January 2018 Recap

This may be the lastest recap post I’ve ever written because this whole “preschooler has stopped napping and quiet time is more a theory than a reality” is just killing my blogging time. It’s not doing a whole lot for my reading time either.

Add in a busy season with kid activities, and hey, look, it’s almost the middle of the month!

The Month in Stats

Books Read This Month: 12

Things That Happened

  • Book club – we began our “reading around the world” theme by reading the classic Around the World in 80 Days for my local book club. And as a very appropriate title to begin the new year, we read The Gifts of Imperfection in the Facebook group.
  • Lots of basketball games and practices.
  • We struggled a bit to get back into the homeschool routine after our extended “holiday school” routine. Plus, January is just long and cold and dark. It makes for a hard stretch.
  • Disney on Ice with my girls (and H’s Girl Scout troop). They loved it.
  • G got his expander and I had 10 days of turning that crank to add some space in his mouth. This also meant we began paying for phase one of his orthodontic treatment, and thinking about this times 3 is not exciting. Maybe all 3 kids won’t need treatment. 🙂
  • M had her allergist visit and it confirmed that she is allergic to pistachios and cashews. She did not react to any other tree nuts, but those are still a bit risky for her. I now carry an EpiPen for her and have to read food labels with a much more careful eye.
  • Girl Scout cookie sales began, and H fairly quickly got to about halfway to her goal.
    She’s kind of stalled out on it now, in part because the weather is not cooperating for her to go door to door in the neighborhood. Too cold, too icy, and dark too early.

What I’m Anticipating in February

  • Belt testing again. G is testing for first degree senior and H for first degree probationary.
  • Basketball season ends, and we have a brief lull before baseball and softball start up.
  • Cookie booths, as H tries to get the rest of the way to her goal. She’s got two shifts scheduled at local stores.
  • G has evaluations for baseball; the team coaches use those to select the teams in an attempt to get balanced teams. Fortunately, R takes him to those and I just have to watch the girls.
  • Lots of Girl Scout and Cub Scout meetings and activities – I guess they figure it’s a slower time of year so a good chance to work on badges and things, but we are double booked many weeks.
  • Book club – Burial Rites for my in-person book club and The Death of Ivan Ilyich in the Facebook group.

Books I Read in January

I shared the list of books I read in a recent post.

    Readers for G (books I assigned him to read; he reads more of his own choosing)
  • A Question of Yams

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Books I Read in January 2018

January 2018 Reads | The Deliberate Reader

I feel like I’m still in a bit of a reading slump, which is totally typical for me in December, but shouldn’t I be out of it by now?!?

That said, I did still finish 12 books, although two of them were readalouds with my son; I’m always uncertain if I want to count the school readalouds I do with them here, or in their own category.

So … the final two I counted because they were titles I enjoyed enough on my own that I would have kept reading them even if I hadn’t been reading them to him. I don’t know if that logic will hold all year.


  1. The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

    I’m hoping the discussion my book club is going to have about this will help me appreciate it more because for a classic of literature I was underwhelmed.

  2. Kilmeny of the Orchard by Lucy Maud Montgomery

    I’m also hoping the discussion my other book club is having on this title will help me appreciate it more, although I have less hope for this one. There are some lovely descriptive passages, but the age of the novel is glaringly obvious in the many offensive passages about Gypsies and Italians.

  3. Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters

    A re-read, after a friend whose reading tastes so often match well with mine, got me to give Peters a second try. My first attempt with her was when I was in high school, so I can easily admit that my reading tastes have changed some since then. And I enjoyed it well enough and will try another book in the series. I’m not ready yet to declare this a favorite series, but I’m cautiously optimistic that I will grow to love the characters.

  4. The Maharani’s Pearls by Charles Todd

    A short story featuring Bess Crawford as a young girl. I enjoyed the look at Bess’ life while growing up in India, but don’t think anyone who hadn’t read her previous books would be all that interested in it.

  5. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

    This maybe should go in the “kid lit” section, but I think it’s more young adult so I’ll go ahead and keep it here. Entertaining enough, and I’ve borrowed the second in the series, as I’m curious where Hawkins goes with the characters and situation. There’s a head-slappingly-obvious circumstance going on in it that was more than a bit annoying, but a couple of other surprises actually did surprise me, so yay for that.

  6. Nonfiction

  7. Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle by Mary J. Macleod

    Really enjoyed this one, so if you’re a memoir fan you might check for it (it was a recent Kindle deal). My biggest gripe with it is that I was left with a slew of questions, and was deeply wishing for an epilogue. The author has a second memoir, so my questions might be answered in that one. The writing isn’t spectacular, but her stories are interesting enough (and the setting so compelling) it made up for the serviceable writing.

  8. Good & Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown

    It was fine, and I did flag a few recipes I was interested in trying. My copy has gone back to the library though, and I’m not sure if I care enough to try and borrow it again to actually give those recipes a try.

  9. Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner

    This one was on my “never finished” list a few months ago, but I finally did finish it by speed-reading a print copy. I’m not sure that I’m glad I bothered; it was completely underwhelming to me. I do think it works much better as a print book than audio (how I started with it).

  10. Kid Lit

  11. Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

    I loved this one – super fun and entertaining. It’s got a great beginning and some fantastic world-building. Sure, it’s middle-grade fiction and so is a wee bit predictable at times for any adults reading it (maybe kids would feel things are more suspenseful?) No matter. I still enjoyed finding just how things worked out for Morrigan and the other characters, and now I’m eagerly awaiting the next book in the series. It was also excellent on audio.

  12. The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser

    I shouldn’t have waited so long to read this one – it was delightful. Again, a middle-grade read, so the suspense wasn’t really there for me (I knew everything would work out just fine for the family), but the family is charming. I look forward to reading it to my kids someday (maybe next Christmas season, as it’s set during that time of year).

  13. Nickel Bay Nick by Dean Pitchford

    This year’s Christmas-season readaloud with my son (which ended up carrying over well into January). It’s a cute story, with some nice life lessons.

  14. Gone Camping by Tamera Will Wissinger

    I love Wissinger’s novels in verse, and how she includes so many types of poetry in her books. It feels like such a great homeschool supplement, that is completely fun and enjoyable for everyone. Start with Gone Fishing, but then be sure and follow up with this one.

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New on the Stack in January 2018

Welcome to New on the Stack, where you can share the latest books you’ve added to your reading pile. I’d love for you to join us and add a link to your own post or Instagram picture sharing your books! It’s a fun way to see what others will soon be reading, and get even more ideas of books to add to my “I want to read that!” list.New on the Stack button


One Year Daily Acts of Kindness Devotional

How did I get it: Bought a print copy.
Why did I get it: Someone I knew highly recommended it.

Call the Nurse: True Stories of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle by Mary J. Macleod

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: I always enjoy unique memoirs, and this setting sounded interesting.

Good & Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It popped up as a suggested title on my library website.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s been lingering on my TBR list for ages. get it:

Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen

How did I get it: Borrowed it via audio from the library.
Why did I get it: I don’t remember where I first heard about it.


Kilmeny of the Orchard by Lucy Maud Montgomery

How did I get it: Bought a Kindle copy.
Why did I get it: February’s read for the “year of L. M. Montgomery” books.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: February’s read for my Facebook book club.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: February’s read for my local book club.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

How did I get it: Borrowed it via audio from the library.
Why did I get it: I don’t remember where I first heard about it.

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: I think it was on a list of “if you like Harry Potter try this book” suggestions.

The Maharani’s Pearls by Charles Todd

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Filling in the Bess Crawford short stories I skipped when reading through the novels in order.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: Looking at it as a possible book club read.

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it:

Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska

How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: I’m somewhat following along with some friends who are reading all the Newbery Medal books. And this is a Medal winner, but I’m so not inspired to read it.

“New on the Stack” Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share your posts or instagram pictures about the new-to-you books you added to your reading stack last month. They can be purchases, library books, ebooks, whatever it is you’ll be reading! Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to this post – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

The Deliberate Reader

3. The linkup will be open until the end of the month.

4. Please visit the person’s blog or Instagram who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting me permission to use and/or repost photographs from your linked post or Instagram. (Because on social media or in next month’s post, I hope to feature some of the books that catch my attention from this month.)

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Introducing February’s Book Club Selection: The Death of Ivan Ilyich

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

by Leo Tolstoy

What’s It About?

(Description from Goodreads)

A middle-aged high-court judge who had never thought about his own mortality, Ivan Ilyich must readjust his thinking when he learns he has a terminal illness.

Why Was This Title Selected

I’ve never read anything by Tolstoy, and this short novella felt like a manageable way for us to read one of his titles for the year.

Anything Else to Know About It?

The discussion will begin soon in the Facebook group, and you’re welcome to come and join us.

It’s available in Print, for Kindle or Nook, or on Audible.

What’s Coming Up Next?

A Vision of Light coverA Vision of Light by Judith Merkle Riley

What’s it about? “Margaret of Ashbury wants to write her life story. However, like most women in fourteenth-century England, she is illiterate. Three clerics contemptuously decline to be Margaret’s scribe, and only the threat of starvation persuades Brother Gregory, a Carthusian friar with a mysterious past, to take on the task. As she narrates her life, we discover a woman of startling resourcefulness.”

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

See all the books we’ll be reading in 2018 here.

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Quarterly Update on Book Club Selections

A look back at the books my two book clubs read for the fourth quarter of last year, focusing especially on how they worked as discussion titles.


The Deliberate Reader book club (TDR) read Funny in Farsi and my in-person book club, Broadened Horizons (BH) had our annual book flight (multiple books related to a theme; in this case Jane Eyre).

Funny in Farsi was entertaining and worked well enough as a discussion title. Most of us seemed to want a little more from it than she gave, but the potential to talk about the book and broader themes are definitely there. And it can be hard to find that in lighter memoirs, so this is one worth keeping in mind as a possibility.

Jane Eyre was the theme for our book flight, and we read it and then the modern retelling The Madwoman Upstairs, and the nonfiction title Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart. The Madwoman Upstairs was fantastic as a read-along (read-after?) to Jane Eyre, and the biography did make me appreciate Bronte’s accomplishments all the more. If you remember me posting about this, you might have noted that the modern adaptation switched from Jane Steele to The Madwoman Upstairs. We ended up changing our minds on which one we wanted to group together. 🙂


TDR read Ordinary Grace, and BH read At Home in the World

Ordinary Grace was FANTASTIC. Not only was it a terrific book, but it supported a great discussion as well. Highly recommended as a book club choice (or to read even if you don’t have a book club).

At Home in the World worked well as a discussion title, although not as well as I had hoped it would. Or really the discussion was fine; the book itself wasn’t as great as I wanted it to be. It does lend itself to many discussion possibilities, so if your group reads nonfiction this is one to consider.


TDR discussed Swear on This Life, and we did not have an official book for my local bookclub. Instead we asked everyone to come prepared to talk about their favorite reads for the year! (I’ve already shared mine).

Swear on This Life was disappointing, but I did enjoy the discussion much more than the book itself. Still, I wouldn’t recommend it for any book clubs, as I think there are better options.

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New on Your Stack (volume 31)

Some highlights from the books from last month’s linkup:

I’m curious about As Bright As Heaven, mentioned by Stacie (Sincerely Stacie.) It’s not a time period that gets a lot of attention in historical fiction, but I find it fascinating/horrifying.

Kate (Opinionated Book Lover) highlights Secondborn, which sounds like an intriguing start to a series. I’m definitely going to let her finish it and say what she thinks about it before trying it myself, and I might even wait until the next in the series is released.

Jill (Days at Home) has lots of fun books on her list, including Louise Penny’s The Nature of the Beast, the previously-mentioned As Bright As Heaven, and The English Wife, which I currently have borrowed from the library.

Love seeing books I’ve recently finished pop up on others lists, and Annette (AKBookworm) featured Hex Hall, which I read earlier this month (and I’ve already borrowed the sequel).

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Goodreads Hacks: Using a “Someday” Shelf

As part of my reading goals for 2018, I’m working on cleaning up my “Want To Read” shelf on Goodreads. One way I’m doing that is by shifting books off to a “Someday/Maybe” shelf.

Goodreads lets you create endless shelves. The key to me using the someday/maybe shelf is that I’ve set it as an “exclusive” shelf. What’s that mean? A book can only be on one exclusive shelf.

If you haven’t created any of your own, you have one of three options: Want to Read, Currently Reading, or Read. I’ve added a “Paused” shelf, “Never Finished,” “Not Interested,” and now “Someday/Maybe” to my exclusive shelf options.

What’s the advantage to this?

It becomes a nice holding area for books I don’t want to forget about, but I know I won’t be reading anytime soon. I’m also using it for books on topics where I’m not actively reading currently, but if/when I want to get back to that topic, those are the titles I want to read.

It’s also where I’m parking books that I’m keeping on my “ideas for bookclub” shelf, but only want to read them if my bookclub selects them.

My “Want to Read” shelf is still overloaded, but as I go through it again, and delete titles I no longer want to read, I’m trimming it down even further by shifting titles over to the “Someday/Maybe” option.

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Cover Love: Around the World in 80 Days

My local bookclub is embarking on a round-the-world via books theme for this year (and maybe next year too) and we started off the year with Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. Which is a perfect book for another edition of Cover Love!

The 1873 edition has a beautiful cover. And if you have several thousand dollars you don’t know how else to spend, you too can have the 1873 edition.

Around the World in 80 Days cover

While I don’t generally like retellings, I do like the cover on this Classic Starts retelling. And, it’s very appropriate to the book (unlike some other covers).

Around the World in 80 Days cover

I hate to pick on the Dover Thrift edition, but it’s really pretty boring, and kind of looks like somebody was playing with clipart.

Around the World in 80 Days cover

Nothing but raves for this audio version of the book, as Jim Dale is an amazing narrator. As a cover however, I side-eye the balloon. Did I sleep through the portion of the book where the balloon makes an appearance?

Around the World in 80 Days cover

Love this cover from Penguin Classics.

Around the World in 80 Days cover

Love this cover from Penguin as well.

One final great cover, this one from Puffin Classics.

Around the World in 80 Days cover

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Top Blog Posts from 2017

I always find it interesting to see which are the most popular posts on the blog, because they’re not always the ones I would expect. Who knew the Emma cover post would be so popular? Well, I guess the popularity of anything Jane Austen isn’t surprising. So, besides the Emma post, here are the other most-visited posts I wrote last year:

  1. 10 Nonfiction Books I Can’t Stop Recommending

  2. 2018 Book Club Selections

  3. 4 Books Becoming Movies in 2018

  4. The Best Book Club Item EVER

  5. 2018 Reading Resolutions

  6. Cover Love: Emma

  7. The Most Gorgeous Bible

  8. 10+ Books Perfect to Read in Autumn

  9. The Ultimate List of Library Hacks

  10. Goodreads Hacks: Creating a “Not Going to Read” Shelf

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Favorite Books of 2017

Yes, this is a list of twenty-five titles, but that’s only about 10% of my yearly total.
These are the ones that I loved, the ones that stuck with me, the ones that made me think. I might not recommend them all to you in particular (some definitely need the right sort of reader to appreciate them) but they were my favorites for 2017.


A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
Hands-down the book I recommended most often this year. It’s a slower-paced read, but so absorbing with wonderful characters.

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert
Heart-wrenching but such a compelling look at another world and time.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
Beautifully-written historical fiction, with just a hint of a mystery.

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
Poignant but lovely.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Gripping and fast-paced (unlike all the previous ones I’ve mentioned) it’s not high-quality literature, but it’s thought-provoking and intriguing.

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Reminded me so much of an Agatha Christie book, and it would make for a very fun book club selection, as there’s enough going on beyond the whodunnit factor, unlike some mysteries.

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith
Gruesome yes, but I love the characters so I can forgive all as I wait for the next book in the series.

Series Reads

Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny
I love how the characters have developed throughout the series, and the amazing sense of place most of the books have.

Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
Maisie is such an enjoyable character, and the way the series takes place across the years allows Winspear to show so many changes in the world. I can’t wait to see what happens next in it!

Bess Crawford and Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd
Bess is an appealing character, and I’m so sad to be all caught up on the series. Fortunately for me I still have several with Rutledge. I enjoy the setting and time period for both, and following along with the main and secondary characters.

Peter Grant series by Ben Aaronovitch
I might be cheating a bit by listing this for 2017, as most of the series was read in 2016, but I finished it last year, and read all the “extras” (audio freebie, a short story, and some graphic novels). It’s such a fascinating world Aaronovitch has created.


Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant
Heart-breaking yet hopeful and encouraging.

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr
I almost felt like I was there with Doerr as he experienced his year in Rome (and I so want to read the book he partially wrote during that year, and I will get to it in 2018)

Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker
Excellent on audio, with all the humorous asides. Chatty and fun.

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
Surprisingly fascinating look at all that goes into modern dictionaries.

Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs by Heather Lende
Heart-warming and it stuck with me long after I would have expected it to be forgotten in the flood of other reads.

Other Nonfiction

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics by Tim Marshall
A fascinating look at the geopolitics behind 10 significant areas of the world.

Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff
More motivating than many self-help books that are all about the “bigger faster more hype” because this one was so encouraging about “this is what actually works to get things finished.” I want to re-read it this year when I can take notes (I listened to it the first time).

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck
Incredibly encouraging slash terrifying, as I realize the importance of the mindset I’m developing in my kids. And thinking about how can I ensure they all have growth mindsets, because of how essential they are for long-term success and happiness.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Not always completely practical for life as a stay at home mom, but I’m still mulling over how I can put some of these ideas into practice in my life.

Barking Up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker
Lots of interesting tidbits of info. I do love this sort of book so I was predisposed to enjoy it.

The Four Tendencies: The Indispensable Personality Profiles That Reveal How to Make Your Life Better (and Other People’s Lives Better, Too) by Gretchen Rubin
A fascinating look into the four tendencies, and great ideas about how to work with your own tendency, and the tendencies of people around you.

Special Mention

Because when friends write books, it’s impossible to be impartial.

The Yes Effect: Accepting God’s Invitation to Transform the World Around You by Luis Bush with Darcy Wiley
All about the amazing things that can happen when ordinary people say yes to God.

Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything by Anne Bogel
Interesting summary look at various personality typing systems, and how to use them to make improvements in your own life.

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