It's a good book, but it's not my Typee...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Impossible Odds

Impossible Odds: The Kidnapping of Jessica Buchanan and her Dramatic Rescue by SEAL Team Six is exciting, touching, and nerve-wracking. There are no surprises since the title tells you the entire plot, but I still found myself on the edge of my seat a couple of times as Jessica's story unfolded.

It's not an outstanding book, but it's the first book of its kind I've read since I'm not interested in African politics or terrorism. And usually, when I hear about a journalist or tourist who gets kidnapped in one of these dangerous regions, I want to ask them why they were in such a stupid situation to begin with. I have a preconception that journalists who try to infiltrate groups or areas where they are likely to be harmed are doing it for the glory of getting a remarkable story, not necessarily altruistically attempting to bring injustice to light. And don't even get me started on the tourists. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

But Jessica was neither a journalist nor a tourist when she was taken captive. She was in Africa to help children--specifically to educate them about landmine safety. And she knew the dangers she faced. She was happily married and trying to start a family when a fairly routine meeting for her job took her close to a very dangerous region. She was hesitant to attend the meeting, but her security assured her that everything would be fine. Like so many of us, Jessica ignored a gut feeling that something was wrong. Instead of making a fuss and backing out, she went with the flow and didn't speak up about her misgivings. She and a coworker were taken hostage on the way back from the meeting and her nightmare began.

The bulk of the book is an almost day by day account of Jessica's experiences during her captivity. Like I said, there are no surprises in the story. But it's worth reading if you have any interest in what a person goes through during such an ordeal and how they can come out the other side intact. For more information, visit Jessica's website.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Chimes from a Cracked Southern Belle

So, this is a book I was not particularly looking forward to reading. The title and the cover just scream whacky Southern female humor. You know, the kind of book where people are shocked by 87 year-old Grammy who drinks white wine (I feel a stage whisper coming on) before noon. Or where all the girls have a three letter middle name that must be included every time their first name is said.

All this is to say that I was expecting Jenny Sue, Betty Lou, Bixie Lee, and Grammy Joe to go on a road trip and end up sitting on their front porch after learning valuable life lessons and watch the sun come up while sipping white wine and painting magnolia leaves on each others' toenails. The forlorn menfolk look on and shake their heads saying, "Gee golly, now who's gonna fix us our biscuits?" Or something.

Chimes turned out to be a really good book. And as someone who routinely judges a book by its cover, I can say I was very wrong about this one. It is funny and well written. The characters are indeed whacky and Southern, but they are three-dimensional. I didn't cringe once. Because Susan Reinhardt knows how to let her characters get crazy and over the top without for one second making them unbelievable.

It's good enough that my favorite character was named Aunt Weepie. Is that not the most ridiculous name ever? And I still liked her!

The main character is named Prudy and she is far from being the empty soap bubble of a Southern female character I dreaded so much. She is a victim of domestic violence who realizes that many people blame her for her husband's actions, or at least for being stupid enough to marry him in the first place. Prudy, or Dee, as she wants to be called after her "near-murder" is determined to find a job and some independence. She knows her two young children need her to drag herself out of bed everyday and make things normal for them. Prudy/Dee is left scarred and depressed after her husband hits her with his church van and stabs her with a screwdriver. Her story is horrific and unbelievable, but she is based on a woman Reinhardt once met.

The Author's Note says, "The premise of the novel arose from an incident in which a woman was mowed down by a church van driven by her crazed preacher husband...near my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina." Reinhardt doesn't remember the woman's name. Is it odd that she didn't track her down or at least research her story for the novel? Or did she avoid learning any more about the real story behind her character's life so that she could focus on fashioning her own fiction? If I knew where I wanted my story to go and thought the real life events would take me off my chosen path, I'd probably avoid them too.

A couple more fun facts about this book: Reinhardt admits that the photo on the front cover may, in fact, be of her; and the novel opens with a quote from Julia Sugarbaker from Designing Women. What more can you ask for?

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, is a remarkable story which follows young Theo Decker across the country and through drugged-out hazes and terrifying incidents. The settings are large, significant places: New York City, Las Vegas, swaths of Europe. But it wasn't always this way for Theo. The only thing that has derailed his relatively normal life is the day he and his mother pay an impromptu visit to the art museum. His beautiful, charming mother loses her life there in a multi-bomb terrorist attack and Theo stumbles away almost without realizing he's done something that will change his life forever. As his shell shock subsides and his precarious position in the world becomes obvious, he also finds himself burdened with a terrible secret.

The scope is Dickensian (there, I said it, although it's already been said by so many other reviewers) and the plot is twisty and expansive at the same time. But this is a story largely made up of the minutiae of life. Meals are eaten, cigarettes are smoked, and people discuss their fears, families, and foibles. Tartt has that Stieg Larsson talent of making it genuinely interesting to read about someone fixing their lunch.

All this is to say that The Goldfinch is a large, serious work that somehow is a huge pleasure to read. Those small, seemingly insignificant details are what make Tartt's book so unexpectedly pleasing. Theo is an intelligent, likable kid. And it's painful to watch him deal with his mother's death. It's disappointing when he becomes a juvenile delinquent in response to the loss of the life he's known. The reader is made to feel all the lost emotions someone in his circumstances are bound to experience. Time and time again he makes bad decisions or narrowly escapes the fallout from a foolish choice. But during my reading I never brought myself to hate Theo or be angry or frustrated with him when he's made such a mess of his life. He's such a realistic character that you feel as if you know what it is like to be him, not just know him. In this way, Tartt makes him sympathetic rather than annoying.

Theo isn't the lone standout character among a sea of colorless personalities. I would like to list for you the characters in this book that I don't believe I will ever forget, but the list would probably get a bit tiresome. Some are delightful, some are selfish, and others are so bizarre yet well drawn that you can easily imagine having met them once or twice.

The book has received some scathing reviews. Critics have called it childish and accused Tartt of helping dumb down adult readers. But her writing is beautiful. And for all the flaws reviewers have pointed out in the story and its too-neatly-tied-up ending, I would rather read 100 pages of Donna Tartt describing an excellent meal and a walk in Central Park that read 10 pages of John Steinbeck. Guess that makes me dumb.

Friday, September 12, 2014

New Page!

Top righthand side of the page, you will now see a list of my blog's pages. As of today, there a 2 whole pages. "Home" will take you to the main page and "About me me me!" gives you more information about who I am and what I'm about. Please read it if you don't know me or if you do and have forgotten who I am. I won't hold it against you as long as I never find out. One day, in the fullness of time, I will add some pictures of me, my dog, my books, but most importantly: me with Jenna Marbles-esque eye makeup, reading books in vintage-style dresses. What can I say? I know what I like.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

George Washington's Secret Six: Spies!

Cool: a book about the spy ring that helped George Washington win us the Revolution. Intrigue, history, cool stuff you wish you'd learned in school; where could it go wrong? Starting on page one, is where.

This book was good. But it wasn't as good as I thought it would be and so I was pretty disappointed. The story is thrilling and the facts are fantastic. The problem is that Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger gave us a book that handles this treasure poorly. It's not strictly nonfiction because they invent conversations between the spies. And it's not a historical novel. Instead it tries to be both. Yes, the phrases used in conversation are culled from the figures' own letters, but that doesn't make for exciting or believable dialogue.

And stop telling us HOW the characters talk. A wise, wise man named Elmore Leonard once said, "Never use a verb other than "said" to carry dialogue." The dialogue in Secret Six just so wooden and rife with "gruff" or "nervous" men and dialogue that ends up sounding like:

"Consarn it, this goes against mah backwoodsmanlike instincts but ah do so love to ruffle the feathers of them Red Coats that ahl take the risk!" he said gruffly, banging his tankard of Sam Adams Octoberfest on the table.

Ok, I made that up, but I'm only exaggerating slightly.

There are only so many times we need to be told that Mr. Woodhull grumbles and has no social graces, blah blah. We get it, guys. You established a vibrant character, but you don't trust us to remember his most important traits from one page to the next. I would much rather read made up conversations that are actually good or just read it as straight nonfiction. My other issue is that there is no mystery, no slow reveal of who the spies are and what role they play. We get too much information up front and then the dry details are filled in as we go.

I'm not really sure what type of reader would enjoy this book the most. Anyone not fascinated by the American Revolution will be bored. But anyone who has already studied much about the war, and especially the spies, will probably already know these stories of espionage and near misses.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Houdini House Party

Yesterday, I hosted a Houdini House Party courtesy of And we got to watch an advance copy of the first half of The History Channel's Houdini special that is coming on this labor day. It stars Adrien Brody and we enjoyed it quite a bit. I wasn't sure how my friends would react because I'm a huge Houdini fan, but that doesn't mean everyone around me shares my interest. It helped that most of the ladies in the group find Adrien Brody easy on the eyes.

One of the highlights for me was Houdini trivia. The winner got a Houdini martini shaker from House Party and The History Channel. I laid out my Houdini books on the refreshment table and we looked at pictures of him and his wife and his many amazing tricks. My guests had tons of questions about "The Needle Trick" which is pictured in my oldest Houdini book, Houdini: His Life-Story by Harold Kellock, originally published in 1928 just a couple of years after the magician's death.

In preparation for the party, I've been reading my various Houdini books and have reacquainted myself with some of the stranger facts about his life. I'd forgotten than when he was a teenager, he paid to have his picture taken with a chest full of medals he'd won in athletic competitions. Except he'd only won some of them. The rest were borrowed or were fake medals he'd made himself. Even at a young age, the man who would become Houdini was a master of advertising. I'd also forgotten that he was the first person to fly a plane in Australia. How weird is that?

If you're looking for a short read that will make you an expert on Houdini's early life and career, look no further than Houdini: Escape into Legend by Manny Weltman. It's only 51 pages and includes a lot of photos of Houdini and his family, as well as some of his birth certificates and passport documentation which show his attempt to shed his original name (Ehrich Weiss) and change his birthplace from Hungary to the US. The book wasn't listed on Goodreads yet, so I had to enter all the info on their website and create an entry for it. I've done that before for several other obscure books, but there's always some pressure involved since you are responsible for describing the book to the entire Goodreads community. Not something you want to screw up.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Too many books!

I'm sure I've said this before, but there are too many books and not enough time to read them! I sincerely hope that Heaven has a giant library because there's no way I can read everything I want to before I die. My list of books to read on Goodreads is well over 100 and that's with me really restraining myself.

And it's not just books I personally want myself to read. There are the books I need to read for my book club, most of which I'm actually looking forward to. There are the books friends tell me I need to read (I never read The Giver as a kid and so I've been instructed to do so by my friend Angie). And then there are the books I started reading and refuse to give up on now even though they're terrible. So what if I only read a couple of pages a week? I'll have it done in a year or two, tops.

It's a delightful problem to have, but a little frustrating because I know I can't possibly get to all the books I want to. Even if I quit my job and read in a cardboard box, there aren't enough hours in the day.

One of my goals is to at least read every book I own. Ok...maybe not every book I own because I still have tons of books in my bedroom at my parents' house and a collection of nautical books in our second home. I'll read every book at my house for starters. Ok...maybe not every book at my house because some of them aren't even mine; they belong to my husband. So I just need to read the 100 or so books that I own and that are currently in my house. In addition to the book club books and the ones I can't resist downloading onto my Kindle because they're free. In other words, I might read all of them by the end of the decade if I'm lucky.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Paris Wife and That Cad, Hemingway

This is a book that left me feeling raw. Hadley Hemingway was Ernest Hemingway's first wife, the wife he took to Paris to pursue his career as an author. In the book she is a likeable and vibrant character who puts up with far too much from her husband. This account is fictional but draws all its characters and major events from the couple's real life.

There are no spoilers in this post; even if you know nothing about Hemingway's personal life, the title alone should tell you that this marriage didn't last til death did them part. Ernest Hemingway was an amazing writer and there has never been anyone else quite like him when it came to literature or living such a ridiculously aggressive life.

***Just kidding, there are some possible spoilers***
Some of what follows could ruin things for you if you only know the basics of the story and want to leave yourself some surprises. If you want to read the book and find out for yourself, keep scrolling until after the Eiffel Tower.

The trick that Paula McLain pulls in this book is pretty impressive. I was only briefly frustrated with Hadley during a period where she, Ernest, their toddler, and Ernest's mistress are basically living together. The rest of the time I could see things from Hadley's perspective and understood why she was putting up with Ernest's nonsense. Hadley makes it clear how miserable she was during that time, but finds it impossible to leave Ernest yet because she still loves him very much. She knows he has been influenced by their friendship with many bohemians who live in similar situations and almost allows herself to be talked into settling down this way permanently. This is a woman I should have wanted to shake some sense into, but instead found myself sympathizing with.

I found the disintegration of their relationship very upsetting for many reasons. Neither of them were made happier by it, according to the book. Hadley would have loved to stay married to him (minus the tramp) for the rest of her life. And Ernest  certainly wasn't happier with any of the string of women he married and ran around with after he and Hadley were through. Ernest ends up with a gun in his mouth, which is an inevitable end for someone as wrecked as he was. Hadley does at least have a happy second marriage which survives the test of time.

Their breakup also made me kind of hate Ernest. I don't want to hate Papa Hemingway, the golden god of fly fishing and bullfights, but my goodness that man must have been a selfish jerk. For all his machismo, Ernest couldn't be a man when it really counted. He could watched the most violent encounters at Pamplona and lord it over the "lesser" men who are sickened when a man or an animal spills its blood into the dust. But he couldn't bring himself to be honest with his wife. He could drink and brag and act like a tough guy, but he became a quivering idiot at the thought of losing one of his two women. In the end, the man couldn't even face his own life, so how could he be expected to treat anyone else decently?


It's a good book, it truly is. And I'm glad I read it. But prepare yourself for some rough emotional waters. It's a testament to McLain's writing that I was so upset. I generally don't get upset when bad things happen to people in books (Game of Thrones is totally different, so just shut up), however Hadley got my sympathy. She was a real woman to whom these real things happened and McLain gets inside her head and inhabits her perspective, thoughts, and emotions. At the end of the book the first Mrs. Hemingway feels like a dear friend you want to protect and who makes you want to be a better person, which is exactly what Ernest says about her late in the book as things get very rough. Let's hope she does a better job of improving us than she did with him.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Reading Rainbow Returns!

I keep hearing that LeVar Burton is bringing back Reading Rainbow with the help of a Kickstarter campaign. This is very exciting to those of us who grew up watching the show. Unsurprisingly, the initial goal of $1,000,000 has already been exceeded and the goal has now been raised to $5,000,000. The campaign has been going on less than a week!

What did surprise me was that the show apparently ran until 2006. Really?! I know I was a bit past the stage of needing help selecting chapter books by 2006, but I would have been prepared to state in court that the show had stopped airing sometime in the mid-90s. In my extensive research (I did two internet searches), I found that the show in fact ran all the way from 1983 through 2006. I could probably poke around a bit more and confirm this, but I'm too lazy to do so. I'll just remain stunned that the show I grew up on was still enchanting children a mere eight years ago.

If you also have fond memories of LeVar and his earring, please visit the Kickstarter page and consider donating. After all, a pledge of $10,000 gets you a dinner with the man himself AND you get to wear Geordi's visor from Star Trek! There is clearly something wrong with people because all of the $10,000+ donors so far have instead chosen to sponsor a school or some such rot.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Free books: BookShout!

If there is one thing I love, it's a free book. Today I discovered which offers both free and paid ebook downloads.

I clicked on a free copy of The Scarlet Letter and it appeared in an attractive, multi-page format in my web browser. I've only just started toying with it, but it looks like a pretty good site. They offer classics as well as newer fiction and non-fiction. The majority of the free books are in the public domain, but some are newer works the site is promoting. You can link to Twitter and Facebook and share your list of books with friends.

BookShout also offers you $1 of store credit for each friend you refer. So if you're not content with the free books, you have a chance to get some of the paid books free or at a reduced rate.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Secret Lives of Dresses

The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean is not a bad book. It is also not a great book.  It's a lot better than many things that have been published and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, but if you are looking for something that will challenge you or even make you think just a little, look elsewhere.

Secret Lives is charming and comforting and the twists and turns of the plot should take absolutely no one by surprise. Dora returns home from college when her grandmother, Mimi, suffers a stroke.  She begins running Mimi's vintage clothing shop and reliving memories of growing up amid Mimi's classic dresses and hands-off parenting. The big revelations that come in the last few pages of the book are as easy to spot as a pair of Mary Janes in a sea of Ugg boots.

Gee, I wonder what Dora's father (who was killed with Dora's mother in a car accident years ago) wanted to do instead of run the family department store? Whatever could it have been? And could it possibly have anything to do with Mimi trying her hand at writing fiction??? And why is family friend, Gabby, so giggly and scatterbrained lately?  Oh well, I guess it's just a huge mystery that has nothing to do with her first husband moving back to town.

But these are minor annoyances. They are the kind of things we treasure in books designed to be light and fluffy. The only real bone I have to pick with McKean is her characterization of Camille and Tyffanee, two of Dora's relatives. The author doesn't miss a single opportunity to bash us over the head with how obnoxious and shallow these two are. I mean, they wear rhinestones, for goodness' sake. Obviously, this means they are mean and small-minded and possibly the Anti-Christ. We get it after about the second page, but McKean's hateful descriptions of people who would rather wear layered pink tank tops and miniskirts ends up making you want to defend these women even though Camille is a horror and her daughter is a Grade A certified sorority b****.

The only character McKean paints as even remotely complex enough for us to have trouble figuring out is Gary, Dora's flirty boss at the college coffee shop. Is he as into her as he appears at times or is Dora naively reading too much into a man who seems content to date a different girl every week and foist management of the coffee shop onto Dora? You'll have to wade through a sea of crinoline, tulle, and gingham to find out.  I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy the swim.

I have complained about this book a lot, but it has some very good points. My favorite character is Maux, the Rockabilly salesgirl at Mimi's shop who deserves a book of her own. I want to read more about her Lucille Ball hair and future in air conditioner repair.

PS: If you are craving some truly excellent "secret lives", check out The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Funeral Textbooks: Dying for Something Better

I'm in a Funeral Service Education program in preparation for becoming an embalmer and funeral director. I'm in the middle of my third semester and I've noticed an alarming trend in my textbooks.  The books that are specifically about funeral service are often poorly written.

My business and sociology textbooks have been fine, but I'd say over half of my funeral textbooks have contained typos and bad grammar. One of the most distressing problems is the use of the wrong homophones (there instead of their, etc.). I think this problem stems from the fact that these books are usually written by funeral professionals rather than professors or professional writers.

It's really discouraging that these wonderful resources are marred with amateurish mistakes. But it comes down to poor editing. If someone other than the author took the time to read through the text, a lot of these problems could be caught before publication.  The worst is when the book has already been through several editions. Some of these mistakes have probably been there since the book was first published.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Jane Green House Party!

I belong to House Party, which is a pretty neat website where you can sign up for the chance to host a party to promote various products or media events. To my great excitement, they are offering a Jane Green House Party. She is a witty British writer who is coming out with a new book called Tempting Fate.

Jemima J and Babyville are two of her books I've read and both are very enjoyable. Jemima J is very much in the tone of Bridget Jones's Diary. Jemima transforms her life in order to land the guy of her dreams and it's actually very inspiring the way she exercises a newfound self-control in order to drop her extra pounds (of which there are MANY) and become the sexy, stylish woman she's always wanted to be. Babyville is about several women in various stages of motherhood and it's funny and well-written, but not as good as Jemima J.

So what House Party will do for those lucky few who are selected is send them a box filled with goodies. I did a Silk Fruit Smoothie party one time that was delicious and great fun. The Jane Green kit provides copies of a couple of her books as well as tea and cookies so you can have a real girltimeteapartyconfab and talk about the books. I'm additionally excited because the cookies are Moravian cookies and I was raised Moravian.

If you haven't heard of House Party, you should look at their website. They may not have any parties that interest you and you may not get chosen for the party of your choice, but it's really exciting when you get to host one and that box arrives on your doorstep. I'll definitely be looking for more of their book opportunities in the future. Did I use the word excited enough?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


I just made one of my rare visits to Twitter (where you should follow @JustNotMyTypee) and came across a tweet from Tyndale House Publishers about a free ebook. I have enjoyed many books from them in the past, so I clicked on the link to check it out. But what caught my attention as soon as I reached the site was a different book.

Staring out at me from the cover of a book called Unplanned was Abby Johnson. I'm not sure if it was the title of the book or her face that drew me in first. She just looks nice and she looks like she has a story to tell.

It turns out Abby used to be the director of a Planned Parenthood clinic until she personally witnessed an abortion procedure for the first time. She was so horrified by what she saw that she joined the Coalition for Life. How interesting is that? This is a woman who clearly knew what she was getting into when she took that job and, I'm assuming, was in favor of abortion until she actually saw one being performed. I can't wait to read her story.

I have a personal interest in this topic because I volunteer with the Christian Life Home, which is an organization in Raleigh, North Carolina that offers support and housing to young girls and women facing unplanned pregnancies. I firmly believe that parents and the community have the responsibility for educating young people in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies, young women have the ultimate responsibility for preventing pregnancy in their own lives, and that once an unplanned pregnancy has occurred, it is the mother's responsibility to see it through. Making a mistake doesn't give you the right to take someone else's life.

The argument most people give for a woman's right to have an abortion is that life doesn't begin until birth, or the third trimester, or whatever arbitrary deadline they set. But if that's true and the only thing an abortion destroys is some parasitic tissue growing inside a woman's body, why was Abby's mind completely changed by her contact with the procedure? I have not yet read the book and so I can't answer this question myself, but clearly she saw something that opened her eyes to the crime that is committed every time a woman chooses to terminate a pregnancy.

There are women in my life about whom I care deeply who have had abortions, and I don't believe that people who are pro-choice are evil. I simply believe they are blind to the fact that abortion is wrong. If they truly saw it as an injustice and a morally reprehensible act, they wouldn't support it.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Flight Behavior

I might not have thought much about the weather, but I had just finished reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver.

The weather in my part of North Carolina has been downright frightening recently. Much like in Flight Behavior, we experienced unseasonable warmth leading up to Christmas and had a few days of heavy rain that left the creek behind the house much higher than I like to see. It didn't last as long as in the book and the repercussions weren't as dire, but it's unsettling to see life imitate art (even if that art is already imitating life) right in front of you.

In Kinsolver's novel, the freakish weather is not freakish at all. Dellarobia Turnbow, the woman whose life is turned upside down by these weather patterns, learns that the changes are quite natural and expected now that the earth's climate has been so wrecked by global warming. But the biggest change the weather brings to Dellarobia's life is not the threat to her land and livelihood, it's an awakening to the possibilities hidden in her own life. Dellarobia has long ago resigned herself to a largely unfulfilling life as a wife and mother. This is not the life she wanted for herself, even though she is the object of jealousy for some women in town. Cub, her husband, is a kind and dependable man, but she resents him for tying her down early in life. Her ship has sailed and any chance of furthering her education, station in life, and personal satisfaction seems beyond her grasp.

She has a multitude of butterflies to thank for opening her eyes. Global warming drives countless Monarch butterflies from their usual roosting spot in Mexico to the mountains of Appalachia, specifically the mountain above Dellarobia's house. What she first takes as a personal warning from God turns out to be a sign of something deeply wrong throughout the world. And her in-laws are even less thrilled to hear about global warming than they are about the orange butterflies perching in their trees and holding up their logging contract. What was once an invisible rift between Dellarobia and the people around her begins to grow very noticeable. Her only allies in learning about what brought this "miracle" to her land are her precocious young son, Preston, and Ovid Byron, a visiting  lepidopterist who gently guides her to an understanding of the bigger picture these creatures represent.

Much as Dellarobia anxiously watches the Monarchs for signs that they will survive and find their way to a better life, the reader watches Dellarobia and hopes that she will find her way out of her own personal crisis into a beautiful future. Great for lovers of Kingsolver's other works and anyone interested in the way the world around us shapes our lives.

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014: Crime and Funerals

Ah, another year, another reading goal. Having not quite made my reading goal for 2013 (cough, cough, missed it by a few dozen), I decided to knock it down from 85 to 80 this year. I reduce my goal every year in the hope that my goal and my actual number of books read will eventually meet in the middle. Gone are the days when I try to read a book a day or even read 100 books in a year.

This year I will probably be focusing on Victorian crime and books relating to funeral studies as I am currently fascinated by the former and earning a degree in the latter.

My problem the past few years is that I just haven't applied myself to reading. I read when I have nothing else to do rather than making it a priority in my free time. So as long as Candy Crush dies a fiery death, I'll be good.

In my defense, I did also get married last year.  We had a Moby Dick-themed ceremony in North Carolina and then we renewed our vows in the Seamen's Bethel, which is mentioned in Moby Dick. So yay for me.