books + reading

My Ridiculous Reading Habits #mind

I’ve been thinking about our reading habits.

Unless you’re in a book club or talk regularly with a friend about reading, our reading habits are often private, only visible to immediate family and housemates.  Sometimes I’ll chat with a co-worker or a friend about a book I’m reading, but I don’t usually talk about how I read.  (Of course, I’m an introvert; maybe extroverted bibliophiles talk about their reading habits all the time?)    book

I started thinking about different reading habits when a friend mentioned going out to buy a book she wanted to read.  I’m such a library zealot that this was baffling to me; I love owning and buying books, but I buy books infrequently these days because my bank account would not be able to keep up with my appetite for literature.  I’ve talked with other friends who would much rather buy than borrow.  To each their own – but it sparked me thinking about private reading routines.

My reading habits are ridiculous; maybe that’s why I keep them so private.  Today, I’m coming clean.

  • If I’m in the middle of a good book and I’m driving, I keep the book on the passenger seat beside me, open to my current page, so that I can read at red lights.  Don’t call the cops on me; there’s probably not a law against it.  Because, does anyone else do this but me?
  • I tuck my book under my shoe as I’m tying or buckling it, so that I can read.  While I am tying my shoes.  Which takes less than a minute.
  • When I get to work, I read my book while I’m walking from my car to my office, because I know I’ll have to spend the next eight hours without the book and I want to savor those last precious reading moments.  My peripheral vision is excellent because I’ve been doing this for years.
  • I like to find out when my favorite authors (J.K. Rowling, Brene Brown, Elena Ferrante) have new books coming out.  Then, months ahead of time, I periodically check my local library’s website to see when the book is listed as “Coming Soon” in their online catalog.  As soon as I see it, I reserve a copy of the book; that way, the day the book comes out, it’s waiting for me at the library.book2
  • One day, my wife Tee and I stopped by the library and I realized I’d forgotten my card.  I had several books on hold, and I wanted to bring them home, so I problem-solved with my librarian.

“What if,” I said, “I just gave you my library card number?”

The librarian clarified what I meant – did I want to give her the 14-digit code on the back of my library card, the one I use to log on to the library’s website almost every day to browse titles and make hold requests?  Did I know that number by heart?

Yes.  I did.

I recited it for her quickly, got my books, and we left, Tee laughing at me the whole time. 

  • Typically I read one book at a time.  Sometimes I get over-excited and I find myself reading two books at once.

The funniest thing about this habit is when the two books I’m reading merge.          During the day, this thought will pop in my head: “Oh, my gosh – this guy’s wife is  framing him for her murder!  And if Harry doesn’t find the Horcruxes, I think she’s going to get away with it!”

tumblr_m6jltdZ2LC1rnvzfwo1_500These habits are ridiculous.  And my habits are, maybe, weirder than those of others?  Or maybe not.  I’m curious if others are just as weird as I am – and I’m scared that no one is as weird as me.  

What are your reading habits?

books + reading

#heart #mind #WildPeaceBookClub #RisingStrong #BreneBrown

Interesting_ecardsThere’s so much amazing book love going on in my life right now!

Our third Wild Peace Book Club gathering took place this Saturday evening!  We discussed The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler.  I was not a fan; Tee and The Naturalist liked it a lot more than me.

And today Brene Brown’s new book, Rising Strong, will be waiting for me on the hold self at the library after work!

My sister bought me Daring Greatly by Brene Brown for Christmas several years ago.  I’d never heard of Brene before that.  I quickly grew to love her writing – she’s a social worker (holla!) who researches shame, vulnerability, courage, and worthiness.  And Tee and I are going to see her speak at Sixth and I in early September.  (Major #spirit food!)  On Brene’s website, she sums up three of her books like so:

The Gifts of Imperfection – Be you.

Daring Greatly – Be all in.

Rising Strong – Fall. Get up. Try again.

I’m a little worried that the book won’t be at the library for me until tomorrow; I can’t wait to devour it!books

Starting with Rising Strong today, I have a busy few months of reading books by my favorite authors.  Next Tuesday, The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante comes out – which will be our next Wild Peace Book Club title.  (!!!)  Then Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert releases on September 22 and Career of Evil by J.K. Rowling comes out on October 20.

So, whoever you are, see you at Thanksgiving.

books + reading · parenting


Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of books related to child development and parenting.  This is partly preparation for Our Baby coming home, and partly supplemental reading to assist me with my work.

I’m not really into writing book reviews.  But I do like mentioning books I’ve enjoyed.  So rather than summarizing them or giving them a rating, I’m going to list two or three of my favorite parts of each book:

Simplicity Parenting (Kim John Payne)The+value+of+routine+and+rhythm+for+babies.+Simplicity+parenting+quote.+CanDo+Kiddo

(I’ve referenced this book previously; it shares principles with the Waldorf School philosophy, and it’s all about keeping things simple and helping kids to live a life that is not too cluttered or overwhelming.)

My Favorite Takeways:  Sometimes, having fewer choices is simpler and less overwhelming.  Having a rhythm to your days (e.g., on Mondays, we visit the park, on Tuesdays, we bake bread together) helps to keep our kids’ lives predictable and easy-flowing.

How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk (Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish)takeaways

My Favorite Takeaways: Teaching kids to solve problems rather than just punishing them when they misbehave.  AND teaching them to make amends!  (Do I want our kids to think “I did wrong and I am punished” when they do something I don’t like?  Or do I want them to think, “How can I make amends, and what can I do to keep from making this mistake again?”)

The Whole Brain Child (Daniel J. Siegel and Tine Payne Bryson)

This book talks a lot about brain science, particularly the different parts of the brain and how they work together.  I can never remember even the simplest components of brain science; however, after reading this, I think I am finally internalizing that the the Left Brain focuses on logic, analysis, and reasoning. The Left Brain likes thing to be in order and under control, and it loves organization and lists; the Right Brain focuses on creativity and feeling, and uses lots of intuition and nonverbal communication.601991_501815186542298_577522218_n

My Favorite Takeaways: When a child is in Right Brain mode – focused on emotion and feeling – you have to connect to them, right-brain-to-right-brain, before you can effectively introduce Left Brain logic to them.  When a child is throwing a tantrum because she feels you pay more attention to her little brother, it’s not effective to immediately counter this point with an argument about how much attention the child gets; it’s more effective to empathize, to connect nonverbally with the child (e.g., a comforting hug) before introducing Left Brain logic.

books + reading

#mind #ElenaFerrante #NeapolitanNovels

I have thirty pages left in Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, the third book in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels series.

Do you know that feeling, when you’re simultaneously excited to finish a novel and sad to see it end?  That’s where I am right now.  I want to rip through those last thirty pages – but also, I want to savor every word.

This series has brought me an incredible amount of enjoyment.  Ferrante’s writing is beautiful and her characters seem real; it’s hard for to imagine anyone not enjoying these books.  The fourth (and, I think, final?) book in this series comes out on September 1.  Which is another reason why I am sad to finish it!  Waiting 20 days for the next book to be available at the library is going to be a bummer; thank goodness I have a pile of summer reading books, several feet high, waiting for me on my night table.

books + reading

#books #libraries #mind #soul

I love libraries.

I mean, anyone who loves to read probably has some fondness for libraries.  But I love libraries.  I visit my local library – the Hereford Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library – just about every day of my life.0516c2a38e09bc14588db331e13981779caa2-wm

The library is my safest avenue for binge shopping.  It’s free – I can walk into a library, pick out a dozen books, and walk out with them, in a pile tucked under my chin, without paying a cent.  (Except for the inevitable late fees I pay, which I consider a charitable donation to a worthy community service.)

Thanks to technology, my relationship with my local library is also digital.  BCPL has an app!  From my phone, I can search their catalog, and (best of all) I can request specific titles.  I click “Place Request,” and then a copy of my book is shipped to my local branch and placed on a shelf for me to come pick up.  Sometimes I take the book home and read it cover to cover.  Sometimes I skim the book, decide it’s not for me, and return it the next day.  I can do that; the library allows me to explore titles I’m not quite sure about, which sometimes leads to interesting surprises.

(Sidebar: I sometimes feel guilty when I bring the book back the next day without having read it.  But recently, I came back to the library with Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee, and when the librarian asked me how it was, I confessed to her, somewhat apologetically, that I’d read the first chapter and decided that it wasn’t for me.  She totally understood.  Librarians are the BEST.)10914111_1525774177695305_2058346235_n

Tee and I both love to read, and we love having our house filled with books.  I can’t imagine living in a house without books.  When I first visit the home of a friend, the first thing I do, always, is check out their bookshelves.  I feel oddly unnerved when I don’t find any bookshelves to peruse.  (There’s a John Waters quote I’m dying to use here, but I need to paraphrase if I want to keep this a family-friendly blog: “If you go home with someone and they don’t have books, don’t [spend the night] with them.”  Please feel free to google the actual quote; it has a much sharper landing.)04728adb5529e16e991f0e137d7462cd

I’m currently in the middle of a major reading kick – the kind when I read while waiting in line, while walking, or while at red lights.  (I mean, I don’t do that.)  It started with Tee recommending the amazingly beautiful book My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante; I’m now on Book Three of Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels series, which is good timing, because Book Four comes out on September 1!  (Don’t worry – Tee and I already have copies reserved at the library.  Like you do.)

balance · books + reading

#heart #mind #body

CONFESSIONAL: I’ve been slackin’ a little with my blog and with my balance.

I blame books.

Seriously – when I get on a reading kick, I get neglectful of other areas of my life.  Tee has been encouraging me to read a series of books byecard Elena Ferrante – I believe they’re called, collectively, “the Neapolitan Novels.” The first title is My Brilliant Friend, and I read the book in two days – with breaks for my work day and for Tee time, nothing else – and now I’m partway into the second book in the series, The Story Of A New Name.  (In between these two, I read Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll, which I also liked a lot.)

I’ve been trying to keep my writing habit in place during this reading kick, but there were a couple of days when I woke up at 5 a.m. for my writing time and decided, “Yeah, this isn’t gonna happen today” – and dove back into My Brilliant Friend, reading for an hour before starting to get ready for work.

This reading kick is wonderful #mind food, and I’ve been maintaining my running habit as well (#body), as well as having #heart time.  (I just got home from seeing several dear friends and family members in New York, which is always amazing #heart food.)  However, my #soul energy has been lacking, and I can feel it.  I’ve been craving some quiet, meditative moments – which sometimes, in the midst of a crazy, hectic, wonderful summer, are hard to come by.  #progressnotperfection

books + reading

#WildPeaceBookClub #heart #mind

The 2nd (official) Wild Peace Book Club gathering took place this weekend!  We read and discussed Bad Feminist, a book of essays by Roxane Gay, after a day of harvesting and cooking up delicious organic veggies.

A lot of Roxane Gay’s writings were responses to pop culture – reviews of books she’d read or movies she’s seen – though many of them were broader responses to things happening in the world.  She writes about race, gender, sexual violence.  (I was particularly intrigued and inspired and enraged by her wrf56ee24a674420e43b36d21f95ffe5a1itings on women and sexual violence.  She is not a bad feminist.  She’s a smart and brave one.)  I really enjoyed this book, and I wasn’t expecting to – I’m more of a novel reader than an essay reader.

We chose our next book – The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler.  And WPBC is helping me with my reading challenge – I’ve read 34 books so far this year.  My goal is 52.  I’m on my way.  🙂