Quick Lit: 2017 so far

Treating myself to a Kindle Fire as a pre-partum (is that a thing?) gift has been pretty great for my reading. Sweet Therese only wakes me up one or two times a night (#angelbaby), but it’s always nice to have a book to look forward to when she does.

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery // I’m hoping to read the whole Anne of Green Gables series this year while I nurse my little girl, hoping that she’ll magically end up an Anne. I wasn’t incredibly attached to the first two books, but I was incredibly charmed by this one. Anne/Gilbert 4eva.

The Way of the Strangers: Encounters with the Islamic State by Graeme Wood // Because the most appropriate book to follow an Anne novel is…a book about ISIS? This book was fantastic. It is an intellectual history of sorts about the Islamic State that explores the religious origins of the death cult without devolving into demagoguery. Incredibly readable with an appropriate amount of dark humor that provides a break from the weightiness of the subject matter. Highly recommended.

Homilies in Praise of the Blessed Virgin by St. Bernard of Clairvaux // Chris took a class on the Cistercians last semester and recommended this to me. Four homilies; good Advent/Christmas-themed spiritual reading.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery // I read this because it’s the next pick for the Fountains of Carrots book discussion podcast. The main character, Valancy, is oppressed by her family’s expectations and after receiving a fatal diagnosis, sets out to please herself rather than her various annoying relations. I found Valancy totally insufferable for about 60% of the book, so much so that I almost put it down. But the last third of the book – the romance – picked up and it somewhat redeemed the rest. I would have absolutely loved this book at fifteen though, due to the love interest’s ~mysterious past~. I guess it shows Montgomery’s range if she can write a protagonist as wonderful as Anne and as annoying as Valancy.

Lactivism: How Feminists and Fundamentalists, Hippies and Yuppies, and Physicians and Politicians Made Breastfeeding Big Business and Bad Policy by Courtney Jung // Holy subtitle, Batman. This was a fine read examining the overhyped benefits of breastfeeding, even if the prose wasn’t incredibly inspiring. Her best point was the shift of emphasis from breastfeeding to breast milk that allows lawmakers to claim they are promoting breastfeeding by requiring insurance to cover breast pumps and employers to provide pumping space while never considering paid maternity leave.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch // I heard about this multiverse novel on the What Should I Read Next? podcast and thought the premise sounded intriguing. I read the most of it while I treated my sick toddler with two consecutive viewings of Planes: Fire & Rescue. Definitely a page turner, if mostly predictable.

Troublemaker by Leah Remini // My “book you don’t want to admit you’re dying to read” for the MMD reading challenge. I have a secret hobby of reading about the cult she grew up in (plz don’t Google me, scary people) and have watched “Going Clear” a handful of times as well as her whole A&E show. I was expecting this book to be pretty lame like most celebrity memoirs, but it was pretty juicy, not gonna lie.

Currently Reading: I’m reading several pages of God or Nothing: A Conversation with Robert Cardinal Sarah for some spiritual reading in the morning and want him to be Pope so badly. I’m slowly making my way through Gaudy Night but have lost some of my reading mojo. I also should be reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn for Well-Read Moms, but I’m still on the waitlist for the Overdrive copy, so I should probably just go pick it up at the library.

I decided to do a read aloud with Christopher over lunch because I found myself staring at my phone while he ate his PB&J painfully slowly (like 45 minute nap stalling, slowly). I picked up The World of Pooh from the library and while it might be a little over his head, he gets the gist (I try some elementary Charlotte Mason-style narration with him, ha.) He looks forward to it every day, and so do I.

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy.

What I Read in 2016

I completed my Goodreads challenge of reading 45 books this year right under the wire and it inspired me to think about what I read this past year and to make some goals for next year. Quite honestly, I don’t feel like I had a great year in books. I read a lot of forgettable summer fiction, which has its place, but I don’t think I balanced it with enough memorable classics; nevertheless, I did read a few good ones.

Best Books:

Worst: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling (I’m with Haley; The more I think about this play, the more I hated it.)

Best Summer Read: The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

Book I Am Most Guilty About Not Enjoying: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Here’s the rest.

I also totally lost reading steam around September and was doing a lot of crocheting and binge watching TV during nap times instead of reading. I want to get back into the habit and while I’m a believer in reading at Whim per Alan Jacobs, I’d like to make sure I pair it with reading aspirationally next year. With that, some goals:

Be more consistent with spiritual reading. I have an incredibly kind newborn who sleeps well at night, so I’ve been able to get up before the kids fairly often in the past month and drinking my coffee and reading a chapter of I Believe in Love has been so nice. I want to keep this up, even if the getting up early doesn’t continue.

Read (or re-read) classic coming-of-age-for-girls books. Now that we have a daughter, I want to refresh my memory of great books from my childhood and others I have not read but want Therese to read in the future. I’m hoping to read the rest of the Anne of Green Gables series as an easy middle-of-the-night Kindle read. I just finished Anne of Avonlea and found it delightful. I want to re-read Little Women and maybe the Little House series, which was one of my absolute favorites around first grade, but I haven’t revisited them since.

Renew the hefty winter read tradition. There’s nothing like cold weather and a big ol’ book. In 2014 and 2015, I decided January was “giant book” month. I read Kristin Lavransdatter and Middlemarch and I’d like to bring back the tradition. I haven’t nailed one down quite yet, but Demons by Dostoevsky has been sitting on my shelf unread for quite a while. I also want to read The Master of Hestviken by Sigrid Undset, so that is a contender.

Listen to more audiobooks. Adding an audiobook routine while crocheting would make me feel like I’m accomplishing two things at once, though I have no idea when I’m going to get both of my hands back. #newbornlife Justified or not, I would also feel less guilty about speeding through mediocre binge reads if it were on audio. Thankfully, our local library is incredible and has a well-stocked Overdrive selection of audiobooks.

Amazon Affiliate links galore.

Therese Marie and the State of the Mooneys


I decided to take a break from watching the twentieth House Hunters of the week and post an update.

Of course, I’m able to watch couple upon couple bicker about The Budget and paint color on HGTV because my dear mom arrived the day our new little girl, Therese Marie, arrived. She’s been an incredibly easy baby: sleeps, eats, gains weight. I didn’t know they came this way and I’m hoping her easygoing nature will make her a good buddy for her whirlwind of a big brother.

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Christopher vs. The Giant Squid

Gather ’round as I tell the tale of a seaworthy (with the assistance of a floatie) young lad and his quest to conquer the dastardly giant squid. I would have written a sea shanty but the open ocean frightens me.

We like to go to the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, because it’s a mile away and free for all us Yale ID possessors. Christopher loves to sprint through the discovery room exclaiming about the ants and horseshoe crabs and then sprint through the dinosaur hall and then cautiously creep around the stuffed mammal exhibit. Aside from the occasional lapse in exuberance in the face of the giant stuffed Kodiak bear, you get it, it’s a lot of sprinting.

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We have to learn a new fight song…


This summer, after three years of bragging and boasting about boola boola, we’ll be moving halfway (a third of the way?) across the country to South Bend, because Chris is going to Notre Dame! He’ll be in the PhD program in Theology, his top choice. We’re incredibly excited because:

1) I called Notre Dame “Catholic Disneyland” when we visited for a conference in undergrad. I maintain this nickname, but now it’s not pejorative. The Massiest place on Earth!
2) Chris met a bunch of his cohort at interview weekend and became instant friends. I’m planning on hitching my ride to that bandwagon.
3) PhD stipend, holla! in…
4) South Bend, which seems about a billion times cheaper to survive in than Connecticut and we’re hoping we can buy a house(!!!) People keep saying, “oh, South Bend isn’t a great area” and I’m like, we lived in murder city for three years with only one stolen bike and found it quite pleasant.

Of course, I’m super sad to leave. (See: last post.) But I’m doing the healthy thing and pretending not to think about it until this summer. Here’s to five (or six) years of pretending to care about football!

Being a Sticker in a Boomer life

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We know we won’t be in New Haven come the Fall. It’s very exciting and God has been very, very good to us and I can’t wait to share where we’re headed with everyone, but we want to make sure we tell everyone IRL first. (And I’ve been stealing Chris’ thunder all week already…)

I’m trying to focus on the excitement that awaits us at our next destination, but I can’t always repress the hollow feeling in my stomach that arises when I think about leaving. It sounds dramatic (I hate sounding dramatic) but it’s the best way I can describe it. New Haven isn’t my favorite city, but it provided us with a lot of firsts: our first names-on-the-lease apartment as married people, the hospital where our first kid was born, our first adult friendships (non-college subtype), the beginning of our lives as Catholics. I spent our first year here lonely, pregnant, depressed, and very cold. I wanted to get out of here as soon as we could. I never would have expected to be sad to leave. This is a particularly upper-middle class ennui, I know. “Boohoo, your husband is getting his PhD at a top program and you have to move.” It’s not a heavy cross compared to others, but following the will of God often means having “no place to rest your head” and I struggle with that hard truth.

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Quick Lit: 2016 so far

I haven’t written a Quick Lit post in a while. Here are the books I’ve read this year in chronological order:

9780770436438The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra // A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Marra’s debut novel set in wartime Chechnya, was probably my favorite nursing-in-the-middle-of-the-night novel. Like that book, Tsar is a series of stories set across time in the Soviet Union and Russia and the characters’ lives end up being improbably intertwined. These stories were riveting, but I thought the collection ended on a clunky note philosophically, if not plot-wise.

The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings: J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip Zaleski // I’m a sucker for all things Inklings and I enjoyed this hefty biography immensely. C.S. Lewis dominates the narrative, but Tolkien was my far-and-away favorite of the bunch. Family man, faithful Catholic, inveterate nerd: Tolkien was great. It makes me want to re-read Lord of the Rings. (If you’re interested in re-reading it, check out my friend Michael’s LOTR-themed Lenten reflections.)

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