Today’s #TwoForTuesday writing prompt made me look
over the list of books I’ve read since October, 1993 (when I started keeping a
list) and select two books that encourage change.
Life-Changing Magic of Tidying,
by Marie Kondo
I read this book four years ago this month. It
immediately inspired me to reorganize my dresser drawers. I changed the way I
stored many of my garments. It made seeing and finding what I had easier.
Marie Kondo’s mantra is, “Does it spark joy?” If an
item doesn’t bring you joy, she says it needs to go. I went through my clothes
and some kitchen items asking myself that question, and it felt good to donate
some things to Goodwill where they could bring someone else joy.
Reading the book a couple of months before a kitchen
remodel helped me part with some pots, pans, and dishes that held sentimental
value because they had belonged to my mother. One thing I learned was that I
don’t need the chipped or cracked bowl to remember Mama’s potato salad, and I
don’t need her beat up pots and pans to remember the delicious meals she
lovingly prepared for us.
Ms. Kondo says one must tidy by category, not
location. I tend to want to tidy a room and then move on to another room (or
not move on, as the case may be.) She says to start with clothing, then books,
then paper. I think that’s where the wheels fell off my wagon. Paper is the
bane of my existence. As much as I recycle and try to depend on technology, I’m
still overwhelmed by paper.
Four years later, I need to read the book again. I
think it will encourage me to donate or discard some things that have accumulated
since April of 2015. Why should I keep it if it can bring joy to someone else?
I plan to read this book again. After four years and
the gaining of a few pounds, it’s time to sort through my clothes again, donate
more books to a charity used book sale, and take that giant step into all that
paper that seems to multiply while I’m asleep.
Small Changes: One Year to a Happier,
by Brett Blumenthal
I read this book 15 months ago. The idea is that you
make a small change in your life every week for 52 weeks. At the end of that
year, you’ve theoretically incorporated all those changes into your daily life
The author says it’s easier to make small changes than
major changes. Also, it take time to make a permanent change in your life. A
study done by University College London psychologist Phillippa Lally found that
it take an average of 9½ weeks to make a lasting change.
I might give this book another chance, even though the
first change is a major one for me:
“Drink an adequate amount of water each day to maintain a healthy level
of hydration.” Water is not my favorite beverage but, starting today, I’ll make
an effort to drink more of it. The rule of thumb is: “Drink the amount of water in ounces that
equals your weight in pounds divided by two.”
Maybe that Week One change will inspire me to lose
some weight. The less I weigh, the less water I need to drink! Week Two isn’t
any easier: “Get seven to eight hours of
restful sleep every night.” I’m afraid to look at the third week.
January is over, so it’s time for me to “fess up” about how I spent the month. Perhaps a better way to say that is “what I accomplished.” In my January 8, 2018 blog post (2018 Reading, Writing, & Living Plans) I felt I needed to be accountable to my blog readers. In order to do that, I said I’d set monthly writing goals. For January, I set a modest goal of adding 2,000 to the scenic plot outline for my historical novel, The Spanish Coin.
For starters, I failed miserably on reaching my 2,000-word goal. What I did, though, was brainstorm about story location. I continue to wrestle with what direction to take in re-writing my historical novel manuscript. The working title remains The Spanish Coin.
Historical novel progress
In January I settled on a location for the story. At least, I hope I will not change from this latest locale. I did some 1700s research on the place and worked on the story’s timeline. Location plays an important role in historical fiction. The era for the novel is the 1760’s, which is a decade earlier than my original plan.
Spanish Coin location reveal
Curious about the story’s setting? The Camden District of South Carolina. Choosing a location for the story has freed me to proceed with the outline.
Goal for February
I tend to write detailed outlines, so I’ll go out on a limb and set a goal of 6,000 words for February.
I got my concentration back and had fun reading in January. I read what I wanted to read instead of tying myself down to any particular reading challenge.
That said, I picked up the rules for the 2018 reading challenges for the public libraries in Harrisburg and Mint Hill (I couldn’t help myself!), but I don’t plan to let them dictate what I read. With 500+ books on my “want to read” list, though, I might meet those two challenges without really trying. Incidentally, even though I read seven books in January, my “want to read” list had a net gain of 39. I realize this is not sustainable. I would have to be a speed reader and live to be a centenarian to finish my ever-growing list.
52 Small Changes: One Year to a Happier, Healthier You, by Brett Blumenthal
The book title says it all. I took note of the suggested change for each week. This week seems like a good week to start, since I didn’t begin in January. This week’s small change: Drink enough water to stay hydrated. I’m told I should drink approximately 80 ounces of water every day. Since I normally drink less than half that amount, this constitutes more than a “small” change for me.
The Rooster Bar, by John Grisham
This latest John Grisham novel took a little different tack from his earlier books in that The Rooster Bar is about a group of law school dropouts practicing law without licenses. I found it to be more humorous than other Grisham novels I’ve read, but it was still full of suspense.
Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts, by Ryan Holiday
I blogged about this book on January 22, 2018, so I direct you to that blog post if you missed it: (Works That Last.)
The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home, by Denise Kiernan
I’ve been reading so many novels the last couple of years that I’d forgotten how long nonfiction book titles tend to be. Or maybe it’s just the three I read in January.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book about the Vanderbilt family and the Biltmore Estate. Living in North Carolina, I have toured the Biltmore House four times. The first time was on a sixth grade field trip. Motion sickness on the bus as it wound around the endless curves on old US-74 east of Asheville is my main memory from that day, but I digress.
My other visits to the Biltmore Estate have been very enjoyable. Reading this book made me want to plan another trip to Asheville and tour the mansion again. It is a delightful book.
Before We Were Yours, by Lisa Wingate
This novel was inspired by the shocking history of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society during the first half of the 20th century. It is a gripping story and is expertly written. It is not a happy read, but I highly recommend this book.
The King of Lies, by John Hart
This was the January book choice of the Rocky River Readers Book Club. The novel is set in Salisbury, North Carolina, so I was familiar with some of the streets and buildings referenced in the book. It’s fun sometimes to read a book set in a location you have visited.
I though Mr. Hart could have omitted some of the “woe is me” theme in the first third of the book. The narrator’s whining about the wealthy people in this small town got old after a while. If you’ll hang in there, though, you’ll probably get so involved in trying to identify the killer that you’ll get to the point you can’t put the book down. You’ll think several times that you’ve figured out the villain’s identity but, chances are, you haven’t.
Nightwoods, by Charles Frazier
This novel has been on my “to read” list for several years, so I felt a sense of accomplishment when I finally read it. It is set in the mountains in western North Carolina.
Nightwoods is a tale about a woman who unexpectedly “inherits” her deceased sister’s twin boy and girl. The children give their aunt/new mother a challenge every day – and then her late sister’s widowed husband/killer comes to try to get the large sum of money he thinks the children took with them. The children are wild and uncommunicative. Add to that the fact that the aunt has no idea why her ne’er do well ex-brother-in-law has suddenly shown an interest in his children and has come to hunt them down.
What about December?
I just remembered that I never did blog about the books I read in December. They were a mixed bag of novels: The Quantum Spy, by David Ignatius; Hardcore Twenty-Four, by Janet Evanovich; and The Secret, Book and Scone Society, by Ellery Adams.
David Ignatius’s political thrillers never disappoint me. The Quantum Spy was no exception.
The last two Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich disappointed me. I used to eagerly await her annual next installment of these funny novels, but “Twenty-Three” and “Twenty-Four” were too predictable.
The Ellery Adams novel is an entertaining read about four women who want to form a friendship, but each one is required to reveal a secret about herself before they can truly trust one another.
Until my next blog post
I hope you have a good book to read. I’m reading Fighting to Win: Samurai Techniques for Your Work and Life, by my fellow-blogger David J. Rogers; The Salt House, by Lisa Duffy, which was recommended by my friend Karen; Beartown, by Frekrik Backman, which is the February pick for The Apostrophe S Coffee Chat online book community; and The Woman in the Window, by A.J. Finn. That’s about one book too many for me to read at the same time, but they are different enough that I’m not getting the story lines confused.
If you’re a writer, I hope you have productive writing time.
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