January came and went quickly, but the days felt slow.
I’m still healing from a sprained ankle. The weather has been bitterly cold. My emotions have been all over the place after the sweet-but-strange little Christmas my immediate family had, feeling glued to the national news in the worst possible way, and the strange new beginnings that 2021 and my 34th birthday offered.
But it did make for a month of wonderful reading, especially Wintering by Katherine May, which I would like to gift to just about everyone in my life.
So here’s to leaning into the slowness and into winter.
Another month, another round of book reviews! I finished ten books in August and am getting caught up with my 2020 reading goal (120 books).
I read lots of really great books this month—and admit that I’m also getting better about abandoning books I’m not really into using the 50-page rule (don’t give up on a book until you’re at least 50 pages in . . . until you’re 50 years old, and then you can lower that number by a page a year).
August brought lots of data-heavy titles and some heavy big life stuff (acknowledging privilege, breaking away from overwork, saying yes more, reexamining this country’s beginnings), but this year seems like a good time to dig into those things.
This was such an interesting and delightful read about the subjectivity and trickiness of math on a large scale. I admit I didn’t really grasp all the logic—“I’m an English major; you do the math!”—but I loved it anyway.
I started this pre-COVID and then lost the thread while I watched the world start to fall apart, but I came back to it in August and zoomed through it. A really fascinating exploration of language and how it’s changed rapidly over the last couple of decades in an internet world.
My church recently held a white privilege discussion group that was guided by this book. It was a much-needed perspective on American Christianity, and the ELCA church in particular, and an important read for white congregations.
I love reading books that encourage a break from our hyperconnected worlds—this year especially. A much-needed reminder that work is not the end-all be-all when it comes to how we measure self-worth, happiness, and even success.
What if you said yes to every question or suggestion presented to you? This was a fun read about turning your routines on their head, leaning into a personal experiment, and staying open to new and unexpected opportunities.
This book shook. me. up. It was no surprise, of course, to learn that there are data gaps when it comes to women. But it was stunning to read about the breadth and depth of those gaps; women have been willfully ignored (or carelessly forgotten) when it comes to anything from seatbelt design and pharmaceutical studies to city planning and how we expect people to work.
I strongly recommend this read to anyone who is convinced women have achieved equality with men and to anyone working in planning and leadership roles.
I’ve never read a Washington biography because a 700-page love letter to a founding father has never really piqued my interest. But I loved this short and conversational look at his life—and the myths that we’ve accepted about the first president.
Did I post about time flying by and feeling untethered last time?
That has only gotten worse, of course, with continued physical distancing requirements and recommendations to stay home as much as possible . . . and then my unexpected positive test result for the COVID-19 virus itself in late July. (I’m doing OK, just more tired than usual and now extra diligent about my mask-wearing and hand-sanitizing efforts.)
Anxiety and fatigue have made for a roller coaster of emotions, not to mention the effect they have on keeping track of time. Which is why my monthly reading blog post went unwritten in May . . . and in June . . . and in July. You don’t mind too much, do you?
“Present, Centered, and Available for Life” seems like an excellent aspiration, particularly this year. I very much appreciated Felder’s stress-management practices, which are rooted in both spirituality and psychology.
I’ve never really been drawn to video games, but this was a fun and fascinating look at the typography used by popular and niche games alike (and how limited it was by the pixels available in early game design).
Irby’s essays have delighted me before and this collection was no different. Awkward, relatable, and hilarious. I read this one in paperback, but her audiobooks (narrated by the author herself) are a great choice too.
My husband gave this to me as an anniversary gift and I quickly read it cover to cover! The strips are irreverent and witty, and there’s also an adorable children’s book (Nancy’s Genius Plan)by the same writer/illustrator that we gifted to our nieces and nephew.
I was introduced to Toll’s work at a (virtual) conference in the spring and I am smitten with her beautiful books on paying attention to the natural world around us—and how certain herbs, fruits, and flowers can help us access our intuition. Also includes oracle cards!
I distinctly remember a copy of this book floating around our childhood home—and that it was one of my sister’s very favorites. I don’t think I ever read it myself and was glad to check out this Cinderella tale.
I loved this one just as much as the Herbiary. Toll profiles 36 powerful animals and shares rituals, readings, and reflections to access their special energies. I cannot wait for her third installation, The Illustrated Crystallary,to come out next month!
I joined the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club (out of Jenny Lawson’s Nowhere Bookshop in San Antonio) a couple months back and this has been one of my favorites. It’s sort of a Gen X retelling of And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie’s classic mystery.
Before the pandemic lockdown, I’d read another book—that I’ve since forgotten—that mentioned these incredible quilts and I quickly requested it from my library. Once the libraries opened back up, this one became available and it was a great little surprise to read.
I was surprised to find that Lane is actually from St. Louis, not far from my own home in Kansas City, and shares many of his backpacking experiences in the Ozark and Mark Twain National Forest wilderness.
A clever novel styled as a catalog for an Ikea-like furniture store, Horrorstör tells the story of three employees working a special night shift to investigate strange goings-on before management finds out.
One of my new hobbies is trying to keep some plants alive. (I confess that I’ve managed to kill several basil plants and more than one aloe plant.) This was a great place to start and gave me the confidence to actually go to a local nursery and pick out a few new friends!
Watching any facet of American politics today feels terribly, terribly depressing. This look at Millennials in political office certainly doesn’t portray a Utopian future, but it does make me feel a little more hopeful about the years ahead.