A Bringer of New Things

Musings on personal growth, books, motherhood, writing, and more.

December Mind Cleanup


I’ve continued being a bit of a recluse lately, reading books and audiobooks rather than blogs and articles. Maybe I should be more in touch with the world around me (I do at least listen to the news on the radio and read TIME magazine), but it’s just so cozy and peaceful here in my storybook land!

In My Reading

Books I read/finished reading this month (pages fly when you’re having fun!):

Sanctuary by Edith Wharton

I enjoyed this little novella by one of my very very very favorite authors, who once again astounded me with her skill and insight. I think this was one of her earliest works. It’s a truly lovely story about motherhood, morality, and more.

Villette by Charlotte Brontë

Whew, what to say about this book—it might need a whole blog post in and of itself. But I actually don’t think I could manage to write a good post about it without dropping a ton of spoilers (though I guess I could just give a “spoiler alert”). For now, at least, I’ll just make a few general remarks here. Basically, I had several problems with the narration style of this novel that prevented me from thoroughly enjoying it, although reading some commentary afterward helped me better understand and appreciate those quirks that tripped me up. But I did still enjoy reading the story and will continue to enjoy reflecting on it.

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine by Alexander McCall Smith

            A lovely addition to the Mma Ramotswe series.

Third Girl by Agatha Christie

Not one of AC’s best, in my opinion, but then her weakest book is still miles beyond plenty of other writers’ best—she is the queen of mystery, after all!

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Sometimes I just need a thriller to get immersed in (I just go into it with low expectations for characterization and writing quality; the suspense is my compensation)—and if that thriller happens to involve interesting facts about history, art, religion, and such, so much the better!

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

I had been meaning to read this classic for years and was finally sufficiently motivated by a reading program at my library—I needed a book to fulfill the category of “A book on a subject you don’t know much about,” and I definitely didn’t know much about the art of war. But I know a lot more now! This is a surprisingly readable little book, too, not to mention interesting for its historical value.

French Lessons by Ellen Sussman

I enjoyed this novel, but it didn’t knock me down with brilliance or anything. However, I chose it mainly for its setting of Paris, because I’m trying to read more books about French people/culture in the hopes of absorbing more of their pleasure-loving mindset in my own life—and I do think this book helped me toward that end. For example, one of the characters reads a book of poetry at a café, and I thought, “That is something I would love to do but would probably never manage to pull off, because instead of reading poetry I would be too busy doing other things that feel more urgent.” That realization has helped me be more aware of my need to make pursuing pleasure a priority in my life.

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

I’m not sure I would recommend this book for children, although the writing was as engaging as Dahl’s always is. There were several things about this story that bothered me very much; I don’t think it’s worthwhile to take the time to enumerate them here.

The View from Saturday by E.L. Koningsburg

I read this when I was a kid, and it was a delight to revisit this unique story. I think it’s wonderful that there exists such an engaging novel about middle-school age kids being themselves and being kind to each other despite the social pressures they face at that time of life.

Animals in Translation by Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson

A very interesting and enlightening book about animal behavior. Sometimes it felt just a tiny bit dry, but then it is a nonfiction book by a scientist. At other times, I wished it were drier—when the author told stories of animal abuse in the service of illustrating her points. I have a very low tolerance for sad stories about animals. Still, I was happy to get to know Dr. Temple Grandin (though maybe I should have started with the book that’s mainly about her story instead—Thinking in Pictures) and learn about the work she does to make the livestock industry more humane.

In My Writing

I’m still plugging away at the first draft of the novel I started for NaNoWriMo this year. I’m only up to 15,000 words, but hey, at least I’m making progress, and most importantly, I’m having FUN! So much fun!!!!!!!!!

Also, I got a typewriter for Christmas! I have pretty extreme sensitivity to the light from screens, and writing by hand is great but gives you hand cramps after a while. So—a typewriter! Plus, it’s fun! Christmas evening, I said, “I can’t wait to play with my new typewriter tomorrow,” and my husband said teasingly, “I bet you’re the only person to say that in forty years, or maybe ever.” But I don’t think so, because I’m not the only writer in the world. We writers can’t help loving things like typewriters, fountain pens, and new notebooks!

Well, that’s my mind cleanup for this month. I wish you a happy new year full of happy reading and writing!


4 comments on “December Mind Cleanup

  1. emilievardaman
    December 30, 2015

    I read a lot, but you put me to shame!
    Right now I’m (finally) reading Barbara Kingsolver’s La Lacuna. Love it!


    • Sarrah J. Woods
      December 30, 2015

      Haha, no, no shame. I don’t always read this much—like I said, I’ve been a hermit lately. Besides, reading and shame should never go together, lest shame sap our joy in reading!

      I’ve been meaning to read Barbara Kingsolver for a while now. I hope I’ll get to her soon.


  2. Stefanie
    January 7, 2016

    Congrats on the typewriter! My hubby gifted me a refurbished vintage one for a birthday a few years ago. It’s manual and it’s a lot of work to use! But I like it even though it lack spell check 😉


    • Sarrah J. Woods
      January 7, 2016

      How fun! I thought about getting a manual one, but decided against it. It would be great for the aesthetic/fun value but not so great for actually using to write with. Mine is a “new” electric Brother Daisy Wheel (apparently they still do make them), and it’s very easy to use. I haven’t figured out all the special features yet, but I’m not worried about formatting and typos anyway, because I just use it for writing first-drafts that I will type into the computer later while editing as I go.

      Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on December 30, 2015 by in Mind Cleanups and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .
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