March: A Monthly Round-up

Cheers from California, friends, where I'm wrapping up the tail end of a solo vacation (the first of its kind!) after a five-day leadership retreat out here that stretched, pulled, and pushed me to be a better, stronger person in both work and life. The vacation part has given me space to think on what that better, stronger may look like. I'm still not sure I have the answers--certainly not enough to write anything coherently about them--but it's been a space I didn't realize I needed until I was within it.

Surprisingly, given the mass amounts of downtime structured into this 12-day trip, I've not been reading much. I've been sitting, and thinking, and walking, and writing, and hiking, and running, and stretching, and sitting again. I've been driving, and viewing. I've been reflecting and absorbing. I've been soaking in the literal sunshine (sorry, East Coasters, I understand it's snowing again back home...). There were some bright spots in last month's reading life, though:

March Reading:

The Cruelest Month, by Louise Penny: I'm certifiably hooked on Louise Penny's Three Pines series. She manages to write cozy whodunits that are somehow both entirely captivating and yet expansive in their philosophies: about family, motherhood, place, acceptance, life, nature, mistakes, vulnerability--you name it. I'm counting down the days (currently measured in weeks) until the next book is available from my library's holds list.

The Pursuit of Endurance, by Jennifer Pharr Davis: I read Davis' book about Fastest Known Time (FKT) attempts on the Appalachian and other trails the day that my own goal ultramarathon was cancelled due to wind. Why not read about others' endurance when not testing our own, right? Or something like that. Interesting read for those drawn to hiking, ultrarunning, or other endurance efforts, be it as participant or viewer or both. (On sale this month, review to come in Shelf Awareness.)

And Now We Have Everything: On Motherhood Before I Was Ready, by Megan O'Connell: There are lots (and lots) of books that talk about the joy of motherhood, and the pain of motherhood, and the challenges of motherhood. There are not (in my experience) a lot of books that talk about being a mother without actually knowing if it's what you want for yourself, just as there are not a lot of books that talk honestly about the very real pains, both mental and physical, of childbearing and childbirth. O'Connell's book is all of those, in an unflinching, are-you-sure-you-want-to-know-ok-lean-in-close-and-I'll-tell-you kind of way. Highly recommend, no matter where you fall on the kids question. (On sale this month, review to come in Shelf Awareness.)

American by Day and Norwegian by Night, by Derek Miller: I read both of these in preparation for an interview with Miller (to run in Shelf Awareness later this month), and they are smart, thoughtful books about the "fish-out-of-water" experience of being in a different country, wrapped up in missing persons/whodunit type cases. (American by Day comes out this week; interview to come in Shelf Awareness.)

Odessa Stories, by Isaac Babel: Another installment of the Readers Workshop long-distance book club. Babel's stories are rich with detail, but admittedly, some resonated much more than others (the first half of this collection was very "gangster"-esque, and didn't hit home for me as much as the second half on childhood and growing up).

Hate to Want You, by Alisha Rai: Ok, ok, I get why everyone is talking about these books now. Rai explores everything from interracial relationships to varying shades of sexuality to emphatic, sexy consent without it feeling heavy-handed. Will definitely be reading the next two in the series.

No One Is Here Except All of Us, by Ramona Ausubel: This was the one book I have read on this trip, after stopping into City Lights Bookstore in San Fransisco with Stephanie in search of something big and juicy I could sink into for a week or so. Ausubel's debut was just that. It's a big, fantastical story that borders on the mythical, telling the story of a small isolated Jewish village during the onset of World War II, and the stories they tell themselves to survive. It's hard to encapsulate in a short review, but it's excellent, and immersive, and felt magical to lose myself within.


March Writing:

Why would anyone run longer than a marathon? // Searching for answers in the books of other ultrarunners in this column for Shelf Awareness

Book review: The Rending and the Nest // In a post-apocalyptic Minnesota, Mira and her best friend Lana are among a handful of survivors facing questions of motherhood, community and meaning.

Lessons learned from *not* running an ultramarathon 

The "dying star" intensity of teenage friendship // Novels that capture the intensity--and often short-term nature--of teenage friendships

Book review: A Dangerous Crossing // The fourth volume in Ausma Zehanat Khan's Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak series sets the case of a woman's disappearance against the backdrop of the Syrian refugee crisis.


And the rest of it:

Watching: Not a damned thing, and enjoying that

Listening to: Birds chirping and horses neighing

Digging: Spacious, unscheduled time to do with what I please; journaling; Rothys' flats (yes, they are expensive, but yes, they are as comfortable as they say they are! Purchase via this link and we both get $20 off.)

Drinking: Preston Farm & Winery's Madam Preston white blend

Racing: Not much coming up; possibly something in late April, then a half in May


Grateful for: The opportunity to take myself on vacation, spring sunshine

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