Monday, November 19, 2012

X is for X

Roman Numeral X, that is. As in an awesome "Top Ten List" of my favorite books this year.

Since the holidays are coming and I won't have as much time for reading, I've been looking back at the books I've read this year. There's been quite a few very memorable books, even ones that have snuck their way into my top 5 books ever (so far). Lots of these aren't new but are new to me, and maybe you haven't read them yet and I'm here to tell you you should. These are the top ten books I've read this year, which should definitely be put on your Christmas list.

The Top X

1. The Tigers Wife by Tea Obreht 
2. Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins
3. Dog Boy by Eva Hornung
4. Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
5. You Came Back by Christopher Coake
6. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
7. Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro
8. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
9. Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
10. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese*

The top five are definitely in order, the rest are pretty close and I had trouble choosing where to put them. But seriously, those top five are not to be missed. Of those top four female authors, Obreht, Watkins, and Ward are all under 35 and they will, quite simply, blow you away. The top five are books I wish I had read more slowly, so I could have prolonged the experience with each. They are books I would buy for others as gifts, because I know they are that good. 

But every book on this list provided a wonderful reading experience. I highly recommend each one. And although choosing favorite books is personal, my recommendations are not altogether arbitrary (unlike, say, someone who would recommend 50 Shades of Grey because it makes their lady-parts tingle). They're good books. They have complex characters and theme driven plots and many take risks which I haven't seen before. Read them, won't you?

Oh, and I would love to hear some of your favorites from this year (or of all time). I'm always looking for new books to add to my Christmas wish list. 

*Cutting for Stone almost didn't make the list because the first 175-200 pages are dreadful to get through. Keep that in mind if you're going to pick this one up. However, it redeems itself over the course of it's 650 or so pages, and I figure greatly enjoying at least 2/3 of the book makes it worthwhile.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

W is for Wonderful

I've been quiet, recently, as you may have noticed by the long pause between posts. It's mostly a problem of having a lot to say but not being able to find the right words or knowing if it's the right time. I've taken a step back from the internet to dive back into my life. We've had a flurry of get togethers with friends and small family trips and peaceful days at home that have kept me occupied in the best sort of way. I've let moments big and small sweep me away. It has been refreshing and wonderful. But I'm back because I have found words again, and I want to share this path I'm taking through life with you, whoever you may be.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about this journey of parenthood and how it has changed my life in the most unexpected ways. I've been thinking about the shifts and changes that come on so suddenly that I can hardly keep up. The walking, the running, the talking, the independence, the unexpected kindness that leaves me breathless. I'm taken aback by how wonderful it all is.

I'm taken aback by how sincerely I can use the word 'wonderful.'

Because those of you who know me, who know my story, know that wasn't always the case. The first year was not as wonderful as I had imagined it would be. I felt like I was failing left and right. I felt like Lucas and I were never going to find our groove, find peace, find the sort of love I had expected from the start. I think our first year together saw more tears than the year I was dumped five (six?) times by various boyfriends (Have you any idea how long a fifteen year old girl can cry in a bathroom? A long damn time, trust me.). I felt like I wasn't cut out to be a mother, regardless of how badly I wanted it. The days were long and frustrating and lonely. And I felt guilty for not enjoying Lucas, because I had left everything else behind to be with him.

I kept telling myself it had to get better, but after a while I stopped believing that it would.

I don't know when the change happened exactly. It was sometime around fifteen months, when he started walking and talking a little bit here and there. It was around the time I came to accept the fact that my mental health was below par for that first year, and that it wasn't my fault that every day wasn't rainbows and sunshine. It was around the time I started taking responsibility for my health and happiness, to make sure I could do the same for Lucas. It wasn't an overnight change, but I noticed things starting to get better. Lucas had fewer tantrums, better sleeping patterns, a more playful attitude; natural changes that felt like enormous weights being lifted from my chest.

And now, I don't even know how to describe it to you.

I feel like I have been blessed beyond belief. I can't get through a single day without being absolutely floored by how happy I am just to be his mother. I feel fulfilled by spending every day with him. There are days when his bedtime comes too soon and times when he's napping and I miss being with him. Days that I could never have imagined a year ago.

I can't tell Rob how wonderful my time with Lucas is without being brought to tears. I can't kiss him enough, hug him enough, thank him enough for being my baby. There's so much more love between us than I ever thought was possible.

It's wonderful. It really is.
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