A Very Slow January | A Month in Review

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Reading

I barely read a book in January. Even though I started the month with very good intentions, by the time the first week was over, I pretty much abandoned my reading. It's not that I passed through a rut but other things came up and I found it easier to just put aside my books and, at the end of each day, watch TV. So that's what I did.



I did finish one book though - Michael Pollan's Food Rules, which I blazed through in less than an hour, while the baby toddler napped. It's that short. Besides, this is the first time in a long period that I carved out some time to read a physical book. Of course, that was in the first week of January, followed by three weeks of nothing. Ha!

I'm not complaining, honest. This is what worked for me in 2016 - I had months when I read nothing and months when I read a ton of books. So I expect more of the same this year, and frankly? I liked that approach much more than when I used to plan my reading.

Blogging

Blogging also didn't happen much this past month. I just about managed to post my 2016 review and 2016 favorites before the month ended. But I am working on some review posts currently so I may have something coming up soon. I've also been thinking about where I want to take my blogging this year, as I always wonder at the start of each year. I will likely shake some things up to suit my routine, cut out some kinds of posts, add some other kind of posts, but nothing too drastic.


Watching

I am still watching Star Trek Voyager. This is the longest I have spent with any TV show. I love it and am savoring every minute of it. You could almost accuse me of intentionally watching it slowly just so that it doesn't end soon. Right now, I am halfway through Season 5 with two more seasons left.


Work

Work was alright. There were some frustrating days and some rewarding days - not too different from everyone else's workdays. We’ve been through some very rough months in the past so any month that's only frustrating and nothing more is okay by me.

Life

We had just returned from a week-long vacation to Boston at the end of last year, so much of the first week was spent mostly playing catchup. We did make a short weekend trip to Cincinnati because that's where the husband's client is based in and that's where he travels to every other week. It was more of a meet-and-greet friends kind of trip but we did head to downtown one day and enjoyed walking along the Ohio river.

The other thing that happened this month was that the husband and I started the Game on Diet! game. Do you guys remember that one? A few years ago, lots of us did the game with several others. Even though I only did it for one month five years ago, I liked the ideas behind it so we along with his brother and sister-in-law decided to start a slightly modified version of it, in an effort to lose weight and keep some healthy habits. So far, it's working like a charm. It has also prompted me to get in 10-11k steps every day - nothing close to what Kathy gets in daily but it’s still something.

2016 Favorites in Books

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Last year, this time, (with a 6mo keeping me busy) I managed to post my annual favorite books list around the 13th of the month. This year, I am posting on the 29th of the month. At least, we are still in January. But, next year, I have no guarantees on making this post on time. Still, maybe the benefit of being late to the party is that I am so late that you are all probably over the tiredness of reading yet another 2016 post. Right?

Truth be told, it is getting harder for me post here, pretending that everything is all right in the world. That makes it harder to blog - since November, I was expecting that "This too shall pass" but I'm not so sure now. With all that's going on, I somehow managed to write this post, so here goes my 2016 favorites.

Among the heavier, deeper, not-so-quick reads of the year, these six had a resounding impact on me:



Reality or Fiction? book of the year: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. When I read this book, I got plenty of goosebumps because so much of it sounded very relevant to the present. And that was seven months ago. I'd probably weep with despair today.

The book with many layers: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison. My very first impression of Morrison after reading this book was "eh? that's it?" And then a nuance from the book revealed itself to me. And then came another one. And then more. Very soon, I realized that there were so many layers to this book and that it was one fascinating story to try to explain to someone.

The most realistic (graphic) fantasy epic: Saga by Brian Vaughan. I am still disappointed that it took me so long to read this book. It's one of the most diverse and realistic fantasy fiction out there. And those illustrations - Fiona Staples does a fabulous job bringing the story and the characters to life.

Two books with kickass women: Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart and Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly. Both these books are set at a time before women (in the US) even had a voice. Both show a woman standing up to the establishment and making a change happen. One is fiction (yet based on a real character and true incident) and the other is nonfiction.

Creepiest book I ever read: The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. I started reading this book in a mountain cabin on a creepy windy night. Needless to say, I didn't sleep too well that night.

And then, among the lighter reads, these four stood out. I'm surprised I don't have more books below since most of the books I read last year were lighter or faster reads. I guess on some level, I still struggle to rate books that I finish reading quickly. How do you rate a book that you didn't spend a lot of time with?



If you love Mexican food, then go read Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero. Of course, this is not a food memoir or cookbook but Gabi knows how to talk about food (and about many other life matters too). I had to make it a point to never read this book before mealtimes because I found myself craving for Mexican food so badly (and we don't have a good Mexican restaurant in the area, so craving for it didn't mean I could satisfy it properly).

For all kinds beauty advice, Nora Ephron has it all: I Feel Bad About my Neck. I am a big fan of Ephron's movies so I was not surprised to find that I loved her essays in this book as well. They are very tongue-in-cheek humorous little pieces that occasionally felt elitist but only occasionally. Didn't dampen my interest in this book however.

The poetry book that everyone should read, even if you don't do poetry: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. I can't remember how I came across this book. I think I ran into one of its poems online, then looked for the book in my library, found it, devoured it, and struggled to go back to my life. It was too good.

Finally, I've leave you with the cutest funniest LOL Picture book: Mother Bruce by Ryan Higgins. If you have been wondering, yes, I read a lot of picture books last year. Mother Bruce wins the prize for being the most entertaining one of the lot. Seriously, you have to pick it - it just tickled the heck out of me.

Are any of these books on your favorites list?

2016 Review and Planning for 2017

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Hello fellow readers, bloggers, and dear friends! I've been semi-struggling with squeezing blogging back into my life. Not due to a lack of prioritizing but because quite a few chess pieces are still moving right now at my end. I'm hoping to be around sporadically until they are sorted out - I just need to figure out how to do it.

Anyways, I wanted to do a 2016 review before it got too late to talk about 2016. The whole of January qualifies as a good time to do such a post, correct?

2016 in books

In so many ways, 2016 was one of my best reading years. I read and listened to a good variety of books. My reading was mostly spontaneous with no reading list guiding it. Sometimes I read the book that everyone was talking about and sometimes I picked a book that sounded quirky. Sometimes the book in my hands just had the right description to suit my mood.

As easy as it was to read a book that felt right at the moment, I also found it not hard at all to put a book down if it didn't feel right. In the past, putting a book down was usually accompanied by a disappointing realization that I may never be reading that book ever. The time-constrained Athira however accepted that there can be another time or day for that book. Maybe never, but that was okay too.

One quality that many of my books read last year shared is that they were quick reads that could be easily put down whenever the baby and now toddler preempted my reading. This explains the higher number of books compared to last year (50 vs 47) and also the lower page counts (7168 vs 9344).

Without further ado, here's my 2016 in numbers:


Planning for 2017

2017 is already shaping out to pretty much the same pattern. Spontaneous reading is deciding my reading for the most part. I am continuing to stay away from making reading lists. I did however decide to do the Read Harder challenge this year but only to help pick my next read when I'm looking for options and not as a list to follow through the year. I will also be reading books via my Postal Book Club but that's probably the extent of my reading planning for this year.

I can't wait to read about YOUR 2016 review and/or 2017 reading. I'm slowly making the rounds through bloglandia. Tell me one thing though - are you planning to do any readalongs this year?

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2016



I hope you all have a wonderful (and very safe) holiday season with your near and dear! We will be on vacation with some of our close friends and family near Boston, but I'm hoping to be back here with more regularity once the holidays are over. See you in the new year, which, I hope, will be much better than 2016!


Can't Believe the Vacation is Over | This Week's Five

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Well hello! It's been a while, hasn't it? I had to force myself to come back here today and post something. My November somehow got away from me - I was surprised to realize that it's almost December. How did that happen? Anyhoosie, that means I've failed at Nonfiction November second time in a row and I'm probably looking at more time off because life just got too busy over here. More on that in a later post. For now, this is what kept me occupied most of this month.

1. A week-long vacation

We spent much of last week in DC - one of my favorite places to visit. That's the main reason I've been absent here and very behind on visiting any blogs. Since we've already seen much of historical DC, we spent this vacation checking out some other lesser-known spots. That included the Smithsonian Zoo, the Frying Pan Farm, a Nespresso boutique (because I 💗 my Nespresso), Georgetown, the Politics and Prose bookstore (more on this below), and Arlington National Cemetery. We also did a LOT of shopping. Don't you just love these last two months of the year? Of course, don't you just hate the first few months of a year too? The way the holidays are scheduled in my company, my first holiday after New Year is Memorial Day - such a painful five-month wait for a long weekend. I always joke that the party starts in May because after that, there is usually one long weekend every month.


2. Politics and Prose

Soooo, I have been reading about the Politics and Prose bookstore in Shelf Awareness for a long time so it has been on my bucket list. It's too far away from where we usually stay in DC (actually northern VA) and besides, it always requires passing through heavy DC traffic no matter the time of day. This DC vacation was all about the things we don't usually do so P&P got on to my list fast. The traffic was a P@!N as was trying to find a parking spot but the bookstore more than made up for it (at least for me - can't say the same about the unenthusiastic folks in my group). They had a huge coffee shop in the basement and plenty of books (and a cozy nook) in their large store. I wish I had more time to browse there. If I were staying nearby, I'd probably find an excuse to stop by often. Sadly, I didn't take any pictures. The thought completely escaped my mind!


3. This naughty naughty babe

Oh my God, how do toddlers learn to be naughty? It's like they have a secret club on how to do mischievous things. Almost overnight, Shreya has become VERY naughty. We are trying very hard not to laugh, so as not to encourage but it's hard. Some of the things she does! For instance, today, she has been trying to put some chalk in her mouth. We are working on teaching her that pens/chalks/crayons are for writing, and not for tasting. But she tries to pop one in her mouth very nonchalantly. As soon as we say uh-uh, she moves the chalk away as if she was always trying to do something else with it and not eat it. I mean, how do 16-month-olds know to do this? LOL, this girl melts my heart. The husband has been journaling about her antics so I look forward to reading them years later.


4. 2016 Reading

When I started blogging in 2009, my reading was very structured. I had plans and lists of books to read. As soon as I read the first page of a new book, OCD-me opened Goodreads and properly marked the book as currently-reading. If Litsy was available then, I would have posted 3-5 posts per book and definitely one for when I start a book. I was too organized! This year, my reading has been all over the place. Sometimes, I don't even track it until days or weeks later. I won't remember what I thought of the book if I didn't review it right away. My review backlog is now in double digits (14!) I have been reading a lot of fast and light books. And my next to-read book is usually the most interesting book I heard about yesterday (usually on Litsy). I've also DNF'd a lot of books this year (and not felt bad about it at all!) And you know what? I don't mind this at all. It's keeping me blogging a little too infrequently but that's okay with me. For now. The more important thing is that it's keeping my reading very fun. Next month, I'll be celebrating 7 years of blogging. It will be a very interesting year to review.

5. Happy Holidays!

We have one more vacation planned for next month. This time, we will be heading to Boston. (I know, we visit the wrong places in the wrong season). This visit will be more about family and friends so I doubt we'll be outdoors much. We are also planning to take the train so that will be somewhat fun. How do you keep toddlers entertained in trains? Anyone have any good idea? But I'm looking forward to it. This week-plus vacation has me eager for more. I have no idea how I'm going to get to work tomorrow. It has been so nice sleeping in every day and not rushing to do stuff. The husband is also traveling for work tomorrow so that's going to be a bummer. But hey, the next holidays are just around the corner, woohoo!


How are you spending the holidays? Vacations? Reading? Spending time with family?