Monday, January 15, 2018

2017 Book Challenge Wrap-Up

The 2017 Reading Challenge did not go as planned. Working full time greatly effected my reading style and I didn't even come close to reading all the books on my original list. Since I had less time to sit and read, I relied much more on audiobooks last year than in previous years. I still managed to finish 68 books in 2017, 26 regular books and 42 audiobooks.

1. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016 (link) - Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty ✓
2. A book with at least 2 perspectives (multiple points of view) - The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (instead I listened to the non-fiction account of River Phoenix's life and death in Last Night at the Viper Room by Gavin Edwards) ✓
3. A book you meant to read in 2016 - Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion ✓
4. A title that doesn't contain the letter "E" - NW by Zadie Smith (I'm currently reading It by Stephen King)
5. A historical fiction - Atonement by Ian McEwan (I read The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin) ✓
6. A book being released as a movie in 2017 - IT by Stephen King (I finished The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann) ✓
7. A book with an animal on the cover or in the title - A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
8. A book written by a person of color - Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay ✓
9. A book in the middle of your To Be Read list - Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
10. A dual-timeline novel - The Secret History by Donna Tartt (I regretfully read Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane instead) ✓
11. A category from another challenge : A book you loved as a child (from the Popsugar reading challenge) - The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
12. A book based on a myth - Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
13. A book recommended by one of your favorite authors - A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (recommended by John Green)
14. A book with a strong female character - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (I read about real life female activist Malala in I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb) ✓
15. A book written or set in Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland) - Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
16. A mystery - The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (I read the YA thriller Final Girls by RIley Sager) ✓
17. A book with illustrations - Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen ✓
18. A really long book (600+ pages) - Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
19. A New York Times best-seller - The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt ✓
20. A book that you've owned for a while but haven't gotten around to reading - Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert (I have not owned Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut quite as long as I've owned Eat Pray Love, but it's still been a shamefully long time)
21. A book that is a continuation of a book you've already read - City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare (Instead I continued the arthurian saga The Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart) ✓
22. A book by an author you haven't read before - Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (I read Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue for book club)
23. A book from the BBC's "The Big Read" list (link) - Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (Also listed was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho which I read in 2017) ✓
24. A book written by at least 2 authors - Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (Instead I read The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines) ✓
25. A book about a famous historical figure - Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow ✓
26. An adventure book - The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (instead I listened to The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee) ✓
27. A book by one of your favorite authors - M Train by Patti Smith (I devoured Turtles All the Way Down by John Green) ✓
28. A non-fiction book - Chronicles: Vol 1 by Bob Dylan ✓
29. A book published outside the 4 major publishing houses (Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House, Hachette Livre) - The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, translated by Christina MacSweeney
30. A book from Goodreads Top 100 YA books (link) - I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson ✓
31. A book from a sub-genre of your favorite genre - Lit by Mary Karr a memoir about substance abuse (instead I listened to the author-read celebrity memoir Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen) ✓
32. A book with a long title (5+ words, excluding subtitle) - A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (I read No One Belongs Here More than You by Miranda July) ✓
33. A magical realism novel - One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
34. A book set in or by an author from the Southern Hemisphere - The Motorcycle Diaries by Che Guevara (instead I listened to Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah) ✓
35. A book where one of the main characters is royalty - The Princess Bride by William Goldman ✓
36. A Hugo Award winner or nominee (link) - Saga, Vol 1 by Brian K. Vaughan ✓
37. A book you choose randomly - I left this one open, so I chose to read On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder ✓
38. A novel inspired by a work of classic literature - On Beauty by Zadie Smith
39. An epistolary fiction - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
40. A book published in 2017 - Things We Lost In the Fire by Mariana Enriquez (instead I read What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton) ✓
41. A book with an unreliable narrator - Rebecca by Daphane du Maurier
42. A best book of the 21st Century (so far) - The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (Another book club pick was The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri) ✓
43. A book with a chilling atmosphere (scary, unsettling, cold) - We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (Why settle for fiction when you have a real life chilling atmosphere and truly terrifying read in Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right by Jane Mayer) ✓
44. A recommendation from "What Should I Read Next" (link) - I had planned on choosing this book later in the year but I never actually used the link to pick my next read, whoops!
45. A book with a one-word title - Beloved by Toni Morrison
46. A time travel novel - Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon
47. A past suggestion that didn't win (link) : A book about traveling, can be fiction or non-fiction - Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson
48. A banned book - 1984 by George Orwell ✓
49. A book from someone else's bookshelf - A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn ✓
50. A Penguin Modern Classic - To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
51. A collection (e.g. essays, short stories, poetry, plays) - The Tenth of December by George Saunders ✓
52. A book set in a fictional location - Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire (The Republic of Gilead from The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood may be inching closer to reality, but it's still technically a fictional place)

I don't plan on participating in one particular reading challenge for 2018. Having challenges listed on a blog or known to others may help hold some people accountable, but for me sharing tends to add unneeded stress. Even though I managed to read over 52 diverse books last year I'm still disappointed that I couldn't stick to the specific books on the list. So this year there won't be a challenge and all my reading related goals are staying off this blog. Maybe 2018 will be my best reading year yet? Or maybe it won't but there's bigger things in life to stress over.

Happy reading everyone!

- Sarah

Saturday, January 6, 2018

New Year, New Peace of Mind

Happy 2018!



2017 brought a whirlwind of changes to my life, and I don't think anyone would believe me if I told them this past year was all sunshine and roses.  Last year challenged me to accept the present. While I reached many of the goals I had set for 2017 and experienced joy on occasions such as the night my nephew was born, I still struggled to find happiness in my daily life. On a large scale I could see myself moving forward, gaining experience and growing as a person, but I still felt stuck. Maybe feeling stuck is something we all experience at one point or another, but the universality of the situation doesn't make it any easier. I learned a lot about myself this year and worked hard not to let those bad feelings get the best of me. As I've been told before, good things take time and maybe I just need to be a little more patient.

I spent the last night of 2017 laying out puzzle pieces and watching New Years Rockin' Eve with my parents. This was the first year I didn't feel like I was missing out on "the party" or secretly wishing I was spending the night with other people. I said goodbye to 2017 feeling content and at peace. I hope you felt that too, whatever you were doing.

What has been said, what has been done, however you have felt over the past year is there to stay. Start 2018 off with a blank slate. Happy New Year everyone!

- Sarah

Monday, November 6, 2017

11-6-2017



What I wore: Leather motorcycle jacket from Wilson's Leather (similar), black open-front sweater from Macy's (similar), chambray shirt dress (similar),  black leggings from Lularoe, my favorite blue beanie (similar) and black leather boots (similar).

- S

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Work It Work It Work It

Since starting my current job I've been trying to develop a personal style that both pleases me and fits with the business casual dress code requirements. Too often business casual clothes can look frumpy or bland, and I never want to sacrificing style for my job. Finding a wardrobe that worked best for me involved a bit of trial and error but I think I've finally found the perfect balance.


After obsessing over the Goldstein sisters' wardrobes in "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" earlier this year, I found these Tina inspired trousers from J. Crew (similar). I love pairing those with this olive blouse from Loft (similar) and a cardigan sweater (similar). All I need now is a cropped bob and a long coat. I'll be off helping Newt hunt down escaped nifflers before you know it.




Just ignore the unironed shirt, clearly I haven't learned all the rules of fashion blogging yet.

When I asked my friend Sandy if she would snap some photos of me on our break, I wasn't expecting to feel so ridiculous standing out by a parking lot full of empty cars. Most likely the handful of people present at the time were not paying attention to what we were doing, but I could not stop giggling. Thankfully Sandy still managed to get some good shots.

What do you guys like to wear to work? Any business casual staples you'd recommend?

- S

Saturday, October 14, 2017

I'm Back Baby!

Hey! Hi. How you doin'? Holy moly, it's been a while.

After almost eight months of silence maybe it's time to catch you up on my life. Several exciting things have happened while I've been away from this blog and I wouldn't want you to feel left out.


Most importantly, I became an aunt! I have a squishy, adorable, sweet cheeked nephew named Levi who was born in June and is the best snuggle buddy ever.

 


I also got a new job. At the end of January I left my position at the library and started working in the billing department of a local home care service. The new job was a huge adjustment at first. Both my schedule and my work environment completely changed, and it took months before I could handle anything other than work and sleep. I may have enough money to pay my bills now, but I miss only working three days a week.


In May I came home with "a brand new car!" (Read that in your best Oprah voice.) Words cannot describe how happy this car has made me. Let's just say, no-car Sarah was slowly losing her marbles and would not have lasted another month without having a serious mental breakdown. Every time I get in my car now I want to start singing "Independent Women Part 1" by Destiny's Child.
Okay maybe I should still be admitted for psychological evaluation....

May was also the month my youngest cousin graduated from high school, a long lost friend helped me sign up for Beachbody, and I got bangs for the first time since I was 5 years old.




The summer months were packed with family gatherings, wine tastings, beach days, and birthday celebrations. I guess my life has been a lot more than work after all. Looking back on these pictures makes it all feels like a big blur though. Time has flown by this year and my body feels like it's barely stopped moving.







In August I was able to take the train to Chicago to spend an extended weekend with my friend Gabby. I hung out with her friendly cats, spent a ridiculous amount of time in various bookstores, walked around a handful of Chicago neighborhoods, and got lost inside the Art Institute. After a week in the city I felt more inspired to paint, write, and live than I do after most days in my home town. It's good to get out of the usual bubble and see other parts of the world, even if it's not visiting another country or half way across the globe.




My life has not lacked excitement over the past eight months, but I still missed writing to you all. I'm happy to be back and hopefully this time it'll last.

- S

Sunday, April 23, 2017

April's Refrain

I've had so much to say lately. So much I've wanted to write about on here. So much to catch you up on and too many words crammed in my head to get them all out in one place. It's been three months and I'm feeling a little rusty.

Forgive me. It's not for lack of ideas, or even lack of time, that it's taken me this long to write anything. Bridging the gap between an old habit and the feeling of starting fresh has been more difficult than it's ever been in the past. The more I thought about writing the harder it became, and the farther I let this blog slip away the easier it was to forget.

Maybe I'll fill in the gaps a bit more later, or maybe I won't, but for now I'll leave you with some music inspiration. Here's a full playlist option, or listen to each individual song below.

Keep Running by Tei Shi

Crowded Places by Banks

Carry You by Novo Amor

Belong by San Fermin

Love and Fear by Imelda May

Hate That You Know Me by Bleachers

You Can Cry Tomorrow by Betty Who

Say You Do by Tei Shi

Muddy Waters by LP

Happiness Will Ruin This Place by San Fermin

Silver by Waxahatchee

Nighttime Hunger by Overcoats

Lifetimes by Oh Wonder

Fire by Beth Ditto

Green Light by Lorde

Mama Say by Betty Who

Don't Take the Money by Bleachers


-S