Books · Reading Life

Still too many books….

I now have 149 books on my TBR list.

Last weekend we drove to OH to visit with family. It was an 8 hour drive — just right to listen to John Grisham’s new book Sooley. We loved the book, but it was such a tragic story. The MC, nicknamed Sooley, traveled to America from South Sudan to play basketball in a summer tournament, only to learn that rebel soldiers ransacked his village while he was away. Now he has no home to return to, and doesn’t know where his family has gone. A HBUC in NC gives him a scholarship to play basketball and a place to stay as he struggles with his new situation. The story traces his year in NC, and is tragic and beautiful. I loved the book.

I also finished Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit. The setting is the colony of Plymouth in Massachusetts, and there has been a murder in this “perfect, Christian” colony. One thing that struck me hard when reading this book is how I have never thought about all of the other points of view in the story of the founding of Plymouth. I have just taken for granted the story I have always heard of the “Pilgrims” (not the name they called themselves) — how they left England due to religious persecution, went to Holland only to fear corrupting influences on their children, so then they risked the voyage and dangers of the New World to create a “perfect” society. But my source was largely just the writings of William Bradford, who was biased toward telling a story that would encourage more settlers to come. He was naturally inclined to only share what would put the colony in a good light for his investors and anyone who might join their endeavor. This book gave voice to other points of view, and highlighted the mysterious death of Bradford’s first wife (not the murder in the book, by the way).

I have also finished The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline — my book club’s book for September. This story describes life as a female convict in 1800’s England, sentenced to transport to what is now Tasmania. The book focuses on several women — and also an aboriginal girl who is “adopted” by the governor’s wife as a “collectible” — and their experiences as slave labor in the penal colony of Australia and their lives after release from their sentences. This book was tragic in its story, and had a very satisfying ending, in my opinion.

SO — 3 books were removed from my TBR list, but more were added….

I am currently reading Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon. The setting is New York City in the midst of a blackout and traces several different love stories, all written by the individual authors. I’m on page 60 and am enjoying the stories a lot.

Enjoy your summer reading.

Books · Reading Life · Teacher Life

Too many books, not enough time

Today I read a Twitter post written by a man whose father has just died of pancreatic cancer. This man said that when his father was told he had limited time left, his response was, “But I have so many more books to read.”

I have 145 books on my “to-be-read” list, and many more that I haven’t added to the list because my list is already too long. I know I will never have time to read all of the books I want to read.

Unless I make a plan…

The most books I have ever read in a year was 105, and many of those books were children’s books and were quickly read.

My Goodreads goal this year is to read 75 books — about 2 books a week. With no new books added to my lists, I can clear my list in 2 years — but there is no way I will not be adding books to my list.

My new plan is to read (or listen to if I’m driving) 200 pages a day for the next 6 weeks (what is left of summer break 2021). Once school begins, I will plan on reading 100 pages a day.

Anyone want to join me in this reading challenge?

We can call it “Clear the TBR Lists.”

Let me know what you think — can it be done?

Books · Reading Life

What are you reading now?

I love to read. That is not a surprise to anyone who knows me. That has been a truth in my life as long as I can remember.

I currently have 231 book on my list of “to read” books in my Goodreads account. I currently have 4 books started, even though I promised myself to only read one book at a time this year.

I have 5 more e-books borrowed from the library through the Overdrive app — but I probably won’t even be able to open them before they expire. I guess the next time I get “hold happy”, I should limit my requests — I really didn’t expect all of the books to become available at the same time.

My goal is to not only get through half of my “to read” list this year — or at least 100 books since it goes without saying that there will be many more books to add to the list as the year progresses — but I also plan to blog about my reading.

The books I am currently reading are Beneath a Scarlet Sky, How Not to Die, The Bullet Journal Method, and The Summer of the Monkeys.

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan is my book club’s selection for February. It is a WWII novel set in Italy. I have read many books about WWII, but I have never read one set in Italy. The main character is Pino, an 18 year old caught up in the conflict in his home of Milan. The story is a fictionalized version of true events.

I love this quote from this morning’s reading, “How do you find happiness?” Anna paused, then said, “You start by looking right around you for the blessings you have. When you find them, be grateful.” (p. 261, Kindle version).  Anna is a 24 year old maid to the mistress of a top ranking Nazi official in Milan. Pino is his driver, and is a front row observer of the atrocities of the war. I love this quote because it reminds me that there is beauty in life, no matter how hard the day may be.

I just started rereading How Not to Die by Michael Greger. I read this book last year, but I don’t think I really read it with intention. My plan is to read it slowly, and work to improve my diet throughout the year. Today I read the introduction. The main premise is that diet is the strongest component in health. What we eat will determine our level of health, both now and in our future. When we eat whole plant foods, and stay away from the processed foods that I love so much, our health will improve.

I also started reading The Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls this week. This is a middle grades novel, first published in 1998, about a 14 year old boy living in the Ozark Mountains of Oklahoma in the late 1800s. While looking for a cow that got out of the fenced pasture, Jay Berry Lee has discovered a monkey in the woods nearby. My 4th grade reading team has chosen this book as a read aloud for the 3rd quarter this year. I was able to get through the first couple of chapters during an all day planning lunch break on Thursday. My copy from Amazon just arrived in the mailbox, so I am anxious to continue reading this story.

The last book I am reading is The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll. I picked up this book after seeing an online book club forming around it. I have been dabbling in bullet journaling for a few years, and I want to grow in my use of this method of ordering my life, in order to prioritize my days and activities. I have only read a few chapters, but one idea that has stood out to me is that while I keep myself very busy, I often choose activities that do not align with my life goals. For example, I often choose to watch hours of TV, which I enjoy, but the long list of books to read nags at the back of my head. If my goal is to read these books, which also gives me pleasure, I need to decide how many hours should be devoted to each pursuit, and possibly adjust the way I spend my days.

So that is the answer to the question, “What are you reading now?” I wonder if anyone will follow my year in pages.  I hope someone will join me.

Please let me know what you are reading.