Sunday, December 30, 2018

Books Read in 2018 #MyYearInBooks #80in2018

Welcome to my 11th Annual Books-In-Review post!

This year was a lot of fun in reading - doesn't it feel like there are so many wonderful books out in the world right now? I will never ever ever "catch up" with all of the books that are on everyone's lists and that everyone suggests. It makes it all so much fun, though, to discuss with others who love books as much as I do. And at the end of the year, I adore reading all the "best of" lists and wishing I could read them all. 

This year, I read books 2 - 14 in the Maisie Dobbs series...so you can see 13 books by one author! I think that's a new record for me. Maisie Dobbs is a "girl detective" in the period between WW1 and WW2 in London. The books are a wonderful slice of historical fiction and just so much fun to read. Also, she drinks tea a LOT and I found myself always wishing for a biscuit and a cuppa.

So...here's this year's book list:
  1. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish
  2. The Leavers by Lisa Ko
  3. Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
  4. Denton Little's Death Date by Lance Rubin
  5. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  6. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
  7. One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  8. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
  9. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  10. Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
  11. Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
  12. Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
  13. Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear
  14. The Orchard by Yochi Brandes
  15. An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
  16. The Kremlin's Candidate by Jason Matthews
  17. Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear
  18. The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear
  19. A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear
  20. Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear
  21. Leaving Everything Most Loved by Jacqueline Winspear
  22. I Still See Her Haunting Eyes by Aaron Elster
  23. A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear
  24. Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear
  25. In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear
  26. To Die but Once by Jacqueline Winspear
  27. Beartown by Fredrik Backman
  28. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  29. Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered by Sarah Tuttle-Singer
  30. The Prime Ministers by Yehuda Avner
  31. The Cloister by James Carroll
  32. The Power of Moments by Chip Heath
  33. Sadness is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher
  34. Calypso by David Sedaris
  35. Gateway to the Moon by Mary Morris
  36. Mrs. by Caitlin Macy
  37. The Emerald Circus by Jane Yolen
  38. The Gallery of Vanished Husbands by Natasha Solomons
  39. After Anatevka by Alexandra Silber
  40. The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise
  41. The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas
  42. We are Gathered by Jamie Weisman
  43. The Other Woman by Daniel Silva
  44. The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
  45. The Trick by Emanuel Bergman
  46. Eternal Life by Dara Horn
  47. The Life Lucy Knew by Karma Brown
  48. All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin
  49. The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
  50. The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir
  51. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
  52. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  53. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  54. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
  55. Educated by Tara Westover
  56. The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson
  57. The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker
  58. The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
  59. The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
  60. Traitor by Jonathan de Shalit
  61. The Moscow Sleepers by Stella Rimington
  62. Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
  63. Three Floors Up by Eshkol Nevo
  64. Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
  65. Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
  66. Tasting the Sky by Ibtisam Barakat
  67. Witchmark by C.L. Polk
  68. The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner
  69. Memento Park by Mark Sarvas
  70. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  71. The Summer of Broken Things by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  72. Resistance by Jennifer A. Nielsen
  73. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  74. Becoming by Michelle Obama
  75. Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan
  76. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan
  77. Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan
  78. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
  79. The Spy with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
  80. Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
So what did I like? Wow, it was a good year. The Great Believers, The Weight of Ink, Pachinko, The Leavers, The Immoralists...all outstanding. Loved the pairing of Sisters of the Winter Wood and Spinning Silver, and I hadn't read the Crazy Rich Asians books but after seeing the movie...I decided it was time and I loved them! Gratitude to President Obama for recommending American Marriage and Educated, both really wonderful, and of course, he had to recommend Becoming, but that was well-deserved! Overall, it was a great year in reading and I can't even choose a favorite. 

I'm looking forward to starting new lists for 2019...I keep track of my books on Goodreads - follow me there. What do you think I should read in 2019? What are you going to read? What was the best book you read in 2018?

Previous years' book lists are here:

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

#blogElul #ElulGram - List for Elul2018

Maybe blogging has gotten a little "old"? I haven't written much on this blog in a while. But I am not ready to give up on the concept...and I'm not ready to give up on #BlogElul, either. #BlogElul is a project that I started in 2010, although it wasn't until 2012 that I created the list of topics. Since then, I haven't always completed the whole month of blogging, although I know that many of you have. I also know that the online world has changed so much since 2010, when blogging was one of the only ways to publish your online content easily.

Now we have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and other platforms...so many ways in which to express ourselves and dive deeply into the themes of the High Holy Days. And so here we are….I've added #ElulGram to the #BlogElul family and the borders of this project are so wide that they reallly don't exist at all. This project is really whatever YOU want - however YOU want to spend your time preparing yourself for the holiest season in the Jewish calendar.

Elul -- that wonderful and terrifying month that precedes the High Holy Days. A month of introspection and considering, a month of personal reflection and preparation.

Who can participate? ANYONE. It's yours. I gift it to you. Elul is for anyone and everyone.

How could I do it? I don't have a blog… No worries. Maybe you have Facebook or Twitter? Maybe you're a big fan of Instagram? Be creative and find your own path! Maybe you don't want to do it daily. Maybe you just want to dip your toe into the experience, or just read (and share?) what others write. It's totally up to you. I always love to see the creative things that the #BlogElul community comes up with.

There are no rules. I provide the topics (see graphic or below for text) for each of the days of the month. Use the hashtag to share your post (I like to put it in my titles) and share other people's posts as well. This could be a way to revitalize your blog, kickstart a new project, or even just get yourself ready for the holidays! I know that lots of people use #BlogElul as a spiritual exercise each year, and I'm so proud to be a part of their yearly journey through Elul.

And what about #ElulGram? This one is even more interpretive. Photos, art, illustrations, quotes -- what kinds of images can you put together to explore and interpret these High Holy Day themes? You don't have to limit your picture-sharing to Instagram (even though I totally appropriated the name), you can use any image-sharing site you'd like, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Whatever you do, tag it with #ElulGram so we can call share and follow.

These themes and ideas are broad and open, and again -- remember, there are NO RULES except the ones you make for yourself!

And yes, I know that the dates include Shabbat. I personally don't blog/tweet/Facebook on Shabbat, but I will post before and after Shabbat. You can do whatever you like!

Are you going to play along? Let me know! Leave me a comment here, send me a tweet, or send up a signal fire.... Feel free to grab my pretty badge to announce to the whole world that you're Blogging Elul. If you let me know that you're doing it, we can cross-post, or guest-post, or even just do some virtual hand-holding as the days grow closer to Tishrei. I'll try to link to as many posts and pics as I can - won't it be amazing to all share in the Elul journey together?

I'm looking forward to sharing this journey with you. Elul begins on Sunday, August 12 (it's always on time), so I wanted to give you a head start if you're going to pre-write some of your posts.

I hope that our shared preparation for 5779 brings meaning and hope, inspiration and enlightenment for all of us.


The list:
Elul 1: Decide
Elul 2: Seek
Elul 3: Prepare
Elul 4: Choose
Elul 5: Commit
Elul 6: Want
Elul 7: Understand
Elul 8: Hear
Elul 9: See
Elul 10: Forgive
Elul 11: Trust
Elul 12: Count
Elul 13: Remember
Elul 14: Learn
Elul 15: Plan
Elul 16: Pray
Elul 17: Awaken
Elul 18: Ask
Elul 19: Speak
Elul 20: Fill
Elul 21: Love
Elul 22: End
Elul 23: Begin
Elul 24: Hope
Elul 25: Change
Elul 26: Create
Elul 27: Bless
Elul 28: Give
Elul 29: Return

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

#blogExodus 5: Hide


We hide the afikoman.

They say it's to keep the kids occupied.
To keep them awake so they can hear the whole story.

And maybe it's not just for the kids.

Part of the story is always missing. Hidden from view, it's the part we don't see.

The afikoman reminds us to look deeper.
To seek the hidden inside each of us.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

#blogExodus 4: Grow


I'm always looking for ways to "grow" my understanding of the Passover Seder and the holiday itself. So in honor of this "growth," I thought I would share some of my favorite resources....

How to get your kids to love Passover

My Seder Ideas Pinterest Board

My Passover Food Ideas Pinterest Board

The Kitchen Passover Card Game


Let My People Go - one of my favorite Passover books

A Really Nice Simple Haggadah

A little less simple but very cool color-in Haggadah *also available in Digital Download

My favorite Etsy t-shirt shop (and these leggings are pretty awesome too)

What's your favorite Passover stuff??



Saturday, March 17, 2018

#blogExodus 1: begin


Chodesh tov!
Thus begins another season of renewal and redemption.
A season of clearing out, cleaning up, and readying ourselves for the Pesach holiday.
Beginnings hold that excitement, that anticipation, that wondering...what will this holiday season bring?
And so begins BlogExodus....join the party :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

#blogExodus and #Exodusgram 5778


Rosh Chodesh Nisan, the first of the month of Nisan, is March 17, 2018.*

Which means that Passover is JUST around the corner. While most people are busy making brisket and matzo balls, I'm over here busily setting up #blogExodus and #exodusgram!

So what is this really about? #BlogExodus is really what you want to make of it. I've provided topics for the first 14 days of the month of Nisan. What you do with it is up to you -- write a blog post, tweet, Facebook, tumblr, or something that I haven't even thought of yet! Use the hashtag to share your post (I put it into the title of each post). It's a great way to kickstart a blog or rejuvenate your languishing blog or just get yourself ready for the holiday of Passover! I will be posting my #blogExodus posts here on this blog and I will tweet them out at @imabima. There aren't any rules, so maybe you don't like the order of the topics? Maybe you want to write on only a few of them? It doesn't matter. It is what you make of it.

#Exodusgram is a little more interpretive. While I love Instagram (I'm imabima, of course), I know some people don't. So maybe you want to share Exodus-themed photos via Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, Pinterest or....whatever! My #Exodusgram posts will go up on Instagram and then be shared to my tumblr, imabima.tumblr.com. Whatever you do, don't forget to tag with #Exodusgram so we can all share. (Note for some of my colleagues: this might make a fun teen project, maybe not done over the two weeks but instead over one class period...who's up for #SnapTheExodus?)

The themes are really up for your own interpretation. I was thinking broadly and openly about what makes Passover special and interesting to me. I hope it will translate into creative and inspirational posts from all of us!

Are you going to join in? Leave me a comment here or send me a tweet or just...jump in! I will try to retweet all the #BlogExodus and #Exodusgram posts through Twitter via @imabima. If I miss your posts, let me know so I can go back and be inspired by what YOU have to say!

*Yes, I know that I put the Shabbat dates there. I don't blog/tweet/Facebook on Shabbat but I will post on Fridays before Shabbat and on Saturdays after Shabbat is over. You can, of course, do it any way you like!

BlogExodus Topics 2018/5778
1 Nisan - Begin
2 Nisan - Bless
3 Nisan - Cleanse
4 Nisan - Grow
5 Nisan - Hide
6 Nisan - Tell
7 Nisan - Ask
8 Nisan - Rise
9 Nisan - Thank
10 Nisan - Join
11 Nisan - Celebrate
12 Nisan - Find
13 Nisan - Welcome
14 Nisan - Praise

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Books Read in 2017 #MyYearInBooks

This is my tenth annual book post! Before 2008, I never kept track of the books I read. I wish I had a whole list of every book I've ever read...wow, wouldn't that be amazing? It all got much easier when I started keeping track online. It seems to me that there are more and better books all the time -- I love the way that social media allows me to share in what others are reading all the time. I love the recommendations of friends' reading choices (there are a few friends who, when they post about a book, I immediately rush to get that one).
the view from the aforementioned hammock

I love looking over this list because often each book inspires memories of where I was while reading. Several were consumed from my hammock at camp...ahh....

So here is this year's list...

  1. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  2. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
  3. It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis
  4. El Deafo by Cece Bell
  5. Swing Time by Zadie Smith
  6. Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
  7. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
  8. Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  9. My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me by Jennifer Teege
  10. The Unlikely Spy by Daniel Silva
  11. Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon
  12. Run You Down by Julia Dahl
  13. Conviction by Julia Dahl
  14. The Girls by Emma Cline
  15. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
  16. The Houseguest by Kim Brookis
  17. Norwegian by Night by Derek Miller
  18. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (can you believe I'd never read it?) by John Boyne
  19. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
  20. Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
  21. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
  22. Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
  23. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline
  24. Option B by Sheryl Sandberg
  25. Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan
  26. The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers
  27. All the Rivers by Dorit Rabinyan
  28. The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn
  29. Heirlooms: Stories by Rachel Hall
  30. Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
  31. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict
  32. Secondborn by Amy Bartol
  33. And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer
  34. House of Spies by Daniel Silva
  35. Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend
  36. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
  37. The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz
  38. The Extra by AB Yehoshua
  39. Now by Morris Gleitzman
  40. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons for the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder
  41. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
  42. Becoming a Soulful Educator by Aryeh Ben David
  43. The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild
  44. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan
  45. Real Friends by Shannon Hale
  46. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging by Brene Brown
  47. Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
  48. If All The Seas were Ink by Ilana Kurshan
  49. Children of the Fleet by Orson Scott Card
  50. Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  51. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  52. Tell Tale: Short Stories by Jeffrey Archer
  53. The Cuban Affair by Nelson DeMille
  54. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  55. Ronit and Jamil by Pamela Laskin
  56. Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen
  57. Boys are Dogs by Leslie Margolis
  58. Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  59. The Power by Naomi Alderman
  60. This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel
  61. Fish in a Tree by Linda Mullaly Hunt
  62. A Replacement Life by Boris Fishman
  63. Pax by Sara Pennypacker
  64. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My favorites this year?
Homegoing and A Gentleman in Moscow definitely topped the list. Chilbury Ladies' Choir and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk are also on my list of favorites. I was tickled by Tell Tale - I'm not usually a short story fan, but these were delightful. I also recommend This Is How It Always Is and Little Fires Everywhere, and Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk. The Hate U Give was really quite remarkable and powerful, and This is How it Always Is was so thought-provoking. (I'm really terrible at the "favorites" thing, as evidenced by my "favorite" Torah portion and my "favorite" child.)

I read quite a few books in tandem with Yael - we checked out two copies from the library, and I highly recommend Fish in a Tree and El Deafo (even though I usually don't love the graphic novel thing)!

My "to read" list for 2018, so far:

  • Lincoln in the Bardo (this has topped a bunch of lists, but I didn't like last year's "best" book so....who knows)
  • The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
  • Pachinko
  • The Leavers
  • The Resurrection of Joan Ashby
  • Very Jane Young
  • The Weight of Ink

(I like these aggregate "best of" lists (one here and one here) - it's so hard to know which ones really are "the best" isn't it?)

For 2018, I'm also considering this challenge from Book Riot - it's called "Read Harder" and gives an interesting list of book categories. I'm not sure that I have the wherewithal to read "harder" but I do love the idea of stretching and reading books I might never have chosen otherwise. Are my book choices diverse? I'm not even sure! But "a book of genre fiction in translation"? Hmm....I think I might need some help with some of these categories. Are you interested in joining me in this challenge?

What else do you think I should read in 2018?
What are you going to read? What was the best book you read in 2017?
I keep track of my books on Goodreads - follow me there.
And previous years' book lists are here:

Books Read in 2016
Books Read in 2015
Books Read in 2014
Books Read in 2013
Books Read in 2012
Books Read in 2011
Books Read in 2010 (this year I read 100 -- a big highlight!)
Books Read in 2009
Books Read in 2008