By the Numbers: July 2013

Books

Total read since January: 23
(target is 36 by December, to be on track I should have read 21 books by now)

Vacation time means more reading time for me. I only finished two books during my vacation. Then I finished one more on the plane ride home. But, even outside of vacation, I’ve been reading like crazy this month, and I’m finally caught up (actually, a little ahead) of where I should be to meet my 36 books target for this year. Of course, my “to-read” pile just keeps growing because I am always finding or receiving recommendations for awesome books out there that I want to read.

Here are the (six!) books I read this month, stack ranked by how much I liked them, from most to least favorite:

  • Swim: Why We Love the Water — LOVED this book. So many fun facts about the history of swimming and swimmers. Made me feel proud to be a swimmer, and made me want to go swim laps. Highly recommend this to anyone who loves the water and loves to swim.
  • Where’d You Go Bernadette — This book cracked me up. Having lived in Seattle and worked for Microsoft, I can vouch for the fact that Maria Semple has Seattle and Microsoft nailed. One of my favorite parts is the transcript of the TED Talk. So perfect. I really enjoyed this book. It made me miss the city I think of as “home” (even though I grew up in the Midwest). Highly recommend this to anyone who has ever lived in Seattle and/or worked in technology (even though the book really isn’t about working in technology at all). Think Gilmore Girls, but set in Seattle.
  • A Murder is Announced — Read this one for my UCBx Mystery Fiction class, but I actually enjoyed it. It’s very British and amusing, if not laugh-out-loud-funny. It’s sort of a comedy-mystery. I kept thinking I had the mystery solved, but then something else would happen and I would change my mind. Definitely kept me guessing (and engaged) through the end.
  • A Fountain Filled with Blood — Read this one for my UCBx Mystery Fiction class final project. I liked the first book in the series (the one I read last month) better, but this one was still good. The story was fast paced and takes place in the Adirondacks where I was on vacation this month. My only (small) complaint is that the main character, Clare, was a bit more inconsistent in this book than she was in the first book. In this book she constantly flips from being responsible to irresponsible, and takes some actions that seem out of character based on what we know of her background. I hope this improves as the series continues, because I like her character in general, and I am drawn in my this will they / won’t they relationship developing as a (major) subplot. 
  • Island of the Sequined Love Nun — Was less than impressed with this one by Christopher Moore. No matter how many Christopher Moore books I read, I still think the first one I read by him (A Dirty Job) was the best. Maybe his brand of humor / writing style has diminishing returns?
  • Unfamiliar Fishes — Originally bought this for my mom because she lived in Hawaii and loves it there and also enjoys history. She read it and passed it back to me to read and it sat on my shelf for years. Brought it with on vacation and had a hard time getting into it. The text seemed to ramble without purpose and periodically repeat bits. It was almost as though it was a series of essays that were strung together into a book. I finally finished it, and then left it in the Adirondacks for future campers to enjoy.

I was hoping to be able to tackle more of my non-fiction selections while on vacation. It’s harder for me to read non-fiction in the start / stop way I have to read while I’m working. I only get about thirty minutes of reading time on the bus, and the rest of my reading time happens on the weekend. It’s much easier for me to devour novels on the weekend than meaty non-fiction. Plus, novels are more of an escape worthy of weekend downtime.

Writing

I haven’t been keeping up the blog this month, mostly due to “no screens” time during vacation. But also because I’ve had a lot on my mind that hasn’t been post-worthy. But, I have been doing a tiny bit of writing. I dusted off one of my two unfinished novels (finally) and started (slowly) working on it again.

The one I picked (I need a good working title…) had just over 16k words already typed up. I also had a few scenes scribbled in a notebook. After re-reading what I wrote I immediately decided that 1) this is utter rubbish writing, but maybe a decent story, and 2) it probably needs to be written in first person. The annoying thing is that I remember I started writing this in first person, then painstakingly changed it to third person, and now I’m having to go back to my original, first person narration.

This month I edited all the existing text, added the handwritten stuff, and then added a few “new” scenes. I now have just over 20k words. There are about 100k words in a novel (unless you’re George R.R. Martin, then it’s between 300k and 450k per novel…). So, at this rate, this may take me a while. But, my goal is just to ignore the “this is complete crap” voice and finish the story. I can always make it better later. Or just leave it gathering virtual dust on my hard drive. But I’m going to finish it.

Swimming

My US Masters Swimming FLOG (Fitness Log) says I swam:

  • 20 of 31 days (target was ~20 days)
  • 35.18 miles (target was ~30 miles)

Woo hoo! I did it! I finally hit my target for both number of days and miles! Yay! I owe all this to vacationing somewhere that I could easily swim daily and a little change of routine that increased my motivation to get out of bed in the morning.

This month I got to spend a week swimming around in a lake in the Adirondacks. On my first day at the lake I swam across and back a total of five times — not all in a row, but total for the day. That was the most I swam across and back for the whole vacation, but I did that trip at least once a day, and usually more, sometimes with friends, sometimes with small children, always with someone in a boat patiently accompanying me.

When I returned from vacation I decided to capitalize on my adaptation to East-coast time and get up early to swim in the outdoor pool instead of going to the gym. I LOVE swimming in that pool. It is so much more motivating the swimming in that dinky little three lane pool in the basement of Equinox with five other splashing humans and a sporadically working time-clock.

Because of this, I am planning on canceling my gym membership and buying a bulk pass to the outdoor pool instead. I may regret this decision come winter, but it doesn’t really get too cold here in the winter. Mornings now, in the middle of summer are in the mid 50s and overcast. I expect it will be a bit colder, maybe mid 40s in December / January, but the pool is always the same temperature. Besides, we have yoga classes and a weight room in our office, so I’m really just using the gym for the pool at this point (not that I’m using the office facilities, either… but I could…).

I need to step up my training in preparation for the fall racing season. Anything I can do to make that a more enjoyable experience is going to help me swim more — and faster. As you can see from this month’s stats, I am definitely finding the outdoor pool more motivating.

Movies

Not a big month for movies. Possibly recovering from last month’s movie watching binge. More likely, my movie watching time was allocated to swimming, reading, and writing. Here’s what we watched:

  • Anchorman — Confession: neither of us had ever seen this movie before. Apparently it is a bit of a “classic”? It was okay. Some parts were funny, and, really, Steve Carrell was the best of all the characters. Is this the movie where that whole “mic drop” thing started (Vince Vaughn at the end, reporting at the zoo)? or does that pre-date even this movie? Answer here?
  • Pitch Perfect — If you’ve been keeping up with my blog(s), or know me IRL, you know I am a sucker for feel-good “team” movies like Bring It On, Stick It, and Dil Bole Hadippa — especially ones with a strong, sassy female lead. So it should come as no surprise to you that I loved this movie. (Slightly more surprising was that hubby also liked it…)

There you have it — an extremely long post all about July to make up for my lack of blogging. I can’t believe that tomorrow starts AUGUST! It’s almost back to school time (my second-favorite time of year)!

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