5 Ways to Read More in 2019

image of dog and girl reading

How many books have you read this year? According to Goodreads, my number is 98! I don’t share this to brag but to invite you into the book corner with me. The reading nook, the wingback armchair in the perfect patch of afternoon sun, the swinging hammock or the thundering subway car. Lose yourself in a story! Learn something new! Laugh, cry, be inspired!

Aside from grad school, when all I had time for was required reading, I’ve always been a big reader. But it’s not easy to prioritize leisure reading in this day-n-age; especially if you stare at screens or texts for work. Reading is awesome, and I want to share 5 things that might make it easier for you to read more in 2019.

  1. Always have a book with you. This is a great way to ease into reading. Carrying around a little paperback, or having a new bestseller from the library in the passenger seat at all times, means that an unexpected wait = an unexpected moment to read. As someone who gets anxious in a waiting room or impatient at the mechanic, having a book with me helps me stay calm and occupied while I wait.
  2. Reconsider the definition of “reading” or a “real book.” Graphic novels, audio books, and books of poetry have found their way into slimmer margins of my day. These non-traditional genres are also great for people who think they hate reading. Graphic novels aren’t all superheroes, although it’s cool if that’s your thing — but you can also find graphic novels about food, mental illness, memoir, and nerdy history jokes. And while some people are snobby about audio books (“you didn’t read it with your eyes, it doesn’t count!”), I think that’s hogwash. If you journey across muddy fields with Lizzy Bennet while you scrub dishes, or fly on Aslan’s back while commuting to work, of course it “counts.”
  3. Share what you’re reading – or don’t. Goodreads has been a fantastic support system for my reading habits. The deep index of titles on that website help me keep track of where I am in a convoluted series, and there’s a Reading Challenge function built right in. That’s why I know I’ve read 98 books this year! On the other hand, the social element might distract you, or make you feel like it’s one more social network to maintain. In that case, maybe a journal or a list on your phone can help you track your progress.
  4. Find your kind of book. One of the “five laws of library science” is “every reader their book.” This means that libraries should carry books for all kinds of needs and that we in the book-mongering business will not judge you for what you’re reading. And even if you don’t think there are books out there to interest you, I strongly suspect there are. There are more books out now, on any subject, than ever before, it’s easier to find them than ever before. They’re not all as dry as they were in high school, AND no one is going to make you have an opinion on them if you don’t want to.
  5. Find the time, and the time will find you. Even if you replace 10 minutes of scrolling through your phone (ahem, on the toilet, cough cough) with reading 10 minutes of your book, you’ll be surprised at the progress you’ll make.

If you’ve made it through all my advice and you want to read more this year, may I suggest thrillers, romances, and young adult novels to start? These genres are excellent stepping stones into reading fiction. They move fast, they get your emotions going, and honestly they’re just plain fun. Come read with me!

Image from Molly A. Poole‘s excellent labrador art prints.

December 21, 2018


Have you ever seen the movie Desk Set? It’s got Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in it, and Hepburn is a reference librarian! It’s snappy and cute. Anyway, toward the end of the movie the librarians are having a little Christmas party and the only question they’re getting all day is what the names of the reindeer are. As this is my last work day of the year, I thought this scene was fitting. I hope I don’t have to answer anything more difficult than “Dasher, Prancer, Dancer and Vixen, Cupid, Comet, Donner and Blitzen.”

  1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, History. I didn’t really know this origin story till this year! My favorite bit: “Seeking an alliterative name, May scribbled possibilities on a scrap of paper—Rollo, Reginald, Rodney and Romeo were among the choices—before circling his favorite. Rudolph.” Imagine Reginald the Red-Nosed Reindeer!
  2. Is it Christmas? Well? Keep checking back!
  3. Study with Me YouTube Videos. I’m actually really into this trend! It started in Japan, with these real-time study sessions, sometimes set to music or just the sound effects of turning pages, typing on a computer, and clicking your pen. If I were a college student right now, I would definitely see if this helps me stay focused. I was a big user of ambient noise websites like RainyMood and Coffivity as well. Purrli is one that’s just cat purring, and it’s surprisingly comforting even if you are not a cat owner!
  4. Christmas at the White House Through the Years, Town and Country. So many great photos in here. What did it look like the year you were born? For me (1991): “The 1991 Blue Room tree was decorated with 1,200 needlepoint ornaments, three of which First Lady Barbara Bush herself made by hand.”
  5. Martha Stewart Christmas (17 minutes) and Martha Stewart Living: Holidays (2 hours). Vintage episodes of Martha Stewart on Youtube have been virtually my constant companion this month. Here are two great ones to watch while you cook, snuggle your pets, and generally get cozy.

December 14, 2018

Hello, friends. Today at work I made a huge paper chain and strung it up at the Circulation Desk. Do you remember making paper chains? They’re so satisfying and fun! The holidays are truly the best season for crafting. Here’s 5 things I found this week:

  1. You Can’t Trust What You Read About Nutrition, FiveThirtyEight. FiveThirtyEight is a really interesting website. This talks a good bit about diets and specific foods, but it’s exposing how easy it is to manipulate scientific study or survey results to whatever claim you want to make. Food surveys are ridiculously inaccurate, so much so that
    “the Energy Balance Measurement Working Group that called it
    “unacceptable” to use “decidedly inaccurate” methods of measurement to
    set health care policies, research and clinical practice. “In this
    case,” the researchers wrote, “the adage ‘something is better than
    nothing’ must be changed to ‘something is worse than nothing.’”

    They used a short food survey along with other personal data to make very silly associations (eating egg rolls is associated with dog ownership; Drinking soda is associated with having a weird rash in the past year, etc.)

  2. What’s All This About Journaling? NYT. I love journaling! Here are some of the benefits: “There are the obvious benefits, like a boost in mindfulness, memory and
    communication skills. But studies have also found that writing in a
    journal can lead to better sleep, a stronger immune system, more self-confidence and a higher I.Q.” I would highly recommend journaling as a practice, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel like you’re “not writing anything important,” or if you miss a few days/weeks. Journals are always there for you and they can be a wonderful record of your growth, relationships, faith, pop culture favorites. Highly recommend!

  3. Toward a More Radical Selfie, The Paris Review. “In 2018, the ambivalence toward how to treat one’s digital self, how to
    create one’s “character,” is a particularly unwieldy knot for women. The
    collapse of the critical space between one’s personality and one’s
    online persona erases the distinction between self-expression and
    self-promotion. Every post now seems to fall into a dangerous trap.” Interesting. I do get tired of “putting myself out there,” which is why my Instagram has slowly transformed into a one-dog (one-PERFECT-dog) show. But this essay is beautifully written and introduced me to an impressive piece of fiber arts that I’d never seen before!

  4. The military secret to falling asleep in two minutes, The Independent. This trick actually sounds like it could work for me! It’s basically a body scan and then about 10 seconds imagining you’re in an incredibly still peaceful place. But click through and read the details, I’d love to hear if it works for you!

  5. Man Discovers a Family of Mice Living in His Garden, Builds Them a Miniature Village, Bored Panda. The pictures in this piece are MAGICAL. The guy is a wildlife photographer with a big yard, so I can only hope this habitat he’s built for the mice is a good good distance away from his house. But the photos are really precious and Beatrix Potter-like.

Bonus features:


December 7, 2018

Blog news: I might be moving to WordPress in the new year, given some of the strange news about the Tumblr platform, which is too complicated and frustrating to get into on my weekly-reads blog. Just a heads up that some changes may be coming down the pike.

This has been a week of unusually high anxiety for me, but I’m working my health and self-care plans as best I can. I haven’t had the brain space for anything really deep or intense, but I hope you enjoy this lighter, story-based fare this week!

  1. How a 6-Year-Old Survived Being Lost in the Woods,
    Outside. “Some kids will sit down and stay in one place,” says Koester. “If you are in the open woods and there is no landmark to follow, then the majority of six-year-old kids are going to circle.” So it wasn’t surprising that the search party concentrated its efforts around Deerings Meadow, where Cody was last seen. But lost people also latch on to linear features, like a road, Koester says.” Spooky!
  2. Ask Polly: I’m Broke and Mostly Friendless and I’ve Wasted My Whole Life. This is such a generous, beautiful essay about shame and art and how to start again. I’ll let her own words speak for themselves:

    “Shame is the opposite of art. When you live inside of your shame, everything you see is inadequate and embarrassing. A lifetime of traveling and having adventures and not being tethered to long-term commitments looks empty and pathetic and foolish, through the lens of shame. You haven’t found a partner. Your face is aging. Your body will only grow weaker. Your mind is less elastic. Your time is running out. Shame turns every emotion into the manifestation of some personality flaw, every casual choice into a giant mistake, every small blunder into a moral failure. Shame means that you’re damned and you’ve accomplished nothing and it’s all downhill from here.

    You need to discard some of this shame you’re carrying around all the time. But even if you can’t cast off your shame that quickly, through the lens of art, shame becomes valuable. When you’re curious about your shame instead of afraid of it, you can see the true texture of the day and the richness of the moment, with all of its flaws. You can run your hands along your own self-defeating edges until you get a splinter, and you can pull the splinter out and stare at it and consider it. When you face your shame with an open heart, you’re on a path to art, on a path to finding joy and misery and fear and hope in the folds of your day. Even as your job is slow and dull and pointless, even as your afternoons alone feel treacherous and daunting, you can train your eyes on the low-hanging clouds until a tiny bit of sunlight filters through. You are alive and you will probably be alive for many decades to come. The numbers on your credit-card statements can feel harrowing, but you can take that feeling and keep it company instead of letting it eat you alive. You can walk to the corner store to buy a newspaper and pull out the weekend calendar section and circle something, and make a commitment to do that one thing. You can build a new kind of existence, one that feels small and flawed and honest, but each day you accumulate a kind of treasure that doesn’t disappear. Because instead of running away from the truth, you welcome it in. You don’t treat what you have as pointless. You work with what you have.”

  3. How to Clear a Path Through 60 Feet of Snow, Japanese Style, Atlas Obscura. This is so fun to look at. I can’t even fathom this amount of snow, and yet it’s a yearly thing for them. I would watch a movie about Snow Canyon and the people who live (and plow) there.

  4. Pushcart-Nominated Poet Accused of Plagiarizing Multiple Peers, Jezebel. There seems to be a lot of plagiarism happening in the exploding landscape of “social media poetry.” It makes sense in a way, even though it’s absolutely not ethical. This example is basically an object lesson to the extremely damaging consequences of plagiarism via paraphrase. Things shared on social media are often fractured from their context or source – we see that all the time with the frustrating sourcing on Pinterest (although this seems to have improved somewhat as the years go by). That’s why I tell my students: what you say matters, but also how you say it (ethically, responsibly)! I feel for the poets involved in stories like this, especially those whose work has been stolen.

  5. We thought the Incas couldn’t write. These knots change everything, New Scientist. This is so cool! I would love to see a fantasy story that adapts this language system for magic purposes. If I had world enough and time, this is the kind of mystery I would love to know everything about.