Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: February 2023

Hello, March! The weather is still cold and gross (despite our lack of decent snow this winter, booooooooo), and it’s going to stay that way for a few months, but with the turn of this calendar page, spring and summer and sun and warmer weather feel as though they’re within reach. Brighter days are coming, in more ways than one, and I’m so excited! Long summer days of reading on the porch are in sight!

We’ve got some great things cooking up here locally, and I’ll get more into that below, but excitement levels are at fever pitch here and will remain so for several months. Reading has gone really, really well around here lately; I’m blasting through the 2023 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge and having so much fun doing so. While I’m nowhere near being done yet, I likely won’t finish completely until we’re on summer break. One of the prompts is to read the longest book on your TBR, and my longest book is something like 700-800 pages, so I’m saving that for when I have fewer things on my plate. ANYHOODLE…

Let’s get this recap started, shall we?

Books I Read in February 2023

1. One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

2. Forager: Field Notes for Surviving a Family Cult by Michelle Dowd (review to come)

3. Hidden Figures (Young Readers’ Edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

4. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (no review)

5. Unorthodox Love by Heidi Shertok (review to come)

6. Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

7. Uncultured by Daniella Mestyanek Young

8. Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

9. Lovingly Abused by Heather Grace Heath 

10. Horrible Histories: France by Terry Deary (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

11. Disaster Strikes!: The Most Dangerous Space Missions of All Time by Jeffrey Kluger (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

12. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes (review to come)

13. Love Your Life by Sophie Kinsella (review to come)

14. Muhammad Najem, War Reporter by Muhammad Najem, Nora Neus, and Julie Robine (no review)

15. Getting Rid of Bradley by Jennifer Crusie (review to come)

16. The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (review to come)

17. Check, Please! Book 2: Sticks and Scones by Ngozi Ukazu (no review)

18. How to Marry Keanu Reeves in 90 Days by K.M. Jackson (review to come)

19. The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row by Anthony Ray Hinton with Lara Love Hardin (review to come)

20. Black Boy by Richard Wright (no review)

That’s a pretty good month of reading! Been doing my best to read mostly from my Pop Sugar Reading Challenges, but I do let a few others slip in here and there, variety being the spice of life and all. Really great month for reading out loud to my daughter! I don’t add everything I read to her; most of what we read for school doesn’t make the list, but I do add the books we read at bedtime and the longer chapter books we read for school (rule of thumb: if it’s something I would read on my own, I add it. I didn’t add, for example, the Magic Tree House books she and I read for her language arts curriculum this month). Five major read-alouds this month; that’s awesome!

Nine fiction; eleven nonfiction; three graphic novels/nonfiction. Eight of these books were read for the 2023 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge. Four came from my TBR. 

Reading Challenge Updates

Looks like I’m at 22 books so far for the 2023 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge! Not quite halfway done, but I’m making excellent progress and reading a lot of really great books along the way. Here’s what my sheet looks like right now:

Moving right along!

State of the Goodreads TBR

So, with the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, I’m not making quite as much progress on my TBR as I would like, but that’s okay. It’s a worthy tradeoff. Last month, my TBR stood at 125 books; as of right now, I’m at…123 books. Slow progress is still progress!

Books I Acquired in February 2023

I don’t think I got any books for me this month. I did pick up a few for my daughter from a thrift store, including two combination social studies textbook/workbooks for fourth and fifth grade that I’m excited about using, a graphic novel called Becoming Brianna by Terri Libenson that looked like something she’d enjoy (I’ll probably end up reading this at some point), and wonder of wonders, The Little Gymnast by Sheila Haigh, which I was OBSESSED with as a kid! I can’t wait to read this out loud to her. We also grabbed two Magic Tree House books from a Little Free Library.

Bookish Things I Did in February 2023


Current Podcast Love

Still listening to the same things as last month:

Leaving Eden and Digging Up the Duggars while I exercise or craft;

The First Degree when I’m falling asleep.

I have so many more bookmarked, but just not enough time!

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

I finished with Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, which was interesting from a historical perspective, but not all that wonderful as a book (dated, still horrific racial attitudes even from the ‘good guys,’ oozing with Christian propaganda at every turn which, as a Jew, is just kind of tiresome to read), and I moved on to Black Boy by Richard Wright. I finished that yesterday, and next I’ll hit up a book of short stories by Flannery O’Connor that has been staring accusingly at me from the basement shelves for far too long.

Real Life Stuff

It’s HERE!


Not for me, nor this blog. I’m staying put in all my various homes. But…


So, when we first moved to this town, there was a lot going on regarding our library. The building was old, out of date, and in need of massive repairs. It also needed an entirely new HVAC system (plenty of times, the library would have to close during the summer because the AC broke down and it would be something like 85 degrees in there. I always felt *so* bad for the librarians and workers on the days they were still open and it was just SO stuffy in there). The library offered seminars and tours, telling and showing our community what needed to be fixed/redone, WHY, and how much it would cost the village, and then showed them why an entirely new building was actually the more financially responsible choice for the long term. And then it was put on the ballot during an election, and it passed!

And then things stalled. 

And stalled.

And stalled.

People argued. The park district (on whose land the current library sits) threw a fit. Social media boiled with people bickering about how, since THEY didn’t use the library, obviously NO ONE used the library, so why did THEY have to pay for a new one? (Even before the pandemic, our library would often get uncomfortably crowded. Obnoxiously so.) Plans for a new library site happened and fell through; contracts were made, then broken. It was all so much drama that didn’t need to happen, but finally, FINALLY a building site was procured, the abandoned grocery store that had once stood at that site (and had begun to crumble, and had long been an eyesore for the town – so you KNOW some people threw a fit about it being demolished!) was torn down, and construction began (and you KNOW those same people threw whiny toddler fits about the completion date changing, because God knows construction delays have never, ever happened before in the history of construction and this must be some sort of government conspiracy to make us all pay more in taxes and not, say, a global pandemic affecting the availability of materials, and aren’t you glad Bob is here on social media to tell you all the truth??? Can you HEAR my eyerolls???)

And now, finally, construction is nearly completed! The old library’s last day of operation is March 8th, and moving to the new building, which is just around the corner and down two or three blocks from the old, is set to start March 13th. The library will cease physical operations during the move, and barring any delays, will reopen April 22-23rd. During that time, they’ll still offer ebooks, and due dates will be suspended (so you KNOW we have a massive stack of schoolbooks checked out!), so we have to hang on to everything we have checked out, just like we did when the pandemic started.

The good thing is that first off, our library cards work at other local libraries – some because I registered our cards there, and others because our library is a member of their system, so they automatically offer reciprocal borrowing privileges. And since I knew this was coming, I arranged our homeschool year so that basically all we need now are books that come from other libraries near us! So this will cause us absolutely zero stress or sweat; we’ll happily read what we have and make use of other libraries until our brand-spanking–new library building opens up just a few days before my daughter’s birthday. What a great birthday gift, eh?

So THAT’S why we’re all so excited around here! When the time comes, I’ll take a picture in the new library and start using that for my monthly roundup posts. The one I’ve been using has served me well, but it’s time to move on.

That’s the big news around here. We’ve had a few get-togethers with family recently; we’re relaxing our precautions a *little* bit, but still keeping our circle small. My daughter had a sleepover with a friend, and she ended up with a runny nose afterwards, which she’s utterly furious about, so…sleepovers may be put on the back burner for a while; I don’t think she’s fully ready to handle them yet. But that’s fine. More sleep for us!

That’s about all I’ve got right now. Wish our library workers luck for a safe and delay-free move, and stay safe and healthy, my friends. : )

Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: January 2023

Anyone cold out there? Anyone?


Welcome to February, friends!

2023 is 1/12 of the way over already, and it’s already been a pretty great year for reading. (Other things, ehhhhhh, but reading? Excellent.) I’m pretty thrilled with my decision to participate in the 2023 PopSugar Reading Challenge. When I have the time and mental space for them, reading challenges always spark new reading creativity in me. I discover new authors, rediscover old favorites, and get totally jazzed about reading all over again. I love being able to mark off categories on the sheet, and I’m always excited to move on to my next great read. I’m already a little sad for when I finish this!

But really, it’s great to be this excited about reading again. Not that I’m never unexcited, it’s just…things feel fresh this year in terms of books, and I love that. And I hope you’re feeling this enthusiastic about whatever reading plans you have as well. 

Let’s get this roundup started, shall we?

Books I Read in January 2023

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (no review; read as part of my personal Read Harder challenge)

2. House on Endless Waters by Emuna Elon

3. Catherine Called Birdy by Karen Cushman (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

4. The Other Dr. Gilmer: Two Men, a Murder, and an Unlikely Fight for Justice by Benjamin Gilmer 

5. I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy 

6. We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

7. The Return by Sonia Levitin

8. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

9. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

10. On My Swedish Island: Discovering the Secrets of Scandinavian Well-Being by Julie Catterson Lindahl (review to come)

11. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (review to come)

12. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo (review to come)

13. A Shot in the Arm! by Don Brown (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

14. One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston (review to come)

15. Book Lovers by Emily Henry (review to come)

16. Check Please by Ngozi Ukazu (review to come)

So much fiction! I’m usually so much more of a nonfiction reader, so this has been a fun switch-up. That’s why I enjoy the shake-up of a reading challenge; it gets me out of my familiar ruts and into new territory, challenging my brain a little and taking me to new places. I don’t think I could have loved We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry any more than I did; I finally got around to reading With the Fire on High and Before I Fall and Dumplin’, even though they weren’t on my TBR (just my mind-TBR);I’m chugging along on my own personal Read Harder project; and I got super lucky and snagged a copy of I’m Glad My Mom Died from the library, despite there being a line approximately 348237498328932 people long. It’s been an excellent month for reading!

Not quite so behind in reviews now. I’m catching up! 

Twelve fiction; four nonfiction; one graphic novel. Five of these books came from my TBR; one came from my own shelf. 

Reading Challenge Updates

I’m eyeball-deep in the 2023 PopSugar Reading Challenge and I’m loving it! New books, new authors, new genres, my brain needed all of this so badly, and I’m having SO much fun with this. Here’s where I’m at so far:

Fourteen categories out of fifty knocked off already. That’s a pretty great start!

State of the Goodreads TBR

Okay, this is going to be a little more wonky than last year. Only about 25 of the books from the PopSugar challenge are on my TBR, and I have some NetGalley books to get through, so this may get a little bigger before it starts getting smaller again, and I’m okay with that.

Last month, we ended up at 125 books. I read five books from my TBR this month, and that takes me to a new total of…125 books on my TBR. Book math!

Books I Acquired in January 2023

Hmm. I don’t think I actually acquired any books this month!

Bookish Things I Did in January 2023

I was able to attend a virtual presentation by Andrew Solomon, hosted by my local parent education group, and he was fascinating as always. I saw him speak in person pre-pandemic, and if you ever get the chance to hear him, GO. He writes and speaks about mental health, and my God, I could listen to him for DAYS. He had a lot to say this time not just about mental health, but about the effects of the pandemic and our current political landscape have on our collective mental health, and I was so glad I made the time to attend.

Current Podcast Love

Still listening to a mixture of things! While I exercise or cross-stitch, I usually listen to either Leaving Eden or Digging Up the Duggars; however, I did take a short break to listen to I Pray You Put This Journal Away in its entirety, which was touching and very nicely complemented those other two podcasts. At night, when I’m falling asleep, I’m listening to The First Degree, a true crime podcast with really good narration. 

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

So, I’m almost finished with Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe; less than 100 pages to go. This had been sitting on my shelves for years, and I’m tired of owning so many books I haven’t read (hence, this project!), so I’ve spent this month putting this book into my brain in half-hour chunks a day (there have been a few days I’ve missed, simply due to time constraints). I have a lot of thoughts about this book, many of them about how much of this book is straight-up Christian propaganda (which is exhausting to read as a Jew) and not just how Christianity isn’t compatible with slavery, but I’ll be glad to move on to my next book in a day or two. I think my next choice will be Black Boy by Richard Wright, which has been sitting on the shelf across from me for a few years and which deserves to be read soon. After reading a white author writing about Black folks, I’m more than ready to read a Black author talk about the Black experience.

Real Life Stuff

Phew! I’ve completed Yoga with Adriene’s 30-Day Challenge again, which always feels good. My back isn’t much better, but I think it’s stronger, if that makes sense – like, the pain is still there, but I feel like I can *do* a little bit more and it’s not quite as weak as it was before. I feel pretty good about myself for making the time to complete this challenge as well, and I’m going to keep doing a little bit of yoga every day, maybe adding in those pilates my physiatrist wants me to do on the days when my back feels strong enough. 

A library two towns over subscribes to a magazine I enjoy, so I’ve gone over there to relax and read (still masked! Haven’t been sick since 2019 and have no desire to be), and it’s been wonderful. Their library is enormous and calm and peaceful and it’s an excellent time just paging through Mother Earth News in the relaxing atmosphere of this particular library. I’ve been fighting so hard to keep my stress levels down, because my frequent migraines are triggered by stress, so this is just one of the things I’m doing to bring more relaxation into my life.

I started a new craft project! I used to cross-stitch all the time in my pre-children days many moons ago, but got away from it due to lack of time. I’ve been working my way through my maternal grandmother’s stamped cross-stitch stash and have finished a table runner and two pillowcases so far, but I highly prefer counted cross-stitch to stamped. My paternal grandmother died in December; that’s the Norwegian side of my family, and my dad (who doesn’t read this blog!) mentioned placing an order with a Scandinavian store for stuff for the family so “we can remember our heritage,” as he said. And so my brain got to work, and I discovered this gorgeous pattern by Lifted Spirit Patterns. My husband got me a scroll frame as a gift, and a few weeks ago, I began work on this massive pattern. I don’t have much to show yet; a lot of what I’m doing right now is in white, which doesn’t show up well, but once I get going, I’ll provide some picture updates.

The pattern has something like 18,644 stitches, and I’m doing it on 14-pt Aida cloth, which has brought me to the realization that I am ‘needs magnifying cheater glasses from the Dollar Tree’ years old now, but I’m very much enjoying this. When it’s finished in approximately 2348923479832 years, I’ll frame it and give it to my dad, to remember our heritage. I think he’ll love it. : )

That’s about all I’ve got for now! No major plans for February, just more homeschool, exercise, cross-stitching, and, of course, reading. Stay warm if you’re in the northern hemisphere, and stay safe and healthy, friends. I wish you all another month of great reads. : )

Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: December 2023

Happy New Year!

2023. I was born in the 80’s; 2023 sounds like we should be at the height of futuristic technology: flying cars, hologram traveling, that sort of thing. Instead, we have a pandemic that won’t die because we’ve decided it’s more important that the economy is strong and thriving than humanity.


It wasn’t a bad year here at the Library household, though. We’ve all remained healthy, knock-on-wood (we’re still extremely careful: N95s everywhere we go, hand sanitizers in every car, no hanging out maskless with anyone, everyone is up to date on vaccines. I have ZERO desire to get long COVID). My daughter came home from public school to be homeschooled when the mask mandates dropped, and we’re finally in a really good place, with a great schedule that works for both of us, and learning methods that really seem to work for her. I had to play with it a LOT this year, shifting things around when her behavior made it clear that what we were doing wasn’t working, but that’s all been a good reminder for me to stay flexible and never get too dialed in to whatever it is we’re doing. The point is that she learns, not necessarily that she learns with the first thing we try.

But let’s talk books and get this roundup started, shall we?

Books I Read in December 2022

1. The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

2. The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide by Steven W. Thrasher

3. The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

4. The Life and Crimes of Hoodie Rosen by Isaac Blum (review to come)

5. My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

6. Refocusing My Family: Coming Out, Being Cast Out, and Discovering the True Love of God by Amber Cantorna (review to come)

7. Killing Season: A Paramedic’s Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Opioid Epidemic by Peter Canning (review to come)

8. The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

9. A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door: The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School by Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire (no review)

10. The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World by Roz Hopkins (no review; read as part of my daughter’s school)

11. The Worst Witch Saves the Day by Jill Murphy (no review; read out loud to my daughter)

12. Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery by Robert Kolker (review to come)

13. Life on the Line: Young Doctors Come of Age in a Pandemic by Emma Goldberg (review to come)

14. After the Fall: Being American in the World We’ve Made by Ben Rhodes (no review; I’m not smart enough for that)

15. Eva and Eve: A Search for My Mother’s Lost Childhood and What a War Left Behind by Julie Metz (review to come)

16. You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day (review to come)

Lots of reading to my daughter this month! The Egypt Game was one I missed as a kid, but both my daughter and I really loved it. The Travel Book is something I pulled off my shelves at the beginning of the pandemic, and we began learning about one country per day, moving the magnetized pin on our wall map onto the country of the day. And this month, we finally finished it! Such a cool experience. We may go back to the book in the future, but for now, we’re using different books in the morning: some nature stuff, a history book with a small entry each day, and a very large poetry book.

Still behind on posting reviews, but I’ll catch up, I promise!

Six fiction, ten nonfiction; five books read aloud to my daughter. Ten of these books came from my TBR.

Reading Challenge Updates

Okay, friends. Buckle up.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about my reading lately. Now, y’all know how much I love nonfiction and challenging my brain a little bit. But I’ve been thinking a lot about balance lately, and how I really do need to dive into fiction a little more frequently. And so this year, I’ve decided to take part in the 2023 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge!

There are so many good categories this year, and out of the 50 categories, I can still fit in 25 books from my TBR, so that’s what made this challenge the winner for me. And for the remaining 25, I’ve got a lot of stuff that I’ve wanted to read, but that never made my TBR, so it’s really a win-win all around. I’m really excited to get started on this, so stick around to follow my progress. If you’re participating in this challenge as well, let me know!

The last reading challenge I completed was the 2020 POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, and then the pandemic screwed with my schedule and I couldn’t get it together to do any others, but I’ve got everything planned out this year, and I’ve totally got this. : )

State of the Goodreads TBR

Last month, I started off at 127 books. A few got taken off, a few got added on, leaving me currently at…125 books.

Book math, y’all.

But it really could be worse. It didn’t explode back into the 150’s or 160’s like I was kinda expecting it to, so I’m definitely happy with this number.


I’m ending the year at 125 books, but I started it at 162 books.

I read 180 books this year, most of them from my TBR, but MY TBR ONLY WENT DOWN BY 37 BOOKS?!?!!??


Books I Acquired in December 2022

I picked up a few Jewish books from Half Price Books early in the month; It’s a Mitzvah by Bradley Shavit Artson, and Remix Judaism: Preserving Tradition in a Diverse World by Roberta Rosenthal Kwall (which is on my TBR). Both came home with me, so I’m looking forward to engaging with them.  

I did buy some other books, but those were for my daughter. She received the full set of Raina Telgemeier graphic novels, and she was THRILLED! Now she can stop checking them out of the library every. single. time. we. go.

Bookish Things I Did in December 2022

No bookish events!

Current Podcast Love

Listening to Behind the Bastards as I fall asleep; Robert Evans is so smart and funny and such a great researcher and writer, and I really enjoy this one a lot. I’ve also been listening to some Ologies with Alie Ward, which is always lovely.

I’ve also been working on a lot of cross-stitching lately, and as I stitch, I listen to Leaving Eden, the story of Sadie Carpenter’s life in and exit from the IFB cult. I adore this one SO MUCH, and I’m so very, very far behind in it, but I have a *lot* of stitching to do, so I may get caught up yet! I also listen when I’m in the kitchen, so that helps as well.

And when I bike or treadmill at night, I’m listening to Digging Up the Duggars, which is also a lot of fun and keeps me looking forward to exercising!

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

Still making my way through The Good Earth by Pearl Buck. I don’t have much left to go; when I finish, I’m already planning on starting Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, which I’ve somehow managed to not read yet. It’s already waiting for me on my footstool!

Real Life Stuff

Another pandemic year down in the books.

It’s been another weird one. Started out pandemic-normal, and then the schools near us dropped their mask mandates, and we pulled our daughter out of school and became instant homeschoolers. Not as crazy as it sounds; I homeschooled my older son until he went to fourth grade (at or above everywhere he needed to be in terms of grade level, tyvm!), so I knew what I was doing. It hasn’t been without its challenges; my daughter is a completely different kid in terms of personality, so it’s taken a LOT of switching things up and around to figure out what works for her. I *think* we’re in a good place right now in terms of the kind of schedule and learning methods that work for her. We’re far beyond the place I thought we would be at this point in terms of what we have done, so I’m happy with her progress. We’re going to be focusing a lot on her writing in this new year. She’ll eventually go back to school, and I want her to be a strong writer when she does.

My grandmother died this past month. It wasn’t unexpected; she was in her late 80’s and had pretty severe Alzheimer’s and cancer, so we’re glad she’s not suffering anymore. She was my last grandparent. I feel pretty fortunate to have lived to 42 having grandparents in my life. She was a librarian and a teacher, and my love of books is, in a large part, thanks to her. I find comfort in the fact that I’ve passed that love on to my children, that I taught them to read, and that that little part of her lives on in us, in my children, every time they read a word.

Other than that, December was a pretty quiet month around here. No hustle and bustle here, just Hanukkah candles, a delicious platter of latkes (I get better at making these every year!), a low-key Christmas, and lots of reading during the cold snap.

In terms of New Years goals, I’ve got plans to continue my personal Read Harder challenge, and I’m going to use that to encompass reading everything in the house. This has been on my mind for a while; I own so many books that I *want* to read, but that I just don’t make time for. This will be a way to force me to make them for them, even as I continue (slowly) reading down my TBR. (WHICH I WILL. I WILL CONQUER YOU, TBR.) So stay tuned as I update my progress on that.

I wish you all a happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous 2023, full of many good books and lots of insight and introspection!

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! 🙂

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.


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


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.


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.


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


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!