2017 Reading Challenges I’m Following


It’s been quite some time since I  attempted to follow a reading challenge. I find that most of them are not geared toward the books I like to read or pertain to subjects I’m not interested in. Or they’re nonsensical (to me) and I’m not sure what I’ll gain from following it (i.e. “read a blue book).  That said, I know that reading challenges are a great way to expand your literary palate and become acquainted with different authors, genres, thoughts, and ideas. So for that reason, I’ve decided to loosely follow a few 2017 reading challenges.

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Books for November

behind closed doors the girl on the train

Can you believe there are only two months left in 2016? This year flew by. At one point I felt like this year was never going to end, but alas here we are. About to get ready to “ring in the new year.”

I still feel like there’s so much I need to get done though. My 2016 “to-do” list is looking kinda sad right now because it’s been neglected most of the year, much like my Goodreads reading challenge. Earlier this year, I set a colossal goal of reading 52 books in 2016. That’s a book a week. So what’s my current status on this Goodreads challenge?

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36 Lessons I Learned from “What I Know for Sure”

Lessons I learned from what I know for sure

According to my Goodreads account, I started reading What I Know for Sure by Oprah on August 10, 2015. I finished on June 6, 2016.

That’s almost an entire year of reading the same book. Admittedly, there were some months that I didn’t pick the book up at all. I would think about it and immediately push the thought from my mind. It wasn’t that I didn’t like the book; I actually loved it. It just felt so heavy and I didn’t feel like I was in a good place to actually accept and internalize the lessons that I knew were forthcoming.

What I Know For Sure is a guide; Oprah is a teacher

I haven’t always been a fan of Oprah’s. For some time, I regarded Oprah as someone I couldn’t relate to. She was far more enlightened than I and she had so. much. more than me. Those things are still true (I certainly don’t have “Oprah money”) but there’s still so much I can and did learn from her while reading What I Know for Sure.

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What I’m Reading in November

November Reading List

Last month I finished Mindy Kaling’s Is Everybody Hanging Out Without Me, Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places, and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. 3 books in one month is a great feat for me, seeing as though I’ve gone the last few months without reading at all. Jam’s hour long gymnastics class + her hour long open gym time + my hour long lunches have been super beneficial in being able to read more. They’re the real MVPs.

It also helps that I ended up enjoying all the books I read, which gave me the momentum to keep going. I hate when I read something and it’s dry, stupid, or hard to follow along with because it really dampens my reading experience. I don’t want to read anything else during that time because I become jaded. Yep, I know it’s sad, but such is life.

November’s Reading List

Because it’s fall and right after my born day, as usual, it’s a time for renewal for me. Some people think of the New Year as being a time to set goals, reflect on where they are and where they want to be, and all that jazz. I use my birthday. I’m usually super solemn around this time because I’m figuratively digesting an entire year. I rely heavily on the arts to get me through this–writing, music, and reading play major roles in the work I’m doing introspectively. So, it’s extremely important that I consume the right stuff, which brings me back to November’s reading list.

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What to Read in May


I’m officially behind on my GoodRead’s Book Challenge. Yep, I am. I’m not too surprised because life has been taking off, in a good way though. With my new job and newfound love for this blog, along with some other projects that I’m working on, my leisure time has all but seized to exist. For the month of May, though, I’m recommitting to my challenge to read 100 books by December 31, 2015. I mean, I only have about 95 left to go, so why not? Here’s what I’m planning to read in May.

Amy Poehler’s Yes Please



I’ve been wanting to read this book for the longest. My love for AP (She calls me “VP” and I call her “AP.”) runs deep. And not just because of Parks either. I can’t wait to dig into this one.

Marie Kondo’s the life-changing magic of tidying up


Late last year, I ran across an article featuring Marie Kondo and her unconventional methods for keeping things clean and organized. I was intrigued because I, too, personify inanimate objects. It sounds weird, but I’m hoping that Marie and I are kindred spirits and that she can crack my code for organization.

Jeanette Wall’s The Glass Castle


I half read this book in college and remember really, really wishing I had time to read it thoroughly, instead of just blazing through for an assignment. From what I remember, it was a good book and I’m looking forward to giving it the time it deserves in May.

Pearl Cleage’s Things I Should Have Told My Daughter


I bought this book a few months ago based on Amazon recommendations. I’ve never read a Pearl Cleage book, but I hear they’re all things amazing. Since I have a daughter and I am a daughter, I though I’d start with this one.

Henriette Anne Klauser’s Write It Down, Make It Happen


This will be my second time reading Ms. Klauser’s book. I enjoyed it the first time, but I don’t think that I was in a place where I actually appreciated what she was teaching. Seeing as though the halfway mark for 2015 is quickly approaching, I think that this is as fine a time as any to revisit this gem and do some mid-year re-assessment of where I am and where I’m going.

Since my bookshelf overfloweth, the only book I’m planning to buy is Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please.” Everything else, I already own.

What are you planning to read in May? Have you read any of these books?

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5 Ways to Get Your Kid to Read



Jam recently said something that rocked my world and made me grin from ear to ear.  As we were leaving home one morning for school/work, she said, “Mommy, I love to read now.”  I was so excited and so happy for my kid because, well….we all know about my joy of reading.  More than that, though, was the fact that Jam hasn’t always liked to read.  There was a time when I literally had to make her sit down next to me, pull out a book, and make her listen to me read or make her read aloud to me.  It was torture for both of us.  For her because she was being made to do something that she really had no interest in doing and for me because it was hurtful that the joy of reading didn’t come as naturally to her as it did to me.  In all transparency, it sucked.  But it was also a learning experience for me–a lesson in parenting. Here a few ways I got my kid to read and love it.

Surround them with books

This seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve been into homes where there were no books.  Either the parents aren’t interested in reading or they think that there’s no money in the budget for unnecessary things like books.  But books are sooo necessary.  There is no better way to expand a person’s reality than by books.

And yes, books can be expensive.  Thankfully, there are ways to get around that though.  Thrift stores and the “for sale” stack at many public libraries are just a couple of ways to save money on books.


Choose books that allow children to see themselves in the characters

I noticed that as I started buying more and more books with main characters who had beautiful, natural hair and gorgeous, brown faces like Jam, her interest exploded!  She was able to say, “Hey, Princess Cupcake looks like me with her big, curly hair and big, brown eyes.  She saw herself.

The books with characters that look like Jam is small, but it’s definitely growing.  There is a definite need for diversity in children books because it’s so important for children to see reflections of themselves in what they read.

Create incentives around reading

Call it a parenting “a ha” moment, but I’ve learned that punishments don’t work for Jam.  Since they worked for me as a child, I mistakenly assumed that the same would be true for her.  Not the case.  Rewards and awards work for my kid.  She needs a tangible incentive to make it worth her time.  Otherwise, unless she’s interested, she’s not interested!

On a recent trip to Dollar Tree, I found these cute little reading rewards cards that keep track of how many books you’ve read by punches.  It’s similar to a Starbucks card, I guess.  And just like Starbucks, once the card is filled, you get a prize!  I probably won’t give her a Frappuccino, but she’ll get something that’s fun and that she loves.  She can’t wait!


Create fun, hands-on activities around the books

Until there is an innate love of reading, there’s nothing that can get a little kid into a book like some arts and crafts.  Get some glue sticks, a few Popsicle sticks, some markers, and some construction paper, and you’re golden.  Most kids eat that stuff up, figuratively and literally.  It’s how many of them learn–by doing.

Pinterest is a great resource for stuff like this, along with teacher blogs and just general crafty people websites.  Crafts can be done with any and all books, to some extent.

Check out: The Very Hungry Caterpillar Clothespin Art Display


 Set the example

Our kids learn from us.  No matter how much we say, “Do as I say, not as I do,” they’ll always do as we do.  So if reading is not a part of your life, consider creating space for it.  It’s a great way to relax, let your mind wonder, and recoup from everything going on around us.  I’m convinced that my decision to read more and actually enjoy reading again, had a huge impact on Jam doing the same.

Do your children like to read? What worked for you in getting them to read?


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