Reading in 2017

I started keeping track of my reading when I began my blog in 2007. Between then and the end of 2017, I read 498 books. I had hoped to read two more before the new year, just to even out the number, but that didn’t happen. However, my delay in finishing this post has helped me out. I read two books this year already, so now I can say that I’ve read 500 books since starting my blog. And though my numbers were low during some years, the average works out to 45 per year, which is not far off my goal of 52 per year.

As for 2017, I started off the year poorly by forcing myself through a history/travel book that I wasn’t quite in the mood for. I just wanted it done. I got it done, but it took a long time, and it burned me out. It wasn’t the kind of reading that I needed at a time when everything was stressing me out. I did eventually get back in the mood to read, though, and I ultimately finished 27 books (well, 26 books. I read one twice.).

Favorite Book Read in 2017: The Last Legends of Earth by A.A. Attanasio. This is one of my favorite books ever. I read it twice this year. It has its flaws, to be sure, but I love it for its inventiveness and its eerie atmosphere. Also, the author managed to squeeze thousands of years of story line into less than 500 pages, which is amazing. I was hoping to absorb some of the book’s power and bring it to my novel. I think the absorbing part worked. All I have to do now is write the novel.

Worst Book Read in 2017: The Bobbsey Twins on a Ranch by Laura Lee Hope, hands-down. It was outdated in all the worst ways, and it’s the most racist book I’ve ever read.

Biggest Reading Surprise in 2017: Several of the books were surprisingly good, including…

Biggest Reading Accomplishment of 2017: About a quarter of the books I read in 2017 were nonfiction. This is the highest percentage of non-fiction I’ve ever read in any given year.

Reading goals for 2018: None. I have no reading goals. I’m giving myself a break. No rules, no expectation. I’m going to scratch any reading itch I get. To start off the year, I’ve ordered a bunch of Barbara Michaels books from the library. I can’t wait to get started on them.

Wishing everyone a wonderful year of reading in 2018,


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Better Today

My eye feels much better today. It’s still a little gunky and itchy, but it’s no longer red and swollen. I’m going to attribute that to the Healing Soup (a.k.a. chicken pho) that I had for dinner last night. Hooray for Healing Soup!

I accomplished a lot this weekend, too. Most importantly, I put my ornaments into their new boxes while listening to Christmas music, so that’s two things crossed off my list from yesterday. I don’t like putting Christmas ornaments away (who does?), but the music helped to lighten my mood. As expected, I changed my mind about how to wrap the ornaments about halfway through, so some are wrapped better than others. I didn’t have enough paper to wrap every ornament, so I reused old bubble wrap for the glass ornaments. Some of the bubble wrap is so old that it looks grubby, but it has done such a good job protecting the ornaments all these years, I figure why not let it keep doing that? Plus it was the environmentally conscientious thing to do. I was already throwing away so much old packing material. It made me feel better to salvage some of it.

Between feeling better physically and having gotten such a big task done, I’m in a more positive frame of mind than I was at the start of the weekend. I hope you all had a good weekend, too!

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For January

We’re twenty days into the new year and I haven’t finished everything I wanted to do for 2017. That’s not good. I don’t want to spend all year playing catch-up. So . . .

To finish by January 31:

  1. Put my Christmas butterfly ornaments away in the new acid-free boxes that I bought last January. The ornaments were supposed to go in the boxes last year, but that never happened. At this time, the ornaments are off the tree but not put away, so this is the perfect time to make the switch to the new boxes. I can tell you exactly what’s been holding me up. The ornaments will need to be wrapped in protective material before I put them in the boxes. I bought acid-free tissue paper, but I will need to figure out the best way to cut it, then wrap all the ornaments, and figure out the best arrangement in the boxes. Figuring out this new storage system will take time and effort, and I might make mistakes and have to change direction, maybe even order more paper or a different kind, which is all potentially going to be annoying. (Yes, I do have a terrible habit of fretting over problems before I even get to them.) But if I want to keep my ornaments in good condition, this is what needs to be done, so I’d better get on it.
  2. Listen to the Christmas CD my friend gave me. My Christmas spirit is always a little slow catching up with the season, and I often have no tolerance for Christmas music until January. But the month is almost over, so I should do that now, while I’m still feeling a little Christmassy and doing Christmassy things like putting ornaments away.
  3. Finish up 2017 photo album. I can’t believe I haven’t finished this yet.
  4. Finish up 2017 blog posts. I still have a bunch of posts about the children that I want to write so that I can include them in my album. I wish I had kept better notes along the way. Some of my notes are cryptic. For example: “Marshall’s perfect grades.” Perfect grades on what and when? I have no idea. So that story, whatever it was, is never going to be told. I need to finish up what I do remember, while I still remember it, and while it still feels relevant.
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Off to a Poor Start

I woke up this morning with pinkeye. I knew it before I even got out of bed. My eye felt like a gummy bear had used it as a restroom. That’s no way to start the weekend.

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Movies and Books

People love to talk about movies that are poor adaptations of beloved books. But there are many times when the movies, good or bad, lead us to read the books that they were based on. That’s a good thing. And let’s be honest—sometimes the book isn’t as good as the movie!

Here is a list of books that I read because of their movies.

  1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I might have ended up reading this anyway, because it is a favorite of one of my dearest friends, but I was also influenced by seeing parts of the mini-series on PBS.
  2. Austenland by Shannon Hale. I went on to read the sequel, Midnight in Austenland.
  3. Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding, plus the sequel, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, which was also made into a movie.
  4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. The film adaptation starring Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory) is a favorite movie, and it definitely got me interested in Roald Dahl’s work.
  5. Dune by Frank Herbert
  6. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I only read the book because I heard that it was being made into a movie.
  7. Evil Under the Sun by Agatha Christie. There were several factors that contributed to my becoming an Agatha Christie fan, and this movie, which I saw many time as a kid, is definitely one of them.
  8. The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by R.A. Dick. I was so in love with the movie that I tried hard to keep my expectations low when reading the book. The book surprised me by also being good.
  9. Gremlins by George Gipe. This is a rare case of the book being based on the movie, rather than the other way around.
  10. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
  11. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, plus both sequels.
  12. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. I went on to read at least one other book by the same author.
  13. Millennium by John Varley
  14. The Neverending Story by Michel Ende. I also read Momo by the same author, who I never would have heard of if it hadn’t been for this movie.
  15. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. I still occasionally get songs from Oliver! stuck in my head.
  16. Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle. The movie was much better than the book!
  17. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  18. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. I went on to read many of the sequels.
  19. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
  20. The Shining by Stephen King
  21. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
  22. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss
  23. Watership Down by Richard Adams. I went on to read Tales from Watership Down.
  24. The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I haven’t read any of the sequels yet, but they’re all on my Kindle, so I probably will someday.

Are there any books that you read because the movies piqued your interest?

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Days Like This

Some days I wonder if I am anything more than a collection of bad habits.

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The End of the Line

I think that our cat Mojo has nearly reached the end of the line. I don’t know if we’re measuring in days or weeks, but probably not months. He’s having trouble in the litter box. He does unusual things, like climbing into the toilet. He smells bad. His cataracts have gotten worse, and we’re not sure how well he sees. He’s lost weight. But most telling of all, he isn’t eating much, even after getting medication to stimulate his appetite.

The vet did some tests, which came back negative. She says that x-rays are the next step, but I’m not sure they’re necessary. The condition that he’s suffering from is old age. There’s nothing that will cure him of that.

For now, he is still able to get himself up and down the stairs (though his things have all been moved downstairs for his convenience). He still seems to enjoy spending time with us. So he’s not quite done with life yet. But when he unexpectedly jumped into my lap earlier today, I held his stinky, bony body close and tried to memorize the feeling of his purr rumbling against me and the softness of his fur.

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Strange Weather

We had strange weather today. There was still snow on the ground, but it was over 50°. First the fog would be dense, blocking my entire view. Suddenly a gust would come and blow the area clear. Then the fog would creep back in. As for the wind, some of the gusts were cold, carrying the chill of the snow they had blown across. Others were so warm and moist that they fogged up my glasses, and I felt like I was standing in front of a dryer vent.

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Time Changes

Days and weeks get longer, but years get shorter.

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Remembering 2017

Last year brought me and my family a mix of good and bad. We had an abundance of humor and good times spent together. But a lot of things went wrong, from the minor inconveniences to the major traumas. My blog reflected that. There were happy posts and unhappy ones.

To commemorate the year, I put together a representative selection of posts, one for each month. You can read the first paragraph or sentence of each here on this post. Use the link at the beginning of each one to take you back to the original post.

This is how I remember 2017—

A Birthday Celebration 1/31/2017: Livia had a birthday this month. She is now six years old! It’s hard to believe, because I can still remember her as a baby. Baby Livia would tackle every obstacle head-on, wearing a big smile, and with a gleam in her eye. In many ways she’s still like that, only she’s bigger now and doesn’t drool so much.

Never Apart 2/18/2017: A little doppelganger of my husband sits on my shoulder while I’m clothes shopping. I pick up a shirt in a pretty shade of blue-green. “No teal!” the little husband hollers in my ear. I move along. Next I find something in gray. “Too drab,” he objects. “You should wear brighter colors.” I move along. Soon I spot a comfy-looking sweater. The little husband gets apoplectic over that one. “That’s something your mother would wear!” Is that such a bad thing? “It is!” So the little husband steers me toward a more form-fitting sweater, but he nearly flips on me when I reach for the blue-green. “I said no teal! Try the brown.” I hesitate, because he did just tell me to wear brighter colors. “It’s OK. It goes with your hair.” He’s right. It does.

You Didn’t Breathe 3/15/2017: Dear Peeps, late last night I went downstairs to tell Faithful Reader something. He said, “Shhh. Peeps is making the strangest sounds.” I stood on the stairs, listening, looking down on you. You were sleeping on your favorite spot on the couch. You stretched and relaxed. Faithful Reader said, “Her eye is open.” I said, “She looks dead from this angle.” I was only joking, but then you didn’t breathe. We waited for you to breathe, but you didn’t.

Kite and Flight 4/29/2017: It’s cute and frustrating and almost inspirational the way Livia refuses to believe us when we tell her that her homemade kite won’t fly. Not only is the kite not built properly, but there’s hardly any wind. Never mind. She believes she can do it if she tries hard enough and applies enough tape to the torn parts.

Improper Attire 5/29/2017: Heard around the house: Hey, hey, hey! Cups are not shoes!

What a Mess 6/19/2017: Total chaos in the kitchen!

Proud 7/21/2017: Earlier this year I started working on a special photo album of nature pictures and posts. It took weeks just to sift through all my photos and writing. I found more material than could fit in a single album, so I split the project in two. Then I had to cut and paste, arrange, edit, and proofread. After months of working on it, it still wasn’t finished, and I had begun to think it might never be.

My Vacation: Part I 8/27/2017: Our vacation destination was a cottage on a lake located about six hours from our home. It’s a long drive and, as is usually the case, we left late. We also hit traffic. As a result, we arrived after dark. My parents and my brother and his family had already arrived and selected their rooms. Aside from one room with a double bed on the main floor, all that was left was the basement, which smelled musty.

Now We’re Cooking 9/12/2017: How to cook delicious soup in three easy steps:

  1. Find a slow cooker recipe for delicious soup.
  2. Buy all of the ingredients.
  3. Hand recipe and ingredients to husband and say, “Here. Make this delicious soup.”

It’s Saturday 10/21/2017:

A Perfect Day for a Hike

Life Without the Internet 11/6/2017: A nor’easter hit the Northeast on the Sunday before last. Had it brought snow, who knows how bad the damage might have been. As it was, the winds (hurricane-strength in some areas) knocked down trees and power lines all over the place.

All I Can Do Is Laugh 12/9/2017: I have my own particular set of sayings that I use frequently. One of them is “make it snappy.” I use this saying on the kids when they’re slow to do whatever it is they’ve been told to do. But Marshall has decided to take the saying literally. If I tell him to “make it snappy,” he starts snapping his fingers and doing a little dance. Usually we’re in a rush, so I ought to get angry when he starts dancing instead of following my instructions. His snappy dance is just so hysterical that all I can do is laugh.

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