Monthly Archives: December 2017

Here’s what happened when I KonMari-d my life: Part 1

I’m a big fan of Marie Kondo and her KonMari method of organization. In December I re-read all of Marie Kondo’s books and I am in the process of using the KonMari method to get my life in order. If you are a longtime reader, you might know that I did this once already. You are right. It didn’t stick as well as I had hoped.

If you aren’t familiar with the KonMari method, it boils down to a few basic ideas:

  1. Finish discarding everything before you start tidying. Do it all at once, intensely and completely.
  2. Keep only those things which spark joy. Visualize the life you want after you tidy and instead of focusing on what to get rid of, focus on what you want to keep.
  3. Tidy by category, not by location. Go in order: clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous, sentimental.
  4. Treasure who you are now and thank the possessions you are discarding for getting out there. I didin’t thank everything individually but as I let go of certain items I am trying to thank them for the purpose they served before moving on.
  5. Store like with like. This should be obvious but it’s been a game changer as I’ve started moving all of my clothing, shoes, etc. into designated spaces. In this vein I’d also add: put things back where they belong the moment you finish with them.
  6. Vertical storage is key. You can find things at a glance and everything is easier to get to.
  7. Follow your intuition. There’s no right answer for how much to keep or discard, focus on what you love and when you hit that sweet spot that’s “just right” you’ll know you have enough.
  8. Appreciate your possessions. This goes back to thanking that which you discard and also treating items with respect.

In re-reading her books (I’d recommend starting with the original The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or the manga adaptation rather than going for Spark Joy which feels very superfluous.) I realized I had been doing KonMari completely wrong in my previous attempts. I stopped midway through. I never finished discarding. I didn’t think about who I wanted to be once I was tidier. These were my mistakes.

So now I’m doing it all again.


The lifestyle I want:

My goal is pretty simple. I want to have more space in my storage areas in the apartment. I want to be able to find everything in one go. I want to think less about finding things and more about if I want to start yoga or sitting down to write or craft.

Clothes:

Last weekend in a fit of hubris I got the process started and KonMari’d all of my clothes, shoes, and handbags. It was a lot.

But something amazing happened as I started with my shirts. I got to one and realized I felt nothing. It did not, in fact, spark joy. It sparked no emotion at all. It went right into a bag of things to donate along with a lot of other stuff. All told I donated four bags of clothes and one suitcase that I knew in my heart I didn’t need anymore.

When I started sorting my dresses I found two that I had bought spares of to save because I knew they’d wear out quickly. I let go of the older, worn dresses and was shocked when I realized how much happier the new dresses felt as hung them in my closet. I even made a subtle change to store my shoes and they all actually fit in one place now.

KonMari recommends waiting to figure out storage, but my options are pretty set since I’m not buying new furniture or anything so i decided to finish up clothing storage before moving on. KonMari recommends arranging a closet from light to dark with things moving up (in length and lightness of color) and to the right. I never thought this mattered and instead arranged my closet according to the ROYGBIV color spectrum because I am that person. This time, since I am all in, I followed Kondo’s advice.

I still hang more than she recommends because I hate folding and am very bad at it (and don’t have storage space for it) but I arranged my hanging tops, dress and skirts with an up and to the right mindset. I can’t believe how well it’s working. I am finding things more easily and I am actually happier every time I reach into my closet now. Also, even though I felt like I hadn’t made a ton of progress after I reorganized and hanged everything I realized I had reduced the space I was using by half.

I had a few things that I wanted to wait and try on but as if the clothing sensed what was coming, these decisions have become very easy. The boots I kept because they were so warm hurt my feet, the pants I saved for the dead of winter ripped when I went to put them on. It’s as if my wardrobe is helping me to finish these last decisions.

Things I still have to do: My sweater storage is a mess. Vertical folding storage (KonMari approved) is hard with bulky sweaters and I’m still figuring out how to deal with that. I think my next step is making one drawer in my dress for pullovers and lighter things I can actually fold and then leaving the heavier button downs elsewhere. I have been wearing so many of my sweaters lately (it’s freezing here) that this has become low priority for now especially while I decide what to do.

I have covered all aspects of clothing now except for jewelry and hair accessories. I’m hoping to tackle both of those this weekend–maybe even as you’re reading this post–with the help of a new jewelry box and some freshly acquired insight in the form of my joy radar.

My plan is to try and tackle one area every weekend until I’m done (sentimental might be quick because I’m just not discarding photos–it’s not who I am) but this might end up running a little longer with having to take down holiday decorations and some other family obligations.

I will be blogging about the entire process though so stay tuned!

 

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Week in Review December 30: 2018 Resolutions

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

I really loved Jane, Unlimited and I’m excited to finally be sharing my review of it with you here on the blog. In addition to my top ten booklist, I also did another year of reading tracker stats.

Moving into 2018 I am going to try to make these posts a little chattier again and not just a roundup of what I’ve published on the blog in the past week (and, you know, maybe I’ll post them on time too).

Since this post happens to come right at the end of the year (December went by so quickly for me), I decided to share some of my resolutions for 2018.

In 2016 and 2017 I was focused on being mindful and intentional. I’m not sure how I did with either of those. In 2017 I have been working on being neater and on using what I have–but I slipped up a few times. I also completely lost focus of what I was trying to do for my yearly goal which was, of course, a stumbling blog too.

In 2018 I am going to try to have deliberate and intentional as my guiding words. I have some specific things I want to accomplish this year and I’m hoping remembering those words throughout the year will help me focus on what I need to do.

I’ve been re-assessing my possessions through the eyes of KonMari again (more on that tomorrow because it’s getting to be a long post all by itself!) and I’m hoping to start budgeting and saving more. I also want to try to get back in the habit of using the library and buying fewer books (something that became increasingly difficult as a book blogger/reviewer).

I have no idea how this is going to go but I also bought a non-leather planner (I am doubling down on my commitment to a leather free life except for shoes/gifts and cruelty free makeup) and I’m going to try to use that to sort of get organized and stay focused. I’m not sure if I’ll be bullet journaling because I kind of hate the cult following “bujo” has at this point but it will be something. I don’t know.

What are you goals for the new year? What do you hope 2018 has in store?

Here’s my latest from Instagram:

I’m a little behind but I’ll be posting more pictures from the city’s holiday displays soon. Another thing I’ve realized about myself (and hope to remember moving forward) is that just because I’m using a camera phone it doesn’t make my pictures less artistic or less valuable. I am trying to remind myself that I am a photographer and that it counts even with so called “low tech” tools. I’m also trying to put more value on things that I might deem as disposable (like pictures I take or even some of my blog posts here) because the effort is no less real.

If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my December reading tracker.

How was your week? What are you reading?

Let’s talk in the comments.

2017 Reading Tracker Year in Review

It’s time for my annual break down of my reading tracker posts for the year.

January:

  • Read: 14
  • Bought: 1
  • ARCs: 9

February:

  • Read: 14
  • Bought: 0
  • ARCs: 9

March:

  • Read: 20
  • Bought: 3
  • ARCs: 6

April:

  • Read: 8
  • Bought: 0
  • ARCs: 2

May:

  • Read: 15
  • Bought: 1
  • ARCs: 1

June:

July:

  • Read: 22
  • Bought: 2
  • ARCs: 3

August:

  • Read: 13
  • Bought: 2
  • ARCs: 0

September:

  • Read: 9
  • Bought: 2
  • ARCs: 1

October:

  • Read: 15
  • Bought: 0
  • ARCs: 5

November:

  • Read: 11
  • Bought: 3
  • ARCs: 5

December:

  • Read: 15
  • Bought: 5
  • ARCs: 2

Yearly Totals:

  • Read: 166
  • Bought: 21
  • ARCs: 49

Details:

Books read jives with what I expected from my Goodreads challenge (which always skews higher because I count picture books I read for work).

Here’s the breakdown for the ARCs I received:

  • Requested: 15
  • Amazon Vine: 15
  • Not requested: 19

I am thrilled with these numbers. One of my goals for the year was to request fewer books. I still have a substantive pile of ARCs to read and review from publishers but it feels very manageable and I feel like I’m in charge of my to read list instead of the other way around.

I also bought slightly fewer books than last year and hope to continue to be even more mindful about purchases (which was an overarching goal I had for the year). I’m not entirely sure I succeeded there but I made progress and that’s kind of the same thing.

So that’s my year in reading according to the blog. You can also see my year in books on Goodreads. And check out my Top Ten list for 2017.

Jane, Unlimited: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” -Arthur C. Clarke

—–

“There are many lives in every life.”

Jane’s life has always been ordinary and she has never minded that. When her Aunt Magnolia dies under strange circumstances, Jane is suddenly adrift and alone. She doesn’t know exactly how Aunt Magnolia died. She doesn’t know if she wants to go back to college. All she really knows is that if she is ever invited to Tu Reviens, she has to go. It was the last thing Aunt Magnolia asked her to do.

When Kiran Thrash, an old acquaintance who is as wealthy as she is mercurial, breezes back into Jane’s life with an invitation to the Thrash family gala at none other than Tu Reviens Jane immediately accepts.

The island mansion is not at all what Jane expects. Strange figures lurk in the shadows. Art goes missing and reappears at will. An ex-wife hides in the attic, while a current wife is missing entirely. Then there’s Jasper, the lovable Bassett Hound who has an uncanny attachment both to Jane and to a painting with a lone umbrella.

In a house filled with questions, Jane knows that all she has to do is follow the right person to get answers. But first she has to choose in Jane, Unlimited (2017) by Kristin Cashore.

Jane, Unlimited is Cashore’s latest standalone novel. Inspired by Choose Your Own Adventure stories among other things this novel reads as five interconnected stories spanning genres.

After enjoying but not quite loving Cashore’s Graceling trilogy, I was fully prepared for Jane, Unlimited to be the Cashore book that I would love unequivocally. I’m happy to say this genre-bending delight did not disappoint.

The novel opens with “The Missing Masterpiece” (my favorite story) where Jane tries to find a missing Vermeer and make sense of myriad clues in a mystery reminiscent of The Westing Game. This section also does all of the heavy lifting introducing Jane, her deceased Aunt Magnolia, Kiran Thrash, and her rakish and charismatic twin brother Ravi. This novel also introduces Jane’s umbrella making–a motif that helps tie all of the novel’s pieces together.

In “Lies Without Borders” Jane explores the mystery of the missing painting from a different angle in a sleek spy story that will appeal to fans of Ally Carter. The madcap action and continuously surprisingly and charming characters make this section another favorite.

Cashore turns her eye to horror in “In Which Someone Loses a Soul and Charlotte Finds One.” After finishing this creepy tale you won’t be able to look at your library or your favorite books in quite the same way. When you re-read this book on a structural level (and trust me, you’ll want to) this section is also key for highlighting the structure of the novel.

“Jane, Unlimited” is the section that ties the book together so I won’t tell you too much that could spoil the story. There are zany clothes, mayhem, frogs, and a lot of Ravi which makes this story a delight. Sure to be a favorite for fans of Douglas Adams and Dr. Who.

This novel wraps up in “The Strayhound, the Girl, and the Painting” in which some mysteries are solved and some bigger questions are raised as Jane figures out why, exactly, Jasper the Bassett Hound is so very fond of her. This whimsical segment concludes the story on an optimistic note as Jane (and readers) realize that when one door closes another opens–literally.

Jane, Unlimited is a thoughtfully layered and intricately plotted novel. Depending on how you want to read it this book could contain five separate but overlapping stories, it could be one arc where all these outcomes eventually come to pass. There’s really no wrong way to interpret this story which is part of the charm. Whatever appeals to you about Jane and her adventures I guarantee you will find it in at least one part of this novel.

I first hear about Jane, Unlimited during a job interview at Penguin for a job I didn’t even come close to getting. Back then the book was just some new contemporary novel that Cashore was working on and I didn’t think much of it at the time. When it finally came time to read the book, I found that I could think of little else. Around the time of that interview I found out that one of my aunts had suffered a stroke that would prove fatal–something I didn’t know when I kept calling and calling to tell her about scheduling that job interview and asking her advice on what to wear and to practice questions. I don’t remember the last conversation I had with my aunt but I remember those messages I left her vividly. And I so wish I could have told her how this all came together in such a strange full circle way as Jane’s aunt Magnolia was such a big part of Jane’s story as she tries to figure out which path to choose.

In case it wasn’t already clear: I loved this book. It’s perfect and everything I want. Cashore populates the story with a cast of characters that is thoughtfully inclusive and painfully charming and expertly blends genres and plays them against each other throughout this clever novel.

Jane, Unlimited is a must read for anyone who has ever felt a bit lost, readers who like their books to resemble puzzles, and, of course, for anyone looking for an excellent story. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier, The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, In Some Other World, Maybe by Shari Goldhagen,The Irish Game: A True Story of Crime and Art by Mathew Hart, Museum of the Missing: A History of Art Theft by Simon Houpt, Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne, A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty, Where Futures End by Parker Peeveyhouse, The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, The Square Root of Summer by Harrier Reuter Hapgood, The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick, Ocean Soul by Brian Skerry, Oceanic Wilderness by Roger Steene, Parallel Universes by Max Tegmark (as seen in Scientific American, May 2003), The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

If you are interested in some of the art that inspired (or features) in this novel:

*An advance copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review consideration at BookExpo 2017*

Week in Review: December 23

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

Reviewing two “big” titles of the year (and Morris Award finalists, yay!) and also sharing my top ten reads of the year. Have you read any of these? Are any of them your favorites?

 

Here’s my latest from Instagram:

If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my December reading tracker.

How was your week? What are you reading?

Let’s talk in the comments.

Top Ten: 2017

This is my annual list of favorite books that I read and reviewed this year.

This year was filled with marvelous bookish surprises. I didn’t know what to expect from so many of these books and they almost universally left me dazzled and delighted.

Jane, Unlimited and Where Futures End pushed and pulled at the limits of how a story can be told.

In a Perfect World, I Believe in a Thing Called Love, Lucky in Love and The Keeper of the Mist were unapologetic love stories filled with optimism.

Words in Deep Blue, Speak Easy, Speak Love, and The Fashion Committee inspired and moved me while surprising me with inventive twists.

Caraval, The Diabolic and All the Crooked Saints introduced me to new worlds while Wayfarer, The Reluctant Queen, Thick as Thieves, and Always and Forever, Lara Jean gave me the chance to revisit familiar characters and places.

Not a day has gone by that I haven’t been thinking about Vincent and Theo: The Van Go Brothers or The Careful Undressing of Love.

You couldn’t find two books that were more different than Moxie and Places No One Knows. And yet if I had to pick two defining books for 2017, these would be my choices. Moxie is everything I want to see happen on a large scale–empowered young women, solidarity, and positive change–while Places No One Knows is a quiet reminder to speak up for what matters and to take care of yourself.

You can click the cover photos to read my reviews.

Top Ten:

(Actually top twelve but I do what I want.)

  • Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
  • Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
  • In a Perfect World by Trish Doller

  • Caraval by Stephanie Garber
  • Speak Easy, Speak Love by McKelle George
  • I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo

  • The Careful Undress of Love by Corey Ann Haydu
  • Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
  • The Fashion Committee by Susan Juby

  • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Lucky in Love by Kasie West

Honorable Mentions: Books Published in 2016

  • The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier
  • Where Futures End by Parker Peeveyhouse
  • Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

Honorable Mentions: Sequels

I don’t like listing sequels in my top ten because usually you have to read the preceding books first. These are no exception but they are still fantastic and were definitely favorites of the year.

  • Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken
  • The  Reluctant Queen by Sarah Beth Durst
  • Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
  • The Empress by S. J. Kincaid (I haven’t reviewed this one yet so I am sneakily directing you to my review of the first book)
  • Thick as Thieves by Megan Whalen Turner

Saints and Misfits: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Fifteen-year-old Janna Yusuf’s world is easily divided into three kinds of people.

There are the Saints who are so perfect they seem completely untouchable and intensely annoying. People like Saint Sarah who presides over the mosque with beauty, grace, and a personality so bubbly as to become infuriating. Especially when her brother Muhammad seems to fall for Saint Sarah’s entire act. Because it has to be an act, right?

Then there are the people like Janna, her best friend Tats, and her crush Jeremy. Misfits. That not-quite-fitting-in should be enough to bring Janna and Jeremy together (aside from the alliteration and his lovely forehead). But they still don’t go together. Not when Janna is Muslim and Jeremy is definitely not.

Last there are monsters–people Janna knows all too well from her favorite Flannery O’Connor stories and from her own life. Farooq is arguably the most pious member of their mosque. He’s already memorized the Qur’an and is the shining light of the community.

But he’s also tried to assault Janna when they were alone in his cousin’s basement–something Janna narrowly avoided and is trying to forget now. Everyone else thinks Farooq is a Saint. Who would ever believe Janna–a nobody, a misfit, the daughter of the only divorced woman in their mosque–if she tries tell everyone that their beloved Saint is really a Monster in Saints and Misfits (2017) by S. K. Ali?

Saints and Misfits is Ali’s debut novel. It was selected as a finalist for the 2018 William C. Morris YA Debut Award.

Janna is a genuine fifteen-year-old. Her first person narration is authentic and thoughtfully handled giving equal weight to Janna’s dealing with the aftermath of her assault as she decides what to do (if anything) and also her complicated crush on her non-Muslim classmate Jeremy.

Janna is comfortable wearing all black and hijab and she wishes other people in her life would respect that instead of trying to changer her. She is also trying to decide if who she is now–a devout Muslim girl–is who she wants to be moving forward. What does it mean that her attacker is more respected in the mosque than she is? What does it mean that her crush on Jeremy seems to be mutual while also being something directly in opposition to her faith?

These are messy questions and Janna doesn’t always have neat answers or closure. What she does have is a supportive family (especially her mother and older brother), resiliency, and the conviction to stick to what she knows is right.

This book is an excellent mirror for Muslim teens who do not seem themselves enough in books and an excellent window for readers who may not know much about what being a modem Muslim teen really looks like. Saints and Misfits is a thoughtful and surprisingly sweet story about a girl finding her voice and her people–both inside her religious community and beyond.

Possible Pairings: Does My Head Look Big in This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman, Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti, That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandyha Menon, The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian, The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez, The List by Siobhvan Vivian