Purpose of Hobbies

Sometimes the purpose of hobbies is not the actual project. As fall 2022 hands off to the season of ALL HOLIDAY ALL THE TIME, I wanted to share a hobbies round up. As I started to write up the recap, I realized I was talking about more than the hobbies. I was talking about the purpose of the hobbies.

For those of you new here – or a refresher for Sustainable Productivity veterans – hobbies are a component of the Mental Well-being dimension of Sustainable Productivity. If you never unplug, your mental, physical, and emotional batteries drain until you don’t have energy to give yourself and your people. 

Hobbies help us recharge. You can read more about hobbies and Sustainable Productivity here and here

Side note: One of my favorite hobbies is reading. Today’s round up does not touch on reading. To see more about what I am reading you can go here and here

In order to help keep myself accountable, I share regularly about what I have in progress. Hobbies are not just something to pass the time. They each have a purpose or lesson or maybe even job to do for me. During this literal and proverbial season in my life, hobbies fall into a few categories that I wanted to share with you. Maybe you have not related to the hobby itself, but you can relate to what I am getting from the hobbies.

Solace

“Art is to console those who are broken by life.” Vincent Van Gogh 

I am a card carrying member of the sandwich generation. We parent two young adults, and although my dad is 700 miles away, I am involved almost daily in his life as his health is declining. This is a hard spot to be in. I see mistakes I made with my own kids – wishing it could be different and trying to accept what is. I see my dad not being the robust, sharp man he used to be – wishing it could be different and trying to accept what is. 

It is enough to break me some days. But art gives me solace. This particular project I’m working on now uses my dad’s old ties. When we cleared out his closet prepping for a big move last year, I pulled them out of the donations box when he wasn’t looking. This was a purely sentimental, selfish move. And I am not sorry about it. I am creating Christmas gifts for the girls in our family from his ties and will have plenty left over for a quilt project in the coming years. 

Immersing myself in the art of this hobby is a way to wrap myself in whatever feelings I have. Acknowledge them, feel them, sometimes process them. But sometimes I want to do the opposite and ignore them. Which is where the next purpose of hobbies comes in.

Learning

Learning a new technique, hobby, or skill requires me to pay attention to what I am doing. No multitasking with Netflix or audiobooks. I can’t field text conversations about Medicare donut holes while I am in a class with other hobbyists. 

This is what I love about learning – a reprieve. Also a chance to fire up a different part of my brain. Here is a photo of a pillow top that I recently made in a class at my local quilt shop. There were dozens of small pieces that came together to make the pillow top – easy to mix up. The pattern was complex – a show stopper to mix up all those small pieces. Plus I learned to make a pillow or to recover the pillows I already have or find in a shop that might need a new life. 

The benefit of learning through a hobby is a super focused distraction. But sometimes I don’t want to be focused or emotional. I just want an escape from the daily grind. Which is the third purpose of hobbies. 

Escapism

Sometimes I just want to check out and follow instructions for a hobby or just connect with others about the common interest we have.

This summer Bixby, Daughter and I attended a glass blowing demo where the artist led us through how to do it ourselves. I was not learning it, just doing what George Anne told me to do. The result was beautiful hummingbird feeders. 

I have returned to making sweet potato bread more weekends than not. Now that I have the pan and oven situation sorted, it is back to being a fun hobby. I am following the instructions, puttering around the kitchen – often while Bixby is making dinner, and connecting with what I eat (vs. opening a package).

As I write this I am seeing that all three of these categories are feeding into a fourth purpose of hobbies that might potentially be the most important.

Connection

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato

Connection with others is an untended purpose of hobbies for me. I love to anyone who will listen how much I don’t need other people.

And yet.

Authentic connection with others is what helps me – and I would suggest all of us – create a life that we don’t want to numb out and escape from. 

If we look at the first three categories of purpose of hobbies – solace, learning, escapism – there is a thread of connection. 

  • Solace – I am feeling my feelings about my kids and dad. Connection comes through art projects for the kids from my dad’s ties.
  • Learning – Connecting with others who share my interests.
  • Escapism – Sure sometimes I might make the bread alone in the kitchen. But what makes a stronger impression is when I share the space with Bixby or have a recipient in mind for the bread. 

Sustainable You Questions

  1. What hobbies do you keep coming back to time and again?
  2. Look beyond the surface – what are you getting out of these hobbies? What is the purpose of the hobbies?
  3. How can you increase or extend this in other areas of your life?

      If this weekly essay resonated with you, please share it with a friend. I am trying to grow Sustainable Sue and spread the ideas of Sustainable Productivity. The best way to do that is for you to share with someone you know. I am ever grateful.

      By |2022-11-08T10:07:19-05:00November 15th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

      The Moment Has Arrived

      The moment I have been waiting for has arrived.

      After almost a decade of wondering if it would really happen.

      It did.

      My teenager wanted to spend time with me!

      I guess it helps that she is now 20. But I will take what I can get.

      In June we went to Sunshine Lavender Farm for their festival and it was such a good time. One of the activities we all participated in was glassblowing. My uncle was a glassblower that traveled around to different shows and such so it has always interested me. When I had a chance to do it myself, I jumped at the chance. Then it got even better when Daughter and Bixby wanted to join too!

      I knew that it would not be easy nor turn out as beautiful as Uncle Bill’s creations. I read somewhere recently that the foundation of curiosity is humility. I knew I might just come back with a lump of glass, but I also knew that just learning more from the glass blower and doing this activity with my people would be well worth it. This message may sound familiar as it was the foundation of the recent podcast episode on hobbies.

      On the day of the event, we each got to choose our colors and the artist worked with us to create our globes. The master glassblower is George-ann Greth – she is just fantastic. She was no nonsense, which I appreciated because I was nervous with heat of the fire. Once she found out Daughter was an artist too, she ignored the rest of us and chatted up Daughter on all things art. It was neat to sit back and just watch Daughter be Adult Person.

      After the event, George-ann took the projects back to her studio for them to cool. They cool in a kiln – isn’t that crazy!? The same kiln that heats up to cure pottery cools glass-blown crafts. Then she finished them into hummingbird feeders for us. Sunshine Lavender Farm shipped them to us about a week later.

      We hung each of the feeders in different places in the front and back garden so that we can all see them from where we are in the house. The one below is Daughter’s and she can see it from her bedroom window. While the experience itself was the reward, I love that we created the souvenir that will remind us of the time we spent together.

      By |2022-07-19T09:07:57-04:00July 19th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

      Everyone Else Is Doing It….

      We just passed the midway point to the year, and you cannot swing a dead cat without hitting a “Best Books of the Year (so far)” article. Or is that just a bookwork problem?

      I regularly send out my 5-star reads via the Sustainable Sue Bookmobile so the cat is already sort of out of the bag there. Not the aforementioned dead cat being swung. This is a different, literary secret keeping very much alive cat.

      But I want to share some of my 2022 reading adventures thus far.

      Book Sale

      I have started volunteering for a local book sale and it is GLORIOUS. Talking books, shelving books, cleaning books, pricing and selling books – DOES IT GET ANY BETTER?!

      YES! I got to shop too! Here is my haul.

      “It’s always better to have too much to read than not enough.” Ann Patchett

      A few of these were actually on my To Be Read list! Toughness by Jay Bilas was the first book I put on Goodreads when I first started my account. And listen, I don’t need anyone naysayers. Don’t come at me with that nonsense about all the books already piled on my nightstand, in Bixby’s nightstand (shhhhh, don’t tell him), on hold at the library, etc.

      I could be collecting weirder, unhealthier things. Just watch Hoarders to find that out.

      Book Stats

      My goal for 2022 was to read 100 books. I have started 89 books and completed 75 so far. Yes, I have quit 14 books – almost 20%. Life is too short to read books that you don’t connect with. I have no shame in my DNF game.

      Here are the books I am currently reading:

      • Audiobook: Hidden One by Linda Castillo
      • Physical book: Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly (I already watched both TV adaptations, but its great for the pool)
      • Non-fiction: The Force of Kindness: Change Your Life with Love & Compassion by Sharon Salzberg
      • Kindle: Out of the Ashes by Samantha Grosser

      I am not linking to any of these yet since I have not finished I am not sure I can recommend them.

      Book Fashion

      In related news, I want to be able to read no matter WHAT and my aging eyeballs were not cooperating. I was losing easy readers all over the house, forgetting which easy readers were the right prescription for laptop, work computer, car, crafting, and physical books, and generally hating having to put contacts in to see distance only to need to put glasses back on to read.

      So I bit the bullet and shelled out mad cash for some bifocals. Or progressives as is said now. I am not sad about it.

      What are you reading these days? Come find me on social media or wherever you got this post and let me know!

      Until then… Read on!

      By |2022-07-12T09:55:36-04:00July 12th, 2022|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

      4 Ways to Find More Time to Read

      One of the most common questions I get it HOW DO YOU READ SO MANY BOOKS!?

      Left to right.

      hahahahaha. Ahem.

      It is natural for me because reading is one of my favorite hobbies. It serves as entertainment, distraction, escape, and personal growth. Reading has always been encouraged in my family. We often trade books and talk about what we are reading.

      But I know that is not reality for everyone. Often people grow up only reading the books school requires or going to bed with no stories read to them or generally reading not being a value. When people with these reading histories ask me how I read so many books, they are often asking how I find the time to read so much.

      I want to share a few suggestions on different ways I have fit reading into my schedule during different seasons of life. Reading looked different when I was a parent to school-aged kiddos compared to my current empty nest life. When I was a full time grad student also working full time, fun reading looked really different to times when I was between jobs for a several weeks. Vacations vs. work days. Winter vs. summer. All of these are variables that impact reading, but there are some common tools and tricks that might help you find more time to read.

      Timers

      You will be amazed at how quickly you can get through a book by reading only 20 minutes per day. Set a timer for 20 minutes and over a couple weeks you will be able to get through a 300-page book. If you don’t think you have 20 minutes in your day, I gently suggest that you look at the report on your phone that tells you how much time you spend on different apps, particularly social media.

      If you truly don’t have 20 minutes, what about 10 minutes? I have family members who spend more time than that on the toilet everyday.

      Identify small pockets of time

      A corollary to the 20-minute suggestion is to identify pockets of time where you wait. These could be small pockets of time that occur naturally throughout your day. Car pool lines, picking up groceries, waiting for dinner to cook / water to boil, while the coffee percolates.

      You also could manufacture small pockets of time for you to fit some reading in. Arriving to an appointment extra early, placing your dinner order at the restaurant instead of calling ahead. Yes – generally being “inefficient.” But is it truly inefficient if it is building in time for a hobby that brings you joy?

      Different formats

      If you find yourself without time to pick up a book, maybe switching to audiobook would work for you. Are you in  “Mom’s Taxi” years of parenting? The car is a great place to engage in audiobooks. A Kindle is a great option for readers on the move. Often a book is cumbersome to carry around, but a Kindle can hold hundreds of books and easily fit into a purse or briefcase.
      Perhaps the fiction books you are reading are not really landing with you lately or you lose track of fiction books on audio. Switch to non-fiction. Putting down romance for historical fiction or sci fi might reignite your love of books. Burnt out on non-fiction self-help? Pick up memoir to break out of your rut.

      Keep a list of suggestions

      What happens when you identify small pockets of time, set your timer and then can’t decide what to read? Plan ahead for this eventuality by keeping a list of book recommendations. You probably have come across suggestions in magazines, podcasts, this blog, friends, and more. Keep these suggestions in 1 location so you can grab a title when you are stumped.
      Some readers like a simple notebook to list their To Be Read books. Others use a Word document or Excel list. I use the app Goodreads. You can read more about this decision here.

      Your Turn

      If you are a regular reader, how do you make time in your day? If you are not, what is keeping you from reading more?
      By |2021-09-12T19:58:05-04:00September 14th, 2021|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

      Finding Happiness in Hobbies

      I attended a wedding this weekend and during the reception I watched 2 sisters dance together. One was 18 and the other 12, and the PURE JOY they had dancing was so fun to watch. I felt happy watching them be happy.

      I want to talk to you more about this idea of “happy.” What is it, what does it feel like, how do you get it, and better yet – how do you KEEP it?

      First, What It Is Not

      Media makes it seem like happiness is something everyone should strive to feel on a regular, consistent basis. I have found this to not be realistic nor sustainable. I only know a few people whose neutral state is effusive happiness. And even then, I wonder if I know them well enough to see their true self.

      Please don’t hear that when I encourage you to find things that make you happy, that means that you should fake happiness to be palatable to society.

      Not. At. All. You deserve more. You deserve a life you don’t need to escape.

      Redefining Happiness

      Instead of trying to eliminate unpleasant feelings and situations, a more Sustainably Productive (SusPro) way of living is to identify situations, activities, and people who bring that happiness. This is where the Mental Well-being pillar of Sustainable Productivity comes in: Hobbies.

      The Pittsburgh Mind Body Center study about how leisure activities impact mental and physical health demonstrates the value of hobbies for sustainable productivity.

      Higher participant score on leisure time activity showed the following improvements:

      • Lowered levels of blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference, body mass index, and levels of depression
      • Additionally, it showed raised levels of positive psychosocial states, life satisfaction, life engagement, quality of sleep, exercise outcomes, and perceptions of better physical function {even when they factored out sports as hobbies)

      Getting Started

      What if you don’t know what makes you happy? What if you don’t even know what hobby you might want to try? I would like to suggest you begin by simply noticing what you notice.

      1. Identify the feeling of happiness, what does that literally feel like? When I was watching the sisters joy at dancing, my heart felt full, my stomach and mind were both calm, my face was smiling, and I just felt present.
      2. Once you know what happy might feel like, start to notice when those feelings are present at other times in your day. Does your stomach unclench when you left your phone at home and had silence in the car ride to the grocery store? Does the smile come back with internet cat videos? What smells, tastes or feelings are around you when your monkey mind finally settles?
      3. Now find out what activities can help you find more of these moments. If it is a certain smell, could you take up a hobby making bath and body products. If music makes you smile, maybe a dance class, singing lessons, or just making play lists is the hobby to make time for.
      4. Quit if it isn’t working. It does not mean it was wrong, it just means you have data points to try something new. I thought I wanted to learn to sing and did a few duets with Bixby on acoustic guitar. Turns out I don’t want to learn to sing, I want to do more karaoke. Subtle shift, but I never would have figured that out if I had not tried.

      Your Turn

      Each of us will have different feelings that indicate happiness. I would love to hear what yours are and what hobbies bring that out in your life!

      By |2021-07-26T20:39:19-04:00July 27th, 2021|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

      Reading Relapse

      Remember how I said I was going to read less? I reduced my reading goal so I could free up time to create more of my own content?

      Welp, you are only as sick as your secrets so I am here to tell you I relapsed this weekend. I finished three books I had going, and started and finished 3 more. Over a span of 4 days. It is a disease. I am powerless.

      In my defense, this was not all my fault.

      1. I was traveling so I just had to do the Read and Return thing. It is not a flight without a R&R book.
      2. The reason for the trip was to help my dad and sister pack up my mother’s things, which I knew would be emotional so I wanted more books to comfort me instead of forcing productivity on the plane.
      3. When I arrived I saw my sister was finishing a book that I had requested from the library MONTHS ago. She finished it shortly after we arrived so I had an opportunity to snatch it and read before she flew home.
      4. We finished early and had time for about an hour at the pool on the last day. I can’t go to the pool without a book – I am not a monster!

      But alas, I am here to come clean with a recap of what took me off the clean and narrow path.

      Books I Finished

      I had three books in progress that I knocked out over the weekend.

      Keep Sharp by Sanjay Gupta

      My dad bought this, and we are passing it around the family. It is a mix of neuroscience that bounced off my brain at times and practical advice that you can incorporate into your life. Much of his advice is part of the Sustainable You program as well!

      The Janson Directive by Robert Ludlum

      I really want to be a Robert Ludlum fan, but this is strike 2. And it took 650 pages to get to strike 2 (I cannot even remember what strike 1 was). His books are massive deep dives into foreign policy, weapons, overlapping timelines that don’t need to be there, and poorly written romance scenes. I can’t believe I carried this around the airport. I should have thrown it in the pool when I finished.

      Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood by Dawn Turner

      This was a book I read on my Kindle after getting an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from Netgalley. This was gut wrenching at times, eye opening all throughout. You cannot understand what privilege means unless you hear – and listen to – what others walk through to know their story.

      Books I Started and Finished

      Next there were three books that I started and finished over the course of the 4 days.

      The Book of Lost Names by Kristen Harmel

      While I will always pick up a book about World War II, I loved this point of view and combination of stories – forgers, book lovers, resisters. All from an airport Read and Return! What is not to like?

      The Guest List by Lucy Foley

      Super quick read from multiple narrators. I called the twists but really enjoyed getting there. It was extra fun because my sister finished reading it the day before so I was commenting as I read and we were able to have our own little book club discussion during our visit.

      The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson

      OK, not the best choice for a trip spent cleaning out my late Mother’s things, but when the hold comes up at the library you roll with it, right?! This was a super fast read (only 137 pages), filled with frank, practical advice, encouragement, and anecdotes about getting rid of crap now. Between this book and the weekend spent purging 154 reusable shopping bags and 77 bath towels, I came home and scheduled an appointment with a local consignment store.

       

      Your Turn

      What are you reading right now?

      Note: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

      By |2021-06-22T08:03:34-04:00June 22nd, 2021|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

      Creativity and Relationships

      Soooooo to say I have been in a bit of a creative slump in the last several weeks would be an understatement. I have tried applying my 2021 theme: Wear life like a loose garment.

      I have maintained this weekly blog post and related social media content and let that be enough. It was fine, but I still have not broken out of the slump.

      Now I want to try the other side of the coin and Laura Tremaine (an author and podcaster who I pretend is my friend in real life) has the perfect opportunity for me – a daily social media writing challenge.

      Why It Works

      Creativity and relationships are part of the Mental Well-being pillar of Sustainable Productivity. Research has shown that loneliness has a negative impact on mental AND physical health. Additionally, creativity (and hobbies in general) reduce stress hormones, blood pressure, and other markers of stress.

      To say 2020 impeded our creativity and relationships would be an understatement. When those 2 components suffer, our Mental Well-being suffers which leads to an overall loss in productivity. This is not a sustainable model. This is burnout.

      I am not saying you should put blinders on to the grief caused by 2020. I am saying it is important to grieve those things and give yourself a break. It is equally unhealthy to stuff negative feels so that you can power through your to do list.

      But all crises end. Darkness turns to dawn. Maybe you are like me and are starting to see a sliver of light on the horizon.

      It is time to reach toward that smidge of sunshine, grab on and crack open a new chapter.

      Let me show you what I have in mind.

      How It Works

      For every day in May there is a prompt that I will write about and want to invite you to come along with me. You don’t have to be a writer or aspiring writer – just someone who wants to share a bit each day. Don’t let the fact that it’s a couple days into the month deter you from starting. Check out the themes below and jump in on themes that move you. The point of this exercise is not to be on social media more. It is about leveraging social media to use creativity and relationships to build a life we don’t need to escape.

      If you choose to join the challenge, use the hashtags #OneDayMay and #SustainableSue so we can find each other in a search.

      By |2021-05-02T08:58:17-04:00May 4th, 2021|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

      Ways to Improve Physical and Mental Health

      Spring forward and the vernal equinox sure help me improve mental and physical health! It’s that time of year when we start to come out of hibernation. I have a bit more energy to tackle, well – anything. If you have been around here for a minute, you know how much I love books and gardening. These are a couple of my favorite hobbies. I want to share with you why they also improve mental and physical health in hopes you will be inspired to add a hobby to your life. 

      Benefits of Books

      While self-improvement and memoir are in my top favorites to read, fiction is what is my favorite for escape, relaxation and general enjoyment. Research proves this is not just in my head. Reading fiction can

      • Reduce stress by 68% – demonstrated by lowered heart rate and muscle tension
      • Enhance “Theory of Mind” which is the ability to understand other’s mental states and show increased empathy. 
      • Increase your life span. According to Social Science and Medicine, those who read 3.5 hours per week had a 17|% lower risk of dying in the next 12 years. Reading MORE than 3.5 hours per week lower their risk by 23%. 

      Source: Dr Caroline Leaf

      Benefits of Gardening

      Gardening can be equally healthy – both mentally and physically. You don’t have to have an elaborate or expansive property, even a simple container garden on the balcony of an apartment can bring you benefits. 

      Benefits of Hobbies in General

      While books and gardening might not be your jam, I cannot encourage you enough to find your jam. Hobbies give you a respite from the grind. You are more than the sum of your work hours. Whether that work is something that gets a W2 or not you need a hobby. 

      • Stay at home moms need time to give to themselves just as generously as they give to all of their people ALL DAY (and sometimes night) LONG.
      • CEOs need to take off the high heels and put up their feet to just be, not to solve all the problems. 
      • And where are my teachers? Sheesh, you are the CEO, mothers, tech support, and educators that the rest of us can’t even pretend to keep up with. 

      It is more important to find some kind of hobby that to find the perfect hobby. No matter what you try, the simple pursuit of a hobby is what will reduce your need to escape your life. 

      Extra Credit

      Hobbies are just as important as laughter. If you want bonus points towards creating a life you don’t need to escape, check out this “No’s of Hobbies” podcast episode. 

      By |2021-03-21T12:11:15-04:00March 23rd, 2021|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

      Fundamental Reading Question #2: 4 Books Everyone Should Read

      This is part 2 in the Fundamental Reading Question series. You can read about Question 1 here.

      I love to be bossy. I do not consider “bossy” to be an insult. So when my friend, Genay, tossed Fundamental Reading Question 2 at me, I immediately opened my mouth to tell her what I thought everyone should do.

      But when I opened my mouth, I was speechless. Crickets.

      Here is the question that stumped me. Fundamental Reading Question #2: What books should everyone read?

      I have been procrastinating writing this post because of that word SHOULD. There is nothing about a Sustainably Productive life that includes the word SHOULD. Yet, I love talking about books, and I love this Fundamental Reading Question.

      So with apologies to Genay, I am going to give an answer a bit tangent to this second Fundamental Reading Question. Here are 4 categories of books everyone should read.

      Books That Feel Familiar

      Reading is not just a hobby for me – it is an escape, a comfort, a respite, and a joy. Definitely something that can help make my life Sustainably Productive. While I rarely re-read a book, but I do have themes that I tend to gravitate towards.

      I will read anything about World War II and am fascinated by the politics of the time and how the Third Reich unleashed its hate and fury on the world while good people stood by and let it happen. I will read about concentration camps, resistance groups, both sides of the war, the years leading up to it, the chaos of the whole decade, and the rebuilding after. This topic feels familiar to me and is always a go to topic I pick up when shopping at used book sales.

      Taking a very hard turn from WW2 is Little House on the Prairie (LHOP). These are comforting to me, and I recently found Caroline – same stories as the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, but from Ma’s point of view. I watched LHOP growing up and started rewatching last year when it came to Amazon Prime. It is familiar to me. Although revisiting it as an adult makes me cringe at some things we thought were ok to allow on TV in the 70s, the idea of homesteading and family is familiar and comforting.

      I have a couple favorite authors that are familiar to me as well. I will read anything by Fredrik Backman or Jodi Picoult. Although their recent releases were misses for me, I will give them a pass. It was a pandemic year after all.

      Find a familiar genre or author that you gravitate towards. If you get in a reading slump, return to these. It never fails.

      Books That Come Recommended

      I will forever and always read what Laura Tremaine tells me to. She is a fellow booklover who has similar reading taste as me. What she recommends, I know I will like. With the exception of A Man Called Ove, books she has disliked have also landed on my Abandoned Books list. [I am not sure how you can’t love a curmudgeon, but I guess Laura is allowed to be wrong once.]

      The flip side of this is a podcaster who has the opposite reading taste from me. I know if she recommends something, I will not like it. This is actually helpful because I know what NOT to read – or at least prioritize lower on my TBR. Conversely, when she hates a book, I put it on reserve at the library.

      If you are looking to find reading mentors, I recommend starting with Anne Bogel. She has a podcast, a blog, seasonal reading guides, and a reading challenge. Something for everyone for sure! Along the same theme of accessibility for all, her podcast is set up to understand what her guest likes and dislikes in books, then Anne gives recommendations. So if the guest loves sci fi fantasy and so do you, maybe you will like the recommendations Anne gives the guest.

      I would love to be your reading mentor! You can also sign up for the Sustainable Sue Bookmobile and I will send you a notice whenever I finis a 5-star read.

      Books That You May Not Like

      It is ok to abandon a book. Can I let you in on a secret? I have even thrown a book or two because I did not like them that much. Think of it this way – if you don’t identify what you DON’T like, it is hard to identify what you DO like. You may find you like a certain genre, but hate another. You may not be able to read a THING about the Depression Era, but futuristic sci-fi is what keeps the pages turning. Books you don’t like is a category of Fundamental Reading Question #2 because it means you are trying new things.

      Speaking of sci fi fantasy – I just cannot. I read The Ocean at the End of the Lane because everyone else did. Same thing with The House of Salt and Sorrows. Caving to peer pressure and picking these books up did improve my reading life though. I learned that I do like fantasy (hello, Harry Potter!), and I do like sci fi (looking at you, anything by Blake Crouch). But I need to keep those separate – it is the combination of sci fi fantasy that is not my jam.

      Books That Make You Question

      This category of books you should read will probably be the hardest to approach – more so than even reading books you don’t like. Books that make you question what you have always known as fact can rattle the foundation that you were raised on. Here are three suggestions on where you can start.

      1. American Dirt. Anti-immigration comments and views of children torn from their families at the border break my heart. The “helpful” advice, “Go back where you came from” is unacceptable. Read American Dirt and ask yourself if you are the kind of person that you would force another human being to return to a country where they will most likely be killed. American Dirt is a story about why a family fled their home and what hardships they encountered on the way to America. There is controversy about the fact a white woman wrote the story of these Mexicans fleeing from Acapulco, but don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater by skipping this read. It is an entry point for those who need and want to learn more about immigration stories.
      2. And the Band Played On and The Great Believers. No one deserved to be dismissed like gay men were during the AIDS crisis. These two books are heart breaking and at times outrageous examples of how terribly people can treat other people. Yet both books do have hope as there are good people who stood up for what was right, not what was easy.
      3. Nickel and Dimed, Evicted, and Hillbilly Elegy. Minimum wage is a hot debate right now. Cost of living keeps going up while basic wages don’t. Sure most teenagers don’t need to be paid $15/hour for their summer jobs, but some entry level jobs support families of 4 or more. Americans living below the poverty line cannot solve the problem by working harder and saving more. I admit I am a bleeding heart liberal, but I was raised to believe hard work can solve all of your problems. These 3 books were startling eye openers about poverty and the factors that often create a perfect storm.

      I would like to offer the old saying: you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got. Ignoring other people, lifestyles, cultures around you out of ignorance is not ok. I encourage you to pick up one of these books to see where you might some similarities to your story. We are all more alike than we are different.

      Your Turn

      If you choose to pick these books up I would love to hear about it. Just a reminder I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and will earn a commission if you click through any of the links in this post and make a purchase. In the meantime, think about your answer to Fundamental Reading Question #2. Tell me what books do YOU think everyone should read?

      By |2021-02-13T10:31:26-05:00February 16th, 2021|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

      What Should I Read?! Get Book Recommendations Sent to Your Inbox

      The question I get asked most often is, “What should I read?” I always have a stack of books on my literal and digital To Be Read (TBR) list. Here is a peek at the stack on my desk:

      Do you ask yourself what to read? I want to deliver the answer to your inbox.

      If you sign up for Sustainable Sue’s Bookmobile, every time I finish a 5-star read I will send the review to you within 24 hours, including a link to purchase online from an indie book store local to you. It is so simple – just add your email address to this link, and you are all set!

      This is a perfect time to jump start a reading habit – the weather is cooler so there is usually less to do outside. Holidays have not ramped up full force yet. Plus we are all staying home more because of Covid.

      There are mental and physical health benefits to reading, which makes it a great hobby to pick up. Research shows that regular reading:

      • improves brain connectivity.
      • increases your vocabulary and comprehension.
      • empowers you to empathize with other people.
      • aids in sleep readiness.
      • reduces stress.
      • lowers blood pressure and heart rate.
      • fights depression symptoms.
      • prevents cognitive decline as you age.
      Click here for original source.

      Still not convinced? Let me sweeten the pot! Everyone who signs up for the Bookmobile is eligible to win a new copy of All Things Reconsidered by Knox McCoy. This is a drawing only open to Sustainable Sue blog followers – this offer will not be posted to social media.

      But wait! There’s more! Do you know book lovers who might want 5-star reads in their inbox or a chance to win a free book? If you send them this post and they sign up for the Bookmobile, just have them comment on this post to let me know you referred them and you will get a second chance at winning All Things Reconsidered!

      You really cannot go wrong! Enter now – I will draw the winner at 8:00 pm on Halloween.

      Let’s read more this fall and winter!

      By |2020-10-26T17:27:22-04:00October 27th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

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