Building a Concious Library

Over the past few years I have started thinning my library. The main reason is just space. I truly don't have that many places to put them all. This was supremely upsetting, as I wish I could just have ALL THE BOOKS and put bookshelves in every single room of my house. And last year I had to get rid of another bookcase because we converted our office/storage room into the nursery.

After I got over my initial sadness though, I decided that this could possibly be a good thing. 

There are some books that I reread over and over and over- and that's fine. But there were a lot on my shelves that were only okay.

So I have done a pretty intense book unhaul over the past few months.

Now, instead of a full bookshelf I now have almost an entire shelf completely empty on my one remaining (although large) bookshelf.

To be completely honest, part of this has been helped because I finally discovered my local bookstore. They have a trade-in program, so I don't feel like I am loosing my books or throwing them away. They end up back on the shelves for others and I can go get new books (for FREE). It's an amazing system that has really helped ease my unhaul guilt.

Having to empty my bookshelves made me rethink my attitudes and goals (read more about that here).

And this is what I came up with- I want to build a more conscious library. 

Having Pumpkin has made me really think about this. I want to have books on my shelf that I can read to her, and any other kids we may have.

I want my kids to have classics like The Wizard of Oz, the tales of King Arthur, all these stories that have been around for ages. 

To be clear- I haven't read them all! I just wish had.

I wish someone had handed me The Perks of a Wallflower when I was in high school- oh how that book would have resonated with me if I had found it on a shelf at 17! 

I want to have books in my home that make me think, books that celebrate who I am, books that celebrate who I want to be, books that remind me who I should never be. I want to have books that withstand the test of time and make my kid(s) fall in love with reading.

To be clear, Pumpkin has her own kiddie books. And she will get at least one book for her birthday and Christmas each year (from me, no clue what others will provide her with). But I want to have things waiting for her and bigger books for me to read to her.

I want my bookshelf to truly represent the wide variety and beauty of reading. 

I will still, of course, continue to buy random books and cycle through one-time or casual reads. But overall I want to make more thoughtful and enduring book purchases.

How you do decide what stories to add to your personal library?

Yes, I am!

In two separate instances over the last two weeks, people have felt the need to tell me that I am not something I clearly am. 

The first came when I posted a picture of me & my baby girl with the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I bought this book while pregnant and it is the first book I ever read to my first child- it was an incredibly meaningful moment to me when we finished it. And this wasn't a small, child's cardboard version. It was over 200 pages, with minimal illustrations and on thin paper pages. 

In the caption of the picture I stated that I knew it was nerdy but I loved reading to my baby. And I truly do. 

Reading has been my passion for literally as long as I can remember. 

And sharing the world of books and written words and imagination with my child is one of the most meaningful things I've ever done in my life.

But my mom commented that it wasn't nerdy, it was great and that she hopes Pumpkin grows up to love books as much as I do. And I totally agree- I would love nothing more than to see my child have the same zest for reading that I do. It would be precious to share that with her, and I also truly believe that a love of reading is one of the greatest tools you can have in life (not just the ability to read, but the true love of reading). 

But a love of reading is nerdy. And reading a 200+ page book to an infant is pretty damn nerdy. It takes dedication and patience- a chapter or two a day for weeks. 

Not long after this, I fell down a small hill on the sidewalk and injured myself. Not just a bruise or small nick, but a fairly significant injury. My hand wouldn't stop bleeding and is very bruised- probably as close to being broken as possible without actually breaking, my arm is scratched and bruised over about 4 inches, and I have a skinned knee. Multiple people stopped to help me but I couldn't even get up, I sent them away because I needed to just sit and remember how to breathe. 

Again, I posted a picture (of my bleeding hand) and talked about my injured pride and body, referring to myself as a klutz. 

This time it was my MIL who felt the need to say "No, you're not!" 

Um, I fell down a hill for no apparent reason (walking to fast? Uneven sidewalk? Who knows). I have multiple inches of scrapes and scabs covering my body- I look like the beginning of a zombie outbreak! Not normal adult behavior (especially considering my husband, who just shook his head and stated "Babe, I have not fallen of my own accord since I was 10 without it involving explosions or alcohol"). 

I AM a klutz! And I AM a nerd. I wonder if people try to say I'm not because they think I'm putting myself down? I'm not. Just stating facts. 

For the nerd part, I've come to love that aspect about myself actually. I use John Greene's definitition where being a nerd is about how you love things. And I like being the type of person who gets nerd level exited over things I love. That's a great thing, and I want to exemplify that. 

I haven't yet come up with a way to love my clumsiness as much- but I am accepting of it. While I would love to be more graceful, the truth is I'm often in a hurry and just don't care. I like being determined and focused and if that means I end up with a few bruises, oh well. Humility is a virtue.

Yes, this particular case was extreme and I am embarrassed- but if I'm being honest, as soon as these scars start to fade I'll likely go right back to my fast-moving self. It is a part of me, and I simply don't hate it enough to change it. 

This also reminds me of how a friend seemed taken aback when I said I don't consider myself pretty. 

I don't exactly think I'm ugly- I just know I don't have the hair/makeup/clothes combination that our society celebrates as beauty. I can be pretty- but I usually just don't like to work that hard. I'd rather be reading or eating or saving money for something I want to get for the house. It was like this friend thought I was putting myself down- but I just felt like I was being realistic. 

I have tons of amazing qualities, just as I have tons of strong flaws- I am a human. I just don't put my looks into the "pros" column, and again I'm okay with that.

Has anyone else experienced this? 
How do you react when people try to deny part of who you are?

Thoughts on Motherhood- Going Back to Work

I am officially back to work after 12 weeks of maternity leave through FMLA. I was supremely blessed to be able to take this time- my company has a program where others can donate leave and without those gracious donations I could not have done so (gotta get paid, yo).

Everyone treated me like I should be crying the entire week leading up to it. 

Some people talk about how they had to go part-time because they couldn't/didn't want to be away from their kid. Some have noted that my husband could get a part-time job, because his FT job isn't a traditional schedule, and that way I could stay home (I don't even know...).

Look, I miss my kid. I do. 

But I'm also glad to be back. I like working. I like contributing to my family's financial situation. I like getting out of the house. I like being good at something. I like hearing that I am helpful and professional and an asset to my department. And I talk about that because I don't see the point in focusing on the negative.

What sucks waaaaaay worse than the amount of time I spend away from my daughter is being told how fucking miserable my life must be because I work. 

It's like when Brandon was deployed- I didn't need anyone to tell me how shitty it was for my husband to be at war. I was fully fucking aware, trust me.

This is my life. 

This is what I (/we) have chosen.

I don't need to hear what you think of it, honestly. Sure a "Hey how is the adjustment to work going?" is fine. But if you are asking ME how I feel, don't follow up with some bullshit about how you would feel. That seems like judgement. Anything more than "Oh I'm glad she likes the baby-sitter" or "Good luck getting used to the new routine" is just not welcome. It's rude. So, shh. Please & thank you.

Book Review: Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Yes, yes, I am still mostly on leave from the blog. But Tim's book release needed to be talked about, and now so does this (even though it's been out for a while, it's amazing and deserves attention). 

This New York Times bestselling novel and National Book Award nominee from acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers tells the story of Steve Harmon, a teenage boy in juvenile detention and on trial. Presented as a screenplay of Steve's own imagination, and peppered with journal entries, the book shows how one single decision can change our whole lives.

Fade In: Interior: Early Morning In Cell Block D, Manhattan Detention Center.

Steve (Voice-Over)
Sometimes I feel like I have walked into the middle of a movie. Maybe I can make my own movie. The film will be the story of my life. No, not my life, but of this experience. I'll call it what the lady prosecutor called me ... Monster.

-via Goodreads

I read this as the last book for my diverse books project.

Y'all, it was soooo good

I haven't read Myers before, but I definitely see why his work was included on the list.

Normally I am not a fan of books written in any format other than the standard, but this worked. I actually get really annoyed when people are very descriptive in their writing-I will gloss over entire paragraphs describing a living room or the size of a house. I'll even skip over character details sometimes (when everyone got really pissed about Rue & Cinna being black in The Hunger Games? And then everyone pointed out passages describing them as black? Did not care at all, but also didn't remember their descriptions). My brain fills in gaps automatically, too much detail just slows it down when picturing a fictional world.

The act of writing this as a screenplay somehow gave the perfect amount of direction without forcing me to give up my own instincts as a reader. 

The positioning of the jury, judge, etc clearly set the scene but without wasting time describing the lawyer's outfits/etc.

I could sit here and discuss every part of this story, and all the characters. They felt real, and believable-or at least as real and believable (maybe more so) than any trial blasted across our news stations in the past ten years.

The story touches on family, personal identity, the American justice system, age, race...and all with truly minimal amount of written words.

 My copy was 280 pages, but again it's a non-traditional format so think lots of spacing and big print (I also applaud the choice to have Steve's notes presented in a handwritten font- a risky move but again, it worked).

Myers truly proved to be a master with this book, and I highly encourage everyone to read it. I gave it a 5 star rating on Goodreads...which I never do. Out of 320 books, 14 have 5 star ratings (and some of those I would probably take back if I read today). It was just a truly engrossing read (I finished in just over 24 hours) and I was pleasantly blown away by the unorthodox format. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a book written in a non-narrative form even half as much.

Book Review: An Epilogue to Innocence

Do you remember Tim, who was nice enough to write a guest post for me during my baby-having time? Well that was extra nice because on top of regular life he has also been getting a book published! It's been a long time coming, and it's so cool that something he's been talking about for so long has finally come to fruition. Tim asked who would be willing to read and review the book so I offered, and a few days ago he sent me the proof of his book An Epilogue to Innocence

I'll be honest, I was nervous. The only time I have ever reviewed someone's work directly was in school, and it didn't always go well. I'm super critical y'all.  I've been reading Tim's blog for a while now, and he has posted some fiction stories on there before but this felt different. What if I hated it?! Also, I'm not usually a short story person so I was worried that I would be going in with an unfair bias. 

But thankfully, I really liked it!

Being totally honest, the first story didn't grab me- in fact, it's probably my least favorite of the collection (sorry Tim). But I kept going and the next story was super intriguing- as were all the rest. 

The stories were all varied, from location to narrator to plot. The overall theme was slightly dark and a little twisted (and sometimes very sexual) which I didn't necessarily expect but enjoyed. Can't say it will be everyone's cup of tea but I think the people who like it will really like it, if that makes sense.

As I said, I don't normally like short stories but these were truly good. The characters felt authentic and I could understand their motivations, which isn't always the case in short stories- I often feel like I'm missing some major part of the story. 

Also, kind of random but I appreciated that the main characters were sometimes men and sometimes women. People sometimes act like it's super impressive and out of the ordinary when an author can write from both perspectives, but Tim did it seemingly effortlessly and casually. 

I finished the book within a day, so the collection reads fairly smoothly and quickly. 

I highly encourage reading it, it's a great collection and Tim's a compelling writer. Check it it now!!

You can purchase a paperback for 7.99$ or a Kindle version for 2.99$, find all the purchasing info here on Tim's blog.