My First Two Books of 2019

My first two books of 2019 were:

  1. The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  2. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Both had been recommended by various bloggers, including Chris and Emily from The Book Cougars, in the case of the first, and Michelle from That’s What She Read, in the case of the second. However, I was reluctant to read them, because:

  1. with The Library Book, I thought it was all a true crime book and I really didn’t want to read a true crime book as I prefer my crime fictional.
  2. with The 7 1/2 Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle, I thought it had too many narrators.

But I learned that there was more to The Library Book than true crime (a lot more) and that The 7 1/2 Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle really has one narrator, who inhabits eight different bodies to solve a murder. And two patrons at the library where I work recommended each book, and while I don’t always listen to patrons’ recommendations, I did these two times and I wasn’t disappointed that I did.

The Library Book ostensibly is about a fire at the Central Library of the Los Angeles Public Library on April 29, 1986 that destroyed 400,000 volumes and damaged another 700,000 with water and smoke, but it is more than about just that. It is about the history of the L.A. Public Library System and a treatise on the importance of libraries in every age.

Likewise, The 7 1/2 Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle ostensibly is a classic whodunit in the style of Agatha Christie with a dash of Downton Abbey tossed in, but it is more than just that. It is also a mix of Quantum Leap (as the author himself describes in his Q & A at the end of the book) and Groundhog Day (as another author describes in a blurb on the back of the book), as the main character sees the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle through eight different characters, witnesses, and possible suspects over eight days.

I highly recommend both as Orlean, the author of several books, and Tarton, his first, are both brilliant writers. Their two books no doubt will be among my favorite books read this year, which on one hand is good, to start the reading year so fortuitously, but on the other hand is bad, because now all other books might seem a disappointment in contrast. Or it might be like any other year, a mixed bag.

Have you read either book? What did you think? If not, what was your first book of the year and was it a good one or a bad one?

The First Sunday Salon of the Year

Reading: Nothing yet, but I have selected what will be my first book of the year.

Watching: The highlight of this past week was a rewatch of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, so much of which I had forgotten.

Listening. Nothing new. I’m still listening to my top 25 albums of 2018

Blogging: A lot:

Celebrating: My dad’s 75th birthday (yesterday). We went to lunch at a place near where he lives. He had cheesesteak macaroni and cheese and I had a maple bacon cheeseburger with sweet potato fries and cinnamon honey. The food was amazing; the company was good too. ūüėČ

How was your first week of 2019? Read, watch, listen to anything good?

My One Word for 2019

I’m not sure when I started doing this or who got me started. I probably have it somewhere in my old blog (which unfortunately is gone). I did find a few notes on Evernote from previous years so I can tell you that in 2015, my one word actually was two words: “Focus” and “equilibrium.” The equilibrium part of it was because I had just discovered that year that I have tinnitus. In 2016, the word was “Reinvigorate.”

Without further ado, this year’s word is:

This morning, as many mornings, I was talking to my wife at a mile a minute and she said as she often does: “Breathe!” As it is New Year’s Day, I realized that this would be my One Word, because it seemed and seems so apropos. In late October, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and have been on a CPAP ever since. I won’t rehash everything that I said in all the previous posts on the subject, but I will repeat this line as to why I don’t let the face mask bother me: “Because the way I look at it is that‚Ķum‚Ķbreathing is better than NOT BREATHING AT ALL!”

So this coming year, as I turn 50 and focus on my 10 goals for the year, I am going to allow myself to:

  • breathe as I walk and talk.
  • breathe as I sleep.
  • breathe as I relax to start the day and end the day and remain chill in the times in between, from Matins to Compline.

After all, from what I hear, breathing is good.

Do you have a One Word for 2019? If so, what is it? Share in the comments or with a link to your blog post on the word.

10 Goals As I Approach, and After I Turn, 50

Again, as I did with My First Book of 2019 post today, without further ado, here they are:

  1. Walk.
  2. Alcohol and soda once a month.
  3. Continue to sleep well.
  4. Read a book a week.
  5. Sleeping with Bread daily.
  6. Go to church once a month.
  7. Go on day trip once a month.
  8. Visit parents/sister once a month.
  9. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger.
  10. Talk less, smile more.

A few explanations:

  • These were adapted from my initial 25 Things Before I Turn 50 post.
  • We live in a small town, that is made up of a lot of “older people.” Many have retired here, many have lived here all of their lives. One common thing among many of them: they walk, usually in the morning. We have one neighbor who makes a regular loop through town; two other neighbors who go to walk at the local cemetery. Up until last year, we had a 94-year-old woman who walked the neighborhood (it’s her son who makes the loop through town). All these people walking got me thinking, it hasn’t hurt them. Maybe I need to try this too (other than walking to and from the car, at work and at home, and well, you normal upright existence). So I will.
  • Sleeping with Bread is a book by Dennis, Sheila and Matthew Linn. It starts with this story: “During the bombing raids of WWII, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, ‚ÄúToday I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.‚ÄĚ” From there, the Linns show how to set up a way of using The Examen from St. Ignatius each night by asking two simple questions: For what am I most grateful? For what am I least grateful? Those questions can be worded in other ways too, but the idea is to examine your day each day.
  • The “quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger” is inspired by my mother who often quotes this from the Book of James in the Bible, Chapter 1, Verse 19: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” This is one sometimes I have special trouble.
  • The “talk less, smile more” is from the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” from the musical Hamilton.

I wasn’t going to have a One Word for 2019, but my wife came up with one this morning. So in addition to this post and My First Book of 2019 post, I also will have a One Word for 2019 post.

What are your personal goals for 2019? Reading goals? I shared my reading goals last week.

My First Book of the Year 2019

Today I’m posting My First Book of the Year with Sheila and others (including Laurel-Rain Snow, who reminded me with her post that I read Sunday morning that I needed to e-mail Sheila a photo of me with my first book; thanks, Laurel for the reminder!). Also today I’m posting my goals for this year, the year I turn 50 (in June) and my One Word for 2019.¬†

Without further ado, here it is:

I’ve been hearing about this book for a while, including from Chris Wolak at Wildmoo Books and of the Book Cougars podcast. Also since I work at a library, it seems like a natural fit. I won’t lie though I’m not a big fan of true crime, which I hear is part of the story, but from those who have read it, they say that’s only part of the story and not all of it. So as the British say, I’ll give it a go!

Do you have a first book you plan to start out the year with? If so, what is it? If not, what are you looking forward to reading in 2019? To see what others selected, visit Sheila’s blog post.

Pushing Forward Back December 2018/January 2019

A look back at 2018 and a lot of Christmas.

I wasn’t going to do this post this month because of all the other posts I’m doing this time of year (best books, TV/movies, music of 2018 posts, plus two scheduled posts for tomorrow. But after reading Amanda’s December review post, I decided why not? So here goes:

Back at December

December came in like a lion and did go out like a lamb, as I predicted. It began with my working at the library during the annual Christmas event in our town, Dickens of a Christmas, where we had a book sale over two days. Not a lot of patrons came in, but a lot of out-of-towners, which wasn’t fun (apologies to the tourists). The next few weeks were uneventful as I thought too, with a staff Christmas luncheon the Friday before the second weekend. The highlight of the following week was a follow-up doctor appointment about my sleep apnea and my using a CPAP machine, with all my numbers still looking great: down from 87 events per hour to an average of 2 events per hour.

The month ended, again as planned, with a long series of days where I was on vacation and included my wife Kim and I visiting my parents (and sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and niece) on Christmas Day. Tonight, we’ll be going to the neighbors for a New Year’s Eve party, but will be back around 10 since they usually go to bed around that time. We’ll stay up to ring the new year in and then tomorrow I’ll be posting my first book of the year and my goals for 2019, the year I turn 50.

Since I already did my wrap for books, TV/movies, and music for the year, I’m going to keep it short on what I read, watched and listened to this past month. I don’t really have a choice with what I read since I read NOTHING this month. We discovered a couple of new shows: on Netflix, on our own, Derry Girls, which was really good, but sadly only one season; on Amazon Prime, thanks to my brother-in-law and sister, Corner Gas, which we have to watch together now. I gave a second chance to an album I dismissed earlier in the year, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by Arctic Monkeys after seeing it on a lot of year-end best-of lists and now love it. Jeff Tweedy also came out with an new album, WARM, which we only have started listening to, but already love too.

Forward to January 2019

January begins…well, tomorrow, with a day off with my wife. No concrete plans, other than day drinking and binge-watching. Then this Saturday, weather permitting, I’m taking my father, who lives about an hour and half away out to lunch for his 75th birthday.

The month ends with the 24in48 Readathon and I have several books from which to choose already. On the TV series/movie front, we’re looking forward to watching more Corner Gas and as for music, I’m not anticipating any new releases. We’ll see what comes along…as we will with the rest of the month and the year.

We knew we’d love this right from the start.

So how was your month of December? Read any good books, seen any good movies and/or TV shows, listened to any good music? What was the highlight of your month? What are you looking forward to in January? Share in the comments.

#AMonthofFaves 2018: My Favorite Books Read This Year

I’m joining hosts  GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella‚Äôs Revenge for their annual #AMonthofFaves blog event ‚Äď “a fun way to recap the year that was” with “every day of the event (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) planned out” and  a link-up on all their blogs. Tomorrow’s topic (that I’m posting today because of The Sunday Salon) is “Favorite Books Read This Year.”

As I mentioned in my last post, I had six books that I rated five stars on Goodreads. Pictured above are those six. They are:

  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • The River Why by David James Duncan
  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • American Street by Ibi Zoboi
  • Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Tanya recommended the last one. The Lord of the Rings and The River Why were rereads. The Poet X: I listened to on audiobook as read by the author, the format I highly recommend in this case, even though this was the lone audiobook I finished this year. As for the rest, I just highly recommend them all.

What were your favorite books that you read this year? Share in the comments or provide a link to your post in the comments.

This concludes my participation in #AMonthofFaves this year. To see my other posts in the themed month, visit this link. To see what my favorite TV series and movies were from this year, visit here. And for my top 25 albums of the year, visit yesterday’s post.

On Tuesday, I’ll be posting My First Book of the Year with Sheila and others (including Laurel-Rain Snow, who reminded me with her post that I read this morning that I need to e-mail Sheila a photo of me with my first book; thanks, Laurel for the reminder!). I’ll also be posting my goals for 2019, the year I turn 50 (in June). Stay tuned! 

My Top 25 Albums of 2018

Earlier this month, I gave you a list of our favorite TV series and movies that we watched this year; tomorrow, I’ll give you a list of my favorite books read this year; and today, I give you a list of my top 25 albums (mostly) from this year:

  1. Double Negative by Low
  2. Ordinary Corrupt Human Love by Deafheaven
  3. Now Only by Mount Eerie
  4. Sundays by Tanukichan
  5. Yolk in the Fur by Wild Pink
  6. Nearer My God to Thee by Foxing
  7. Record by Tracey Thorn
  8. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by Arctic Monkeys
  9. Hope Downs by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
  10. Chris by Christine and the Queens
  11. Room 25 by Noname
  12. Devotion by Tirzah
  13. Wide Awake! by Parquet Courts
  14. WARM by Jeff Tweedy
  15. Way Out West by Sonny Rollins
  16. Piano & A Microphone by Prince
  17. 7 by Beach House
  18. In A Poem Unlimited by U.S. Girls
  19. Historian by Lucy Dacus
  20. Be The Cowboy by Mitski
  21. Con Todo El Mundo by Khruangbin
  22. El Mal Querer by Rosalía
  23. Whack World by Tierra Whack
  24. Golden Hour by Kacey Musgraves
  25. God’s Favorite Customer by Father John Misty

I select what I listen to usually from Pitchfork, with albums that normally are rated 8.0 or above, with a few exceptions. Surprisingly to me, Pitchfork didn’t have Father John Misty’s album in its top 50 albums of 2018! They did include in its Best Rock Albums of 2018. I also have another list of top electronic music albums from this year, but I thought most of you probably aren’t into what my wife calls “machine music.”

At the end of this post, I’ve included a Spotify playlist with excerpts from my top 25 albums of 2018. I only included from 22 albums, because the last three albums didn’t really fit for openers for the playlist. The band Low, for example, is very discordant; Deafheaven has death metal growls in it; and Mount Eerie…well, he’s just depressing (not that some of the rest in my top 25 albums aren’t depressing, but his last few albums were about the death of his first wife).

I will give a few other notes on the list:

  • Jeff Tweedy, Arctic Monkeys, and Christine and the Queens are all late entries.
  • None of the artists or groups were in my top 15 albums last year.
  • Tierra Whack’s album is 15 minutes long with each song a minute. It is better heard in its entirety. It was envisioned as a video too, but unless you’re into “wack” videos, I’d say skip.
  • The two Spanish titled albums just happened to end up beside each other on the list. I only noticed when typing out the list here.
  • I’m not into a lot of modern country but I was pleasantly surprised by Kacey Musgraves.

What was some of your favorite music from this year or that you listened to this year? What couldn’t you stop playing? That No. 1 album is one both my wife and I had on constantly, in the car, at work, and at home.

#AMonthofFaves 2018: This is How I Read (What I Read Too) and Blogged This Year

Again today, I’m joining hosts  GirlxoxoTraveling with T and Estella‚Äôs Revenge for their annual #AMonthofFaves blog event ‚Äď “a fun way to recap the year that was” with “every day of the event (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) planned out” and  a link-up on all their blogs. Today’s topic is  “This Is How We Read and Blogged This Year.”

How I Read

In three words: 

Slowly and intermittently. 

By the numbers: 

  • 35 books.¬†
  • 2 nonfiction.
  • 6 books I¬†rated 5 stars on Goodreads.
  • 20 I rated¬†4 stars. Most 3.5, rounded up.
  • At least 20 ebooks returned unread.
  • 6 DNFs counted on Goodreads.
  • At least 3 others¬†that I DNFed.

In 2019, my goal as I mentioned in my last blog post is to read 50 books since this is the year that I turn 50.

What I Read

The 35 books were (in alphabetical order):

  1. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
  2. American by Day by Derek B. Miller
  3. American Street by Ibi Zoboi
  4. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
  5. Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by by Ta-Nehisi Coates (writer), Brian Stelfreeze (artist), Joe Sabino (letterer), Manny Mederos (designer), Rian Hughes (logo designer), Jack Kirby (writer, artist), and Laura Martin
  6. Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
  7. Colosseum: Poems by Katie Ford
  8. The Cruelest Month, the third Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, by Louise Penny
  9. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Bren√© Brown
  10. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
  11. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  12. The Frame-Up by Meghan Scott Molin
  13. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  14. Jar City by Arnaldur Indri√įason
  15. The Last Kashmiri Rose by Barbara Cleverly
  16. The Late Show by Michael Connelly
  17.  Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
  18. Life on Mars: Poems by Tracy K. Smith
  19. Normandy Gold by Megan Abbott, Alison Gaylin and Steve Scott (illustrator)
  20. Pago Pago Tango by John Enright
  21. Pines, the first in the Wayward Pines series, by Blake Crouch
  22. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  23. Queenpin: A Novel by Megan Abbot
  24. Rebound by Kwame Alexander
  25. The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  26. Richard Stark‚Äôs Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  27. Richard Stark‚Äôs Parker: The Outfit by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  28. Richard Stark‚Äôs Parker: The Score by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  29. Richard Stark‚Äôs Parker: Slayground by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  30. The River Why by David James Duncan
  31. She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
  32. Still Life, the first Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, by Louise Penny
  33. Tangerine by Christine Mangan
  34. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  35. Wade in the Water: Poems by Tracy K. Smith

How I Blogged

In one word: Consistently, at least once a week.

By the numbers: 78 posts.

Most of them were Sunday Salon posts, with a few readathon posts, several readathon posts, and a few What We’re Watching Wednesday posts with my wife. With every blog I’ve ever had, I always try to write several blog posts a week and inevitably fail. This one is no different as once again this year, I attempted some new themes, but failed. I do better at one theme/meme: The Sunday Salon, with readathons mixed in. So in 2019, that’s what I’m going to stick to: Mainly one blog post per week with a couple of readathons mixed in, namely Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon and 24in48 Readathon.

How was your reading and blogging this year?

#AMonthofFaves 2018: Reading Goals for 2019

Again today, I’m joining hosts¬†¬†Girlxoxo,¬†Traveling with T¬†and¬†Estella‚Äôs Revenge¬†for their annual¬†#AMonthofFaves¬†blog event ‚Äď “a fun way to recap the year that was” with “every day of the event (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) planned out” and¬† a link-up on all their blogs. Today’s topic is¬†¬†“Challenges and Goals.”

I didn’t do any reading challenges this year and my personal goals/resolutions? I’m going to save those for a post January 1. Instead, I am going to look forward to my reading goals for 2019, including a collection of 10 books on my Kindle with which I want to start the new year. However, I will save my “First Book of the Year” for a post for January 1– and it will be a book in print this year.

My main reading goal this year, in what will be the year that I turn 50 (in June), is to read 50 books. This year, I read 35; in 2017, 48; in 2016, 44, so it is doable. Initially, with my 25 Things Before I Turn 50 post, my goal was to read a book a week and I was thinking of a book a week in the year that I turn 50, but then as I writing this, I realized why not just make it 50? So there it is.

In alphabetical order, the books I have on my books to read in 2019 collection on my Kindle are:

  1. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
  2. All Things Bright and Beautiful and All Things Wise and Wonderful by James Herriot
  3. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  4. Crocodile on the Sandbank, the first Amelia Peabody mystery, by Elizabeth Peters
  5. John Adams by David McCullough
  6. Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
  7. The Quiet Game, the first Penn Cage, by Greg Iles
  8. The Space Trilogy: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis
  9. The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
  10. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Alexie Sherman

A few explanations:

  • Technically, it’s 13 books, but I have the first Herriot books in one collection and The Space Trilogy that I recently bought as a Kindle Daily Deal.
  • I already have started the first three books on the list. I just haven’t finished them…yet.
  • The list is split evenly fiction and nonfiction as I want to read more nonfiction than I did this past year.

What are your reading goals for 2019?