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Wednesday, January 08, 2020

January and the Latest "New Beginning"

Favorites Books from 2019.  This is hard because I read so many mysteries and looking back, I don't want to struggle with decisions about favorites.  Goodreads lists 177 books that I've reviewed, but I never got around to reviewing all of the books; some are still in draft form, some I may not even bother with reviewing at this point.

Nonfiction Favorites:  

The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jacki Morris (poetry and art)

Fiction Favorites:

There were so many good mysteries and thrillers this year, even if I don't want to take the time to decide which ones I liked best.  I hope to list some favorites each month in 2020 to make it less time consuming to decide on favorite mysteries and thrillers.

Goals/Resolutions January always seems a little fraught for me because I have the urge to organize and clear out, make lists, make decisions.  Probably many of you feel the same urges.  Thinking about what you want from the new year can result in long, long lists that seem impossible to achieve, so I'm keeping it simple as far as goals.  (Which doesn't mean I won't be checking on the many other things I'd like for 2020 (more patience, less procrastinating, recycle-reuse and be more environmentally conscious, etc., but I won't feel pressured by them.)

 I have only 3 easy to achieve goals:  1)  renew my yoga practice by just committing to get on the mat every day, 2) walk more, and 3) get out more to do things I enjoy (quit being such a hermit).  I've had a successful first week.  Fingers crossed on the rest of the month. 

None of my goals have anything to do with reading, but I do look at the various reading challenges posted and add books to my TBR list.  

Reading Itineraries.  I've taken reading itineraries most of my life--sometimes deliberate, sometimes not even realized until some way down the road.  After reading about a person or event or place in a book of fiction or nonfiction, I often follow up on that in other books.  Mary Tudor as a minor character in a historical mystery might lead to an interest in Jane Gray, or Elizabeth I, or persecution of Protestants, or Philip of Spain.   It is kind of a one-thing-leads-to-another thing, but with various digressions to explore along the way.  Historical fiction often encourages me to find out more about historical characters and events.  

 I'm a third of the way through The Idea of the Brain:  The Past and Future of Neuroscience by Matthew Cobb, which reminded me of the brain/science/learning itinerary I started several years ago.  I read a number of these one year, and then continued to look for interesting books in the category.  

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge
The Secret Live of the Mind by Mariano Sigman
How We Learn by Benedict Carey
The Wisdom Paradox by Elkhonon Goldberg
The Three Pound Enigma by Shannon Moffett
The Vigorous Mind by Ingrid E. Cummings
Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
The Intention Experiment by Lynne Taggert
How Children Succeed by Paul Tough
Failing Our Brightest Kids by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Brandon L. Wright
Learned Optimism by Martin E.P. Seligman
The Body Has a Mind of Its Own by Sandra Blakeslee and MatthewBlakeslee
Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Human Mind by V.S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee

Another nonfiction itinerary that has continued for years is a yoga book itinerary.  I've reviewed some, but not all of these, and since I took these pics several years ago, I'm not sure what I've added since then.  The bottom stack are my favorites from all the piles.

I don't see me buying any new books in this category right now, but several of my favorites bear another rereading, especially since I'm trying to renew my practice this year.

Stitching.  I've finished the second panel for 25 Million Stitches, and now I'm darning holes in a sweater and finishing up some UFOs from the last two years.  

Listening.  To some interesting podcasts while I stitch.  

Planning.  Next year's garden and enjoying my salad garden.  I mean it feels like spring here with temps in the 60's and 70's!


  1. Awesome plans and goals for 2020. I tend to be a bit of a hermit myself in the winter months, so I should work on that. And I'm trying to do something everyday to stay in shape and be more active...even if it's just a quick walk around the block. And I want to try and do more art this year, even if it's just postcard size. Good luck with everything you want to accomplish! :D

    1. Most readers probably submit to the hermit tendency once in a while. We also want to stay in shape and be active--conflicting goals at times! If you ever want to mail any of your postcard art, I love getting mail and promise to respond. :) Here's to both of us working on our 2020 goals!

    2. I'll let you know when I get a few postcards done. I do love sending and getting real mail. Just know that mine won't nearly be as good as yours. :)

  2. Your "easy" goals are also mine. I have become too much of a hermit. It is too easy not to walk. And my yoga is chair yoga only these days.

    1. Exactly, Nan. It is easy not to walk. I'm great at saying that I'll do it later or tomorrow. My yoga routine is slow and gentle and focuses on breathing and that suits a chair perfectly. :)

  3. For someone wanting to keep it simple, those add up to a pretty ambitious 2020. LOL

    I'm happy to see that some of my favorite 2019 books are pictured here, especially "The Girl in Red." I still think about that one sometimes and the cover is one of my all-time favorites.

    I'm trying to work in more podcast listening, too, but I find myself becoming overwhelmed by all the choice out there when it comes to bookish podcasts. I need to do some weeding in my podcast garden if I'm ever going to become a steady listener.

    1. There are plenty of things I want to do, but my commitment is only to 3 things: walk more, get on the mat, and get out more.

      The cover of The Girl in Red is one of my all-time favorites as well. I like dystopian novels and fairy tales and the mixture of both. :)

      Podcasts are a great accompaniment to my stitching and a relatively new experience for me. I've enjoyed listening to podcasts on brain science, communication, education, crafting, environment, history, poetry, etc. Actually, I need to add some bookish podcasts to my list. :)

  4. I think I am going to cave and use a gift card on Dreyer's English. I really liked The Girl in Red too--I just wasn't happy with the rushed ending. It would have been near perfect for me otherwise.

    I wish you luck with your goals, Jenclair. I haven't tried Yoga, but I may. I do need to find more ways to be active.

    I really like the idea of your reading itineraries--what I often refer to in my head as themed reading, although I think you have something a bit more complex in mind. I often think I want to go that route and then I don't. I leave a lot of lose threads out there that I rarely make time to follow up with. Maybe someday I'll be in a mental state to do so. I don't think it's now though.

    I hope you have a great 2020, Jenclair!

    1. I know! Even when I put The Girl in Red on my list, I quibbled and debated because I didn't like the rushed ending!

      The itineraries are like themed reading, but looser and more divergent. I read The Terror by Dan Simmons about ten years ago and went on a wild journey about Arctic discovery, the Franklin Expedition, Elijah Kent Kane, the Fox Sisters, and the rise of spiritualism. The Terror was a fictional account that led to a lot of nonfiction. Not really complicated, more like those mind maps that branch off and then branch off again and again--no destination in mind.

  5. That's a great list of goals and plans for 2020, Jenclair! I wish I'm more outdoorsy in terms of working out, lol. I admit I'm lazy when it comes to that. I haven't tried yoga although I think my back won't allow me for some challenging positions. I do get bad back pains sometimes.

    1. It is nice to get for a walk, but I do a lot of my walking inside, too. Today is threatening rain, and not wanting to get caught outside, I'll do some walking inside. :) There are some simple yoga moves to help keep your back flexible without putting any strain on it. I have to do these after work in the garden!

  6. I love your goals and they have become mine as my post shares today. I too have become too much an inside person and have not done as much walking and yoga as I committed to. I've begun again this week and will be going to a yoga class in a couple of hours. I went Tuesday for the first time in several months and found it challenging. However, I know with repetition, I'll get back to the place where I was. Good luck to you with your pursuits and reading, Jenclair! Yes, the weather has been pretty nice, but I don't do outside right now because of that awful mountain cedar allergy. I don't know who thought it would be smart to bring that plant into Texas so many years ago. It's not native and in our area, it causes a lot of allergies between December and March. Sigh.

    1. I'm seriously considering going back to classes, too, Kay! Going to classes gets you out of the house (goal!) and practice (goal!) and some socializing (always good!). I don't know what my husband is allergic to, but he is having a tough time right now with allergies. Then again, our weather is like spring--even the day lilies have begun emerging. Another problem with climate change: year-round allergies. Ugh!

  7. I'm so anxious to read The Splendid and the Vile. My husband just finished and said it was very, very good.

    I listened to Where the Crawdads Sing and was moved to tears at the conclusion. I'm glad I was walking on a vast beach, void of any other people, as I wiped away my tears.

    I attend yoga twice a week and hope to do more at home on the off days. I've discovered Yoga with Adriene on YouTube and she's been a great motivator. I need to stop making excuses not to walk when it's cold and rainy. This is Oregon, after all! My new passion is pickleball. It's great exercise and a fun way to socialize with like-minded sport enthusiasts.

    I've recently discovered some wonderful podcasts (mostly about books) and my Goodreads' list is exploding. It's all good, though. I love having so many reading choices, whether they're on my shelves at home or on a virtual shelf.

    1. So many little details in The Splendid and the Vile accompany the larger facts and statistics.

      What I loved most about Where the Crawdads Sing was the language--such beautiful prose!

      I'm glad you reminded my of Adriene. I watched some of her videos last year and loved practicing to them. Pickleball--I've read some positive things about this, so good on you for finding a new passion!

  8. Wow, look at all those yoga books! I've been trying to get organized and start the year off right and so far so good but I still struggle with finding time during the week to work on projects. Loved seeing your favorites of the year. I hope to read some of these!

    1. I'm trying to organize my work space, but it is a slow process. I keep finding things that I've forgotten about and getting ideas for a new project or two. Right now, the mess prevents me from being able to work on the projects I've already been working on. :) It's the effort that counts, right?

  9. I'm a little late to this post but Happy New Year! I love wrap ups and goals. I used to love Yoga and practiced three times a week but I fell off that wagon and haven't managed to hitch a ride back on. You inspire me!