Some Thoughts on Reading

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I’ve loved reading since I was a kid. I would read anything I could get my hands on, from The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High to Dean Koontz and Edgar Allen Poe. I loved the scholastic book catalog and trips to Waldenbooks at the mall where I would sit on the floor, surrounded by books until I was forced to leave. As a teen I discovered literature and poetry and soon I had a carload of books to pack up with every move in college and beyond. I always had a book with me, and would read any chance I got.

Then something shifted. My life as a mother, particularly in the baby days, didn’t leave me with much mental space for reading. If I was reading a book, it would take me a long time to get through it, and I would often finish it feeling meh. I had lost the ability or desire to lose myself in the story, fictional or not. This was the first time I realized that reading books is a skill, and spending time doing it is a choice.

So when my daughter was a toddler and life started to feel somewhat predictable again, I decided to return to books. I would make the time and try to rediscover my love of reading.

Setting a reading goal for myself felt like a fun way to stay motivated, so when January rolled around I resolved to read 12 books that year. This was before I was on Goodreads or keeping track in any sort of way, so I can’t recall what I read or how many books I read that year. But what I do know is this: my love of reading was rekindled and my ability to dive deep into a story was restored with each book.

Why I Read

For me, reading is a way to connect to myself and to humanity at large. I read to reaffirm what I already know, to discover new ways of understanding the world, to challenge my beliefs and privilege, to have adventures beyond the scope of my reality, to connect with the stories of other humans, to be entertained, to escape, and sometimes just to have fun.

When I read, I’m giving myself a gift, a little something that exists just for my own satisfaction. It’s not for or about anyone else. Reading connects me to my truest self, all the messy, complicated, romantic, intellectual, cynical, silly parts of me that maybe get set aside in my day to day life. To me, this is time well spent.

Making the Time

Last year I read an astonishing (to me) number of books. It was quadruple the amount of books I set out to read in my first reading challenge, and I had to ask: how did this happen?

Well, I decided to make the time.

First I looked at how I was spending my “leisure time” (quotes because as a working mom I didn’t feel like I had much time to spare). I quickly discovered there were pockets of time lost to social media, tv, and similar.

I almost always read before bed. This meant adjusting my bedtime so that I’m hitting the pillows before I’m actually ready to fall asleep. I also always read in the bathtub; it’s my favorite place to start a new book!

Another way I make time to read is by always having a book downloaded on my phone via the Kindle or Libby apps. Libby connects to your library card, and you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks alike. I’ve also started making sure I have an audio book downloaded – usually non-fiction – to listen to in the car or on walks. Pro tip: if I’m reading a longer print book, sometimes I will also borrow the ebook from the library. That way instead of losing 15 minutes to social media when I’m in a waiting room or early to school pick up, I can read my book.

Another shift: I gave myself permission to stop reading a book I didn’t love. My reading time is precious! I’m not going to squander it trying to get through a book that I’m not connecting with. Sometimes I put the book aside for another time; there are seasons and moments for books, and when the timing is off, it just doesn’t work.

some of my January/February books

My Reading Life Now

This year my goal is to read 50 books. I’m off to a strong start thanks to my February sabbatical. No job and a social media break have given me loads of time to read, and I’ve loved every moment of it. You can check out the books I’ve read so far this year on my Goodreads page.

A year or two ago, my friend Hannah shared that she was reading books via the Book of the Month Club. I was in another reading slump by then, now with two kids and a business in my life. I missed books, so this seemed like a great way to get excited about reading again. Plus we could talk about the books and trade!

BOTM highlights 5 books by contemporary authors each month, with a mix of genres and styles to choose from. It’s been a lot of fun discovering some new-to-me authors and genres. Hannah and I always text each other around the beginning of each month to compare thoughts on that month’s selections and share what we’re thinking of getting. We also chat and meet up regularly to swap books back and forth.

The March books for Book of the Month were just announced today. I’ve been excited for Daisy Jones & The Six and was thrilled to see it was included in the selections. If you’re interested, you can check out the selections here . 

I’m curious: do you identify as a reader? Why do you read? What’s your favorite book you’ve read in the past year?

Yarn Along :: Love & Linen


I raced through Eleanor & Park and loved it! Needing to stay in the vein of keeping my reading simple and not too dark, I checked the library for a book I keep hearing great things about. Imagine my delight when I found a copy of The Rosie Project straight away! Bonus: it came up as a 14-day checkout, but wasn’t marked as such. So the librarian gave it to me as a regular check out. It’s these simple, nerdy things that can really make my day!

My knitting has been cruising right along. I’ve mainly been working on True Friend, and and about to start the ribbing at the hem.  If you follow me on Instagram, you can check out how it looked a couple days ago!  My socks have also seen some love and aren’t far from being finished.

So with two project close to the end, it’s time to start something new, right?  A fresh project is on the needles for the Stash Spring KAL.   I cast on Togue Pond (twice, actually. Pro tip: read the pattern before you cast on!).  The linen is lovely to work with.  It’s smooth and a bit silky while still being crisp.  I’m looking forward to wearing this top!

Knitting: Togue Pond by Pam Allen in Quince & Co. Kestrel {Ravelry notes here}

Reading: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

So what’s on your nightstand and needles this week?

Yarn Along :: Easy is Good

Leisure time is pretty unpredictable with a newborn around the house. Some days he sleeps the day away and not only do I enjoy luxuries like a shower and taking my time to eat, I get to knit.

You know me: I need to knit like I need to sleep in order to feel somewhat balanced. Right now the time and my mental energy are such that simple, easy projects are perfection.

Stockinette and garter stitch are the daily specials. Projects thatI can pick up and work on for a stitch, a row, or an inch at a time and toss in the knitting basket in a hurry. To that end I have some simple socks and a top that needs 12 inches of stockinette stitch on the needles. Easy, simple, knitting perfection for this season in my life.

Same goes for reading! What’s the equivalent of a stockinette sock? How about a space adventure? This is the story of Mark Watney and what happens when he’s mistaken for dead and left behind on Mars by his crew. He’s a funny & persistent protagonist, and there are some interesting moral issues to contemplate. But mostly it’s an easy, adventurous read. Again, perfect for right now.

How about you? What are you knitting & reading this week?

Knitting: A Nice Ribbed Sock in Victory Sock by Knitted Wit and True Friend by Veera Valimaki in Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Sock.  You can view my project details on Ravelry where I can be found as PeacefulKnitter. 

Reading: The Martian by Andy Weir

 

Yarn Along :: keeping things simple

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With the turn of the new year, and as I ready and wait for baby, I’m craving simplicity.  I want (and need) for things to be slow, simple, and easy.  My body is working very hard these days (38 weeks, whoa!), and my mind gets tired fast.  I need simple forms of entertainment and activity so I don’t get completely overwhelmed with all the changes that are coming!  This can be seen in my current knitting a reading : small projects, easy reads.

Knitting: Zuzu’s Petals in Freia Ombre Sport for the Stash Winter knit-along (join in on Ravelry here). Such a fun pattern, this is my second!

Reading: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

My opinion isn’t fully formed on either of these books quite yet.  I will say I’m finding the tidying book inspiring if not a bit severe. But I do love her bottom line: keep only what sparks joy.  It definitely pairs well with the mindset of a nesting pregnant lady! I have already used her method to reduce and organize my clothes with success.  The novel is a fun candy bar read, perfect for where my mind is at right now.  It’s going fast, and I’m enjoying the characters and setting for what they are.

What’s on your needles and on on your nightstand this week? 

Yarn Along

book + chocolate + a bubble bath = my idea of a good time!

book + chocolate + a bubble bath = my idea of a good time!

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I was craving a page turner and an addictive knit, and I sure got what I asked for!

Last week I could not put down these rainbow leg warmers.  Each stripe knit up so quickly, that it was easy to say “oh, I’ll just keep knitting till I finish the next stripe.”  And on and on until I’d knit a pair of leg warmers in a week.  I may have been motivated to finish them while G was also captivated by them; she kept wanting to try them on and asking me when they would be done.  Such a rare, sweet response to my knitting!  My hands have been feeling a little sore since these came off the needles, so I probably overdid it with my enthusiasm.  Looks like I’ll need to cast on a new project in some thicker wool. You know, to rest my hands.

I heard about this book on a podcast, and was lucky enough to find it right away at our used book store.  Such a deal!  Part mystery, part ghost story, this suspenseful novel spans decades and characters, and had me instantly captivated. I can’t wait to see how all their tales weave together and what the ending brings.  I’ve been taking it into the bath with me, and going to bed even earlier to read it.  Last night I definitely stayed up past my bedtime, I was so hooked!

Warning: a child dies and the mother grieves intensely, which isn’t for everyone.  I’m not sure if it’s the writing or my pregnancy hormones (likely both), but it can be a bit of a tear-jerker.

Reading: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Knitting: Rainbow Legwarmies, my own pattern. Ravelry notes here.

Yarn Along: 2 books + 2 wips

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Last week was a week of finishing.  I finished two projects. I finished one book.  It felt really good.

It took me a couple of days to find the right book(s) to sink my reading teeth into next.  Good thing I have a book-buying habit; I perpetually have at least half a dozen books waiting for me to pick them up.  At first I started rereading Baby Catcher, a memoir by a modern midwife. I read it when I was pregnant with G and remember really liking its positive approach to birth.  I’m a bit tired of the technical and often fear-based pregnancy and birth books, so I felt ready for some interesting narratives about births.

Then I also had to start some fiction to go along when things got to real for me.  I picked up Tell the Wolves I’m Home on my last book-buying binge at Powell’s, and I’m proud to say I’ve read all the other books I purchased that day! (the receipt was tucked away inside this one; always a fun reminder).  I’m only about 50 pages in, but I can tell you I’m already hooked on the young female protagonist and her journey dealing with the death of her beloved uncle from AIDS.  It’s set in the 80s, so you can imagine the complexity of the situation.

And on the needles, I’m still working on my Cassis by Thea Coleman.  This is one I started back in April, then set aside in favor of morning sickness and lack of knitting mojo.  I’ve been working on it in between other small projects, so it’s seen slow progress.  Over the last few weeks, the body has grown, and I only have a few inches left before that’s done.  Then it’s on to everyone’s favorite: sleeves!

And because I finished two projects and felt like I should have something smaller and more portable than a sweater on the needles, I cast on Henrietta.  This yarn from The Fibre Co. is incredible, and I haven’t been able to stop petting it since it came into the shop.

So, what’s on your needles and on your nightstand this week?

Yarn Along: Addictive Knits & Reads

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At the end of the day, I look forward to my knitting time.  It’s a time to relax, slow down, and let the act of knitting help clear my mind of the day’s events.

This project is simple with just enough going on to keep me paying attention.  I started it on our family vacation last week, and it was the perfect travel companion.  After the first repeat or two, I didn’t need to look at the pattern all the time, which made it great to work on by the pool, in the room at night, and on the airplane.  Now I’m playing an intense game of yarn chicken as I try to use up as much of this beautiful yarn as possible.

What would you do if you found out a treasured piece of artwork had potentially been stolen during World War I?  What would you do if faced with serving German soldiers and being seen as a traitor was your only chance at being reunited with your husband?  It’s been a while since I’ve read any sort of historical fiction, and I’m finding this version to be very good.  It’s been thought provoking and entertaining all at once, the perfect kind of reading for me right now!

Knitting: Shaelyn byLeila Raabe in Madelinetosh Pashmina, Forestry

Reading: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

What’s on your needles and on your nightstand this week?

Yarn Along: Travel Insomia

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The night before a trip always finds me feeling a little bit unsettled. My brain is zooming around from what is or isn’t packed yet, did I turn on my vacation responder, remember to take out the garbage tomorrow, is the camera charged, remember to bring the prenatal vitamins, and on and on.

Last night I woke up for a bathroom break (the baby has found my bladder) and couldn’t stop thinking once I was up. After tossing around for a while, I decided to get back up and deal with the question of vacation knitting. I had been worrying about having the right amount of knitting with the appropriate ratio of interest to mindlessness. So I utilized this time between 2:30 and 4 pm to think, start a knitting project, and catch up on a couple of blogs. Thankfully, I went back to sleep eventually, and there was some coffee waiting for me when I woke up.

Knitting: Wurm in Freia

Reading: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes and Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

What’s on your needles and on on your nightstand this week? 

Yarn Along: I’m Baaack!

Well hello again, friends!  It’s good to be back.  So sorry to disappear on you like that, without any notice or explanation.  All I can say by way of excuse is that I was going through a hard time personally, felt stuck creatively, and couldn’t muster up the motivation to try to force it.

But that’s over now.

I’m going to ease back into the blogging with one of my favorite weekly traditions, Ginny’s Yarn Along.  During my hiatus, I thought about Yarn Along nearly every week.  And I read some of the other posts, and always gleaned a few new ideas for things to knit and books to read.  I’m almost always doing both, so this is the perfect platform for a little sharing.

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My blogging friend Katie Gibson is a formidable reader, moving along at an enviable pace. She posts regular updates and reviews on what she’s been reading, and I’ve often taken her lists along to the bookstore or library.  You can see her 2014 book list here.

She recently recommended a book by Jojo Moyes.  After looking through all of her titles, I decided to start with Me Before You.  When I picked it up at the library, I was a bit embarrassed to see that it had a romance sticker on the spine.  Not my typical genre, but I do enjoy a good love story.  So far, it’s not romancey in the heaving bosom sort of way at all.  It didn’t take long to get hooked, and now I can’t wait to read her other books!  Don’t you love it when that happens?

There have been a lot of baby knits on the needles the past couple of months.  Not only am I pregnant (yay!  more on that another time), but so are a couple of my friends.  After a first trimester with my head stuck in the toilet and zero knitting mojo, it’s a relief to be back with my wool and needles.  Here are two finished Puerperium cardigans awaiting buttons.  Both are knit in Madelinetosh, one in DK the other in Vintage for two different sizes.  This is a  fun, free pattern that takes just one skein of DK weight yarn. Win!

It’s good to be back, friends.  Thanks for stopping by!

Yarn Along :: Circus Stripes

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Follow me on Instagram as soniaruyts

A few weeks ago, it was light when I woke up.  Lately, it’s been just on the edges of a deep darkness at the same time.  And just like that, summer began its slow shift into autumn.  I’m trying to spend time reminiscing over all the fun, truly summer activities we got to enjoy instead of mounring its inevitable end.  At the same time I’m enjoying the tinge of cool that is creeping in around the edges of each day.

This has me thinking about ways to cozy up my home and dreaming of sweaters to knit with a golden yellow yarn I have stashed for such a purpose.  For now, though, while the days are still quite warm and the evenings a bit brisk, I’m curling up with miles and miles of garter stitch and a journey to another place and time. While continuing to daydream about sweaters, of course.

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Night Circus and Happy Street by Veera Valimaki {my Ravelry notes are here}

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Both the book and my project capruted my imagination the very first time I saw them.  It took me a while to decide to spend time with either; I tend to shy away from some of the best patterns and books simply because it seems everyone else is already been there.  I had always admired Color Affection by the same designer, but didn’t do it for that reason (nearly 10k projects!).  And here I go mimiking her more recent pattern by using the same color palette.  Oh well.  It’s a bit mysterious, a bit candy crush, and very fun to knit.

The book has been a real treat to immerse myself in.  A mysterios traveling circus.  A challenge between two powerful, magical people.  Fabulous settings, costumes, and illusions fill the pages, and I am hooked.

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This Yarn Along post, as ever, is inspired by the lovely Ginny over at Small Things: “Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?”

Yes, do tell! What’s on your nightstand and project bag this week?