Thursday, November 30, 2017

Thanksgiving moments: Week 4

Nov. 22: Errands are just about the most mundane thing you can do on your day off, but . . . I love running errands on my day off. They're much more enjoyable when you're not fighting Saturday crowds or trying to cram another thing into a regular work day.

Nov. 23: It appears that my body likes getting sick the week of Thanksgiving. I'm just grateful it's a cold this time, not the stomach flu like last year. Also, my mom makes the best rolls ever.

Nov. 24: Things were pretty quiet at the Carter household today, for which I was grateful. It was nice to have a mellow day after the craziness of Thanksgiving.

Nov. 25: I've gone through an appalling number of tissues the past few days. I am grateful for the really soft ones; without them, my nose would not be in great shape right now.

Nov. 26: Anything that makes day-to-day living more convenient. Mainly, food that, at most, only needs to be heated up. Essential for sick days.

Nov. 27: My Christmas stuff is up! Except for my Christmas lights, which I cannot find. I'm trying to not let it devastate me too much.

Nov. 28: First day back at the office in a week, and it was a go-home-early day. Which allowed me to finish Oathbringer before my bedtime reading hour, which then allowed me to sleep more peacefully because I wasn't having stressful Stormlight dreams.

Nov. 29: Sometimes it's the simple things. Today I'm just grateful to be able to breathe out of both nostrils. At the same time.

Nov. 30: Today was rough. When the long list of things was done, I sat on the couch, in my pajamas, with some ice cream, and watched While You Were Sleeping. John Wayne was tall.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Thanksgiving moments: Week 3

Nov. 15: We're doing this writing contest at work. We each had to draw two "character" cards and two "scene" cards from a deck of prompts, and I've been trying to come up with a brilliant story based on my cards for a month. It's intimidating when you're competing against a team of professional writers; I at least wanted to try to hold my own.

Well, today I decided to just sit down and write and see what comes. And somehow, a story came out that I actually kind of like. It may not be brilliant, but if nothing else, I'm proud of that closing line.

And, here's another quote overheard at the office: "I'm a photographer. I'm literally a professional creep."

Nov. 16: I love burgers, but I'm not great at making them. Restaurant burgers always taste better. But today I made a burger from Home Chef, and it was delicious. I love food subscription boxes.

Nov. 17: A guy from Pixar came to do a creativity workshop with us today, and it was really good. Plus, he looked and sounded just like Adam Brody—a nice perk. (Readers of this blog mostly likely know Adam Brody as Dave Rygalski on Gilmore Girls, the best boyfriend on the show, IMO.)


Nov. 18: BYU's football season is almost over. The torture will soon end.

Nov. 19: After hearing my family's report of Elder Bednar's visit to their stake conference and watching the Face-to-Face with Elder Ballard and Elder Oaks, I am extra grateful to have apostles leading The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These guys aren't the old, out-of-touch, conservative white guys the world tries to make them out as. They dedicate their lives to serving people all around the world, and they know what's going on, both inside the church and out. And because they're so good at recognizing the spirit's promptings and acting on them, their counsel often feels deeply individual. Their words are not just words; they are inspired by wisdom and love. We're really lucky to have these men as our leaders.

Nov. 20: Construction on I-215 is finally done. There wasn't an orange cone in sight today. #blessed

Nov. 21: Today is my Friday. That makes me so, so happy.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Thanksgiving moments: Week 2

Nov. 8: I had three social things lined up for the day, and I actually did them all. It's not often that I can say that. Highlights include playing a Scrabble game with word nerds, golfing with those word nerds, and feeling accomplished when I came home from the ward thing I didn't want to go to.

Nov. 9: As an editor, I spend a lot of time in Microsoft Word. When I got a new work computer over a year ago, I noticed Word was considerably slower than it was on my old computer. Any time I clicked back into Word after using a different application it froze. The problem never went away and I didn't know what to do about it, so I just dealt with it. I got used to waiting for the spinning rainbow to disappear every time I entered Word. I tried to do my link- and fact-checking all at once so I wouldn't have to click in and out of Word more than was absolutely necessary. I got in the habit of scrolling down before clicking out of Word so I would have something to review when I came back while Word sluggishly unfroze itself. I dreaded getting multiple files at once because I knew it would take 5 minutes just to save them to my desktop.

Frustrating, right? It's been slowly driving me insane. On busy days, watching that cursed spinning rainbow is enough to push me over the edge. FINALLY, earlier this week, after a long search through my computer that I'm certain I won't be able to duplicate, I found some old updates that were never installed. So I installed them, and HALLELUJAH WORD IS WORKING PERFECTLY NOW. You have no idea how amazing it is to be able to enter a Word doc without being punished. Sometimes I click in and out of them just for fun.

Nov. 10: Scattergories has an app. I may never get any work done again. (And I'm still going to beg my family to play this game with me on a regular basis.)

Nov. 11: My temple attendance has dropped since the Jordan River Temple closed over a year ago. Every other temple in the valley is overcrowded all the time as a result, which makes going to the temple much more of a hassle than it used to be. (I know, I know; #UtahProblems.) But I went today, and it was a lovely, faith-promoting experience.

Nov. 12: I think I may have made a friend or two at church today. (Always hard to tell for sure, when you're me.)

Nov. 13: Another thing I like about daylight savings in the fall is watching the sun set on my drive home. The sky looked incredible tonight.

Nov. 14: OATHBRINGER CAME OUT TODAY! I picked up my copy during lunch and read the first 40 pages or so—I almost didn't make it back to work. The wait for this book has been killing me, and I cannot wait to dig into that 1,248-page monstrosity. Brandon Sanderson, thank you for making me so excited about your books.

If you don't care about outstanding fantasy books, here's something one of my coworkers said today: "Please don't die behind me. I'm very sensitive to corpses."

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Thanksgiving moments: Week 1

I get a little testy around this time of year when the Christmas music debate is in full force. I am firmly in the camp that you should listen to Christmas music whenever you want to (this year I didn't even make it until Halloween—I blame Pentatonix), which only makes Thanksgiving purists more preachy. You'd think we'd get bored with engaging in this same stupid argument year after year after year.

But believe it or not, you can still celebrate Thanksgiving while listening to the best genre of music there is. And one of the ways I like to recognize Thanksgiving is by focusing on gratitude on the blog throughout November. This year I'm going to focus on capturing the special moments, so there may not always be an "I'm grateful for" entry, but, you get the idea.

Nov. 1: I buy new Christmas albums every year, and today I was getting to know the Killers' Christmas compilation. They're all originals, except for one track at the end, "I'll Be Home for Christmas." Before getting to the singing, Brandon Flowers talks about his childhood a bit, and while I was only half paying attention, I heard him mention Footloose and then Onion Days. I perked up immediately; did I hear that right? Sure enough, he soon mentioned good ol' Payson, Utah. My secondary hometown inspired a song! A Christmas song! Even better, Payson was the first place where Brandon (a Nevada boy) experienced a white Christmas. He then invited a special teacher, Mr. Hansen, to sing with him, and it was like getting a local version of the end of the movie White Christmas. The Christmas miracles are starting early this year.

Nov. 2: The latest episode of This Is Us (the Halloween episode) might be my new favorite. A lot of it resonated with me, from the characters bemoaning how rough your 20s can be to the character who was 9 months pregnant while all the Halloween craziness was going on (sorry, Kin!).

Nov. 3: November 3 will no longer be known as just my dad's birthday; it's also the day my fourth nephew was born. (Of our family of 14 people, 6 of them share a birthday with someone else. That's almost half! Crazy.) So basically, anything else that happened today doesn't matter. You just can't beat welcoming a new life into the world. I can't wait to get to know this little guy and watch him develop into a unique and interesting person.

Nov. 4: Today's is a tie between holding my new nephew and gauging my niece's reaction to her baby brother. For something as helpless as a newborn, they sure have a lot of power over the people around them. I could have just held him and looked at him for hours. As for Avonlea, I've never seen her so excited about anything. I guess it shouldn't be surprising that she loves her brother SO MUCH after seeing how enamored she was with her cousin Noah. She's a proud big sister, and SO EXCITED baby Conrad is finally here.

My heart just melted.

Nov. 5: That extra hour of sleep was glorious. As was the Sunday nap I took that I didn't need as much as I usually do. I love daylight savings in the fall. For a few weeks it's easy and natural to fall asleep at a reasonable hour and easy-ish to wake up early.

Nov. 6: Copywriters who have a sense of humor are my heroes. Here's the warning I found on my Haunted Hotel–scented candle:


I tried to save myself the trouble of typing all this out, but that font is tiny. So if you want an easier reading experience, see below:

HEY!
PAY ATTENTION,
I'M A WARNING!

Never leave a burning candle unattended.
They are DANGEROUS when they're lonely. 
Do not let any children or pets near a flame.
Nothing adorable. Full-stop.
Don't burn it on or near or under or beside or while contemplating flammable objects!

Thank you for your cooperation; I am certain you and this candle will have many happy hours together.

Nov. 7: Today was the first real wintery-cold day we've had, and I'm loving it. I'm a cold-hearted human who laughs in the face of those who can't handle the cold. It's my payback for enduring July/August while the heat lovers reveled in what caused great misery in my life. I believe in equal suffering for all.

Seriously, though, there are some cold-weather things we can all enjoy. Hot beverages! Cozy evenings at home! Some of us even have fireplaces! All good things.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What I learned after I turned 30

After a month and a half of being a member of the 30s club, I feel like I've already learned more life lessons than I did during all of my 20s.

I prepared as best I could for this milestone, but it wasn't enough to prevent a month-long identity crisis. That unwanted 3 at the beginning of my age changed everything—how I felt about myself, how I saw myself, how I related to those lucky young people in my singles ward still in their 20s, how I felt about my future—and it started changing the second my alarm clock switched to midnight on my birthday, like that ominous scene in Groundhog Day.


The getting older part had nothing to do with it. I'm saving the freaking-out-about-how-old-I-am for my 40th birthday. No, it was the stark reality that the life I was living was not the one I thought I would have at this point. Worse, I no longer had a youth buffer to hide behind; being 30 meant I had to face the facts like a grown-up.

These moments hit everyone in different ways, many times throughout their lives. This certainly wasn't the first time I had confronted uncomfortable life truths. But it hit harder this time because I felt like I had won a competition no one wants to win: Mormon and single at 30. Likely single for a long time to come.

I don't like to talk about my dating woes here—or to anyone who isn't in the same boat, really—but I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge that the main reason turning 30 felt an awful lot like entering the depths of despair was because of that dang ticking clock. I'd already wasted a decade of potential childbearing years. Passed through a lot of milestones on my own I had wanted to commemorate with someone else. I can't get those years back.

And that's just the beginning. I also had to take a good look at the person I've become, which has set the foundation for who I'll be for the rest of my life. When the blinders came off, I didn't like everything I saw. The weaknesses I strived to overcome in my 20s are still my weaknesses, and likely always will be. I was forced to confront flaws that I've denied for years. (I used these rationalizations a lot: Oh, I may be stubborn about commas, but I'm not a perfectionist. I'm actually not too afraid to try this new thing, I'm just too lazy to do it.)

Such stark truths made me see the future differently, too. I had to accept that good-enough-for-now may end up being my happily-ever-after. Expecting every dream to eventually come true suddenly felt like a child's dream, now that I'm intimately familiar with how often real life disappoints rather than delivers.

I know I have a lot to celebrate, and I spent most of my 20s celebrating my good fortunes—a good career! money! independence! an awesome family!—but when you're in a crisis you don't always want to celebrate the good things. You just want the bad things to change. And planning for a life that includes the bad things is depressing.

It took night after night of intense prayer and journaling, but I eventually snapped out of it, emerging a tad more wise and empathetic, better equipped to try at life.

For instance, I now understand why people do crazy things like buy motorcycles when they're going through a mid-life crisis (in my case, that motorcycle will be a house, if all goes as planned). I think I have a better plan for living a life of purpose, one that caters more to my strengths rather than the unproductive cycle of tackling my weaknesses (it's not like my problems will disappear once I'm a daring, social individual, anyway).

Not to mention I've been reminded again and again that I still have a lot to learn about life, which is far more comforting than I could have predicted. (Although it'd be nice if the random emergencies October threw at me would subside, thanks.)

And that, my friends, is what's so great about being 30 as opposed to 20: knowing that there are still more unknowns than knowns is comforting, rather than terrifying. Who would have thunk it—life indeed does go on after age 29.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

20 great things about my 20s

It's the last day of my 20s. Such a strange feeling. I've spent the last year reconciling myself with this inevitable reality, and you know what? There's no need to be so dramatic about it.

But I'm not quite done reflecting yet. I tried to put these 20 things in a special order, but that was turning out to be impossible, so, know that the order isn't important. And that this post is really long. Don't say I didn't warn you.

1. All the pampering


Once I graduated from the starving student period of life, I slowly slid into a whole new world: a world that included non-essential but delightful things. I bought a queen-size bed so I can sprawl out as much as I want to when I sleep. I discovered how amazing pedicures are. I found a hair stylist who gets my hair and has helped me figure out how to manage it. I spent too much money on clothes, movies, books, and music. I didn't get to do these types of things much during the first 22 years of my life, and the novelty of being able to casually cough up money for temporary pleasures still hasn't worn off. Sure, I've had to relearn how to stick to a budget—it's a lot harder when I'm not punished with a shortage on food every time I splurge—but I really, really enjoy having the time and the means to relax about finances every now and then and enjoy some of the frivolous things.

2. Hobbies



I'm a hobby person. Cross stitching, crocheting, photography, reading, design projects, piano, and journaling helped make my free time—when I had it—more meaningful. Even cooking got to be more enjoyable. It's quite an indulgence to invest in so many hobbies, some of which I've been developing for a lifetime, some of which are new. My twenties were great like that.

3. Piano




One of the hardest things about college was not having my own piano. Sure, I could run down to the basement of Miller Apartments or to virtually any classroom on BYU's campus, but it wasn't the same as having one in your own home, waiting for you whenever you needed it. I've made other major purchases in my 20s, but buying a piano was the most important. I don't use it as consistently as I used to, but having one at my disposal at all times has played a large role in helping me de-stress, sort through my muddled thoughts, and find joy during rough stretches.

4. Walks




I started taking regular evening walks soon after moving to Midvale, and it's often my favorite part of the day. It's my time to enjoy being outside, to think, to listen to podcasts, or simply to just move around for an hour. Walking may not be the best workout, but it's the only one I've been able to stick to, and it does more for my overall well-being than anything else does. They've pretty much become a non-negotiable part of my life.

5. Roommates



I learned a lot from four years of roommates. Like, how to (finally) make my bed consistently. And how to make do with a small amount of space. Having roommates helped me come out of my shell more, and we did a lot of fun things together. Those were good years, for the most part; I'm really grateful for those memories.

6. College—BYU


I loved being a BYU student. Those years are among my fondest memories of the past decade, and it's not just because of the social life. I just really loved being a student on such a beautiful campus, no matter how grueling it was at times.

7. My "no studying on Friday nights" rule



Not long into my freshman year at BYU I made a personal pact: I would never do homework on Friday nights. Even if I had a ton of work to do. Even if I was bored. The only time I broke this rule was when I had a test on Saturday morning (or when it was fun homework like reading a novel), but the rest of the time I guarded this precious homework-free time. I almost always had too much work to do, but I desperately needed this block of time to allow myself to relax. It saved me from many a meltdown. I've continued to follow this stricture, not doing freelance work or any other brain work if I can avoid it. I am beyond spent by Fridays, and often the only thing that gets me through the day is knowing that I have an evening of nothing to look forward to. I wholeheartedly recommend following a similar practice if you aren't already—it's one of the best decisions I ever made.

8. Grad school—SNHU



Grad school was not part of my master plan until it happened. And it ended up being the least stressful part of my academic life. The fact that I wasn't expected to pursue this degree, and that I was concentrating entirely on things that I liked (except for that dang teaching class), made it a luxurious experience most of the time. I've often said that the journey of completing my MFA was more important than the actual diploma or any monetary rewards, but it actually has helped in my career, too. I spent 18 months living the life of a writer, and while I eventually decided that writing full time was not something that would make me happy, it did give me some valuable insight into how writers' minds work. It was a treasure trove of information that I've drawn from heavily as I edit other people's writing, reminding me what sort of feedback is actually helpful and keeping me humble—because the writers have the harder job. And since the entire program was online, it opened my eyes to the many ways to keep learning that don't require a traditional classroom environment. Which is a good thing; otherwise, I may have had to go get another master's degree, just to keep myself entertained.

9. Podcasts


Podcasts are the number one reason I haven't been tempted to go back to school. They don't replace taking an actual class entirely, but they do fill the void, the one that must be filled with learning. And some of them are just plain fun. My podcast addiction has only gotten worse since I gave Alohomora! a chance 3–4 years ago, but I try not to let that bother me. Having too much to listen to is a problem I enjoy having, for now.

Podcasts I'm especially loving right now: the Legendarium, Literary Disco, and Annotated. If you want some non-book recommendations, try 99% Invisible, Lexicon Valley, Gastropod, Myths and Legends, and BackStory.

10. Career


Sometimes career advancement hinges on appearing in dorky promotional videos.

My career is not the most important part of my 20s, but let's be real—I spent too much time at work for it to not be one of the most important things in my life. I've worked with a lot of words and wordsmiths over the years. You'll just have to read this post again if you need a refresher, because, ironically, I can't put together an assembly of words I'm happy with. Something about this subject is just hard for me to write about.

11. BYU basketball

I was at this game. It was the most awesome sporting event I've ever attended.

I didn't get into college sports until after I graduated from college, but now I'm really dedicated. Jimmermania is to blame. Some years have been better than others, and some years I was unhealthily obsessed, but it's something I look forward to every year now and that brightens up the dreariest part of winter. Call sports pointless if you want, but reigniting my love for basketball has made my life better.

12. Stake softball


Pretend that's a softball field in the background, not my apartment. I am terrible at taking pictures in the moment. When I have to be in them, anyway.

Of the many times I've tried to get some sort social life going post college, stake softball is the only area I really succeeded. I have a much higher success rate when the activity involves, well, an activity ("show up and eat and mingle" themes are usually a bust for me), and when it's an activity I enjoy, it becomes more than just another opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. I played all six summers I've been in Midvale, and it's provided much needed balance—and fun—to my summers. Again, sports play an important role in my life. I did not expect that to be one of the takeaways from my 20s.

13. Books


The great 2016 book cull. These are the books that made it through the screening process. I alphabetized them.

I wish I had joined Goodreads a few years earlier so I could give you an exact count of the books I've read in my 20s. I'm very sad about this. But I'll try to get over it. Since I opened my Goodreads account at the end of August 2009 (just before I turned 22), I've read 509 different books. Many of which were re-read. In college I didn't have time to read for fun, but I read for homework. This was when I finally started to appreciate the classics, although I still don't consider classics "fun" reading. Good for when I need some brain stretching, though. And since getting my master's, I've become the textbook definition of a voracious reader. It's been a wonderful luxury to have the freedom to devote so much time to chipping away at my endless TBR pile. I've become a more active part of the reading community (mostly through podcasts and Twitter), and books are more important to me than ever—as evidenced by my growing book collection at home. If there's one thing that will finally give me the courage to buy a house, it will be the fact that I need more room for my books.

14. Travel



I still haven't stepped foot out of the country, but I've visited a lot of the states (thanks to the many vacations made possible by my dad's Frequent Flier Miles/Marriott Rewards Points and the ACES conference my work pays for). I've seen most of the Western U.S. now and have even made it east of Utah a few times. I am not a seasoned traveler by any means—I leave Utah maybe two times a year, and never for longer than a week and a half—but I'm grateful for any chance I get to explore another piece of this great country. But I think returning home is my favorite part. One quick adventure is all I need to fully appreciate my boring life again.

15. Alone time




If I ever get married, you'll know it's true love because that's just about the only thing I'm willing to sacrifice my alone time for.

16. Being single



This was "the" trial of my 20s, but I eventually came to not only appreciate, but love, the single life. The dating (or lack of) part of being single sucks, but pretty much everything else is great. The freedom. The independence. The money. The not having to plan around others. Honestly, if there ever was a decade to enjoy being single, the 20s would be it. This is no big revelation because that's what the world is always shouting at us, but I needed to experience it myself to believe it. These "me" years have been a gift.

17. YSA wards


This picture was taken so long ago it feels like it was another age. This was the year my roommate was one of the relief society presidents and she made me teach relief society.

I've spent a third of my life going to singles wards. That kind of boggles my mind. But they've become the norm for me. During my BYU days I longed to graduate into a family ward, but now you'd have to drag me—death glare and all—into one. Part of the reason for that is that I don't feel like I have a place in a family ward as a young single adult. Some singles integrate just fine into a ward that focuses on already established families, but I need to be somewhere I'm not an anomaly. But even if I was properly married with kids and fit the mold for a regular ward, I would miss the energy of YSA wards. The absolute silence during the sacrament. The fun. I know a lot of YSA wards have problems, but most of my wards have operated the way they're supposed to. So well that I don't want to leave.

18. Temple/endowments




It's been a huge source of comfort to me to not have to wait for marriage—something I seem to have no control over—to enjoy the blessings of the temple. I would not have made it through the last six years without it.

19. Family relationships



Your relationship with your family changes as you get older. In most cases, you either become each other's obligations or each other's closest friends. I see my family much less than I did when I was living at home, obviously, but those family bonds are strong. Not unbreakable—even the relationships with your favorite people require work if you want them to last—but strong. It's cool that we're all in the adult stage of life now and can relate to each other on more equal planes, without the pointless bickering mucking things up.

20. Niece/nephews

I saved the best for last. I spent many years being envious of all my friends and cousins who got an early start at aunthood, but my turn finally came five years ago (coming up on six, actually). Being an aunt has lived up to the hype. I adore those little tykes.

So for this section, you get four pictures. One for each unique little person. Narrowing it down to just one favorite for each was a tragic exercise.


Jaxson is a precocious kid who wants to be an adult RIGHT NOW. I love this picture because he manages to look both grown up and perfectly childlike.


BRONX'S FACE. This is the oldest picture of the bunch. I've been gushing over it for five years.


Not quite a typical Avonlea smile, but it's a pretty good portrayal of her personality. A little bit sassy, always ready to pose, exuding adorableness.


Noah is a little daredevil who's always looking for an excuse to giggle about something. Such a funny kid.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Summer 2017 book wrap-up, Twitter style

*Maybe if I keep writing summer wrap-up posts, the infernal heat will go away.

23 books, summarized in 140 characters or less.

Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn, 3 stars
My least favorite of the Elementals series. Boring love interests are a major downer.

Divinity of Women by Heather B. Moore, 4 stars
A nice read on the women of the Bible and Book of Mormon.

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper, 5 stars
One of my word nerd heroes talks about life as a dictionary editor. It's fun and fascinating.

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, 3 stars
A good mystery that is just spooky enough for a rainy weekend. But the ending ruined the good thing the book had going, IMO.

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand, 3 stars
A nice beach read. You read it, enjoy it, then forget it. Except I still think about it from time to time.

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, 4 stars
A good read on the beauty and ruthlessness of nature. But don't read it if you need a plot.

The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler, 3 stars
A character-driven book (why am I reading plotless books in the summer?) with an ending you'll want to discuss.

Be Frank with Me by Julia Clairborne Johnson, 5 stars
A young woman helps out an eccentric kid and his reclusive mother for several months. You'll be sad when it's time for her to leave.

Arcanum Unbounded: A Cosmere Collection by Brandon Sanderson, 5 stars
For those who just can't get enough of Brandon Sanderson, even though he does nothing but give us new worlds to play in.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, 5 stars
When you're stressed out, just go to Narnia. Problem solved.

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis, 5 stars
The book I always enjoy but must rely on the movie to remember the plot.

*Note: I did not reread The Horse and His Boy because I hate that one. But I did review it.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, 4 stars
My favorite symbolism of the entire series.

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis, 3 stars
The adventures are starting to feel a little stale, but I reeeeally want to fly into Narnia like that.

The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis, 5 stars
Adored this one as a kid. Magic soil that grows anything you plant, flying horses, the birth of Narnia—I love it all.

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis, 3 stars
It's also cool to see the death of Narnia. Still mulling over Susan's fate, though.

Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, 4 stars
I really wish the authors' names were Chip and Dale. But there's some cool ideas on how to enact change.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, 3 stars
A timely refugee story with a hint of magic to it. A tad overwritten, though.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell, 3 stars
A magic phone allows a woman to talk to her husband in the past. WILL IT SAVE THEIR MARRIAGE?

The Spectator Bird by Wallace Stegner, 4 stars
A short (for Stegner) book about aging, basically. An excellent read, as his books always are.

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger, 4 stars
The root of all our problems: we don't do things together. Introvert me balks, but Junger makes some points that are hard to argue against.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George, 5 stars
A pretty great fairy tale YA book that doesn't get a lot of attention.

Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks, 3 stars
Fascinating at first, but the case-study-after-case-study format gets wearying after a while.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, 5,000 stars
If there ever was a perfect book, this would be it.

For more great book talk, head over to Modern Mrs. Darcy.