Recently I posted about all of the things I’ve been doing *other* than reading, and now you may be aware that another activity occupying my time was sharing news with family members that Jeff and I are expecting a baby this summer! We’re all pretty pumped! Although I’d still like to reiterate my promise that this will not become a mommy blog. But at some point you can probably expect an infant propped up against some books for a good photo op.
At any rate, I did manage to finish a few books in December, but it’s been long enough that I can write a fantastic review the way I can when I’ve just flipped the last page and I have all sorts of things to say. Thus, I’d like to introduce my two-sentence review, which I will lean on for times like these. However, I expect my reviewing to return to normal this weekend, as I’m just about to finish two more books and I have some THOUGHTS.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer – This is a humorous and odd book about an author who takes an extended international journey to avoid the wedding of his ex-boyfriend. I had higher hopes, but it was worth a read, and I especially appreciated the exposure of the theory that gay or other diverse authors are expected to handle their diverse protagonists in a certain way.
Rush by Lisa Patton – Some books are just so bad, but the author must be doing something right because you keep turning those dang pages in embarrassing anticipation. This book was a glimpse into sorority life in the south where everyone is either fantastic! or terrible! but it all works out just hunky dory in the end and even racism is eradicated so that’s good!
Tenth of December by George Saunders – I actually started this book on the tenth of December, so that’s cool! Unfortunately, that was about the coolest part of my experience with this book of short stories – I’m not a fan of collections of short stories, so this might be my own fault, but most of them left me all squinty-eyed and saying “What now?” (Maybe after I do some more book-learnin in 2019 I can circle back and wise 2020 Kimberly will nod with solemn understanding.)
My 2019 Reading Resolution
I’ve never made a reading resolution before, as reading is my escape and I should be able to read whatever the heck I want. Still, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to grow as a reader. This year, I’d like to alternate more evenly between books “just for fun” and books where I actually learn something. I’d also like to delve into a few issues this year and read books representing various sides of an issue. Consider this a heads up in case you see that I’m reading something that doesn’t gel with your idea of something I might read! I’m exploring ISSUES!
I haven’t developed a plan beyond that, so I’d welcome your suggestions in regards to books I should plan to read in 2019 to help me with my reading resolution.
I've seriously only finished ONE book in the last two weeks. I'm about finished with two more, but it is SLOW GOING. Shocker, since this is usually such a slow time of the year! Here is what I've been doing instead of reading:
I need to you to know that this blog will not be book-related, nor will it be some sappy open letter to my 7 blog readers about how Christmas is about more than gifts.
This blog is about how to win Christmas by giving your loved ones better gifts than anyone else gives them, which is really what it is all about! You have to win!
Oh, we're just having fun.
Here is a listicle of items that everyone will really like! Everyone!
(just kidding, although definitely popular baby gifts some years ago).
1. Find a Facebook picture you can tell they like (i.e. one they've pulled from their memories a time or two, or one that features their pets or children or the sunrise on their wedding morning) and blow it up on a canvas. Who wouldn't love that?
2. Buy them something FANCY that they wouldn't buy themselves. Not Russell Stover chocolates - FANCY ARTISAN chocolates or Godiva at the very least. FANCY whiskey. FANCY cigars. This is why I have a $25 bottle of hairspray on my Christmas list. It is FANCY hairspray.
3. Add a sweet note to a gift that explains why it is meaningful. For example, I wrote Veronica a note when I gave her an American Girl doll some years ago when I super didn't have the money for it. I told her she deserved it because she was such a good girl for her mommy all year long. She saved it. She saved it, and she was 8 or 9 years old. I think she took better care of the note than the doll.
4. Personalized stuff, but not lame personalized stuff. When Jeff moved into his house in Mackinaw (before we became official, got engaged, got married, and moved into a new house), I bought him a really cool sign that said "Scheirer" made from deer antlers. He liked it! Hunters tend to like antler themed stuff. My sister might like something that said "Vicky" made of vampire fangs.
5. Books, obviously. Be careful. My former mother in law bought me a book that was about how to keep my home clean. Thanks.
6. Books that combine more than one thing the recipient enjoys. Look at this picture my friend Olivia gave me. A tarot card about coffee with a cat on it. It's like Olivia has been watching me for my whole life and that's awesome in the creepiest way.
7. Gift cards. The trick with gift cards is that it should be to somewhere awesome. While I would never snub a Chili's gift card and the chips and salsa and margarita stomachache that accompanies it, I get really excited when we receive a gift card to a fine dining restaurant or a really amazing steakhouse. Those dining experiences are more memorable and provide us with an excuse to go somewhere a little nicer on our date nights.
8. Autographed stuff. Once, I was able to get Mary Engelbreit to sign some stuff for my mom. She happened to be signing stuff in St. Louis or Chicago at a mall I was visiting and I seized the opportunity to win Christmas.
9. Anything that says, "I took time thinking of what you might like." For example, one of my favorite wedding presents was a set of coasters that our friends Joy and Brad picked out for us. Bed Bath and Beyond has this motherload display of all sorts of neat coasters and I can just imagine those two picking the ones they know we'd like. They were successful - not even one of them was lame.
10. Liquor. I like the joke I saw floating around social media at one point - "How can I possibly be hard to buy for if you know where a liquor store is located?" I'll just say I've never given a gift of a bottle of alcohol that wasn't well received.
There you go, now you are equipped with some ideas to be the ultimate gift-giver and really win Christmas this year! Ho ho ho!
Happy December! I finished off two books last week and unfortunately, neither of them exactly blew my skirt up!
Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak
A novel about five brothers, a Murderer, a woman known by many names, a mule, a girl with sixteen freckles, and the building of a bridge.
I really wanted to love this book, since I loved Zusak's other books so much. Unfortunately, this novel just didn't resonate with me. While there are some beautiful moments and a satisfying wrap-up, there are also a lot of "What the heck is happening right now?" moments. I consider myself a fairly savvy reader, but I was extremely confused throughout. Many items and phrases are referenced that aren't explained for 250 pages.
I would suggest bypassing this one and selected I Am the Messenger instead! But if you read it Bridge of Clay, let me know your thoughts.
Pair with: Seven beers. (To be explained on page 350 or so)
Love and the Art of War by Dinah Lee Kung
A librarian trying to save her relationship stumbles into the wrong class - Chinese War Strategies as opposed to Mending Marriage, but stays with it and uses these strategies in her day-to-day life. Awesome premise, right?
Despite some fun characters, a cool idea, and the weaving in of war strategies, this book also complete missed the mark for me. Our protagonist is a weak person with strong moments and ultimately realizes that it was all her fault that her husband cheated on her and......that was more or less the takeaway. Don't read too many books or your husband will stray. Guess I'm setting myself up for disaster!
Also, a really stupid twist occurs toward the end that almost resulted in my phone flying across the room.
I would suggest bypassing this one as well! I'm not much help this week!
Pair with: Rocky road ice cream covered in Hershey's chocolate sauce, a dessert mentioned a couple of times throughout this long book that really did sound amazing.
Up Next: Next week's post will be so much better, because I'm almost halfway through a pretty terrific novel already that I've wanted to read for a million years. Plus I just downloaded a promising new book on my phone. Just hoping I can continue with my two book a week pattern!
Mom of four, wife of one. By day I fund-raise with coffee, by night I read with wine and chocolate.