Dressember is a challenge to wear a dress every day in December to raise awareness and financial support for International Justice Mission. I confess that when I first heard of it, I thought it was silly. I thought associating a fashion challenge with fighting human trafficking was oversimplifying. I thought it was an excuse for girls to take pictures of themselves in dresses in the name of social justice. Then I saw that in the first year, participants raised over $165,000. Holy crap. That is serious.
Then I learned what International Justice Mission can do with money: $30 funds an aftercare package for a victim of sex trafficking. Just $111 translates into freedom training for a family rescued from slavery. And this one really bowled me over: $1200 means a whole month of investigation against injustice. Just $1200! I was completely floored that the number was so low. Wouldn’t it take thousands and thousands of dollars? Apparently not! And at that rate, Dressember’s first year of proceeds meant the equivalent of more than 11 years of investigation, and THAT is not silly.
So, I decided to participate and shoot for raising $1200 for that month of investigation. I have tons of dresses, and it would be no problem. But, hmm, wasn’t this supposed to be, uh, a challenge? Then I read that the Dressember founder wears the same dress for the whole month, and that sounded like more of a challenge. It made me think back to my 31×31 and 30×30 challenges last year. Even under those limited parameters, I had plenty of options and no want for outfits. I felt like, yes, I could do this. I could wear one dress for one month and raise money for one month of investigations. Oh, yes. That has a ring to it.
When you spread out the $1200 goal across the 31 days of December, it comes to just under $40 per day. What if I committed to wearing my one dress for a day in December along with every $40 contribution? So, if I reach my fundraising goal of $1200, I’ll wear the same black dress every single day in December. If I exceed my goal, I’ll keep going into January (or however long it takes to honor those contributions). In response to my most common question, yes, I will wash the dress every so often. I have my usual layering tricks up my sleeve, but I have a couple of other ways I want to try to mix up this dress, so we’ll see how they turn out. Some of my friends (and donors!) are not so sure what I’ll do with that dress, but I think I can make it work. I plan on mixing it up with tights, cardigans, and scarves, but I’m not buying anything in advance, and I’ll always wear the one dress. It’s the black one I included in my previous challenges and wore in a bunch of ways:
I also hope that limiting myself this way will give me better perspective during what is usually a very consumeristic, grabby time for me. The other day I was trying to come up with a Christmas list, and I couldn’t think of much. Great! The next day, I had no problem piling more stuff onto that list because I could. I don’t need anything. All of the sweaters and shoes I’ll use to mix up my black dress are extras anyway. To pretend that wearing one dress is a real-life challenge is delusional and to grumble about “not having anything to wear” is ungrateful. I want to remember that every time I put on that black dress.
Will you help me reach my goal to support IJM’s investigations? I’m over 75% of the way there, and every dollar helps! Of course, I’ll post an update on how my black dress experiment goes. Thanks for considering!
What’s your favorite (current) TV show right now? What (possibly old) show do you recommend to others?
For the first time I can remember, I didn’t know when premiere week was for this year’s fall season, and it passed me by. We have become one of those DVR-only households, so I have no idea what day anything is on. These days, we (I use the plural noun here because JG and I watch the majority of our TV together) consistently watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine, New Girl, Modern Family, Parenthood, and The Big Bang Theory. Of these shows, I probably look forward to watching … Brooklyn Nine-Nine and New Girl the most. Huh. Did not see that coming. Modern Family and Big Bang are more of the amusing same, but Parenthood seems like a long slog to the series finale. My love for Peter Krause and Lauren Graham holds strong, but it’s time for all of that to end. I also go through the whole week’s worth of Jimmy Fallon over the weekend by fast-forwarding through the monologue (painful for me), watching the first guest, and hoping they play a game. Oh, and I like the Hashtags segment on Thursdays. We are pining away for Community to air on the internet, and even more so for Parks and Rec to come back.
Over the summer, we tried Manhattan and watched the whole season. I’m still not sure if I like it. The science is thin and the drama is overwrought, and I wish they had just dramatized Bomb. But, I don’t know, we’ll probably try the next season, whenever that is — January, I think. Recently, we’ve also tried Benched, for the sole reason that we loved Eliza Coupe in that awful med-school version of Scrubs and then again in Happy Endings. We’re only 2 episodes in, but so far, so good. Is anyone else watching it?
As for an old show I’d recommend, I have been loving watching reruns of Sports Night in the mornings as I get ready. It is so, so good. I just wish the jangly musical interludes and occasional laugh track didn’t get in the way and make it feel so dated. If you haven’t watched it, YOU MUST. It’s vintage Peter Krause and Felicity Huffman walking around a lot and saying classic Aaron Sorkin lines, and the result is funny and poignant all at the same time.
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What is your favorite piece of clothing at the moment? What current trend can you just not see yourself wearing?
When I considered my favorite piece of clothing, I immediately thought of a hot pink slub cardigan I got from the Gap outlets this spring. Surprise! A cardigan! It’s 3/4-sleeve and drapey without being too baggy, and I have to stop myself from wearing it all the time. But other than my normal proclivity for cardigans, I also love a new blousy tee I got on sale at Anthropologie recently. I’m trying to buy tops that are dressier than a typical tee, and this one has a yoke for structure and a small, purple-pink, vaguely ikat-like print. So far, I’ve worn it under a black blazer and with the aforementioned pink cardigan, and it feels nice but not dressed up. I also got a big, soft houndstooth scarf recently for super cheap (SIX DOLLAHS), and it is awesome.
As for trends, I don’t know. I feel super old and crotchety when I say this, but I feel like the older I get, the less trendy I am going to be. Is that just The Way Of The World? I’m just not going to wear overalls, track pants, grunge-revival plaid, or crop tops, but those strike me as really out-there trends. Of course, years ago, I said that I wouldn’t wear riding boots, big sunglasses, or gold jewelry, and that didn’t go as I thought. Anyway, on the more realistic front, I can’t get my mind around booties. They look cute on other people, I understand how the concept could work on me, and yet, no. I can’t bring myself to do it. I’m happy in the land of ballet flats and riding boots, I guess.
I’d be curious about your church. Nothing too terribly personal, but what draws you to it, how did you make it your home, that kind of thing.
I was raised in a Conservative Baptist church in Connecticut of about 250 people, where my family attended until I left for college. From freshman year until 2011, I attended a slightly larger Presbyterian church (500 people) that was really formative for my adult faith. JG and I were youth group leaders and met the couple who would eventually mentor us in engagement and marriage — and we are still great friends — before getting married there. We also spent a year attending and volunteering at a church plant out of that church, but we eventually came back. Then, in 2011, we started looking for a new church. I won’t go into the reasons now, but it became clear that it was time tor a change.
JG and I started our church search very pragmatically: we mapped out the churches that were nearest to our house and decided to work our way outward. I envisioned a whole matrix of traits that I’d rate for each church and try to optimize: teaching, music, options for small groups, openness to young adults, etc. I was prepared to compromise when we finally settled on a church, but I would have as much fun as possible gathering the data, so help me.
The first week of church-shopping, we visited a church that was 3 miles from our house. We’d passed it all the time; JG drove by it every day for his commute, and the building practically backed up to our dentist’s office. Based on preliminary research consisting of visiting the church’s website, I was prepared to be impressed by the size of the church (over 1,000) and the opportunities to get involved. They had a whole young adults ministry, after all, and you could download the sermons online. Well, then! Fancy! But I was also turned off by the size and the fact that it was nondenominational. I didn’t have anything against it, but I was very comfortable with aligning myself with a denomination and understanding what that meant. Baptists do the full dunk; Presbyterians do the sprinkle. Fine. I highly doubted that this anarchist nondenominational megachurch was going to be anything but an entry in my matrix.
After the service, during the (7-minute) drive home, JG turned to me and said, “So, do you think we should go back?”
“I think we should at least give it another try,” I said.
“And we should probably try to go to that young adults dinner next week.”
And we’ve never stopped going. Yep, we never visited another church. Goodbye, fun matrix! Sayonara, optimization exercise! I never saw it coming, but that big, nondenominational church was the right fit for us. As I explain to others, while it’s nondenominational in governance, it’s really Presbyterian/Reform in theology and Baptist in, well, baptism.
What drew us to the church? I think I was most impressed by the teaching, first of all. Our pastor is a really good communicator, and as I’ve gotten to know him over the years, it’s become clear that he and I are on the same wavelength. I’m not saying that I am as smart as him or anything, but we speak the same language. He has become an excellent source of books for me. Also, JG and I really appreciate how everyone strives for excellence in what they do, from the music to the children’s lessons to the handouts. This is a tech team that doesn’t flinch when I point out typos in the slides between services.
What made it home? As I mentioned, there was a separate young adults ministry, and for once, it wasn’t called a “singles group.” JG and I got involved right away and began hosting a small group at our house, which another couple led. Within 6 months, we were leading our own group. Through the young adults ministry, we met a lot of other people who were in our same stage of life and lived right in the area. I joined the worship team, and JG led a team of volunteers at our church’s day camp, so we formed a lot of different connections from the start.
More important, I think the church leaders helped JG and me deepen our individual faith. We were introduced to Christian thinkers and writers who gave us language to frame thoughts we’d already been having about what it meant to take faith from an intellectual exercise to living it out. Reading The Next Christians was huge for both of us because we began to see that there shouldn’t be a dividing wall between faith and, well, everything else. We could and should demonstrate faith in our work, with our friends, in our neighborhood. It sounds obvious to me now, but it was a big paradigm shift.
Our previous church was almost a half hour drive away, so switching to a church so close to home opened my eyes to my immediate community. I loved Kennett Square before, but after we started going to our current church, I started to know my town. Suddenly, we recognized people all over the place, and it made me realize that we’d probably walked past all of these folks for years, none the wiser. I think this small transition helped prepare JG and me for taking these current jobs, because now there really is no compartmentalization. We live, work, and attend church in the same town. It’s integrated and tight-knit, and it’s a challenge, but I’m learning how life can be coherent in all its different facets.
I think the most exciting aspect of church for me right now is the possibility for innovation. On a small scale, the women’s Bible study I’m leading is a pilot in a new model that targets professional women. In the bigger picture, part of my job involves developing a nonprofit organization that will serve the common good, motivated by what we believe is God’s vision for restoration of the world. I wouldn’t have predicted that I’d do either of these things, but I believe that God brought JG and me to Kennett Square, to this church, with this timing. And now I’m learning and working out my faith with lots of room on the horizon.
Our church isn’t perfect by any means, but neither am I. It works.
(I’ve never really blogged about faith, but if you are curious about specific aspects, let me know.)
Since you have recently left medical writing, I was wondering how it feels not to read so much scientific literature anymore. Do you miss it?
First, I should say that the scientific literature I was reading and writing all the time was incredibly dry. It took superhuman effort not to drift off while reading it, much less applying a critical eye to it and being able to explain to others.
Second, I do really miss it. That is, I miss reading about research that was on the cutting edge and helped our very small patient populations. I liked thinking analytically about the data and trying to find the limitations of the study before I got to the discussion section. I miss the detective work of going through a clinical study report and finding the most important parts.
I also miss being in a field where I knew what the heck I was doing. Transitioning from pharmaceuticals to finance has meant a whole new world of terms and acronyms, and I am the dumbest of the dumb. The undergraduates going through interviews for positions next summer are more well-versed in this world than I am, and I will basically never catch up. So, while I miss the content of reading medical literature, I also really miss feeling like I could swim in that river, as opposed to now, when I can barely keep my head above the surface.
Well! That certainly took a turn, didn’t it?
These days, I dip into the science world thanks to these 2 internet sources:
- Useful Science: Malcolm Gladwell tweeted about this great website, and I FREAKING LOVE IT. Basically, a bunch of brilliant Canadians sum up scientific research studies into 1 sentence (okay, sometimes 2). In my mind, this website demonstrates exactly what scientific and technical communication should do: distill, articulate, and disseminate difficult concepts, methodology, and results. Every entry is hyperlinked to the corresponding abstract! Yesss. I wish I could have done this as an undergraduate for practice. Seriously, I do.
- Elements, from The New Yorker: I also really enjoy this Twitter feed that highlights the science writing in The New Yorker. I do a lot of favoriting and reading at a later point. Recent good reads: Taking Pictures (about photography copyright) and The Struggles of a Psychologist Studying Self Control (about the scientist behind the infamous Marshmallow Test).
And just for fun, since Mole Day has just passed, here is an excellent video of Daniel Radcliffe singing the awesome Tom Lehrer “Elements” song:
In lieu of the usual it’s-been-a-long-time-sorry-I-haven’t-posted-in-forever-so-on-and-so-forth, let me just say: I’m quiet right now.
Part of the quiet is that my new job is going well (yay!), but when I get home in the evening, my brain is so consumed that I have nothing left to put on the page (or the Add New Post box, as it were). So, I read and watch TV and go to bed, and that’s all right with me.
Another part of the quiet is that I am stuck in a chronological rut where I feel like I need to catch you all up on my 8-week sabbatical … but I think I need to let that one go.
Another part of the quiet is that I’m not sure anymore what the point of blogging is for me. I don’t mean to add another tally mark in the “Blogging is dead!” camp; it’s more like, if I’m spending my time on something, it should be for a reason. So if I spend time on blogging, why am I doing that? Possible worthwhile reasons:
- To practice writing and get better at it
- To document my life
- To connect with others
But I wonder, what does it mean to do these worthwhile things? Writing is stringing words together. Documenting my life means capturing memories and moments in whatever way makes sense. Connecting with others is a text, an email, a call, card. None of these equate to blogging.
Then I reflexively think, “But, oh! I don’t want to stop because the blog is such a good memory book.” But when I say “memory book,” what I really mean is “updates on my goals” and “impressive reading lists that people like to reference.” The reality is that I am afraid of leaving the blog because of these other, not very worthwhile reasons that conveniently fit under the roomy disguise of Documentation:
- To brag
- To complain
- To build an internet following
- To keep up with something I’ve been doing since 2006
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About a month ago, I was musing on this theme to JG, and he said lightly, “Well, we don’t know how long the blog will last,” and I was all, WHOA THERE, COWBOY. “It usually takes me at least 6 weeks to adjust to a new job!” I protested. “I have to figure out the new groove!”
“Okay,” he said.
So, it’s been 12 weeks. I’m still not sure how to do this or if I should or if I want to or whatever WHATEVER UGH.
When I hem and haw about whether to keep going or give it up, another voice pipes up, “This is what feed readers are for! Do whatever you want!” And I totally understand and agree with that voice. That is what I would tell anyone else who might come to me with this situation. And, as much as we want to feel like people notice our absence, the flow of information on the internet is so furious that the momentarily empty space gets filled. No hard feelings. So if I disappear for months, I know that it would be fine.
There’s also a possibility that I need to keep flexing my blogging muscle and get back into the habit, so in that vein, I’m going to try and knock out the questions that folks helpfully provided all the way back in June. Let’s call it blogging drills.
All this to say: I don’t think blogging is dead. I definitely don’t think storytelling is dead, and good writing most certainly is not dead. I just don’t know if my mishmash of wanting to be a good writer, capture my memories, and connect with others fits into the blogging/internet/social media world. When you throw this blogging existentialism and being super challenged at work into the soup of my normal pondering, well, you get this: quiet.
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Have I ever mentioned that I usually hate “link love” posts? They seem like cop-out posts to me or straight-up advertising for other sites. I especially hate it when the link is embedded in an unhelpful line like, “This is just the best.” And then I click and watch the link go through an affiliate site only to land on a … fur-lined cargo vest. Um. Great.
You know what’s coming, right? Yes, a bunch of links! But I am going to explain why I think they’re worth your time, and maybe you will click them and agree (or not! I’m not sure how this will go). I hope it will give you an idea of what (else) is flying around my brain, even though I’m staying quiet these days.
- Isaac Asimov Asks, “How Do People Get New Ideas?” at MIT Technology Review: So much good in here, but I especially like this: “A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance. Since he occurs only rarely, he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us. A person eccentric in one respect is often eccentric in others. Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.)”
- When Women Stopped Coding, at NPR’s Planet Money: The part when the lady is converting numbers into binary is awesome, and then it only gets better from there.
- From Farm to Patient: How One Medical Facility is Rethinking Hospital Food, by Jacob Templin and Thomas Shomaker, at NationSwell: I love my produce share from my CSA, and I love that this Pennsylvania hospital is trying something new in growing and providing food in its facility. This is great: ‘”Health care in the past was about sick care. We got paid when people got sick.’ says [hospital president Ed] Nawrocki. ‘In the next decade, it’s going to be about keeping people well.’”
- The Struggle Of Being Asian-American For Halloween, by Steve Haruch, at NPR’s Code Switch: I found this super interesting, especially the part about the author not pulling off Don Draper. This year, no one recognized me as Amy Farrah Fowler without JG’s Sheldon. Granted, Amy is a minor character, but I can’t help but wonder if the Asian part muddled the translation.
- Bakeoff, by Adam Gopnik, at The New Yorker: I have never felt quite right about those unholy Frankencake progeny, but this take on two specimens is great. Favorite line: “Baking is always making new.”
- The Hand Through the Fence: Pablo Neruda on What a Childhood Encounter Taught Him About Writing and Why We Make Art, by Maria Popova, at Brain Pickings: I love this concept of creativity as an “exchange of gifts.”
- For People Like Me: The Myth of Generations, by Andy Crouch: This article is specific to the church, but I can’t help but think that it applies to forming connections in general, especially this: “…what is needed is almost exactly the opposite: to form in every generation the will to love the stranger in every other generation. … it is the task of forming young and old into hearts that welcome those who are different from themselves.”
- ‘Dressember’ Movement Celebrates Femininity to Hit Hard at Human Trafficking and Violence Against Women, at International Justice Mission: I raised a skeptical eyebrow when I learned about Dressember, but hey, hundreds of thousands of dollars raised is no small thing. I’m participating in this fundraiser this year, and if I meet my goal of $1200 (enough for a whole month’s worth of investigations), I will wear the same dress for all of December — eep! Thanks for considering donating!
The O’s are in the playoffs! This is big for JG, and by extension, for me. I have no idea what’s going on when I watch baseball (by which I mean, read while it is on), but I make up for it in enthusiasm! My sister got me a freebie shirt from a Nationals/Orioles game that has Nick Markakis on it, and so whenever he’s up to bat, JG says, “Look, it’s your guy!” and I shout, “MARKAKIS!” and then return to my book immediately.
In honor of the playoffs, I present this story of staggering ignorance on my part, mostly because whenever I think about it, I LOL. Yes, at my own expense.
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Over Memorial Day, all the siblings-in-law and spouses were at my in-laws’ house in the Poconos, and we happened to catch that cinematic masterpiece, Richie Rich, on TV. I had seen bits and pieces of it, and I knew the general premise, but I’d never seen the whole thing. We got to the part when Richie is playing baseball with guys I presumed were famous, but I decided to check anyway.
RA: Are these guys famous players?
Brother-in-law: That’s Reggie Jackson.
RA: So, yes?
BIL: You don’t know who Reggie Jackson is? Mr. October?!
RA: I don’t know anything about baseball!
BIL: He’s even wearing his uniform!
RA: It doesn’t have his name ON THE FRONT!
BIL: But it’s Mr. October!
RA: Why do you call him that? Was there a calendar or something?
Even as the words came out of my mouth, I knew that it was a monumentally stupid thing to ask. (Again.) Of course there wasn’t a calendar! Of course my BIL wouldn’t have referred to it if it did exist!
Too late. The whole room busted out laughing, and it still happens at the mere mention of “Mr. October.”
To be frank, when I started my job, my nighttime reading all but screeched to a dead halt for the first 2 weeks because I was so exhausted and my brain was so full. Then I became a kind of book gadfly this quarter: I kept running out of time on my library books, leaving them unfinished, re-borrowing them, skipping to another book in the meantime, borrowing books from friends, getting fatigued from think-y-er books, reading children’s books and fairy tales, all the while failing to log my “progress” in Goodreads. As someone who is very regimented about reading, I felt like a different person, and for a while, I was afraid that I’d really lost my reading groove. I feel more on top of it now, but I enjoyed my willy-nilly straying, once I got used to it. I felt like, so what if I want to read my old fairy tale books? So what if I take forever to read this collection of difficult journalism? ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN! Okay, not really, but I’m just saying: I was in this very weird reading mindset for a few months there, and I am only now emerging out of it.
All that to say: I finished 8 books (a new record low) plus 7 re-reads this quarter, but none of them bowled me over, other than my re-reads of old favorites that re-bowled me over. I’m not sure if it’s related to my flitting around. To be fair, there were no real duds, either, so I’m still at an even keel for my reading, but there are no books that cause me to shake someone by the shoulders and proclaim, “You MUST read this!” Instead, I’ve highlighted the books that I liked best, and maybe those books will compel you to press them in someone else’s hands.
In response to the question: “Would you recommend this book?” …
- Watership Down, by Richard Adams: I was a huge fan of the Redwall series when I was in middle school, and all of them had had a description on the cover that was something like, “In the grand tradition of Watership Down comes this adventure …” Yet, I never read Watership Down! So, I bought a used copy and brought it with me on our cruise this summer, and it was an excellent vacation read. Well, for the most part, until I realized that I do not enjoy rabbits, and some of the rabbit language was a little too much for me. Regardless, I was really swept away by the adventure story, and I could see and appreciate the foundations on which Redwall was built.
- More Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin: I really liked this collection of essays, but not quiiite as much as I loved Home Cooking. It was more of the same and still delightful. Here’s a favorite line: “The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: even the simplest food is a gift.”
- The New Kings of Nonfiction, edited by Ira Glass: It took me 2 tries to get through this (I ran out of time on my library copy), but I really liked this collection, which made me want to be a better writer. I didn’t love the David Foster Wallace piece (WHY with the footnotes?!) or the poker piece (it just seemed outdated), and this collection suffered from my #1 pet peeve of compilations: no citation of publication or date! Explain this to me, Ira Glass! Annnyway, my favorite pieces from the book were “Jonathan Lebed’s Extracurricular Activities,” by Michael Lewis; “The American Man, Age Ten,” by Susan Orlean; and “Losing the War,” by Lee Sandlin.
- Landline, by Rainbow Rowell: I checked, and I’ve given all of Rowell’s books 3 stars: I’m 4/4 on that. I find her books perfectly enjoyable but not extraordinary, and Landline fell into that space neatly. Her dialogue is particularly good, and I think she did a great job of that here. I’m just not particularly struck by romance stories. I’ll continue to read her stuff because it’s enjoyable and interesting, but it’s not exactly for me.
- The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Danielle Zevin: I really enjoyed this book. I’d heard about it from a lot of people, and for good reason — it has a lot going for it. Some parts of it were predictable, but that was fine. At the time that I read it, I really needed a strong story, and this fit the bill. It’s a book for book lovers.
- The Borrower, by Rebecca Makkai: This book was only okay. I thought the narrator was charming (if a little misguided), and the author clearly loves books and libraries, so, hooray! There were plenty of sharp, funny lines sprinkled throughout. But the plot was unsustainable, which I perceived from reading just the jacket copy. My mom recommended the book, so I read it, but then the ending ruined it for me.
- I Don’t Know Where You Know Me From, by Judy Greer: This was fine. It filled the “I need something light and entertaining” space where my brain was when I grabbed this off the New Nonfiction shelf at the library. Besides, I do love Judy Greer, even though I will primarily think of her as Brandy in that short-lived series, Love Monkey. Oh, and Professor Plimpton from The Big Bang Theory. And Royce from How I Met Your Mother. (For her sake, I’m glad that her series, Married, got picked up for a second season, but I don’t really like that show.)
- Delicious!, by Ruth Reichl: I pulled this novel off the New Fiction shelf on a whim. I love Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone, but I hadn’t read any of her fiction. This was fine and enjoyable and predictable and tidy. All of the food descriptions were great, by which I mean, I did a lot of snacking while I read this book.
- Julian of Norwich, by Amy Frykholm: Another one where I ran out of time at the library, but I’ll pick this up again. Madeleine L’Engle draws a lot from Julian’s writings, so I was curious to read more about her. I was about to renew this book when time was running out, but what? Someone ELSE had put a hold on it? Who else in Chester County wants to read about Julian of Norwich, hmm?
- Quiet, by Susan Cain: This was my 4th favorite book in 2012, and I re-read it this year because I knew I would hear Susan Cain speak at an event in August. It was so good to read this during my sabbatical, when I was thinking about how I would and could respond to all of the newness ahead of me. Her recommendation for introverts to “carve out restorative niches” really resonated with me this time.
- Love Does, by Bob Goff: I re-read this one through the month of August, 1 chapter per day (more or less), and I didn’t like it quite as much as I did when I read it the first time. There were still plenty of fist-pumping moments, of course, but I wasn’t surprised by anything, which was part of why I loved it before. But in general, I think reading it gradually is a good move.
- The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green: I re-read this novel in preparation for seeing the movie when it’s released on DVD, and even at the halfway point, I felt like my tear ducts were getting primed and ready for a good sob. Ugggh. I suspected that the movie was a rental-only for me, and reading the book again only confirmed it. I will be an embarrassing mess when I watch the movie, assuming it is done even halfway well. This mini-review sounds bad, doesn’t it? I just mean that I loved the book when I read it for the first time (6th favorite book in 2012!), and I loved it again, despite and because of its effectiveness in delivering a powerful punch to my stomach this time around.
- The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster: Gah, I still love this book so much. I feel like adults who have a dim view of the merit of children’s literature have not read this book; if they have, they are too far gone ever to be convinced.
- The Princess and the Goblin, by George MacDonald: I stole/rescued this book from my parents’ house, almost primarily because my copy is a big hardcover copy with gorgeous color painting illustrations sprinkled throughout, and those images burned themselves into my young brain. I love the old-timey tone of it; for example, the first chapter is called “Why the Princess Has a Story About Her,” and another is called “The Princess and — We Shall See Who.” When I got to the end, I was a bit let down, and that feeling was oddly familiar, too.
- Beauty, by Robin McKinley: This is another rescue from my parents, and then I read it in almost one fell swoop late at night. It’s not a book I remember re-reading on a loop when I was a child, but I remember loving it and loving specific moments in it. Those moments came back to me so vividly: the golden rose petal, the invisible maids, Beauty wanting her “proper big mug of tea.” It’s such a good rendition of the fairy tale, and I love that it’s not reinvented or retold. It’s the same story, but so much richer and nuanced.
- Abel’s Island, by William Stieg: Another rescue! My copy was practically falling apart, but I gave it one more read before I sent it in a box of other rescues to Hillary and her boys. I have such love for this little book and its funny little illustrations. This time around, I noticed how sophisticated the vocabulary was, and I had forgotten that Abel learns his purpose in life. Deep stuff for material intended for new readers! I like to think that young minds can handle it.
Also, books in progress:
- Playing God, by Andy Crouch
- The Shelf, by Phyllis Rose
- Winnie-the-Pooh, by AA Milne
- Incomparable, by Andrew Wilson