My August Reads

Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. With the exception of the word lazy, the phrase is particularly apt this year. The skies are hazy from nearby forest fires, and the tempo of my life is edging to the crazy side. That means reading time is at a premium, and whatever book I pick up must be compelling enough to hold my attention and keep me away from my out-of-control ‘to do’ list. Lucky for me there’s no shortage of great material. Here’s what I’m reading this month:

Before bed: Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

At the gym: A Version of the Truth by Jennifer Kaufman

Beside the pond: The One and Only by Emily Giffin

Books read to date in 2018: 54

My July Reads

We’re staying close to home this summer, which isn’t exactly a hardship when you live in a city as beautiful as Victoria. Since we’re planning a move in the not-too-distant future, we’re savoring what my hometown has to offer while we can. We’re also keeping on top of garden chores and tackling a few inside renovations as well. It doesn’t leave much time for reading but when the opportunity presents itself (and when Mr. Petrol Head isn’t looking), I seize the moment. Here’s what I’m diving into this month:

Beside the Pond: The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green

On the Kindle: The Past Life Perspective by Ann C. Barham

Before Bed: The Runaway Midwife by Patricia Harman

Books read to date in 2018: 46

Summer Time . . . Book Time . . .

It’s that time of year when friends are packing up and heading out on holiday. Books inevitably find their way into carry-ons and suitcases, and I’m sometimes asked to recommend titles. It’s easy if I know their taste (and especially if I share it) but that’s not always the case. When I’m at a loss I always recommend they talk to their favorite book seller or check out some of the lists that pop up at this time of year.

Time Magazine has compiled a list of 22 new books to read this summer:  http://time.com/5285980/best-books-summer-2018/

Since Canada Day is less than a week away, my attention was drawn to the CBC’s 100 Novels That Make You Proud to be Canadian list. Check out their recommendations here:  http://www.cbc.ca/books/100-novels-that-make-you-proud-to-be-canadian-1.4194710

If you’re buying for children and teens, Scripps National Spelling Bee has released its 2018-2019 Great Works (and Great Words) book list. I especially like that they break their recommendations into very specific age ranges (they use grades but you can easily extrapolate to determine suitability for the children in your life). I also like the fact that they mix classics with contemporary reads. http://spellingbee.com/book-list

Finally, if you’re looking for an easy summer beach read you can’t go wrong with one of these romances: https://www.bookbub.com/blog/2018/05/22/summer-romance-books-preview-2018

Happy reading and happy travels!

My June Reads

I’ve been in the weeds of late. The garden is producing them at a rate beyond which they’re controllable. The path you see to your left has been weeded several times already but you’d never know it. The butterflies and bees are happy, even if I’m feeling a little overwhelmed. It’s not an unusual feeling for me at this time of year; the garden is at its most demanding now. This year, however, we’re juggling spring garden chores with indoor renovations as we’re contemplating selling our house. Lots of changes . . . and very little downtime to read. But when I do stop for a break, here’s what I’m reading:

At the gym: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

On the Kindle: Flipside – a Tourist’s Guide on How to Navigate the Afterlife by Richard Martini

Before bed: No Time to Spare: Thinking about what Matters by Ursula Le Guin

Book read to date in 2018: 37

Stories, Stories, Everywhere Stories

Along with working on my own books, I also hire myself out as a freelance editor. Switching gears allows me to step back from my own stories but still do the work of a writer, only to the benefit of someone else. Last week I was immersed in a contemporary love story featuring the mythical (or not!) sea creature Cadborosaurus. Caddy, as he’s sometimes called, was spotted years ago in the waters of the Pacific Northwest close to my home. It was a lot of fun to witness the developing relationship between a skeptical reporter out to find Caddy and the protective photographer who wants to make sure Caddy stays hidden from the prying eyes of the public.

Later this week I’ll be head down and editing an historical cozy mystery. In June, I’ll be switching gears yet again and editing the third book in a dystopian YA series that I quite enjoy! And of course my own books will be getting their fair share of my attention over the next few weeks too.

If you’re looking for help with your manuscript, check out my editing services here: http://lauralangston.com/editing/

 

My April Reads

Spring often conjures thoughts of spring cleaning. It’s more like spring purging around here these days as we go through cupboards and drawers and hidden corners of the basement eliminating the things we don’t use and no longer need. With the exception of my garden (crammed with plants,) my bookshelves (crammed with books) and an impressively stocked kitchen pantry (eight kinds of rice at last count, and herbs and spices into the triple digits) I’m something of a minimalist.

Part of it is necessity – a writer’s salary isn’t large (at least this writer’s salary isn’t large) – and part of it is the way I’m wired. I don’t love shopping. I don’t hate it, but it’s not what I do for fun or for relaxation. Reduce, reuse, and recycle was part of my lifestyle before it was trendy, back when it was considered weird.

So I was keen to pick up and read Cait Flander’s Year of Less. After getting rid of 70 percent of her belongings, Flanders stopped shopping, other than for necessities (and those were very narrowly defined), for an entire year. Unfortunately, the book didn’t have the depth I was hoping for. It wasn’t so much a memoir about living with less as it was a memoir about a millennial struggling with love, loss, career and family angst during a year when she also stopped shopping. It was a fun, easy read but it didn’t speak to me in quite the way I’d hoped. So if you’ve read any great books on minimalism, let me know. Spring purging should only go so far.

Here’s what I’m reading this month:

At the gym: Playing with Fire by Tess Gerritsen

Beside the bed: The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

On the weekend: The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Books read to date in 2018: 31

My March Reads

The daffodils are blooming  and so are the cherry blossom trees. Spring officially arrived yesterday. The air, which seems to get warmer by the day, is fragrant with possibilities. Life is especially sweet at this time of year . . . and especially so if you have a good book to read. Here’s what I’m reading this month:

At the gym: Same Beach Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank

Beside the fire: We, the Arcturians: A True Experience by Norma Milanovich

Before bed: Thursdays in the Park by Hilary Boyd

Books read to date in 2018: 20

My January Reads

Last year, if my record is accurate, I read eighty books. Funnily enough, I apparently read eighty books in 2016 too. That works out to a book and a half a week. Broken down like that, the number seems low because I always have two or three books on the go at once, and most weeks it feels like I get through at least two of them. So either I’m forgetting to note some titles down or I’m not reading as much as I think I am. Either way, I’m not really bothered. I have a record of what I’ve read and enjoyed over the last few years, and more than enough titles on my ‘to be read’ list to keep me going for a long time yet. And here’s what I’m reading this week:

At the gym: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

For Research: The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo Lee

Before Bed: Aging Backwards by Miranda Esmonde White

Books Read to Date in 2018: 5

An Attitude of Gratitude to Kick Off 2018

Last January I started a gratitude jar. Whenever I thought of it – sometimes every day or maybe a few times a week – I’d jot down something I was grateful for and slip the colorful Post-It note into a jar. This practise has been around for a while; I’m sure you’ve heard of it.

I sat down and read through my 2017gratitudes last week. A clear pattern emerged. The largest number of gratitude notes focused on the support of friends: the walks and talks, watching movies together, sharing meals, laughing and commiserating. Gratitude for the books I read and the movies I watched came next, closely followed by gratitude for the beauty of nature; for the food I managed to grow in the garden; and for enjoying the best margarita of my life, thanks in part to the company (waving at you Keith and Carol-Anne).

There was gratitude for Mr. Petrol Head’s successful surgery; gratitude for letters and emails I received thanking me for my work; and no small amount of gratitude to my family, including Team Sheltie who share my days.

It occurred to me as I read through the notes that virtually every gratitude depended on the energy of someone or something to make it happen. The energy of a reader writing a thank you note . . . the energy of a friend making time to visit . . . the energy of nature providing such spectacular sunsets.

I’m doing the gratitude jar again this year. As I slip in the first few notes, I can’t help but see the same trend emerging. So this time, along with being thankful for the thing I write about, I’m also sending up a whisper of thanks for the energy behind the action. Happy 2018! 

 

The Importance of Fallow Ground

Gardeners and farmers know the importance of fallow ground. Allowing a field or a garden bed to rest for a bit – to go fallow – gives the soil’s nutrient balance a chance to naturally restore itself. As the ground rests, fertility can be restored. Letting ground go fallow was a common practice centuries ago, but it’s not as common anymore. As commercial fertilizers became more readily available and the agricultural industry became ever more competitive, it became less and less popular to leave land fallow. Constant production was the goal.

Constant agricultural production, however, is rarely sustainable, at least not in any kind of healthy way. And it’s the same for people. Though we can, and often do, push ourselves to constantly produce, we function best when we have time to rest, time to naturally restore ourselves, to go fallow.

With the ground frozen and the garden resting for the winter, and with the holidays nearly here, it seems only natural that we pause not just to celebrate the season but to renew ourselves. To fill the well, however you define that personally.

So along with wishing you a Happy Solstice and a Merry Christmas, I wish you time for peaceful reflection. And time for peaceful reading too.