The Pre-Bookshelf Project

Big news! After years of drooling over built-in bookshelves in books, blogs, and friends’ homes, we’re actually working on a bookshelf project for our living room.

Okay, it’s going to be an Ikea hack… but it still counts!

I’m most excited about moving – and organizing! – my books, which are currently crammed into a small bookshelf, two sets of cubes, and generally stacked up in random locations.image

It’s not time for that yet (more posts on bookshelf organization later!) but while we’re in planning and construction mode, I’d like to finish as many of my never-before-read books as possible. If my usual success rate is 25%, then I’ll be able to get rid of around 50 books before the big move.

Of course, I have to actually read the books first.

So what’s the best way to approach this problem?

  1. Follow my usual rule of “read the good books first” – keeping my reading speed up by staying enthusiastic
  2. Read the ones I think will be bad first, since DNFs take less time per book?
  3. Start with the ones that are wishlisted on paperbackswap.com, so that I can get them out of the house NOW?
  4. Start with the ones that are NOT wishlisted on paperbackswap.com, so that I can list them and start the FIFO wait?

Too many choices! So, for now, my reading shortlist is:

  • The Goldfinch – a library book that I need to finish in time for a book club meeting next week
  • The Masterharper of Pern by Anne McCaffrey – just because I am on a Pern kick. I guess that’s reason #1.
  • Bless the Bride by Rhys Bowen – reason #4, above, and a favorite author.
  • Young Pioneers by Rose Wilder Lane – reason #3, above
  • What I Love About You by Rachel Gibson – because I want to give it to my sister in November.

That leaves 50+ unread books laying around the house!! Hopefully I can get to them soon. Readers, I’d love to hear your strategies for cleaning up a backlist.

A Crocheter Learns to Knit

100_0634Big news: I finally did it!! I learned to knit!!

On this, my third attempt, I tried something new: continental style knitting. You can read all over the internet that continental style is easier for crocheters than the more common English style, but apparently I missed that memo the first two times around.

It’s easier for two reasons:

1. You hold and tension the yarn with the left hand, while doing most of the ‘work’ with the right. This feels natural to someone who already crochets, but apparently gives English style knitters fits. Continue reading

Membership and Belonging: Young Professionals at Church

I recently read (via Facebook) a well-meaning article questioning why some young people are attending church but not becoming members.

I don’t have the link anymore, but the concept – or maybe the complaint – has really stuck with me. My husband and I are regularly attending a church without being officially on the membership roll, and after some careful consideration, I’m still okay with that. I think it’s worth discussing, though, because it’s part of a disconnect that exists between churches and a particular part of the population.

I’m talking specifically about young professionals, married or unmarried. What does this segment look like?

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  • We relocate frequently for our jobs – every 1-3 years. Or, we may change employers frequently. Either way, we’re trying to establish ourselves in life and in business, and we’re not especially tied to any one area.
  • We travel for business regularly, and we may also accept temporary assignments (say, 3-6 months’ duration). It’s a Lean In kinda thing: we’re young and relatively unattached; now’s the time to get those types of experiences.
  • Our friends and family are located all over the place: in our hometown, in our college town, in the last place we worked. We are not living in any of those places, and there’s a lot of family expectation and social pressure to maintain those relationships and show up at key events like weddings and birthdays. As a result, one, two or even three weekends out of the month, we’re on the road.
  • We’re dating or married to other young professionals who are also dealing with the above. Chances are, they’re  not the same denomination as we are.

As a result:

  • We’re not able to be in your church every weekend, so when we are, please don’t come up to us with big sad eyes and say how glad you are that we’ve decided to ‘come back’. Remember, we may have been to church somewhere else. You’re not the only church in the world.
  • We can’t come to your Tuesday afternoon Women’s tea or your 7 AM Men’s breakfast. This doesn’t mean that we don’t want to participate or that we are “Sunday Only” Christians. Nor does it mean that we aren’t adults yet (even though not being able to participate in adult activities can make us feel that way).
  • It’s exhausting to search for, join, and commit to a church every time we relocate. Ideally, we stick within our denomination or to more open churches. (I’ve found United Methodists wonderful at being open – but that’s just me.) It’s much worse if we also have to ‘convert’ or go through classes to join. The effort does not seem worthwhile when we’re just going to pull up our stakes in a few months and go somewhere else.
  • We really just want to be able to participate in authentic worship in a welcoming and inclusive environment. No gimmicks and no sign up sheets. We’ll give, we’ll come to potlucks and church events when we can, and we’ll sing super loud if that’s what you want. Just don’t ask for more than we can do at this moment in our lives.

With all that: I’m thankful that I have found a welcoming church where I haven’t been pressured in any way, and where my husband and I can both fully participate together. I would love to feel more like a member by being included in the life of the church – yes, I’m talking about those teas and service events – but they seem to be geared towards housewives and retirees. So I’m letting that go, for now.

And please, when you see me at church after a two-week absence: just say hello. No intervention required.

 

 photo credit: Matthew Wilkinson, “Montreal Steps”, via Flickr. license

Library Loot: Short Stories? Really?

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Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by The Captive Reader and Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries

 

 

I don’t like short stories. Don’t like writing them, don’t like reading them. So why did I come home with two books of short stories this week?

The best worst part is that I’m really into the first one, Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs. The quality of her writing is so good – and I really needed a Mercy fix, since her next installment isn’t out until 2015.

I also picked up Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood – another new release of short stories by a favorite author.

No complaints here – I’m just surprised at how much I’m enjoying this week’s loot!

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Do you have a favorite length for stories or books? Are there some that you avoid?

Book Review: Special Topics in Calamity Physics

sptopicsFour things about Marisha Pessl’s debut novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics:

1. I enjoyed the audio version more than the book itself (though I alternated between the two for the six weeks it took me to finish the book.) The reader makes the precocious narrator, Blue Van Meer, sound adorable instead of irritating – overblown metaphors and all.

2. Despite a message to the readers (disguised as a diatribe from one of the main characters) about how lazy it is to expect resolution and a known outcome at the end of a book or movie, I still don’t think it’s okay to write a 600 page novel where you don’t resolve all the subplots, throw out red herrings but never explain why they were there, and generally leave certain characters unresolved. Continue reading

Liebster Award!

One of my favorite book bloggers, A Book and A Quilt, nominated me for a Liebster award! What this means is that I get to answer a series of really  lovely writing prompts.

 

1. What is the first book you remember reading?

I Can Do It Myself. It’s all about the things that Ernie (of Sesame Street fame) can do by himself. The dramatic ending is: I can read this book! I can do it myself! I still love a good ending. Continue reading