(or an update on a resolution).

I made myself a nice little resolution of reading 12 nonfiction books this year. I made (and kept) this resolution last year with the general idea of reading one nonfiction book a month. Last year I had to rush at the end of the year to actually complete the goal so this year I thought I would try to keep myself on top of things a bit better. Now it is April and I have read 10 nonfiction books so far this year and have discovered I have a real love for this stuff (especially if it runs a little more scholarly, well researched, and well written and a little less "this is why I am right and everyone else is wrong"). So what have I read so far? So glad you asked. Here it is:

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff -- a really easy introduction (felt like cheating almost) into my 12 books of nonfiction. It is a collection of letters written back and forth between a writer in New York City and a book shop in London shortly after WWII. Short and charming.

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama -- this is just what it claims to be: thoughts. It doesn't claim to be a plan or any kind of directive for public policy but a collection of thoughts and observations and a somewhat personal attempt to see how he measures up. His University Professor really comes out in the writing of this book (a real positive for me) and I fell absolutely in love with Michelle (even though the book is not about her in any real sense).

A Secret History of the IRA by Ed Moloney -- Probably not something any of you would ever pick up (and probably rightly so) it is a pretty long account of the peace process in Ireland with obvious focus on the IRA's roll in that process. I found it absolutely fascinating and very readable (but rather long).

A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen -- Already mentioned here, but I'll just say again how much I loved this book (and its pictures).

A Single Voice by Kristen Oaks -- this is LDS (Mormon) nonfiction which is something that, even though I am LDS, I tend to avoid because how do you say I didn't like this book when it is written by a religious leader--even though they all go to great pains to say that these are just personal opinions? Kristen isn't actually a church leader but her husband is so I still did feel a bit guilty saying that I didn't love it. It needed some better editing and a tighter line of reasoning.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell -- This is a must read! I loved it from start to finish and found so many of the ideas so fascinating that I just had to share them with whoever was around (just ask my sisters). It is about the super successful and the many aspects that make them successful. It is not, however, a guide on how to make your kid super successful--although some of the ideas would translate easily into the raising up of a successful adult.

The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game by Michael Lewis -- Yes this is the book that brought us the Sandra Bullock movie of the same title, however the book itself is not just the tale of Michael Oher. It is, as the title suggests, a look at the evolution of a game--that game being football. As such there are long (or perhaps they just felt long) explanations of the game of football and how it has changed over the last 30 years. This was a fascinating story to read after Outliers because the first chapters discuss how story of Michael Oher is a perfect storm of sorts in that he and his body type (a rather rare body type apparently) happen to be around at the precisely right time in history (or the history of football) to turn him into a super success story (this is one of the themes from Outliers). While I'd give the book only 3 out of 5 stars--because of those long chapters on football--I now can wax long on the history of the left tackle and am kind of looking forward to seeing some left tackles in action this fall and I suppose that should count for something. Plus the story of Michael Oher is as interesting as the movie portrays it to be.

The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks -- didn't like this one at all. It lacked compassion and depth and required far more knowledge in neuroscience than I--or pretty much anyone--have.

Almost French: A Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull -- This is about as close as I usually care to get to reading a biography because while I say that I like all book genres, the truth is that I really tend to HATE biographies. This is because the nature of the biography is to do pretty much everything except tell the exclusive truth--I particularly dislike biographies of people who haven't actually done anything. Technically, I suppose, this is a memoir and it did tend to lack some of the me, me, me, and "watch me rise above it all without telling you about my failings," or "now I'm going to shock you so that you will want to talk to me on your talk show" aspects that so many other biographies have and so I let it slide in my twisted little mind. The end result of reading this book: I wanted to visit Paris but never, ever want to move there.

Bonds of Affection: Civic Charity and the Making of America--Winthrop, Jefferson, Lincoln by Matthew Holland -- Very well written and researched academic work by Holland (who is the son of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the LDS Church and is currently the president of Utah Valley University) was just so enlightening and fascinating. It changed the way I think about charity both personally and politically.

So there it is. My list of 10. I have 2 more to read to complete the resolution but I've been so completely bitten by the nonfiction genre I predict a much larger and broader reading for this year.

Oh, and any suggestions from you as to what nonfiction I should be reading would be very much appreciated.


I have a serious crush on Ellen Pompeo's home as featured in Elle Decor magazine this month. True, I don't love all the pictures and statues and such, but I love the placement of it all--the balance.

These uploaded pictures don't even really do it justice so find the magazine and browse through it. Oh, to be rich and famous and have someone come and do this for you.


Reward for the Driver

I have resumed my role as taxi driver to the airport this morning (the parents are off to Boston with strict instructions to not bother coming home if they don't bring me some chocolate covered cranberries) and figured I deserved this for my troubles:

(banana smoothie)

Now I just need to figure out a reason to deserve another one tomorrow.


Drawers and a Book

So these two topics don't really naturally go together, but (I feel like I say this a lot lately) I'm short on time so today they are getting bunched.

First off, my newly organized drawers (that I am excessively proud of):

I especially love that I can now see everything in my drawers at a glance.

And second, that really good book I was reading:

The is book three in Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series and while I really enjoyed the first two books, I really, really, really loved this one.

Now for my short (and not very good synopsis): It is a epic fantasy that has all the typical clashes between good and evil with all the new and different species that so many fantasy books revolve around (not that I am at all saying that this is bad). What sets this series apart, though, is that the good guys win in book one. So then book two is basically a look at what happens after the good guys win or what happens after "happily ever after." By book three, of course, everyone fully realizes that maybe they didn't quite defeat evil in the first book and that leads up to one final showdown. (you'll be able to find a more descriptive summary at Amazon or pretty much anywhere else)

So what I loved:

1. The look at what happens after the good guys win.

2. The romance--cause there has to be a romance.

3. I love that Sanderson so thoroughly thought the entire series out. You are given little kernels of information in books 1 and 2 that you don't even think really apply to the story only to find out in book 3 that they were really important. And there are so many twists and turns that were really quite fun to discover and be surprised by.

4. For the LDS reader (Sanderson is LDS) there is so much LDS theology, imagery, and history in these books (especially in book 3) that it will just boggle your mind. I've been finished for days and am still seeing new connections. (I also think there might be a slight Star Wars connection that I am dying to ask someone else about so read it and get back to me).


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I don't have any time today (happily occupied with a very good book) so I just thought I would check in to let you know that I am quite possibly the best aunt in the world and have recently nearly qualified for sainthood.

How did all of this come about?


Early this week marked the beginning of the regular season and I couldn't be happier. Wednesday evening I sat down to enjoy a little Wednesday Night Baseball as my beloved Yankees took on those Red Sox when my 3-year-old niece decided she wanted to watch with me. I sat her down, scrounged up a pencil and some paper, and then proceeded to teach her some of the basics of keeping a scorecard (something I love beyond measure). She sat with me for nearly an hour as I kept her pencil off of my scorecard, distracted her when she asked to watch ice skating instead, and patiently reacted as she shoved books in front of me that she thought might be more interesting than baseball.

None of this, however, qualifies me for that sainthood I referred to earlier. No, all of this is just expected good behavior for an aunt who loves her niece (also beyond measure). The sainthood comes when I, a die-hard Yankees fan, patiently taught my niece how to cheer for her beloved Red Sox. If that doesn't qualify one for sainthood I really don't know what does.

Here is a look at our scorecards (you'll please note that the Yankees won):


This is April Were I Live:

Just thought I would pull out that camera I charged up last week and show you what I am dealing with this morning. Tomorrow is supposed to be better--although it really has been such an easy winter that I really shouldn't be complaining.



So one of my New Year's Resolutions is to declutter and organize my bedroom. Well the bedroom has been successfully decluttered (and stayed decluttered for an entire week now) so now it is on to organizing. Specifically, I want to organize my clothes (dresser and closet). To this end, this video clip has been something of a revelation (well the middle part was not particularly useful to me, but I loved the beginning and the end). I realize most, if not all, of you already know how to fold a t-shirt and then how to place it in your dresser, but apparently I did not know--did not even know that I did not know. If, however, you are more like me than you are willing to admit, you may just want to check out this clip:

You might also want to head over to Cardigan Empire to check out all of her recent posts on closet organization.

Should the video not work (as it is not working for me right now) head over to this post at Cardigan Empire for a successful viewing.


Happy Easter

I was reading in 1 Nephi chapter 10 (in the Book of Mormon) yesterday and, while it may not be the most obvious Easter passage, I thought it quite fit the season. The chapter begins with the prophet Lehi noting the many prophets before him who had testified of Christ. Lehi then goes on to add his own witness of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The chapter then concludes with the prophet Nephi promising that each of us, through the power of the Holy Ghost, are capable of knowing these things for ourselves.

At this Easter season, I am so grateful for testimonies of the prophets of old, the testimonies of current apostles and prophets, and of the witness I have received by the gift of the Holy Ghost that Jesus Christ lived, he died, and he lives again.


New Attitude

I woke up this morning (several times thanks to a nasty head cold) with a renewed sense of blogging and a determination to blog something, if not of importance, of interest today. Then I looked outside, saw the snow and the grey and the wind, and promptly turned around in an attempt to ignore the day.

I mean, is it April or not? This is one cruel April Fool's Day trick Mother Nature is playing on me right now (fortunately the only trick so far today).

However, I promised a post and a post you shall have.

Yesterday I attended my local book group and had a perfectly lovely discussion with some perfectly lovely women about a book that I liked but didn't love. As part of the evening, our lovely hostess offered to lend out her copy of this lovely book:

I read it in 15 minutes and found it uplifting, enlightening, and lovely--one of its main themes being live in and enjoy the moment. As an added bonus, about half of the 50 pages are the loveliest black and white pictures that you could want to peruse in 15 minutes. So get yourself to your local library or book shop (but beware that should you read this book in a place you could purchase you might leave your local shop with about $10 less than you came in with) and spend a few minutes reading this little gem of a book.