February Reading Wrap Up

Sorry the post is a little late today guys! I was up late watching the travesty that was this season of The Bachelor.  Perhaps because of my dedication to this terrible show I only completed four books this month, only two of them were on theme and I did not finish my classic (although I am really enjoying Crossing to Safety and will probably finish it in March). I think I enjoyed trying to read on a theme but, as is my habit, I was distracted by other new books coming into the library.


The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo was the first book that I finished this month.  This was my first time reading a Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine book club book and I was underwhelmed.  Lucy and Gabe meet as freshmen in college and fall into infatuation.  When he decides to leave the country to pursue wartime photography they break up and she moves on with her life, marrying someone else and pursuing a more conventional life in New York City.  But did she ever really let go of Gabe?  Even though I thought this read like a YA book and I did not love the characters I did feel like it would make a good book club book.  There was a lot to discuss about marriage, love and what it means to have a fulfilling career.

During a weekend trip I read Tiffany Haddish’s The Last Black Unicorn, the actress’s story of her long journey to become a successful female comedian.  For those of you who saw Girl’s Trip you know that this women is hilarious.  If you need a laugh today watch the clip of her meeting Oprah on ellen.  The book also touched on some difficult topics as well- Haddish was raised in foster care, she was in an abusive marriage for many years and her mother suffered from a debilitating mental illness.  However, her infectious joy and honesty carries throughout the book and I laughed out loud on the plane reading about Haddish’s Groupon booked swamp tour with Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.

My Book of the Month Club pick was also Oprah’s Book Club pick this month: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.  This book reminded me a lot of Taylor Jenkin’s One True Loves, but addressed more serious societal issues. Celestial and Roy are newly married when Roy is convicted of a crime that he did not commit and sent to prison for twelve years.  Over the years the distance and disagreements slowly erode their relationship and when Roy’s conviction is overturned after five years he does not know what life he is returning to.  This would be another good book for discussion as it touched on the impact of race, class and family in a marriage as well as what success looks like to African Americans in the modern South.

I finished off the month with a book I received for my birthday and devoured in two days: I’ll Be Gone In the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. McNamara passed away from an accidental overdose before this book was completed and her husband, Patton Oswalt, along with her editor, took on the massive task of bringing this compulsively researched true crime memoir to publication. Because it was incomplete on her death I did feel that the book was a little uneven and I’m sad we will never get to see what it could have been.  If you don’t like true crime- DON’T READ THIS!  I had trouble sleeping reading this terrifying story of the Golden State Killer that terrorized California for almost a decade and was never caught. But the sections I liked best were about McNamara’s experience researching the book, how she became obsessed with bringing criminals to justice and her Irish Catholic family. If you were a fan of Making a Murderer or Serial, I would suggest you check out this book.


Hope there’s a little something here for everyone. In March I am going on a beach vacation so I hope my read pile is a little longer- I need to make some progress on the stacks of books lying around my house!


Madness at the Library

On the last Friday night before I turned thirty I did something I’ve never done before…. something wild.


I volunteered for Oklahoma City Public Library’s Friends of the Library Booksale.  This insane event takes place once a year at the state fairgrounds and the library unloads their warehouse full of donated books and books being retired from stacks into a giant building at the state fairgrounds.  I signed up to volunteer as a cashier because a lady in my bookclub is a librarian and she gave me the inside scoop: volunteers for the sale get to shop the day before it is open to the public. Y’all, I brought a book to read during my four hour shift because I thought I’d have a little downtime to read- no. These people who came Friday night brought suitcases, brought dollys, brought backpacks, brought ROLLING CHAIRS to put their stacks and stacks of books in. Hardcovers were $1, paperbacks were 50 cents and audiobooks were $2, and these people were not messing around. A lot of the people were teachers, loading up on books for their classroom library. One couple I checked out was there on date night “last year we brought the kids and they just slowed us down”. Some people I have to imagine were starting a beach house library because they bought so many trashy paperbacks. One of the first people I checked out was using old books as paper art in her wedding and had RUN into the building when it opened to get the oldest looking books. My favorite was a young woman who was there with her girlfriends buying a sealed box of fiction books for $3 (in other words, a mystery box of books identified only by genre- FICTION, ROMANCE, REFERENCE).  She said that her and her friends do this every year and then they drink and open the box together, “yeah 80% of it is absolute garbage but sometimes you find a diamond in the rough!”.  It was so much fun even though it was a madhouse, I nonstop checked people out for my entire four hour shift. If I was in OKC next year I would totally do it again.


In addition to the volunteering I purchased about 20 books for myself. I tried not to get too out of control because I know I’ll be packing these books up and moving them again. I also own quite a bit of backlist already so I did not want to buy too many books to add to the stacks all over my house. The books that I bought that I have read before were: The Happiness Project (Rubin), The Book Thief (Zusak), Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury), Eats, Shoots, and Leaves (Truss), The Lovely Bones (Seabold), The Red Tent (Diamant), Tell The Wolves I’m Home (Brunt).  For books I’ve never read before I tried to stick primarily to the classics that I am trying to read this year and find nice looking editions: The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck), A Good Man is Hard to Find (O’Connor), The Joyful Christian (Lewis), The Screwtape Letters (Lewis), Collected Sonnets of Edna St. Vincent Millay (Millay); and then I also bought a few books I’ve wanted to read for a long time but keep forgetting about: Commonwealth (Patchett), The Blind Assassin (Atwood), and The Snow Child (Ivey). I also picked up two cookbooks even though I keep telling myself that I won’t buy more cookbooks: America’s Test Kitchen Light and Healthy and Gorgeous Vegetables.  I was a little disappointed that I did not find any Ann Tyler hardcovers (I used to have a nice hardcover of The Accidental Tourist but it got lost or given away in a move) or I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which is my March classic. Ahh well, maybe next year, still a very impressive haul.

On another note, it is my 30th birthday today!  I would love your recommendations for books to read in my first year in this new decade!  My February “themed” reading is going pretty well, I will do my wrap-up next week, I think I will try it again in March by reading books with adventure (I know I’ll be reading Game of Thrones on the beach in Mexico so I’m building off of that).

Books on my shelf:

  • American Marriage (Tayari Jones)- loving this one, can’t wait to tell y’all about it, also it smells amazing if you’re into how books smell.
  • Crossing to Safety (Wallace Stegner)
  • The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)

Sweaters that take forever


unnamed.jpgThanks for waiting for Wednesday Words instead of Tuesday Text this week!  This will be a part knitting, part reading post since I finally finished a sweater that I cast on (according to Ravelry) in December 2016 that I intended to finish by Christmas- Christmas 2016.  I was apparently feeling VERY ambitious.  So here is is February 2018 and it is finally done! I think the hold up was that it was a sweater knit in one piece in alpaca so by the end it was so heavy and hot. This is the Beatrice Cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge in Blue Sky Alpaca Extra in Carmine.  The yarn was lovely to work with and I would use it again, my LYS has a green color called Marsh that I am oddly attracted to, but I don’t think I’ll be making a whole sweater out of it again because it was so heavy.  It was super easy to finish but I still think it needs a little blocking to make the neckband stand out.

I love sweater knitting but they do take a long time.  I have a beautiful Mrs. Crosby yarn – Hatbox in African Grey- that I would like to make a gansy out of next. But I also need a quick finish so I think I may cast on a shawlette or wrap this week. Any suggestions?unnamed-1

As my mom reported I took yesterday off from posting because it was Galentine’s Day- the day for celebrating lady friends!  So I thought I’d use this post to give a plug to one of my favorite books about female friendship: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I love all of her novels because they contain such relatable, likeable characters.  Also, most of her books, this one included, take place in Nebraska, and I appreciate another flyover state getting some attention as a real place where people live. Attachments is a semi-epistolary novel told partly through e-mail exchanges between friends Jennifer and Beth, who work at the local paper in the late 90s. I love Rowell’s depiction of female friendship because it is realistic in their support and love for each other, but also their occasional fights and disagreements. Also, Jennifer is married and Beth is single, which I feel like you don’t see a lot in pop culture but obviously happens in real life. Highly recommend if you need a light read to get you through winter!

On my bookshelf:

  • Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
  • The Light we Lost by Jill Santopolos
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (reread)
  • The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

For the love of books

At the beginning of 2017 I noticed that many of my Good Reads friends were setting reading goals.  Even though I’ve been a lifelong reader I had never tracked my reading before but I set a goal to read 24 books for the year.  Two a month sounded reasonable for me.  Well, I hit 24 books by June and wound up reading 63 books in 2017.  I also used a spreadsheet to track my reading so that I could determine what percentage of books I checked out from the library (63%), what percent I read on my e-reader (72%- actually fewer than I expected, I read A LOT on my Kindle) and how  many books I read by diverse authors (19, but I could certainly do better in 2018).


(photo:: horse lovers )

When looking at my 2018 goals I did not want to pick a certain number of books to read because I wanted to focus on quality over quantity and stretching my reading life.  So as part of my 18 for 2018 I decided to read 12 classic American novels.



Last month I read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and this month I will be reading Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.  This book has been recommended to me by countless people (including my mom) and is the story of two marriages so I feel it is appropriate for Valentine’s Day.  In addition it is set in Wisconsin and Vermont, very wintery destinations to read about.

Another reading goal of mine is to try theme months for my reading.  I have always loved the idea of reading on a theme for a month but have never done it because I am easily distracted by shiny new books that come into the library.  But this month I am going to try to read all books on the theme of LOVE.


My Book of the Month Club pick is An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (also Oprah’s book club pick as of last night) about a young couple separated when the husband is incarcerated for five years for a crime he did not commit.  I also want to read The Wedding Date, a screwball romantic comedy about a long distance relationship (I hear this one is pretty steamy if you’re into that). If I’m in the mood for science fiction I will read Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, a love story set in a not-so-distant New York. The Light we Lost by Jill Santopolo is Reese Witherspoon’s latest bookclub book about first love, lost love, and coming back together. Finally in nonfiction I have All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister for a little insight into self-love or The Rough Patch: Marriage and the Art of Living Together by Daphne DeMarneffe for some advice on how long term love can survive common pitfalls.

So that is the lineup for the month. Let’s see how many I get through but I’m excited to try this idea of immersing myself in one idea for the month.

So, if you want to get into a Valentine’s state-of-mind, here are some suggestions of love stories that I’ve loved in the past.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfield is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice in modern day Cincinatti.  In this retelling Mr. Bingley is a charming but slightly air-headed ER doctor who is back in town after appearing on a TV-dating show called Eligible. One thing remains the same- how ever will Mrs. Bennet ever get her daughters married off.  This book was hilarious and charming when I read it a few years ago and would highly recommend to any Bachelor fans out there.

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer is an odd little novel that examines what it means for love to be predestined. Irene is an ambitious scientist who has always loved the stars more than any man.  But when she meets George their attraction seems written in the stars.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgensten, it is one of my all-time favorites books and deals with loving the wrong person and the question of soulmates and destiny as two magicians battle for superiority at The Night Circus. I would describe this book in one word as luminous and may in fact read it again this month.


What are your reading goals for 2018? Reply in the comments and you will be entered in Tuesday Text’s first reading giveaway!  Prizes will include a bookweight to keep your book open to the right page without causes nasty creases in the pages with dog ears (guilty party here), a sheep or rabbit bookmark lovingly handmade by Kathy B, and surely a skein of yummy yarn too. We will pick a random winner tomorrow!

On my shelf:

All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister

Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives by Thomas French (this is not exactly on the love theme but I haven’t finished it yet!  If we want to stretch we can call this about loving animals)


January Wrap Up and 24in48 Challenge

This past weekend I finished my first “24in48 Readathon”.  It is a personal challenge hosted twice a year by some lovely ladies and sponsored by BookRiot (so there were some great prizes up for grabs- although I did not win any).  The goal is to read 24 of 48 hours over a weekend.  I made it to 20 hours.  My dirty house began taunting me around 2pm on Sunday and I lost those 4 hours to chores that suddenly seemed extremely pressing.  I think if I do the July challenge on a beach it would be a piece of cake to read all 24 hours!


Because I did this challenge my book count is higher for January than it normally would be.  I usually average about four books a month but this month I completed nine books, including my first classic. One of my 18 for 2018 was to read 12 American classics.

  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Red Clocks: A Novel by Leni Zumas
  • The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
  • Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
  • Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches by John Hodgman
  • We’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories by Gabrielle Union
  • The Dance of Connection by Harriet Lerner
  • So You’ve been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

I also quit As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner.  It was my Book of the Month Club pick for January (Red Clocks was also a January BOTMC pick but not the one that I chose, I borrowed it from the library).  I am not ashamed to quit books, I probably quit about 10% of the books that I begin.   I don’t usually like historical fiction but I was trying to read outside my usual genres.  As Bright as Heaven was about a family that runs a funeral home during the 1918 flu pandemic ; it did not captivate me so after about 100 pages I put it down.

I probably would have quit Lily and the Octopus as well except, as I previously mentioned, it was my book club’s January book.  I did like the narrator, a lonely gay writer living in LA an recovering from the breakup of a long term relationship that he ended.  He was funny, the book was full of pop culture references and sweet and relatable moments for dog lovers.  For instance, Lily TALKS. LIKE. THIS!  Exactly how I imagine a happy little weiner dog would talk.  It had been on my to-read for a long time because it was on a list of books for lovers of magical realism.  I would say it was much more surreal and strange than what I was expecting.

I think I related too closely to the story and that’s why I had to force myself through it- I also recently ended a long-term relationship and I also have a chronically ill animal (although Minion is well managed at this time, last year I thought I was going to have to make a decision to put him down).  My book club was also pretty sharply divided, although everyone said that they were glad they read it.  The person who liked it best admitted to “not being an animal lover” but she said the narrator reminded her of a dear friend who had died from AIDS in the 80s.  She said when reading the first chapter she immediately thought “Oh my gosh, this guy is just like Kyle”.  She said it was like being in the room with him again. I love that books have that ability to make us feel closer to people, even those we have lost.

For nonfiction fans I adored Born a  Crime, read by the author on audiobook.  I don’t know if I would have found it as moving or funny in physical book form. I learned a lot about South African policies under apartheid and often found myself shocked to remember that this took place so recently.  Some stories were funny, others incredibly sad, but Noah’s mother’s indeterminable will to make her own way in an incredibly oppressive society was inspiring.

If you want to hear about the others , talkto me in the comments!  I really enjoyed all of the books that I read this month and I’m sure they will come up in future posts!


Cookbook dilemmas

This post is going to require some audience participation (I know you guys will come through for me).  Mom, aka the proprietor of this blog, requested a post about cookbooks, so I am trying to comply but I don’t feel very qualified to write about cookbooks.  I love to cook and I love to look at beautiful cookbooks but time and time again I find myself going to Pinterest to look for recipes.


Here are all of the cookbooks that I own:

  • Mary Berry’s Baking Bible
  • Smitten Kitchen by Deb Perelman
  • America’s Test Kitchen Vegetarian Cookbook
  • Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach
  • Meat on the Side by Nikki Dinki

That’s it guys! That’s all. And I barely use these!  I adore Deb Perelman and often cook her recipes or use her blog for instructions, but it’s pretty rare that I actually crack open the book.  The America’s Test Kitchen Vegetarian Cookbook is AMAZING and I would highly recommend their cookbooks and recipes.  They give incredibly detailed instructions on what to buy, how to cook and how to add “meaty” flavor to non-meaty dishes. They have a new book out about Superfoods that I do want to invest in. Dinner: A Love Story brings back happy memories from my childhood because we did eat a family dinner at the dinner table every night, and includes some good, simple recipes for quick weeknight dinners. Meat on the Side is the newest addition to my collection and I think I will try some recipes from it this week.

Can you guys recommend some cookbooks for me?  Do you use cookbooks or do you use blogs or Pinterest for recipe ideas? What is your favorite January recipe?

Here is mine (maybe not my favorite, but what I am cooking tonight), I call it “Garbage soup” because it’s pretty much whatever is lying around my cabinets:

32 oz vegetable stock

1  can Campbell’s tomato bisque

1-2 potatoes, cubed

2 large carrots, coined

1 C red lentils

1 small yellow onion

2 cloves garlic

1/2 C red quinoa

1 can navy beans (I don’t have this on hand right now so chickpeas it is!)

1 can diced tomatoes

Add small amount of olive oil to Dutch Oven or large pot, heat on medium, add chopped onion, cook 2-3 min until soft, add garlic, cook 30 seconds more. Add tomato soup and stock, then the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer.  Simmer, covered for 60-90 min.

Books on my shelf:

  • As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  • Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives by Thomas French

For those of you who commented to ask how I liked Lily and the Octopus I’ll be doing a January reading wrap-up for next week’s post!


It’s cold and dark…


“It’s cold, it’s dark, and it’s going to last the rest of your life”-  Bill Murray hit the nail on the head, man Winter just seems to go on forever for me- and I live in the “South” (Is Oklahoma part of The South to you? I would say no. Having lived in Virginia and Tennessee I see Oklahoma as a very different state of mind than The South or The Midwest. I would call it Western or Texas’s red-headed cousin).

The photo today is my Quince & Co Beatrice cardigan in Blue Sky Alpaca EXTRA. This sweater has been on the needles since November 2016 and I am on the never-ending front band.

I started working 9a-7p this past week so it is very dark by the time I get home in the evenings to read.  Like most people, in the last few years I took to the idea of Hygge- the concept of drawing inwards and focusing on cozy comforts in the winter time.  Last year in January I read The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secret of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell.  I like the literary structure of taking one year and focusing on a different concept every month (ala My Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and This is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick).  It makes a big concept seem less daunting and usually makes for a quick read.  The Year of Living Danishly certainly did not make me want to move to Denmark (rest easy Mom), but it did get me thinking about Hygge books- books that are comforting and cozy and I can return to again and again.

Every couple years I will reread The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman.  This is the perfect romantic comedy to me.  Natalie Marx is a strong-minded woman who, as a teenager, was invited to tag along to the exclusive (meaning exclusively gentile) Inn at Lake Devine by a friend.  As an adult she reconnects with her WASPy childhood friend and the family that owns the Inn and a wedding, a funeral and a love story ensue.

Another book that was full of lovable, imperfect characters was Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof. It is set in Lynchburg, Va, where one of my dear friends attended college.  There is something I love about the idea of university towns- smart people tucked away in an idyllic setting.  This book is about a single bookseller who moves to town with a complicated past and falls for a professor with complications of his own.

Finally I love to escape to a fantasy world and especially the books I loved as a kid.  I still pull Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine off the shelf every couple years to revisit this plucky heroine.  I also loved the Tamora Pierce Song of the Lioness books growing up because it featured another strong female lead who was brave enough to follow her own, less traditional, path.

And of course if nothing else will do I can always go back to Harry Potter.  I love the whole series and cannot wait to get me hands on the illustrated edition of The Prisoner of Azkaban. If you have not had the chance to look at the illustrated books that have been coming out in the past few years take this opportunity to cozy up with these beautiful books.

What books make you feel warm and cozy?

Books on my shelf:

  • Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson
  • It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs
  • Faithful by Alice Hoffman- trying this one on audiobook, which I do not normally do, so we will see if I like it