January 2018 Reading Recap

Ever since starting my Instagram account dedicated solely to books (aka bookstagram), I’ve been getting a LOT more reading done. And since I could talk about books all day every day, I figured posting a monthly reading recap would be a good way to give this ol’ blog a little much-needed revival. So let’s get to it!

Beartown by Fredrik Backman –I’m not sure where to even begin with how to talk about my love for this book. Everyone said it was amazing, yet it still took me by surprise. The depth of feeling it evoked, the love I developed for every single one of the characters — I simultaneously didn’t want it to end but couldn’t wait to see what happened. In the beginning I was a little frustrated with how slow the story was to develop, but I quickly recognized — and came to appreciate — how necessary and intentional that was. The time Backman spent developing each character, as well as Beartown itself, made you know them intimately and care for them deeply. This was quite a first book for 2018. I’m not sure how anything else I read this year can live up to it — it has earned a firm place in my top 10 books of all time. All I can say is READ IT.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman — I read this immediately after Beartown so it had a lot to live up to. To my surprise, it exceeded my expectations; I LOVED this book. Eleanor is a troubled girl with a more than quirky personality that made me laugh and cry. It didn’t take long to fall in love with Eleanor and it was impossible not to root for her. Watching her discover herself, and develop a truly special relationship with Raymond, made this one of the most charming, heartfelt, and delightful books I’ve read in a while. We could all stand to be a little more like Eleanor.

Invisible: How Young Women with Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Feel Just Fine  by Michele Lent Hirsch — As a young woman living with a chronic illness, I jumped at the chance to read this. Living with cystic fibrosis has had an enormous impact on every aspect of my life, both in the tangible sense and in the way I view my life and plan for the future. It can be incredibly isolating to live a life that feels so different from your peers, and I’m always searching for any kind of media in which I might be able to get a glimpse of myself. (Thank you to Beacon Press for providing my copy in exchange for an honest review! Full review on Goodreads.)

By the Book by Julia Sonneborn –A loose translation of Jane Austen’s PersuasionBy the Book is a light, fun, entertaining read from author Julia Sonneborn. If you like a charming romance and are a book nerd, this might just be the perfect palate cleanser for you. (Thank you to Gallery Books for providing my copy in exchange for an honest review! Full review on Goodreads.)

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin (audiobook) — This was my first audiobook and it was perfect. As someone who has trouble staying focused, listening to fiction has proven difficult. But the subject matter combined with Rubin’s calming voice kept me engaged and interested. Plus, I found this book to be incredibly helpful — I’m for sure an Obliger who falls prey to rebel tendencies when I reach burnout. I feel like now I’m better equipped to establish systems to help keep me accountable and from reaching burnt out so quickly. I highly recommend The Four Tendencies for anyone, especially those interested in learning more about personalities.

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas — I had a copy of this book for a couple months before I finally picked it up, I only wish I’d read it sooner. Red Clocks tells of a harrowing future, one that feels eerily close and all too possible. With short, powerful chapters, Zumas tells the story of five women and the impact of the Personhood Amendment, a law that governs women’s bodies to an extreme (a very real extreme). I flew through this book, both eager and terrified to find out what happened to the biographer, the wife, the mender, and the daughter. As a woman who has pondered the ways in which our government could dictate what I do with my body, I read this book with a lump in my throat, unable to stop turning the pages.  (Thank you to Little Brown for providing my copy in exchange for an honest review! Full review on Goodreads.)

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny — The second book in the Inspector Gamache series was equally enjoyable as the first. I like how we’re starting to get to know the key players better, especially Armand. Losing myself in Three Pines will always be a treat, but I’m eager to keep reading since most fans say the books tend to get better with each one. (If you’re an LP fan, let me know if you agree!) Even though I’m only two books in I’m glad I started the series and am excited that there are still many more ahead of me.

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T.R. Reid — As someone with a chronic illness, health care is a necessity. My life depends on medications that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each and every year, not to mention doctors appointments, hospital stays, lab tests, bloodwork, etc. The issue of access to affordable health care has been on my mind for years, particularly during the past 12 months as the current administration tried to repeal the Affordable Car Act. (Full review on The Bookly Club.)

All in all it was a great month of reading. In the meantime, you can follow what I’m currently reading on Goodreads or at @kathareads. Come let me know what books you’re reading and loving!

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June Reads

If you couldn’t tell from my previous post, I’m attempting to make reading more of a priority. I used to DEVOUR books, starting one as soon as it entered my house. But over the years, probably thanks to #adulting, reading has taken a backseat. Don’t get me wrong, my love of books is still going strong, as evidenced by the hundreds — yes, hundreds — of books I’ve continued to accumulate with the intention of reading them.

In order to create the space to read more, I’ve drastically cut down the amount of television I watch. I canceled almost ALL of my DVR recordings, and instead of watching a show while doing my daily treatments, I read.

I’m also trying to read more of the (many, many, many) articles I save to Pocket. Are you sensing a theme here? #overlyambitious #contenthoarder

So, here’s what I’ve read in the month of June! Follow along with more of the books I’m reading, buying, and hoarding at @kathareads on Instagram.

Books

Hunger by Roxane Gay. HarperCollins was kind enough to send me an advanced copy of this gem and I’m so glad they did. This book will stick with me for a long time. (I reviewed this book in a standalone post a couple weeks ago.)

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. This was the May/June pick for The Bookly Club and surprised myself — I LOVED it. You can read my full review over there.

The Assistants by Camille Perri. I picked this up on a whim, needing a reprieve from the heavier subjects (see above). This was PERFECT. I read it in two days. Yes, TWO days. The full review is on Goodreads.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan. June was full of good books, and this one was no exception. This will definitely end up being one of my favorite reads of the year. My full review is on Goodreads.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This critically acclaimed book sat on my shelf for FAR too long. After finding some extra time at the end of the month, I finally picked it up and I’m so glad I did. Again, full review on Goodreads.

Articles

9 Things Readers Do Better Than Anyone Else

Why Venmo is My Favorite Sympathy Card

YES PLEASE: S’mores Slab Pie

The Best Ways to Support Independent Publishers

I Don’t Know How to Explain to You That You Should Care About Other People

How to Be a Contemporary Writer

Read It Forward’s Favorites of June 2017

Women’s Friendships, in Sickness and in Health

Tell me: What did you read and love in June? Come chat with me in the comments!

headphones for listening to podcasts

On Podcasts

I love podcasts. I’m starting to hoard them the way I hoard books — with the intent to listen, but in denial of how many hours I actually have to do so. There are a select few of which I never miss an episode, while the rest of them I pick and choose which episodes to devote time to based on topic/interest.

Podcasts keep me entertained anytime I’m in the car, when taking walks, while I do laundry, when I cook, and even when I can’t fall asleep. So here are a bunch that I think are worth checking out! Tell me: What podcasts have your ears?

If you like true crime…

Accused* — I devoured this in a matter of days.
Criminal — Short episodes, perfect for a commute.
Missing Richard Simmons* — This has since wrapped up, but it’s 100% worth the few hours of listening.
S-Town — From Serial and This American Life, all seven episodes will be released on March 28. I obviously can’t personally vouch for this, but I’m excited to see what it’s about.

If you like politics, news, current events, and culture…

NPR Politics* — I love love love this one. It’s a great way to stay up to date
Pod Save America* — Hosted by Obama’s former speechwriters, this is a no BS political podcast for those of us trying to stay sane during 45’s presidency.
On Point with Tom Ashbrook* — A good way to stay on top of current events. Plus, Tom has a very soothing voice.
On the Media — “The smartest, wittiest, most incisive media analysis show in the universe.”
This American Life  — I hope this one needs no introduction!
Code Switch* — Honest, at times uncomfortable, and always important conversations on race.
With Friends Like These — A new podcast from Ana Marie Cox, a political columnist and culture critic.
Pop Culture Happy Hour — A roundtable discussion about books, music, movies, TV, and anything else pop culture related.

If you like women-run podcasts…

Another Round* — Heben and Tracy are funny, have fantastic guests, and talk about everything from race and gender, to squirrels and mangoes.
Dear Sugar* — Hosted by Cheryl Strayed (and Steve Almond) and based off of the Dear Sugar column. Need I say more?
The Broad Experience* — Conversations about issues facing women in the workplace.
Call Your Girlfriend* — As they say, “a podcast for long distance besties everywhere.” And their theme song is Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend.”
Death, Sex, and Money* — “A podcast about the big questions and hard choices that are often left out of polite conversation.”
Embedded — “Hosted by Kelly McEvers, Embedded takes a story from the news and goes deep.” This season tackles video of deadly police encounters.
Nerdette — Interviews with everyone from authors to astronauts.
Note to Self* — Host Manoush Zomorodi tackles the effects technology on our everyday lives.
Women of the Hour — A miniseries about friendship, love, work, bodies, and more, hosted by Lena Dunham.
Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert — Anything Elizabeth Gilbert does, I’m there.
Stuff Mom Never Told You* — Even though this podcast has come to an end (insert sadface emoji), it’s still worth listening to the archived episodes, all about what it’s like to be a woman.

If you like books…

All the Books!* — A Book Riot podcast that comes out every Tuesday to discuss the best of that day’s new book releases.
Lit Up — Interviews with authors on life, love, and all things literary.
MashReads* — I just started listening to this one and I’m obsessed. Definitely go into the archives and listen to some of their earlier episodes, too.
That’s What She Read — Again, new to me but liking it so far. They did a re-branding of sorts and are focusing on books that “spark conversation and community around pressing social justice issues.”
Book Club Appetizer — Dubbed a “snackable podcast to enhance your reading adventures.” Yes, please!

Believe it or not, I subscribe to more than those listed… BUT those are the ones I listen to the most frequently. I’m happy to reveal others if you’re curious 🙂

* top 15… because narrowing it down any further gives me anxiety. Don’t make me choose!

March Favorites + a Playlist

Hello? Anyone still there? I don’t want to dwell on the fact that it’s been months (MONTHS!) since I last used this space, because it is what it is. And this place doesn’t need to become something I feel guilty about, but, that being said, I do miss it.

I figured I’d ease back into this here blog by sharing some things I’ve been loving, reading, eating, etc. this past month (to be a total cliche, HOW is it April already?!), as well as (what I hope will be) a monthly playlist. Let’s get to it!

Loving

@iamhertribe. This Instagram account has quickly become a favorite. Their daily, life-affirming quotes inject some (often-needed) clarity into my day.

Snapchat. I’m late to this party, but I’ve been loving it. Less pressure than Instagram (although Insta will always be my fave) and just lots of fun. You can find me at katharinescriv. Come say hi!

Life Lately Podcast. Clara + Brooke are two friends who live long distance and realized the conversations they had with each other might be of interest to others – and they were right! I’ve really enjoyed all the topics they’ve covered, from holistic wellness to sex + relationships, and look forward to new episodes every week. This week’s is on loneliness, something we all experience at some point in our lives – check it out!

Beauty products. Confession: I have a problem. I CANNOT get enough of hair products, face primers, masks of all kinds, etc. etc. etc. In the interest of trying to save a little bit of money, I’ve started exploring drugstore brands to see if I can find more affordable products to mix in with my higher-end stuff. My most recent finds are:

  • L’Oreal Micellar Cleansing Water. This has replaced toner for me and I swear my skin has been behaving better since using it.
  • Covergirl Ready Set Gorgeous Foundation. I was skeptical that a $9.99 foundation would work, but it did! Made my skin super smooth + flawless, and it lasted for hours.
  • Covergirl Lash Blast + L’Oreal Telescopic mascaras. For work I use the Covergirl mascara on its own (great volume, less lengthening, and also great for reapplying later in the day – no clumps!) and for going out/special occasions I use the two together for both volume + length. LOVE.

Birchbox. I abandoned this for a couple years but am back and loving it. My current favorite sample-turned-full-size purchase is the IPKN Radiant Primer. Adds a bit of glow under your makeup – perfect for the warmer weather that’s (hopefully) right around the corner.

These shoes. I desperately need new shoes, and these were my newest pair – comfy + cute!

Reading

Books. I recently finished Anne Lamott’s Help Thanks Wow and WOW. This has earned a permanent spot on my nightstand for daily reference. I’m a few chapters into Boy Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi and like it so far. Final thoughts to come. Next on my TBR list is One More Thing by B.J. Novak, this month’s Bookly Club pick (come read with us!).

Articles. Joy Bryant wrote about not having kids in Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter and YASSS. As someone who is still undecided on the kids/no kids issue, it’s a discussion that fascinates me and I’ve been reading anything + everything I can get my hands. Joy Bryant does a great job using humor to defend the choice not to have kids. I also loved a piece in the New York Times about women + friendship, and the benefits of female relationships that romantic ones don’t provide.

Blogs. The REWM. Rachel shares some of the best articles floating around the internet and I look forward to her weekly “week in review” posts each, well, week. A Practical Wedding. I’ve been following them since I got engaged and their content is still relevant as a married person. Full of smart + educational articles about all sorts of women-centered issues.

Eating

Buzzfeed’s Tasty. Two recipes that have made it into my regular rotation: Hasselback Chicken + Ratatouille Boats. Simple + delicious.

Galley Foods. I’ve used them once a week for about the past month and it’s been a lifesaver. Their menu changes weekly and they offer five different dinner choices every day, ranging from $12 to $16. Via their website or app, choose the day, meal, + delivery time and a fully cooked + delicious meal arrives at your door. All you have to do is heat it up for 10 minutes! Sadly, it’s only available in Baltimore right now, but I love it. If you’re in the area, I suggest giving it a try. (If you use my link, you get your first meal free!)

Relay Foods. A couple weeks ago I was sick but needed groceries. Battling crowds at the grocery store was the last thing I wanted to do, so I turned to Relay Foods, an online grocery store I’d been wanting to try for a while. I was able to take my time choosing what I needed and was able to pick it up the next day at a location near my home. Again, lifesaving. (And if you use my link, you get $20 off your first order. Pssst, they also deliver!)

Clavel + La Cuchara. Over the past couple weeks, I was able to cross off two “must-try” restaurants – a list that keeps growing thanks to the wonderful food culture here in Baltimore. Both of them were delicious + worth checking out if you live in the area.

Where else you can find me…

RIF. My latest writing gig might be my favorite because it involves books, and validates my book-buying habit. Check out my latest round-up: Books to Keep You Warm Until Spring Arrives.
The Bookly Club. My review of our March book, Betrayal, is up! Check back at the end of the month for our reviews of April’s pick, One More Thing.
CFF.org. This past month I was honored to participate in a panel on cystic fibrosis + relationships. Andy, Julia, and I had a wonderful discussion on the ways in which having CF can complicate relationships. While its focus is CF, a lot of what we talked about applies to all of us.

March Playlist

 

Phew, this was a long one. If you made it to the end, I love you. And I’d love to hear what you’re loving, reading, and eating this month!

On What I’ve Been Reading, Eating, and Loving

sprinkles, always.
sprinkles, always.

Cystic fibrosis is a big part of my life, there’s no changing that. But that doesn’t mean it has to be all CF all the time around these parts. So I figured I’d share a few things that have brought me joy (ahem, doughnuts), made me think, or struck me in some way. Feel free to share your own!

Erin, of the always thoughtful Design for Mankind, talked about redefining “good” days and I couldn’t agree more.

Another of my favorite online ladies is Jolie, of Brim Papery fame (maker of my “girl you are one boss bitch” mug). Her latest post put into words some of what I’ve been struggling with these past few months. (Aside from the title itself. So before you ask, no, I’m not pregnant.)

This trailer for Tig Notaro’s new Netflix documentary had me immediately adding it to my queue.

Want.

Speaking of books, I just finished this one (definitely worth reading), this one is soothing my soul, and hoping this one lives up to the hype. I’ve been thinking about doing mini book reviews – yay or nay?

My mom and I checked out a new vegan doughnut shop over the weekend. If you live in the Frederick area, check it out – I give it two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Guys, Cheryl Strayed TWEETED ME. And it made my life. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration. But maybe not.

And because I CANNOT get enough of her, make sure you give her Dear Sugar podcast a listen. Pre-order her upcoming book. And while you wait you can read her other books, Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things. She has a way of speaking to the soul that no one else does.*

If you’re like me and your “to be read” list gets longer every day, use this calculator to find out just how much time it will take to read your way through that growing stack.

And a couple other places you’ll find me this week:

Your turn! What’s been making you think/smile/laugh?

* I say all of this of my own free will because she’s awesome and I might bit a wee bit obsessed.

Things + Stuff

photo (1)

Y’all, I owe you so. many. posts. Life’s been a bit overwhelming lately, thanks to a (hopefully minor) CF setback, a busy season at work, and the end of #for30more. I was riding on such a 30th birthday/#for30more high, that the not-so-good health news rocked me pretty hard. Not to mention it means more meds, which brings with it a whole slew of side effects. Needless to say, I’m not feeling like myself and have been struggling just to make it through each day in one piece. But I’m doing my best to take each day as it comes and telling myself that this too shall pass.

I’ll be back with a more meaty post, but in the meantime I figured I’d share some things that have been making me smile. Because smiling’s my favorite.

Reading

– FINISHED: We just discussed Daring Greatly in book club, and I’d highly recommend it. If you’re feeling a bit vulnerable and/or exposed (and who doesn’t feel that way at some point?), give this a read. It put my favorite pink highlighter to the test.
– CURRENTLY: Eleanor & Park, thanks to the 1,291 rave reviews I read. So far, its everything I’ve hoped. I’ll report back once I’ve finished.
– ON DECK: Thanks to Jaclyn’s review, I suggested A Constellation of Vital Phenomena as our next book club read and everyone was on board! I’m eager to see what all the intrigue is about. (If you’re looking for your next read, check out Jaclyn’s blog – she always makes me want to pick up books I might have otherwise overlooked.)

Watching

I’m a TV fanatic, it’s true. I often blame my time spent doing meds as the reason I must watch ALL THE TV, but that’s not entirely true. Yes, I watch about 1 to 2 hours of TV most days for CF treatments, but my list of shows runs much longer. Right now my top three are Parenthood (I can’t even talk about how it’s the farewell season; also ALL THE TEARS – I cannot go a single episode without crying. #truth), Nashville (major Connie Britton girl crush over here), Scandal (I mean, no explanation needed, amiright?!). Someday I’ll divulge my full list… if I can get over the shame. (Who am I kidding? #noshame)

Listening

– To get me through my current bout of the sads: Joy Parade, Lennon and Maisy
– For the teeny bopper that lives inside: Steal My Girl, One Direction
– On repeat because I LOVE the song AND it stars a kid with CF: I Lived, One Republic (Seriously, the awareness this video brings to the CF community is phenomenal. A must watch, no matter who you are.)

Looking forward to…

Thankfully, despite the current bump in the road, I have lots to look forward to: this Wednesday I have the pleasure of speaking about CF and turning 30 at a CFF netowrking event at Dooby’s; a massage, thanks to a very thoughtful birthday gift from my husband; Halloween! I normally am not a big fan of this holiday, but handing candy out to kids is one of my most favorite things ever; a new season of Stoop Stories (starts Monday, October 22 if you’re in the area!); celebrating our second wedding anniversary (and 15 years of knowing each other – holy crap); a visit to Chicago to meet the very squishable Lucy, my best friend’s brand new babe.

The next few weeks are shaping up to be good ones. And I’ll be holding on to that goodness to get me through.

Thanks for the constant support – it helps more than you’ll ever know ❤

Smiles + Wishes

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Fridays are celebrated with donuts.

I’ve been missing this space lately. And, per usual, I feel like I have lots to say but am without the right words.

The past few weeks have been tough so I’m embracing a “thankful-for-the-small-things” mindset and am soaking up every little moment that puts a smile on my face. I’m sharing some of these things in hopes they bring you some joy, too.

Almost peed myself getting to meet this author. She was hysterical, she signed books + took pics, AND she brought brownies. #winning (Shout-out to Enoch Pratt Free Library for her appearance!)

Enjoying this book more than I thought I would. Even though I didn’t finish in time for my book club meeting (tsk tsk!), I’m determined to reach its end. If you’ve tackled these 700+ pages I’d love to know your thoughts (sans spoilers, of course)!

Has anyone else seen this show? I’m OBSESSED. I might need to seek help. I just want to go live with Joanna and Chip on their farm and play with the baby goats. (And I’d love it if Joanna would makeover my house. Duh.)

Saw this movie. Turned into one big puddle. (Obviously.)

On repeat. Can’t stop, won’t stop. This too. And this.

I have been buying bag after bag of these. It’s embarrassing really. Except that I enjoy them too much to stop. I mean, I could be eating worse things, right?

Reading + discussing this and this. Thoughts? (I bought this, which came highly recommended by my sister, because we both have much to say on this topic. I think it’d be a great book club pick.)

Always loving this girl’s blog. I like to think we’d be friends if we ever met in real life.

Drooling over this (in pink), this, and this. I can’t seem to stop ogling statement necklaces. IMHO, a girl can never have too many.

There’s one last thing making me smile: In just about three months I turn 30. When I was born, the life expectancy of someone with cystic fibrosis was 25. There aren’t enough words to express how THRILLED I am to be here, on this planet, living the wonderful life I feel beyond thankful to be living and I plan to celebrate the heck out of this birthday. (Plus, I have a big birthday wish in the works that I’d love ALL of YOU to help me with. Stay tuned!)

Tell me, what’s putting a smile on YOUR face?