{Reader’s Life} Comfort Reads

book dr comfort reads

It still amazes me how many people think I only read “hard books.” You know, the giant brick-sized classics that take weeks (or months) to finish. They think I don’t ever indulge in comfort reads. So. Not. True.

Yes, I read Proust and I liked it. Yes I chewed my way though A Little Life‘s 800 pages like a maniac. But here’s what else:

I spend a lot of time taking in content. I proof-read all day so I’m often squinting at text the majority of my daily life. When it’s slow, I can easily head home and jump into something serious, but if I’m proofing or editing long-form text, forget it. If I don’t downgrade the intensity of my reading I’ll end up watching those cute puppies shows on tv again. Yes, that happened. And yes, it was the only thing I could handle at the time. It’s called reading burnout. Not pretty.

I’m sure I’m not the only reader out there who sometimes needs a cozy read- one that’s like a nice blankie that will wrap you up and feel welcoming and safe, but not too overwhelming when you’ve had a tough week. It’s Friday, but I’m exhausted. It’s been a long one. So I will not be going for one of the serious books I’ve got in the reading queue. I’ll be headed for one of these beauties:

Comfort reads to turn to when you’re so burnt out you can barely see, much less concentrate.

Long title, but you get my point. Here we go:

  • Favorite Children’s Lit. Don’t even try to read an adult book right now. You don’t have to go to Corduroy level, but Harry Potter, mentioned above, is a great reading rest cure. (Bonus points if you read it under this blanket) As is any series you loved as a kid: Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, even Sweet Valley High if you’re really looking for a nostalgia trip.
  • Sci-Fi. Full disclosure- I’m not a huge sci-fi reader, but when done right, it can really take you completely away from a stressful present. Don’t go for something super long like Dune unless it’s calling you. A nice Philip K Dick is just right on length and not pummeling you with challenge. I did not read The Martian, just saw the film, ( I can’t believe I’m saying that either) but I suspect it would be equally effective. At the very least you know that whatever kind of crap week you’re having, his is worse.
  • Cozy Mysteries. Do not read this as Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or any kind of brutal slice ’em and dice ’em type of thriller. I’m talking about cozy mysteries- the ones with lead characters like Miss Marple. Well-meaning types who are navigating the line between nosy and helpful. Anything by Alexander McCall Smith, especially the Sunday Philosophy Club or No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency is ideal. The entire 44 Scotland Street series is so cozy too, even if it isn’t a mystery. It’s like literary hot chocolate. As in the drink, not the band.
  • Graphic Novels. This is a new category for me. I never read graphic novels or comics at all. I even was a bit of a snob about them. I’m not talking about Maus or Persepolis, just the genre in general. But I am really falling in love with it now that my guy has been able to curate for me. Being able to take in a story with fewer words and just as much plot and emotion is a gift when you’re tired- also good when sick. I got Bitch Planet for Christmas from my guy (I asked him to get it for me, he wasn’t trying to make any comments) and I think this would be a great weekend to read that one. Others I love: Craig Thompson’s Carnet de Voyage (warning- you’ll want to run to the airport and fly off immediately), the entire Buffy the Vampire Slayer series, and Sex Criminals. Ok, clearly this genre brings out my inner vixen. But maybe that’s good for burnout, too?

I hope this will help you wind down this weekend… and if all else fails, I won’t judge you if you turn to television. We have HBO and have been working our way through Game of Thrones. (No spoilers please! We’ve just barely started season two- there’s a long way to go…) A little television every now and then doesn’t kill us. And my desire to watch a few shows, read some magazines & lit journals, and catch up on podcasts is why I set my reading challenge for 52 this year instead of 100. Granted, I’m now reading longer books, but let’s all avoid reader burnout, ok?

What are your favorite comfort reads? Please do share in the comments. And if you want to cozy up and start reading medicinally, subscribe to Footnotes and join us over in the Secret Library book club. We’re having a great time with Tara Mohr’s Playing Big. Come discuss! (I did not put self help on this list for a reason- sometimes I find it too exciting and it makes me want to take a bunch of action. Like the time I read Fluent Forever and rearranged all our furniture and got so excited I had insomnia. Gentle self-help only when tired, please!

Have an amazing weekend, everyone. Happy reading.

 

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{Reader’s Life} 5 Journaling Prompts for Readers

Journaling Prompts for Readers

Part of the reason I love to read is the impact a good book can have on my life. I know I’ve been going on and on about one particular book I’ve read recently and how hard it has been to move past it once it’s over.

Something I haven’t written much about here is journaling and how it has become part of my reading life. Because a good book isn’t one that just makes you keep turning the pages until it’s over, it’s one that keeps the thoughts it inspired long after you finish it. I have compiled a number of journaling prompts for readers that I like to use myself.

Here are some of my favorite journaling prompts for readers:

  • The Check-in: One of the hardest parts of finishing a book is letting go of the characters. The same way it’s possible to dialogue through journaling with parts of ourselves (critic, scared parts, etc) it’s also possible to check in with a beloved character later on. Try writing with two different pen colors. Ask them how they are, what they are up to, what ended up happening to them after the book was over. Then write the response in another color pen. I Perhaps you nay-sayers won’t trust this input, but I love this idea. We don’t always get a sequel to satisfy our longing to know how a character ended up later on.
  • Advice: Sometimes I read a book and find myself wanting to take on aspects of a character. This could be for any number of reasons. I could love their fashion sense- Henry and June always has me wanting to ride bicycles in dresses with slips and garter belts around the country side- or I could love a character’s approach to life. One of my heroes of literature is Lottie Wilkins from Enchanted April. I watch the movie or read the book every April. But sometimes, I’d just like Lottie’s advice. I can either do a back and forth dialogue like the suggestion above, or I can really get into it and write Lottie a letter. Two ways to go about this- just write the letter in your journal, or you can go whole hog and write a letter and mail it (to your own address) to the character. When the letter arrives, take some time to get in to character as the character. Maybe go to a cafe or somewhere this character would like to be. Then read your letter and respond to it. I say mail it back. The advice will have had a few days to percolate by then and you may be amazed at how spot on it is once you get your letter back. Bonus points for beautiful stationery and pens!
  • The Quote Entry Point: For the less woo-woo of you, this one will feel more reasonable. Pick a favorite quote from the book and copy it, word for word, at the top of a fresh journal page. Then free-write on anything that comes up. What inspired you about this passage, how you want it to impact you, and anything else that comes to mind. You may veer away from the book or stay right with your passage the whole time. Either way, whatever comes is a great way to digest your book and take it out into your life beyond the page.
  • The List: Oh how I love me a list. And sometimes book- especially nonfiction ones- work best with a list. When I’m reading nonfiction books, I do like keeping a list while reading so I don’t forget the tips and suggestions I’m reading. You know the feeling- “I’m so fired up! This book is going to change my life!” Then, cut to two weeks later “I loved that book- what was it about again?” So keep a list whenever you read something that inspires you. I also like to keep a Commonplace Book in my Traveler’s Notebook of inspiring quotes and ideas. Yum. In addition, I like to make a list of ideas or things I want to try after I finish a book that really moved me- this makes more sense for fiction. Items are a little more “Write that letter I’ve been meaning to send for three years” than “Start using software to track spending.”

Do you journal in connection with the books you’re reading? Please share any prompts or exercises you love in the comments below, or drop me a line at caroline[at]book-dr[dot]com

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Holiday Madness

  
Hello! I’m still here, I promise.

The holidays are upon us and, sadly, this also the time of year when my work explodes with deadlines.

I have been dreaming of so much that I want to give you in 2016, and I cannot wait to get started. Please look for a new issue of Footnotes in your inbox tomorrow with more on that…

This weekend things calm down a bit and I’ll be posting a couple of treats before we get to the new year.

Lots of love! I hope you all are enjoying loads of cozy reading time with cocoa or, my favorite, glühwein. 

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{Reader’s Life} My Favorite Pens

favorite pens

As you may have noticed, I am a collector. I collect stories, books, and I make lists. On paper.

So, as a collector who makes lists on paper, I have long been in search of the perfect fit. I have bought many in hopes that it would become my favorite pen. Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that this perfect pen does not exist.

Not because there aren’t any good pens out there, but because there are different needs for different situations. I have narrowed it down at this point to, gulp, NINE writing implements that I use on a regular basis. When I got them together to photograph them, I was a bit horrified that there were so many. I dream of being the simple person with just one of everything. And, while I have pared my things down for the most part to those that give me joy and no others, I guess I’m just the type to have a lot of pens.

I thought perhaps all of you book lovers might relate? In service to anyone who might love pens I give you:

The Book Dr.’s List of My 9 Favorite Pens

Here they are, with pros and cons and good situations for each, from left to right:

  1. Calligraphy quill. I got this in the gorgeous kit compiled by Maybelle Imasa-Stukulis. She is a gorgeous calligrapher that I have been learning modern lettering from via her online courses. This pen is good for hand dipped calligraphy, makes luscious strokes of a wide range of thickness, and feels deliciously old-fashioned. That said, it would be a bit heavy handed for a grocery list. Although, I suspect Maybelle probably has done it. I imagine that her house is filled with scrolls and dreamy fairy tale writing. I could be wrong.
  2. Ateleia Brass pen. I found this one either through Eunice Roe’s post about her favorite pens, or through Baum-Kuchen. I adore this pen. I have the version that takes either the Hi-tec C refill or the Pilot G-2 refill. I am a pilot G-2 lover, but I hate all the plastic that you throw away when finishing one. This seemed like a brilliant solution and it truly is. It has a nice heft, has been developing a wonderful patina and I love the smoothness of the writing. Why isn’t it the perfect pen? It’s a bit fussy to get the little screw-on top on and off and I am afraid of losing it. So I have relegated this one to home use only- it’s lovely for my journal or Traveler’s Notebook or writing letters. But I don’t feel it’s right for out in the world.
  3. Lamy Swift in Imperial Blue.  I found this one in an airport bookshop in Miami while waiting to check in to our flight to Havana a few weeks ago. There was an unusually knowledgeable staff member and we quickly dove into our mutual love of pens. He let me try every single Lamy in my quest to find a truly smooth gel rollerball. This one has been a dream. I love that the clip retracts smoothly into the body of the pen when the point is clicked out and the ink is smooth and lovely. I’ve only had it a few weeks, but this is my current favorite for most writing situations. I also adore the color. It’s elegant and crisp. Total win.
  4. Pilot Namiki Vanishing Point Fountain Pen. People go truly bonkers over this pen. I once pen stalked someone on instagram for months- or at least it felt like it- trying to determine what the pen was in her feed. People kept referring to it, but not by name. “I’ve got the get that pen!” WTF is it, I kept wondering and even asked her (more politely than that) and got no reply. Finally, I realized it was this pen, that I had in my drawer. Here’s the thing. It’s even more expensive than the pens above. It writes like a dream if it’s the only pen you ever write with and you write a lot. It doesn’t leak, and the retractable point is clever. Other than that, it’s a diva. If you leave this pen lying about for a day, it will take forever to get it going again. I have found it a bit better with the bottled ink converter, but still. It needs more coddling than I often want to provide. Of course, as I’m testing it right now, it’s writing flawlessly. So.. try at your own risk.
  5. Lamy Safari Fountain Pen. This was another favorite early on, and still is, under the right circumstances. First off, it is both incredibly smooth and very reasonably priced. The line is gorgeous and smooth. The only downside? It leaks. At least with the refillable converter for bottle ink, which I prefer using for Noodler’s inks, which are so yummy. I’m willing to have stained fingers, but I would never risk carrying this around in a purse. Again- good for letters and low-pressure writing. It has a tendency to jam up from time to time and stop writing before it runs out of ink. I shake it or fiddle with the converter to get things going again and it’s fine, but that would be a deal breaker if I were a reporter or someone taking notes at a live event. For someone looking to get into fountain pens, this is a great first option.
  6. Modern Fuel mechanical pencil. Ok- this is a bit of a cheat, but I adore this thing. How could I say no to a mechanical pencil that will last a lifetime? It’s heavy and built like a tank and it is a joy to hold. You can specify your preferred lead thickness as well. If you do accounts or have to write in pencil a lot and want a sexy writing implement, this is the one. The only downside is that I most often write in pen, so this clearly won’t suit for those moments.
  7. Retro 51 Tornado. I have the Vino model, which is cork and delicious to hold, but sadly doesn’t appear to be available any longer. There are many other options in this line however, and it is a lovely rollerball. My issue with this one isn’t with the pen, which is gorgeous and functions wonderfully. My issue is that the refills I have found haven’t been as smooth as the original one that came in the pen. I have found the black refills to be superior to the blue ink, and I am having more luck there. Perhaps my memory is clouded, but I want gel rollerball ink as smooth as is in the Lamy. As I test it now, I think it feels pretty good. I’ll have to run it against the Lamy and see how that goes. Wow- I am really that crazy.
  8. Kaweco brass Sport Fountain pen. I do love brass. There are a lot of pros to the Kaweco line- they fold up very small and then extend to full-length pens with the cap on. This pen looks and feels like an heirloom and is developing the warm brass patina that I love. It writes well, but not quite as smoothly as the Lamy Fountain pen or the Pilot when it’s in a good mood, but it is by no means scratchy or fussy. My only issue is that it’s a bit heavy to carry around. And it’s pricey, although much cheaper than the Pilot.  As an at-home pen, it’s a dream. Great for letters or journal or other list-making.
  9. At last…the Kaweco Sport Roller Ball. This one also came close to perfect. Light-weight, folds up to nothing, perfect for travel and writes beautifully. Again, the refill was not as good as the original. I suspect the shop I ordered refills from accidentally sent me ballpoint instead of rollerball.  Give a try in a shop if you can. This one is inexpensive and brilliant in almost all cases. If you get the right ink in it, I’d recommend this first to any pen seeker.

Ok! Now you know the depth of my mania about my favorite pens. Please do let me know if you have any collecting manias, as it would make me feel a bit less loony. Or of you love pens and want to share about them… please do comment below or head over to FB to discuss…

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{Read for Free} Part Three: Secret Libraries

 

 

Readforfree

I often feel like a bottomless pit when it comes to books. There are never enough. At this point in my life, I know there will never be enough books- I will never be all done and move on to something else entirely.

I must have books.

Only once or twice have I been stranded without adequate reading and let me tell you, it was painful. I felt my chest tighten up and my breathing got pinched. What am I going to read? My eyes darted around looking for something, anything. It’s the worst feeling in the world. So I make sure I always have reading available.

At a certain point, it became quite clear that my desire to buy and read books would not be financially sustainable unless I won the lottery. So, I’ve had to come up with creative ways to read for free. If you haven’t read part one or two of this series of posts, do check them out. There are more tips in there to get you to free reading in no time.

Today we are on tip #3: Secret Libraries.

Now this isn’t a 100% free library, but it does come as an added benefit to a service many people have already: Amazon Prime.

Yep- 100% free books, if you have prime.

The fine print: each Prime membership account- so if you share it with a roommate, spouse, or partner then this counts as one account, not two people- can check out one book for free each calendar month.

But how do I find these books?

Good question! Here’s the slightly tricky answer:

You can only find this content on your Kindle or another amazon device. So if you don’t have one, this feature won’t work for you. If you do, then this helpful tutorial should have you all set up in no time.

Hey now, I don’t have a Kindle. Got any tips for me?

Yes! One of my favorite ways to read free books is the Little Free Library. I have long wanted to put one up in front of my house. We are set way back from the street- UPS and the mailman and the NY Times delivery are forever lost on the way to our house, so I am considering collaborating with my neighbor on the street.

Little free libraries are adorable little book structures out on the street that allow you to take a book and leave one behind, if you’d like. I love this process- it has often been seen in hotels overseas, which l loved. Just recently, I spotted one in the cafe Daily Dose in downtown L.A.:

read for free

I love that it’s an experiment and that it’s such a huge shelf of books.  I hope it goes well. Next time I’m down there, perhaps I’ll drop off some of the books we have languishing in the garage.

Keep your eyes open- these free bookshelves will start popping up if you’re looking for them. It’s a bit like mushroom hunting, I suppose.

I’ll be back soon with part 4 of the series… Let me know if you have other tips on how to read for free in the comments. I’m always looking for new reading resources.

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{Read for Free} Part Two: Review Copies

read for free

How’s it going with reading library books on Kindle? I hope you’ve got a big queue all loaded up. For those of you who missed part one of the read for free series, you can check it out here.

Now, back to business.

How to get your mitts on advance reading copies- (aka free copies of books that you get before anyone else can buy the book).

When I worked for Book Soup back in the day, I discovered something crazy: publishers give out tons of review copies of books. 

I know it seems fairly obvious once I put it out there, but it was news to me back in 2007. There was a library cart in the break room filled with books. And they were all free for us to take. Granted, they weren’t all books we wanted to take, but I did get advance review copies of say, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which I snatched up because I thought it sounded cool. Lest I sound too ahead of my time, I must admit that I didn’t read it until several years later when my aunt was practically tearing her hair out telling me to just read it already. But still, I could have been among the first.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Caroline- we don’t all work for Book Soup. And I understand. While I adored working in publishing and book sales, it is not the best paying gig on earth. But, you don’t have to work in a bookshop to get your hands on review copies.

Are you on Goodreads? Authors regularly give out books to Goodreads members in exchange for an honest review. You have to put the disclaimer in your review, but that’s a small price to pay. If you like to review books, check out the current call for reviewers on Goodreads.

In addition, review copies aren’t always physical copies. Now that you know how to put books on your Kindle from the library, you can also add eBook versions of review copy books to your eReader as well. Check out Blogging for Books and Netgalley. I have found them both to be excellent. Pro tip: make sure you pick books you really want to read and review. Some sites will only let you check out new books once you have linked to a review for the book you have. It’s a bummer if you change your mind and then are stuck with a dud book you weren’t sure about.

This should give you some good options to start out with.

Bonus tip: people love galleys as gifts. I used to feel slightly silly wrapping up reading copies of books from Book Soup around Christmas, but everyone went nuts over them. “You mean I get to read Jhumpa Lahiri’s new book before anyone else does???” Major score. So once you finish reading and reviewing yours, pass them along. It’s good buzz for the book and you get to be the cool reading insider.

We aren’t often cool insiders as bookworms, so enjoy it!

 

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{Read for Free} Part One: Library Books on Your Kindle

read for free library on kindle

If you read as much as I do, eventually you’ll be making that call between groceries and books. Personally, I always want to choose books, but what if there was a way to have both? I’ve created this series for you on new ways to read for free that you might not know about. Here we go!

Part One: how to read library books on Kindle.

A couple of years ago, I went to Spain. A friend I’ve known since we were in kindergarten was teaching English there, so I was dying to visit. As I was packing, I ran out to my local bookshop. Poor thing, I thought. I know she speaks Spanish fluently, but what if she wanted an English book to read? I bought four or five I thought we’d both enjoy and stowed them in my suitcase. I felt like I had a big secret, kind of like the guy in the mural above. And yes, that’s in France not Spain. But I digress…

Cut to my joyful arrival in Sevilla and the unveiling of the books. I pulled them all out and laid them across the bed, eager to hear squeals of joy. She cocked her head to the side.

“Thank you so much for bringing them all this way. But… you do know I can check books out from the library on my kindle whenever I want, right?”

Oops.

I like to think of myself as very tech savvy. I use apps. I update my gadgets and I am not intimidated by a little code. But for some reason, the idea of figuring out how to read library books on the Kindle made me nervous.

If you are like me, you know it’s a good idea for so many reasons, but the tech has you a little flummoxed. No more!

Here’s how to read a library book on your Kindle, step-by-step:

(note: images were taken using an iPhone for ease of presentation on this page. The web pages will look a tiny bit different, but the steps are the same.

  1. You need a library card. If you have one, excellent. If not, head straight to your local library branch and sign up. Come back here once you have your card.
  2. Head to your library’s e-media area: the easiest way to find it for the first time is to go to overdrive.com and then search for your library by clicking “Find a library” and typing in your location.
  3. Click your library once you find it- if you’re in a larger network, like we are in LA, you can click any library in the system and then go to “visit library website.”
  4. Once you are on your library’s website page, type in the title you want to check out in the search bar.read library book on kindle
  5. If the book exists in the database, it will appear within your search results. If it’s an eBook, you’ll see a book icon. If it’s audio, you’ll see headphones.
  6. Click on the selection with the book icon. You will see one of two blue buttons appear: “Borrow” or “Place a Hold.”IMG_8279 read library books on kindle
  7. If you see “Borrow,” congratulations! The book is available. Click Borrow.
  8. A screen will pop up asking you to sign in. Enter the barcode number from your library card and the pin you received from the library and hit enter.IMG_8281
  9. You will then be taken to the bookshelf and the title you checked out will appear on the shelf. There will be a button marked “Download” with a  drop-down menu. Click the white arrow to see the file formats.  IMG_8283
  10. When the menu drops down, tick the box for KindleIMG_8284
  11. This will then take you to Amazon’s site, where you will see the title just as if you were purchasing it. However, instead of the purchase button, it will be replaced with “Get Library Book.”
  12. Below the “Get library book” button, make sure you have selected your Kindle under the “Deliver to” option just below.
  13. Click “Get library book.”

And that’s it, folks! The next time you sync your Kindle, the book will appear in the menu, just like other Kindle books.

Now, you might be asking, “what happens if it says place a hold instead of borrow?”

That’s a good question. Here are your steps for those books

  1. Follow the same steps up to #7 above.
  2. Instead of clicking “Borrow”, click “Place a hold.”
  3. You will also be instructed to enter your library card barcode and pin. Do that and hit enter
  4. You will then be asked to enter the email address where you’d like to receive an alert once the book is available. Enter it twice.IMG_8285
  5. Pro tip: there is a tick box below the email fields which says “Automatically borrow this title when it becomes available.” If you are good about checking email and don’t mind setting other books aside for library books, go ahead and leave it checked. However, if you (like me) often want to finish what you’re reading before starting something new, untick it. You will be alerted that it is available and you’ll get a few days’ grace period to check it out. Then this won’t cut down on your 21 day load period.IMG_8286

Pro tip #2- my library allows me to change the loan period for e-Books. I believe it was set to 14 days when I first started reading library books on Kindle, but I was able to change that preference to 21 days.

So that’s it, folks. You can now read to your heart’s content and you don’t even need to worry about picking up or dropping off books at the library. Bonus- the file simply disappears when it’s due. No late fees or stress about getting the book back on time.

 

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{Reader’s Life} The Poetry of Texting

Just a little post today.

I’ve been working my way through Sarah Selecky’s Story Intensive course this fall, and this past two weeks we’ve been focusing on dialogue. I find myself thinking of how this works in stories I love, conversations I have, and as people call out to each other when I’m walking the dog.

I’ve been thinking about community more, and how we are building a community around story here. I realize one of the ways that I stay connected to my community day today is by texting little messages to friends and loved ones. The divine Hannah Marcotti issued a challenge to build a poem out of the communication threads we share with the world. So… here I am giving it a shot:

It’s nice and cool here

Can I talk you into sending that up here please

I have a strange blue bruise on my thigh though

Teehee, we’ll see!

You got the hook up, girl!

We are majorly fucking reminiscing from the lanai

that is perfection

it’s heartening to see stuff out there

be right there

I have something for you! I’ll bring it to the cottage

I absolutely will! I’m so excited!

walking out the door. was putting on my socks

Lemons will be ready too

Let’s make a date then!

*hugs*

Wanna hang out?

See you soon.

 

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The Liebster Award Brings You Amazing New Blogs

Liebster

The Liebster Award is an award by bloggers, for bloggers and I have been nominated! I am so touched to have been chosen by Nichola Veitch, a blogger who has become a friend though the web and whose writing I admire tremendously. A big thank you to her! Do take a peek at her blog, as I know you’ll love it as well.

As an award winner I answer questions asked by Nichola then nominate 10 bloggers I admire for an award. They then answer my questions and nominate 10 of their favourite bloggers and so the love baton keeps moving through the interwebs, encouraging bloggers to keep sharing the love.

Here are the rules:

  • Link back and recognise the blogger who nominated me (thanks Nichola!).
  • Answer 10 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 10 inspirational bloggers for the award.
  • Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  • Notify your nominees

liebster

Here are the answers to Nichola’s questions…

  1. What’s your morning routine? I like to get up early- ideally by 6:30 or 7am, but I’ve been slipping lately. I like to meditate right when I get up-  I have a little alcove next to my bed where I sit and journal. I sit for 15-30 minutes and then do some free-writing and fill out the day’s page in Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map planner, which I love using. After I journal, I usually read a page from an inspiring book and say some affirmations. Then I head downstairs and usually have breakfast with my fiancee. He cooks, which is great. Then, after breakfast I get to work. Lately, I’ve been working from home so it’s a short walk to the office, but in the past, I’ve headed out to the car at this point.
  2. What are you reading? I am usually reading at least two books at any given time. Right now I’m doing a page a day of affirmations from The Wealthy Spirit by Chellie Campbell in the morning. For fun, I’m reading The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. It takes place in Amsterdam in the 1600s, so it’s a complete escape. Great writing and a little bit of a mysterious plot line- heaven.
  3. What’s your favourite pick-me-up song? I don’t know that I have one favorite. I love listening to classical when I feel stressed or overwhelmed. I find words are overwhelming when I’m already overloaded. I really like cello music- anything Yo-Yo  Ma and I love Bach suites. They are great for writing. I have also been making radio stations on spotify based on soundtracks I like for inspiration while I’m working on writing- Jane Eyre and Inception are two favorite stations lately.
  4. What’s your top tip for when you’re lacking inspiration Get out of the house. Or at least look at a different view. I need to change my perspective when I’m uninspired and I almost always get inspired when I see a new view- this is why travel is such a source of joy for me. I get so many new ideas. But if I can’t go on a trip, even looking through a book of photographs or going on Air Bnb and making a wishlist of places I’d like to visit can inspire me. I’ll try going to a new neighborhood or making a new recipe. Anything that changes my perspective is a good option. If possible- I get to the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, near where I live in LA. It makes me feel like I’m inside of a Jane Austen novel. I’m a member, so it’s free to go and it is completely different than my environment at home, which is quite urban.
  5. What does self care mean to you? Self care to me is listening to myself and watching my energy level very closely. I have been rear-ended twice in car accidents in the past week and a half, so self care lately has been taking an afternoon nap. I find my body is really disoriented since these happened. So I’m trying things like very gentle yoga, lots of water, and as much sleep as possible. Self care is letting myself take baby steps when I need to. It can also look different, depending on the circumstances.
  6. Where is you favourite place on the planet and why? Big Sur. My fiancee and I are skipping the New Years parties and hoopla this year to escape there for a quiet retreat just after Christmas until the beginning of January. I love the air there, the rocky beaches, and how close the ocean is to the forest. It’s the perfect place for sweaters and reading by the fire. The beaches have veins of purple sand and the whole place feels like magic. I love it the most in the winter, since there is hardly anyone there. And introvert’s paradise.
  7. What are you loving right now? My new fountain pen by Lamy. It writes so beautifully and will let me use an ink refiller I love that I can use bottled ink and not have to throw anything away in order to write with this pen. It’s smooth and light and easy to hold. I do a lot of writing by hand and having the right pen makes a huge difference to my life. They aren’t crazy expensive either. I highly recommend them.
  8. When overwhelm strikes, what is your advice? Make a list. Whenever I feel like I won’t be able to get a lot of things done, I write them all down until I feel calmer. Once I see the list of the tasks written out, I almost always see how I can get them done. I usually take the list and then open up my google calendar and then plot out when I will cross everything off. I’m extremely motivated by finishing tasks. I keep a bullet journal, and it’s a great source of joy to me when my list gets completed each day. (on good days, some things have to be postponed sometimes)
  9. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? “What if it was ok for things to work out easily?” I have a meditation teacher I’ve talked to monthly for years and she often points out ways I’m making life harder for myself. I got a bit nervous lately when some things felt like they were coming together too smoothly; I was suspicious and worried about the catch. She pointed out all the hard work I had put in for years to get to the point where I am today and asked if it was ok for me to just enjoy things working out for a little while. I realized that sometimes it’s harder for me to succeed and that I have some work to do allowing my life to be easy sometimes.
  10. What are you working on at the moment? A gift for my newsletter subscribers. I hope to launch it very soon… more details to come! But I have taken the past couple of months with this idea to give back to those who are kind enough to allow me into their inboxes. I can’t wait to share it in the next week or so.

 

And now, my nominees:

  1. Claireylove
  2. Dal Kular
  3. Baum-Kuchen
  4. Time to Bloom
  5. Wild Soul Grace
  6. Crossing the Threshold
  7. Hair Romance
  8. Memoir Class
  9. Bari Tessler
  10. DW Healing Arts

I know you are going to find some amazing material in here. I know each of these blogs well and almost all of the bloggers personally…happy reading!

Here are my questions for my nominees:

  1. What are you reading now? (I just had to)
  2. Who is the author that has had the biggest impact on your life?
  3. Do you ever re-read books? What’s one that you loved just as much the second time?
  4. What’s your favorite afternoon snack?
  5. What is your favorite pen (or pencil)?
  6. If you could take any vacation in the next year, all expenses paid, where would you go and with whom?
  7. What has surprised or delighted you this year?
  8. If someone wanted to give you a gift that was exactly what you needed right now, what would it be?
  9. What’s the best movie/show/documentary you’ve seen lately?
  10. What are you looking forward to this fall?
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{Reader’s Life} How to Kondo Your Books

how to Kondo your books

I have been on a bender.

Inspired by the now-infamous Marie Kondo, the Japanese organization and tidying expert, I have been plowing through every corner of my house.

Clothes and shoes were first: after a three-hour session, I eliminated five garbage bags full of stuff that no longer, as Kondo puts it, sparked joy. I was thrilled. I gave a few items to friends, who had consistently expressed interest in them, but the rest went into the donation bin.

I felt so free afterward.

I’m not new to organizing. I love Real Simple magazine and have always aspired to be as organized as the rooms are inside. I know they are all staged but still, I can dream.

However, Kondo does prescribe an order to her process. You must purge by category, not by room. Clothes first, then books. How to Kondo the books?

I was nervous.

Granted, I am not a hoarder. I purge on a somewhat regular basis. I love cleaning out and was definitely looking forward to this process, and the inevitable result. I think it was more the realization that I was really going to go for it this time that made me reschedule my book-cleaning adventure three times.

Today was the day. I must confess- I did not lug all of the books in my home into one room. If I had done so, I would have filled whichever room I chose completely. Instead, I went through each bookcase and book storage location in turn and picked up each book, setting those who did not spark joy aside. As with my clothes, I was amazed at how clear it was which ones were keepers and which ones, in the words of Heidi Klum, were out.

The books that people gave me that they thought I would love, but I just never quite got around to. The books I bought for hobbies I never planned on beginning. The books that were perfect for me- ten or fifteen years ago. They all get to move on.

My hot tips:

  1. Do NOT read the book as you take it off the shelf. If it’s a cookbook, you can flip through to see if the recipes appeal to you at all, but don’t start reading anything. Just hold it and ask.
  2. The second you start to construct a justification for keeping the book, ask yourself how you would feel if it was gone. Every time I used this trick I realized how free I felt imagining letting the book go. Magic.
  3. Have boxes or containers to put your books into ready to go when you begin. I did not do this. Now there are piles of books all over my house and I am going to have to sort this out pronto. Take my advice and save yourself the headache.

After this three hour session, I am both relieved and suddenly horrified- who is going to help me get all these books out of my house? Help!

Have you ever purged your books? Do you even keep books? Are you a digital or an analog reader? And, if you have also Kondo-ed your books, do let me know how it went and send along any tips about getting those books off to a new home…

More on that once I accomplish it. Wish me luck!

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