The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead: “In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil” (via). I found parts of this book incredibly heavy and hard to read – but it is absolutely vital reading. I love historical fiction and this novel is brilliantly conceived and flawlessly delivered.
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien: We were reading this aloud but our little dude stopped being able to listen and eat at bedtime a few months ago. We were only 30 or so pages from finishing so I knocked it out myself.
The $100 Start Up by Chris Guillebeau: This was my first book on tape from library and I could not have picked a duller one. This is billed as having been “distilled into one easy-to-use guide, are the most valuable lessons from those who’ve learned how to turn what they do into a gateway to self-fulfillment. It’s all about finding the intersection between your “expertise” – even if you don’t consider it such — and what other people will pay for” (via). I found it incredibly repetitive and would not recommend it.
*Six of Crows by Leila Bardugo: I cannot summarize this book quickly…and neither can Goodreads! Ha! This book was recommended to me by several smart booking loving women and I was eager for it come off the waiting list from the library. The hype is WORTH IT. Bardugo has successfully built an incredible world of magic, mayhem and many tender souls I fell in love with. If you enjoy fantasy, you’ve probably already heard of this one. But, if you haven’t – READ IT.
*The Color Purple by Alice Walker: This satisfied three categories for me, a book that is frequently banned in your country, a classic by an author of color and a story where all the point of view characters are characters of color. I’d still really like to read Black Boy this year as I feel like that is part of my ‘classics education’ that is still missing. I did not read the Color Purple in high school because I was in a different track so I’m really grateful for the Read Harder challenge to push me to pick up this book. “Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture” (via). While not a comfortable story to read, it is an incredibly important one. There’s a reason Walker is required reading.
Eating / 30% off Valentine’s Day candy
Drinking / La Croix ’cause I’m a bougie suburbanite now
Practicing / restraint on buying ALL THE HOUSE STUFF
Mastering / honestly, it feels like nothing
Learning / about a new service desk system
Trying / to save the republic
Playing / with the baby
Finishing / unpacking and settling into our home
Reading / Six of Crows, The Master Switch, The Color Purple
Remembering / I’m a granddaughter of the Greatest Generation and democracy is my inheritance
Wearing / my heart on my sleeve
Cooking / for a little person with only two teeth
Working / hard
Traveling / nowhere
Stiletto (The Checquy Files #2) by Daniel O’Malley: Another entry into the Checquy series following the Rook, a book I wholeheartedly enjoyed. “The Checquy—the centuries-old covert British organization that protects society from supernatural threats, and…The Grafters—a centuries-old supernatural threat. But as bizarre attacks sweep London, threatening to sabotage negotiations, old hatreds flare” (via). I really enjoyed this book and that it’s set in the same universe as the Rook but doesn’t explicitly follow Rook Thomas’s story but allows the world to expand. If you like supernatural thrillers, you would probably really enjoy this book (and trilogy!).
*The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury by Brandon Thomas: This is my first comic book ever! Yes, I know! I really enjoyed this story – more than I was expecting and was really thrilled by how well the drawings served the story. Definitely not your common ‘white guy saves Manhattan’ comic book – certainly worth checking out!
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance: Hoooo boy, this book. I was on the wait list for this forever and I’m glad I read it. It’s always thrilling to see locations you are intimately familiar with in super popular books (yay Columbus!) I think Vance has some interesting and challenging things to say about white working class culture in the Rust Belt but honestly, I could not get past something he said incredibly early on in this narrative. I have a hard time finding empathy for folks who do not show up for work (not Vance) and I should probably leave it there.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor: I was recommended this fantasy novel in a flurry of post-election fluff suggestions and I’m so glad I picked it up! The story follows “Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.” (via). I added the rest of the series to my ‘to read’ list but we’ll see if they break thru to the library holds queue.
*denotes Read Harder 2017 entry
So, what happened to #nowhitedudes2017 you say? Great question! O’Malley and Vance were on my library hold list from 2016 and I did want to read those books so I checked them out as they came up. Since it’s my reading challenge, I can do what I want and right now, I’m going to do the 24 task books with #nowhitedudes2017 and will try my best to seek out non-cisgender, non-white authors for pleasure reading as well.
This year’s word is going to be BUILD. The Year of Rooster is advises caution for Rabbits and I’m going to focus shoring up a firm foundation for us across several areas. I felt very stagnant in 2016 – despite all the wonderful changes that happened for us, our son, a promotion for me, a new job for M, a new car, you name it. It’s like when you’ve been on a long haul flight to somewhere awesome but you’re still an hour or so away from landing and you just want to get up and go. I’m ready to be more prodigious and hope to tackle some creative projects this year like finishing a vintage double wedding ring quilt and painting a mural for Baby C’s room.
We bought a house! It’s been a swirling dervish of dreaming, ideas and plans over here. Who knows where we’ll get started – the kitchen? the bathrooms? the bedrooms? the garden and backyard? Stay tuned!
I always, always have big plans to crush our student loan debt and want to work on building more freedom into our financial lives.
Lastly, but most importantly, I will be building into my political life. My country and my state need me to help build a more inclusive, vibrant future. I am proud to say that unions have kept the men in my family alive while digging coal, I’m proud to be a public school graduate and I will be speaking truth to power, even if my voice shakes. Those calling skills and showing up at marches and rallies and town hall skills need shoring up.
I’m also refocusing on my daily life – I need to fill up my cup mindfully in order to build better. I love Gretchin Rubin’s 7 Essentials as a framework to get started.
Eat and drink more mindfully – 2 servings of veggies a day
Likes: moving, throwing blocks around the living room, chewing on books,
Dislikes: sleep training, not being able to go or do what you want
Who You Saw: Mama’s friends! we got a quick trip into Chicago (thank you work miles!) to see some of Mama’s best friends and it was a blast!
Places We Traveled: Chicago! You now have 8 legs, 4 plane types and three carriers under your belt, you jet setter you!
Milestones: nearly crawling – you are pulling up into the position and pushing off but not quite connecting more than one movement at a time. you’re also sitting up from laying down completely on your own! you also got two teeth this month.
Currently, I have 79 total make up items (not counting 15 brushes or 6 perfume, including 4 roller balls I was just given at Christmas) and 36 of those are STILL powder eye shadows; I count each shadow individually. I’m SO CLOSE to finishing my first one and in this process, I have realized exactly how hard it is to really, truly use up a whole palette. I’d really love to half this number by the end of 2017. Doubtful without some serious effort.
I did finish up a few lip products this year, as well as two mascaras and a foundation. Those continue to be the easiest products to use up. Currently 35% of what I own is cruelty free and 19% is also vegan but 100% of everything I purchased this year is both. I am focusing on using up older, non cruelty free, non vegan items this year.
I know that this probably seems trivial to some, but this practice helps me be a more mindful consumer.
Likes: helping feed yourself, playing peek a boo, your jumperoo from Santa, chewing on board books
Dislikes: sleeping thru the night, being in your snow suit (you wanna go!)
Who You Saw: Grandma, Grandpa, your aunt, uncle and cousins, a great aunt came all the way from Texas just to meet you while we were in Minnesota
Places We Traveled: MINNESOTA!
It was such a wonderful first Christmas, celebrating with our family in Ohio and in Minnesota, and I’m astounded at what a good traveler you are. We also went to A Dickens of Christmas and ZooLights here in Central Ohio.
Milestones: you are sitting now! We also started solids this month.
Best Nonfiction Book of 2016: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Best Fiction Book(s) of 2016: The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle; Dawn by Octavia Bulter; Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Favorite trip of 2016: easily our trip to Great Smokey Mountains National Park in May. This year also saw lots of trips to Chicago, hosting great company and one awesome trip up to Minnesota
Our fifth wedding anniversary!
Movies Watched: pathetically few. Something had to give this year and being up on good movies was it. I’m not sure I’ll track movies watched next year but will still continue to listen to my film podcasts 😉
Best Movies of 2016: Rogue One was my favorite new movie this year by far.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik: Several friends recommended this young adult fantasy novel to me and I can see why they loved it. It is one of the most inventive stories I have read in a long time! Novik tells the story of Agnieszka, a plain daughter of a woodcutter. She lives in a valley protected by a cold and driven wizard from the encroaching and evil Wood, called the Dragon, who selects one girl to come live in his tower every 10 years.
What I Watched: Christmas Vacation, A Muppet Christmas Carol, Elf, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story