I didn't make any formal New Year's resolutions, but I did make a few informal goals for 2011. One of those goals was to try and read more often. I have always loved books and reading is one of my favorite ways to relax and unwind at the end of the day. Still, where the Man makes a point to read every morning, I was never one to budget time for reading. And when I did, my book choices were not the best.
|just a small sample from my collection of embarrassing reads...|
Keep in mind, when I mention substantial reading, I'm still talking about reading for leisure-- no Ayn Rand or Stephen Hawking here.
Since another goal was to try and be more frugal, instead of hitting up Amazon or BAM for my latest read (or even a thrift store, as I often do,) I checked out the *free* selections at the Public Library. After surfing their online catalog, I had a list of requests. I also decided to give audiobooks a try while driving to and from work. I started with:
Mrs. Meyer's Clean Home: No nonsense advice that will inspire you to clean like the dickens.
This was a fun book to flip through, and had some handy tips-- but many of them I had seen before. I do want to make an effort to keep our nest cleaner and a little greener (without too much effort.) The only tricks I've actually made use of are using baking soda in the wash to help freshen our towels and cut back on my love affair with bleach; and using lemons to clean the garbage disposal and freshen our laminate countertops. I really love the smell of fresh lemon and will probably continue to keep a few on hand. I think the biggest change I noticed after reading this book was my comitment to try and not spend so much money on cleaning supplies. I will still ooh and ahh over the latest and greatest cleaning invention, but I'll be less likely to actually commit to a purchase. I'd eventually like to give some Mrs. Meyers or Shaklee products a try one day, budget permitting.
Speaking of budget:
The New Good Life: Living better than ever in an age of less. - John Robbins
I was looking for a book that talked about managing personal finances and this one seemed to have an interesting "whole health" perspective. Still, I worried it was going to become a little preachy-- as many green-living, financial health books have a tendency to do. Many of the concepts presented by the author were a bit out-of-reach for our nest. For example, giving up meat -- the Man and I are both carnivores. Sorry environment, and my apologies to our grocery budget. Or installing solar panels, composting, or raising chickens-- the ideas are fantastic, but I don't believe our neighbors would appreciate any of that very much. I will be attempting to raise my own tomatoes this year, so that's a start.
However, though many of the ideas were extreme-- I did find myself connecting with his discussion of redefining the "good life." For me, that is trying to shift away from that "I want = I need" idea of spending and shopping and stepping back from many of my shopaholic ways. Part of the importance of the 111 challenge for me was seeing how burdened I had allowed myself to become with STUFF. I'm not stopping shopping for pleasure, but I am trying to spend more wisely, choose items more carefully, and really think about what is prompting me to purchase.
On a different note, I thought I'd try a biography or two :
I started with Triumph, going in reverse order unintentionally, as it was available on audiobook. It was intriguing to see a glimpse inside of the FLDS cult that Carolyn was once a part of. Her persepctive and participation in the Texan raid of the Yearning for Zion ranch was compelling. Prior to these books, I knew little about the FLDS religion other than the little I had heard from news coverage of the raids a few years ago. I am amazed by the chronicles of her life as part of the FLDS and her transition from such a limiting cult view to her recovery and journey to becoming a cult survivor. I highly recommend both of these books-- the author tells her story with strength, humor, and an element of awe towards the life she once lived. You will be moved and, if you're anything like me, your curiousity will be peaked.
Carolyn spoke to the FLDS views of femininty and that discussion pulled me to another extreme. Let's get girly, shall we?
The Good Body - Eve Ensler
audiobookDuring my junior year at Montevallo, I coordinated a performance of Eve Ensler's Vagina Monoglogues. It was a powerful experience in many ways-- seeing the campus support, bringing such a controversial show to a small town in the middle of a conservative state, and being able to raise a suprising amount of money for her cause. The women (and men) involved were so dedicated to making the perfomance a success, but also to truly immersing themselves in the experience. Our rehearsals did not just practice her monologues, they connected the women involved through a meeting of the minds.
We talked about how we felt as women, what it meant to be feminine, we talked about sex and love and all nature of the taboo. It was emotional, it was moving, it was hilarious and sometimes it was just plain hot... literally and metaphorically. We broke fire codes and sold out every night. I would love to be a part of that show again...
Back to the matter at hand-- The Good Body was interesting, and I liked it-- but it left me feeling unresolved and not necessarily empowered. Although it presented different perspectives on beauty and what makes a "good" feminine body, I was unmoved and somewhat unimpressed. In my opinion, if you're going to read/listen to Eve Ensler-- go all out and get her defining work, just remember to not have the volume up too loud with the windows down-- or you might get some odd looks.
So, that is what I've been reading/listening to lately. What about you? I'm always looking for a few good books...