friday’s “secret” – there aren’t secrets

When I do post on the third Friday of every month, I like to post about the “secret” to enjoying life.  First I hope you will note the tongue-in-cheek use of the quotation marks around the word, secret.  That’s because the truth is that there are no secrets to enjoying your life. 

I think most of us have an idea of what we like to do and what we could do to enjoy our lives. If you don’t know, you should definitely make it your mission to find out what those things are. But once you do know what they are, if anything, the “secret” or “trick” or the thing is that you have to actually do those things that you enjoy. Without guilt and without excuses.

That’s harder to do than it was for me to type. I struggle with this constantly.  I really enjoy playing the Sims 4, a life simulation computer game where you build homes, create characters (or sims) and have them live their lives.  Correction, I LOVE playing the Sims. It is one of the only things that I can do where I lose all sense of time and space.  My life challenges slip away and I forget about them as I redesign a house or build a studio for my artist sim, Grace Coddington. I have so much fun!

But somehow, through life experiences, books I’ve read stressing the importance of productivity and efficiency, and maybe a false sense of my own importance, I find myself feeling guilty about playing.  Shouldn’t I be doing something else that’s more important? Like reading? Maybe. But if the Buddy Man is fed, the house is humming along, and work commitments have been met, I’m learning it’s OK to stop and play the Sims 4.

So do the things that are enjoyable to you. That’s the “secret” to enjoying your life. I’ve got to go. Grace has another masterpiece to paint.

…enjoy life

PS. If any out there also plays the Sims, I’m MyCuratedSims.

quick lit – next page, please {best books of 2021 edition}

For the past few years I have been intentionally compiling my best books of the year.  So I thought I would share my top 10 books of 2021. Counting down…

#10 | The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

A practical guide to comfort you in difficult times, including playlists, food, and practical advice.  I have enjoyed everything that I have read by Matt Haig, and have this one on my nightstand to pick up when I am feeling a bit low.

#9 | You Got Anything Stronger: Stories by Gabrielle Union

Though not as funny as her first book, We’re Going to Need More Wine, this one stood out because of Gabrielle’s openness and honesty in discussing difficult topics including infertility, motherhood, and racial justice. For example, she talks about how everyone else was so happy when her surrogate became pregnant but she was mad! This book was so very painful at some moments but it has stayed with me and I cannot stop thinking about it so, on the list it goes.

#8 | The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Delila Harris

This one was unlike anything I have ever read. Some have said it was a book written by a black woman for everyone, but that included often unexplained references to a black woman’s life (IE. Putting on a silk scarf at night). I loved that about it.

#7 | The Wayfarer Series by Becky Chambers

I read all 4 of these books starting with A Long Way to Small Angry Planet.  And thus began my love of Becky Chambers. I will read anything she writes.

#6 | Writers & Lovers by Lily King

This book has the second best ending of a book I read all year so, on the list it goes.

#5 | The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

I don’t know why it took me so long to read this one but such a lovely, hopeful story. Anyone who is struggling to feel accepted and loved by others should take a peek at the magical story.

#4 | Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

In March, the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club read this one; I hadn’t read it since I studied it in college. It held up. I love it as much then if not more now. And it was very interesting to read it as an older woman and how my perspective have changed since then.

#3 | Address Unknown by Katherine Kressman Taylor

Everyone should read this! And at about 70 pages, it won’t take much of your time. Originally published in the early 30’s before the start of WWII, it is a fascinating story told in letters about two friends, one German and the other a Jew and what happens when the German moves home at the rise of Hitler. Fascinating! Short – only 72 pages.

#2 | Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

This book is epic! The longest I have read in a long time. But very much worth my time.

#1 | A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers

I heart this book so much! I read it for the third time last week and hugged it to my chest when I was done.

What was the best thing that you read last year?

enjoy life…

Per usual, I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy and her Quick Lit post.

happy new year + a reading reflection

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Decided to start this new year by posting my answers to Reading Questions for 2021 from my friend, Donna of I am Your Rabbit. If you don’t already, you should check out her weekly book and entertainment updates. She’s my go-to for deciding what the Hubby and I will watch on a Saturday night.

What were 3 books you loved reading in 2021 (published any year?)

I love how Donna emphasized 3 books knowing full well how challenging that would be for us. It made me laugh out loud.  Just three?!?!

  1. A PSALM FOR THE WILD-BUILT by Becky Chambers. I’ve recommend this book to everyone I know who loves to read and those that hint that they might like to read something. I even selected it for the Rocket City Mom Virtual Book Club; we discussed it last night. This short novella may have saved me in 2021. It’s such a lovely book, like a hot cup of tea on a cold night. When I reached the end, I cried literal tears of joy of being seen in such a real way. Becky Chambers dedicates the book “for anyone that could use a break” and that’s just about everyone right now, isn’t it?
  2. CLOUD CUCKOO LAND by Anthony Doerr. This stands out to me because it is the longest book I have read in a long time, over 600 pages. But the story was epic and spanned hundreds of years, following one book from the 1400s in Constantinople to the future on a space ship. I got swept away in the story and, in 2021, being swept away was a challenge.  It was the right amount of everything I love in a book.
  3. WRITERS & LOVERS by Lily King. I started this book in 2020 and couldn’t get into it.  I thought it would be a sad book. The main character’s mother had passed and she is grieving, in a dead-end job, and struggling to write a book. But this book ends so well, I get goosebumps thinking about reading that ending again.  I loved it!

What book had been on your TBR (to be read list) for years and you’re happy you finally read it in 2021?

I read over 100 books this year; something which I have always wanted to do but, as of this moment, don’t ever want to do again! In perusing my list, I am realizing how little of my books were something that I have wanted to read a long time.  Most of them were new-to-me books.  But I did get a chance to reread THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD by Zora Neale Hurston.  I adored this book when I studied it in college and was delighted to discover, that 20 years later, I still adore it.

What author did you read for the first time in 2021 that you’ll now consider an ‘automatic read’ the next time they publish a book?

Becky Chambers, author of the aforementioned PSALM. I also read her entire Wayfarer Series this year, as a #buddyread with Donna, no less.  I have one more novella of hers left to be a Becky Chambers completist but don’t want to read it yet, because I always want a new book of hers available to me. Does anyone else do that?

What are a couple of 2022 new releases you’re excited about?

Becky Chambers will release a follow-up novella to PSALM this year and I can NOT wait to read it! It may be preordered already! Also, Julia Whelan is finally releasing another book! Her MY OXFORD YEAR is one of my fav of all time.

What are your goals and/or projects for your reading life next year?

My fellow team members at Modern Mrs. Darcy are incredulous and perhaps a bit amused at my reading goal/project this year. I am planning on reading only 42 NEW books! These 42 books have to meet one major specific criteria – when I heard about them, I must have said, “heck yeah! I want to read that!” There are two important caveats to this project. One, I can read as many rereads as I want. And two, 10% of my new books must come from my shelf of books I already own but have not yet read. I will know by July whether I am going to fail spectacularly at this project or not!

Note: If you’re a listener and supporter the podcast, What Should I Read Next?, you can hear more about this project on this week’s bonus episode.

enjoy life…