Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.Julia Child
Last week marked my first week off of blogging for the year (already!) as we all had the flu. However, in keeping with my new resolution to be kinder to myself, I’m proud I managed to blog all but one of the weekends in January! Now that feels like an accomplishment to me.
Today’s featured quote seemed incredibly appropriate for my first reading roundup of the year. See, I’m not sure that a lack of passion projects and interests has ever been my problem. In fact, if I do have a problem, it’s that I’m interested in far too many things. Can there truly be too much of a good thing?
One of my varied interests, as you have probably already gleaned from this blog, is reading. Like all of my other extracurricular activities, it has been hard over the past 3 years since becoming a mother to fit reading into my daily life; in the past its place in my schedule was assured.
I’d like to say I’m finally falling into a new rhythm with my reading, having already read 4 out of my 2023 goal of 23 books, but I know better than to proclaim such a victory so early. Life is fairly unpredictable as a rule and once you add kids into the mix? Well, good luck getting your crystal ball to ever predict anything accurately again.
That said, I’m proud of the amount of reading I accomplished in January. I’ll appease myself with basking in this rare sense of pride for now…
It’s hard to believe, but things are getting better. They will continue to if we keep up the fight. By Robert Reich
Life is certainly never perfect. It can be hard, confusing, frustrating, infuriating and exhausting; and this is coming from someone who benefits from the immense amount of privilege that comes with being a young(ish)-white-cis gendered-straight-middle class-educated-housed-well supported Canadian living in a stable household. I can only imagine what adjectives could be applied to the lives of those less privileged than I. Not to mention the intense emotions behind them. Sometimes, even from the safety of my couch surrounded by the people and things I love most, it can be hard to look past my own immediate surroundings and feel positive. The dire and depressing effects of climate change, inequality, violence, discrimination, lies and deceit are seemingly everywhere. It seemed to much easier to be positive when I was younger and less aware of all that went on in the world. HOWEVER. It’s not all doom and gloom. It really isn’t. There is hope out there – hope that we can continue to push society in a positive direction (I say continue because there HAS been positive change over the last decade, century, millennium, etc.). It’s not time to give up the fight for a better world, nor do I think it will ever be. I truly believe deep down that we can get through all of these hardships as a species and come out the other side stronger, more peaceful, and more respectful of this beautiful planet we call home. Sometimes I just need to be reminded that this spark of hope exists – and that it can be stoked into a blazing fire of change and positive, peaceful progress. This article was one such reminder that left me fired up to continue fighting to make a difference. What other choice do we have?
Small actions and victories lead to bigger ones, and the improbable becomes possible.Robert Reich
Yes, We All Have Chores to Do – Here’s how to Find Joy In Them. By Brittany Chaffee
Another thing that has been hard to find time for since having kids? Chores! Though it feels like I am constantly either doing laundry, washing dishes, putting clean clothes away, or picking up toys, our house somehow still seems to be in a constant state of untidy chaos. That’s not to say it’s a complete mess, it certainly is not, but it takes everything in me some days not to scream in frustration at my inability to keep on top of any kind of cleaning routine. I take comfort in the thought that most parents can relate. No, wait, scratch that. I think most adults can relate, whether they have chosen to procreate or not. That’s what I was reminded of when I read this article. It isn’t only my choice to have kids that has made chores feel overwhelming – it’s the fact that I (read: we) live in a society that prioritizes being constantly busy. We are expected to work long hours and spend any time away from work constantly flitting between personal development, keeping abreast of world news, building a side-hustle, homeschooling or montessori-ing (did I just make that up) any kids we might have, growing sourdough starters, reading important books, watching Oscar-nominated movies, meditating, cleaning up our neighbourhood park, and just generally keeping up with the Joneses. No wonder chores seem daunting on top of everything else. I remember vaguely a time long ago when chores were pleasant for me: a chance to focus on something simply satisfying for once. This article was a welcome reminder of what housework can be: a chance to slow down and smell the Dawn (see what I did there?) Maybe that’s what they can be once again. What do we have to lose?
Sometimes we exist to clean the dishes. That’s the most simple and non-stressful thing I’ve ever written.Brittany Chaffee
Experience: I ate 40 rotisserie chickens in 40 days. By Alexander Tominsky
Sometimes it’s nice to just reading something weird and wacky, for fun (Side note: check out my friend Faye Arcand’s Whimsical, Wacky, Wonderful Wednesday series for some such reading). While I may not need to read as much as I do, and indeed sometimes doing so can be exhausting and incredibly time-consuming in a time-starved season of life, I always make sure to make time for stories like this one. Why did he do it? Who knows really, I’m not sure even he does deep down. But the point is, he did it. Isn’t that, in itself, an incredible thing? Seriously. Give this a read – we all need some levity right now!
When everything is always known and understood, it can make life sad. It’s important to have a little wonder, to be surprised by others.Alexander Tominsky
Losing the Words – Bordering Grey
My oh my did this blog ever make me feel seen. Someone else was also struggling with reading, and a fellow bibliophile at that! In her case, the solution was to get glasses. In my case, it was to take the pressure off and rediscover why I enjoyed reading in the first place. Both of us found our respective ways back to our beloved books and we are all the better for it; even the most dense of reads can be a balm in these crazy times. Thank you, Bordering Grey, for always writing just what I need to read when I need to read it. Your writing is a welcome refuge for many, myself included. May you always keep writing (and reading)! Thank you, also, for the reminder that as a budding writer myself, part of my job is to read and read widely. I need to remind myself of this next time I feel I should be writing instead – they’re two sides of the same literary coin. And I plan to more of both this year in my continued quest to be a published writer…eventually. One step at a time!
Often a guilty pleasure, always feeling I should be doing something more important instead, I remind myself that as a I writer I need to read – it’s in my job description – so mornings are now dedicated to the sofa and a book. Look, see me at work.Bordering Grey
Talk about a GREAT start to the year when it comes to how many books I have read already. Only one month in and I’m already 1/6th of the way through my reading goal. I’ll admit, I’m feeling a bit smug. OK, so three of these books were audiobooks and therefore represent barely a dent in my physical shelf (…shelves…) still groaning under the weight of all my as-of-yet-unread volumes. But, hey, I still read, er, listened to them!
I’m still planning on catching up on my full reviews some day…this year? But, in short:
Fire Keeper’s Daughter – Angeline Boulley
This is the first book I have read by this author as it is, I believe, her debut novel. It will most certainly not be the last (that I read and, thankfully, that she will write) and I have already added her upcoming Warrior Girl Unearthed to my To Read list. Her style was grippingly irresistible to say the least. I tore through the audiobook, picking it up at every single chance I got. While there is some very difficult subject matter tackled (drug addiction, murder, rape, racism, discrimination, colonialism, poverty… and that merely scratches the surface), I found the feeling that stayed with me long after the last words had been read was one of hope and inspiration. The main character, Daunis, is so unbelievably strong – I rooted for her from page one – , the “villains” are complex and the twists are satisfyingly shocking. If you’re looking for an own-voices Indigenous mystery/thriller that stands apart from the pack and you don’t mind some uncomfortable soul-searching that results from spending so much time entrenched in the lived-realities of many Indigenous individuals in North America, you won’t regret picking this one up. (This mini-review was originally posted on my Goodreads account).
The Mermaid and the Bear – Ailish Sinclair
I am thrilled to say that this book is the work of one of the bloggers I have been following for a while. After reading quite a few of the teasers she posted about the book, as well as some very positive reviews, I decided to order myself a copy. While I am an avid library user, I am also an aspiring writer (I get a thrill every single time I write that) and so I do try to support authors further by buying their books when I get the opportunity. And I’m so glad I bought this one. The story was thrilling, with a twist in the third act that had me glued to the page (as glued as a mother-of-two can be that is). The characters were alternately loveable and infuriating, with a good mix of both types for variety. The use of Scottish terms of endearment and expressions throughout added to the authenticity of the story, not surprising as the author is herself a Scot. My only criticism is that the twist, once it occurred, seemed to rush the story to its conclusion with many of the key actors being slightly underdeveloped as they had remained on the margins of the story until that point. This was a fairly short novel at 221 pages and it may have benefitted from being a little longer with more time spent fleshing out some of the characters who would become so important to the horrifying events near the end. Overall, however, this was an enjoyable read and I’ll be sure to pick up Fireflies and Chocolate next! (This mini-review was originally posted on my Goodreads account).
All In: An Autobiography – Billie Jean King
Being born in the late 1980s myself, the Battle of the Sexes and all the excitement and tension that surrounded it happened before my time. Though, I would argue, that the battle of the sexes is still going on to a certain extent…but I digress. Nonetheless, I have long been fascinated with the story of this famous tennis match which was supposed to determine once and for all whether women or men were more athletically inclined. Spoiler alert: gender does not determine athletic ability BUT in this case, the woman won (insert Billie Jean King’s warrior cry of triumph here). However, did you know that Bobby Riggs actually played another top women’s tennis talent BEFORE King finally accepted the challenge, and that he beat her? He may have been a bit of a pig but he was no slouch, even in middle age. Did you also know that he and King remained friends to the end of his days? The story behind the flashy moments in history is always more complicated and extraordinary than we could possibly imagine. Having listened to the audiobook version of this, I loved hearing the story told in King’s gravely, enthusiastic voice. She truly has lived an extraordinary life and hearing about it in her own words was awe-inspiring. Whether you’re a tennis fan or not (I am in the latter category…) I highly recommend giving this a read! (This mini-review was originally posted on my Goodreads account).
Shadow Scale – Rachel Hartman
I discovered the first book in this series on yet another of the book blogs that I read regularly and blew through the audiobook in record time. Realizing there was so much more of the story left to hear, I knew I had to pick up the second one as soon as it was available. Months later, I was finally able to download it from my library app but let me tell you…the wait was well worth it! While the first book was a slower journey of self-discovery with a bit of action thrown in, this one was a heart-pounding fantasy mystery/thriller from the very beginning. The villain is fantastic and the world building so thorough I’m not even sure I could confidently compare it to anything else I have read (meaning, it doesn’t feel like it was inspired by anything I have read before – a feat for a fantasy writer in today’s day and age). I’m not sure if the author plans to write more but I’ll be keeping an eye on her work for sure. I feel like there is so much more to discover about Seraphina’s world! Highly recommend to those who enjoy fantasy, dragon-lore, mind games, magic and strong female protagonists. (This mini-review was originally posted on my Goodreads account).
So there we have it! As I mentioned before, I’m quite pleased with what I managed to read in January. Here’s hoping that my many interests don’t interfere too much with my reading this month. Now that I’ve rediscovered my passion for it, I’d like to keep tremendously interested in it indeed.
I’ll be back again soon but until then, remember…
Life is beautiful
One thought on “Reading Roundup: January 2023”
Glad you rediscover your passion for reading.
Have a great February reading month.