On My Bookshelf: My TBR Jar and First Finishes

TBR Jar

At the end of 2015 I started thinking about my plans for my 2016 reading and decided I would try something new and fun.  Enter the TBR (To Be Read) jar.  I’d seen this marvelous invention on Instagram and loved the idea so much I had to do it too.  I’d set my annual Goodreads challenge at 25 books for 2016 (we won’t talk about that’s been my goal for the last several years and I’ve not even come close), so I wanted to keep my TBR jar selections around the 15-20 range.  I chose a mix of books that have been sitting on my shelves forever (including one that I’ve started but never finished), books I don’t own but really want to read, and I gave myself a **Free** selection (meaning I can pick any book I want to read whenever that one gets drawn).  My plan was to draw my first book on January 1st and get started.  Oh, and I made myself a fun Harry Potter-inspired jar too!

On My Bookshelf: My TBR Jar and First Finishes

I ended up holding off on pulling my first selection from the jar on January 1 because Eric bought me Lara Casey’s book for Christmas, which I’d been dying to read.  As you already know from my previous posts, I worked my way through this book and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I actually started it on January 1 and fully expected to zip through it because it’s not a very lengthy book. This book, as Lara says herself, is an action book rather than a reading book. It took me awhile to work my way through it because it does require a lot of introspection, questioning, actioning, and praying. This book is part autobiography, part guidebook to really focusing on what matters. What makes Lara’s guidance so valuable is that not only has she been where you are, but she shows you how she started to make things happen in her own life – making changes that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. Her authenticity and continued journey that comes through on her blog and on Periscope really strike a chord with me. I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to start making things happen in their own life. Not only did this book help me define what matters most to me, it also provided me with clear and actionable steps to move toward those things.

Story of Awkward

I took a small break from Make it Happen to read something light.  Despite being a freebie ebook, I really enjoyed this. It reminded me a bit of Rainbow Rowell’s writing. A story about being awkward, which I think we can all relate to, and learning to love what makes each of us unique.  Once I finished up Story of Awkward, I decided to go ahead and pull the first selection out of my TBR jar.  My first draw was Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  Since it wasn’t a book I own I was going to have to procure it, so I wouldn’t be able to start it immediately.  I sat that aside and went back to Make it Happen.

After going back to Make it Happen and finishing it up – more about that book in my other posts – I picked up The Lake House by Kate Morton.  Lake House wasn’t a book that was on my list to read and I actually hadn’t ever heard of it.  I was watching a knitting podcast (Fiber By Design) and this was the Feb/March book for the Oh Loops! book club on Ravelry. I decided to jump in and thought it would be fun to discuss the book, so I grabbed the kindle edition and got started.  I haven’t read any Kate Morton previously, but I will definitely be reading her other books. This book kept me guessing, as all the best mysteries should, while carrying me along with the storyline. I loved that the story was woven between the 1930s and the 2000s, with Alice fusing the two timelines together. I really really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

So, those are the three books I started off my 2016 with.  I’ll share more next time!

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Learning New Words

You know, I have always been a voracious reader.  From the moment I learned to read, I found it to be something I craved and loved.  I remember getting into trouble with my mom for sneaking out of bed at night to read by my nightlight.  There have certainly been times in my life when I haven’t read as much as I’d like to, but I always seem to have a book (or four) in my “currently reading” pile.  I think part of the reason that I love words themselves is because of the power they have to describe so clearly or create such a sensory experience.  But, recently I noticed something curious…I ran into a word in a book that I don’t recall every encountering before.  Not that I know every word in the language, far from it, but as much as I read and as much as I love words – it kind of surprised me.  Huh.  What does that mean?  And then…huh?  A new word.  So the word was bodega.  Strangely enough, Eric knew exactly what it meant.  Perhaps it’s geographically relevant?  Nevertheless, I was kind of thrilled that here I was stumbling across a new word in a YA book.

Last week I finished reading the recent selection for book club (which was Friday night).  When did I finish the book?  Friday afternoon.  Regardless…what an excellent book.  Not a long book, but so dense.  And part of what made it so dense was the language.  Peter Carey has such a way with words and descriptions.  I found myself sort of savoring the words and then having to remind myself we were going somewhere here.  And as I was reading and luxuriating in the language, it happened again…a new word.

 anthracite

Whatever could it mean?  I loved the way it sounded on my tongue.  So, I looked it up (thank God for the internet).  And since I gathered from the context it was a color, and turns out “Anthracite is a teal-grey colour but can range anywhere from black, to blue to grey and green”.  Anthracite is actually also a type of coal, so I imagine that the color could be inferred from that as well.  But look, how evocative is this?

“…we [retired] to our corner which resembled, more than anything, a pile of costumes for an opera or dance.  When the last lantern was snuffed, the colors of the castoffs glowed all around us, blood and anthracite in the velvet night.”

And just to give you another little taste of the way Carey uses language…

” She took each step as the first one of a dance.  She kicked the red leaves and made them rise like birds.  I had arrived, quite unexpectedly, in Paradise.  Enclosed by landscape that no painter could portray, before my eyes lay – or rather shone – magnificent New York.  At every moment steamships passed.  America.”

Beautiful, no?

Our next selection is The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal.  I’m curious to see what new words I may stumble upon in my adventures.

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