The life of a reader

In this blog, I have yet to truly touch on my first obsession, which is books. These days, knitting seems to be defining who I am, and eating away (happily) at all of my free time. As 2013 winds down and I begin making my 2014 plans, reflecting on resolutions past present and future, I am lately reunited with literature, my first love.

I intend to do a full 2013 in review post closer to the new year, but this morning on my commute, I was thinking about next year and all the wonderful books I want to read. Every year I try to read 50 books, a tradition I started back in 2009 when I was living in France and had hours of leisure time every week to devote to books. That year I read 55 books; a number that I have yet to match.

This year I’m at 48, and I suspect that for the first time since 2009, I will actually attain the 50. In 2011 I fell just short, reading 47, but in 2010 and 2012 I made a very poor showing of it, only getting to the mid-30s. It’s been fairly easy to reach the goal in 2013, though I will admit that this year has seen a lot more “fluff” books on the nightstand than past ones. Being such a competitive person, having a goal like this is helpful. It’s no big deal at all if I don’t achieve it, but it’s there to subconsciously remind me not to neglect reading.

Here are a few of the books I can’t wait to read in 2014:

1. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (a favorite author of mine) – I’ve put off reading this one for so long because I was “saving it,” whatever that means. I want it to be my first book in 2014.

2. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – The TV series is coming out, and I like to have knowledge about big pop culture phenomena coming up. It’s actually been in my “to read” shelf on Goodreads for years, and now’s definitely the time to jump on the bandwagon before it explodes. I already have it on my Kindle.

3. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson – Have heard good things, I think I’ll listen to this one as an audiobook.

4. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – Read her other two books in 2013, and though they are super creepy, I’m eager to read this one too.

5. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls – Another that has been on my “to read” shelf for ages.

6. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver – Both Matt and I have been dying to read this seemingly forever, but we can never find a copy!

7. The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver – Loved the other two books of hers that I read, so I’d love to try another.

8. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon – Yet another that’s long been on my radar.

9. Allegiant by Veronica Roth – This year I read the first two books in the Divergent series. I realize these are teen novels, but like I said, I like to be up to date on the big pop culture phenomena. This certainly doesn’t hold a candle to The Hunger Games, but the movie is coming out, so I’d like to finish off the series. Though I’ll admit I really didn’t like the second book, so I have been putting this off since the third came out.

10. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain – Heard about this one on a podcast and it sounds fascinating.

I am a great lover of audiobooks, and recently I gave in and signed up for an audible account. When a typical audiobook costs around $30 on itunes, it’s been totally worth it to me to pay less than $23/month and get two for free and the rest at very discounted prices. November was the first month I had the account. It was helpful while doing NaNoWriMo to be able to just shut my eyes and listen to a book on the bus or before bed after computer overload.

2013 is also the first year I’ve had a Kindle. It was a Christmas gift from my parents, and it’s been excellent to have any book you want just a click away. It makes the transition between books quick, and I’ve even used it to “check out” ebooks from my library back home in Hennepin County.

The other thing I might try is to re-read a few books this year to see how they “hold up.” These wouldn’t count toward the 50, but it’s an idea that’s been marinating a longtime.

What are some of your “to reads” for 2014? I have many more, so watch my On the Nightstand space in the sidebar to keep up with what I’m reading!

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Fashion and festivity

For the first time ever, I got to properly partake in Melbourne Cup day, or as it’s also known: The race that stops the nation.

It doesn’t exactly stop the nation. It stops Melbourne. And since those slackers get the whole day off to watch a single horse race, the rest of us stomp our feet and insist on playing too.

Part of the deal is getting fabulously dressed up (just like the Kentucky Derby or the Royal Wedding) and wearing strange hairpieces, which is most of the fun, really.

I was very excited to finally wear the dress I ordered weeks ago from Neiman Marcus over in the States. I am not at all the type to order something for a specific occasion (though I did just recently put down the deposit on my wedding dress, squee!), but my first real Melbourne Cup warranted a treat. Plus summer is long since over up in the northern hemisphere, so it was on sale. SCORE!

Perfect race day Longchamp

Perfect race day Longchamp

La pièce de résistance was my gorgeous navy Longchamp bag, which I’ve had for years and tend to bring out only for evenings out when I need space for more than just my ID and some cash. It seemed fitting for race day, non?

This year my office was doing a little shin dig, which was a lot of fun. We ate pies and sausage rolls and got to chat and catch up, plus of course we watched the race.

After things wrapped up I came home and plopped on the couch for some knitting. I’ve been rewatching Gilmore Girls for the millionth time (my all-time favorite show), and I’ve gotten to season 7. While the earlier seasons have seen countless viewings, season 7 is one I often avoid because it so thoroughly pisses me off. But, silver lining, I’d completely forgotten there was a Knit-a-thon episode! How cool is that? I’m knitting while all of Stars Hallow joins in?! (Guess you had to be there.)

Lovely light purple headband

Lovely light purple headband

I did manage to knit up this bad boy, and it’s still early enough for me to get a bit of writing done before I go to bed.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is going pretty well both for me and for Matt. I’m ahead of schedule on my word count so far, but if I skip tonight, I’ll fall behind and I don’t want to lose momentum. I suspect I’ll crack the 10,000 word mark tonight. That’s a fifth of the way!