Books of 2016!

I set a lofty goal for 2016 – to finish 25 books.

I didn’t make it.

But I DID read 20 books. Over 8,000 pages. Not too shabby!  (I track my reading using Goodreads which syncs to my Kindle).

Here are my 20 books of 2016:

books

 

My least favorites of the bunch?

  • The Paying Guests (too long, not particularly compelling, and I just didn’t care about the characters very much)
  • Shrill (I wanted to like it, but I felt like it was billed as something new, brash and fresh, and it just wasn’t)

My favorites of the bunch?

Goals for 2017?

  • Read 25 books (I just finished my first book of 2017 – The Muse)
  • Finish the Harry Potter series (I am planning to read these to my children, and wanted to read them all myself, first)
  • Finally read The Goldfinch (it has been on my nightstand for 2 years)
  • Read at least 3 non-fiction titles. I’m thinking Between the World and Me, When Breath Becomes Air and Born to Run will make the cut. Speaking of…
  • Listen to Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography Born To Run on audio book (an awesome Christmas present from my dad!) I was going to read it in hardcover, but Bruce reads the audio book version himself. I’m a big fan (I’ve been to 50 shows!) and the book is poetry, so I’m going to dedicate my commute to listening. And yes, I’m counting it in my 2017 total.

Do you have any reading goals for 2017? Suggestions for books you think I’d love? Books to avoid?  Please let me know!  And connect with me on Goodreads, too!

Happy reading!

Books for Christmas

It is a Christmas tradition – the nieces and nephews each get a book from me for Christmas.  (Yes, they get a toy or two, as well.)  So what are we putting under the tree this year?  I tried to focus on stories that feature characters being brave, persevering, and learning gratitude.  And I tried to find some books that feature characters, locations and traditions that might be different from ours.  I have linked these images to Amazon so you can learn more about them, but – as always – I’d encourage you to support your local independent bookstore and buy there!  Here’s our list:

A mouse musters up the courage to ask a lion to teach him how to roar. By Rachel Bright, Illustrated by Jim Field Ages 3-5

A mouse musters up the courage to ask a lion to teach him how to roar.
By Rachel Bright, Illustrated by Jim Field
Ages 3-5

A tale about the power of stories and storytelling set in Morocco. By Evan Turk Ages 4-8

A tale about the power of stories and storytelling set in Morocco.
By Evan Turk
Ages 4-8

Winner of many awards, a book about thankfulness. By Matt de la Pena, Illustrated by Christian Robinson Ages 3-5

Winner of many awards, a book about thankfulness. Features people of all shapes, colors and abilities!
By Matt de la Pena, Illustrated by Christian Robinson
Ages 3-5

Bedtime poem by Inuit throat-singer and author describes the gifts given to a new baby by Arctic animals. By Celina Kalluk Illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis Ages 2-3

Bedtime poem by Inuit throat-singer and author describes the gifts given to a new baby by Arctic animals.
By Celina Kalluk, Illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis
Ages 2-3

A clever and lovely seek-and-find book By B.B. Cronin Ages 3-7

A clever and lovely (and detailed!) seek-and-find book
By B.B. Cronin
Ages 3-7

A book about imagination, frustration and problem solving. By Ashley Spires Ages 3-7

A book about imagination, frustration and problem solving.
By Ashley Spires
Ages 3-7

A silly, funny book in which a penguin tells the readers what his life is really like. By Jory John, Illustrated by Lane Smith Preschool - Grade 2

A silly, funny book in which a penguin tells readers what his life is really like.
By Jory John, Illustrated by Lane Smith
Ages 3-7

A beautiful, poetic story about a boy who sets off alone with only a few belongings to find a new homeland. By Rebecca Young Illustrated by Matt Ottley Ages 4-8

A beautiful, poetic story about a boy who sets off alone with only a few belongings to find a new homeland.
By Rebecca Young, Illustrated by Matt Ottley
Ages 4-8

A story about a bear who finds a piano in the woods and learns to play. By David Litchfield Preschool - Grade 2

A story about a bear who finds a piano in the woods and learns to play.
By David Litchfield
Ages 4-7

Happy shopping and reading!

Books: Mom and Kid Approved

Our library of children’s books overfloweth!  Hooray!

Plum has adopted the very cute habit of insisting – INSISTING! – that you take the book she is handing you, sit on the floor cross-legged so she can climb in your lap and read to her.  RIGHT NOW.  The girl is persuasive.  She loves to “read” to herself too – sitting, flipping through pages, and babbling expressively.  Hooray for books!

As I read Caps for Sale to Pickle last night, I started thinking about the books that I loved as a child that he now loves, too.  There are several.

Here are our favorites:

Lovely, silly repetition, monkeys and strange illustrations. What's not to like?!

Lovely, silly repetition, monkeys and strange illustrations. What’s not to like?!

My 1st Edition, received on my 1st birthday is starting to fall apart, but we still "read" this one regularly.  There are no words, but we love talking about the pictures.

My 1st Edition, received on my 1st birthday, is starting to fall apart, but we still “read” this one regularly. There are no words, but we love talking about the pictures.

I challenge you to find a child who DOESN'T love this book.  It is silly, a bit magical and forces parents to attempt the Grover voice. I cannot count the number of times we've read this one.

I challenge you to find a child who DOESN’T love this book. It is silly, a bit magical and forces parents to attempt the Grover voice. I cannot count the number of times we’ve read this one.

Alas, this sweet little book (no words in this one either) is out of print. I love that the monster in this book is sensitive and lonely, and that you can see the little girl's bellybutton on every page (even through her pajamas!)

Alas, this sweet little book (no words in this one either) is out of print. I love that the monster in this book is sensitive and a little lonely, and that you can see the little girl’s bellybutton on every page (even through her pajamas!)

An absolute classic.  I am thankful we just received a board book version because my copy (received on my 2nd birthday) isn't going to stand up to repeat readings very much longer.

An absolute classic. I am thankful we just received a board book version because my copy (received on my 2nd birthday) isn’t going to stand up to repeat readings very much longer.

I've written about this one before. The local setting, the changing season, hard work, simple pleasures (wintergreen peppermint candies!) and the sweet gesture when he kisses his ox on the nose - I love this book.  If it reads like poetry, that is because it is.

I’ve written about this one before. The local setting, the changing seasons, hard work, simple pleasures (wintergreen peppermint candies!) and the sweet gesture when he kisses his ox on the nose – I love this book. If it reads like poetry, that is because it is.

 

I am so looking forward to chapter books and sharing more of my favorites.

PS – I don’t get anything from Amazon for linking to them, it’s just easy.  Of course, I’d encourage you to buy these books from your local independent bookseller! Shout out to Gibson’s!

Look, book!

Allow me to state the obvious.  Reading is good.  For so many reasons. We read a lot in our house.  I hope that I can give my children the gift of books, and the love of reading.  I remember how important I felt when, each week during one summer, I walked to the library 1/4 mile from my house, and spent afternoons browsing the  young adult books in the library basement.  I still love to bury my nose in a book that smells like must, print, paper, and fingerprints of readers past.  That summer I read the Little House on the Prairie series, and I loved it.

While I’m positive Mr. Pickle will be a reader, Miss Plum?  Who knows.  Baby 2 gets fewer books, it is just the way it is (in my house, at least).  Fingers crossed we will be able to start a real bedtime book routine with her soon. (Actually, fingers crossed that she’ll start sleeping through the night sometime soon, sheesh, but that is a post for another day.)

Here are some of the books that Mr. Pickle has loved in his first 2.5 years:

Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
Some nice repetition, a funny story, and the word “ultimatum” – I’ve read this book at least 150 times.

Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever
I remember this book from when I was little! There is so much to talk about on each page. And Kenny Bear eats a remarkable amount of food for breakfast. Honorable mention: Richard Scarry’s Cars Trucks and Things That Go.

Good Night New Hampshire by Adam Gamble and Anne Rosen
We like these. My husband was on some sort of kick and bought 14 different books in the “Good Night Our World” series. They are quick reads, show kids different landmarks in different cities/places and since they’re board books, they’re good for little hands that like to crinkle and rip.

A Potty for Me! by Karen Katz
When my son first started considering potty-training, he liked this book a lot. He especially liked the part where the mom says, “That’s okay!” I think the book has annoying rhymes (together/water, etc) but was a nice little book on the subject.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld
I love this book and so does my little boy. The rhymes and rhythm are lovely. It has all of the heavy machinery Pickle loves. I consider it a must-have, and will likely be giving it as a gift this Christmas to a few under-twos.

Ox-Cart Man by Donald Hall
I adore this book. It is my favorite. The illustrations by Barbara Cooney are so lovely. The story is poetry (not surprising given that the author is a poet who was the American Poet Laureate in 2006) and it is local. For several months we read this book at least once a night. And we always made sure to kiss each other on the nose.

Angelo by David Macaulay
My son recently discovered this book – a signed copy was given to him as a gift. It is way over his head, it is long and is sad, but he likes trying to figure it out. He enjoys hearing about Angelo helping Sylvia. I suspect we’ll be reading this one for years.

What Pete Ate from A – Z by Maira Kalman
This book is quirky, funny, and full of weird characters. It is actually fun to read. I have given this book as a gift before, and it has been well-received. I’m glad my son likes this book because I don’t mind reading it every night.

So tell me, what are some of your favorites?

I’m Listing!

I am a working mom with two small children.  Needless to say, sleep is always short, and my to-do list is always long.  I’m still on that never-ending quest for balance.  Some days are better than others.  Or perhaps I should say that some days are worse than others.  Half full, half empty, yadda yadda.

I’ve started to realize that in addition to the to-do lists I keep a) in my gmail account,  b) on my iPhone, c) on my desk at work, and d) floating around in my brain, I also have the following sneakier non-to-do to-do lists (whoa, that’s confusing – bet you had to read that twice):

1) My house

The way my schedule works, I don’t get vacations.  At all.  Ever.  It is the trade-off I make for having Wednesdays at home with my doodlebugs.  There is an occasional long weekend here and there, but nothing longer, and I’m rarely out of town.  I’ve come to realize that, for me, the huge value of vacation is that I can escape the to-do list that is my house.  There’s the regular upkeep, of course, but as I walk around, it is hard not to notice all of the things I want to do, and the changes I want to make.  Do we still have the same paint jobs in the master bedroom and bath as we did when we moved in 3+ years ago?  Yes, yes we do.  Are both rooms sponge-painted? Yes, yes they are.  Excuse: I have been pregnant or living with teeny people in my house since 12 days after we moved in, so I’ve put up with the paint job by telling myself that too many paint fumes could be/would be dangerous to our health.  But beyond the painting, there is stuff to do in every room.  And even when I escape the house to-do list I have to walk by my garage door and think, “Geez, that really needs replacing.”   The name on our front door knocker?  Yeah, not ours.

Ceci n’est pas une paint brush.

2) My nightstand

When you remove Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, Ox-Cart Man and the other 34 children’s books you will see my nightstand to-do list – my to-read pile of books. Has A Farewell to Arms been there for 7 years?   Yes, it has.  And if you’re doing the math in your head, you’re right – it was on my nightstand in my prior abode and I moved it to this nightstand in my new house 3+ years ago.  It might be time to add it to the bookshelf, eh?

3) My DVR

Don’t get me wrong – I love my DVR.  We never watch anything the night-of, preferring to wait a night and fast-forward through all of the commercials.  But I admit to getting stressed out when I see that “78% full” warning as it goes up and up and up. Excuse: the 43 episodes of “Yo Gabba Gabba” do take up a chunk of space.  But really, the “Recordings” list has turned from something I looked forward to seeing, to something that stresses me out.   It is simply a list of things I need to find the time to watch.  And usually, I’m just too tired.

Photo Credit: TV Guide.com

It may be time for me to figure out a way to get out of town for a while, so my to-do list can look more like this:

  1. Schedule massage
  2. Make dinner reservations
  3. Nap

What about you?  Where are your sneaky to-do lists?