dampscribbler: (books)
I'm really not being very good about reviewing the books I've been reading. This entry won't much remedy that, I'm afraid, but I want to wrap up my list for 2007 and introduce my list for 2008.

Sometime in November, I read book #12: Lessons From a Dead Girl, by [livejournal.com profile] jbknowles. I haven't read much YA lit in the past few years, except for some Princess Diaries titles, so I felt like I was on unfamiliar turf reading this book. Jo did a great job of presenting a complex relationship between two girls, a relationship that lasted several years and was burdened by some deep dark secrets. I wonder what it would have been like to read this book when I was the age of the intended audience. Since I'll never know, I can only say I enjoyed reading it and found myself really caring about the characters and their challenges.

Throughout the course of the year I read The Year 1000 by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger. Organized by month, this book was very relaxing and satisfying bedtime reading on nights when I didn't have the wherewithal for anything that would make me think or feel too deeply. Despite that, it's not a fluff title -- it's rich with history of what life was like for the average Englishman (some attention is given to women throughout, but recorded history provides much more detail about men's lives at that time) in the year 1000. There were some surprises -- the amount of power and property held by women at the time, the number of foods that today are common but in England in 1000 were rare or unheard of, the disgusting details of then-common pestilences. The book ends with a nice wrap-up chapter that I had intended to quote from, but I can't locate the book at the moment (finished reading it about 3 weeks ago) so maybe I'll come back to that but don't hold your breath.

I think that makes 13 books officially read for 2007, unless I'm forgetting something. That's awesome, and beats my goal of 12, so I'm delighted!

As for new titles for 2008, I've begun reading The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, and The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall, currently only available from the UK. I've also signed on for two book blog challenges -- The Book a Month Challenge, which is pretty much just what it sounds like, with the added challenge of fitting the book to an assigned theme each month, and The Man Booker Challenge, which is to read six titles which were either shortlisted for or won the Booker Prize. You can find my list of selected titles here: http://dampscribbler.livejournal.com/153197.html

If I achieve all this, I'll read somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 books this year, though I'm not eliminating the possibility of overlapping the two challenges and thus reducing my list. Also, I wouldn't mind doing a couple more book reviews like I did in 2007.

That's all for now. Happy New Year, everyone!!
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I usually wind up resolving, unofficially or occasionally officially, to "get organized," "get rid of old crap," "clean up everything," or something to that effect. I'm a packrat and something of a slob, I'll admit. But after more than a decade of being determined to find a place for everything and have everything in it's place, and at the end of each year finding myself more aggravated and no more organized, I'm thinking now is the time to look for a new approach.

Organizing went fairly well after the purchase of our new (to us) house in June, but it only lasted til August. Even then, aside from the garage being a mess, I was pretty satisfied with the state of the house. But sometime around late October I suddenly could not find *anything*, and was slapped repeatedly in the face by the sense that we're still "settling in" to this house. So, I've again begun making plans to "get organized" after the first of the year. (After the blasted Holidays are over and done with, of course.) I've ruminated on the possibilities -- full-time commitment to the job until its done (estimated time: 3-4 weeks)? Nope. I've tried that several times, and for whatever reason (and I can come up with lots of possible reasons), I just don't commit to getting it done. What about scheduling weekly work sessions -- maybe 5-6 hours a week for the next, oh, 16 weeks? Maybe, but something about that doesn't sit right....

Then I encountered this article in the NY Times last week, and I started re-thinking my visions of organized delight. I don't actually like being really tidy. It's uncomfortable, and a part of my brain thinks it's absurdly impractical. (For example, I noticed while my family was visiting over the holidays that everyone else -- my parents, brother, and husband, are fine with keeping the placemats on top of the refrigerator when not in use, and getting them off of the refrigerator and carrying them across the kitchen to the table when they eat. I, on the other hand, will eat without a placemat, or pile them all on the center of the table (or even just leave them at each place) when not eating, because all that walking and reaching and walking and placing just seems ridiculous to me.) Should I give up tidiness entirely? No, most definitely. There are parts of the disorganization that are bothering me very much. There is much about my disorganization that bothers my husband very much. But it's time to rethink the plans and plots to have everything Spic 'n Span. Trying to achieve something I don't actually want is getting in the way of me doing things I actually do want. So, I think I've found a philosophy for my new plan:

If it bugs me, I'll throw it away or put it away.

If it doesn't bug me, I'll leave it alone.

That's it. No complicated schedules, no ball-and-chain commitments, just a simple look-around-and-then-take-action approach. It may need tweaking, if something that doesn't bug me really gets my husband's goat, but for the most part I actually expect it to work because it doesn't involve planning, just doing or not doing. I'm a compulsive planner but I really don't like sticking to a plan. I love to make schedules so it looks like everything is under control, but I ache when forced to actually *stick* to the minutiae on the schedule for more than two days in a row.

With a nod to my compulsive scheduler, and to my husband, who has undoubtedly blanched with terror as he read this, I will list the things that are bugging me in the order in which I plan to attack them.

1 -- The Christmas tree is decomposing, we'll get it out this weekend
2 -- I have buried my husband's office in paper -- I'll clean that up ASAP after 01/01
3 -- I did almost no filing in 2006, I'll sort the piles and make sure that all of the tax paperwork, at least, is in one place.

And then, in whatever order I feel like, I'll put away seasonal decorations (our Autumn stuff needs a box to live in), straighten up the master closet and the master bathroom (only about a half-day job), figure out where the heck the missing Christmas decor we never found this year is, and periodically chuck stuff from one or more of the boxes waiting waiting waiting in my own office. But not before I get to some of the projects I want to do this year -- edit an anthology, develop and pitch a couple of consumer products I think people will need/buy, and get out of the house more, either with a "real" job or something else like volunteering. But that's a post for another day.

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