Fundamental Reading Question # 1

I have recently been introduced to a couple book-related questions, and today I want to ask you Fundamental Reading Question # 1. But first a little about why I love even the EXISTENCE of fundamental reading questions. 

My Bookish History

I have always been a Bookish Person. I come from a bookish family. When my sister and I were in elementary school my sister read the most books in the whole school for a book contest where we were rewarded with a balloon for each book we read. When it came time to release the balloons, she had so many I thought she would float away. [Note: This was the 80’s. Please don’t yell at me about the negative environmental impact of releasing those balloons. The 80’s had a negative impact on us all in so many ways.]

My mom was a voracious reader. Growing up she occasionally worked for a friend who owned a book store. We had a den that was lined on all four walls with books. We had inlaid bookshelves in our living room. She had stacks of books on her nightstand. When I went to be with her as she was dying, I played the audiobook version of Melinda Gates’s book The Moment of Life: How Empowering Women Changes the World as I sat by her bed for hours holding her hand. When it was over I had a 1-sided book discussion that included all the ways my mom empowered me to change the world. Although she was not responsive by that time, I believe she heard every word I said. 

Growing up around bookish family members has helped me seek out bookish people to surround myself with in my current life as well. Knowing we have that bookish common ground gives us a head start on conversation – always a plus for an introvert. 

My Bookish Present

Earlier this year my friend, Genay, asked me a couple questions about reading that we now refer to as Fundamental Reading Questions 1 and 2. Genay is the Founder of Renew Planner and is a deep thinker and sensitive soul. I was not surprised she asked me not 1, but 2 questions about reading that I have never been asked before AND that I had no answer to immediately. 

After Genay knocked my socks off with her questions I had to go back to think about them. Fundamental Reading Questions cannot be left unanswered!

I recently I told you about my 10 favorite books. One of those favorite reads is the answer to Fundamental Reading Question 1 that I want to share with you today. 

Fundamental Reading Question # 1

Here it is – Fundamental Reading Question # 1.

What book changed the way you thought about reading?

The answer to this question for me is Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. This was the first book I read with multiple narrators, each with their own voices and interpretations of events unfolding in a family drama. My memory is of reading it in the car on a ride somewhere with my family on vacation when I was in my early 30’s and not caring that I was being antisocial with my nose buried in my book. I also remember being sad when we got to whatever sight seeing destination. All I wanted to do was read this book. 

This changed the way I thought about reading because I had gotten away from reading in my 20s. I was in grad school at the start and only reading assigned texts and the hundreds of associated journal articles. Then early in my professional career I was obsessed with self-improvement and only read non-fiction. For example, books about communication and emotional intelligence. When I started business school, topics changed to corporate culture and successfully managing people and teams. Needless to say this was not reading for “fun” – more like survival because I was desperate to keep up with my classmates and colleagues. When my mom, sister, and I would get together and swap books, they NEVER wanted the ones I brought to the swap. But reading Poisonwood Bible really ignited my love for fiction and pleasure reading again.

If You Are Not a Reader

I believe books are like exercise – if you don’t like it, you just have not found the right thing yet. I encourage you to keep trying different options. Comic books, thrillers, fiction or non-fiction. Audiobooks, e-books, or traditional. There are lots of entry points.

Here is a truth bomb – I am raising 2 non-readers. Both of my kids hate to read. It is one of the saddest realities of my existence as a parent. But I have not given up on them. They are in a season where they are forced to read what other people (i.e. school) want them to. I am giving them space in this season. Maybe you need some space if you have not found your book thing yet.  

But maybe books are just not your thing – you’ve tried. I accept that for today, but I cannot encourage you enough to FIND a thing. Life is coming at you fast and hobbies give you a much needed respite and recharging. Hobbies can give you a way to connect with people – maybe coming up with a fundamental question of your own.

I will write about Question #2 in a few weeks, but in the meantime I would love to hear your answer to Fundamental Reading Question # 1. What book changed the way YOU thought about reading?

By |2020-12-12T10:14:49-05:00December 15th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Three 5-Star Reads to Kick Start Your Reading Life

There is a special treat for you today! Three 5-star reads to kick start your reading – all in one post! If this is the sort of good news you want to make sure lands in your inbox every time I read a 5-star book, subscribe here. A few things about all three of these books:

  • Each a different topic and tone to them, but I think there is something for everyone
  • I was a launch team member for each book
  • All three books can be purchased through Amazon so it will be easy to have them here for the long Labor Day weekend

The Apple of My Eye: Trusting God’s Guidance When We Can’t See by Amy Beth Pederson

The first 5-star book to kick start your reading wrecked me at times, I won’t lie. Amy’s husband, Seth, died of eye cancer in March of 2020, and she narrates the path from diagnosis to death in her book The Apple of My Eye. It made me think of the cancer struggles my friends and loved ones had and that was not easy to relive, even vicariously. I felt the mind numbing boredom of hours of tests and waiting Amy described. I felt the helplessness of dealing with the American healthcare system. I felt the heart ache of goodbye.

I met Amy through my Hope*Writers membership and was honored to help her launch this gift into the world. This book is a heartfelt way for her to honor Seth’s life and legacy.

Apple of My Eye

Learning to Roar by Melissa Dyer

The next book to kick start your reading is for any woman who “knows she’s not living as the hero of her own story” and is uplifting and inspiring. I also met Melissa through my membership in Hope*Writers. What a privilege it was to help Melissa launch this book! For years I have stuffed my feelings and words down – I so related to the stories in her book. As I am finding my voice, I can only dream of roaring, but I truly want to surround myself with a group of women I can learn from.

One of the neat things that Melissa did with her book is to create a Courage Persona quiz to go with the book. My Courage Persona is “Perseverance.” I am sure you are not surprised.

Learning to Roar

The Lazy Genius Way: Embrace What Matters, Ditch What Doesn’t, and Get Stuff Done by Kendra Adachi

I have been a fan of Kendra’s since I started listening to her podcast. And honestly, I really love to get stuff done so why would I NOT get a book that talked about just this thing?! Let me tell you, this book does NOT disappoint.

I have always felt ridiculous trying to make seemingly mundane chores faster/ better/easier. Now I actually have a name and a system for this thinking! Not to mention I think the Lazy Genius is my Petronus.

This book is good for those who love systems as well as those who resist them. It is a book to reference, read all the way through or come back to repeatedly like I plan to!

Lazy Genius Way

What are you reading now? Do you have any books cued up to knock out over the long weekend? Tell me all about your TBR – I never get tired of talking books!

By |2020-08-24T14:15:06-04:00August 25th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

2 Quick Tips for Fellow Bookworms

I am a bookworm for sure. I wear this moniker proudly and love to give quick reading tips to fellow bookworms. A friend of mine gave me a sticker that declares this, and I have proudly posted this on my monitor in my office. I recently came across a Tweet with names for bookworms in other countries and it is FANTASTIC.

Quick tips for bookworms

One of my favorite questions to ask when making small talk is, “What are you reading right now?” Yes, this is what happens when you invite an Enneagram 1 Introvert to a party. We’re a barrel of laughs.

I met Bixby on and one of the questions that is on the profile is, “What is the last book you read?” Bixby’s response was, “Practical C++ Programming: Programming Style Guidelines.” I winked at him anyway thinking it was a joke. Alas, Dear Reader, it was not. But at least he reads SOMETHING.

If you don’t feel like you have time to read, check out how one of my favorite podcasters, Laura Tremaine, finds time to read. Also, you may have to adjust expectations in different seasons of life.

Quick tips for bookworms

Here is the stack of books I brought with me to read while in Indiana taking care of my dad. My brain is generally not in the space to read most of these. Luckily my mom was a voracious reader so I am rolling through all the books she has squirreled away all over the house and reading what the library sends my way via Kindle.

Many of you already do find time and ask for reading recommendations. Generally I get 2 different questions from readers that I wanted to answer today and help provide two quick tips for fellow bookworms.

Where do you get your book recommendations from?

I get book recommendations from all kinds of places – books, magazines, podcasts, blogs, newsletters, word of mouth, and in non-pandemic times, wandering around garage sales and used book sales. Here are a few tips.


My 2 favorite podcasts to get recommendations from are The Popcast with Knox and Jamie and 10 Things to Tell You. The Popcast gives green lights at the end of each episode and often includes a book recommendation. You can see a summary of their green lights on their website here.  Laura Tremaine is an avid reader and regularly brings book recommendations to her podcast, 10 Things to Tell You.


I used to listen to the podcast What Should I Read Next, but something about Anne Bogel’s voice does not agree with me. I struggled through it for awhile because I have the same reading taste she does so I generally love her recommendations. But alas, that was not sustainable. So I changed to subscribing to the blog. Now her recommendations arrive in my inbox, and I read them in my head with my own grating voice.


Just as important as recognizing a recommendation source is having an anti-recommendation source. There was a reading podcast that I listened to for about 6 months, but I noticed every time I read a book they recommended, I HATED it. Although I have no shame quitting a book (more on DNFing here), it sure saves time in virtual line at the library when I can just skip the ones I don’t like. What this looks like today is that I no longer listen to the podcast, but if I am on the fence about reading a book, I will check this podcast’s website. If they recommend it, I do not read it. This is nothing against the podcast. There are no bad books, just books that are not for me.

What books do you recommend I read?

The other quick tip for fellow bookworms is what books I recommend for you.


Goodreads is a website with a mobile app where you can keep track of what you want to read, have read, and are currently reading. You can see more about how to use Goodreads on this post. You can see all of my Goodreads shelves here and follow me to get a weekly notice from Goodreads about what I have added.

5-Star Reads

Some of you don’t want to sift through the 900+ books that I have reviewed on Goodreads. To make it easy to get 5-star recommendations delivered to your mailbox, click here. When I read a book that I give 5 stars, I will send you an email about it, including links to purchase the book if you want. I am an aggressive user of my local library and encourage you to do the same, but sometimes you don’t want to wait 6 months for the best book ever (I’m looking at you, City of Girls). Also, there is value to supporting the arts and part of that is buying books.

Your turn, fellow Ink Drinkers! Reply back to this email and tell me what you are reading or where you get your recommendations!

By |2020-08-17T09:29:45-04:00August 18th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Staying in Touch When You Can’t Be in Touch

Isolation is a harsh reality of the pandemic – not being able to stay in touch with those we are in relationships with. Mental Well-being is one of the pillars of Sustainable Productivity and relationships are important to positive mental well-being. Therefore, I have been trying to get creative about staying in touch with those I have meaningful relationships with even though we cannot actually BE in touch.

Research has proven that if a person has a few healthy relationships, she can reap some or all of these benefits:

  • Lower rates of anxiety and depression
  • Higher self-esteem
  • Greater empathy
  • Strengthened immune system, which may even lengthen your life

But what are we to do when we are living this catch-22. I cannot experience my relationships the same way because if I do, I may pass along a virus. But if I don’t continue relationships, I could end up sick of loneliness. You and I are not the only ones trying to solve this conundrum. The Lazy Genius recently discussed this in podcast episode 158: Staying in Touch When You Can’t Touch.

I want to share with you a way I have started to get creative about my relationship with my nieces. Usually June or July includes a week of Aunt Susan camp. I am visiting them or they come to NC – sometimes both in the same year. This is what it usually looks like:

Needless to say this is not happening this year.

Instead my sister and I got creative. As you know, I love to read. And I love to read to my nieces. Although they are turning a corner away from lap sitting story time, it still means a lot to me to connect with them this way. My sister and I set up an online book club where we all read together once a week. Bonus points for keeping them reading during the summer also!

Staying in touch

Live footage from a recent meeting of our virtual book club.

Every Friday my sister and I schedule a FaceTime call, and the four of us take turns reading. Sometimes a meeting is crashed by either our husbands or our Black Labs. It is only a short session – 15 minutes at the most. But it is a dedicated time we spend together each week doing something we love. Although it is not a substitution for the in person visits we had to cancel this year, but it will do for now.

Instead of complaining about what we could not do, we are attempting to make the best of what we have.

How are you getting creative during COVID? Drop a note to share how you connect with loved ones from afar.

By |2020-07-12T17:10:42-04:00July 14th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Alert! 5-star book! Alert!

Get out your library cards!

Alert! 5-start book you need to read right now!

Last summer I found The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin in a Free Little Library. While I love these stumbling across every one of these bookish delights, it is rare that I find a book from my TBR. Needless to say I was super excited to grab this ditty.

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

I loved this book SO STINKING MUCH. I purposely slowed down so I could avoid finishing it. Now I cannot remove it from my nightstand because I cannot let it be over. 

I love a crusty curmudgeon (think Ove or Britt-Marie). I love books. I love book stores. I love a sad ending. I love dry wit. THEN THIS BOOK COMBINED ALL OF THEM. I swooned.

I mean listen to this description of AJ’s feelings of love:

“… slightly intolerable bubbling inside of him. He wants to laugh out loud or punch a wall. He feels drunk or at least carbonated. Insane. At first, he thinks this is happiness, but then he determines it’s love. ‘Fucking love,’ he thinks. ‘What a bother.’ It’s completely gotten in the way of his plan to drink himself to death, to drive his business to ruin. The most annoying thing about it is that once a person gives a shit about this, he finds he has to start going a shit about everything.”

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry, p. 76

How do you not love this?! You do? Great – go get it!

Bonus – I learned a new word. Moue. Which according to means, “A pouting expression used to convey annoyance or distaste.” You better believe moue will be used in a stern parental manner within the week!

Wait… why are you still reading this? Read this in a moue tone: Go get this book!

By |2020-05-21T17:48:50-04:00May 21st, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

More on Book Abandonment

Friends, you will remember that we have discussed the fact that I am a quitter. I have no shame in quitting a book that is not resonating with me. This is not to say that I want to ride unicorns and poop rainbows about all of the books I read. I may have a visceral reaction to a character or a theme or plot device – I am looking at you, We Need to Talk About Kevin. But sometimes that is the author’s purpose – to have that visceral response. To FEEL something. To REACT to something. Not to just passively read words and move onto the next.

I have recently starting reading a book by SARK, an author with the tag line: Creating a Beacon of Hope in a Chaotic World. And I believe books are that as well! They are our beacon of hope, but they do not all need to be finished. Some need to be beautiful and sit on our shelves and make us happy. Some may need to be finished, but not by us. Some need to be finished by us in another chapter of our lives – the book just got to us too soon.

I want to declare that books do not need to be finished to be of value. You can dip into this book, gobble it up, do all the things it suggests, explore every resource, game, and invention, or just lie quietly, smiling at the cover.

It will smile back.

By |2019-12-12T19:06:02-05:00June 12th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Peer Pressure is Real

I am a huge fan of the public library system and at least half of the books I read are borrowed from the library. I use a couple different apps to borrow from the library and promise to cover this in another post. The Libby app is one I use, and man – are they putting on full court press with the peer pressure lately!

10 People Waiting.
I don’t need that kind of pressure in my reading life!

They recently added a new feature that tells you how many people are waiting on you to read the book. The screen above is the first time I have seen this, and I picture all 10 people surrounding me with their arms crossed, feet tapping, eyes rolling. Sighing – the whole 9 yards It is like when you came in from recess on a hot day, and the kids in line behind you at the drinking fountain told you to hurry up before you even bent down for water. “Save some for the fish!” was always the hilarious comment shouted. I hated those bastards.

The notification I want to see is the number of days early I have returned books. Maybe a badge I can put on my Libby profile saying I am a consistent deadline beater! How about it Libby!?

What features do you want added to reading apps to celebrate you!?

By |2019-12-12T19:09:26-05:00May 24th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments
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