Wednesday, December 31, 2014

{Now I Know My ABCs}

Last night Jamie and the kids were sprawled about the family room playing "Would You Rather." My dad had picked up the card game as part of Jamie's Christmas gift, and it was hilarious to hear my family bantering and arguing about which fate would be worse: living with fingernails that could never be trimmed or having an extra, teeny-tiny head to deal with.

I hate this game.

And this is why. It's as though this game knows my fragile little personality and delights in tormenting me. Because:

1) I am terribly indecisive.
2) I don't like to be uncomfortable.

Are you beginning to see why this is such a terrible game? Why on earth would I want to think about leaving an inch-deep trail of dandruff in my wake or wearing permanent antlers on my head?!

I let them play, eager for the moment when Jamie would say, "Who's ready for a Little House episode?" (We got Season One for Avery for Christmas.) This is so much more up my alley. The only decision to make? Which episode. (And, duh, we go in order.) The only thing uncomfortable about it? Nellie Oleson. Hooray for Little House.

It is this indecisiveness that led me to come up with my book plan for 2014. Back in January, I scanned my bookshelves and noticed how many stories I had yet to read. Of course it was too overwhelming to decide which book to read and when, so I came up with my little ABC plan. I would attempt to read through the alphabet from A to Z, starting with Austen (I had never read Emma!) and ending with . . . whatever title or author I could find with a "Z" in it.

My only other goal was to try -- as much as possible -- to stick with the books I already owned. (I did end up borrowing a couple from friends and the library.) But I really wanted to develop a spirit of contentment with what I have, and that seemed like a simple way to do it.

This amounted to about two books a month, although I did add other books in along the way, too. (In November I had an Alcott fit and was compelled to read Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom. I just couldn't help it. I also had a friend loan me a wonderful children's book, akin to Little House on the Prairie, called Peddler's Summer. Avery and I read it together and loved it! We just started the sequel, Mist on the Mountain. Oh -- and Bethie and I found some of the high school Betsy-Tacy stories, too. Charming!)

I found most of the books in my ABC journey to be thoroughly enjoyable. Throughout the year I've kept a list on the sidebar of my blog and I've tried to keep my list somewhat updated on Goodreads, too. Naturally, there were a few books that I just didn't care for and wouldn't necessarily recommend. But I also found some real gems lurking on my shelves.

Among my favorites from this year are a couple of children's titles: My Friend Flicka and Swallows and Amazons. Delightful reads. (Flicka was hauntingly thoughtful and deep.) I also really enjoyed The Trail of the Lonesome Pine. My dad loaned it to me, and it was a perfect blend of our reading interests. It was as though Louis L'Amour and L.M. Montgomery had teamed up to write a romance. (I later ended up finding my own copy at the church STM sale -- hooray!) Mrs. Miniver, a collection of stories welcomed by the public as a ray of sunshine in 1939, war-torn England, was another wonderful surprise.

Toward the end of the year I found myself running out of time. So I had to make some cuts. My "U" book was changed from my original choice, Uncle Tom's Cabin to the simpler, Understood Betsy. Another children's book. (But I loved it!) And for my final selection I had planned to read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, but the whirlwind of the season led me to decide on The Wonderful Wizard of Oz instead. I found a couple of Zs in the title and called it good. (Did you know that Dorothy's slippers were not ruby but silver?)

My book choices this year were mostly fiction, but I did sneak in a couple of great non-fiction pieces that have encouraged me to think thoughtful thoughts as we head into the New Year: Speak and Notes from a Blue Bike. One was a gift, and another came from the library, just when I despaired of ever finding an "X" book. (I bent the rules just a tad on that one. Thank you, Tsh Oxenreider.) I appreciate books that inspire me to think differently and act on those thoughts, yet in ways that are do-able, realistic with my family life, and still kingdom-driven. Both encouraged me to do so.

As 2015 stretches before me, I glance again at my bookshelves. This time, I see many books I long to revisit. I haven't read Wuthering Heights since high school, and it's about time to read Christy and Papa's Wife again, too. Of course I'm starting the year with Little Women, which happens to be written by an "A" author . . . so maybe my ABC plan will work for the New Year, too. We have a family challenge to read through the Bible as well, so I see many hours of cozy reading in my future. Time to put the kettle on!

Happy reading, dear friends. May the New Year bring you many words of hope, encouragement, inspiration, strength and joy.

What titles are waiting for you this coming year?
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  1. I've decided to do an Empty Shelf challenge. Rather than filling an empty shelf with the books read over the year, I'll be *emptying* a shelf of the books I own but haven't yet read. It's a good-size pile of books (over 60), but factoring in book club reading and my love of our public library, it will definitely be a challenge.

    1. What a great plan, Gina! Have a Happy New (Reading) Year!

  2. Wow. You're inspiring! Thanks for the list. There are some I haven't read!

    1. Thank you, Shirley! I hope you find some new "friends" among these titles!



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