March Book Report

Exciting news! I’ve decided to reorganize my bookshelves in a whole new way.

Okay, it’s not that exciting. But let me explain. Right now, tmy books are split up into fiction and non-fiction shelves and arranged alphabetically. It’s kind of boring, and I’m not inspired enough to go there and pick up my next great read. Instead, I shop online, support indie bookstores, and download titles on Audible.

And here’s the problem. I have no self control when buying books. This month alone, I bought ten new titles. Ten titles!

Ugh! Why…why do I keep buying more and more books? It isn’t that I’m lacking in things to read. I have some fantastic books sitting on my shelves at this very moment that are collecting dust. I know I bought them for a reason; I wanted them. And I spent my hard-earned, good money on them. They are deserving of my attention, and quite frankly I think they are starting to get a little jealous.

Sometimes when I’m sitting at my desk, I hear my books whisper, “pick me next.” It’s about time I heed their call.

Okay, maybe that isn’t true, but today I’m declaring a new book buying ban on myself for a few months. I vow to familiarize myself with my ever-growing TBR pile. And maybe I’ll do a little reshelving and redecorating to my shelves to make those books more appealing.

I admit that I’m pretty excited about this endeavor. And just think, my next five-star read could be a book I already own. It could be the new and shiny object I pick up — instead of my credit card.

Anyway, here is how else my reading life has shaped up this month.

What I Read

The Tobacco Wives by Adele Myers

I love history, and I love to read, so it makes sense that one of my go-to genres is historical fiction. There is rarely a novel in this category that I don’t enjoy. I love diving into a book with strong female characters set in a time period that I’ve never explored. The Tobacco Wives is that kind of a book. Set in North Carolina, Maddie Sykes is a young seamstress tasked with sewing exquisite dresses and ballgowns for the wives of cigarette company executives. Maddie must make an important decision when she accidentally learns about the health risks of smoking and the cover-up to keep people – particularly women – in the dark. She can either keep her head down, stay quiet, and do her job or share what she knows, take a stand against corporate greed, risk her livelihood, and more.

In addition to this book being a five-star read, the author has a fascinating background that she brings to the story. She is a public relations professional who grew up in this part of the country. Her focus on how cigarettes were marketed to women by trusted doctors and false advertising play a huge role in how this all shakes out. The author’s note was just as enjoyable to read as the book itself, so don’t skip it.

Everyone Has What It Takes: A Writer’s Guide to the End of Self Doubt by William Kenower

I’ve been writing since I was nine years old, and I’ve suffered from imposter syndrome ever since. Questions like – who will care what I think or write about have plagued me for years.

Today, I can say that I am in recovery from this line of thinking, but I don’t attribute that to this book. It has taken many years of learning about my craft, participating in writers’ workshops and conferences, and talking to and learning from some brilliant writers that have snapped me out of it. There was also something about turning 50 last year that made me realize how much time I’ve wasted wallowing in my anxieties. Life is too short.

Reading books also has a funny way of introducing a new perspective to whatever ails you. It was Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird that was instrumental in breaking my patterns of self-doubt. However, this book served as a good reminder and will remain in my writer’s toolbox. The author focuses on the business of writing and the parade of rejections that are bound to happen when finding an agent, getting published, and selling your work. If you are a writer experiencing self-doubt and frustration about this process, I’d recommend this guide to you.

Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History 80s and 90s Teen Fiction – Gabrielle Moss

If you asked me what I read as a kid, I’d tell you that my strongest memories were from the Sweet Valley High books. I couldn’t get enough of the adventures of Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield – identical twin sisters in appearance with yin and yang personalities. I can still remember the adrenaline rush I felt when the next book in the series appeared in the bookstores. I had to have them. I’d spend my allowance or beg my parents to buy them.

If you asked me what else I read as a kid, my memory would be fuzzy, but after reading this book – The Paperback Crush – I saw the photos of the book covers and smiled. I remembered definitely hiding copies of “Forever” and “Sooner or Later” under my pillow. There were also so many pre-teen and squeaky-clean romance novels from companies like Wildfire and Sweet Dreams. And my sister read every Christopher Pike book she could get her hands on.

This book was a fun trip down memory lane that digs into the early days of my reading life – and if you are my age – you will enjoy it too.

What I’m Reading Now

Here is what I’m reading now and will review next month.

That’s it for me. Let me know what you have been reading lately. And if you have any good ideas for helping me redecorate my bookshelves, I’m all ears!

Happy reading!

Death by Questions

Last Monday, I tested positive for COVID-19. Today, I tested negative. YAY!

In those five days, I have been shown so much kindness and concern from all of you. Your text messages, phone calls, Facebook messages, and suggestions for binge-able Netflix shows and movies were so appreciated. And, my fantastic work friends were so thoughtful to send me a Shabbat dinner for tonight so that I didn’t have to cook. So many of you texted me daily to make sure I was still alive. I am really and truly feeling the love right now. 

But the questions… the endless stream of questions that came my way almost killed me. It’s hard to be peppered with questions and expected to answer coherently and in great detail while symptomatic, and trying to rest and recover. So, I did the only thing that made sense to me. I started to make a list of all the questions. Not the answers. Just the questions. So many questions.

I kid you because I love you all. And now that I’m on the mend, I’m declaring the question and answer period officially over.

The Kindest of Questions

  • How are you feeling?
  • Do you have a fever?
  • Are you coughing?
  • What are your symptoms?
  • When did the symptoms start?
  • How is everyone else in your house feeling?
  • What are their symptoms?
  • Did you have COVID before this?
  • Is it as bad as it was the last time?
  • Can I get you anything?
  • Do you want me to go grocery shopping for you?
  • Can I bring you some chicken noodle soup?
  • Are you taking medicine?
  • What are you taking?
  • Do you have any Vicks VapoRub?
  • Are you vaccinated and boosted?
  • Did you sleep?
  • Did you lose your sense of smell or taste?

Questions from the COVID-19 Detective Squad

  • Where do you think you got COVID?
  • Where have you traveled to lately?
  • Did you get it at the swim meet?
  • Do you think you picked it up when you went to Towson last week?
  • Were you feeling sick when you went for your colonoscopy?
  • Was anyone coughing around you?
  • Were masks required everywhere you went?
  • Were you wearing a mask?
  • Was anyone wearing a mask?
  • Was there a vaccination requirement?
  • Did you have to show proof of vaccination?
  • How long did you stay?
  • Were you around people who were exposed recently?
  • Who let the dogs out? (Just making sure you are still reading 🙂 )

Testing! Testing!

  • When did the symptoms start?
  • When did you take the test?
  • Was it a rapid test or a PCR test?
  • Are you going to ask for a PCR test?
  • Where did you get the home test?
  • Did you buy a test, or did you have one already?
  • Did you take another test?
  • How many tests are you going to take?
  • How accurate is the test?
  • Did the line show up right away?
  • Was the line dark or faint?
  • Are you sure there were two lines?
  • Did you wait the full 15 minutes?
  • When can you test again?
  • Do you need more tests?

Quarantine Questions

  • How long are you supposed to quarantine?
  • Are you self-isolating?
  • Is Scott feeling okay?
  • Did you call the doctor?
  • What did he say?
  • How long does the CDC recommend you self-isolate?
  • Did you do the proper contact tracing?
  • Did you let everyone know?

Personal Questions

  • Are you and Scott still sleeping in the same bed?
  • Where is he going to sleep?
  • Do you have a sofa bed?
  • Where is the dog sleeping?
  • Is the dog sick too?

Work Questions

  • Does your boss know?
  • Do your colleagues know?
  • Do the people in this Zoom meeting know?
  • What did the people at work say?
  • Are you working this week?
  • Can you take sick time?
  • Does anybody really know what time it is? 🙂

Even More Questions

  • Are the kids staying away from you?
  • Did they take a test?
  • Was it a home test or a PCR test?
  • Didn’t they have COVID this year already?
  • When did they have it?
  • How are they feeling?
  • Do they have any symptoms?
  • Are they still going out with their friends?
  • Do their friends know?
  • Do their friends’ parents know?

Questions from our Kids

  • Can you sit over there?
  • Can you not touch my food/breathe on me/come into my room?
  • Should I play water polo this spring?
  • Can you drive me back to college on Saturday?
  • What’s for dinner?

Into Thin Air

Some mornings, it’s my purse that goes missing. The other day my car keys were MIA. And yesterday, I couldn’t find my glasses.

I searched the entire house twice. I remembered when I had them last. I was sitting at this desk on an after-hours Zoom call with a colleague putting the final touches on an email that needed to go out in the morning.

I looked on my desk, underneath it, and to the side where items tend to fall. I even lifted the standing desk, which is risky because wires cross and unplug with this tricky maneuver.

I formed a search party. Andrew looked downstairs. I went upstairs. My dog, Chloe, followed me around the house, offering unspoken love and support. And Scott followed me around the house, peppering me with questions.

Did you look in the car?

Did you check your coat pocket?

When did you see them last?

Did you retrace your steps?

This well-meaning interrogation wasn’t super helpful. Of course, I looked in all of those places. And yes, I retraced my steps. I am the patron saint of lost items when it comes to finding things for other people. I know where to look. But for some reason, my sixth sense failed me in my time of need.

Typically, it wouldn’t have mattered, but those glasses are key to my ability to function these days. Last week, the eye doctor diagnosed me with dry eye and banned me from wearing contact lenses for ten days. Not only does dry eye suck the moisture from my eyeballs and eyelids, but it forces me to wear glasses. I don’t mind wearing my glasses on the weekends, but I’d prefer to keep the camera off on Zoom calls.

I’m close to tears which would probably be good for my condition but not so much for my situation. It’s amazing how one minute I can be so organized and have everything I need at my fingertips. And then have a morning where I find myself moving throw pillows and shaking blankets like a crazy person.

How do these things disappear into thin air?

Finally, I turn over the middle cushion on the living room couch where I fell asleep last night—green frames with trifocal lenses stare up at me.”There you are!” I scolded them as if they were a child. I called off the search and placed the glasses firmly on my nose. Instantly, one of the arms breaks off.

Now I need to find the Super Glue.

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