What I’m Reading This Week

Happy Spring! There is still way too much snow on the ground, but happily it’s melting with our warmer, springier temperatures. This really has been a long winter, and I can’t wait to resume nature walks, wear short sleeves, and sleep with the windows open soon.

This week was a meh book week, in that the girls all had some random illness which spread to me. I haven’t really felt like reading just from being so sick. But I appear to be much healthier now, and only one kid has a random fever (but normal behavior, so I don’t even know what that’s about), so here’s to getting back into this stack of books.

The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams – I am entirely thrilled that book two of the five-book Hitchhiker’s ‘trilogy’ is exactly like book one. I really enjoyed book one (probably a little too much) and therefore was a little nervous about book two not being as good as the first. This book is definitely my “escape from reality” book, which is always appreciated at the end of a long day when I all I want to do is zone out.

Tesla: Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney – I picked this book up after finishing the Einstein biography. I figured I would stay on the “scientists and inventors” rabbit hole and went with Tesla next.

Tesla is pretty much one of the most eccentric people I’ve learned about lately, and I’m entirely impressed by him. I’m finding him so different from Einstein, who wasn’t all into publicity and just wanted to work on his theories; whereas Tesla was definitely more comfortable with “being seen”. He also was devoted to research but he seemed to be more out and about than Einstein. Einstein married twice and had kids, Tesla never did (although he had plenty of ladies who wouldn’t have minded being Mrs. Tesla).

One thing about this biography that grinds my gears though is that the author weaves in strands of “woo” occasionally. Tesla had premonitions that the author hints at being ESP, there’s some acupuncture talk thrown in (trying to suggest that acupuncture works on electrical fields in the human body??) and I just can’t wrap my mind around that kind of stuff. In my opinion it doesn’t really add anything to Tesla’s life and could be removed without being detrimental. Additionally, the book doesn’t move chronologically through Tesla’s life but seems to be more focused on his discoveries and inventions, so sometimes we’re in 1897 and then in the next chapter we’re in 1893. Somewhat annoying.

The information about Tesla is interesting but overall the writing is pretty lackluster. There are some footnotes, although some things are left un-cited that I wish were cited (such as talking about how Edison had neighborhood pets stolen so he could electrocute them as a scare campaign against Tesla’s AC discovery). Overall, this biography is pretty “meh”. Don’t pick this biography if you’re just trying to get into biographies.

I do have a copy of Tesla’s autobiography, which is what I’ll be reading next (and honestly that’s where I should have started from).

Annals of the Former World by John McPhee – I started this book yesterday morning so I don’t have much to write about regarding it yet. One thing that struck me is that in addition to a standard table of contents; it has a narrative table of contents. Things are discussed and mentioned in such a poetic way that it makes me excited to read the entire set of books (my copy is all five books in one giant book, so this one will be sticking around for a while). It’s a geology book, written about American geology; so I’m really excited to get into it and see how it is.

Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom – oh, this book. It still reigns as the undisputed “most complicated book of 2018” for me but is endlessly fascinating. I read a lot about AI when I was in college, so it’s fun to get back thinking about all that. I’m still clocking in at around half a chapter a week, including time to write things in my “things I’m learning” notebook, looking up things that are unclear and just generally thinking about what Bostrom is writing about.

What I’m Reading This Week

Look at all that glorious sunlight! It’s been absolutely wonderful lately, with lots of snowmelt and playing outside. Naturally it’s supposed to rain/snow/sleet/have freezing rain tomorrow so we’ll have to last through another bout of dreariness.

I’ve been working through the books above this week, none of them are really ones that you could fly through in a short amount of time. But they’re all wonderfully thought-provoking and my brain is quite thrilled.

Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom: When I originally commented about this book, I lamented about the jargon that was completely foreign to me. I had anticipated that it would take a year to read, which I was content with. While I’m not even close to finishing; it did get suddenly easier to read and understand. I find it harder for me to find time to read this book because I prefer not to be interrupted a million times. Naturally interruptions are a dime a dozen around here so if it does take me a year to read; it’ll probably be due to that.

Boundaries with Kids by Cloud and Townsend: recommended by a friend, highly enjoying it. It reads just like the original Boundaries book, except the focus is for parents and their kids. Cloud and Townsend are working on the assumption that kids are taught poor boundaries (or at the very least have them demonstrated). The goal of this book is to have good boundaries with your kids but also to help them have good boundaries so they can be constructive adults.

Please Understand Me II by David Keirsey: Slightly eye-rolly title, but absolutely jam-packed with every possible thing you’d ever want to know about personalities. This works off of Myers-Briggs 16 personality types and unpacks each one in gory detail. I had my personality typed in college and came back INFP. Greg (who was professionally typed at work) informed me that when one does that personality typing you have to answer it honestly, almost off of a gut reaction (as opposed to what one thinks the answer “should” be, which is exactly what I did in college). So, I retyped recently and it came back INTJ and I swear my entire life now makes more sense. Ever since I was a young kid, I always felt like the square peg in a round hole and now I have a better understanding why I felt that way. Even Greg is shocked by how much more “sunny” I am simply by discovering that little bit of information. I’ve been on a giant personality typing/learning kick since and have probably upped the page views significantly at Mystie’s blog on all of her personality typing posts.

(Greg’s an ENFP, if you’re curious.)

Einstein by Walter Isaacson: appropriate reading today, as not only is it Pi Day and Greg’s birthday but Einstein’s as well. I grossly underestimated how giant this book was until it came in the mail and I was honestly a little shocked. But I’m halfway through it and it’s absolutely fascinating. I have been narrating to Greg what I read and we’re learning all sorts of things about Einstein. I’m already looking for my next biography to read so biographies is definitely a genre I can get into.

“What I’m Reading” Wednesday

I am noticing that my books this year are really becoming quite different from what I have been reading over the last few years. I spent entirely too long in nonfiction land, save the occasional kidlit book (and of course, excluding all the books I read for the kids’ school). It’s kind of funny that I’m getting back into fiction but also exploring sci-fi, a genre that I had convinced myself I was fatally allergic to.

I decided I would give this extremely well-known book a go, and figured if it wasn’t all that up my alley it wouldn’t be a big deal. I found it absolutely hilarious and flew through it in a weekend. It’s the perfect mix of lunacy and sci-fi. Poor Greg (who, for someone who says they’re into sci-fi hasn’t read this book) was constantly asking me “what? WHAT?” during my multiple breakouts of laughter while reading. Absolutely fabulous book and I’m ashamed it took me this long to read it.

I mentioned this book on my Erin Condren giveaway post, and it’s probably one of the most complicated books I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s about artificial intelligence – can we design something that would become smarter than us? What would happen if we did design something smarter than us (or became smarter than us)? It has a lot of terms I’m unfamiliar with, and I spend a lot of time looking things up (backpropagation algorithms, for starters). So far I’m halfway through chapter one. Go me! It’ll probably take me a year to read this book through.

In my mailbox
My birthday last week resulted in a lot of books coming this week. I’m still waiting for a couple but here they all are:

Book 2 of the Hitchhiker series. I had no idea there was even a series, but if the rest of them are as good as the first, I’ll be in for a good time. If 2018 is the year I apparently go beyond my regular genre of book reading, let it also be the year I try my hand at biographies. One part experimentation (do I even like biographies?) and one part reading to possibly include for the kids’ highschool years.
Some PKD. I’ve read The Man in the High Castle and I’m upset at Amazon for not releasing Season 3 of their (amazing) show based on the book. I’m not entirely sure where I sit regarding PKD (I thought the book of High Castle was enjoyable, if a little messy, especially at the end) but I’ll probably have a good idea once I finish this book.

Something I should have read during my undergrad years but had never even heard of, much less read. This book is about 700 pages, so it too will fall into the “long read” category. It’s a lovely book about North American geology, and I’m really excited by it.

This one isn’t a birthday gift book, but one recommended by a friend. I’ve read the one relating to boundaries with other adults and it was incredible; so I have high hopes for this one.

What I’ve Been Reading Lately

Let’s catch up what I’ve been reading lately! Watching things hasn’t really happened, which may or may not be a good thing.
The Fault in Our Stars: I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this book, I have heard people who have read it either love it or hate it. I checked out the book from the library, read it, and returned it in about 3 days. I wouldn’t say that I loved the book but I really, really enjoyed it (although I could live without the sexual situations, in my opinion it didn’t really add anything to the whole plot). The characters were deep and multi-faceted, it talked about subjects worth talking about (human suffering, terminally ill people, idolizing people, love and pain, etc). I found myself crying at the end and actually quite mad with how the book ended. Great story, but I wouldn’t let me kids as teens read it (which is unfortunate because the overall story is really good).
Know and Tell: This book is the answer to almost every narration question I’ve ever had. Why do it? How does it transition to written narration? How does narration replace an entire writing sequence all together? What about kids with special needs? Late to narration narrators? I wish this book had come out when Peanut was just learning narration, as it would have saved me a lot of mental heartburn; but better late than never. It will definitely help me with my up-and-coming narrators.
The Long Winter: read this in one weekend in order to feel less bad about constant snowfall we’ve had lately. We haven’t had as much snow or as cold of temperatures that Laura and her family dealt with; but we have had the incessant snowing and the inability to go outside and do things. And of course, we completely lack that whole starvation aspect. Walking With God: if you’ve ever wondered how the Bible fits together, or why the Old Testament God seems so different from the New Testament God (even though they’re the same God), this book is for you. Absolutely incredible and does a wonderful job explaining the overall story of salvation, important cultural notes that explain a lot of things and clarify a lot.
The Living Page: I’ve had this book on my bookcase for an embarrassingly long time and finally have decided to read it. This book is to keeping notebooks (not the current “notebooking” style that is common in some homeschools) that Karen Glass’ book is to narration. The Living Page has really done a wonderful job (complete with actual PNEU notebooks!) to show which were notebooks were kept, how they were kept, why they were kept, and so on. I’ve found the “general Charlotte Mason lesson plan” schematic in the back super helpful; and have implemented it with much success with both Peanut and Moose. A must have (along with Know and Tell) for any Charlotte Mason homeschooler (or anyone who has an interest in narration or simply wants to know more!).

I have several more books in the ‘currently reading’ section of my life, and hopefully it won’t take me a month to post about them. 🙂

Our 2018 Lent Plans

I like to think that we are pretty well-prepared for Lent this year. I used the weeks leading up to Lent to think about what we needed to focus on and make a plan.

Spiritual Reading
Everyone who is old enough to read has selected something to read that will benefit their spiritual life.

Greg: Life of Christ by Venerable Fulton Sheen
Me: Above All (Lenten devotional by Take Up and Read) and The End of the Present World and the Mysteries of the Future Life by Fr. Charles Arminjon
Peanut: My Path to Heaven by Fr Geoffery Bliss, SJ and Tomie dePaola’s Book of Bible Stories
Moose: Illustrated Gospel by Ignatius Press

The family read-aloud (after dinner) is St. Patrick’s Summer by Marigold Hunt. I also read to the kids from Lent for Children: A Thought A Day at breakfast.

Screen time is cut to 30mins/day for the kids, excluding the (very small) amount of school-related screen time. This also includes video games. Yesterday was brutal: everyone was up early to go to Mass, I was crabby due to fasting, and it was just a long day overall. After a good night’s sleep though, everyone seems to be much more even-keeled and happily accepting their reduced screen time.

I also cut down on my screen time, focusing on the virtual time-sinks that I get drawn into. I thought I was going to have a much harder time with this but in reality it’s been rather easy. My overall goal is to focus what I need to go online for (send an email, pay bills, etc) and not get sucked into the time-sinks.

Deep Cleaning
In addition to the cleaning of our souls by going to Confession regularly and receiving the Sacraments; we’re going to do another major deep cleaning of the house while we wait for spring. My overall favorite is 40 Bags in 40 Days. I find it better for me to just fill a bag a day, hitting various hot spots of the house in the beginning (aka the places that drive me bonkers) and focus down to more specific areas as Lent progresses. Anything still usable will head off to the thrift store, anything that is plain trash will be sent off to the dump.

I want to go to Stations of the Cross each Friday, although I’m not sure how that will work out in terms of Greg’s work schedule, the kids’ bedtime (Nugget still goes to bed quite early – usually before 6pm most nights), and the like. I do have a Stations of the Cross booklet I received when I came into the Church; and we have this Stations of the Cross booklet for the kids. So maybe we will do that if we can’t make it to one of the parishes in the town.

God-willing we will all reorient ourselves and put our priorities back in order; as well as make sure we are well and truly prepared for Easter.

What I’m Reading and Watching This Week

Now that our health has been restored, I can finally get back into the regular swing of things.

On Netflix, Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City became exciting with people 1) making meals, 2) going swimming, and 3) doing laundry. Also, the folks are starting to develop crushes on one another. One thing that really surprised me about this show is that there’s a panel of people who watch what’s happening and discuss it. The panel is made up of adults and a 14 year old young man. I’m kind surprised with how the panelists discuss how attractive the women are (and I’m totally shocked that they would do that in front of a 14 year old – some of the language is colorful).

Another thing about Terrace House that I don’t understand is that there’s clips of the participants at university, at jobs, etc. I can’t tell if they’re actually still working their jobs and continuing their education while the show is filming or if that’s something they did before filming. If I remember correctly, the show The Real World just had the participants at the house but not still employed (although maybe I’m wrong about that).

Anyways. I’m finding it fun to watch although slightly turned off by the whole crush-talk.

I needed something to read that was easy to read but not exactly the literary version of candy, so I decided to try Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly.

Kelly discusses how we basically are our own worst enemies, because more often than not; we know what we should do but just don’t do it. If we just did we we know we should; we’d find ourselves happy. He takes the reader through his life – not to be a braggart but to show how people have guided him in forming an interior life, how that’s helped his overall life and happiness. It’s not a biography but a great “guide to forming an interior life” type book that have short, to the point chapters.

I’d recommend this book to new converts, people who have no idea what an interior life even is, those who feel stuck spiritually but aren’t yet ready for SUPER MASSIVE UNDERTAKINGS.

I picked this book because 1) it had been recommended to me a while ago by my parish’s parochial vicar and I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t read it and 2) I wanted something to help me get a better idea of Sacred Scriptures and how it all fits together.

This book definitely does a great job of showing how Sacred Scripture foreshadows events, how some of the more scandalous parts of the Old Testament fit into the overview of salvation history, how events are connected, and more. It’s exactly what I was hoping it would be, and I’m definitely embarrassed that I didn’t start reading it sooner!

I’m only halfway through the book but I’m finding it highly engaging and hard to put down. Each chapter flows the next and it’s very well-written. I’ll be a little sad when it’s over because I don’t know what book would be a good follow up book to it!

I’m turning my mind towards Lent to figure out what would be good spiritual reading. Nugget’s Godfather had recommended Death on a Friday Afternoon a few Lents ago. I know Venerable Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ is a good book for Lent, as well. I’ll have to pick through my books and see if anything strikes me.

One book that I did already purchase for Lent is the Lenten devotional journal entitled “Above All“. It arrived Monday, is thick and absolutely beautiful inside. I’m really looking forward to using it this Lent. 🙂

(All links are Amazon affiliate links, thank you for your support.)

What I’m Reading and Watching This Week

We managed to get two school days in for Moose until influenza moved in and has been slowly taking people down. Little Miss Sunshine was the first one to get sick, sporting a 105 degree fever out of no where. Greg came home from work and took her to the doctor while I stayed with the rest of the flock; where they confirmed influenza and sent her home with Tamiflu. Due to Nugget’s age, he also needed Tamiflu. Yesterday Peanut told me she didn’t feel well and started getting a fever (not as high as LMS’ though) so off she went. Flu was confirmed, Tamiflu prescribed. Thankfully Greg has been able to work remotely during this season of influenza so he can take sickies to the doctor.

School has been officially canceled although I have been doing some things with Moose as he’s still standing strong against the virus and needs some level of the routine. It’s been very light though so I can take care of the ones who are sick, make sure that things are getting disinfected, making sure no one else is developing fevers, and so on.


I did finish watching Erased over the weekend, and it was quite good. Lots of plot twists at the end and a tie up of all the plot lines. I think it was quite well done and much different than Western shows. I think if it had been done in the U.S. it would have been much more violent, possibly having some love interests, and loaded with profanity. It’s nice not having all that around.

I’ve moved on to Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City, which is like a Japanese version of The Real World. I love(d) The Real World in college, especially since MTV was blocked in my house growing up. I described Terrace House to a fellow Real World loving friend as “100% less edgy and 100% more polite than The Real World”. It’s in Japanese with English subs, but I’m finding that I can recognize and understand a lot of the words if I concentrate hard on what they’re saying. So far it’s enjoyable but really different from anything in America – much more slow paced, a lot of extra noise is left in (like footsteps on floors, grocery store music, etc), and it just seems like nothing really is happening. It’s great.

I received A Brief History of Japan, but haven’t been able to start it yet. Hopefully soon but maybe after we’re well past the influenza infestation. 😉