#Read21in21 January Overview

I decided to participate in the #Read21in21 challenge for this year to help me build a daily habit of reading. Surprisingly, I have yet missed a day of reading. I squeeze time for reading by listening to audiobooks on the way home from work or read for 21 minutes before going to sleep. Here is what I read for January:

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life — until the unthinkable happens.

My take: I enjoyed listening to this audiobook during my drives home. I could definitely get lost in her words.

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms

Overworked and underappreciated, single mom Amy Byler needs a break. So when the guilt-ridden husband who abandoned her shows up and offers to take care of their kids for the summer, she accepts his offer and escapes rural Pennsylvania for New York City. Usually grounded and mild mannered, Amy finally lets her hair down in the city that never sleeps. She discovers a life filled with culture, sophistication, and – with a little encouragement from her friends – a few blind dates. When one man in particular makes quick work of Amy’s heart, she risks losing herself completely in the unexpected escape, and as the summer comes to an end, Amy realizes too late that she must make an impossible decision: stay in this exciting new chapter of her life, or return to the life she left behind. But before she can choose, a crisis forces the two worlds together, and Amy must stare down a future where she could lose both sides of herself, and every dream she’s ever nurtured, in the beat of a heart.”

My take: I’ve had this book in my Kindle for a while. I do need a few guilty pleasures in my rotation because somedays work can be brutal. I truly did enjoy this book, especially as a new mom of three months. There are times where I do feel I almost lose myself in caring for her, the books reminds me that I should care for myself too.

Books I read to Lana

In the beginning of the reading challenge, I use to count reading books to my daughter as part of the 21 minutes. I still read to her daily but it is extra reading on top of my daily 21 minutes.

Rejected Princesses by Jason Porath

Well-behaved women seldom make history. Good thing these women are far from well behaved…

My take: I’ve had this coffee book table in my living room for years. I enjoy reading it. Occasionally I read passages to her. There are some stories that are not kid friendly, but she does not know that yet.

Bringing the Outside In by Mary Siddals

A rollicking book that reminds young readers to go outside and play!

My take: A fun book on enjoying the seasons.

I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott and Sydney Smith

What if words got stuck in the back of your mouth whenever you tried to speak? What if they never came out the way you wanted them to? Sometimes it takes a change of perspective to get the words flowing. 

My take: I loved the artwork and metaphor. I would borrow this book from the library again when Lana starts to learn how to pick up a book and read.

Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr

Speed and self-confidence, that’s Astrid’s motto. Nicknamed “the little thunderbolt,” she loves to spend her days racing down the hillside on her sled, singing loudly as she goes, and visiting Gunnvald, her grumpy, septuagenarian best friend and godfather, who makes hot chocolate from real chocolate bars. She just wishes there were other children to share her hair-raising adventures with. But Astrid’s world is about to be turned upside down by two startling arrivals to the village of Glimmerdal: first a new family, then a mysterious, towering woman who everyone seems to know but Astrid. It turns out that Gunnvald has been keeping a big secret from his goddaughter, one that will test their friendship to its limits. Astrid is not too happy about some of these upheavals in Glimmerdal — but, luckily, she has a plan to set things right.

A chapter book I read to Lana. Personally, I enjoy it, it’s a fun book where she skis, sleds, and sings out loud even if it annoys a certain someone. I enjoy acting out the characters for her even though she may not understand what is going on yet.

Fairytales of Charles Perrault (Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, Bluebeard, Cinderella)

My take: I am trying to avoid introducing Lana Disney versions of fairytales for as long as I can, so I am looking into other versions of fairytales like Perrault’s version of Little Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots. They’re messy, wild, and teach actual lessons.

WOKE: A Young Poet’s Call to Justice by Mahogany L. Browne with Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood

Historically poets have been on the forefront of social movements. Woke is a collection of poems by women that reflects the joy and passion in the fight for social justice, tackling topics from discrimination to empathy, and acceptance to speaking out.

My take: I would buy this poetry book to have as part of our bookshelf.

My First Chinese New Year by Karen Katz

Chinese New Year is a time of new beginnings. Follow one little girl as she learns how to welcome the coming year and experience all the festivities surrounding it. Karen Katz’s warm and lively introduction to a special holiday will make even the youngest child want to start a Chinese New Year tradition!

My take: I don’t celebrate Chinese New Year, but my husband does. I thought this was a good first book to learn about CNY for Lana and me. I would borrow this book again when she starts to learn how to pick up a book and read.

What’s next?

I thought it would be fun to plan out what my next reads would be. Maybe I could explore a different theme each month? Here are the themes I came up with for the following months.

January: it was about getting my feet wet. So no theme here.

February: Books by Black authors

March: Books written by women

April: Books turned into films and TV series (Not that I’ve seen the films either)

May: Books by Asian authors

June: Social justice/America

July: Summer vacations

August: Books translated from a foreign language

September: Banned Books

October: Books written by Hispanic authors

November: Books written by Indigeneous people/Native tribes

December: Magic

What did you read in January? How do you decide what to read next? Comment below!

20 for (20)20

I was listening to my favorite podcast, “Happier.” by Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft going over their 19 for (20)19. I usually love making lists of things to do, but for the last few years my head was in a fog, and I never got around to writing them. I am sure my list that exists in my head is infinite, but yet I want to get around doing it now. Listening to this episode reinvigorated me to write my 20 in (20)20 list to make my new year fun.

Since I did not create a 19 for 20(19) list, I think I’ll create a reverse 19 for 20(19)  to reflect on the 19 things I did.

Anyways, here is my 20 in 20(20) list.

  1. Visit 20 different museums, landmarks, or national parks. 
  2. Try 20 different restaurants. This includes dessert places, food stands, and food trucks. Since I am going to be out of the country in February, for the sake of fairness, I’ll keep it local — within Los Angeles County.
  3. Try 30 new recipes. Since I finished school, I’ve got more time to be creative.
  4. Do a 1-second video every day and stitch it into a short video. I heard about the 1 Second Everyday App on the podcast. It reminds me of the one photo a day challenge. We will see how I keep up
  5. Read and complete 20 different books. I’ve got plenty of books I’ve started and have not yet completed.
  6. Take 750 classes Pure Barre classes. Stretch goal: Reach to 1000 classes. When we had to stay elsewhere during the home remodel, my barre attendance plummeted. Now since we moved back, I am slowly building back to a regular schedule.
  7. Add a chalkboard to the pantry door. I am not sure if we should paint the door with chalkboard paint and put a frame on it ala “Friends” or make an actual chalkboard.
  8. Create an artistic display of our postcards. We get postcards from friends, family, and Postcrossing. I collect postcards too. They are stored in a box, and they deserve to be out.
  9. Get up to 6 months of living expenses in our emergency fund. Self-explanatory. A lot of our savings went to our home remodel. It is better to have a definitive emergency fund goal, rather than just save for the sake of savings. There were times where I felt tethered. We exceeded our savings goal, and we never bit the bullet for almost anything. People have a funny interaction with money. Which leads me to my next point, we need to have a definition of what constitutes an “emergency.”
  10. To not buy any clothes and accessories for the year. The only clothing items I would buy are underwear, socks, shoes, and workout clothes. I have a small shoe collection which consists of walking shoes, one pair of fashion boots, two professional shoes which I keep in the office, one pair of sandals, and two pairs of hiking boots. I walk on average 10,000-12,000 steps a day. I have a fair wardrobe of workout wear, and I wear them until they’re worn out.
  11. Complete a perfect push-up.
  12. Plant a tree for the front yard. Don’t forget, keep it alive too.
  13. Clean and dress up the parking strip.
  14. Plant three herbs for the entryway.
  15. Make a wreath for the front door.
  16. Do a power hour once per week. I am obsessed with the idea of power hour. It’s an hour where I tackle all the non-routine things I’ve been meaning to do such as organizing the cabinets, doing our finances, cleaning the inside of the refrigerator, etc. I had a hard time doing a power hour in my previous job because I was working all the time. On my days off, my power hour was more like a power nap.
  17. Bite the bullet and buy a domain for my blog.
  18. Get a new FitBit — My Charge 2 is at the end of its life. The heart rate monitor feature no longer works. I can’t believe I’ve had it for four years!
  19. Host three get-togethers with friends. Maybe we will even get to host Friendsgiving this year.
  20. Send postcards to friends when I travel. Bonus: Send holiday greeting cards in December.

What is your 20 in (20)20?

2018 Reading Wish List

In 2018, I will probably read less books because I will not have a lot of recreational reading time due to graduate school. But that does not mean I won’t be able to carve out time. I usually like to read a paper book before going to bed to relax my eyes after interacting with my phone, a computer screen — heck any screen — all day. Here are a few bits of my reading wish list:

Exit West

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

When Nadia and Saeed fall in love in a distant unnamed city, they are just like any other young couple. But soon bullets begin to fly, fighter jets streak the sky, and curfews fall. As the spell of violence spreads, they flee their country, leaving behind their loved ones. Early in Exit West, the author Mohsin Hamid explains that geography is destiny, and in the case of his two young lovers, geography dictates that they must leave. Hamid offers up a fantastical device to deliver his refugees to places: they pass through magic doors. Rather than unmooring the story from reality, this device, as well as a few other fantastical touches, makes the book more poignant and focused, pointing our attention to the emotions of exile rather than the mechanics. Surrounded by other refugees, Nadia and Saeed try to establish their places in the world, putting up different responses to their circumstances. The result is a novel that is personal, not pedantic, an intimate human story about an experience shared by countless people of the world, one that most Americans just witness on television. 

Why is this in my wish list? I guess from the sypnosis, it gives this air of magic elements in a story we see in the news everyday. I’ve heard great things about Exit West in other reading circles, and it’s been in my read list for quite some time.

I see you claire mackintosh

I See You by Claire Mackintosh

It all starts during her commute home one night. Zoe Walker glances through her local paper and sees her own face staring back at her in a classified ad. With the grainy photo is a phone number and a listing for a website called FindTheOne.com.
 
In the following days, she sees other women in the same ad, a different one every day, and nearly all of them show up in the newspapers as victims of increasingly violent crimes—including murder.
 
With the help of a determined cop, Zoe uncovers the ad’s twisted purpose…And suddenly, the man on the train sitting across the car—the one smiling at Zoe—could be more than just a friendly stranger. He could be someone who has deliberately chosen her and is ready to make his next move.

Why is it in my wish list? Ms. Mackintosh, you have a repeat reader! I loved her first book, I Let You Go. The story was twist and turns to the very end and it stayed with me.

Fire and Fury

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff

The first nine months of Donald Trump’s term were stormy, outrageous—and absolutely mesmerizing. Now, thanks to his deep access to the West Wing, bestselling author Michael Wolff tells the riveting story of how Trump launched a tenure as volatile and fiery as the man himself.

In this explosive book, Wolff provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office. Among the revelations:
— What President Trump’s staff really thinks of him
— What inspired Trump to claim he was wire-tapped by President Obama
— Why FBI director James Comey was really fired
— Why chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner couldn’t be in the same room
— Who is really directing the Trump administration’s strategy in the wake of Bannon’s firing
— What the secret to communicating with Trump is
— What the Trump administration has in common with the movie, “The Producers”

Why is this on my wish list? The excerpts I hear from the news all week are so outrageous, who could make this stuff up? Nobody, that’s who! — Unless it is all done before your very eyes. This book affirms what I’ve been hearing on the news and it makes fictional comedy shows come off as period pieces. I purchased this book on Friday — it may take 2 to 4 weeks before it arrives to my house. I can’t wait to read it!

 

Check out my Current Reads page!

Any books you plan to read in 2018?

5 Things…to do to other than social media

I decided to make this week’s “5 Things” thematic and decided to gear it towards things I can do not related to social media. I was inspired by this post on Thrive Global.

I confess, times I’ve been burnt out from social media because there’s so many outlets nowadays. I do a bit of social media on my job and I do get sucked into the numbers games not only at work, but also in my personal social medias. I am not against social media at all for either personal or work life. It’s a wonderful tool to share information and build community within hobbies and industries. But once in a while having a break is the healthy thing to do. Having a list of things to “unsocial media” yourself is a checkpoint on what you can do instead of mindlessly going streams of social media feeds and focus on enjoying life. At the moment, instead of social media I should…
Continue reading 5 Things…to do to other than social media