My Dream Reading Space

Monday, April 24, 2017

I love imagining my dream reading nook, which would have lots of sunlight and a comfy place to sit surrounded by pillows. Daydreaming about such a spot inspired me to start thinking about how I could create one in our home right now.

Currently, I read all over the place. During breakfast and lunch I'll park myself at the table with a book open next to my plate. At night, I'll prop myself up on the bed and read while Brock is working, and during the day I'll sprawl on the couch for the rare 10 minute increments James manages to play on his own.

While I know it doesn't really matter where I read, I would love to have a spot dedicated to my reading life.

There is a corner in our home that has definite potential to become that little reading nook. In our living room, we have the most wonderful Craigslist find of my life, a brand-new West Elm Graham Glider.  We also have a tripod floor lamp from Target that complements it so well, and looking at that spot gives me a daily happiness boost.

It's almost the ideal reading space, but the problem is that I'm too short. If I slouch down in the chair, I am just able to get my toes to graze the carpet, but that is definitely not comfortable long term. Most of the time I just curl up in the chair, but when I'm reading for long periods of time (or nursing a baby) I want to be able to stretch my legs out and push the rocker.

So, I have put together what I feel are the essentials to achieve a more perfect reading space- a place to put my feet and pillows for my back. For my feet, I've been looking into poufs and ottomans. I love the look of poufs because of their cozy vibe, but I'm open to the idea of a good ottoman as well. I love this pouf from Arhaus which I think would work well with what we already have in the room.

I also want one or two beautiful and supportive pillows. The pillow that came with the glider (you can see it in the picture below) has no support and blends in with the chair. I went to Arhaus's site and found about twenty couch pillows that I love and managed to narrow it down to two that I would choose in a dream world.

So here are all the pieces of my dream reading nook: the Graham glider, the brass tripod lamp from Target (both of which we already own), and a great pouf and pillows (1 and 2) all from Arhaus's living room collection.

Writing this post makes me realize how possible it is to make that glider a better fit for my reading life, and I'm now motivated to make this happen before the baby comes.

April 19th

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

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On April 19, 2012, Brock and I began dating. Every April 19th since then has been special to me, since it was the first step I took in aligning my life with Brock's.

On this day, five years ago, Brock and I meet up in Provo. We haven't seen each other since the previous December, as I had been interning in Washington D.C. I was only visiting BYU for two days,and before coming I texted Brock to see if he would be available to hang out. He responded, "!!!!! Yes!" and my heart fluttered a little bit.

We've been friends for a long time (a year and a half, which felt like forever at college), but I have never been ready to commit to anything.

That fateful night, he picks me up at my cousin's house. As he sits down on the couch next to me, the evening sunlight comes through the door behind him and I suddenly realize how blue his eyes are. Have his eyes always been so blue? He smiles happily at me and I feel warm everywhere. Has his smile always made me feel like that? His elbow brushes mine and I feel a shiver go through me.

We leave and drive to downtown Provo. When we get out of the car, Brock takes my hand and I pretend like it's completely normal while in reality I'm unable to breathe right or form coherent thoughts.

We walk around for awhile and I can't stop laughing and smiling at everything he says. Eventually, we end up sitting on a bench on Center Street. In the middle of a normal conversation, Brock leans over and kisses me. It is magical.

Later, we sit in his car before he drops me off. The night had been so different and my feelings were so surreal that I blurt out, "So what's going on here?' And he answers, "I like you. I've liked you for a long time and I would date you if you wanted to date me." Those are his exact words that I write in my journal the next night. He doesn't skirt around the issue, just tells me exactly what is on his mind, in a manner that I have loved ever since.

I say "Yes!" almost immediately, although I'm also somewhat anxious. This, I can tell, is a big deal. A very big deal. These feelings I'm having are completely different than any I have experienced before. What I'm saying yes to is something momentous.

Recently Read: April 2017

Friday, April 14, 2017

It's been awhile since I've done one of these recently read lists and I'm excited to share some of what I've been into book-wise.

1. The Street by Ann Petry
I grabbed this book off a stand at the front of my library- one of those where a librarian puts out great books you probably haven't heard of. This was approximately my fifth pick from that stand and it was the first one that I actually agree was great. The Street was written in 1946 and is set in Harlem, and focuses on the struggle of a young black mother to provide for her child while avoiding the evils of the street. It was fascinating to read, with an ending that took me by surprise and left me confused as to how I felt about the book overall.

2. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
Our apartment complex has a book swap in the computer room, and when I was there recently I saw a pristine copy of The Poisonwood Bible and decided now was my time to read it. It was a lot sadder than I expected and very thought-provoking. It was interesting to read about the family's experience in the Congo during such a turbulent time, especially since the book changed narration each chapter, allowing you to really experience events through the eyes of each character.

3. Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
In this book, Hochschild writes about her experience making friends and befriending Tea Party-ers in rural Louisiana. She is a liberal from Berkeley and desperately wants to understand the American right. Her book was evenhanded and fascinating, and definitely helped me understand why Donald Trump had the sweeping success that he did during the election.

4. Little Victories by Jason Gay
This book is a fun collection of essays about some "rules" for life. Many of them are hilarious, but there are a lot (like the ones about his dad) that were touching, and they have been the ones I've reflected on the most. It was a quick read and I highly recommend it.

5. Two Little Girls by Theresa Reid
For some reason I have an interest in reading books on adoption, and this one definitely broadened my understanding about how exhaustive international adoptions can be. Reid and her husband have two children, one adopted from Ukraine and one from Russia. In her book, she carefully details what the steps to adoption were in each case. The cost, effort, and toll on them was astounding, and I'm glad to add this one to my ever-growing list providing perspectives on adoption.

Let's Talk About Audiobooks + Some of My Favorites

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Growing up, I learned to love listening to books while on long family road trips, where we constantly had books on tape playing to keep us all entertained. Now, I almost always have an audiobook loaded onto my phone to listen to whenever I have a chance- while on my walks, cleaning the kitchen, or crocheting. It makes the time pass much more pleasantly and is something I look forward to.

For listening, I exclusively use Overdrive. Overdrive is an app that syncs up to your local library. When you download it, you'll be asked to choose your library and then will have to enter your library card number to check out books. Libraries differ in what books they have available and there can be long waitlists, but overall I'm really happy with Overdrive.

Here are a few tips I've picked up along the way:
-If you like rereading books, one option to get yourself into audiobooks is to start with a book you've already read. This is what I did and it helped me follow along since I was already familiar with the story.

-I like to listen on 1.5x speed. Overdrive (and probably other apps) allows you to change the speed of narration, and I started at 1.25x and then after a few months moved on to 1.5x. For the first few minutes it sounds like they're speed-talking, but soon your brain adjusts and it sounds totally normal.

-Classics are great on audio. It's easy to get lost in the dialogue and they don't seem as daunting when you're listening to them. I've enjoyed some Jane Austen books and am currently listening to Anne of Green Gables, which has been fantastic.

Since getting into audiobooks sometime in 2015, I've listened to a bunch and here are ten I recommend:

1. Going Solo by Roald Dahl
This is such an amazing memoir and I want to hype it up so that everyone reads it. I was breathless listening to his experiences in East Africa and then his time as a pilot in WWII. I had to keep reminding myself that obviously Roald was not going to die since he wrote the book.

2/3. I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron
Both these books are fantastic on audio. Ephron narrates and she does it perfectly. I actually read I Feel Bad About My Neck in book form first and felt kind of meh about it. But I decided to try it out on audio and was laughing out loud. Both these books are full of excellent essays and thinking about them makes me want to listen to them again.

4. Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes
Again, the author reads this one herself and I loved hearing her describe what pushed her to start her year of yes. This one also has the actual audio from some speeches she gave and it really brought the book alive. It is a fun experience and a fairly quick audiobook.

5. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
I just finished listening to this one and it was great. Having someone read it out with different voices makes it seem more alive than on the page and I really loved the characters. The story feels so timeless.

6. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Reading this book in paper form was kind of challenging for me, probably because it is lacking in dialogue. But listening to it made me feel caught up in Ames's reflections and drawn into his contemplations. It seemed much deeper to me than the first time around.

7. My Antonia by Willa Cather
A beautiful classic, I loved this novel about a young boy and his friend, Antonia. Nebraska is a huge character in this book (read it and you'll know what I mean) and I loved seeing the growth of the main characters.

8. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
This novel is among my all-time favorites, and listening to it last year made the book come alive in a new way. The characters' ups and downs were so real to me and it felt like I could actually see everything being described. It was so amazing.

9. All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
Brock and I listened to this at the same time and it was so fun to talk about it every evening and laugh or cringe over the stories. In this book, Herriot details his first few years as a veterinarian in the English countryside. The experiences he has and the people he meets are unique and it is a wonderful book.

10. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
In book form, this book is written in free verse. Usually that throws me off but since I was listening to it I didn't even notice. I loved following along with Jacqueline's story (narrated by herself) of her growing up, bouncing between North Carolina and Brooklyn. She has an interesting voice that drew me in.