Have A Happy 2018!!!

Screen Shot 2018-01-29 at 10.49.48 AMI am bummed that I did not manage to get a holiday message out last month, but I hope y’all had a wonderful and safe holiday season. We were fortunate enough to have our immediate families all in Houston and enjoyed spending time with everyone.

2017 was an interesting year for us. My husband and I are adjusting quite well to our new location and jobs. I continue to work for a public library, which I am enjoying. Why would I not enjoy being surrounded by books all the time?! I also work with a wonderful group of people. My husband taught his first graduate class in Statistical Mechanics (the kind of physics that describes large numbers of interacting particles) last spring. It went very well, and he was later told by a new student that he had been deemed “the cool professor.” He is teaching the same course again this year, which means he’s able to build off of last years work.

My husband also attended many conferences last year all over the place,  including Tel Aviv, Israel; Aspen, Colorado; Washington, DC; and 2 in New Orleans. I sometimes got toIMG_20170116_195111071 tag along on these trips, so I was able to explore Israel, DC and New Orleans, while he was unfortunately working. Israel was fun and interesting. We were only there for a couple of days, but the conference actually set up a night excursion to Jerusalem (see picture on the right), which included a dinner; a walking tour; time at the Wailing Wall; and a lights display, so at least my husband got to see some of Israel. I also got to do a day tour to the north side of Israel that included Nazareth, Capernaum, and the Galilee Sea. The tour guide was very well-versed in the history and religious symbols of each area we went to, so I enjoyed it immensely.

Unfortunately, work kept my husband very busy all year, so we did not take any extended vacations together. However, I took a road-trip around England with my best 20431586_470116973362867_389937866817083112_nfriend. This trip was actually inspired by my love of all things Jane Austen, since there were special events being held to honor her for the 200th anniversary of her death. However, we did other things besides Austen events, including visiting Stonehenge (see picture below this paragraph); going on a Harry Potter walking-tour of Oxford; visiting some tourists sites in London (British Library, Westminster, 221b Baker Street); and meeting up with a few friends who reside in different areas of England. Our road-trip did not just include bigger cities like London, Bath and Oxford. We also spent some time in the countryside in the Peak District (see picture above on the left of Chatsworth House in Derbyshire), which may have been my favorite part. Plus, we were fortunate to have absolutely perfect weather for most of our time there.

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We continue to love our new house (see picture at the bottom of this post). It has been a learning experience, being first-time homeowners, but we it has been completely worth it. We remodeled my husband’s home office, so he has a comfortable space to work. We 20170827_175305also had our roof replaced, which luckily held up during Hurricane Harvey. Harvey was a very stressful time for us, as we did experience some damage to our fence, which probably can be attributed to nearby tornadoes. We also watched as high waters turned our street into a river (see picture above on the right of a main street in our subdivision). After all that, we then were evacuated for fear of a potential breach of the Brazos River. Luckily, that breach never happened, and we were able to return to our home that had very little damage and no flooding. We were spared when so many others were not, and we find ourselves very blessed and thankful for that.

I hope 2018 turns out to be a great year for everyone, filled with lots of happiness and preferably no hurricanes!

LOVE YOU ALL!!!!  ~The Morrisons

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24 in 48 Readathon

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I joined a book-related social media app called Litsy about five months ago. Through this app I’ve discovered so many community-based activities for booklovers, and that includes learning about the 24 in 48 Readathon, where you read for 24 hours out of 48 hours on January 27-28th, 2018. I’ve participated in Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon, and thought this readathon seemed a bit more doable, since this readathon allows some sleep time. The other cool thing about this readathon is that it provided a lot of free giveaways. It appeared that many book-related companies and publishers donated prizes. While I was not fortunate enough to win anything, it was still fun to try.

The above photo was my stack of books and an audiobook to prepare for the 24 in 48 Readathon. Here is my ongoing status reports throughout my 24 hours of reading:

I did manage to complete this readathon. To summarize what I accomplished during the 24 in 48 Readathon, I completed the following books:

  • News of the World by Paulette Jiles
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

I also listened to more than six hours of this audiobook:

  • The Serial Killer Whisperer by Pete Earley

This was a fun way to work toward any reading goals that you may have given yourself for 2018. Plus, you get to do it with a community of people just like you, who don’t mind spending their weekends mostly reading.

ROCKED IT!!!!

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My Must Read Book List for 2018

What books do you want to read in 2017? Here is the list of books I would like to read in 2017:

  1. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
  2. Bonfire by Krysten Ritter
  3. Different Seasons by Stephen King
  4. Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  5. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
  6. Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
  7. Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann
  8. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  9. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  10. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

However, these listed are not the only books I will read this year…hopefully, as I will also be participating in an A-Z Classics Challenge and a Passport Reading Challenge. Still feel free to send me recommendations of books you have loved – both old and new.

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2018 A-Z Classics Reading Challenge

I spent much of 2017 reading recent bestsellers and want to get back to reading some classics. I’ve decided to participate in a reading challenge, where I will read one classic for every letter of the alphabet. Here is my list:

  • A   Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
  • B   Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • C   Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • D   Dubliners by James Joyce
  • E   East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • F   Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • G   The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • H   Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  • I   I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
  • J   Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
  • K   Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • L   Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • M   Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz
  • N   The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • O   Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • P   Peyton Place by Grace Metalious
  • Q   The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  • R   The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
  • S   The Snows of Kilimanjaro by Ernest Hemingway
  • T   Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  • U   Utopia by Thomas More
  • V   Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
  • W   The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • X   Xingu by Edith Wharton
  • Y   The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • Z   Zeno’s Conscience by Italo Svevo

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2018 Passport Reading Challenge

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I’ve chosen to read a book about the following places:

  1. China: Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
  2. Egypt: Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz
  3. Gibraltar: A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear
  4. Haiti: The Boiling Season by Christopher Hebert
  5. Ireland: The Dubliners by James Joyce
  6. Liechtenstein: Escape to Liechtenstein by Ed Dunlap
  7. Montenegro: The Devil’s Own by Sandra Brown
  8. Portugal: The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel

 

My Top 20 Favorite Reads of 2017

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Out of the 75 books I read this year, I decided to share my favorites.

Books I reread because I love them:

  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)
  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939)
  • Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (1934)

**I listened to Dan Stevens narrating the audio versions of the Agatha Christie books. He is brilliant.**

Favorite first time reads published prior to 2017:

  • The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (2008)
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler (2014)
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (1955)
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (2016)
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (2016)
  • Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (2013)
  • Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly (2016)
  • A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (1929)
  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (1975)
  • The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (2015)
  • My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (2011)
  • The Witches by Roald Dahl (1983)

Favorite reads published in 2017:

  • Writing for Bliss by Diana Raab (2017)
  • Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen (2017)
  • Reading People by Anne Bogel (2017)
  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson (2017)

Favorite read of the year:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2017)

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Completed My 3rd 24 Hour Readathon!

“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.”

~Albert Einstein

Well Mr. Einstein, while I respect your accomplishments and achievements, this time I am going to bask in my SUCCESS!!!!! For the first time, since I started participating in the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon a couple of years ago, I have successfully made it through the whole 24 hours of reading! When I have slept a bit maybe then I can be a person of value. Right now though, I can barely function enough to get myself to bed. That is what participating in this challenge can do, but it is marvelous!

I have also completed the two other reading goals I had set up for myself. I have completed 4 books in print (started a 5th one) and 1 audiobook. I have also hit my goal of reading at least 700 pages. That is a record for me in one day, especially with all the fun mini-challenges and social media postings to distract me. Picking an audiobook was a great idea. It helped me be able to get up and move around a bit and keep my eyes fresh.

Closing Survey:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? This was an exhausting 24 hours. However, I believe Hour 22 was the worst. My house was too quiet and dark. Luckily, I was able to make some coffee.
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next year? I would stick to humor (books by Amy Poehler and Anna Kendrick were my favorite), mysteries (such as Agatha Christie novels) or children’s novels (Roald Dahl books or Harry Potter).
3. List books completed:

  • High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
  • How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen
  • The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami
  • Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (audiobook)
  • The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
  • Started: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

To be honest, I don’t love any of these books (excluding Tuck Everlasting). I might recommend The Strange Library. Murakami’s books are always so unique.

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While I am obviously thrilled to have made it the full 24 hours, I am not intending to do that in the future. However, I am still looking forward to participating next time – maybe for 18 hours instead. I am grateful for all the support I got from family, friends, coworkers, and fellow readathoners. See you next time!!!