On Fiction

Last week, while on vacation, I read a book. I used to read tons of books all the time, but my schedule lately (not to mention my attention span) has not been very conducive to actual reading.

It was lovely to turn pages and read.

The story was fun, I liked how it was told. All around, time well spent.

I listened to two fiction books while I was away, too.

On the way home, I listened to a non-fiction book, and when that was done, I started a new fiction book.

It didn’t work for me. I could not get into the story, but it wasn’t even that. The idea of fiction just irked me. I started a different book, same reaction.

I switched to a podcast and all was well.

I think it is fiction in general that is not sitting well with me at the moment. And that is weird and uncomfortable.

And hopefully, it will change before too terribly long.

Things I’ve learned in March

Second month of trying the list of things I’ve learned this month. Thanks Emily P Freeman!

  1. Sheila’s Brush – There is a weather phenomenon with my name in it. Apparently, that last pass of winter that rolls through in mid March is called Sheila’s Brush after St. Patrick’s female companion (unknown if Sheila was mother, sister, lover or friend). That last bit of cold weather sweeps away the dregs of winter so that spring can move in. How I go to be 45 and not know about this is a mystery.
  2. Lucy is a little afraid of squeaky toyslucy-squeakStagg brought a squeaky sneaker toy home from his mom’s one day and gave it to Lucy. I was prepared for the most annoying morning of squeak. But it scared Lucy when it made noise. And then it upset her. She tried to play with it gently, and then got distressed when the inevitable squeak happened. She’d cry and nudge the sneaker, putting it between her front legs and not letting anyone touch it. When it had been quiet for a while, she’d try to move it again, making it squeak, making her cry. I think she decided that the sneaker was a living friend, and then when she made it squeak, she was hurting it, which made her sad. I had to take the squeaker out. It made me feel so bad to keep laughing at her
  3. 1.5 speed – I have learned that I really like listening to audio books. Sometimes, though, they have frustrated me because I can read faster than people can speak. At some point this month, I stumbled across a bit on the web about amping up the speed of books to listen faster. My daughter then pointed out that listening to faster words activates a different part of our brains and it means we comprehend more, better. The article recommended 2x speed, but 1.5 seems to be my sweet spot. I can go to 1.75 sometimes, but 2x makes me feel a little anxious.
  4. Knitting – I gave up my silly little games for Lent, which meant that I had nothing to multitask with while I watched TV. So, I pulled out my knitting again. I still like it, which is good to know. I have a few less half finished sock pairs now, too.
  5. Data – We got rid of cable a couple months ago, and knew we had a limit of 300G for each month. I stressed about it for the first couple weeks, watching the usage meter climb at a rate I felt was ridiculously fast. It wasn’t. It was normal, and we’ve been fine. So I started ignoring it. Until I got the text while about 10 days to go that we only had 30G for the rest of the moth. I am impressed with us that we were able to back off on our data usage so much that we managed to come in at 299G at March 31. Go us!
  6. Lucy is not afraid of ducklingsduckiesStagg brought ducklings home one day. Lucy is entirely nonplussed. The girls, however, were beside themselves with delight. Their names are George and Ghoti (pronounced Fish – don’t ask), and they are getting bigger every day.  I did not know they were coming to the house until they were in the car on the way to the house.  They currently live in the garage and the backyard, but that will have to change soon as they are growing quickly and outgrowing their little bin in the garage.  They are absolutely cuter than chicks.  And I am so happy that there are only 2 and not 12 (Stagg was offered 12).
  7. Peppermint Oil – It might not really make my tennis game any better, but with 4 wins and 1 loss this month, I’ll take it. Peppermint oil is something I’m going to keep in my bag for a while.
  8. Books I’ve listened to in March:
    • Hatching Twitter
    • The Good Girl (fiction)
    • Zero to One
    • Hausfrau (fiction)
    • Fast Girl (memoir)
    • Mastery
    • Taliban Shuffle (memoir)
    • The Widow (fiction)

Things I plan to learn in April
Maybe this isn’t entirely Kosher, but I want to try this to see if I can encourage myself.

  1. Working out regularly feels good and makes me a calmer, happier person. I’m not talking every day- more like 5 times a week. Some of that will be tennis, but also there needs to be some weights and swimming in there. perhaps even some running.
  2. Writing regularly does make it easier and I can think of things to write about.

 

Books to Remember for Katie’s SciFi Assignment (if she has one)

Assuming Katie’s 7th grade year is somewhat like Maggie’s, she will have to choose a Science Fiction book to read for Lit.  Three requirements Maggie had for her book choice were that

  1. The science part of the SciFi had to have a real world component.
  2. It could not be a book they had already read
  3. Only one child could read each book (I think)

These made it sort of hard for Maggie to find a book she liked.  Actually, she did not end up liking the book she read for the assignment at all.  She thought of several books that satisfied the 1st and 3rd rule, but they were books she had read, or they were part of a series she had already read some of.

Within the past year, I’ve read two books that I think she would really dig, and wanted to keep a record of them because I know I will forget at least one of the titles.  I don’t think either of these are on the standard Middle Schoolers’ nightstand, but I think they

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – This is a classic adventure quest set in dystopian 2044. The sci fi part: the physical world is in shambles: infrastructure, energy crisis, environment and economics have all gone to hell, and most people live in an alternate reality plane called The Oasis. School, work, fun—everything happens in virtual reality instead of actual reality. The main character, Parzival has to navigate obstacles in both the real and virtual worlds.

Also, this book was basically a bug hug for my 80’s soul. The quest was designed by an old man who had grown up in the 80s, so it is hard to go 2 paragraphs in Ready, Player One without hitting an 80s reference. From Monty Python to John Hughes to Duran Duran, Space Invaders, Atari and Alex P. Keaton; Ready Player One weaves references like a warm, comfortable blanket. Even though many of the references will go straight over Katie’s head, I think she will still like hearing about some of the things that were cool when her mom was a kid. Also, if she could live in Minecraft, she totally would, so I think this would appeal on that level, too.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson – I suppose this is a coming of age story that deals with the question, What makes us us? This story is set in a post-antibiotic apocalypse future, and deals with a 17 year old girl, Jenna Fox, who knows something is going on with her, but isn’t quite sure what it is. As the story continues, we learn what makes her different, and confronted with questions of why, how and if that matters.

I enjoyed this book because the coming of age story was so universal, contrasted with a unique medical component that felt fresh and compelling.  I think Katie would like it because there is something otherworldly & magical in this story, which she gravitates toward.  It just so happens that the magic is based in science instead of fantasy, which I think she will think is cool.

 

2015 Books

To keep track of the books I’ve read this year:

January

  1. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (January book club, started in 2014, text/audio)
  2. The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
  3. Is Everyone Hanging Out without Me? by Mindy Kaling (audio)
  4. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (text/audio)
  5. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (text)
  6. In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White (Feb/March book club text)
  7. All the Light You Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (audio)
  8. Magnolia Webnesdays by Wendy Wax (text)
  9. Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes (text)
  10. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (audio)
  11. Think Like a Freak by Stephen J. Dubner, Steven D. Levitt (audio)
  12. Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (audio)
  13. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (text)
  14. The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks (audio)
  15. Yes, Please by Amy Poehler (audio)
  16. Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty (audio)
  17. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult (audio)
  18. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (audio)
  19. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty (audio)
  20. Big Gril Panties by Stephanie Evanovich (audio/text)
  21. David & Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell (audio)
  22. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (audio & text)
  23. The Accident by Chris Pavone (audio)
  24. The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison (audio)
  25. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (audio)
  26. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (audio)
  27. Resilience by Eric Greitens (text)
  28. The Martian by Andy Weir (text)
  29. **it seems I am listening to more audio books than I can remember. I can’t decide if this is a good thing or a bad thing,**

    On the TBR Pile:

    Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America
    The Invention of Wings
    The Husband’s Secret