Monthly Archives: January 2017

Year in Books 2016

My goal this year was 52 books. I ended up reading…73! Wowzers! According to Goodreads, that was over 22,000 pages. Here they all are:

booksread20161 booksread20162 booksread20163

Please do not take the fact that a book is posted as a recommendation. There are quite a few stinkers on here (and about 25 others that I stopped reading). But here are some highlights and books I *would* recommend (links are to amazon page):

My favorite book of the year:

The Sun is Also a Star Nicola Yoon: Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. I’m a sucker for “look at how all these lives intertwine” stories (see: my favorite of all time, A Constellation of Vital Phenomenaand this one did it so well. I was so entranced I tore through it; now I want to go back and savor it.

My other five-star books of the year:

Salt to the Sea Ruta Sepetys Of all the WWII novels I read this year, this was by far my favorite. My mom and dad both read it and liked it as well. Not only did this involve “intertwining lives” but also “found family,” another one of my favorite themes. I challenge you not to be moved by this book.

Homegoing Yaa Gyasi: Each chapter tells the story of a generation of two families. Each chapter could be a stand-alone winner. Each chapter makes you sad when it ends, but then each new chapter draws you in anew. Also, holy crap, I just noticed the cover and got the meaning.

The Thing About Jellyfish Ali Benjamin: Hey, you know how every “great” middle grade book ends with someone dying? In a twist, the girl dies at the beginning! But it’s not all sad. Also winner of “Best Use of Costume” and “I’m Not Crying, You’re Crying Over Best Use of Costume” awards.

All Over but the Shoutin’ Rick Bragg: I know, how have I lived in Alabama all this time and not read this book yet? This is a masters course in fine, fine writing.

Be Frank with Me Julia Claiborne Johnson (Hey, it’s currently on sale for $1.99 Kindle!) I did have this rated as 4 stars, but I had to up it since it met my five-star criteria of “Do I want to recommend this to everyone I know?” About the only thing I like more than “found family” and “intersecting lives” is “believably-precocious kid teaches us all some life lessons, especially a curmudgeonly adult.” Frank checks that box off wonderfully.

Honorable Mentions:

Lab Girl Hope Jahren: Fascinating look into what it means to be a scientist (and also plants are cool).

Good As Gone Amy Gentry (Currently Kindle is free with prime!): My favorite suspense/mystery of the year.

Scientist Greater than Einstein Billy Woodward with Joel Shurkin and Debra Gordon: I read this based on the recommendation of the creator of and I’m glad I did: it was FASCINATING. If you’re into science and/or medicine, this is a must-read! (Yes, I wish they would have found at least one female to put on the list, but that doesn’t take away from the amazing tales that are included!)

I’ve set another goal of 52 books for 2017, and I hope to have a bit more stars awarded next year. Here’s wishing you a happy cozy reading year!

Category: Life Outside of School | Tags: ,

Join Us for #Fitbos17!

It’s back! The second annual Fitbos challenge!


I’m sure you have a lot of questions right now.
2. If you were to morph into a dog (but with human feet), would you still feel the need to exercise, or would you just glide by on charm alone?
3. At what point in the planning process did the suggestion “hey, what if we put poodle-bubble muscles on the human?” come into play?
4. What sort of chair exercises do they plan on doing?
5. Will they sit in the chair like a human or a dog?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers to those questions. But I may have the answer to some of your other burning questions….

What is the #Fitbos17 challenge?  Set your own work out hours goal for the year, make that goal public by entering it on , and then enter in your workout times as you try to reach that goal. That’s it.

How did this start? In 2015, for some reason, I signed up for #500milesin2015. I made it (and did a 10K!) but not without some “knee awareness.” I wanted to still have a year goal but be able to vary the workouts, so I started a google spreadsheet last year. In September, I was less than halfway done and Kristin Fouss (@fouss) had just reached her goal. I said I may need to modify my goal and she called me a low-down dirty cheater. Those may have not been her exact words, but the meaning was clear: step it up and complete the goal. I found a great accountability buddy with Marissa (@viemath) and together we struggled through the rest of the year and both finished on December 31st!

What should my goal be? I’m doing 170 because it’s 2017. Some people are doing 100 hours, some people are doing 275. I try to find the line between possible and believable and that is something different for everyone.

What counts? We’re not the exercise police. If you think it counts, count it. My rule of thumb is, “Am I not sitting on my butt when I rather would be?”  Hiking? Of course. Snow-shoveling? I’ve heard that such a thing is actually quite the workout. Dance-vacuuming? Hey, if you break a sweat and have a clean house, double bonus! Walking around the school during your planning period? Great way to get in some extra minute and get re-energized! I personally do a mix of walk/jogging when the weather is nice and youtube videos and DVDs from Jessica Smith when the weather isn’t.

What do I get when I complete my goal? Your hours turn green and you get a shout-out on Twitter from me.

Anything different from last year? I’m glad you asked. Sometimes having a year goal can make it easy to slack off during the first half and then scramble to make it up the second half (or so I’ve heard. 😉 ). I’ve modified the spreadsheet so there is an entry sheet for each month, with a goal just for the month. If I did everything correctly, that goal should be modified for each new month depending if you reached or exceeded your goal the previous month(s). I hope that will keep some of us (i.e. me) on track a bit better. Enter your workout minutes in each month’s sheet and it should update the monthly and yearly hours on the first sheet.

Who completed the 2016 challenge? Congrats to:

Kristen (@fouss) 209 hours (131% of goal)
Monica (@mbrannan28) 170 hours (106%)
Pam (@pamjwilson) 165 hours (103%)
Sue (@dsrussosusan) 240 hours (120%)
Danielle (@0mod3) 226 hours (113%)
Mary Anne (@Mahiker) 224 hours (112%)
Jenn (@RilesBlue) 199 hours (110%)
Tina (@TPalmer207) 130 hours (125%)
Marissa (@viemath) 100 hours (100%)
Me! 160 hours (100%)


And to answer your final question, “where do I sign up again?”!