Signed up for #24in48 – Check!

All The Books!

Not a lot to report here, as I’ve only read one book so far this year: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You Are by Dr. Brené Brown. I hope to add a few more to my reading this coming weekend as I’ll be participating in the 24in48 Readathon next weekend, Jan. 21 and Jan. 22.  Which ones? I don’t know yet, to be honest…beyond Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman that I started at the end of last year and want to continue, if not finish. I think, especially during these times, I want to be reminded of what really makes America great: its people, of whom Whitman celebrated with his masterwork. I believe I read all of it when I was in college, but like To Kill A Mockingbird which I thought within recent years I had read in its entirety,  but hadn’t, it is possible that I haven’t read all of Leaves of Grass either.

All The Life!

To start the year, I’ve been doing an e-course through the blog Untidy Grace called “ABC’s of the full & beautiful life,” that started Jan. 2 and runs through Jan. 27. I learned about the course via Cassie of the blog Almost an Independent Clause, and decided to try it. I’ll admit that I’m (always) behind, but did catch up for the most part on Friday as I had a day off from work. Each day, Moriah gives five questions for journaling along with thoughts and responses. At first, I was trying to do all five questions, but my wife suggested trying only one question each day and that seems to be working, although I’ll admit that my answers are pretty short and not a long journal entry. If nothing else, my answers have confirmed my choice for my One Word this year: Invigorate.

Aside: On Friday, I found myself caught up in finding the right tools for journaling instead of actually composing my thoughts. My wife says I just should use a paper journal. Unfortunately, my handwriting is so horrific (she believes because of years in the newspaper business where I used my own form of shorthand and she’s probably right) that sometimes if I’m looking back at it, I can’t even read it. So instead, I’ve been trying to find the perfect online journal (for cheap). Unfortunately, I can’t really go full screen with any of the apps or programs, even the “distraction-free writing mode” on WordPress has its distractions. The best I’ve found is Evernote, but on the web app, not the desktop app. I really like the Journey app for the way it displays photos with entries, but on the web and desktop app, the font size can’t be adjusted (even though it says it can), which is annoying. (I’m not providing the links to these apps, because really you can just Google them and find them just as easily.)

So are you participating in 24in48? Either way, how is your reading going so far this year? Life?

Invigorate: My #OneWord for 2017

The first year I did “One Word” was in 2014, with the word “Simplify.”  However, in 2015, I couldn’t narrow down my word of the year to just One Word so I chose two words: “Focus and equilibrium.”  Last year, I chose “Reinvigorate,” partially because at the end of November 2015, right before Thanksgiving, a coworker of mine died unexpectedly, and when I shared with an online friend who once lived here and knew her, he said this: “I found out about another friend from the past dying…this past week. I guess it is an important reminder to live to the full!”

And while I failed at my individual goals physically, mentally, and spiritually to reinvigorate my life, I did live life to the full (see here) as I spent lots of time with family and friends and lived life to the full with them, for which I am thankful. I am especially thankful for being able to go with my father at the start of 2016 to have a needed surgery, spending time with my sister and her children a few times during the year, a few day trips with my neighbor Mike, and, last but not least, celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary with my wife Kim.

So that brings me to this year’s word:

I almost went with “reinvigorate” again, but then I narrowed my selections down to “recharge,” “revival,” “vivify,” and this one. I discarded “recharge,” because all I could think of was Neo in The Matrix being reduced to a battery. Likewise with “vivify,” as it reminded me of “vivisection.” I dismissed “revival,” because of the spiritual overtones, not that I’m opposed to the spiritual and yes, I need a spiritual revival too, but I didn’t want the connection with only a religious movement.

So why did I go with “invigorate” instead of “reinvigorate” again? A couple of reasons, really:

  1. I’m not looking to reinvigorate, or “give new energy to my life” as much as I’m looking to give energy to my life,  period.
  2. I like the idea of “animate,” although that too also has other connotations, like animated in terms of cartoons. I think I was thinking more along the lines of animating as breathing life into.

This year, instead of setting my sights too high, I’m setting them realistically in terms of the physical, mental, and spiritual:

  • Physical: To begin with, to walk once a week to work. From there, we’ll see where it goes.
  • Mental: To read one non-fiction book a month, which with my first book of the year read yesterday I’ve done that. The book was The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Dr. Brené Brown.
  • Spiritual: To go to church once a month, especially the church in a neighboring town, which is a bit more liberal in terms of its politics than our hometown church and has more activities there throughout the month.

I’d also like to journal daily, drink less alcohol, get outside more, eat better than I did this past year, and (but of course) lose weight. But small steps and no goals of running a marathon or anything like that, but kudos to those of you who are setting that goal or a similar one (a 5K, a 10K, etc.) for yourself. It’s just not for me…right now.

Unlike last year where I didn’t keep monthly updates on my One Word, this year I want to do just that and I will start doing that at the end of this month. That way, I can hold myself accountable and also see the progress that I’m making each month in invigorating myself in terms of what I’m reading and in terms of life. After all, I’m still unfinished…with all the books I want to read, all the life I want to live.

So have you chosen One Word for this year? If so, what is it? If not, do you have resolutions for this year? If so, what are they? If none of the above, what is the one thing you’re most looking forward to in  2016?

This year, like last year, to help me find my word, I used British author Susannah Conway’s free 5-day e-mail course. Thanks to Molly Totoro of My Cozy Book Nook for introducing me to Conway’s work. I must also give credit to Kim of the blog Sophisticated Dorkiness, Florinda of the blog The 3 R’s Blog: Reading, ‘Riting and RandomnessTanya of the blog Girlxoxo.comTi of the blog Book Chatter and Erin of the blog Remade by Hand  for helping introduce me to the “One Word” concept and also the website: One Word 365. Later in the week, I plan to share others’ One Words with links to their blog posts, as I did last year. If you have a One Word post, send me the link and I’ll add it tomorrow.

All The Books! All The Life! 2016!

With today being the end of the year, I was going to review how I did with my One Word for this past year, and I actually drafted that post. However, then I decided instead to accentuate the positive and so I thought I’d look back at 2016 through the themes I’ve been using for the blog this past year: books and life.

All The Books!

All 48 of them, in reverse order.

Bryan’s bookshelf: read

All The Life!

All 38 of them. I was supposed to have three photos per month, which if my math is correct, which it sometimes isn’t ;), should be 36, but I must have hit a couple of extra. Oh well.

So what were the highlights of your year?

Fabulous Friday: Christmas Weekend

Fabulous-Friday-680x680Each and every Friday, Michelle of the blog That’s What She Read shares what makes that Friday a Fabulous Friday for her and I do the same. Click on the image at right to be taken to this week’s post from Michelle.

What makes this a Fabulous Friday for me

If you clicked through to Michelle’s post, and if you haven’t, do so now, then you’ll see that my two things are basically the same as hers for this week: a long weekend and Christmas. However, I have a four-day weekend and not a five-day weekend, and I’m not baking cookies or planning a menu. Also we aren’t staying in the whole time. We are going to my parents, who live 60 miles away, on Sunday and staying overnight since neither of us have to work on Monday. We might would stay longer, but…CATS! We don’t have anybody to watch them, so…

And so what am I going to do with the rest of the time that I’m not with family? Today and tomorrow, I’d like to say the plan is to read, read, and read some more, as I’ve read 47 books so far this year and I’d like to get 50 books by the end of the year. However, the truth is I’ll probably end up binge-watching Bosch on Amazon Prime as we just got it earlier in the week, thanks to a monetary gift that matched the amount of Amazon Prime. Kim and I already have devoured Seasons 1 and 2 of Mozart in the Jungle, but Bosch, I’ll probably watch on my own, while she’s asleep during the day (works midnight shift as a 911 dispatcher).

Not that I won’t not be asleep during the day too, as I have a man cold, which arrived just in time for the holidays, and the rest probably will do me some good. I’m just glad that it isn’t something worse (yes, took a sick day Tuesday and went to the doctor’s to confirm since it’s been so long that I’ve had a cold, I thought I might have strep throat and because I’m a man and I automatically default to something worse when it comes to having a man cold) as I would hate to take something worse to my parents.

Kim even has an essential oil mix that she has made for me on such occasions that I have my man cold. It’s called “Poor Little Bunny.” So…I’ll be taking that as well.

What makes this a Fabulous Friday for you?

My Top 5 Reads Of 2016

Last year, I had 10 books that topped the books I read during the year.  I read a total of 81 books. This year, I only have five that I would highly recommend out of 47 so far that I have read. These are those five:

5. Forever Rumpole: The Best of the Rumple Stories by John Mortimer:  I picked this one up at our library from our new book shelf. Even though not published this past year, it was new to our library. I had read a few short stories about Rumpole, a barrister in London, by Mortimer, who was a barrister himself in London, years ago and enjoyed them. Sometimes the British legalese doesn’t translate, but what does translate is the humor and Rumpole’s relationship with his wife, who he warmly calls “She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed.”

4. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: I read Albertalli’s book during the October 24 Hour Readathon. At the time, I was participating in a reading challenge at work, with one of the challenges to read a book with an LGBTQA character. I chose this, and I’m glad I did. It’s the story of a gay teen who is outed at his high school and in my humble opinion, ranks right up there with The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Albertalli, who has worked with teens as a counselor, shows she knows what she is talking about in her sympathetic but also at times comic portrayal of a gay teen in America.

3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi: This one came at the recommendation of Melissa Middleman Firman, and one I knew I probably would like after reading the book that is No. 2 on this list and liking it. Like that one, Kalanithi’s memoir deals with death in a very candid way but also in the end like Gawande’s book, celebrates life. To be honest, and I know this is a bit of a cop-out, I’m at a loss for words on this one, but I think if you want to get a better idea about the book, check out Melissa’s review, which convinced me to read the book. I think it will convince you too.

2. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters In The End by Atul Gawande & 1. Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: These last two books are probably the most important books I read this year and I believe everyone should read. Gawande’s book deals candidly with death; Coates’ book, just as frankly with race. Either one could have been No. 1 on my list, but the reason I chose Coates’ book over Gawande’s book is due to this year’s election. Perhaps if more of those who had voted for Trump had read Between the World and Me, they might not have voted the way they did. Yes, they might still have, but I think Coates’ letter to his son about race in America, at least, would have given them pause. It certainly made me as a privileged white American see a world I knew was there but didn’t realize how stark the contrasts were…and are.


What were your favorite books that you read this past year, whether published in 2016 or not? Do we share any of the same ones? (Also it’s okay if we don’t. I won’t hold it against you…too much.)