more than just a number: 2015 reading goals wrap-up

Back in January, I listed six reading goals for the year in attempt to broaden my reading horizons. I wanted to read more classics, and to continue reading nonfiction and poetry. I'd never listened to an entire audiobook (that I can think of), so I wanted to try that out, too. It was an experiment, and, well, I didn't do that great, even though halfway through the year it seemed I would easily reach all of my goals. Overall, though? I think I did pretty well. Check out that grand total at the end of this post!

7 nonfiction -- 7

I expected to be reading a lot of devotional-type books, but instead, my nonfiction pile is all over the place. But maybe that's a good thing! I learned a lot from The Romani Gypsies and Unbowed, and I don't think I gave any of these lower than a four-leaf rating. Definitely not less than three leaves.

3 classics -- 2

Sadly, I never mustered up the courage to attack Les Miserables. I did, however, receive a big surprise in that I enjoyed Far from the Madding Crowd much more than I had expected to. On the other hand, I had been looking forward to reading Watership Down, and was greatly disappointed.

1 book of poetry -- 0
So, I read a few poems from several different books, and I had very good intentions, but this one didn't happen. I was already reading too many books at any given time (typically about three or four), and it seemed a book of poetry might be the straw to break the camel's back.

1 audiobook -- 0
I tried. And I fell asleep. Turns out audiobooks just aren't for me. Although, I still might try to "re-read" the Chronicles of Narnia via audiobook while continuing to teach myself to knit. It might work better with books I already know well.

The One Year Bible -- 1/2
Um, well, this is awkward. I'm still in the month of June, if I'm remembering correctly (it's been awhile since I've cracked that spine...). I kept missing days, and then I forgot about it altogether. This is going on the list to finish next year. But if you're looking for a good way to read the Bible in one year (and you're more dedicated than I am...), this is a good option! I do like the layout and organization.

miscellaneous fiction to add up to 35 books -- 40
Clearly, I read a lot of fiction this year. And much as I would like to paste an image here of all of the novels I've read in 2015, it would be a very large picture. If you would like to see all of them, check out my year in books.

grand total: 49 books

What reading (or other) goals did you set for 2015, if any? Did you reach them all, or fall short, as I did? How do you feel about audiobooks?


Christmas inspiration {a list}

Last week, I began collecting posts that inspired me on some level, realizing that though I haven't written a Christmassy poem this year, I can still share inspiration. And what better way to do it than to spread the cheer to other bloggers? Check out these wonderful holiday posts, with a few of my poems from years past tacked on the end because I just couldn't help myself.

a poem (this one's a must-read)
The Cwtch: Mountains and Mary's

Christmas recipes (gingerbread people, apple taffy salad, and more!)
Curious Wren: Holiday Recipes

a festive to-do list (if you're just not feeling the Christmas spirit yet)
The Quiet People: A Festive To-Do List

creative gift-wrapping ideas (eco-friendly!)
Hello Natural: 6 Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap Ideas

Jolabokaflod ("Christmas Book Flood" - a wonderful Icelandic Christmas eve tradition)
NPR: Literary Iceland Revels in its Annual Christmas Book Flood

from the archives (more poems)
Poetree: Blessed Elizabeth
Poetree: Gifts

What has inspired you this holiday season?



wake up, oh heart,
take note!
the world is not dead
the golden evening light
though fading
captivates you, enlivens you
reminding of the beauty held
in every atom waiting
to be noticed
the world is alive
and so should you be


living symbols of peace and hope {Unbowed by Wangari Maathai}

Hugely charismatic, humble, and possessed of preternatural luminosity of spirit, Wangari Maathai, the winner of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize and a single mother of three, recounts her extraordinary life as a political activist, feminist, and environmentalist in Kenya. (from the inside flap)

Wangari Maathai has been a familiar name to me since I read it in a magazine article perhaps 10 years ago -- sometime during high school. I drank in every word about her organization, The Green Belt Movement, how she was doing the very thing I dreamed of -- planting trees to heal not only the earth, but the people who live here, too. And so, when I finally snatched up her memoir at the library, I expected a grand tale of planting trees across Kenya.

Folks, this is not a book about trees. This is a book about an incredible woman who, when she saw a problem, immediately began looking for a solution. And pursued it. Over and over and over again. It is a story of Kenya, of women, of politics... and if that sounds boring to you, I promise, it's not. I shy away from the words "politics" and "memoir," especially when paired together. But this book is not dry. It is rich. Rich with words painting images telling the story of one of the most incredible women to ever walk this earth. And it is written in such a way as to capture the mind and emotions so that even those who balk at memoirs may be swept up in the journey.

You know that question used in ice breakers and writing prompts: if you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? I never had an answer. Because sharing a meal with a stranger -- and a famous one, at that -- sounds incredibly daunting to this introvert. But the more I read of Unbowed, the more I wanted to meet Wangari Maathai, to hear her tell more of her story, to simply hear her voice and see her eyes light up with a smile, to shake the hand that planted trees in both hope and stubborn rebellion.

And yes, there are also trees in this book. Lots of them, in fact.

"Trees are living symbols of peace and hope. A tree has roots in the soil yet reaches to the sky. It tells us that in order to aspire we need to be grounded, and that no matter how high we go it is from our roots that we draw sustenance. It is a reminder to all of us who have had success that we cannot forget where we came from."

If the name Wangari Maathai means nothing to you, look it up. Even if you do not read Unbowed (which you should!), at the very least, do an internet search. Read an article, read two, be inspired.

5/5 leaves!


surviving, and living

Over a month ago, I decided to attempt NaNoWriMo, even though I've never written a novel in my life. Fiction is not my forte, I'd decided. But guess what, folks? 25,020 words later, I'm well on my way to writing a fantasy novel.

Not only did I reach my personal goal of 25,000 words, but I wrote every single day for 30 days. And at the end of it all, I have something I'm proud of, something I feel is worth continuing. So even though NaNoWriMo is officially over for 2015, and many of my fellow writers are moving on to the dreaded editing stage (is it weird that I look forward to that?), I'm going to keep on writing.

My goal moving forward is a little less ambitious, though: to write at least once per week. Although I don't regret the tiniest bit having done NaNoWriMo, I did often feel like I was missing out on other things throughout the month. I did next to no knitting, and there's still an unfinished puzzle collecting dust on the kitchen table. And my husband might be feeling a tad neglected... (He's been super supportive through this whole ridiculous adventure, making supper and giving me uninterrupted time to write every evening and even encouraging me to go sit down at my computer.)

I want to finish this book, but I also want to leave time for life to happen. I want to meditate on devotions every morning (especially during this season of Advent), read, do yoga, travel, continue teaching myself to knit, bake, visit with family, hang out with friends, finally get that darn puzzle finished... There are so many things to fill the hours of our days, and I can't settle for just one!

I want to live.