Growth

  • Ourselves (Mason)
  • On the Shoulders of Hobbits
  • You Learn by Living (E. Roosevelt)
  • Tending the Heart of Virtue (started, didn’t finish yet)
  • Beate Not the Poore Desk
  • The Lifegiving Table (Clark) (started, didn’t finish yet)
  • In the Name of Jesus and/or Love, Henri (Nouwen)
  • None Like Him (Wilken)

On a side note, these quilt photos are actually nabbed off the internet and aren’t my actual creations; but they are posted here as a visual reminder of two quilts I actually hope to make this year that are very bookish.

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Sewing Life – 2018

If my reading life sort of dwindled this year, my sewing life pretty much disintegrated, along with my writing life. Let’s just say that my creative output was hampered greatly by homeschooling and teaching an 8th grade class.  I’m beyond hopeful that as I clear some space next year I can start designing patterns, sewing and writing again.

I did cross two major goals off my list this year though. I finished a massive quilt project that I started in 2017 and I finally learned (or started learning) how to do paper piecing.

Fancy Forest Quilt

I started this Fancy Forest Quilt way back in 2017 and steadily worked on it as I could for the next year. When I knew we were moving in the Fall, I pushed super hard to finish it, because I had no idea what my sewing space was going to look like wherever we ended up moving. It was by far the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken and I’m completely fallen head over heels in love with quilting.

I also finally took the plunge and learned how to do paper piecing. I don’t know why this seemed so impossible to me. I’m still developing my skills, so to speak, but it’s probably the coolest thing I’ve learned how to do.


Untitled

My brother is record collector affectionato and I knew when I saw this pattern by Pen and Paper I was going to have to learn how to sew it for his Christmas gift. I was totally amazed with the whole process while it came together and still am baffled how in the world I actually pieced it.

After accomplishing that, the sky was the limit. I had been gifted one of these amazing little tiny flying geese keychains years ago and mine was falling apart. When I realized that I might actually be able to figure out how to sew my own, I jumped at the chance to sew one for me and a few for some Christmas gifts. Again, it was another one of those projects where I just couldn’t believe that it worked!

Flying geese keychains
Flying geese keychains
https://www.flickr.com/photos/daisyeyes/45393467955/in/datetaken/

I also made a holiday table runner using up some of the last of my Cotton and Steel Garland scraps. I’m 100% in love with it and I know that every Christmas now I’ll be super excited to pull it out and lay it on the table!

Hexies Holiday Table Runner

I didn’t do much in the way of embroidery this past year. I finished up a large wedding vows early on in 2018 and then I was pretty much burnt out. I’ve designed a few custom patterns off and on all year and I’ve really enjoyed that, but after nearly 8 years of doing embroidery almost constantly I really needed a break. I’m not sure where that’s going to put me in 2019. I’ve begun a designer relationship with Sulky threads and I’m super hopeful that this will be the kick I need to pick up a needle and thread again – but for now I’m going to enjoy my quilting fascination and also do some garment sewing (of which I did very little of this year).

Custom Wedding Vows - Australian Custom Order

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2018 Reading in Review


I feel like I started out 2018 super strong with my reading life and goals. While my list of books to read was pretty dang long, I felt pretty confident I could get through most of the list. Then entered the Fall and I started teaching a class and my reading life just plummeted.  I ended up having to focus all my extra time on preparing for this class and trying my best to keep up with my own kid’s pre-reading that I couldn’t stay on top of my list – nor could I stay on top of posting where I was at with reading!

That said, I’m hopeful that 2019 will prove to be a little different. I’d love to start posting here again more regularly and I’m working on a list for next year that will be possibly a little more realistic. But…I’m not teaching anyone next year except for my own children so I’m super hopeful!

Here’s what I read this past year – along with those I abandoned (books with an * were for a book club)

Abandoned Books

  • Billy Budd (this was for my son’s CC class – what a doozy)
  • The Great Divorce* (weird, totally weird)
  • The Fledgling (a read aloud my daughter and I started – another weird one)
  • Across Five Aprils (we started this as a family and then life…)
  • Fanny Crosby (this was a pre-read for my daughter and we both abandoned it)
  • Orthodoxy – (My brain…just can’t. Although I’m hoping to keep trying)
  • The Mill on the Floss (I actually really liked this one. It’s a huge book and I had to return it to the library and never picked it up again)
  • Tending the Heart of Virtue – (another one I didn’t have time to finish before I had to return it to the library)

Finished Fiction

  • A Wind in the Door – L’Engle
  • The Princess & the Goblin* – MacDonald
  • Pride and Prejudice* – Austen
  • Alias Grace*  – Atwood
  • The Book of Three* – Alexander
  • Caddie Woodlawn – Brink
  • David Copperfield* – Dickens
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins – O’Dell
  • Before We Were Yours – Wingate
  • The Inimitable Jeeves* – Wodehouse
  • Gilead – Robinson
  • Father and I Were Ranchers: Little Britches – Moody
  • Station Eleven* – St. John Mandel
  • Glass Houses – Penny
  • The Penderwicks – Birdsall
  • Pachinko – Jin Lee
  • A Gentleman in Moscow – Towles
  • In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex* – Philbrick
  • Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures – DiCamillo
  • Jayber Crow – Berry
  • Hannah Coulter – Berry
  • Tanglewood Tales – Hawthorne
  • This Must be the Place – O’Farrell
  • Where the Red Fern Grows – Rawls
  • The Phantom Tollbooth – Juster
  • Murder on the Orient Express – Christie

Finished Non-Fiction

  • Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life – Harrison-Warren
  • A Touch of the Infinite: Studies in Music Appreciation – Hoyt
  • Uncommon Type: Some Stories – Hanks
  • 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You* – Reinke
  • Know and Tell: The Art of Narration – Glass
  • Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything – Bogel
  • The Hiding Place – Ten Boom
  • On Writing: A Memoir of Craft – King
  • The Question: Teaching your Child the Essentials of Classical Education – Bortins
  • The Self-Driven Child – Stixrud
  • Educated* – Westover
  • The Man Who Invented Christmas* – Standiford
  • The Wisdom of God: Seeing Jesus in the Psalms… – Guthrie
  • Seaman: The Dog Who Explored the West with Lewis and Clark – Karwoski
  • Beauty in the Word – Caldecott

In Review

If I look at all the books I had on my original list, I pretty much read 80% of the fiction and read almost none of the Personal Growth. I abandoned a lot, which is a new thing for me to finally admit. I found this list to be a helpful one to turn to when I realized I was short a book to read and wasn’t sure where to go next.

The hardest book I tried to read was Orthodoxy. I really want to pick it up again this year and push through it. I read snippets from it all the time and they are so good! But this book just hurt my brain. I wanted so hard to understand it and just have it sink in so deep.

For fiction, the hardest books I read were a cross between Gilead and Jayber Crow. In both books, I just couldn’t enjoy the voice of the narrator. Gilead I couldn’t identify with at all; although listening to the Close Reads Podcast discussion helped a ton. Jayber Crow, I wanted to love, oh how I wanted to love it because everyone loves it, but honestly Hannah Coulter is my Port William favorite. I think maybe if I had read Jayber first I might have enjoyed it more; but Wendell’s voice as Hannah was much more relatable to me.

My favorite books of the year were:

  • David Copperfield – because Dickens has become my complete favorite classic author
  • Flora and Ulysses – hands down most enjoyable children’s book we read this year
  • Know and Tell – best book on narration and just teaching-wise I’ve read
  • Liturgy of the Ordinary – just super good for your heart and soul

Currently…

I’m still working on my final list for next year, but here’s what I’m reading as we close out 2018:

  • Half a Yellow Sun – Adichie
  • Man, The Dwelling Place of God – Tozer
  • The Tech-Wise Family – Crouch
  • The Children’s Homer – Colum
  • The Swiss Family Robinson – Wyss
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