Posts filed under ‘Susan’s World’

Austen in August Reading Challenge 2018

I found this book last year at a local thrift store and I’ve been waiting for August to sink into its lovely pages. Isn’t this a pretty book cover?

You either love her writing or hate it. You think it is well-written or insipid. Until 2015, I had no interest in reading any of Jane Austen’s books. Then I decided to accept the challenge to actually read her books. That August I read all six. .And I enjoyed each one.

This August I will participate in my 3rd Austen in August (AIA) reading challenge. I am joining with other folks from The Book Rat. This is The Book Rat’s 10th year to organize an AIA.

The Deets:

  1. Austen in August is a celebration of all things Jane Austen, featuring reviews, discussions, vlogs, giveaways, interviews and more!
  2. AIA will run for the entire month of August. You can read Austen’s works, adaptations, biographies, etc. Anything Jane Austen is allowed.
  3. There will be an Austen Read Along to coincide with the event: Longbourn by Jo Baker.

I read all the Jane Austen books in August 2015. I also read Emma: A Modern Retelling by Alexander McCall Smith and listened to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen.

I continued this challenge in 2017 where I reread Northanger Abbey. I read Austenland: Novel by Shannon Hale, The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, and Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld.

The following books are available from the library as eBooks. I will choose several to read during August. I will definitely do the Group read.

Your Turn . . .  What Jane Austen book is your favourite to read? . . .  What do you suggest I reread? . . . I hope you join us this year’s Austen in August Reading Challenge.

Related Posts . . . Reading Challenge for My 60th Year (2018)

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Follow Seven Principles to Make a Dream Doable

I am reading this book, finally after decades of it being on my to-read list. … I followed seven ideas to make this a reality.

Do you have a dream that you are actively achieving? Or, is the dream still in hibernation mode?

I am a bucket list maker. I have dreams in quite a few areas, including theological, cooking, and reading. I have things I want to do during specific seasons as in Summer. On my birthday, I write what I want to accomplish that birth year. I have more ideas than one person could complete in a lifetime. However, I am finally in pursuit of one dream that seemed impossible. At least it seemed impossible according to my original guidelines.

I began to learn Spanish when I lived in Puerto Rico for most of my middle school years. One of my teachers thrilled us with episodes from Don Quixote de la Mancha, to the extent I decided I wanted to read the 1,000-page book in Spanish. Even though I’ve had years of Spanish since then, my grasp of the Spanish is not yet advanced enough to read this adult classic (in Spanish).

“Mom,” my daughter said, “just because you used to know a lot of Spanish doesn’t mean you’re a failure if you can’t read Don Quixote in Spanish now.”

This year, my 60th year, I decided to lay aside unrealistic expectations and make Don Quixote (DQ) the classic book I conquer. And to make this doable, I will read it in English. (In past years, I’ve read, in English, Anna Karenina, The Imitation of Christ, Moby Dick, and War and Peace, to name a few.)

For several months, I rummaged through thrift store shelves and garage sale piles for my very own copy of this classic, Don Quixote de la Mancha. I finally found a two-inch thick, paperback, in pristine shape for $1.99. I love a good deal, especially when buying things I don’t need.

And besides the bargain, I could check Step 1 off my list – Buy the book.

For Step 2, I cracked open the book to the Table of Contents to figure out a reading schedule. I became immediately daunted. Oh, no. This print is too small for me to read. ­

My daughter stepped in again, “Why don’t you go on Amazon and buy a large print edition?”

“Or,” I said, “I can get an e-copy, since I can control the print size on my Kindle.”

After an hour on Amazon, I still had not purchased an e-copy. There are at least 8 DQ versions for the Kindle. How do I pick the BEST version to read?  Too many choices are paralyzing.

I grabbed my ear buds and took a walk to clear my head. When I walk, I frequently listen to an audio book or podcast. After 30 minutes, I put away my headphones and house key. I wondered, Is there an Audible English version of DQ? I opened Audible on my phone to check. Yes, there was an English book. Without any more research, I clicked on this first entry and bought it.

I am now on chapter 72 of 126 chapters. I listen almost every day while I get in my daily steps. I am proud that I am finally tackling a long time dream because I modified it to fit my current lifestyle and skills.

Principles I learned from this process.

  1. Choose a dream.
  2. Make a list of steps from beginning to completion.
  3. Identify expectations and remove the unrealistic ones.
  4. Brainstorm (by yourself or with someone else) actions to achieve the steps.
  5. Do necessary research. But don’t give yourself too many choices.
  6. Choose a path that is doable for this stage of life. Realize that for most goals, there is no BEST path to achievement.
  7. Start the process TODAY.

Your Turn . . . What is a longtime dream you’ve had, but keep pushing out of sight? Is there some way you can adjust it to fit your current lifestyle and skills? 

Let us know in the comments. And we can cheer each other on as we make our impossible dreams possible.

Related Posts . . .

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Reading The ABC’s of My Bookshelves 2018

“Do not read, as children do, to amuse yourself, or like the ambitious, for the purpose of instruction. No, read in order to live.” ~ Gustave Flaubert

I have more books than anything else in my home. They are the hardest things for me to declutter. Since I really want and need to streamline my home, boxes (and boxes and boxes) of books need to relocate. But first, I want to read or re-read them.

 

  • Have you read all the books on your bookshelves?
  • Do you have any you want to reread?

My answers are “No” and “Yes.”

How do you pick which books to read?

I have so many that sometimes it is hard to choose which ONE book to read first. That is why I am creating The ABC’s of My Home Bookshelf list. At least I’ll narrow the list to 26 books. Below is my (tentative) list. As I read a book for that letter, I will bold the entry.

The ABC’s of My Home Bookshelves

  1. Actual Factuals for Kids: with Verses From the Bible by Nancy S. Hill
  2. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
  3. Corelli’s Mandolin
  4. Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Héctor Tobar
  5. Extraordinary Results from Ordinary Teachers by Michael Warden
  6. Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray
  7. Goliath Must Fall: Winning the Battle Against Your Giants by Louie Giglio
  8. Hollow City (2nd novel of Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children) by Ransom Riggs 
  9. The Invisible Bond: How to Break Free from Your Sexual Past by Barbara Wilson
  10. J
  11. Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis .
  12. Learning to Breathe: My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life  by Priscilla Warner
  13.  The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
  14. No Easy Jesus by Jason Mitchell
  15. Option B: Facing Adversity, Duilding Resilience, And Finding Joy
    by Sheryl Sandberg
  16. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  17. Q
  18. The Right Attitude to Rain (An Isabel Dalhousie Mystery) by Alexander McCall Smith …
  19. Switch On Your Brain by Dr Caroline Leaf
  20. Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson
  21. U
  22. V
  23. Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
  24. X
  25. Yes! By Noah Goldstein
  26. Z

Your Turn . . . Have you read all the books on your bookshelves? . . . How do you pick what to read?

Related Posts – I’ve tried different things to narrow my reading choices.

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Reading Challenge for My 60th Year (2018)

These are some books from my bookshelf.

How do you improve yourself? 

  • Take classes at the local college or online?
  • Hire a personal trainer or coach?
  • Participate in health or financial challenges with your mates?
  • Regularly follow your morning and evening routines?
  • Create and follow S.M.A.R.T. goals?

All if the above ideas are great ideas. But my favorite way to improve myself is by reading.

Below are 3 benefits of reading from my post, 13 Benefits of Reading,

  1. ,Exposes us to novel ideas, actions, geography and people so that we become more culturally, emotionally, politically, and historically aware.
  2. Clarifies difficult topics.
  3. Gives us the opportunity to learn from the mistakes and wisdom of others.

Every year (around my birthday), I decide what reading challenges I will do that year. My reading challenges this year are as follows ..

  • Read 2.018 minutes a month.
  • Read 60 books from the library, friends, etc.
  • Read the ABC’s from my own bookshelves. The list is here.
  • Read books for my monthly book club.
  • Read Don Quixote as part of my classics education.
  • Finish Mrs Dalloway.
  • Participate in the Austen in August Reading Challenge.
  • Leave Amazon reviews for books of people I know.

If I add anything else to this reading challenge for my 60th birthday year, I will update this post.

Your Turn . . . What is on your reading list for this year?  . . .  What would you add to my list?

Related Posts . . . 

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Did I Reach My Goal of Reading 59 Books?

Book cases are valuable pieces of furniture in my home. You? They contain treasured books that I’ll reread and books I’ll read for the first time. I like setting reading goals so that I make sure to regularly indulge in this favourite hobby.

My goal last year was to consume 59 books. I finished 62. I read from a wide variety of genres. My newest one is decluttering. I have made great decluttering progress and such books keep me motivated.

AUDIO BOOKS

  1. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  2. A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
  3. How to Travel the World on $50 a Day: Travel Cheaper, Longer, Smarter by Matt Kepnes
  4. I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak
  5. Lila: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson
  6. The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain
  7. Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder by Arianna Huffington

CLASSICS

  1. War and Peaceby Leo Tolstoy
  2. What’s So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey

DECLUTTER

  1. Coming Clean: A Memoir by Kimberly Rae Miller 
  2. The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life by Robin Zasio
  3. Housebroken: admissions of an untidy life by Laurie Notaro
  4. Unf*ck your habitat: you’re better than your mess by Rachel Hoffman
  5. Year of No Clutter: a memoir by Eve O. Schaub

HEALTH/HOBBIES

  1. Architectural Photography: Composition, Capture, and Digital Image Processing by Adrian Schulz
  2. Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most by Timothy Shriver (audio book from Library
  3. Getting To Know The World’s Greatest Artists: Picasso by Mike Venezia
  4. Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott
  5. Healthy Brain, Happy Life: A Personal Program to Activate Your Brain & Do Everything Better by Wendy Suzuki, PhD
  6. How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries by Kathy Lynn Emerson
  7. Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen: Learning to Cook with 65 Great Chefs and Over 100 Delicious Recipes by Dana Cowin
  8. Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren F. Winner
  9. TED Talks Storytelling: 23 Storytelling Techniques from the Best TED Talks by Akash Karia

JANE AUSTEN (her books and adaptations)

  1. Austenland: A Novel by Shannon Hale
  2. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  3. The Jane Austin Book Club: A Novel by Karen Joy Fowler

MEMOIR

  1. Glitter and Glue: A Memoir by Kelly Corrigan

MISCELLANEOUS

  1. The Dinner: A Novel by Herman Koch
  2. The Eden Prophecy: A Thriller by Graham Brown
  3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  4. Hearts And Bones by Margaret Lawrence
  5. The Sleepwalker: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian
  6. The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson
  7. Welcome to the World, Baby Girl! by Joanna Fluke
  8. The Young Messiah by Anne Rice
  9. False Impression by Jeffrey Archer

RECOMMEND

  1. small great things: A Novel by Jodi Picoult

SERIES

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (1/3)

Evie Blackwell Cold Case

  1. Traces of Guilt (#1/2) by Dee Henderson
  2. Threads of suspicion (#2/2) by Dee Henderson

A Hannah Swensen Mystery

  1. Banana Cream Pie Murder (Book 21/21) by Joanne Fluke

In the Land of the Long White Cloud saga Book

  1. In the Land of the Long White Cloud (Book 1/3) By Sarah Lark

Mitford Series

  1. To Be Where You Are (Book #11) by Jan Karon

Ruth Galloway Mysteries by Elly Griffiths

  1. The Crossing Places (#1) by Elly Griffiths
  2. The Janus Stone (#2) by Elly Griffiths
  3. The House at Sea’s End (#3) by Elly Griffiths
  4. A Room Full of Bones (#4) by Elly Griffiths
  5. Ruth’s First Christmas Tree (#4.5) by Elly Griffiths
  6. A Dying Fall (#5) by Elly Griffiths
  7. The Outcast Dead (#6) by Elly Griffiths
  8. The Ghost Fields (#7) by Elly Griffiths
  9. The Woman in Blue (#8) by Elly Griffiths
  10. The Chalk Pit (#9) by Elly Griffiths

Women’s Murder Club Series by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro

  1. 10th Anniversary  by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  2. 11th Hour by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  3. 12th of Never  by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  4. Unlucky 13  by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
  5. 14th Deadly Sin by James Patterson and  Maxine Paetro
  6. 15th Affair  by James Patterson and  Maxine Paetro
  7. 16th Seduction by James Patterson and  Maxine Paetro

YEARLONG BOOKS

  1. A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman by Joan Anderson
  2. The Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Your Turn  . . . Did you meet your reading goal for last year? What one book do you think everyone should read? I think everyone would benefit from reading small great things: A Novel by Jodi Picoult.

Related Resources . . .

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Philosophy of Life Hasn’t Changed in 9 Years

Last Sunday I preached at church on my life verse. As I was preparing for the sermon I remembered that sometime ago I had written about it on my blog. I did a little research and found that in 2008 I was tagged to define my philosophy using only 6 words.

Here is that first post, 6 Words That Define Philosophy of Life. In thinking about this topic, I first I came up with ideas that others might have used.

Jesus could have used one of the following as His 6 word philosophy . . . 

  1. The Father and I are One.
  2. Greatness? Humble servant, always obedient.
  3. I always do the Father’s will.
  4. My life, for yours, for eternity.

Augustine might have had the following as his philosophy … Desire what I know God desires.

And finally The Westminster Larger Catechism says . . . Glorify God and enjoy him forever.

Then I wrote a post about coming up with my philosophy, My 6 Word Philosophy of Life Brings Perspective. Can you guess how many tries it took to narrow it down to 6 words that I WANT to base my life on? It only took 12 tries. Go read this post to see what my progression was. And to see what my life verse is!

Your Turn . . .  Have you ever taken time to narrow down your philosophy of life? If you have, can you connect it with a verse in the Bible? . . . If you haven’t done either, I encourage you to do so and then share it with us. . . . If you’ve already done it, share it with us.

Related Post . . . I ended this concentrated thinking time by writing this post, 11 Generations Participate in 6 Word Philosophy of Life Meme.  It was interesting to see how this chain started and where it went.

Why don’t you continue this chain by answering and then tagging some folks to answer? Let’s get this meme going again. This kind of reflection is good for us.

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Checking Your Heart for Leaf Scars

Gazillions of leaves are falling . . .
Into my yard.
On my roof.
Under my doormat (?).
All over my car.
In my outdoor glider.

One time a bunch even descended upon me (and in my shirt) as I left my house.

Why in the world are these leaves attacking me and others en masse?
Because it’s Autumn.

Technically, it’s because there is less sunlight and water, the tree stops making food and grows a seal which disconnects the leaf from the tree. This is a protective measure the tree “instinctively” makes in order to help itself survive the winter.

More in-depth answers are available to the autumn questions at kidzone. Also your kiddos will enjoy the following autumn projects like . . .

So what does all this have to do with anything relevant to my life as a Believer?

There are times in my life when it feels like autumn.
I lose my leaves, my sense of connection with my core, my energy. I shut down for a season. These leaves can be my composure, joy, temper, courage, integrity, commitments. I bet you can name some more.

A tree in this cycle is healthy. When I’m in this cycle, not so healthy.

It always happens when I move myself (not always intentionally) away from the light of the Son and water of the Word. If this goes on for a spell, a seal forms around my heart.

At the point where the stem of the leaf is attached to the tree, a special layer of cells develops and gradually severs the tissues that support the leaf.

In my heart, these layers are caused by fatigue, unbelief, anger, pain, fear, overload. And when I don’t regularly feed myself with truth, as found in God’s word, I lack the ability to take care of myself properly. I feel severed from God’s leading.*

When the leaf is finally blown off by the wind or falls from its own weight, it leaves behind a leaf scar.

I’ve got leaf scars! Too many are the result of my own choices.

But I am grateful that God is . . .

  • the Master of autumn and spring and every season.
  • stronger than any protective seal I allow to come between us.
  • constantly wooing me back into right relationship with Him, with others and with myself.

Sisters, if you are in an autumn season . . .

  • Drink some water – the Bible.
  • Sit in the Sun (Christ) for a bit.
  • Tell Him how you feel.
  • Ask for His help.
  • Dare to share with a friend what the layers are.
  • Seek prayer from others.
  • Unload your life.

It’s that simple. And it’s that hard.

Autumn is about positive, protective, preparation for winter. It’s good for a tree to drop its business all over – everywhere.

When our autumn means we protect ourselves from God, others, ourselves, and when it means we drop our business all over – everywhere, it means trouble. But it is trouble that has an answer.

Will you join me in believing that God really has the answers for a good life?

Let’s use this earthly autumn to see where our hearts are going dormant.

Your Turn . . . 

  • What are some of the layers you’re carrying around?
  • How may I encourage you?
  • Pray for you?
  • Call or email me if you’d like to talk privately.

Remember, It’s that simple. And it’s that hard.

But no matter how I feel, I am never severed, as a Believer, from His grace, love and mercy. Nor can I ever be snatched from His hand.

Related Posts . . .

NOTE: This is an updated post from 2006.

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