Friday, December 28, 2018

This Is How We Read

I'm so excited about this topic and I'm linking up with Kimberly, Andi, Tamara, and Tanya for #AMonthofFaves to talk about it!!! I'm going to take you through my reading process from start to finish. It's like a "Day In The Life of Natasha's Reading." (After I wrote this post I realized it's really long and detailed. Oops. Hopefully you all find it interesting!)

Before I get too far in this topic I want to point out a few things:

1) I read really quickly. Like really fast. I don't speed read but I've always been a quick reader.

In high school we were assigned "The Tale of Two Cities" and we had the afternoon off school. I very clearly remember reading that book and baking chocolate chip cookies. That's all I did that afternoon and I finished the book in the early evening.

2) Thankfully, both of our kids have inherited the reading bug. This is why family participation in things like readathons or the Icelandic Christmas Eve tradition of Jólabókaflóð works well for our family.
Sam and Rachel participating in Jólabókaflóð this year.

Also we don't own a TV or have a Netflix account so we don't spend much time as a family watching things on screens. We do borrow the occasional movie, or TV series, from the library, but mainly, as a family, we read.

So, with those caveats, on with the rest of this post.

First of all, I read physical books. I've never listened to an audio book. I've read a few e-books when that is the only format our library carries. However, I don't have an e-reader, so I have to do that on our really old iPad and I've read maybe five e-books. Maybe. I like the feel of the actual book in my hand.
Exception to buying books -- Harry Potter illustrated editions. Ha!

Second of all, I rarely buy books -- especially for myself.

Third of all, I would probably go into extreme withdrawal and depression if my local library ever closed. When I lived overseas, finding my local library was always my highest priority. Always.

I mostly get book suggestions from my blog friends, Emily and Allena. I also get suggestions from my book friends on Instagram. And, guilty confession, I often read through the comments of Mix and Match Mama's book posts to get new book ideas. Especially if a few readers are recommending a book, I'll tend to check it out.
I used to keep my book lists on random pieces of paper (see above) but my youth from church brought me back a little book from Costa Rica in March and now it's all in there (see below). Thanks Anya!
Then I go to my library website and put books on hold, or I go to the actual library and check books out.
A screenshot of how many books I had checked out and on hold a few weeks ago.
We rarely pay overdue fines. I'm a little obsessive about due dates -- most of the time!
(FYI, my numbers as of today are 25 checked out and 26 on hold.)

We have four library cards in our house and I manage three of them (mine and Sam's and Rachel's). And this doesn't count the books the kids bring home from the school library, the church library, and the synagogue library.

As much as possible, I try to get the kids to keep their books on "the library table."
Mine stay on my dresser or on my nightstand. The books which have urgent due dates go on my night stand to be read ASAP.
I pile these books in the order in which they need to be read.
 
 I currently have two library piles which are ordered largest to smallest. I might be a little obsessive. The pile at the back is the TBR of books I own or have borrowed from friends. I added one book to that stack this year and gotten rid of (read) about three books.

I either read in my lovely reading chair (which annoyingly, Sam has started to use more and more) or in my bed before bedtime. I get the majority of my reading done between the hours of 9:00pm and 2am.
Sharing my reading space with Rachel.

When we're done with our books, they go in the library bag which sits on our table by the back door. Or if you're Dave, you put the book in front of the library bag because that's helpful. Urgh.

The library bag is the Blue Jays bag.
Notice Dave's book to be returned. Ha!
 
Whenever we're headed out to do errands, we take books to the library, pick up holds, and if we have time, pick up even more library books.

Sam has his library card memorized because he puts so many books on hold. And it's a 14 digit number. I used to have mine memorized but then in February I had to get a new card (I wore my old one out) and I don't have my new one memorized -- yet.

Since October of 2017, I keep track of the books I've read on Instagram, under the hashtag "natashareadsonfridays." As the tag implies, I try to post every Friday. In 2018 I posted 29 of these posts so I obviously am not successful in posting every week. Ha!

Four times a year I participate in readathons. I LOVE these weekends dedicated to reading and the book community. In January and July I participate in 24in48 which you can check out here. Even better you should sign up and join me in January... And in April and October I participate in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon which you can check out here.

In October, my whole family participated in Dewey's for the afternoon. A major accomplishment which facilitated this is that Rachel learned to read to herself in her head this summer. Yay!!!
So this is how I read (and how my family reads) in way more detail than you ever cared to know about.

I will be posting my final book total for 2018 on Monday because I am hoping to finish a couple of more books before then. Until then, Happy Reading!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Challenges and Goals

So I'm linking up a few days late on this topic -- challenges and goals. I'm going to write a few reflections on 2018 and then write a few hopes for 2019.

My main goal for 2018 was to complete a Project 365 since I was sad about the lack of pictures I took in 2017. Well, I was going strong on this until mid-June and then it all fell apart :( You can see my posts here. I am going to try to do another one in 2019. As with last year, my goal is to take more pictures.
June 9. 2018 -- Since we didn't celebrate Father's Day last year, and Rachel's birthday was on Father's Day this year, I surprised Dave with an early Father's Day celebration this day. Dave loves breakfast so I made this delicious frittata. Yum!

This was my last photo a day post for this year :(

I also wanted to blog a little more than I had in 2017. Again, I was doing okay with this until about July. (WHAT HAPPENED THIS SUMMER?!?!?!) and then there was blog radio silence. Thankfully, I feel like I have gotten back into the blogging habit this past month with #AMonthofFaves so I am really hoping I can continue this trend.
175 Dinner 
image from here
 
I will write more about this on Friday, but 2017 was the first year I'd tracked my reading progress. I read 175 books in 2017. I honestly had no idea how much I read so to have an actual number was a surprise. This year I have also been tracking my reading and, although I didn't set a goal, I am happy with how much I've read. I will reveal my actual number of books read on Monday (last day of the year!) because I will likely read another book or two before then.

 Outer Banks Publishing Group, OBX Publishing, OBX Publishers, OBX books, Outer Banks, Outer Banks books, Outer Banks Publishing
image from here

One of my big reading challenges this year was that I hit a MAJOR reading slump from mid-September until mid-October. It made me sad that reading was such a chore. Instead of diving into great books I was reaching for mindless reads. While there is a time and a place for mindless reads, I wasn't happy that for about a month, they were all I could consume.
slump 
image from here
(Can I just add that I LOVE that when I Googled "slump image" this was the first thing which came up!!! Don't tell me it's a freaky Google algorithm reading my computer usage, tell me the whole world means "reading slump" when they Google "slump image" because, really, what other kind of slump is there?!?! Ha!)

For 2019 I am setting four big goals and then I am going to commit myself to smaller monthly goals. I find life is more manageable that way.

My four big goals are:

1) Complete a Project 365. See above...
https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/sites/default/files/media/_thumb_33957_4.png 
image from here

2) Read through my whole Bible in one year. I have set this as a goal and never completed it. This year I want the Bible to be one of the books I read this year. I am especially excited about this because I have my grandma's old Bible and it is neat to run across verses she underlined and to feel connected to her that way.

3) Write more book reviews on the blog. I have posted every book I've read since October 2016 over on Instagram, and before that I was doing mini-reviews on Fridays for the previous year. You can see them all here. However, Instagram isn't a great platform for reviewing books in depth.

My friends Emily and Allena (you can see their blogs in my links on the right) post reviews of every book they read on their blogs and, while I don't think I will do that, I get so many great reading ideas from their reviews. And don't get me started on all the other people's reviews who also influence my reading! I want to give back to the book community by reciprocating. And no, I don't want to go down the Goodreads rabbit hole, so publishing more reviews on the blog feels like a good compromise.
The last book I reviewed on the blog.

4) Read out loud to the kids more. I started reading The Secret Garden to Rachel in April and we are slowly making our way through it. I started Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with Sam in 2017. I need to finish these books and then find something else to read with Sam. I just started the Harry Potter series with Rachel so that will keep us going for awhile :)

I will write more about my first set of monthly goals in early January. But until then, this is a review of 2018 and a preview of some of my goals for 2019.

Thank you to Kimberly, Andi, Tamara, and Tanya for this #AMonthofFaves linkup. Have I said yet how much I will miss it in January???

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Favourite Books Covers

Due to last weekend being crazy, and my work blowing up a bit at the last minute, I didn't get a post written for Monday. I will try and post it tomorrow instead. But today, I'm linking up with Kimberly, Andi, Tamara, and Tanya with my favourite book covers.

I picked these because something about the cover intrigues me, even if I can't explain what. Also, none of my links are affiliate links -- I just like to give credit as to where I got the pictures from.

Time's Convert
 Time's Convert
image from here
The Death of Mrs. Westaway
The Death of Mrs Westaway
image from here

 Every Note Played
Every Note Played
image from here

 Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks
Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks
image from here

 The Chilbury Ladies' Choir
The Chilbury Ladies Choir
image from here

This Is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information
This is What a Librarian Looks Like
image from here

 Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
image from here

Do you see anything similar in these covers which helps you figure out why I like them?!?!?! I'm curious to hear if you have any ideas.

Friday, December 21, 2018

On The Screen

Today for #AMonthofFaves with Kimberly, Andi, Tamara, and Tanya we're talking about The Big Screen. We can also talk about live shows we've seen.

I think my post today will be short and sweet :) Dave and I rarely see movies. This year we saw three -- which is actually a lot for us. (Ooops -- I forgot about the two we saw with the kids! We've definitely increased our movie total exponentially this year -- normally we see one a year. Ha!)
Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi Poster
We went to The Last Jedi for Dave's birthday in January. I don't remember any of it except I remember I LOVED it! I loved the original Star Wars (from the 70s and 80s). I hated the next three with a passion. Gargh. But I am once again loving this new series and can't wait to see the rest of them.
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation Poster 
This summer with the kids was saw Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation. I mostly loved it because it reminded me of our cruise. Ha!

https://m.media-amazon.com/images/M/MV5BMjAzOTM2OTAyNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTg5ODg1NTM@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_.jpg
We also saw Christopher Robin which I really loved. I would highly recommend seeing this one. We might buy it at some point and we really only buy one movie a year as a family Chanukah gift.
Crazy Rich Asians Poster
On Thanksgiving Day we went to see Crazy Rich Asians with friends. I didn't love the book and this might be the only time ever where I think the movie was better. Gasp. I just really enjoyed it.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Poster
In November Dave's work hosted a pre-screening of Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I know the reviews weren't favourable but I loved this movie. Again, I think whoever is making these movies is doing such a great job of returning us to the magical world of Harry Potter while still giving us something new. I can't wait until the next one comes out but, since it won't be released until November 2020, I'm not holding my breath. Ha!
Disney FROZEN | The Broadway Musical Come From Away Artwork
image from here -- image from here

I didn't see any live shows this year (except on our Disney cruise) but we're giving the kids tickets to Frozen on Broadway for Christmas and we've already bought tickets to Come From Away for my birthday so 2019 will see me at some great musicals and I can't wait!!!

All images of movie posters from IMDB.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

This is How We (InterFaithfully) Holiday!

The menorah and the nativity co-exist at our house.
  
Today I'm sharing our home decorated for the holidays. As my husband is Jewish and I am Christian, we decorate for both Chanukah and Christmas. This year Chanukah was early enough that we didn't do much Christmas decorating until after Chanukah was over.

However, I always put our Christmas wreath on the front door and set up the nativity set for first Advent. I also make our Advent wreath in time for first Advent.
One of our Chanukah banners hangs in the kitchen every year. (By the way, "Chanukah" is a Hebrew word and there is no accepted transliteration for it so you will see Chanukah/Hanukkah/Hanukah/etc.) Dave's aunt sent us these little dreidels last year, and after experimenting with them in a few places, we hung them on our cupboards.
Dave loves doing origami so a few years ago I got him to make a bunch of different origami Stars of David. I strung them on silver ribbon and they hang in our office. Yes, we have a window inside our house :) It's a feature!
In the living room, Rachel's play menorah sits on the piano, and our family menorah and our nativity set hang out on the shelves. A few years ago I made the Happy Chanukah banner for our piano.

A close up of our piano banner.

The last place we decorate for Chanukah is our dining room. I got the inspiration for my centrepiece a number of years ago from a blog friend, Shoshanah. We also have two separate Chanukah garlands which we hang in the dining room.
This year I added blue and clear rocks to the centrepiece tray and I think it livened it up nicely. I have about seven plastic driedels in there. I also have little Chanukah confetti which I bought. I make the kids pick the confetti out and I reuse it every year! Ha! The confetti consists of tiny menorahs, driedels, Stars of David, and the words "Happy Hanukah."

Rachel asked me why I don't make a Chanukah wreath for our front door and the reason is that I don't want to put the energy into making a wreath which would only be up for eight days. Dave agrees that I don't need to do this - phew!

Behold! Our Christmas wreath.
 
Our dining room is pretty much the only place which gets decorated for Christmas, except for the nativity set which lives in the living room. Ha!
 
This year Chanukah ended on December 10 so we put our tree up on December 11. It just has random ornaments from when I was a kid and the ornaments we have given to the kids each year. And we ALWAYS have a real tree. I grew up on a tree nursery so I can't imagine ever having a fake one.
I made the light garland a few years ago. It it just random strips of Christmas cloth tied to a light string. What I love is that Rachel plugs the light garland and the tree in every morning. It's so pretty.
And here is our Advent wreath. I make it with greens and carnations (the only time of the year I go with carnations, otherwise I HATE them with a passion). We light our Advent wreath every night at supper.

So that is how we holiday. How do you holiday?

Once again I'm linking up with Kimberly, Andi, Tamara, and Tanya for #AMonthofFaves. I will be so sad when this month is over :(

Monday, December 17, 2018

Winter Reading

Today we're talking Winter Reading -- my favourite reads from last Winter, and/or seasonal reads I love, and 5 books on this year’s winter TBR.

Well you all know that, when it comes to books, I can blather on to no end. But I am also looking forward to reading all of your posts and finding new reads to add to my list. Because a never ending TBR is one of my favourite things.

Here are a few books I read last winter(ish), and LOVED.
Just Mercy: A Story Of Justice And Redemption
image from here

I read Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption last December and it made me think. It's about the justice system in the US and one lawyer's experience about working with people on death row. It opened my eyes to so many important issues and made me want to find a comparable book about Canada's justice system. If you want to be challenged this winter, pick up this book.

image from here 

I avoided reading The Night Circus for a few years because, for some reason, I had in my head that it was a horror novel. I'm not sure how I got that idea but eventually I picked this book up. And I fell in love with this beautiful, fantastical, cozy book. This is a book meant to be read under the covers with a cup of hot tea.

image from here

We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled is a collection of stories from people who lived in Syria before, during, and after the revolution. Again, this is a book I read last winter and it stuck with me for a very long time. I feel like it's one of those books everyone should read. Most of us are so privileged here in North America and we don't even recognize it. This will make you aware, once again, of how fortunate most of us really are.

The Blue Heron Series (5 Book Series) by  Kristan Higgins
image from here

I will admit that it took me a bit to get into the Blue Heron series by Kristan Higgins, but then I raced through it. If you just need some easy, charming reads, this series set in a small town in New York state might be the perfect thing for you to pick up this winter.

Now here are some books on my TBR list for this winter.

My friend Erika often has good book recommendations so I'm looking forward to picking up both of these books on her advice. I don't really know anything about either of them except that Erika likes them :)

The Snow Child: A Novel
 image from here-- image from here

Another book I'm really looking forward to reading this winter is the new one from Jennifer Robson. It comes out on December 31 -- yay!!!
Cover image - The Gown
image from here

I've absolutely loved Robson's previous books and can't wait to read this one!

Often when an author revisits a series, and writes a new book, I feel like it falls flat. However, Deborah Harkness did not disappoint in her new novel, Time's Convert, which tells another piece of the All Souls trilogy. And now I want to go back and re-read the whole series again, so I've added it to my TBR this winter. I feel like winter is the perfect time to curl up with a long book!
image from here

I have also heard so many good things about Michelle Obama's book, Becoming. I am only 76 (of 119) on my library's wait list so I am hopeful I will get to read this book this winter!
Becoming by Michelle Obama
image from here

I am loving this link up with Kimberly, Andi, Tamara, and Tanya for #AMonthofFaves, not least because I've now published seven (SEVEN!) blog posts in the past two weeks, which is super exciting for me :) And now I'm off to visit the other people who have linked up so I can add even more books to this Winter's TBR! Ha!

Also none of my links are sponsored in case you were wondering.