Now that I am more or less back to normal and can think more clearly, I'm reflecting a bit on my crafting and reading life this year and how those aspects can have an impact beyond just being pleasurable ways to spend my time.
I am about 75% done with my final secret obligation project, with the hope that it will be all done by the end of the week, and I've realized that as much as I enjoy the creative aspect of designing, I really do not enjoy having to do it on a deadline. Putting aside the fact that these secret projects for third-party publishers make it really difficult to keep up with the blob, I've found that the pressure I've felt to get these things done has meant that in my free time, when I should be doing things with my family, I've instead been focused on knitting. While I can knit while I do other things, I've been so focused on the deadlines that I've largely been isolating myself to get the work done. So once these deadlines have passed, I will be making a better effort to spend that free time in the company of my daughter and husband (even if I'm knitting while we're together).
My reading has seen a major uptick in activity this past year, thanks in large part to my embrace of the e-book. While the increase in volume/number of books read is a good thing for me, what's more notable is that I've been making a real effort over the past year or so to read books by or about people who come from a very different background. Specifically, I've been trying to read more books written by or about people of color in an effort to broaden my perspective and, in a way, experience different points of view of what it is like to live one's life. While the books I've read have been predominantly fiction (because that's my preferred genre), I've also read a fair amount of nonfiction books, many of them featuring women as a primary focus. Since I last posted about my reading, here are some of the books that I've finished:
- A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake: This is fiction, but it features some real-life characters and addresses serious real-life issues like the legacy of slavery and the shooting in Charleston, S.C., several years ago. I gave it 4 stars.
- A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline: I think this came across my radar because I'd read and enjoyed another book by the author. This one is another fiction story based loosely upon the life of a real person, the woman who inspired Andrew Wyeth's famous painting "Christina's World." It was beautifully written if somewhat depressing, and I gave it 4 stars.
- The Rule of One by Ashley Saunders and Leslie Saunders: This was a Kindle freebie and I have to say that I'm glad I didn't pay for it. It seemed like an intriguing concept, and the story certainly moved along at a good clip, but in the end I wasn't very impressed and felt like it was just a pastiche of other post-apocalyptic YA fiction works. I gave it 3 stars.
- The Two-Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman: This one had been on my want-to-read list for a while after a friend recommended it to me, and I really enjoyed it. Though I anticipated the plot twist virtually from the beginning, that did not lessen my enjoyment of the story. I think the book's real strength is in the excellent character development; each chapter is told from the point of view of a different character, and I think altogether there are maybe eight or 10 different characters whose voice is heard. I gave it 4 stars (probably closer to 4.5).
- Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple: This was one of those books that I was seeing everywhere when it first came out but never got around to reading, and luckily it was available from the library without a wait. I didn't really know what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised. It was quirky and funny and certainly original in the way the story is told. I gave it 4 stars.
- Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain: This was a book I'd been meaning to read for a long time, long before Bourdain died, but I only got around to it recently when I found the paperback at Costco. It was my before-bed reading, so it took me a while to get through it. I mostly enjoyed it. It was an entertaining and enlightening read, but there are some things I kind of wish I hadn't read because I think now I'll be overthinking things when I go out to eat. I gave it 4 stars.