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The image above is a perfect representation of my reading life... except it's more like juggling than a race, and the baton would be 6 books at once, and my legs do not have that muscle tone whatsoever.


Hello, hello review time, let's keep it simple here eh? I've totaled 22 books for the year so far, which is more than I've read in several years now. And I would love to celebrate that, I really would, but I set my yearly goal to be 50 and that means I'm woefully behind and doing terribly.

Just kidding, I'm pretty happy with myself. I just also intend to (somehow) more than double my reading pace for the rest of the year. Thanks for understanding my madness!


The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

This is my favorite of the year so far, and I don't know that I ever could have anticipated that. I don't hold a lot of room in my heart for many older books, and I am not ashamed to say I don't really like Jane Austen. So women's fiction from 1922?

And I loved it.

"Four women, with very different backgrounds and characters ... respond to an advertisement in The Times offering a medieval castle to rent in Italy that April. As their joint holiday begins, tensions flare up between them, but they soon bond over their past misfortunes and rediscover hope and the pleasures of life in their tranquil surroundings."

I loved every moment with three out of the four women, and the fourth makes a delightful turn by the end. I didn't find it to be a super fast read, but I kept looking forward to coming back to it. It was sort of slow, but in the good ways? I have no idea how to express this. The plot was slow but the writing and the characters were not. It's not thrilling, or page-turning, it's just a gloriously pleasant read. Maybe someday I'll know how to tell you why I liked this so much. Or maybe I'll just have to reread it instead.

The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements, Onjuli Datta

Girl, this is good. It is, to quote the blurb, an "escapist, swoon-worthy debut novel of a famous actress embroiled in a fake tabloid romance, confronting the challenges of being a woman of color in Hollywood and the notion that she might actually be in love."

Escapist indeed. And the very best kind: quick, solid writing, and thoughtful in the way it wove all of Whitman's experiences—as a Hollywood darling, as a woman of color, as a daughter—into her story. And while it's got plenty of escapism, it's comes together to be deeper than your average lighthearted beach read.

I finally read A Year of Magical Thinking—I have owned both this and Slouching Towards Bethlehem (which I'm now working my way through) for quite a while. I don't actually know what's gotten in to me this year, because I've read way more nonfiction than usual.

Magical Thinking was not what I expected expected—I was probably expecting something a little more self-helpy from the title. But this is a book about grief. It was beautiful, in the kind of way that isn't a helpful description at all because it's quite sad. Somehow I learned about myself reading this: even though I can't yet relate to what she went through, I can relate to the tendency to process life events so very slowly, and I felt I got a peek into what that level of grief could look like.

These tiny penguin books feel like such a cheat—they all seem to run under 60 pages or so. I've bought a few of them and have very little shame telling you that I plan to intersperse them through the year to help me reach my 50 books. And here's why they should count: they're not anything I would read otherwise. I'm not a huge fan of long short story compilations, so a small tome with just a few from an author is a workaround that actually gets me exposed to a wider variety of work (especially when they're works in translation, like this).

And these short stories are delightful. Calvino takes the universe and makes it his playground, and writes strange and wonderful little worlds.


I only picked a few titles for review up there, but because I'm terrible at any form of picking anything, I have to mention a couple of others real quick...

Oh wait, I started to do that and they turned into their own paragraphs. Sigh. Here's the rest of what I've liked from 2022 so far:

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue (V.E. Schwab) was quite good. I would definitely recommend if this sort of things suits your taste: speculative fic, historical + contemporary in the same book (but with the same character!), immortal life, and wishes turned to curses.

I read A Gift from the Sea (Anne Morrow Lindbergh) in slow pieces that felt really appropriate to the contents, and I have to agree with a lot of reviews I've seen that this stands up well to time, even in moments when it does feel its age, you can sort of read between the lines to understand where she's coming from and how she might address those bits now. I may come back to this one over time -- it helps that it's short.

Dearly is Margaret Atwood's recent poetry collection. I have never been much of a poetry reader, but am trying to work through a few collections this year to change that. I really enjoyed this, so maybe I'll turn out to be a poetry reader after all. I was already an Atwood fan, and I also reread her Good Bones and Simple Murders this year, and a recent short story "My Evil Mother." A+ to both.

Finally, two others I also read this year in the poetry genre, with varying levels of enjoyment: Misha Collins's (yes, the one who is also Castiel) Some Things I Still Can't Tell You and Lana del Rey's Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass. They were fine. That's all.

Once upon a time, I followed a popular blogger in posting monthly little reviews of what I'd read. This is great when you're reading swiftly, when you're at least topping three titles a month, but for a very long time now, I have not. I think I can safely call 2020 & 2021 a reading drought for me.

But it's early March and I've actually read 7 books this year. I'm on track for my arbitrarily chosen goal of 40 books this year, and almost on track for the secret goal of upping that to 50.

That's nothing spectacular compared to some bloggers I follow, or even held up to the year I read 100 books (2017, and yes I counted graphic novels and novellas!). But this isn't 2017 nor do I get paid for reading books: it's 2022 and I am proud of my seven.

Now, while I'm in an optimistic mood about reading, I thought I might try micro reviews again: but not monthly. Let's shoot for seasonally and see where that takes us, eh?

So here's a few of the books I've read so far in 2022.


While I was placing book covers into this post to get it started, I realized there was about to be two very common refrains: "I started this a long time ago," and "This took me a long time to get into."

Do these sound like the same thing? Oh, no. I promise they are not. I've managed to feel both in totally different ways. Maybe, just maybe, that's a sign of a reading drought coming to a close.

I warned you, so here it is: I started this a long time ago (last may).

Seeing as this novella is only 126 pages and, if I recall right, wasn't even difficult to get into, that's a long, long break before I finally picked it back up in January to finish the last, oh, 20 pages.

My reviewing chops feel dusty, so I'll ease in by leaning on the blurb here:

Morayo Da Silva, a cosmopolitan Nigerian woman, lives in hip San Francisco. On the cusp of seventy-five, she is in good health and makes the most of it, enjoying road trips in her vintage Porsche, chatting to strangers, and recollecting characters from her favourite novels. Then she has a fall and her independence crumbles. (Goodreads blurb)

Despite what it might look like from how long this little book stayed on my currently reading, I liked it. It felt like it might go much, much longer: little dips into side characters felt more like they belonged in a longer novel that would eventually return to those voices. But it was just a slice, a peek into half-a-moment of Morayo's full life.

Here, I know exactly why this novel took me time to get into. The initial chapter is first person, almost poetic, and from the POV of a character we don't actually see again for quite a bit. After that, we switch to third person story from the rest of our cast and --- this was where I lost a few months.

The structure is absolutely necessary to the story here, and I don't see it as any sort of failing now, but it did sideline me at the time. Yet by the third or so POV, I was hooked.

This book is breathtaking in its scope. It's small and local and grounds you in New York and all the little bits and details that make the city what it is. But it's also enormous, worlds spanning, a lesson in possibilities and quantum physics and ideas that make you go, how on earth does an author even come up with this, much less follow through and pull it off to become this book in my hands?

In conclusion, my TBR list's knees are buckling because all of Jemisin's other books just became must-reads.

I went to college with Emily Joy and it was a privilege to my hands on her debut book. I read this slowly, as it's not what you would call a delight to read. But it's thoughtful and meaningful and worthwhile for those of us still inside church culture in any way.

"When Emily Joy Allison outed her abuser on Twitter, she launched #ChurchToo, a movement to expose the culture of sexual abuse and assault utterly rampant in Christian churches in America. Not a single denomination is unaffected. ... #ChurchToo turns over the rocks of the church's sexual dysfunction, revealing just what makes sexualized violence in religious contexts both ubiquitous and uniquely traumatizing. It also lays the groundwork for not one but many paths of healing from a religious culture of sexual shame, secrecy, and control, and for victims of assault to live full, free, healthy lives." (from Goodreads)

"A narrative-driven book on the surprising history and current revival of spritz cocktails (a wine-based drink served as an aperitif), with 50 recipes, including both historical classics and modern updates."

Obviously my lighter read of the season! This is a fun little book, and the cover art is what drew me in at first (and an affection for a good Aperol spritz). But let's just say I probably did not actually ever need to know that much about the history of spritzes.

"an unforgettable portrait of an artist as a young woman."

World's shortest review: Took forever to get into it, but liked it a lot by the end. Can't remember much of anything. Loved the cover art.


Maybe the rest of my 2022 reads won't be almost entirely influenced by cover art, but I wouldn't bet on it. See ya then!

Updated: Aug 22, 2022

Since 2021 was 100% completely normal for everyone and nothing bad happened, it's obvious that I would be super stoked to go into 2022. Clearly, we all just need to keep doing what we're doing, living the good life, enjoying friendships and fun and

and jokes that go on longer than they're funny? Sorry, couldn't help myself.

Actually, 2022 started for me and mine with a two-week-and-counting full lockdown COVID-19 experience. It's January 14, and in my head I'm still thinking, wait, is new years eve tomorrow? Am I gonna do resolutions? I have plenty of time before that big conference at work we have 1,800 projects for still right?

I considered writing an entire post tongue in cheek, and my #1 was going to be: Not Getting Covid! That said, we DID manage almost two years into the thing without it. The final straw? Utah. UTAH. What a jerk. Giving us a really lovely Christmas week with Isaac's family... and then sending us home with a hearty slap on the back, sore throats, and well wishes for a nice infectious new year.

So, anyways. A blogger I follow posts this topic every year: things that worked for her and her family in the past year, as well as things that didn't work. I'm not even sure what mine are. That's at least 90% why I'm writing this—to figure it out. I'd apologies for using you as a guinea pig, dear reader, but look—you can stop whenever you want. Just stop reading. Seriously click that X. If you've recently switched to a new personal PC while still using a mac for work, you might have trouble finding it, but I have faith that you'll manage to check both sides and get it eventually.


1. La Croix

(Ok, I just decided to change the premise to things that worked for me in 2021 INCLUDING things that I didn't start doing in 2021. It's not like I wrote one of these in 2019 or 2020, so that's probably not cheating.)

Somewhere in the last few years, I identified that at least half the season I reached for soda as much as I did had nothing to do with the soda: it was the ritual (read, ADHD fidget habit) of walking away from my desk / couch and getting a cold can from the fridge. And I realized... maybe the can doesn't have to be soda? The problem was, I kind of hated La Croix. The solution was, apparently I'm stubborn sometimes when I get an idea in my head.

Fast forward: Isaac sometimes just goes to Costco and brings home like 80 cans bought in bulk. When I visit my sisters, I bring a box (so she won't whine about theirs all disappearing). I love sparkling water, and I have very strong opinions on flavors.

I'd also like to note that what REALLY works here is being completely loose with the words La Croix. Aka, it's like the word tupperware here, and refers to everything from AHA, Polar, or Target Good & Gather, to any number of generic store brands.

Favorites: AHA Strawberry Cucumber, Polar Grapefruit (but NEVER Bubly Grapefruit), G&G Wild Berry, and Aldi OR La Croix Blackberry cucumber. I'm not kidding when I say strong opinions.

Why I'm Claiming This Is a Thing That Works for Me: It's water. It's literally just water. And before you get concerned about my carbonation consumption, remember the ADHD. Half my cans sit around half full for half a day before I finish them, so at least half of my consumption is flat.

2. Having Cats

Do you know how boring it is to stay home all the time? Yes, you do. And if you don't, you're probably irritated at me for complaining about being able to work from home, so... sorry. Yes, it obviously has its perks. But it can also get extremely monotonous during higher levels of lockdown. Enter: tiny hyperactive and rude dummies who run around the house all day but also somehow sleep all day and do weird things about as often as I get distracted, which is often.

They're also often really sweet, do cute things, and the new kitten actually lets me snuggle her. (Vala, on the other hand, would rather be caught dead than snuggle with me most of the time.) They give us something new to both talk about and complain about, and generally brighten our day to day. If you've got cats, you get it.

If you've got dogs, you get it too, even if you'd claim your solution was a better one.

If you hate cats, please vacate the premises. (I'm half kidding: I have met the kind of cats that make people hate cats. But I've also met the kind of people that could make you hate humans so...)

I'm committed to posting more cat pics of Valkyrie and Phoebe to social in 2022, so follow me, or don't.

3. Not Getting Covid

Ok, yes, my symptoms started on December 28, so this isn't totally true. But at the same time, there was that lovely few months of 2021 where being fully vaccinated meant we got to stop worrying so much and just spend normal time with friends and family. It meant going to Seattle for my sister-in-law's wedding. It meant relaxing for a hot second during the hot weather. One of the anti-vax statements you see a lot is the whole, we won't live in fear! schtick. But... yes. Exactly. That's why we did the things and took care of the risks and took precautions: to not worry.

And when we finally caught it, we'd done a lot of what we were supposed to. We knew what we could have done different, (we were both going to do boosters AFTER the holidays), but also know that with Omicron, it might not have mattered. And if the real solution was not traveling... well, oops. We can only move forwards. Right now moving forward is avoiding all humans for a bit, but I'm grateful for the season of relative normalcy earlier in the year, even if we now have to refigure out how to have that again in a new way.

4. Realistic expectations

Getting even a little better at this has helped with the ADHD tendency to get stuck because you could theoretically do all of the things right now, so you don't end of doing anything because prioritizing is extremely overwhelming. Oh, and meds also sometimes helped with... all of the annoying ADHD tendencies.

(This bit is unrelated to the post here, but oh well.) PSA: Next time you hear someone claim that this kind of medication is addicting and therefore bad, remember that I, and a lot of others per the ADHD groups I'm in, constantly forget to actually take it. Oh, so realistic expectations. AKA, things aren't going to be perfect. The rest of my thoughts on this one are still a jumble, and if wait to post this till I figure them out, you'd never see it. So I'm calling this a work still in progress, and maybe I can talk about it again on January 14, 2023.

Oh, but it's also why I'm not beating myself up even a little for, say, only reading about 10 books last year. I love being a reader as part of my identity, and it used to be easy to make that mean I had to keep up with it or else. But guess what? I'm still a reader, just a very very slow one these days.

This entire concept might also be called "I'm in my thirties now." If so, I'm grateful.

5. Being in my 30s

Yes, I did just come up with that one because of that last sentence.

One of the more noticeable changes I've seen is that the above thoughts about being a reader? Those extend to other things. 30s means I finally lived long enough to start seeing my long term patterns. I might not be a big reader now, but I probably will be again. It's ok that I love new hobbies and sometimes abandon them--I've proven to myself now that I usually go back to them again later with the same enthusiasm (so it's maybe ok to have gotten a bunch of supplies for each!)

And I may never get to a point where I cook regularly and consistently and meal plan forever and always amen. But that's ok. I will still enjoy getting more into it sometimes.

Whether hobbies, or being good at /tired of a specific responsibility, or being more or less social-- I may possibly be learning to let seasons of those things happen, accepting when they end, and looking forward to different ones.


So, yeah. There's probably pther things that worked. There's definitely better things for a post like this, but hey. Whenever I try to be a good blogger and not just a haphazard one, I never end up writing. So cheers to realistic expectations.

That said, procrastinating renewing my drivers license is not cute and I should probably do it so I can stop using my passport as ID.

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