Weekday Reading

Consider this a “state of the union” of sorts. At the beginning of the year, I resolved to read at least 50 books. My definition of what a “book” is is loose. I was previously writing little reports on what I liked or disliked about the book and key quotes. That hasn’t happened in a long time! I have not stopped reading, but I certainly have stopped writing about what I’ve been reading. So here is the comprehensive list (so far) with comments:

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  1. Finding Ultra by Rich Roll: This is a delightful read if you’re into ultra racing or a vegan lifestyle. 
  2. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: So so good and insightful and moving. Loved it.
  3. What do we know? by Mary Oliver: Lovely poems with a soft touch that only Mary can give.
  4. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson: Funny and informative. A must-read if you have hiked any part of the Appalachian Trail. 
  5. Three Stories by Gustave Flaubert: Short and sweet with some intricate characters. 
  6. Namaslay by Candace Moore: To be honest, I’m a little embarrassed about how much I enjoyed this book. It explains basic yoga asanas with a memoir-esque narrative sprinkled in. 
  7. Poetry Magazine “March Issue”: This issue was full of lyric poems and a selections from Max Ritvo-a poet who died before the issue was published. 
  8. What I talk about when I talk about running by Haruki Murakami: This book was a slow, meditative journey through Murakami’s experience with running. 
  9. One More Thing by BJ Novak: Such a good book to bring to work! It contains funny and engaging short stories ranging from 1-12 pages long. 
  10. Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron: This book is truly transformative. I loved it and plan to revisit often.
  11. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert: A collections of essays and thoughts on writing and living a creative life. Totally motivating and encouraging and I now want to be friends with Ms. Gilbert.
  12. The Feather Room by Anis Mojgani: It’s no secret-I love this poet. This is a magical collection that will take you through mystical scenes and real feelings. Sigh.
  13. Maron by Marc Maron: Though funny, this book definitely made me feel uncomfortable at points. I’m still iffy on about liking this curmudgeon. 
  14. Botanical Color at Your Fingertips by Rebecca Desnos: A beautiful how-to on natural dyeing and harvesting materials.
  15.  20. The first six books of The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket: David and I have been reading these aloud to each other on trips and such. This is my favorite children’s book series (sorry Harry Potter people) and I forgot how fun and suspenseful it is! 

So there it is! I have 23 weeks to read 30 books. I am back on track and beyond excited. Now let’s get reading.

Warmly,

Mary Emily

Weekday Reading

I have no good excuse for not posting in a week, so I’m just going to jump right into last week’s book (which I actually finished):

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Week #4) A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

I have repeatedly heard from various outdoorsy buddies (including David) that Bryson’s book is a great read. I kept unconsciously avoiding reading it after the movie came out and while I was working at an outdoor retailer. Last week, while moving things out of our flooded guest room, David’s copy of the book caught my eye.

A Walk in the Woods was not what I expected. The book is definitely the fairly humorous account of two middle-aged guys hiking the Appalachian Trail that one might think it is after reading the back cover. However, Bryson also gives the history of the trail’s formation, delves into the politics of conservancy, explains extinction of animals, relays stories of black bear attacks, etc. I learned so much about the trail from this book and would recommend it to anyone who is curious about hiking the AT. Bryson’s narrative is not glamorous (*spoiler*: in the end he and his buddy don’t even complete the trail) but it’s honest and relatable. Reading A Walk in the Woods sparked my interest in Bryson’s many other books (especially A Short History of Nearly Everything) and fueled my fire to get out on Oregon’s many trails to walk, not just run.

Warmly,

Mary Emily

p.s. I have NO idea why a grizzly bear is on the front of the book. There aren’t any grizzlies in the Appalachian mountains.

Weekday Reading

I am feeling a little off today. I think it is because I slept in, or maybe because I skipped church (I am a creature of habit), or maybe because I had diet coke and pizza for breakfast. Regardless, I am here at Either/Or (one of my favorite coffee shops) and I’m trying to get my juju back.

I tried to read two books over the last two weeks. I am sad to say that I didn’t finished either title. One book I didn’t finish on purpose, the other I am reading a lot slower than I thought I would. Because they are unfinished, I will not number them among my 50 books. But since I like to write about everything and coffee is finally in my system, I figured I would tell you about them anyway.

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Falling Upward by Richard Rohr

This book is a treat and I am planning on finishing it this coming week. I first listened to Richard Rohr speak the beginning of this year. He was on one of my favorite podcasts (Comedian Pete Holmes’s You Made it Weird) and I knew we were kindred spirits. It’s a good episode and worth the two hour listen. Anyway, I picked this book up at the library last Monday and am only on the 39th page. Rohr dives into the notion that humans have a two-part spiritual journey with some sort of “falling” in the middle. The book is relevant and inclusive to people of all faiths. Here are a couple of my favorite moments thus far:

People who have never allowed themselves to fall are actually off balance, while not realizing it at all. That is why they are so hard to live with. Please think about that for a while. (p 28)

and

Our Western dualistic minds do not process paradoxes very well. Without a contemplative mind, we do not know how to hold creative tensions. We are better at rushing to judgement and demanding a complete resolution to things before we have learned what they have to teach us…This is not the way of wisdom. (p 36)

I can tell that Rohr and I will be fast friends at the end of all of this.

Scary Close by Donald Miller

So this is the book that I have no plans of finishing. I am usually a Miller fan (I even mentioned him in my previous post), but this book fell a little flat for me. Miller’s tone seemed to not be as warm or inclusive as his previous titles. Part of my jaded attitude might be the fact that he spends much of the time talking about being real and open with your partner. I know I have so much more to learn in marriage, but David and I started our relationship off as two broken human beings making clumsy mistakes. Even at my most guarded, I am awful at hiding my flaws or faking confidence. So I guess Miller lost me a little bit. I think when I’m a famous author with some large businesses and a public presence to maintain, I will feel the same as he does.

Honesty is the best policy when it comes to challenges and resolutions, so thanks for bearing with me and forgiving me and sending me love and maybe some chocolates and a new pair of shoes.

Warmly,

Mary Emily

 

 

Weekday Reading

This week has been heavy and long for more reasons than one. I am working on a fair amount of projects that distracted me from writing much. Don’t worry, I have a two part post planned for next week and I think the extra time will prove helpful. Anyway, I let’s get into this week’s choice!

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Week #3) What Do We Know by Mary Oliver

Wow, what a treat this book was. I felt like I rushed through this collection of poems and prose poems, so I will probably go back and read through it again this week. Oliver has long been a favorite poet of mine. Her poems are rooted in nature and have such a kind tone to them. One huge lesson I learned from her this time around is the power of a single-word title. Some of her most powerful poems in this book have the simplest of titles: “Gratitude”, “The Return”, “Mockingbird”. “The Return” is my favorite moment in the collection. The word choices and the structure of the poem are masterful. I would like to share the final section of the poem:

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The country of the mockingbird is where I now want to be,                                                     thank you, yes.

The days when the snow-white swans might  pass over the dunes                                            are the days I want to eat now, slowly and carefully                                                                       and with gratitude. Thank you.

The hours fresh and tidal are the hours I want to hold                                                                      in the palm of my hand, thank you, yes.

Such grace, thank you!

The gate I want to open now is the one that leads into                                                                   the flower-bed of my mind, thank you, yes.

Every day the slow, fresh wind, thank you, yes.

The wing, in the dark, that touches me.

Thank you.

Yes.

Oliver’s subtlety has encouraged me to look deeper into what I see, feel, taste, etc. in each moment. She has pointed my eyes to the ordinary-the dunes, the wind, the act of gratitude-and shown me that is where the true treasure of life lies. I would encourage you to look closer this week. Observe your own breath, the way your standing, the patterns of your thoughts. Connect those with the things and people around you. I am challenging myself to do the same, this week. Let’s meet here next week and share what treasures we’ve found.

Warmly,
Mary Emily

Other titles read this week: Attempting Normal by Marc Maron, Botanical Color at Your Fingertips by Rebecca Desnos

Weekday Reading

I have been sort of halfway sick this week, so I got to finish reading more than my goal! As exciting as that is, this week’s main title deserves all the attention. So let’s get into it.

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Week #2: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

This book was an incredible treat to read. I would recommend it to anyone. The  writing style is conversational and fairly easy to follow. I felt like reading this letter was a privileged look into a culture and history that I am not apart of. Coates’s commentary on race and what it means to have a “black body” is relevant and full of impact.

I cannot say much more than read this book. I was fortunate enough to be given a copy. I will give you my copy if not having it in your hands is what is stopping you. There are lots of moments that I are important in this book, but this quote is my favorite:

“The forgetting is habit, is yet another necessary component of the Dream. They have forgotten the scale of theft that enriched them in slavery; the terror that allowed them, for a century, to pilfer the vote; the segregationist policy that gave them their suburbs. They have forgotten, because to remember would tumble them out of the beautiful Dream and force them to live down here with us, down here in the world. I am convinced that the Dreamers, at least the Dreamers of today, would rather live white than live free. In the Dream they are Buck Rogers, Prince Aragorn, an entire race of Skywalkers. To awaken them is to reveal that they are an empire of humans and, like all empire of humans, are built on the destruction of the body. It is to stain their nobility, to make them vulnerable, fallible, breakable humans.”

Coates has not only made me feel uncomfortable, but responsible. I am terrified and excited to find out what it means to live free.

Warmly,
Mary Emily

Other titles finished this week: The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket, The Feather Room by Anis Mojgani

 

Weekday Reading

This year, my goal is to read 50 books! The joy of completing a goal like this is gaining fifty more titles to recommend to friends, family, and you. Every weekend (I’m a little late this weekend), I want to share a few brief thoughts on my weekday reading.

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Week #1: Finding Ultra by Rich Roll

For me, I have found that the best way to inspire action is through a good book. To kickstart my new year of running, I picked up this number at the library. The book was well written and compelling. Roll details stories of his career as a swimmer, defeating alcoholism, and completing five Ironmans (the Epic 5) in less than a week. Roll is now an ultra-triathlete, cookbook author and the host of one of my favorite podcasts-The Rich Roll Podcast. I will say that the book slowed down for me a little at the end. Roll follows a strict plant-based diet and detailed what he eats and doesn’t eat. I do love food advice, but it seemed unrelated at some points. Also, there is a secondary character who I found way more inspiring than Roll. Shout out to Jason Lester who completed the “Epic 5” with Rich Roll with only the use of one arm!

In the end, I would say this is a solid read if you want to understand a little bit more about ultra athletes. I want to close with my favorite quote from the book:

“There’s a new path waiting for you, too. All you have to do is look for it–then take that first step. If you show up and stay present, that step will eventually become a gigantic leap forward. And then you’ll show us who you really are.” 

Alright folks, let’s go show the world who we really are. Check back with me next weekend to see what I spent the week reading!

Warmly,

Mary Emily