What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

31 December 2015

Goodbye, 2015

Lately, when people ask me how I'm doing, I either say, "Okay" or "I don't know." Both of those things are true.

The turning of the year brings a certain anticipation and the feeling of a clean slate, both in years when I set goals and in years that I don't. I do have goals for 2016, but I've kicked most of them off already, partly because starting a new thing on a Friday feels weird even if it is New Year's Day, and partly because it's hard to be festive this year. I'm not going to wake up any less widowed tomorrow than I am today. On the upside, 2016 can't possibly be worse than 2015 was, so there's that. (On a personal level, that is. On the societal and worldwide levels, well, here's hoping.)

There's a new world, indeed.
However! Without a doubt, the best day of 2015 was Saturday, July 25. I visited the Museum of Modern Art and saw Les Misérables on Broadway (plus a couple of other things) all in the company of my bestie. In the midst of an otherwise terrible year, that day shines like a beautiful beacon.

If I were to write to the cast of Les Mis, I would tell them what a bright spot they were in my year. I'd thank them for such a beautiful performance. I'd probably gush about how much I love this show and how they were all a joy to watch. I'd talk about how seeing the show was both escapism and healing for me. And I'd wish them all the best for 2016.

And I wish that for you as well. Happy New Year, friends!

29 December 2015

Goodreads Challenge 2015

I've now adjusted my goal on this challenge so many times I'm not really sure where I started-- 60, maybe? I adjusted it down a few weeks ago when it became obvious I was storming through books in a hurry just to meet my goal. If the challenge ruins the reading experience, then it's not really much use.

So, ever since then, I've upped the goal by one book every time I finished a book, just to have a goal in front of me. I'll probably get to 49, maybe 50 if I find a really short book. *grin* This is my fifth year doing the challenge, and the lowest number of books I've read yet, but whatever. 2016 is a new year with no grad school or spousal death in it, so here's to getting my yearly reading total back up to 100+ books where it belongs.

(On a side note: I really wish I'd kept better track of the books I read as a kid. That would be a fun record to have now. Oh, well.)

My list of my favourite books of the year is still coming, honest! Look for it Friday or Saturday. You know, in case I read a book that's fabulous in the next two days but didn't share it because I'd already posted my list. (That's a little thing I learned from Austin Kleon, by the way.)

Do you set yourself reading challenges? Do you use Goodreads' (or a similar site's) challenge? How was your reading in 2015?

22 December 2015

Christmas Reading

Wow, am I ever super-late with this post this year. If you're looking for some holiday reads, here's hoping that you have time to get to your local library before they close up shop for Christmas. (All images are from Goodreads.) These were hard to put in order, but I think I managed to get it pretty close:

#10: Anything by Debbie Macomber

I confess that after reading about four of her books, I've pretty much reached my lifetime limit of Debbie Macomber. Well, that's not true. I've identified the mood I need to be in to want to read Debbie Macomber, and that mood does not come around often.

If you like heartwarming, (usually) romantic comedies, pick up a Macomber. She does have a knack for holiday tales.

#9: A Texas Legacy Christmas, Diann Mills

Despite having lived in Texas my entire adult life, I don't really read a lot of Texas-based fiction. Turns out, in this one the setting hardly matters. Sweet holiday family story, part of a series but it stands just fine on its own. (I haven't read the rest of the series.)

#8: Finding Noel, Richard Paul Evans

This is a writer I really have reached my lifetime limit on, but this is one of two of his books I would willingly re-read. And really, if short, uplifting, but slightly sad holiday stories are your thing, head to your library and pick up a stack of Evans to go with your stack of Macomber. A key difference between the two: you're probably okay letting your kids read Evans, although give them a skim first to be sure you're comfortable with all the themes-- this one, for instance, does deal with past child abuse. (I know, in a feel-good holiday story. It's reality for a lot of kids, though, and kudos to Mr. Evans for at least addressing it--awkwardly, but he addresses it.)

#7: A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller

Okay, you got me-- this one is not a holiday book. I just happened to read it for the first time around the holidays one year and that's what stuck in my mind. Great book that's good for all seasons, so if you haven't read it yet, throw it in your to-read stack for the holiday weekend.

#6: The Gift of the Magi, O. Henry

One of theatres in Indianapolis used to (and possibly still does) put on The Gift of the Magi every couple of years, so I saw it as a stage show a few times before I finally read it. When I finally did read the story, I was surprised at how short it is, since it was a two-hour show onstage. Read it!

Incidentally, The Gift of the Magi was my first-ever talkback with professional actors. Not the start of my love of theatre, but it sure didn't hurt.

#5: The Christmas Box, Richard Paul Evans

I first saw this story as the made-for-TV movie with Richard Thomas, and it was beautiful. The book is even better. If you get the chance, you should read and watch.

#4: A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

If you've never read the original, do yourself a favour and pick it up. (Here's a version that's free on Kindle.) It's a short read and utterly brilliant. Incidentally, my favourite adaptations are Scrooge, with Albert Finney; A Christmas Carol, with Patrick Stewart; and The Muppet Christmas Carol, with the Muppets and Michael Caine. Read it, then watch all of those.

#3: Let It Snow, John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

A trilogy of intertwined short stories and one of two books on my permanent holiday to-read list. In fact, I should get to the library immediately and check it out.

#2: Hogfather, Terry Pratchett

It's Sir Terry, it's Discworld, it's Susan Death. It's fantastic.

Incidentally, so is the movie adaptation starring Michelle Dockery (sometimes known as Lady Mary on Downton Abbey) as the most perfect Susan and Marc Warren (who's been in many things, including that one episode of Doctor Who) as Teatime. Another "read then watch" recommendation.

And finally...

#1: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

My favourite holiday book ever and the other of the must-read pair. I'll be reading this one on Friday.

I've been looking forward to re-reading Dash and Lily ever since I came back from New York. I've finally been to many of the places they mention, including Strand Bookstore, which was on my must-visit list for NYC because of this book. Seriously, don't bother calling me on Christmas; I'll be reading.

There you have it-- my top 10(ish) reads for a happy Christmas. Perhaps for 2016 I'll try a bit harder to read books about other December holidays. What will you be reading this weekend?

12 December 2015

Current Life Goal:

Goodreads has these neat widgets, although some days I
look at my "Favourites" shelf and think, "How did that
get on there?" I must have been in a really good mood the
day I read some of these. 
Keep my Goodreads to-read shelf under 1000 books.

I know that sounds like a reasonable goal, but if you've met my brain, you understand how it might be a problem.

I'm sitting at 999 and reading as fast as I can.

(Are you on Goodreads? Let's be friends!)

Seriously, nobody recommend me any more books. My other current life goal is to finish reading these before I die. I may need to set some serious reading goals for 2016. (Speaking of, my list of favourite reads from 2015 coming on New Year's Eve. Or maybe New Year's Day. Stay tuned.)

08 December 2015

All the Death Jokes are Really Funny Now

Source: Goodreads.
I don't own this book (yet). I haven't even read the whole thing.

But I was in a random shop on Sunday that had it displayed on a shelf, so I picked it up and got about three pages in, where there was a guy with wings and a harp who said, "All my friends are still alive, the jerks. It's boring up here." (Goodreads reviewers refer to this guy as the "creepy angel", and I suppose he is, but I don't care that much.)

I laughed so hard I had to leave the store. Without the book.

04 December 2015

The Wiz

Holy smokes. Holy smokes, y'all. If you didn't watch The Wiz live last night, ease on over to NBC and watch the replay. Do it NOW, before they take it down and start charging for it. Prepare to be blown away.

I was not really surprised, when I checked out hashtag on Twitter yesterday, to see that your average racist on Twitter is not a theatre buff (and apparently doesn't know how to Google), and so doesn't know about The Wiz and the show's history. I wonder if those folks have heard of Hamilton yet?

Source: NBC's Twitter feed.
So, idiots notwithstanding, the show was glorious. The costumes were beautiful, the staging was excellent (a glimpse of a camera in the first scene was the only glitch I noticed), and the singing left me needing to lie down. NBC finally found a formula that works for its annual live musical, and it was breathtaking.

I checked Facebook this morning hoping to squee or otherwise gush with my musical-loving friends about The Wiz, only to discover that no one said anything about it. Seriously? During the okay Sound of Music live a couple years ago, my Facebook timeline was full of bitter complaint--not about Carrie Underwood's atrocious acting, but about it being the stage version instead of the movie version. I said then that I had just discovered who among my friends actually likes musicals vs. those who like movies. Guess I just got my confirmation. Thank goodness for Twitter!

Did you watch The Wiz? Did you love it? Are you a musical fan, or do you just watch when there's nothing else on (or neither)?