year of books: August-December

2014 goals, reading

Not for nothing, I’ve been thinking about this blog and this post for a number of months. But I never got around to putting fingers to keyboard, so a fat lot of good thinking about it did.


Here’s the rundown of the books I read for the rest of the year.

No One Has to Know – A sleazy young adult novel written by a local author. I’ll admit it was fun to read a story with a setting I am familiar with, much like the Alaska nonfictions I devoured at the beginning of the year, but… oh goodness. This book was bad. And easy enough that I read it in one evening.

Interestingly, the book is getting decent reviews on Amazon. So maybe it’s just my taste that was offended, and I’m an outlier in this stuff.

A Storm of Swords – Otherwise known as Game of Thrones, book 3. This was fantastic. Of course. Most of the folks I’ve talked with say this is their favorite book of the series.

I’ve started book four, A Feast for Crows, and there are so many new characters already that my head is spinning. If you don’t know, each chapter is written from a different character’s point of view. In the fourth book, we hear from characters that have always been in the story, but not hear their direct point of view before. It’s pretty interesting to see who the new players will be, since I’m past where the TV show left off in some of the story lines, and all the other people are dead.

#Girlboss – I was too intrigued by all the social media chatter to pass this one by. I read the  it on the trusty iPad. Not my favorite way to devour a book, but it worked out fine. Anyway, I enjoyed it. I came away inspired and empowered. I appreciate that Sophia Amoruso, the author, is scrappy and determined and very straightforward. She didn’t sugar-coat the hard things, and she wholly celebrates the good things. No need to be demure when she’s the one who built her empire. You go girl.

A snipped from the reviews: It’s easy to get the sense, reading Lean In, that Sandberg is writing for women who’ve already made it. #GIRLBOSS is for those who haven’t, which means it is aimed at people who have nothing to lose, which makes it a much riskier and more enjoyable manifesto.”  New York Magazine / The Cut

So there. Moving on.

I feel like I read another book, but I can’t think of what it was now. It’s quite possible that there isn’t a fourth, since it took forever to get through A Storm of Swords. And in the mean time I watch all of Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empie, and nearly made it through all season of Gilmore Girls. Add in a bunch of dating and that’s pretty much my life right now.

Now that dating is calmed down (and I’m back to square one), and Gilmore Girls is nearly over, and add in a dash of new year, I’m ready to make a bit of progress again in the reading department. For the record, I did read not finish 12 books in 2014, which was the ultimate goal. Not yet, anyway. There’s still 10 days left, and I’ve been known to read gargantuan amounts in short periods of time.

Challenge accepted.

Either way, I enjoyed reading all the books so much that I’ll continue the goal in 2015.

Here’s the complete list of books plus their posts:

January – The American Heiress, Daisy Goodwin
February – Chasing Alaska, C.B. Bernard
March – A Long Trek Home: 4,000 Miles by Boot, Raft, and Ski, Erin McKittrick
April – Small Feet, Big Land: Adventure, Home and Family on the Edge of Alaska, Erin McKittrick
May – The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler
June – Where’d You Go Bernadette, Maria Semple
July – Game of Thrones, books one and two, George R.R. Martin
Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl Strayed
August – NOTHING. GAH.
September – #GIRLBOSS, Sophia Amoruso
October – No One Has to Know, Amanda Grace
November – NOTHING. GAH.
December – A Storm of Swords, George R.R. Martin

I’m now on a mission to complete A Feast For Crows and one other in the next 10 days. This is going to happen. I can feel it.

year of books: July

2014 goals, reading

YOU GUYS. I read THREE books in July.

First up, I finished the first and second Game of Thrones. They are so good! The story lines are starting to vary from the TV show – or vice versa – so I’m excited to see just how different the books are.

I would have finished the third, but I don’t have it yet. 🙂

I also read “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed. I had heard about this one a few times before I finally picked it up. It’s fantastic. The book is a compilation of entries from an advice column Strayed wrote for The Rumpus under the pseudonym Sugar. The letters and columns are so raw and real, I loved every minute of it. Even the ones that made me cry, and especially the very first one, which sold me on the book hook, line and sinker.

“Do you realize that your refusal to utter the word ‘love’ to your lover has created a force field all its own? Withholding distorts reality. It makes the people who do the withholding ugly and small-heated. It makes the people from whom things are withheld crazy and desperate and incapable of what they actually feel.

“So release yourself from that. Don’t be strategic or coy, Strategic and coy are for jackasses. Be brave. Be authentic. Practice saying the word love’ to the people you love so when it matters the most yo say it, you will.”


I didn’t have internet in my apartment until last night, (!) so I listened to SO MANY podcasts and read my little heart out. Now that I’m caught up on all the books I brought with me, it’s time to start watching TV again!

Just kidding. Kind of.

Until the rest of my books arrive from Alaska, or I find #3 on a store shelf somewhere, I’ll be catching up on some TV. 🙂

year of books – june

2014 goals, reading

I finished my June read a couple weeks ago, but life is busy you guys! And I haven’t gotten around to writing it down before now. And I just know you’ve been waiting on pins and needles.

I picked up Maria Semple‘s “Where’d you go, Bernadette?” on a whim while at the bookstore looking for something else. I’ve been hearing chatter about it for a while, so when I saw it, I already knew I would like it. 
I loved it. It was so fun and quick to read. So quick that I started it Friday evening and finished it Saturday afternoon. It was so fun and quirky; it was just the break I needed from all the heavy Alaska stuff.
On that note, I decided not to finish “Spirited Waters.” It’s a fine book, but not quite my blend of tea. So I’m done feeling guilty about not finishing it. 🙂  
Anyway, I’m on to start and power through Game of Thrones. I started book one last week, and I’m more than halfway through. It’s fantastic. I have book two at the ready.
I also picked up “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar,” by Cheryl Strayed.  She is the author of “Wild,” which I read while moving to Alaska last year and loved so much. I’ve heard so many good things about this one, and I’m excited to get into it.

year of books – may

2014 goals, reading, Vagina Monologues

The Vagina Monologues” was a faster read than I expected.

I’ve heard chatter about the monologues for a few years, but I’ve not seen the performance yet. A couple weekends ago, a group of women in town performed the piece but I was pretty sick that weekend and didn’t see it.

In preparing to write the articles for the newspaper, I picked up the book, written by Eve Ensler. I thumbed through it a few times, read the prologue — written by Gloria Steinem — and introduction to get a feel for the book and its contents.

I finally made finishing the book a priority, thinking it would be emotional and full of triggers and something I would need to take one page at a time. But, I was wrong. I finished the book in two nights.

It’s not a long book, and it turned out to be an easy, quick read for me. There was plenty to be emotional about, and one of the monologues made be tear up.

I suppose it speaks to the relationship I have with my own vagina? I dunno. But I am glad I read the book before seeing the performance. Spoken word always has had a significant effect on me, and I was glad I could absorb and process the information on my own terms, instead of having another person deliver it to me.

Either way, I wish the book was longer, that there were more interviews and stories. My favorite one is a series of answers to “If your vagina got dressed, what would it wear?” The thought makes me smile, and I appreciate the answers.

“I think readers, men as well as women, may emerge from these pages not only feeling more free within themselves — and about each other — but with alternatives to the old patriarchal dualism of feminine/masculine, body/mind, and sexual/spiritual that is rooted in the division of our physical selves into ‘the part we talk about’ and ‘the part we don’t,'” Gloria Steinem wrote in the foreword.

Next up is “Spirited Waters: Soloing south through the Inside Passage” by Jennifer Hahn. The book won the 2001 Barbara Savage “Miles From Nowhere” award.

From the jacket: “In a kayak names Yemaya with a cedar wreath lashed to the stern, Jennifer Han launched from Ketchikan, ALaska, on a 750-miles solo voyage home to Bellingham, Wash. Hahn’s journey is not about miles but moments about sinking into the rhythm of waves and tide; about the deep connection Hahn made with the wildlife and seascape around her; and about the people she met along the way — lonely lighthouse keepers, salmon fishers, native elders, and small-time loggers. This is a story about navigating dangers, both real and imagined. Sensual in its vision ‘Spirited Waters’ reminds us that even in the landscape of solitude, we are never alone.”

First, anyone notice how long that first sentence is? Whew. Also, I’m a couple chapters in and learned that she makes the 750-mile trip in sections during a couple summers, and not in one long trip. Which I’m slightly disappointed about. But who an I to criticize? It’s not like I’ve done it.

Either way, it’s what’s on the docket for this month.

year of books – February

2014 goals, C.B. Bernard, Chasing Alaska, reading

Well, I didn’t get through the book in the allotted 28 days, but not for a lack of trying during the last five. Ha. Oh well. I finished on March 5, and now it’s taken me this long to stop being distracted with other things and write this down.

For February, I picked “Chasing Alaska: A portrait of the Last Frontier then and now,” by C.B. Bernard, called “part history, part journalism, part memoir,” by Alaska Dispatch.

I was fortunate enough to meet the author when he came through town in December. I have a signed copy and everything. He was a pretty nice guy, and I would have enjoyed listening to his stories for much longer than the hour he had.

He moved to Sitka, Alaska in 1999 from Massachusetts, to work as a reporter at the family-owned newspaper there. He wrote in the front cover of my book, “For Marjorie, another reporter in the Last Frontier.” So of course, I feel a certain kinship there.

In the first chapter of the book he writes about sucker holes — the space of blue sky between the clouds that makes you believe the weather will improve but is simply a cruel lie. He covers the rain, the mass expanse of land and water, and the breathtaking views a person sees once they arrive.

He also writes about the change of it all — why a person comes this far north and west, the allure of Alaska and how it all feels in the process. I related so much to what he wrote and shared.

“Books and magazines perpetuate Alaska as a mythical, savage place, equal parts nature documentary and wildlife theme park, but my first impressions revealed an urban side as well: houses, the occasional lawn, a small but bustling downtown of gift shops, cafes and drugstores. But it wasn’t the suburbs I knew. On my first day, my newspaper ran front-page stories about a humpback whale that torpedoed a 78-foot sailboat at anchor and a brown bear that dragged two dogs into the woods. Welcome to Alaska.”

And the beautiful next sentence: “Before I left New England, I filled a bottle in the Atlantic to remind me of my beginnings. I turned out I didn’t need it. If you go back far enough, all water flows from the same source.”

Bernard’s lovely prose weaves his story of living and working in Alaska with his great-uncle’s, who came to Alaska to explore the Arctic. Bernard includes excerpts of his uncle’s diaries to contrast the turn-of-the-century experience with his own.

I found the book to be engaging, lovely and wonderful. I appreciated that it did not portray Alaska as a mythical, savage place. Though he outlines some of the social issues in Alaska, which are quite savage.

Bottom line: Highly recommended.

Chasing Alaska

Next up: The first of two books by Erin McKittrick, “A Long Trek Home: 4,000 miles by boot, raft and ski.