Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: November 2022

It’s the most wonderful time of the yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaar! (Mostly because I get a break in a few weeks, and there will also be LATKES. YUM.)

Welcome to December, my fellow readers! So strange to think that the next time I’ll post one of these recaps, it’ll be 2023. This is a year that has gone by in a blur of worry and stress, of new discoveries and reshuffling, of mindfulness, tears, and determination. And books, of course. Lots and lots of good books! (I’m still behind in reviews. That’s okay!)

Speaking of books, I also found out this past month that my town’s new library will be opening up in April of 2023. We drive by it often, as it’s on Main Street, and they recently posted a video walk through so you can see how the construction is going. The outside is mostly done; they’ve got lighting in there (and there are TONS of huge windows; seriously, sitting in this place is going to be so full of light and gorgeous!), and they’ll be starting to work on all the inside full-force soon. I’m so excited about this, I could scream! It’s SO much bigger than our current functional (kind of; the A/C breaks down constantly, the walls leak, the building is so old, it’s impossible to be ADA-compliant, etc) but way-out-of-date building. I’ll miss this old library, but I’m more than thrilled to welcome our new, updated library in April!

Anyway, let’s get this recap started, shall we?

Books I Read in November 2022

1. Consumed: On Colonialism, Climate Change, Consumerism, and the Need for Collective Change by Aja Barber

2. America Calling: A Foreign Student in a Country of Possibility by Rajika Bhandari

3. Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

4. Numb to This: Memoir of a Mass Shooting by Kindra Neely (review to come)

5. A Face for Picasso: Coming of Age with Crouzon Syndrome by Ariel Henley (review to come)

6. My Heart is on the Ground: The Diary of Nannie Little Rose, a Sioux Girl, Carlisle Indian School, Pennsylvania, 1880 by Ann Rinaldi (no review; read out loud to my daughter. SO problematic)

7. Looking for an Enemy: Eight Essays on Antisemitism by Jo Glanville (no review)

8. My Boy Will Die of Sorrow: A Memoir of Immigration From the Front Lines by Efrén C. Olivares (review to come)

9. Ban This Book by Alan Gratz (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

10. The Summer of Lost Letters by Hannah Reynolds (review to come)

11. True History: Indigenous America by Liam McDonald (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

12. All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson (review to come)

13. Shores Beyond Shores: From Holocaust to Hope, My True Store by Irene Butter (review to come)

14. Talking to Strangers: A Memoir of My Escape from a Cult by Marianne Boucher (review to come)

15. True Identity: Cracking the Oldest Kidnapping Cold Case and Finding My Missing Twin by Paul Joseph Fronczak (review to come)

16. How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing (no review)

Not a bad total for this month! I’m yet again behind in posting reviews, but that happens. I should be able to get caught up over our winter break. It’s just so hard to get everything I need to get done in the morning before we start homeschool work, and then suddenly it’s like 4 pm, and I’m all, “Ehhh, I’ll just post it tomorrow.” Lather, rinse, repeat!

I don’t count everything I read to my daughter – certainly not the smaller nonfiction books we read for her schoolwork, but once in a while, there’ll be something more substantial that I really get something out of, and that’s when I count things like the True History: Indigenous America by Liam McDonald. I almost always count the chapter book read-alouds, however. I earned those! : )

Thirteen of these books were mine alone. Twelve of the books were nonfiction (including memoirs); four were fiction. Twelve came from my TBR.

State of the Goodreads TBR

I started off this month at 133 books. I read twelve books from this list, putting me at…127 books.

TBR math sucks. But I made it to the 120’s!

And it’s only downhill from here (or uphill, in terms of a growing TBR)! NPR has already released part of their Best of 2022 book list, and all the reading challenges will be out soon, giving suggestions and posting gorgeous full-color covers, and I assume my TBR is just going to explode. OY.

Books I Acquired in November 2022

Other than some books for gift, and a few books on Jewish history I picked up from a used book sale at the library, I grabbed this stack from someone on a local Buy Nothing group. (Zero clue why WordPress won’t allow me to adjust the size of the photo here. Weird.)

Bookish Things I Did in November 2022

My son and I popped into a used book sale at a local library. I picked up a book or two on Jewish history, and a few holiday gift books for my daughter, but that was really the only bookish event this month!

Current Podcast Love

All over the place here!

So I started the month out listening to Freakonomics. It’s more about the narration style for me (that calm, cool NPR-type style!), since I listen when I’m falling asleep and during the 234893749823 times I wake up at night (this has very much been a thing lately, sigh), but the subject matter of some of the episodes started to annoy me after a few weeks, and I began to search for something else.

I attempted a few other true crime podcasts and a homeschooling podcast, none of which worked well – seriously, people, a good portion of your podcast shouldn’t be you and your cohosts just laughing. (ANNOYING.) I listened to two other homeschooling podcasts (desperately trying to get ideas and inspiration to switch things up for my daughter, because there are some things right now that just aren’t working for her), and while they were okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, it gets bothersome to constantly have Christianity injected into every. little. thing. I need ideas about how to help my daughter get through math; I don’t need a lecture about how to relate novels to Jesus. (I’m Jewish; a homeschooling podcast isn’t going to change that. Nothing will, which is just how I like it!) I truly don’t mind if the podcast hosts or guests talking about going to church, or incorporating Bible lessons into their homeschool day, that’s fine. I don’t want to listen to how the moms won’t let their kids read books where a character has gay parents. NOPE. Unfollow, immediately.

So currently I’m trying out Honey I’m Homeschooling the Kids. So far, it seems really diverse and has an interesting spread of guests who span the homeschooling spectrum, from unschooling to much more structured. I’m *really* wanting to delve into Book Riot’s For Real, a podcast just about nonfiction books, but my TBR is already crying for mercy at the thought of that, so I WILL get to it, I just don’t know when!

I’ve also been poking into Conspirituality, which is so far over my head, but it’s still pretty fascinating.

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

So, not really much time for this right now. I’ve pulled my copy of Jewish Literacy by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin upstairs to the pile next to my bed, and every night before beginning my regular reading, I read an entry in this book. It covers over 300 subjects and is 688 pages. I read a lot of it for my conversion class but not all of it, and now I’m reading the whole thing. I like reading it this way; it gives me something to think about all the next day. I’d eventually like to read all of Rabbi Telushkin’s writings.

Real Life Stuff

Right now, I’m basically up to my eyeballs in homeschool stuff again. Math isn’t working out for us, so I’m having to change things up a bit and also relax a lot more, which basically goes against my entire personality, so it’s not easy for me. I’m more of a, “Let’s get everything done NOW NOW NOW so we can do EVEN MORE later!!!” And my daughter just doesn’t work well under those conditions, so this is very much a growth moment for me. It’s hard. I’m still trying to figure out a way – if there even IS a way – to parent this child without her blowing up at me constantly. It’s her anxiety and her perfectionism that causes so much of this, so I try not to take it personally, but it’s really, really hard.

My son is still doing awesome in college and really liking everything, which is a relief! It’s nice to see him blossoming academically. High school classes just weren’t his thing, but he’s all about the stuff he’s learning here in college, so I’m absolutely thrilled for him.

That’s really about it. Nothing else new for me. Hanukkah starts on the 18th (which is a Sunday), so I’ll be over here cranking out some amazing latkes (seriously the best potato product out there, hands down), but other than that, I’m just trying to maintain my sanity with my pile of books.

Wishing you a lovely December, however you spend it! See you in January for next year’s roundup! 🙂

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Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: October 2022

Happy November! Two months left to 2022. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAT???

I’m still behind in posting reviews. I have so much to do in the mornings and during the day that it’s often difficult to find time to get that post up. But I’m not giving up, don’t worry! I love this book blog, and I really enjoy writing about the things I read, because it helps me remember long-term all these books I’m cramming into my brain. I may be floundering, but I’m not about to stop blogging.

It’s been a super gorgeous October here. The colors this year have been phenomenal. We had a fall like this a few years ago, and someone speculated it was because it was cooler than normal. It was a little like that this year as well; the temps dropped from 80 to in the low 50’s almost overnight, and the trees all just exploded with beauty. Driving around town has been so enjoyable this past month!

Let’s get this recap started, shall we?

Books I Read in October 2022

1. Stolen Words: The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books by Mark Glickman

2. God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney

3. Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America by Ryan Busse (review to come)

4. Flamer by Mike Curato

5. Putting God Second: How to Save Religion from Itself by Rabbi Donniel Hartman (no review)

6. Girl A by Abigail Dean (review to come)

7. The Nowhere Child by Christian White (review to come)

8. Well Matched by Jen DeLuca (review to come)

9. Kin: A Memoir by Shawna Kay Rodenberg (review to come)

10. Twisted: The Tangled History of Black Hair Culture by Emma Dabiri (no review)

11. Love Thy Neighbor: The Tory Diary of Prudence Emerson by Ann Turner (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

12. American Made: What Happens to People When Work Disappears by Farah Stockman (review to come)

Not a very long list this month! I simply haven’t had much time to read, so that explains that. Not much I can do about that, either. Oh well.

I read Emma Dabiri’s Twisted simply to gain more knowledge and understanding so that I can be a better ally. I’m not writing a review because I don’t feel it’s my place; I’m obviously not the target audience, but it’s absolutely a great book: history, a little bit of memoir, even a little bit of discussion of some heavy math, all written in an engaging voice that kept me intrigued and occasionally even laughing out loud.

Eleven of these books came from my TBR!

State of the Goodreads TBR

Oy vey. So, last month, we left off at 132 books. But then I learned about a bunch of really interesting books, and I attended a virtual presentation on fighting book bans, where I learned about a bunch more, and so now my TBR is resting at 133. Not as big a number as it could be, but I was really hoping to get it down to the 120’s this month. Maybe next month…though we’re going to start seeing ‘Best of 2022!’ book lists soon.

I’m in danger…

Books I Acquired in October 2022

I think the only book that made its way into my house this past month was Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh. There was a copy on the shelf of the Dollar Tree, for some reason, and since I really enjoyed her other book, I grabbed this one to take home.

Bookish Things I Did in October 2022

So many trips to the library! Does that count?

I also attended a virtual program on the recent slew of book banning and challenges across the country, but this was specific to my area, put on by the local group who puts on the book sales I go to, a local book store, a local-to-me-but-national-in-size publisher, and a local Jewish group I’ve volunteered with. SUPER informative presentation, and it’s definitely got me fired up to fight against these swamphogs who think they can decide what everyone else reads.

Current Podcast Love

Really enjoying Maintenance Phase right now!

Funny story about this. My son and I were out running errands last weekend, and he was like, “Hey, I’m going to throw on this podcast I have to listen to for my English class. It sounds like something you’ll like, too.” So he hooks up his phone to the car’s audio system and when the opening music began playing, I turned to stare at him and said, “Oh my God, is that Maintenance Phase?” Sure was! We listened to their episode on Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, since my son’s English class had been assigned a paper on the introduction of the book (and my son had read some of the book for more clarity). It was indeed a great episode!

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

AHAHAHAHAHAHA. I barely have time to do my regular reading. Zero time to do any extra, specialized reading. *sob*

Real Life Stuff

The good: My son is doing *really* well with his college classes. He’s loving everything he’s been studying, he’s super engaged with the material, and he’s excited to go to class every day. He comes home bursting with information and wants to tell me all about it, which is great. It’s absolutely wonderful to see him so enthusiastic about school; I think the time he spent away from school really helped him mature, understand how he learns, and helped him to figure out what he wanted. Huge relief here! I’ve also been over to his campus with him a few times; their library is a-ma-zing!

Our new town library is coming along swimmingly! Their outside walls are finished; there’s brickwork, there are windows in, and it looks like they’re ready to commence on work on the inside of the building. It’s slated to open at some point early in the new year, so that’ll be exciting!

The not-so-good: My back is garbage right now, sending pain down both my legs. My blood pressure is up, likely from stress. Homeschooling is…well, there are good days, and then there are days that are likely responsible for the rise in my blood pressure (I found this out at the eye doctor, who is seeing blood pressure-related changes in my eye vessels, sigh. I have to go back in six months, and I’m supposed to try controlling my stress, which basically means I’m just resigned to going blind at this point). My daughter’s counselor has been out for the past two weeks due to COVID that turned into pneumonia, and my husband’s boss also has COVID right now.

Sigh.

I’m hanging in there, though. I have a massive stack of library books that I’m really looking forward to reading, if only I had time where I wasn’t homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, or running errands (exercise? AHAHAHAHAHAHA). Doing my best, but there are only 24 hours a day, and I’m doing everything I normally do with a significant amount of pain, so it’s rough. But one foot in front of the other…

Wishing you all a peaceful November. Happy reading, friends.

Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: September 2022

Welcome to October, friends!

Fall has begun with its lovely, crisp, cool air here in the Midwest. A few of our trees have started to change, but nothing major quite yet. The temperatures are absolutely gorgeous, though; it’s been in the mid-60’s for a few weeks now, our windows are open, the heat isn’t on yet, and it’s straight-up hoodie weather. I’m loving it.

The reading is sloooooooooooooooowwwwww right now, though. Homeschooling my daughter takes up as much time as a full-time job, and then there’s all the cooking, cleaning, running errands, and planning that I need to do in order to make life run, and I’m barely getting any reading done right now, let alone posting reviews. I am currently SO far behind in writing reviews, it’s so bad. We’re also smack in the middle of the High Holidays, so I’ve had stuff to do because of that, which I’m grateful for. Doing my best, though, and that’s all I can do!

Let’s get this roundup started, shall we?

Books I Read in September 2022

1. Good Talk by Mira Jacob

2. Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields by Wendy Lower

3. History Smashers: The Mayflower by Kate Messner (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

4. Tillly and the Book Wanderers by Anna James (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

5. Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker (review to come)

6. Repairing the World by Linda Epstein (review to come)

7. Button Pusher by Tyler Page (review to come)

8. Miracles and Menorahs by Stacey Agdern (review to come)

9. Why We Fly by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal (review to come)

10. Last Chance for Magic by Ruth Chew (no review, read out loud to my daughter)

11. The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis (review to come)

12. Heretics!: The Wondrous (and Dangerous!) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy by Steven Nadler (review to come)

13. The Vicious Vikings by Terry Deary (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

14. Not a Crime to Be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America by Peter Edelman (review to come)

15. You’re the Only One I’ve Told: The Stories Behind Abortion by Dr. Meera Shah (review to come)

Told you I was behind! That’s what you get when you homeschool a kiddo like my daughter. I want her to have the best education possible, and that means dedicating basically all day long to her (she has ADHD and struggles with focusing, so it’s a LOT of work!). I’m going to work to get caught up this weekend, though. I should be able to knock a bunch of reviews out!

In terms of sheer numbers, however, this isn’t too bad, and is likely a lot higher than it’ll be next month, I’m guessing. Four read out loud to my daughter; three graphic novels. I’m not counting every book I read to/with my daughter for school, but I will count the ones I really enjoyed, and I’ll continue to count the ones I read to her at bedtime (The Vicious Vikings ended up a bedtime book, though it was on our school list, per my daughter’s request!). Kate Messner’s History Smashers: The Mayflower was excellent and a really fun read!

Ten of these books came from my TBR.

State of the Goodreads TBR

So, last month, we started off at 131. I read ten books from my TBR this month, so let’s do the math…*counts on fingers, carries the one* 132 books!

Hmph. Book math.

Books I Acquired in September 2022

None! Phew. I acquired a LOT of books over the summer, so a no-books month is a good thing. Kinda.

Current Podcast Love

Still listening to, and really enjoying, You’re Wrong About. I learn so much about a variety of different topics, and I really enjoy the banter between the hosts. Highly recommended!

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

Still trying to figure out how to fit this into our new schedule. Maybe as the homeschool year progresses, I’ll be able to fit it in during the day. Last year, I was having my daughter read for 30 minutes at the end of each day, and I was doing this with her, but now, she reads so much more that I don’t need to schedule a reading time for her (and I usually segue right into making dinner when school is done!). Maybe when she’s mastered cursive (which is what we do to finish up the school day), we’ll have time to fit some extra quiet reading in…

Real Life Stuff

Shanah tovah and g’mar chatima tovah! Rosh Hashanah was last week; Yom Kippur is this week (and they’re followed in quick succession by Sukkot and Simchat Torah. If you know a rabbi, give them a break and maybe a gift card for a restaurant, because they’re exhausted this time of year!). I’ll still be attending services virtually; I’m not comfortable in huge crowds right now – who knows if I’ll ever be – so that’ll change our school schedule around a bit for that day. Not much, fortunately; Wednesday is our easy day, where we do art and music, so I’m grateful for that. I do love the High Holidays and the introspection they require.

While we’ve missed two weeks of counseling appointments thanks to COVID showing up at our counselor’s house, I have to say that taking my daughter to a counselor has helped a LOT. School has gone well for three straight weeks, with only minor foibles here and there. While I’m still running around like a headless chicken trying to get everything done, my stress levels are down considerably, now that she doesn’t fight me over every. single. thing. It’s a huge relief, and I’m SO glad I made the decision to take her back in the spring.

Not really much else going on! It’s school, cooking, cleaning, errands, and a little bit of reading here the end of every day. I’m trying my best to sneak in some exercise here and there, but that’s not always easy when my schedule is always so jam-packed. Walks are especially lovely right now, with the cooler fall temperatures!

Wishing you all a pleasant October, full of crisp air, colorful leaves, and a stack of excellent books!

Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: August 2022

How is it already September?!?!??

Seriously, summer just started, and now it’s over? WHAT?!?!? I really don’t understand how time works anymore. I did have a very relaxing summer, however. So much time spent reading outside on the front porch (which, to be honest, I enjoy just as much as reading on my swing – which is STILL waiting to be fixed, sigh – and it doesn’t put me to sleep, so that’s nice! Also, I can wave at neighbors who walk by and check out their adorable dogs). So many relaxing days. Now that it’s back to homeschooling, I hit the ground running at 6:30 am and most days, I don’t get a single break until I’m done for the day at 8 pm. I wish I were joking.

My me-reading will slow down, but fortunately, my daughter and I are reading a lot of really great children’s nonfiction (which I LOVE). That’s one of the definite upsides of homeschooling. I was able to discover so many fascinating books for us to make our way through throughout the year. We’re only one week in and we’ve already read some great books (my history/social studies choices alone are fabulous!), so I’m thinking it’ll be a pretty good year on this front anyway.

I’m still behind in posting reviews, though NOT behind in writing them – that’s a first! But when I get caught up, my posts will probably be a little slower, since I’m not ready quite as quickly now, with my days being devoted to my daughter’s education, and most of the rest of my time devoted to cooking and cleaning (ugh). So I’ll still be here, just not quite as often. : )

Let’s get this roundup started, shall we?

Books I Read in August 2022

1. The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Edith Eva Eger

2. Idiot’s Guides: Foraging by Mark Vorderbruggen

3. What the Witch Left by Ruth Chew (no review; a reread to my daughter)

4. In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids by Travis Rieder

5. Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation by Kristin Kobes du Mez (no review)

6. I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day

7. As If on Cue by Marisa Kanter

8. A Place at the Table by Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan (review to come)

9. When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed (review to come)

10. The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene (no review)

11. Give a Sh*t: Do Good. Live Better. Save the Planet by Ashlee Piper (review to come)

12. Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (no review)

13. The Ravine: A Family, a Photograph, a Holocaust Massacre Revealed by Wendy Lower (review to come)

14. The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee (no review)

15. Who I Was With Her by Nita Tyndall (review to come)

16. The Outside World by Tova Mirvis (review to come)

17. Before Columbus: The Americas of 1491 by Charles C. Mann (no review; read as part of my daughter’s school)

18. Come and Hear: What I Saw in My Seven-And-a-Half-Year Journey Through the Talmud by Adam Kirsch (no review)

Eighteen books completed. That’s a completely acceptable number to me. I suspect they’ll be back down next month, simply due to far less time to read. Such is life!  

I didn’t review Jesus and John Wayne or The Sum of Us because I’m just not smart enough to speak about those topics, to be honest. They’re both fascinating books (with more than a little bit of overlap in the topics they cover, unsurprisingly), and I recommend both of them if you’ve got the time and mental space for them. I read Le Petit Prince in its original French; I usually try to read one French book a year, but I don’t always get to it; it’s *really* been difficult to do during the pandemic, with everyone at home and my responsibilities having increased 4378432794832-fold. There’s just not enough time, and it’s never, ever quiet around here (truly, my husband and daughter make enough noise for at least 30 people, and noise-cancelling headphones don’t cut it). I managed it this year, however, but it wasn’t easy!

Thirteen of these books came from my TBR.

State of the Goodreads TBR

Last month, we left off at 140 books; this month, we’ve got…131! Slowly, slowly going down.

Books I Acquired in August 2022

Another used book sale! I love the group that puts these things on, and I’m glad to see them return. We picked up so many good books this summer. Here’s our latest batch:

Current Podcast Love

I’ve been listening to more Crime Junkies as I fall asleep, along with You’re Wrong About, which is pretty interesting, and I love that each episode has a different topic. When I’m awake and I can focus on the episodes (like when I’m exercising), I’ve been enjoying Digging Up the Duggars, which dissects episodes of the Duggars’ show, knowing all that we know now about the scandals that were brewing and/or ongoing throughout. Super interesting!

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

Still stuck on I and Thou by Martin Buber; I’ll eventually get through it! I also finished Come and Hear: What I Saw in My Seven-and-a-Half Year Journey Through the Talmud by Adam Kirsch, 20 pages a day, on days when I had time (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA). It was lovely reading, though not necessarily a book that I wanted to put my sole focus into, so the short-chunk-per-day method really worked well here. I’ll likely finish I and Thou next, and move on to something else…

Real Life Stuff

Seriously. Life is exhausting right now.

I get up, get dressed, gulp down some coffee, take care of the dishes from the night before, and then get whatever I have planned for dinner started and/or made. If it’s Monday or Tuesday, I squeeze in a half-hour of virtual volunteer work before we start school, usually by 8:15. My daughter has ADHD; herding her through math and language arts, our most intense subjects, is often like pulling teeth and takes every last ounce of patience I can scrounge up. This usually takes us right to lunch; most days this past week, we had working lunch breaks and we worked through the afternoon, often until 3 pm. And then, if it’s Monday or Tuesday, I squeeze in another half-hour of volunteer work, then tackle whatever’s left to do of dinner and clean up the living room, which is where we do our schoolwork.

After we have dinner, I do whatever exercise I’m doing for the day (if this is walking with my son, it often takes close to or over an hour), then I shower, and then it’s time to put dinner away, clean up, and put my daughter to bed. This puts me at 7:30 or 8 pm, and I haven’t had a moment of downtime at all throughout the day. Fridays, we have my daughter’s counseling appointment, so school will go longer that day. Wednesdays, I go grocery shopping; that usually takes at least two hours after school.

Right now, I’m getting most of the bigger stuff like laundry done on weekends. I get no help with housework or cooking (other than my son occasionally pitching in to cook), so ALL OF THIS is on me, and I’m absolutely struggling and overwhelmed. I need like 347823473928 more hours in the day so the house doesn’t look like a disaster, the laundry isn’t always behind, the compost and recycling aren’t piling up to be taken outside, and the kitchen isn’t full of other people’s dishes that I have to scrape off.

So now you can see why I have so little time to read during the school year! But that’s life, and it’s not going to change, so I’m doing my best to deal. I do really enjoy that hour or so of reading I get at the end of each day, though!

Wishing you all a wonderful September!

Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: June 2022

Here we are in July, and everything is a dystopian hellscape! Who else is coping by reading copious amounts of books? *waves hand*

So things are bad right now, in a lot of different places, for a lot of different reasons. I don’t have any answers about how to get us out of this mess; all I can do is keep speaking out when I can, and keep doing things that help me get through each day. And that involves a lot of walking (I had a six-mile day a few days ago) and a lot of reading. It says something when dissociation is one of the top ways of getting through life, right?

I don’t know, friends. It’s tough, and odds are you’re struggling with *gestures broadly at everything* as well right now. I hope you’re all finding ways to take care of yourself throughout all of this. It’s so important.

I’ve been pretty bad at reviewing books lately; I’m a little behind, and some of what I’ve read hasn’t necessarily been review-worthy, so there won’t be a lot of links in my monthly book list. That’s why! I’m going to do a big catch-up post in a few days. Homeschool planning has been taking up a LOT of my writing time.

That’s all I’ve got there, so let’s get this recap started, shall we?

Books I Read in June 2022

1. The Lost Family: How DNA Testing is Uncovering Secrets, Reuniting Relatives, and Upending Who We Are by Libby Copeland

2. How to Find What You’re Not Looking For by Veera Hiranandani

3. Blubber by Judy Blume

4. How the Other Half Eats: The Untold Story of Food and Inequality by Priya Fielding-Singh

5. A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom by Brittany K. Barnett

6. Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster W. Cline and Jim Fay

7. The Book of Elsie by Joanne Levy (full review to come)

8. Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin

9. Since Sinai by Shannon Gonyou

10. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music History by Michael Miller

11. The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12 by Linda Dobson

12. The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein

13. Guts by Raina Telgemeier

14. The Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

15. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

16. Library Lin’s Curated Collection of Superlative Nonfiction by Linda Maxie (full review to come)

17. Worn Out: How Our Clothes Cover Up Fashion’s Sins by Alyssa Hardy (full review to come)

18. White Bird by R.J. Palacio

Yup, way, WAY behind (feels like I’m behind in just about everything these days, though, so this is par for the course!). Definitely some good reading in there though, this month, and I’m happy with the numbers.

Only six of these books came from my TBR! Sometimes it’s nice to read outside the list. ; )

State of the Goodreads TBR

Last month, we left off at 146; this month, we’re hanging out at a comfortable 148. I removed two from there; one was a DNF,  and another, I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle reading anytime soon.

I really need more time to read.

Books I Acquired in June 2022

SO. MANY. BOOKS.

The pictures below aren’t even all of them. The local women’s university group had multiple book sales for ten dollars per bag, and we went wild. Nothing wrong with that; some of these will be used for homeschooling this year, and the proceeds go to a cause I’m happy to support. But here are some of the stacks we came home with:

Aren’t they beautiful???

Bookish Things I Did in June 2022

Other than the book sales, not too much! It’s been quiet on that front.

Current Podcast Love

I started out the month listening to The Slow Home podcast, which is lovely, and then…my brain suddenly stopped wanting noise at night.

I have lived my entire adult life having trouble falling asleep if there’s no noise (and noise like the ceiling fan absolutely did not count. That actually made it worse). I could lie awake in bed until 4 am if there was complete silence. And all of a sudden this past month, I just felt like I didn’t want any kind of sound as I fell asleep. None whatsoever. And to my shock…I’ve been falling asleep without a podcast going.

It’s weird. Good, but weird.

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

So I finished The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music History by Michael Miller! Super excited about this. I was going to take a break from this challenge over the summer, but then I grabbed a copy of I and Thou by Martin Buber from one of those used book sales and decided to tackle that. This is probably the most difficult book I’ve ever read; I can get through entire paragraphs and have zero clue as to what I just read (and thus, I need to read it again). I’m only reading ten pages per day because that’s literally all I have the brain power for, I’m reading it slowly and often out loud, and I *still* feel like I’m going to need to read it multiple times to really understand what he’s saying. Phew!

Real Life Stuff

Tiny moment of zen for you. The I&M canal in my hometown.

Ugh.

That’s kind of what I feel about…everything right now.

I won’t even get into the general state of the world, because I don’t feel like that needs more explanation, but to top it all off, my swing seat ripped. Twice. My husband said he’s going to repair it, but the house is crammed to the rafters with items that he said he’ll repair, and…we all know how that goes. Fortunately, my tiny front porch gets shade after 10 am and is shaded the rest of the day until bedtime, so I can still read outside on a camp chair. All is not lost.

I’m eyeball-deep in homeschool planning for the upcoming school year. My daughter will still be at home; I’m not yet interested in sending her back, and she has ZERO interest in going back (which makes me feel pretty good, honestly! I’d send her back if it were the best option for her; this very much isn’t an ego thing for me, haha, but right now, it’s not the best thing for her. She tends to get panicky whenever there are maskless people near us, so for now, home is best). We’ve already started up third grade math and she’s rocking it as always, so the new year looks good. : )

Not really all that much else going on! With my son living at home now, he and I have been going on frequent 3- and 4-mile walks, so that’s been awesome. He’s a little slower than I am, since I’ve been walking like a beast for years, but he’ll get there. : ) My garden is limping along. My container tomatoes are doing great, and the garden zucchini seem to be flourishing, but everything else is having a tough year. Such is life!

Hang in there, friends. It’s tough out there; take care of yourselves and always remember it’s okay to get lost in a book when the world is too much.

Wishing you all a peaceful July. : )

Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: May 2022

Here we are! Welcome to JUNE!!!!!!!!!!

It feels like a slightly better month for reading than last month. Maybe it just feels that way because it’s nicer outside, because I can read outside on my swing (most days, anyway!), or maybe it just feels that way because we’re taking some time off of school to get things ready for the fall. Either way, it feels as though I’ve gotten some good quality reading done. Don’t worry, I’m still a few books behind in terms of reviews. I don’t know that THAT will ever change.

I’m hoping to make some decent progress on my TBR this summer. So far, it’s going pretty well. I’m still foolishly yearning for the days where I had that beast beaten down into the 70’s, and while I don’t think I’m in any danger of getting anywhere near that, what with the 237482374932 hours of homeschooling I do per day of homeschooling during the school year, it’s nice to have a goal, right?

Anyway, let’s get this recap started, shall we???

Books I Read in May 2022

1. One People, Two Worlds: A Reform Rabbi and an Orthodox Rabbi Explore the Issues that Divide Them by Ammiel Hirsch and Yaakov Yosef Reinmen (no review)

2. Chosen: A Memoir of Stolen Boyhood by Stephen Mills

3. The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

4. The Girls in the Wild Fig Tree: How I Fought to Save Myself, My Sister, and Thousands of Girls Worldwide by Nice Leng’ete

5. The Kissing Bug by Daisy Hernàndez

6. Koshersoul: The Faith and Food Journey of an African American Jew by Michael W. Twitty (review to come)

7. Why’d They Wear That?: Fashion as a Mirror of History by Sarah Albee (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

8. Tiny House: Live Small, Dream Big by Brent Heavener (no review)

9. Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter by Lloyd Kahn (no review)

10. The Big Tiny: A Built-It-Myself Memoir by Dee Williams

11. Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

12. A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise by Alex Sheshunoff (review to come)

13. Lennon by David Foenkinos (no review)

14. And Now I Spill the Family Secrets: An Illustrated Memoir by Margaret Kimball (no review)

15. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast (no review)

16. The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan (review to come)

17. Dude Making a Difference: Bamboo Bikes, Dumpster Dives, and Other Extreme Adventures Across America by Rob Greenfield (review to come)

18. Frindle by Andrew Clements (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

Not a terrible month. I squeezed a few graphic novels in there, which got my numbers up, but I was visiting the library with my son and he was over in that section, so I grabbed a few (since I’m almost never in that part of the library and I always forget about the GN’s!). They were a nice break between other things from my TBR. We’ll see what things look like after next month…

Nine of these books came from my TBR.

State of the Goodreads TBR

Last month, we left off at 150; this month, we’re tap-dancing in at 146! I read a whole bunch, ditched a few from the TBR, and here we are, comfortably in the 140’s. Now how long will it take me to move to the 130’s? : D

Books I Acquired in May 2022

I actually got a few new books this month!

We stopped by the used book store one day when we were out and about, and I wound up with A Day Apart: Shabbat at Home by Noam Sachs Zion and Shawn Fields-Meyer, and God Was In This Place and I, I Did Not Know: Finding Self, Spirituality and Ultimate Meaning by Lawrence Kushner.

Then, I checked in on a Little Free Library a few blocks down from our house (the owner also has a really sweet German Shepherd) and found Through the Narrow Gate: A Memoir of Spiritual Discovery by Karen Armstrong, so I’m also looking forward to reading that!

But there’s a book sale coming up midway through June…

Bookish Things I Did in May 2022

In the very beginning of the month, I attended a virtual book talk with Riva Lehrer, author of Golem Girl, and she’s fabulous. And even beyond the talk about the book, which was great, it was nice to be in a space full of and made for Jewish women. I actually kind of gave a little sigh of relief when our collective voices rose up in the chat box. It felt like home.

Current Podcast Love

It’s been a bit of a back and forth month. First, I listened to a lot of Crimes of the Centuries, which details historical true crime cases. This was super interesting and really well-narrated. Then my brain wanted something different, so I’ve been listening to Tedx Shorts, short little chunks of Ted talks. Interesting and varied enough to keep my interest while I’m awake, but not super music or loud. I’m digging this!

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

Taking a little bit of a break from this for a bit, but I’m still working my way through The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music History by Michael Miller.

Real Life Stuff

Phew. What a month.

My son moved back in! He’s going to be going back to school in the fall, so this is the best place for him to be for that! It’s nice having him home; he’s been walking with me a lot and helping me cook, so I appreciate that.

We finished our year homeschooling! We’re taking a MUCH-needed break for a bit while I regroup and start to plan out school in the fall. We’re still going to be keeping our daughter at home for a while; I’ve got to figure out what we’re doing with Language Arts, and I know I’m going to structure our weeks a little differently, in order to give us time for music and art.

MIGRAINES.

UGH. All of Memorial Day weekend was spent with migraines – Saturday, Sunday, AND Monday. Which landed me in the neurologist’s office Tuesday morning, which in turn will land me in an MRI tube next week. Yayyyyy… They’re not expecting to find anything, just ruling it out so we know. But for the first time in my life, and probably the fifth or sixth doctor that’s prescribed it, my insurance has finally covered Zofran (an anti-nausea drug, as in, “Here, Stephanie, please take this Zofran so that you stop throwing up your migraine medication!” Don’t let your doctor try asking for these meds to keep you from vomiting yourself into the hospital when you’re pregnant, though. THAT would just be ridiculous and a frivolous waste of time and resources!).

But that’s about all that’s new around here. This month is going to be spent reading and planning for this fall’s homeschool. I have a stack of books to page through and figure out what we’re going to do. Other than that, I’ve got stacks of books that are just begging to be read, and long, empty days. My backyard swing is calling my name!

Wishing you all a wonderful June! Stay safe and healthy!!!

Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: April 2022

What a whirlwind of a month. Between life and homeschooling, my poor reading time has definitely shrunk. Combine that with my getting to a chunk of my TBR that I don’t feel hugely compelled to write reviews for here, and I’ve been more absent than usual this month. My apologies! We’re definitely in a transition period and I’m still trying to figure things out. I’m working on it, I promise!

Not a bad month at all, just busy. Passover came and went (life without leavened grains is just sad, y’all. But I’m always grateful for how much avoiding chametz for eight days helps me appreciate the struggles of those with conditions like celiac and food allergies), and we had a few really awesome weather days – including several days where I was able to read outside! My swing isn’t out yet, but possibly at the end of this month. Bring on those long, hot summer days!

Let’s get this way-too-short recap started, shall we?

Books I Read in April 2022

1. Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women, and Queer Christians Are Reclaiming Evangelicalism by Deborah Jian Lee (no review; read for my volunteer job)

2. Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage With Life by Stuart Shanker (no review)

3. What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

4. Everything You Need to Know About Asian-American History by Lan Cao, Himilce Novas, and Rosemary Silva (no review; read for my personal Read Harder project)

5. This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith

6. Golem Girl: A Memoir by Riva Lehrer

7. The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home: The Happy Luddite’s Guide to Domestic Self-Sufficiency by Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafziger Henderson (no review)

8. How Good Do We Have to Be?: A New Understanding of Guilt and Forgiveness by Harold Kushner (no review)

9. Lovesong: Becoming a Jew by Julius Lester (no review)

10. Follow My Leader by James B. Garfield (read out loud to my daughter; no review)

Slow month overall for reading, but that’s just the homeschooling life sometimes. I usually don’t review a lot of the more spiritual Jewish books, nor do I review the things I read out loud to my daughter, and that kind of makes up the bulk of what I read this month! I also read through parts, though not all, of two books on foraging, which took up a good portion of my reading time in the beginning of the month. That also explains my low numbers.

Five of these books came from my TBR.

State of the Goodreads TBR

Last month, we ended up at 154; this month, we’re actually down to…151! This is definitely a good thing. I think it’s more that I’ve had less time on the computer to find new books than it is that I’ve been reading enough to get the number to go down on its own, but hey, less is less!

Books I Acquired in April 2022

None!

Bookish Things I Did in April 2022

I was lucky enough to be able to virtually attend a talk given by Dr. Eboo Patel, author of Acts of Faith. He’s an incredible speaker, and I could’ve listened to him for hours. If you’re at all interested in how religious diversity works in the US, or in religious literacy in general, try to catch one of his talks if you can.

Current Podcast Love

Bleh. Still mostly just listening to BBC World Service. I halfheartedly tried to find something new to listen to a few times this month, but nothing stuck. Such is life. I did listen to the first one-and-a-half episodes of Stark Raving Dad, by a homeschooling dad from New Zealand who writes some interesting things about homeschooling, while I was biking one day, and I’m enjoying that so far.

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

Woohoo, I finished Everything You Need to Know About Asian-American History, which I ended up really enjoying. It covered most groups of Asians that have made their way to the US, and gave accounts of their history here in the US, including the very, very racist ways they’ve been treated throughout their time here. Eye-opening and informative. I’ve moved on to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music History by Michael Miller, which I borrowed from my son’s shelves (and which I found when I was doing various workouts in his room. He’s currently living with his best friend, so I use his room for some privacy in my workouts). Enjoying this one so far!

Real Life Stuff

It feels like it’s been a busier-than-normal month. My daughter turned eight, I have her seeing a counselor now so we can work on her need to argue with me about everything, and the whole house could use a giant clean-up, but I can barely keep up with the day-to-day cleaning (my husband and daughter make messes faster than I can get to them, and I’m the only one doing any kind of housework). There are days when we homeschool from 8:30 am until lunch, I gulp down my lunch and get started on dinner prep and cleaning the kitchen, then it’s back to homeschooling until 3-ish, sometimes later, and then it’s more work on dinner and what chores I need to do for the day (and two days a week, I put in a few hours for my volunteer job). Add in some exercise and a shower after dinner, and it’s pretty much bedtime after that. I’m seriously struggling to get anything done beyond the very basics right now.

We’ll relax our schedule a bit over the summer; we won’t start nearly as early, and I’m only making my daughter do math two days a week, just enough to keep her brain on track and ready to start again in mid-August. That’ll at least give me time to do a more thorough daily cleaning, and I’ll 100% have more time to read in the afternoons- on my swing! It’s still in the garage now, since it’s still mostly just in the 50’s on our warmer days (oh, Midwest…), but hopefully it’ll be out and ready for swinging by the end of the month.

And now it’s May! We can sign up for summer reading tomorrow, which we will! On Thursday, I’m attending a virtual book talk with Riva Lehrer, author of Golem Girl which I just reviewed in April. And that’s really all I have on the schedule for this month, which is good. I have enough to do already!

Stay safe out there, folks. The wastewater data (and Walgreens testing numbers) say that COVID cases are going up again. I miss the days when we believed this could be eradicated completely. Five cases at my daughter’s former school this week…that we know of. Sigh.

Wishing you a warm, lovely, safe May, full of lots of time to read!

Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: March 2022

It’s me, the slowest reader in the world!!!

Okay, maybe not the slowest, but it sure feels like it. Now that I’m homeschooling my daughter, I get like an hour per night to read. Pretty much every moment of my life is dedicated to homeschooling, cooking, cleaning, and exercising. That’s IT.

Why yes, I am very tired, thank you!

I wouldn’t change things – I’m actually really enjoying teaching her, we’re having a lot of fun! – but I wouldn’t mind adding another hour or ten in the day so I could do things other than adult responsibilities. I’m very much looking forward to this summer, where we’ll have more of a relaxed schedule, and I can spend plenty of time out on my backyard swing, reading the days away.

Are you ready to see how little I’ve managed to read this past month?

Let’s get this sad, sad recap rolling!

Books I Read in March 2022

1. The Cold Vanish: Seeking the Missing in North America’s Wildlands by Jon Billman

2. How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith

3. Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang

4. Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living by Kris Bordessa

5. Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash by Edward Humes

6. Outsmart Waste: The Modern Idea of Garbage and How to Think Our Way Out of It by Tom Szaky (review to come)

7. Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb (no review; read out loud to my daughter at bedtime)

8. The Intimacy Experiment by Rosie Danan (review to come)

9. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon (no review)

10. The Third Daughter by Talia Carner (review to come)

11. Unmask Alice: LSD, Satanic Panic, and the Imposter Behind the World’s Most Notorious Diaries by Rick Emerson (NetGalley book; review to come in June)

That’s IT. It’s better than zero, but someone who’s read 19+ books in a month, reading so few feels…anemic. Sad. I’ve read a ton of children’s nonfiction that I haven’t listed here – maybe I should? The stacks we’re bringing home from the library are so enormous that I struggle to carry them. Maybe I’ll make a section on what we’ve read for homeschool next month. Hmm…

Nine of these books came from my TBR, at least!

State of the Goodreads TBR

Okay, so last month, we ended up with 156 books waiting patiently for me to get to them. Currently, we’re at…154! I joined a fabulous homeschooling group on Facebook for secular homeschoolers, and there was a really great thread on there one day about helping your kids become better learners and more focused, and they had some *great* book suggestions (I have one of the books in my library bag right now!). I’m definitely okay with my TBR growing so that my daughter can grow. : )

Books I Acquired in March 2022

None! We even stopped by the used bookstore one day and while my husband and daughter left with books, there was nothing I needed. : )

Bookish Things I Did in March 2022

The only thing I did that might fit into this category was to pick up a spring break activity bag for my daughter at the library! They made up activity bags for kids with STEAM-type activities, so we’re going to be diving in to some of those. I so appreciate living in an area with such great libraries!

Current Podcast Love

I’ve been mostly listening to BBC World Service at night. With the situation in Ukraine being so tense and frightening, I do my best to keep up to date with what’s going on. I don’t have all that much time to hang out on the computer these days, so those few minutes I listen before falling asleep do a lot to keep me informed.

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

I finished A Room with a View by E.M. Forster this month! It’s something I’d actually read part of as a young teenager, and then I never finished, so I’m glad to have finally tackled it in full. It’s actually part of a three-books-in-one book for me; the book also contains Howards End and Maurice, so I’ll eventually get to those as well, just so I can have completed the whole book. Currently, I’m reading Everything You Need to Know About Asian-American History by Lan Cao, Himilce Novas, and Rosemary Silva. I’m very much enjoying it and finding the knowledge I’m gaining super useful for some of the history my daughter has been covering. This was a good choice to pull off my shelves!

Real Life Stuff

What a month!

I feel a bit like I’m on a hamster wheel that just won’t stop, and I’m getting flung around in circles. We get up at 7 and eat breakfast and get dressed; tidy up from 8-8:30; start school at 8:30; have lunch at 11; I start dinner at 11:45; back to schoolwork at 12:30; and we’re usually done with school around 3. (I have a really literary approach to homeschooling, so we do a LOT of reading together, which is why we’re not like the, “We get all our homeschooling done in two hours!” families. I envy them! My kiddo also isn’t very self-motivated yet, so I need to be involved with everything.) And then it’s errands and cooking and cleaning, and dinner, and exercise, and shower, and then every other night it’s my turn to do bedtime, and then I read, and then it’s bedtime.

Lather, rinse, repeat. This is quite literally what every weekday looks like; I write all my book reviews on weekends because there’s quite literally no other time.

I very much need more hours in the day.

I had yet another migraine this month as well, which makes three so far this year already (it may be four). I had an appointment with a neurologist, who prescribed me a different kind of rescue meds – which insurance promptly denied, so I guess I’ll just keep losing days of my life? It’s cool; I don’t need relief from (literally) blinding head pain that makes me vomit. I’m glad the insurance knows so much better what I need, in a medical sense!

It’s not all doom and gloom, though, I promise. This week has been spring break for my daughter, and we both really needed this lazy, relaxing week! I’m trying some new exercise stuff – HASFit on Youtube – and while I loathe exercising, I’m actually having fun with these two. Warmer weather is around the corner, and not this month, but probably at the very end of next month, I’ll be able to pull my swing out of the garage and spend long, lazy days reading outdoors again. And the organization that I volunteer with is scheduling more regular meetings, including a book club, so I’m looking forward to learning more with them. (So when you see me listing selections like this month’s, which is a book about Jesus, that’s why! This Jewish girl is happy to read whatever if it means she has a better understanding of the people she’s lending a hand to.)

So that’s where I am this month. What’s on the agenda for April? I’m virtually attending a discussion with Dr. Eboo Patel, author of Acts of Faith and creator of the Interfaith Youth Core, who is appearing as part of our parent education group’s author talks. I’m going to my synagogue to help pack Boredom Buster bags for kids served by our local rotating shelter program. Passover is coming, and my daughter turns 8 at the end of the month! We’re still not ready to do a big party yet, but we’ve got some fun activities planned for her. Going to be a busy month, but it’s a good busy.

Stay safe out there, friends! The pandemic isn’t over, though I know we all want it to be. I have multiple friends with COVID right now, and our friends’ 3-year-old has it as well. I’m still N95-ing everywhere I go; I’d *really* rather not get this in any form, mild or otherwise.

Happy April reading!

Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: February 2022

Sometimes life winds up and pitches a twister of a curveball at you and the only thing you can do is be flexible and roll with it. Like, really, really roll. That’s what I’ve been doing this month. Rolling.

Not reading. Not much, anyway.

It’s been a month, reader friends. Lots of unexpected changes, with my reading time drained down to so very little. That’s not to say it’s been a bad month (though I wouldn’t mind more reading time- you hear that, Life?!?!??), just different, and I’ve had to do a lot of adjusting. But that’s okay. That’s what life is: things happen and we roll with the changes the best we can. And hopefully we read a few good books along the way.

I’ll get more into this in the last section, but for now, let’s get this recap *ahem* rolling, shall we?

Books I Read in February 2022

1. When It’s Real by Erin Watt

2. Notes on a Silencing by Lacy Crawford

3. After Long Silence by Helen Fremont (no review, because my brain derped out and I completely forgot)

4. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

5. Anne Frank Beyond the Diary: A Photographic Remembrance by Ruud van der Rol and Rian Verhoeven (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

6. American Literary Almanac, edited by Karen L. Rood (no review; read as part of my personal Read Harder Project)

7. Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival, and Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott

8. The Day the World Stops Shopping: How Ending Consumerism Saves the Environment and Ourselves by J.B. MacKinnon (review to come)

9. Period. End of Sentence.: A New Chapter in the Fight for Menstrual Justice by Anita Diamant (review to come)

10. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster (no review; read for my personal Read Harder challenge)

WORST. MONTH. EVER. That’s what happens when all your reading time gets sucked into the void. I did read an enormous stack of various children’s books, mostly nonfiction (do you see where all this is going???), most of which I enjoyed immensely, however. Children’s nonfiction is totally my jam and my library has a fabulous section, so this is absolutely a plus in my book. I just don’t count most of those in my Goodreads totals.

Six of these books came from my TBR; four came from my own shelves.

Reading Challenge Updates

Reeeeeeeeeeeally glad I made the decision to not participate in any reading challenges at this point. I would’ve felt very frustrated right now if I had.

State of the Goodreads TBR

Arright, so last month, we ended with 158 books snuggled up together on my Goodreads TBR. This month, we’ve got…156! Even two less is a triumph this month!

Books I Acquired in February 2022

So, I didn’t buy any books, wasn’t given any, and none showed up out of the blue on my doorstep, but I did receive an email that informed me that I had won a Goodreads giveaway! My copy of Aviva vs the Dybbuk by Mari Lowe will arrive sometime in the near future, and I’m excited! I don’t read that much middle grade fantasy, but it’s Jewish fantasy, so you know I’m all in. Looking forward to adding this to my shelves!

Bookish Things I Did in February 2022

I did attend a virtual ‘how to fight book banning in your community’ presentation put on by Red Wine & Blue. Super informative and helpful, and I hope to attend more programs by them in the future!

Current Podcast Love

Still listening to Ologies with Alie Ward (which was SUPER helpful when we visited the Field Museum this past month! I’ve learned SO much from this podcast and it really informed so much of what I saw when we made our way through the exhibits) at night (when I’m not listening to BBC World Service, that is), and I listen to Crime Junkie when I nap. I don’t think I want to know what it says about my brain that I nap well when listening to shows about murder…

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

I finished American Literary Almanac, edited by Karen L. Rood! This had been sitting on my shelf for an embarrassing number of years, so it was high time to get it out of there. It was okay; mostly just lists of trivia about various authors from American history. Not my favorite read of all time, and not likely something I would’ve enjoyed sitting down and reading in anything but thirty-minute chunks, but I’m glad to have put it and all its various knowledge into my literary arsenal. I moved on to A Room with a View by E.M. Forster and finished it on the final day of February. It’s part of a three-books-in-one book; I’m currently trying to decide if I’m going to plow through the book and read three Forster books in a row, or read another author in between these books. Not quite sure yet…

Real Life Stuff

WOOF.

What a month.

So, all of a sudden, a few weeks ago, a judge in my state decided that protecting schoolchildren from COVID-19 was illegal and forced the schools to go mask-optional. I believe this happened on a Friday; the stress of this gave me a migraine that pretty much blinded me the rest of the day, my ocular disturbances were so bad. It was a really, really stressful weekend trying to figure out what to do. At first, we thought we would send our daughter and see, and the more I thought about it, the more uncomfortable I became. My dad has Type I diabetes; the number of kids developing Type I diabetes after COVID infections has really bothered me, and the idea of subjecting my daughter (who is double vaccinated, but still) to that when it wasn’t necessary scared the absolute hell out of me. And so that Sunday, I said, “I can’t do it. I can’t send her,” and my husband replied, “So don’t. I completely support keeping her home.”

So we did.

And though we started working that Monday morning, it took about two weeks before we were registered as official homeschoolers with the state.

I’m sad about this, and angry, and disappointed. The numbers aren’t horrible in our area, but I’m not feeling confident enough that this is the end to drop all protections just yet, especially among a group of kids that has a lowish vaccination rate, who have young siblings that aren’t able to be vaccinated, and who are, as kids are wont to be, up in each other’s faces in small, cramped classrooms all day long. I’m sad because I love my daughter’s school (and this isn’t their fault), and she loves her friends and her teacher. I’m disgusted at the judge who thinks that asking kids to protect each other and their families is just too much to ask of them (but it’s not too much to ask them to handle potentially infecting and killing their family members or classmates! THAT’S apparently just fine!). I’m exhausted and frustrated by all of this.

I’m not sad about homeschooling my daughter. She’s made the transition pretty flawlessly and doesn’t want to go back at the moment. You can see our stack of library books above; we got this pile a week ago and have already blown through about a third of them. She’s learning SO much, and we’re having a ton of fun together. We’ve developed a pretty good routine, and though I’m a bit bummed about my lack of free time and my inability to get pretty much anything else done, I’m enjoying spending all this extra time with my kiddo and with being able to use my brain so much during the day (although my jaw sometimes hurts by 3pm from reading and talking so much! I know a lot of homeschoolers are able to get their work done within a few hours, but I’ve always taken a really literary approach to homeschooling- I taught my son at home until he was 9, so this isn’t anything new- so we do a lot of reading and discussing).

So that’s what I’ve been up to lately and why I’ve barely gotten any reading of my own done. I’ve read a buttload of books about things like plants and American history and Native American myths, though, and that’s been pretty awesome. : )

Homeschooling has pretty much taken over my life! This isn’t meant to be permanent, though it’ll likely last throughout the remainder of this school year. We’ll reassess mid-summer and see where things are at that point. Hopefully she’ll be able to go back, but if not, Mama’s got her.

I’ve got three doctor appointments in March- nothing serious, two yearly checkups and an appointment with a neurologist thanks to all the migraines I’ve had lately- and Purim begins at sundown on the 16th, so I’ll be making some yummy Hamantaschen then, but besides trying to sneak in all the reading I can, that’s all I have planned (and oof, that may be all I can handle at this point!). Hopefully your months have more exciting events planned!

Be well, friends. Warmer weather is coming, for those of us in the Northern hemisphere! (I mean, not in March, haha, but we’re one month closer!)

Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: January 2022

Happy February!

PHEW. What a month. Started off quite well, ended up not-so-great (not THAT, fortunately, and nothing major), but definitely not as much reading as I would have liked, especially since I had to take multiple days off. HATE when that happens, but such is life. It’s been cold, cold, cold here, and we’ve gotten a lot of snow (though not as much as some of you in the East. We have some more snow on the way tonight, though, so we’ll see!). I’m working my way through all the ebooks on my TBR, so I’m hopeful for more reading this month.

Let’s get this recap started, shall we?

Books I Read in January 2021

1. Gory Details: Adventures from the Dark Side of Science by Erika Engelhaupt

2. Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America’s Cheap Goods by Amelia Pang

3. Rad Girls Can: Stories of Bold, Brave, and Brilliant Young Women by Kate Schatz

4. The Premonition: A Pandemic Story by Michael Lewis

5. 100 Side Hustles: Ideas for Making Extra Money by Chris Guillebeau

6. Miss Jacobson’s Journey by Carola Dunn

7. Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers #1) by Sarina Bowen

8. Wonder Women of Science: How Twelve Geniuses are Rocking Science, Technology, and the World by Tiera Fletcher (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

9. The Book of Separation by Tova Mirvis

10. Notes from an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back by Mark O’Connell

11. This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

12. Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth by Noa Tishby (no review)

13. Invisible City (Rebekah Roberts #1) by Julia Dahl (review to come)

14. Playing with Matches by Suri Rosen (review to come)

Not fabulous in terms of numbers, but in terms of quality, this has truly been a phenomenal month. Several of these books will end up on my best-of-the-year list, I already know. Lower numbers this month because I spent the last week down with a migraine that wouldn’t die and spent the days huddled under a blanket. I highly prefer reading.

Ten of these books came from my TBR, hurray!

Reading Challenge Updates

Not currently participating in any reading challenges.

State of the Goodreads TBR

Last month, we ended at 162, this month, we’re sliding under the door with…158! Getting there. : )

Books I Acquired in January 2022

None! Hurray!

Bookish Things I Did in January 2022

None. Been a quiet month for that.

Current Podcast Love

Still listening to Ologies with Alie Ward, who is funny and brilliant and so enjoyable to listen to. I learn so much from this podcast and can’t recommend it highly enough.

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

I’m slightly over halfway through American Literary Almanac, edited by Karen L. Rood. It’s not the most fascinating book I’ve ever read, but I enjoy the bits of literary trivia on (mostly male) American authors. I picked this book mostly because I was tired of seeing it hang out on my shelf unread, so I’ll be glad to finish it- hopefully in February. I had to take a week off due to the Migraine from Hell, but I started up back with my daily 30 minutes of reading yesterday!

Real Life Stuff

It’s been like an entire year in a single month this month, hasn’t it? Exhausting.

We started out the month keeping our daughter home for the first week back to school. I just couldn’t fathom the idea of sending her back into the petri dish that is an elementary school, with case numbers absolutely exploding everywhere, with kids poorly wearing cloth masks. NOPE. And sure enough, her school had a massive number of cases that first week, as did basically everywhere in the area. I reluctantly sent her back the second week, but I wasn’t happy about it.

She ended up out two days this past week because on Monday night, I started having some weird symptoms and came down with a migraine on Tuesday at 1 am. (My doctor says it’s not normal to be woken up with a migraine, though it’s happened to me before, unfortunately.) Migraines, for me, are a full-body experience. I get chills and sweats, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, body aches, etc. It’s almost like the flu with a deadly headache- but this time, I also had a fever. Highest it went up to was 101.9, so you can see why I was concerned, right? I kept my daughter out of school (because if the house had COVID, it was likely that she’d brought home an asymptomatic case) and we went off for PCR tests- negative, thankfully, and I skipped off to the doctor, who put me on preventative meds and gave me a referral to Neurology. Doc also said I may have picked up a virus that triggered the migraine (although I’m not sure where, as I quite literally go nowhere- the places I have to go to, I’m in and out as quickly as possible and I avoid everyone, and I N95-mask everywhere and sanitize my hands after touching anything, but this would definitely explain the fever, and the fact that it took me so long to feel better). I see a neurologist in March, he specializes in headaches, so that’ll be…something. Likely not fun, but I’d definitely like to have fewer migraines. They’ve increased in frequency; I’m wondering if my body is trying to start a menopause party and this is one of the symptoms. Who knows. Bodies are stupid.

I’m doing *much* better now, thankfully, and we’re in waiting for a nasty snowstorm tonight that will start out as rain and then dump anywhere from a few inches to a bunch of snow on us. Plenty of time to stay inside and read!

For February, I’m continuing my assault on my list of ebooks; I’ve had some of them sitting there too long and I’m picking them off one by one. Other than that, the only thing on the schedule so far is a doctor appointment with the physiatrist I see for my back (which is its normal level of crummy- a good thing! No new flares, I’ll take it!), so hopefully the headaches will stay away and I’ll be able to spend my month with a pile of excellent reading.

Happy February, friends! Stay warm, stay safe, stay healthy. We’ve made it this far; we can go a little further, together.