Tag Archives: books

Downsizing All Year Round

Downsizing All Year Round

Perhaps it’s the New Year, or coming off the end-of-year spending. Whatever the case, I’m feeling a major downsizing itch. Once I start seeing all the things I do not really need, the list seems to grow exponentially. And while I have found it is fairly easy to start parsing out things to get out of the house, it’s not always so easy to determine where they should go next. Are they something I should try to resell? Or give away? If so, where? I try desperately to keep trash and recycling as an absolute last resort, even when things seem beyond repair (thank you heavy trash). Since I do not think our crib can hold any more items in giveaway limbo, I decided to rein it in and extend the pleasure of purging. My plan is to simply do away with one item/group of items every week or so.

Last week I decided it was time to part ways with my textbooks from graduate school and a couple of Ben’s from undergrad. I was foolishly optimistic that I could sell more than a few. I sold two. Then after reaching out on Facebook, I decided to skip any extra effort and simply take the remaining stack to Half Price Books. After 15 minutes I walked away with $2 and an empty bag. I’ve learned that decisiveness is essential to actually getting things gone, so I ignored my instinct to further research.

Well, that’s done – now just 51 more things/weeks to go.

Do you struggle to get things out of your house? Where are your favorite second homes for all your stuff?

Fall Reading List, Thus Far

Fall Reading List

I continued reading past my inaugural summer jaunt – my longest, non-Rwandan reading stint since adolescence. I think our almost-weekly trips to the library help propel my nascent habit. I loved aimlessly perusing library shelves as a child, and I’ve found I still find joy in this simple adventure. There is something soothing in the smell of books and comforting in having one sitting on my nightstand.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith

I cannot remember if this was recommended to me or not. Whatever the case, I was glad I borrowed this title. My book expired when I was still pages from the end (and too tired to go on), so I am still waiting to finish. However, I don’t need the last twenty or so pages to know this novel is impressive. I could not believe the author wrote during university. It’s been a long time since I’ve read something with such piercing descriptions that I found all of my senses engaged in the story.

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

I’m just going to say it. I do not like Hornby. I know. I just can no longer nod my head and pretend like I find him particularly witty or entertaining. This novel was okay, and that is kind of how I feel about all his work that I’ve read. I picked this up at the library in hopes of finding something that would change my mind, but even this novel with a female heroine remained mired in the male perspective. Not bad. Not great.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

This novel is sweeping and engaging. Overall, I felt the breadth of the story sacrificed too much depth, but it’s truly nitpicking a story that kept my reading for hours past my bedtime and marveling at the author’s seeming innate storytelling ability.

What are you reading lately?

Speaking of Books

D40 (1-25 to 2-14) 006

I thought I’d share the reading list/reviews from our time way back when in Kigali since they include several of my favorites.

(Term 1)

Life is a bit slower here in Africa, which provides ample opportunity to read. Even Ben, the self proclaimed non-reader has swept through almost a dozen books. Here’s what I’ve been read so far, along with my amateur review.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Carson McCullers

A Member of the Wedding, Carson McCullers

McCullers’ stories flawlessly portray one of the deepest human needs, our longing to be known. Her stories manage to be poignant yet unsentimental. She transports you to a deep south, more sticky than sultry, filled with loneliness.

Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

The story of the accidental soldier Billy Pilgrim reminded me of Catch 22. The dark humor, quirky plot and eccentric characters were brilliant.

1984, George Orwell

Doubleplusgood. This book was wonderfully disturbing. It should be mandatory reading for any citizen of any nation.

Digital Fortress, Dan Brown

The dialogue was cliché, the descriptions were cheesy and the characters were all airbrushed delusions of perfection. It read more like an aspiring blockbuster screenplay than a novel.

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

The enchanting tale is reminiscent of Le Petit Prince. It was simple, enjoyable and rich.

Animal Farm, George Orwell

A Grimm’s Fairytale / Paradise Lost prequel version of 1984. I think it was only the second book I have ever reread in my entire life (the 1st one being One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

Malaria, Stopping a Global Killer, Michael Finkel (National Geographic, July 2007)

So it is not a book. However, as someone living and traveling in areas at high risk for malaria, I felt it was reading worthy of mention.

The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver

Wow. This haunting story lingered long after I closed the book, though perhaps the affect is proportional to ones relationship with Africa.

Twilight, Stephanie Meyer

Though I might not sport glitter make-up or micro-minis, there is a bit of teeny-bopper that remains. I thought this part of me would fall for Twilight like the throngs of teenage girls (and grown women) singing its praises. However, I just could not make myself fall under the spell of Edward’s ill-fated romance with Bella.

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini

This is one of the most beautiful stories I have ever read. It made my heart ache and filled me with empathy I have never before experienced for characters.

What have you been reading this year? Any recommendations? What do you think about these books?

(Term 2)


The Catcher in the Rye, JD Salinger

Left me feeling all depressed and lousy. Everyone said this book got better with age. I beg to differ.

The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd

A sweet little story – it’s Carson McCullers with a happy ending.

The Road, Cormac McCarthy

What’s the point? A guy and his son walk the gray road, food almost runs out, then they find more food, keep walking the gray road, food almost runs out, then they find more food, keep walking the gray road… I just don’t get what makes this great, or popular.

The Painted Veil, W Somerset Maugham

Maybe I would have liked it more if I weren’t already in the middle of another depressing adulteress saga.

Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy

Oh, Anna. You’re so miserably annoying I actually found your demise quite relieving.

The Constant Gardner, John Le Carré

Glorified Dan Brown quality nonsense – I want plot, not action.