Somewhere in May or so, I was handed a reading challenge for 2015, and I thought ‘hey, why not?’ and I’ve been slowly chipping away at it ever since. I wasn’t strict with myself, I didn’t quite finish and I bent some rules, which I’ll note below. But I got quite far, so I thought I’d share with you, as well as some cursory notes from me! I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks on my commutes and car trips, so I noted those that I found particularly good as well.
This was fun! Because I wasn’t being strict, I didn’t feel any pressure from it, and I started out with one book per prompt, but then decided if they applied to multiple prompts, then so be it. It didn’t really change any of my reading choices, except giving me a little incentive to finish books that dragged on a bit (Handmaid’s Tale, I’m looking at you), and inspiring me when I was in between books.
1. An author you’d never read before: (14 new authors by my count, I won’t bore you with a list)
2. A book that takes place in your hometown: (None of the books I read took place in my state, much less my hometown.)
3. A banned book: Persepolis, Slaughterhouse Five, Handmaid’s Tale have all graced the list of frequently banned books.
4. A book originally in another language: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (Originally published in French. This was a re-read; I loved it the first time 10 years ago, and I still love it now)
5. An LGBTQ book: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (Non main character Tiny Cooper is truly the shining star of this book)
6. A book written by someone under 30: Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid (This is surprisingly difficult to verify, but this was his first book and he looks really young, so… I’m counting it.)
7. A non-fiction book: A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson.
8. A book with non-human characters: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. (Featured some dragon characters. This was a truly excellent audiobook.)
9. A classic romance: North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell. (Also a re-read. I love this book, and I am moderately obsessed with Richard Armitage’s portrayal of Mr. Thornton. Hand me my fan, ladies, I feel a swoon coming on.)
10. An author of the opposite sex: John Green, Gary Schmidt, Kurt Vonnegut, etc.
11. A mystery or thriller: Heist Society by Ally Carter.
12. A book longer than 500 pages: Heir of Fire by Sarah Maas.
13. A book that became a movie: Paper Towns by John Green (I didn’t see the movie though. I heard mixed reviews. Anyone want to weigh in? Also: listened to the audiobook of this, which was pretty good.)
14. A funny book: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (Totally recommend, I loved this. Can’t wait to read her newest!)
15. A book with a number in the title: Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut (My first Vonnegut! So much funnier and more surreal than I expected. I listened to the audiobook, which was excellent and read by Ethan Hawke)
16. A book published this year: Ms Marvel Vol 2-3 are the only titles published this year that I read. There’s several titles I’m very excited to read published in 2015, but they keep getting de-prioritized for other titles.
17. A book with a one word title: Attachments, Winger, Unraveling, etc.
18. A book you own but never read: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (I’ve been meaning to read this for quite awhile, as it has been a noted influence on many things I love. I had a really really difficult time being so immersed in the head of a protagonist I wanted to slap out of inaction for the majority of the book. That having been said, the atmospheric creepiness was wonderful, and this did end up being a book where the end justified the means, and that isn’t something I say very often.)
19. A graphic novel: Wicked + the Divine, Ms. Marvel, Lumberjanes (I actually read scads. September inadvertently turned into a graphic novel month for me!)
20. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. (I actually don’t remember which assigned books I skipped out on, so I just assigned this one a ‘classic’!)
21. Based on a true story: El Deafo by Cece Bell. (Wonderful mid grade graphic novel based on the authors experiences growing up deaf but desperately wanting a normal childhood.)
22. A friend’s recommendation: Several!
23. A memoir: Yes Please by Amy Poehler
24. A play: N/A
25. A trilogy: Raven Boys, Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater. (Not technically a trilogy, but I counted three in the same series as pretty much the same thing. I adore this series. The final volume will be out in March, and I am looking forward to it and dreading it in equal measures. Oh, the audiobooks for this series are seriously wonderful.)
26. A retelling: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress by Marissa Meyer (Based off of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel. Really fun series, and the final book was just released, but I couldn’t remember many details, so I had to re-read! Listened to the audiobooks, which were very well done!)
27. A book you can finish in a day: Any of the graphic novels were easily finished in a day.
28. A sad book: And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard and Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (Anderson gets major props for handling tough subjects delicately and beautifully)
29. Pulitzer Prize winner: N/A
30. An author with the same initials as you: Story of Owen by E.K. Johnston (shockingly difficult to find an author with the initials EJ! Haven’t tested if this is hard in general, or if I just have a less frequently used combination of letters)
31. A book set in the future: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meghan Spooner. (I love this series, the third one was just released, and I went to a signing by the authors at the beginning of the month!)
32. A book that came out the year you were born: A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (I really liked this! It was a bit difficult for me to get immersed in, as the style automatically holds the reader at arm’s length, but once I got used to that, this was quite interesting. Definitely a different version of ‘dystopian novel’ than that phrase currently connotes.)
33. A book with magic: Kiss of Deception, The Raven Boys (and sequels)
34. A book of poems: N/A
35. A book with a color in the title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater.
36. A book with a protagonist of color: Ms. Marvel, This Shattered World, and if you count memoirs Persepolis and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?
Accomplished: 32/36 ~88%
Not every book I read fell into one of these categories, so there are a few titles on my goodreads 2015 shelf not mentioned here. I may finish another book before the end of the year, but I sincerely doubt any of them will check off another category from this list. I really enjoyed having the structure of this challenge to encourage my reading habits, so I found another one for next year. I might prioritize some of the prompts that are similar to the ones I missed this year, but other than that, I don’t plan on changing my approach.
Did you read any great books this year? Anything I should definitely check out?
In the spring I started going down an internet rabbit hole, which started in pinterest, as many do, and ended up at fringe association’s purple textured shawl in progress. Something about the way the two yarns came together to create a more prismatic, dynamic color absolutely enchanted me. Feeling inspired, I leapt to my stash in search of two similar tones and yardages that I could pair in the same way. When I found them, I was so dang excited, I didn’t even stop to consider an alternative pattern. Though I probably had time, considering that moths had gotten to my Sun Valley Fibers MCN Laceweight and it took me an unnecessarily long time to wind it into a useable center pull ball.
The name comes from when I was in Germany, where I became mildly obsessed with a Berlin based beer that is called Kindl Weiss. It’s very sour, so they add syrups to sweeten it. I loved the raspberry kindl weiss, and I ended up buying some lace weight yarn from Handmade Berlin that reminded me of it.
This yielded a larger shawl than I usually knit, having a stash comprised of many many single skeins (I should really kick that habit), but both of these skeins were larger, and the resulting shawl is so warm and soft, and not as dense as I might have feared. I just kind of eyeballed the stripes of the textured and stockinette, and started the garter stitch as early as I dared to have a nice deep garter edge. In a perfect world, it would be a little deeper yet, but I’m fine with this.
Berliner Kindl Weiss <– Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Textured Shawl Pattern
Needles: US size 6, 4.0mm
In the last few years, I’ve been sticking to socks with simpler patterns, knit and purl or shorter repeats. I got a little burned out on complicated patterns that took forever, only to find out that the finished socks didn’t fit my feet. This summer I got an urge to cast on for some super pretty socks, though, and I dug out this skein, which I bought in Cork from Beata. Someday I am going to splurge on one of her clubs, she is absolutely one of my favorite indie dyers. I bought a few skeins of sock yarn, and she mentioned that twist sock wears harder, and is better for socks. At the time, though, I was way too excited to knit something up with my ridiculous pink yarn to not cast on for my candyfloss socks, even though it wasn’t twist yarn.
I’ve now been wearing these socks for about a month (and more time this week than I should probably own up to), and I can definitely say: they are harder wearing than the Hedgehog Sock yarn. There is much less fuzzing of yarn, and the soles are only just starting to show signs of felting on the bottom. For the record, though, my candyfloss socks seems to wear at a rate that is quite typical of other sock weight yarns. Twist just seems a little hardier is all.
Bouquet Socks <–Ravelry Project Page
Needles: US Size 2, 2.75mm
You know how sometimes you sit down to do homework, and then 45 minutes later you have a really cohesive plan for making over the bedroom, which has been slightly bugging you as ‘unfinished’ for the last four years?
If you aren’t up on the exact details, I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with the basic concepts at play here.
I rearranged the bedroom about three years ago, and in our current apartment, I think it’s about it’s best layout available. I’ve had ideas in the past that involved spending some pretty money on furniture, but I’m reluctant to do that. This isn’t our forever home, I want to wait to buy furniture to fit that space, not this. Right now my plan involves spending money on:
- painting the walls
- updating the bedding
- and in my dreams: buying a new rug
Let’s start with the little stuff, hey?
Right now we have some random cheap-o roller things on the window, and those will probably stay, but if I put some gauzy curtains that maintain privacy but let in as much light as possible, that’s even better. Plus, real window treatments make a room look considered. Don’t need to buy these, just need a weekend to toss some seams on some gauzy fabric I own.
Hanging planters! I love this pretty brassy one. I bought a copper one at a thrift shop this summer, but it hangs kind of high, so it would be nice to get a second one that hangs a little lower for a layered look.
The real, honest to goodness issue with this room is that it kind of becomes the dumping ground of the apartment. There’s a good amount of storage in the apartment, but it does not come in the form of closets, and there are a few larger objects that don’t fit into the cupboards that make up most of our storage space, namely the vacuum and the laundry basket. I do put the vacuum away in the crawl space, but the apartment gets vacuumed much more infrequently when it’s in there. Ahhhh, well. I don’t think that is going to change. But! Our current laundry basket (large, plastic, white, boring) is slowly dying, and there’s an opportunity here, to replace it with something cuter. I’m looking at this one. Cute, right? Like it could stand around in the corner of a room without screaming ‘pay attention to me this is where the dirty laundry goes’. It’s a little more quietly ‘don’t mind me, just discretely storing things en route to the laundry’.
I bought a donkey’s tail succulent a while back, and not only is it NOT DEAD, but some of the baby leaves that fall off (no matter how gently I try to handle it) ARE PROPAGATING. I need to calm down right now or my sheer excitement will kill it off. Anyways, this plant is a dream hanging plant, and I make a point of fulfilling dreams if I can. Plus maybe a fern? Or a spider plant? To fill/even it out? PS- the image is not a donkey’s tail, it’s a string of pearls, and I want one.
The thing that started this whole line of thinking is that our duvet is old, lumpy, and too small for our bed. Technically it’s a full/queen, but when you have an extra deep mattress, and your duvet barely hangs over the edge by 2″, well… it leaves something to be desired, aesthetically. Up until this point, I’ve kind of been acquiring bedding haphazardly, based on need and good pricing, never with any kind of idea for the cohesive whole. But I think now might be a good time to develop an aesthetic or palette, as I move forward.
Belgian Duvet Cover: Well, hella expensive to begin with, and possibly slightly too warm a grey? But I’m drawn to the crinkly cozy casual vibe.
Ikea Bjornloka: That large expanse of pristine white in the middle is just asking for trouble. It makes me feel like I’ll somehow projectile throw something really staining onto the bed somehow. But aside from that, cute.
OU Jersey: I am definitely drawn to jersey sheets. They are so comfy! Hard to find for a deep mattress, though. My main concern is how long this duvet cover is likely to last. Will it sprout tiny holes like all of my t-shirts?
Ikea Nypronos: This is probably the sweet spot of affordable, durable, less stainable expanses of bright white, while still being the greyish base I’m hoping for. You can’t really tell in this picture, but it’s skinny little stripes.
Onto the long term goal: painting the walls. When we originally went green for the walls, I thought we were opting for a soft, herby green with just a hint of saturation. Instead we got a green so bright you could film a movie on it. Which we practically have. Jake has grown fond of it’s saturated hue and the strong visual it can lend, but I don’t find it particularly restful. So our compromise is that he gets to keep it for the duration of PoPS, and then I get to pick the next color.
This won’t be happening for a while yet, but a soft pearly grey, with just a touch of warmth sounds really nice to me.
Taken altogether, these images make it seem like I’m going for a really pale space, but there’s a lot of wood furniture and wood trim in our bedroom, so I don’t think in the long run it’s going to be all that ethereal. Hopefully it’ll just calm the space down a little. And there’s no question that there are going to be pops of color. I find it really hard to avoid them. A natural way to provide a little color would be a rug!
This is probably the most unlikely part of this? Because I keep my eye out allll the time, but rugs are not cheap. Especially not larger, room defining gorgeous rugs like I dream about. But who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky at the flea market and score a wonderful rug. I dream in bold colors and traditional patterns.
So there you have it. Maybe once the semester is over, I can use some of my free time to start working on curtains and hanging plants!