For the Love of Books

Books and I have a pretty great relationship. I’ve loved to read for as long as I remember. I have distinct memories of reading to my parents for homework during elementary school and my dad reading to me at night before going to bed. I’m from a family of readers. I find it hilarious when all four of us are home, watching tv, and we each have reading material (usually a book) for during the commercial breaks. I even have a Books category of posts here on the blog and a Books tab where I’ve chronicled the books I’ve read for the past several years.

The past two years I’ve had the simple goal to read in a book for fun every day. It could be a page or a whole book. It all counted. I’m happy to say I successfully completed this goal for the past two years. It’s a goal again for this year. One thing I have noticed is that while I’m reading every day, I’m not really pushing myself with what I’m reading. I find that it’s easier to re-read a favorite book or series rather than take the leap to read something new. That’s a big leap…because what if you don’t like what you picked?

So this year, I’m making some changes. While I was on vacation over the Christmas holiday, I stumbled upon the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy because of an Instagram post I saw about the “What Should I Read Next?” podcast, which is hosted by the author of this blog. Ah the black hole of the internet. 🙂 What I found was a great book blog and a podcast where people talk about books they love, books they hate, what they want their reading lives to be like, and recommendations for what they should read next. In just the couple of weeks I’ve been listening to the podcast and reading the blog, I’ve reignited my excitement for reading. Well, I don’t know if my excitement ever went away…maybe it’s just more pronounced.

With the start of 2017, I’m documenting that I’m reading every day and I’m also noting WHAT I’m reading every day. What’s missing from my completed book list is the fact I read books I don’t finish. I want to see if there are any patterns in the “didn’t finish” pile. I’m also doing a mini-book club with my sister. A couple summers ago we read Sense & Sensibility at pretty much the same time and fun with that. Now we’re starting Persuasion together. I’m also currently reading Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by Nathalia Holt. It’s a good one! What’s even better is that I have ideas for what I’ll read next.

Because let’s be honest, as a reader, the hardest question is, “What Should I Read Next?”


What Makes Me Happy

My default mode is positive, optimistic, happy, however you want to describe it. This doesn’t mean I never get sad or upset. I just choose to look at the world with a glass-half-full attitude. This past week I started reading the book The Happiness Project with my blog friend Stephanie. The author started her year-long happiness project not because she was sad, she just thought her happiness could be greater.

As I was reading the lengthy intro and first chapter, I started thinking about what makes me happy. I also thought about what could make me happier, or things I think would definitely contribute to my happiness. Here’s my happiness list I brainstormed:

  • Documenting! (Love capturing the everyday, the special, & the beautiful)
    • Project Life
    • Scrapbooking, in general
    • Photography (especially nature)
    • Blogging
  • Color!
  • Expressing my creativity
  • Good design & typography
  • Reading
    • Books & blogs
  • Witnessing the creativity of others
    • In-person, Instagram, Pinterest, Blogs I read
  • Spending time with and talking to my family and friends
  • Music
  • Creating/Working on projects
    • Knitting & crocheting especially
  • Personal touches in addition to a well-thought out décor design
    • Show that you are actually investing yourself in your space
  • Talking to people who work in Higher Ed and what they’re excited about by the field
  • Crossing or checking off things on my to-do list
  • Helping/working with students
    • Love helping to celebrate their successes
    • Proud to watch them grow (especially my Peer Educators!)
  • Traveling
  • Coffee
  • Returning to my Favorites
    • Books: Pride & Prejudice, HP series, Divergent series
    • TV Shows: Gilmore Girls, West Wing, Army Wives
    • Movies: Julie & Julia, Jane Austen Book Club, Pride & Prejudice, The Devil Wears Prada, The Holiday
  • Fresh, in-season strawberries
  • Smell of fresh cut hay
  • Spending time next to Lake Superior (beach, walks, parks)
  • National & State Parks
  • Hiking
  • Really getting to know the students who work in my office
  • Singing to music really loudly in my car
  • Being able to provide opportunities for my students (blogging, presenting, etc)

It’s quite a long list and I’m guessing not totally complete

After making my initial list, I started going through my Project Life albums to see if there was anything I missed. I came across this quote I had included in one of the weekly spreads, “It is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” Reading that quote caused me to pause and reflect. To have joy (or happiness) we need to have gratitude (or appreciation, awareness, thankfulness, etc). Even just going through the process of making my happiness list helped me appreciate and be grateful that there are so many things in my life that bring me joy and happiness.

What’s on your happiness list?

Starting a Book Challenge

Hello my dear internet friends who I’ve been slightly ignoring this year. I’m back! Here’s to a better blogging year in 2015.

I LOVE to read. The past year or so I’ve been in a little bit of a reading-for-fun rut. I found myself returning to my beloved books and re-reading them instead of pushing myself to read new-to-me books. In 2014, 9 out of the 23 books I read were re-reads. About mid-December I found a fabulous book challenge from PopSugar via Pinterest. I’m really hoping that participating in a challenge like this will jump start my interest in reading again.

little women

You can follow my progress over on the new page Book Challenge 2015. I encourage you to pick up a book or two and join me. 🙂 As always, I’ll be tracking all the books I read for the year, over on my Books page.

Why Reread Books?

Do you ever find yourself drawn back to a book you’ve already read?

Sometimes, I find myself drawn back to books and reread them. I don’t know if it’s the story, the characters, the mood the author sets, or me just wanting something comfortable. I know I’ve reread books in a series to prep for a new book or movie that’s coming out. These are books like Harry Potter or Twilight (even though I’ve read the first Twilight book more times than I care to admit).

I’ve read Pride & Prejudice at least four times. I love the world that Jane Austen created in Pride & Prejudice. I love the books that are retellings on Pride & Prejudice from different character perspectives. I just get swept away in the world. I recently went on a Jane Austen movie binge by watching Pride & Prejudice (Kiera Knightly version), Jane Austen Book Club, and Becoming Jane all in one week. This was all while I was finishing the book Mr. Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange.

Sometimes when I pick up a book to reread, I feel a little guilty. I have a stack of books I’ve started & stopped sitting on my nightstand. They’re all just waiting to be finished. I’ve got books I bought or borrowed ages ago that ought to be read. But instead, I turn to something more comforting  and old. I wonder if it’s because the world around me can be, or is, chaotic and overstimulating with new information. An old favorite book lets me quiet my brain down a bit while still enjoying reading .

Who knows the real reason. All I know is that last night, I paused reading a new book I started last week (Yarn), in favor of starting an old one (Eat, Pray, Love).

What’s your favorite book to reread?

Recommended Consumption

I was going to call this post “Recommended Reads” and then I realized that I wanted to recommend a couple movies to watch. Hence the title, “Recommended Consumption.” I have no clue if this will be a regular type of post or an anomaly. We’ll just have to see what happens. Wow, that was almost like Bravo channel’s tagline “Watch What Happens.” Anyway, here are some of the things I would recommend you checking out.


Wild – Cheryl Strayed. I recently finished this novel and loved it. It is a memoir that chronicles the death of the author’s mother and how she deals with that death. The bulk of the novel takes place while the author hikes a large section of the Pacific Crest Trail in California and Oregon.

The Daily Muse – website that I recently started following more closely for work. It has some fantastic articles for job search and career related items.

Peer Into Your Career – the blog written by the students I supervise. Recently they’ve covered topics like increasing productivity, grad school, shoes to wear, and studying abroad. If you like what you read over there, please comment. The students love getting feedback about their work!

Comprising Kendra – Kendra started blogging again! I am super excited to see where she takes her blog now.

10 Quick Stress Relief Strategies for a Crazy Schedule – Anna from Classy Career Girl (one of my fav career blogs)

Simple tips for self-portraits – Elise at enJOY it

Watch & Listen:

Freakanomics podcast. Yes, I’m recommending a podcast related to economics. It surprises me too. I like listening to this podcast while either doing low-key stuff at work or while scrapbooking. They make economics a little easier to understand.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – Kendra and I rented this movie last Friday and I highly enjoyed it. I was pleasantly surprised by this British film since I had only first heard about it while watching the Golden Globes.

Silver Linings Playbook – another great movie I just saw in the theater. Bradley Cooper plays a character dealing with diagnosed bipolar disorder. It was a fascinating movie that had great comedic moments without trying to be a comedy movie.

Dance Academy has been my Netflix favorite this week. I seriously flew through the 2 seasons available in about 3 days. Yeah, I didn’t do too much else over the weekend. 🙂

So Many Books for Summer Reading

I love reading. I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. For the second year in a row, one of my New Year’s Resolutions revolves around reading. This year’s goal (30 fun books), is clipping along decently. I’m currently rereading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen for what I think is the fourth time. Love it! I hope to be spending my summer doing oodles of reading. Yes, oodles. 🙂 I have quite the book list to tackle and the a chunk of the books on the list are related to work in some form. So, in reality, I have two lists: “fun” books & “work” books. Here’s my “work” list so far. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll be able to get them all done…and I’ll be trying my hardest to read as much as possible.


These aren’t necessarily on my reading list for summer, but they probably should be. I bought them at the expo the ACPA Convention in March.


My books! I included my iPad on the pile because a couple of the books I listed are e-books.

I’m thinking I may have bit off more than I can chew. Have you read any of these books (or want to)? What did you think of them? Hopefully, I’ll be able to share my thoughts on the books with you as I get through reading them.

What’s on your reading list? For fun or for work?


Who Wants a Friend?

Recently, I purchased and started reading the book MWF seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche. I had heard about it through Twitter and happened to find it while helping my sister find a book on Judy Garland a couple weeks ago at Barnes & Noble. I started reading it right away.


Premise: A late 20s woman recently married and relocated from New York City to Chicago. After 2 years of living in Chicago and not really finding many friends that she could call up just to hang out, she took matters into her own hands. She decided to do 52 friend dates in 52 weeks in hopes of finding a Chicago BFF (best friend forever). And she blogged about it! Yes, it’s a true story!

I’m only about two-thirds of the way through the book…and I’ve identified with so much of it already. It’s hard to find friends when you move somewhere new (remember how I moved to a new city last summer without knowing anyone!). According to the book, research shows that it is much harder for women to find and have meaningful friendships from their late 20s to 40s. One of the things I love about this book is that it isn’t a regurgitation of the author’s blog. It’s filled with research about friendship along with her reflections from her 52 friend dates. Like the author, I have some really good friends. Some solid BFFs. It’s just that most of them live elsewhere (Twin Cities, Milwaukee, Madison, Portage, Whitewater, Ohio, etc.). I try to keep in touch through various methods, but it’s not the same as being in the same geographic area. Thank goodness for Kendra! Even in that situation, we were essentially set up on a blind friend date this past September. However, we’re both in the same boat…new to Duluth & wanting to find people to connect with. Slowly, but surely, we’ll get there. 🙂

Okay, so some of you might be thinking, “You work on a university campus. Wouldn’t that be a hotbed of potential friends?” Technically, your thinking would be correct. At this point, most of the people I’ve met that are around my age are merely acquaintances. The individuals in my office are great people that I get along with, and they are all significantly older than me. Sometimes, it’s just hard to relate when their kids are the same age as me. I’ve always been in situations where there were plenty of people to become fast and close friends with: high school (band & color guard), undergrad, post-undergrad (hung out with friends still living in Eau Claire), and grad school. Now that I’ve moved into my professional career, things just aren’t as easy as they once were. At this point in time, I’ll just keep working on getting to know people on campus through meetings, events, casual meet ups in the hallway, and my knitting group (they are a fun group of ladies!).

Back to the book, I highly recommend it. Reading it has helped me understand how much I cherish strong connections with other people. Those connections help to make life bearable and fun. Here’s to friend making!