What I read in 2019

It’s time for my annual what-I-read-last-year blog post! Here’s the breakdown for 2019,

  • I read 78 books, which surpassed my goal to read 60 books by 30%.
  • According to my Goodreads ‘Year in Books’ page, I read a total of 25,807 pages. I’m not sure how accurate the page counts are, considering different editions of books, (ebooks vs. print, hard vs softcover, etc.). My shortest book was 203 pages, and my longest book was 549 pages.
  • I read nearly everything with my Kobo, and most of my books came from the library. (I love Overdrive integration!) I bought some books as well.
  • I unintentionally reread a book that I first read in 2015, but didn’t realize it until I was partway through, so I kept going.
  • I read my usual mix of fiction and memoir, with some other non-fiction here and there, but tried to expand to include more new-to-me authors.
  • I enjoyed most of the books I read, and gave up on a few I didn’t. No more slogging through!
  • I reviewed very few books because I hate the idea of hurting an author’s feelings. (And to think, I wanted to be a music critic when I was growing up!)

Here are the covers of everything I read:

What I read in 2019

Southern Lady Code
Inappropriation
The Knockoff
Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why
The School Gate Survival Guide
Sometimes I Lie
Kathy Griffin's Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index
The Book of Joan: Tales of Mirth, Mischief, and Manipulation
Educated
Face the Music: A Life Exposed
Winter Solstice
Ayesha At Last
Nine Perfect Strangers
This Love Story Will Self-Destruct
Winter in Paradise
Eating The Cheshire Cat
Daisy Jones & The Six
Bitter Is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry A Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office
The High Season
Vegas Girls


Melissa’s favorite books »

Some of my favourite reads were:

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I read this book in less than 24 hours within a week of its release. I love both oral history-style writing and rock biographies so a story of a 70s rock band and their magnetic singer felt like a book that was written just for me. Looking forward to the screen adaptation that is in progress. The Show Your Work podcast had a great two-part interview with Taylor Jenkins Reid, which definitely worth listening to now if you missed it back in May (Part 1, Part 2).

Becoming by Michelle Obama

This was a long memoir, but I really enjoyed how Michelle Obama told her story. We would all do well to have someone like her in our lives: smart, funny, and insightful.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

This book drew me in quickly and told the stories of a couple who immigrated into the U.S. from Cameroon, and of the wealthy family they worked for in New York City. Taking place just before and during the 2008 recession, it humanized a lot of issues that have been in the news ever since.

Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis

This book of essays was a quick, fun read. Lots of snark and ridiculousness along with some life advice you may, or may not want to take.

Scruples by Judith Krantz

I added this to my to-read list after I heard Judith Krantz had died. I discovered I wasn’t the only one who did that – there were a lot of holds for it at the library. The book itself was a fun read, if a bit dated.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

I kept putting this book off, even though the premise appealed to me. Once I finally started to read it, I wondered why I had waited. I read it quickly and really enjoyed it.

Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of “The View” by Ramin Setoodeh

This was a super dishy read that I borrowed from the library on a whim. The author seemed to know many of the subjects well, or at least well enough to get them to talk. I’m surprised so many of the women went on record.

Thoughts at the end of 2017, in no particular order

  • There’s just so much to be thankful for right now. 2017 was a mess for so many, many reasons, but on a micro/personal level, it was pretty good.
  • Run‘ by the Foo Fighters was the song of the summer.
  • Go to War‘ by Nothing More was the song of the fall.
  • I read way more books than I challenged myself to read – that post will come in a few days.
  • I’m pretty sure the only concert I saw this year was the Metallica Worldwired show in July – Sean saw more stuff but had to go with other people (or by himself) due to childcare issues
  • I hired a house cleaning service to come to my house once a month and it makes such a difference to my home and my feelings about it. It feels awkward to admit this out loud, but feeling awkward about it is also a bit shame-inducing. Time to just own it and say it out loud.
  • I’m working at home more which saves me money on commuting and lunch costs (I’ve never mastered bringing my lunch to work – too many restaurants near the office). I’m more productive and I still get dressed every day.
  • My loved ones and I are reasonably healthy and content.
  • Life is mostly small, and that’s okay.
  • I’m trying to write more by journaling. I’d like that to lead to other things, but I’m not working as hard at it as I should if I really want it.
  • I’m restless and itchy to create stuff, but still lost in the ‘no one cares what you have to say’ thought pattern. Which leads to not creating, which adds to the restlessness. It’s a bad hamster wheel to be on. Writing this less-than-interesting post is a baby step.

 

Life has been small

Flora drew this for me a few weeks ago:

It was a quick doodle, done while waiting our turn at an appointment. Something to occupy her that didn’t involve a screen. She didn’t want me to look at it initially. She had drawn it in the middle of my notebook so I’d be surprised when I found it. 

I couldn’t resist peeking and I looked for it later that evening when she was hanging out with Sean and I was doing post-dinner cleanup. 

The love – and joy – pouring out of this little doodle brightened up my day in ways she can’t understand yet. 

Her mouth is a heart! 

I went up, told her I’d peeked and thanked her for her drawing. I tried not to let her see me tear up. 

Life has been small lately: work, parent, eat, sleep, repeat. It’s still cool and rainy with just enough occasional bursts of sun to keep everyone from losing all hope. I’ve been working too much and feel like I haven’t been doing any more than the bare minimum for my family.

I often feel like I’m failing everyone, and everything, in my life.

Yet my daughter still loves me. So does Sean. They love me anyway. 

And I love them.

And it’s reminders like this that get me through the hard stuff.

And that makes me think, maybe I’m not screwing everything up.

Now, what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s “it” seems weird and scary to me.

Tonight, Flora showed me some of the stuff she’s been listening to/watching on YouTube with her friends. A lot of the content still seems remarkably adult, despite being creepily sanitized for young ears via Kids Bop, the Mini Pops and children’s YouTube channels.

Tonight’s example, the Haschak Sisters covering Kanye West’s ‘classic 2005 hit’, ‘Gold Digger’:

(Aside: ZOMG, didn’t 2005 just happen?! How is a song written then a ‘classic hit’ now? Oh… math. And the passage of time.)

Part of me is uncomfortable with young girls singing a song and making an accompanying video about some nasty female stereotypes. Another part of me is really impressed at the production values these ‘amateur’ videos have.

I guess this is no worse than when my parents gave me a copy of  the ‘Rock ’87‘ compilation tape for my sister and I to listen to.  I remember my father playing it and singing along to the Paul Lekakis hit, ‘Boom Boom (Let´s Go Back To My Room)’ VERY LOUDLY. I’m still cringing in embarrassment about that, and my dad’s been dead for nearly 26 years. I can’t even remember the last time I heard that song. However, in the name of research, that streak has now been broken. You’re welcome.

(Another aside: this song didn’t even have a music video way back when but a video was made for YouTube nearly a decade ago. Paul Lekakis still seems to be performing live here and there so good for him.)

After I watched the videos she showed me, I asked her when she was going to enter her metal years because that stuff doesn’t scare me. I was laughing when I said it but it reminded me to keep working on her media literacy skills and checking in on what she’s actually watching online because it’s not just Baby Alive videos.

That said, if pop music is her biggest rebellion, we’ll be doing okay.

Grampa Simpson with Homer and Barney
It’ll happen to you… (it happened to me) (This is one of my favourite Simpsons episodes. Pretty sure I’ve quoted this before on the site.)

Is chickenscratch really helpful?

Oh hey! It’s the first post to this site in nearly a year!

I started to write about why I don’t keep this site updated (OMG, yawn!) but then realized I was writing an even-whinier version of this post from 2015. So not only boring, but repetitively boring. So enough of that.

Just before my birthday this year, I told myself that I was going to make more of an effort to write. Online, offline, whatever. Just needed to write more. I have so much I want to say and I need to get it out. But first I need to get it untangled. Or I need to emotionally un-constipate myself. Or something. My birthday was at the end of August and it’s taken me nearly six weeks to get to a place where I feel like I can express myself. So here I am.

In mid-September, I signed myself up for some daily writing prompts. Just random topics for free-writing for a minimum of ten minutes a day. To build a writing practice. To loosen up. To play. And I’ve used exactly one of those prompts. They’re interesting prompts, so that’s not the problem. I just put them aside and think ‘when I have the time, I will write’. Then I never make the time. These prompts recommend longhand writing in a journal and I hate it. I found a nice journal and carried it in my work backpack to sneak in some time during my day: whether on my commute or during the work day itself (during lunch of course). And that has been a huge fail. I don’t feel right taking that time while I’m at work, and I can’t get physically comfortable enough during my commute. Then there’s  the longhand writing itself. I write fast and hard, and it either becomes tiresome on my hand or completely illegible. Often both at the same time. I know the point of these free-writing exercises isn’t to read or even remember the writing, but just to write. The one day I did do it (at the end of my lunch break at work, I wrote like I was on fire, and things devolved so quickly into worse-than-chickenscratch that I felt ashamed. Then the cycle of Not Writing began again.

So longhand evangelists: why is completing writing exercises in longhand so beneficial? Does it really help a writer’s growth? Is there any hope for me if I’m so terrible at it?

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada
This work by Melissa Price-Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada.
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