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#NoSpendNovember: Reading Tips

#NoSpendNovember Reading Tips

Reading is one part of my life that’s easy to adjust to the #NoSpendNovember challenge. I don’t buy books very often, and have given up reading magazines for the most part. Plus, there are so many ways to get your reading fix for free!

I’ll admit that it might be easier for me to do this because I don’t re-read books. It doesn’t make sense for me to buy a book I’m only going to read once. The only time I prefer to buy a book is when I go on vacation – no stress over leaving it in an airport/hotel, or destroying it while reading on the beach.

If you’re a bookworm on a budget like me, here are some ways you can read for little to no cost!

#NoSpendNovember: Reading Tips!

Tip #1: Use your local library!

If you haven’t been to your local library lately (or ever), they’re worth checking out! Most public libraries now have a lot more than books. My library system has print books, electronic books, magazine subscriptions, along with digital movies, television shows, and more! If you have a tablet, your library probably as access to apps like OverDrive for digital books, or Zinio for magazines. I prefer to read magazines this way (they subscribe to pretty much anything I would already buy), and I’m currently in the middle of reading What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding on my iPad.

Tip #2: Use your stash!

Many of us buy books with the intention of reading them, only to put them on the bookshelf and forget they exist. Instead of buying a new book, see if you have any books at home you haven’t read yet! I own fewer than 20 books, but I know there are at least 2 on my shelf I haven’t gotten to yet. So at least for November, I can work on those before buying something new next month!

Tip #3: Host a book swap!

I don’t know why more people don’t do this, to be honest! Many of us have friends or family who also read a lot, and why not give your old books a new home? In exchange, you’ll also go home with a stack of new reads for free! Tell your friends to bring a few books they no longer need, and have a swap meet!

Tip #4: Download a free book app!

If you’re a fan of reading classical literature, definitely check out the Free Books app on iTunes. I’ve had this app for several years, and though it’s not perfect, they do have hundreds of public-domain classics you can read for free! You can also check out other free reading apps for just about any device – your phone, tablet, or reading device like Nook or Kindle will even have free books to download.

 

5 Reasons I Quit Magazines

i quit magazinesIn the spirit of following my 2017 mantra of “good enough is good enough,” I want to remove magazines from my life. I hope that I can return to them more mindfully in the future. While this won’t be a permanent life change, I wanted to take a break from them for a few reasons.

It was a waste of money.

Most of us don’t think twice about dropping $5 on a magazine every so often. However, if you read as many as I do, it can easily become a $50+/month habit. If you get into reading small-batch or international magazines, the cost can easily skyrocket. I reduced my spending a lot by using my local library’s free magazine app. However, they don’t carry everything I read, so I was still spending $10-15/month. I can’t justify spending that much on reading material anymore.

The other nasty side of magazines is that they’re almost entirely ads. Whether it’s a fashion magazine pushing the latest trends, or a health magazine pushing new supplements or exercise equipment, the pressure to spend after reading is too much as well. I don’t like being prey for advertisements. I know I’m being advertised to all the time, but any progress to remove them from my daily life is worth it to me.

It was a waste of space.

Even after reducing the number of magazines I buy on a regular basis, I still find they pile up quickly. Before our last move, I piled them up and found I collected over a dozen over the past few months alone. I don’t tend to re-read things, so after I read them they just sit around collecting dust. In an effort to reduce visual clutter and useless waste, I want to keep the magazines I do read in the future to digital copies only.

I felt too much pressure to keep up.

Anyone who has ever read a Martha Stewart magazine knows my pain. Home magazines in particular are a sore spot for me. I get stuck down the rabbit-hole of wanting to organize, clean, and plan my home into oblivion after reading them. I always feel guilty for not doing more or being good enough. Fashion and travel magazines just remind me that I don’t have to money to keep up with the young jet-setter they’re aimed at. So for now, I need to quit playing the comparison game and repeat to myself “good enough is good enough.” I don’t need to know how to organize my bathroom in 20 different ways – how I did it is already fine.

They still bear unfair and negative messages toward women.

While some publications improved on this, many merely became more covert in their demeaning messages toward women. Fashion magazines may promote diversity or body acceptance, but they still largely show women with unrealistic body types. They still tell us that being thin is glamorous, and being curvy is purely for sexual appeal. I appreciate the progress, but we have a long way to go.

Many women’s magazines also promote we have to be superwomen who run marathons, have insanely successful careers, travel the world, raise perfect children, volunteer every weekend, clean our homes obsessively, and cook restaurant-quality meals for our families each night. I can’t keep beating myself up over what I don’t do, so I need to just stop reading about it for now.

I want to focus my time on books.

Instead of focusing my reading time each night to the instantly gratifying, ad-filled magazine stack sitting on my iPad, I want to read more substantial stuff. Reading magazines always had an addictive quality to them. Getting a new issue was a rush. I pour through the pages with reckless zeal, only to feel a crash when I was done. I don’t know how they do it, but magazines are like a damn drug to me. For a long time, though, they were the only reading I could stomach.

After graduate school, I was burnt out on reading almost anything. Add to that a career grading essays for hours every day, and I was usually too mentally exhausted to pick up a book. So for years, I didn’t read for fun beyond magazines.

Now that I have more time and mental energy to devote to books, I’m getting back in the habit. I was surprised how rusty I became, to be honest. At first I got distracted all the time, and I found reading took longer. However, after a few books I’m mostly back to speed-reading my way through everything. I’m also focusing my attention on reading books by women and about women.

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So for as long as I can, I promised myself I would actively avoid reading magazines. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop reading them forever. I just need a break to find other things to occupy my time and mental space. I also want to find more publications that speak to what I want to read about. Being more mindful of what I read is important to me, and I know this “cleanse” of sorts will be a good first step!

What I Read Recently

what i read recently

(This was originally posted on Bloglovin’, using their direct-posting function, which does not link to Afternoon Glow. It has been updated to reflect more books I’ve read since the original post.)

Happy Tuesday!

I thought I’d start the day by sharing what I’ve been reading lately. One of my goals for 2017 is to read 50 books, and I’m already well on my way!

I also want to focus on reading more from our feminist history, as well as honoring amazing women writers. One area I didn’t explore much in college was women’s studies. I’m going to make up for that this year, hopefully. I’d also like to read more fiction, but man I am picky when it comes to fiction. Perhaps more Margaret Atwood? 😉

2017 Reading List (So Far):

1. The Feminist Mystique by Betty Friedan

2. Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

3. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

4. Blue Nights by Joan Didion

5. How to Win at Feminism by Reductress

6. The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

7. How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran

8. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gray

There you have it!

Any suggestions for books I should pick up this year?

2015 Year in Review: Life

2015 Year in Review: Life

Life in 2015 was…a mixed bag.

On the career end, things were frustrating. I’ve learned a lot over the past year about myself, my career wants and needs, and where I want to go in the next year. 2016 is going to be another life-changing year on the career front, and I’m looking forward to seeing where I end up.

As for the rest of it, I’d have to say 2015 was the year of working on myself. I spent a lot of time outside, enjoying the fresh air and amazing views. My pink sneakers show the wear and tear of a hundred hikes, runs, and walks through some of the nation’s most beautiful parks. While they won’t make it long into 2016, I am going to miss my bright neon pink shoes – they’ve come a long way!

2015 Year in Review: Life

Fall Reading List

I also had the chance to read…for fun…a lot this year. I’m pretty sure I read more books for pleasure in 2015 than I have in the past ten years. It wasn’t easy, but I’ve rediscovered my love of reading – and I am definitely going to keep that going next year. In fact, I have that Carrie Brownstein book waiting on a shelf for me (thanks to a very nice and thoughtful brother-in-law). 

2015 Year in Review: Life

PNW Parks: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park / PNW Parks: Lake Sammamish State Park / PNW Parks: Seward Park / PNW Parks: Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park

One of my favorite features I did this year was my “PNW Parks” series. It was a great opportunity to explore the amazing parks in my area, and I can’t wait to share more with you next year! There are so many parks I want to check out, and I can’t wait for the weather to warm up a bit so I can get back out there!

So here’s to another amazing year of reading, hiking, and getting on with my career!

Fall Reading List

Fall Reading List

Welcome to November!

I read a LOT of books in October.

I should be more specific – I attempted to read a lot of books in October.

It’s a rarity for me to pick up a book and not finish it. I’m not sure where that comes from, but I’ve tortured myself through many books I found boring or dumb. Since I’ve been trying to be kinder to myself lately, I actually sent two books back to the library before I finished them. This is major for me.

The first one was The Happiness Project – which I got about three chapters into before quitting. It was excruciatingly boring, and the more I read, the less I found it applied to my own life. I don’t have a clutter problem, my marriage is fine, and I don’t have children or a job. Based on what little of the book I read, I should already be an incredibly happy person, I guess?

The second book I quit reading was The Lost Art of Dress, which I do feel a twinge of guilt about. It read way too much like a graduate school textbook for me to stay awake. If I’m going to read before bed, I don’t want to feel like I should be taking notes for a later research paper.

Anyway, on to the things I did manage to read – and a few I’m hoping to read in the next month!

October Reads

it by Alexa Chung

After tearing through Chung’s YouTube series with British Vogue on the current state of the fashion industry (click the link to watch the entire series in one video), I was tempted to check out her book. I enjoy her writing style, related to a lot of her experiences growing up, and the photos were fun to look at. It was a nice, easy read for a relaxed evening. I remember dreaming of working in the fashion industry when I was a kid, but never thought I could because I sucked at sewing and drawing. Maybe I can weasel my way in there someday, and it’s nice to see someone is out there telling young students that you don’t have to be a designer or model to work there (which would have been nice to hear when I was in high school).

I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley

I didn’t know anything about this book or the author when I picked it up. I’ve seen it in bookstores, and often recommended by people online, so I checked it out. The book is a series of essays by Crosley that share some triumphant, embarrassing, and funny stories of her everyday life. She starts off by asking readers what their family would think if they suddenly died, and their parents now had to go through their apartment – then offers up a cautionary tale of hidden secrets, lost loves, and a kitchen sink horse collection. I quite enjoyed this book, and any woman who has struggled with work, love, and growing into “real” adulthood will relate.

Martha Stewart’s Cakes by Martha Stewart

Of course, I couldn’t do a post about what I’ve been reading lately without a cookbook – especially one by Martha! I didn’t end up having this book for long (someone else had it on hold, so I couldn’t renew it), and it’s one I might go out and buy anyway. I wanted to make damn near everything in that book. I have a serious problem with cakes, in that I love eating them but I’m not great at baking them (unless it’s a boxed mix, which is just cheating).

November Reads (Hopefully)

There were a few books I didn’t get to last month, and some I have on my wish list for the near future, so I thought I’d share those too!

Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life by Erin Gates

I just picked this book up at the library, which was a pleasant surprise because I didn’t know my local library carried stuff like this. I’m excited to read it tonight or tomorrow with a comfy blanket and a hot apple cider. Then I’ll probably spend the rest of the evening bemoaning how lame and ugly our own home decor really is. Seriously, it’s not great.

The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman

I’ve been wanting to read this one for a long time, and just never got around to it. Silverman is one of the funniest people alive, and I can’t wait to dig into this one! I’m planning to read this after Gates’ book makes me think I have made too many huge mistakes in my life (like not wearing enough stripes).

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl: A Memoir by Carrie Brownstein

Everyone and their mom wants to read this book. I’m currently number 150 or something on the waitlist at the library, so we’ll see how long I hold out before buying it instead. I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about Brownstein outside of watching her on Portlandia, so I’m looking forward to this one big time!

Well, now I’m off to dig into some bread that just got done baking, and maybe a book too!

5 Cookbooks for Summer

Confession time:

I hate buying cookbooks.

It just seems like a huge waste for me to spend $20+ on a cookbook, knowing that I’m only going to use a few recipes out of it. When I moved last year, I whittled my collection down to only a few that I really do use from cover to cover. So, to combat the cost of buying new cookbooks, and keep needless clutter at bay, I got myself a library card and started checking out cookbooks. My library system is amazing, and every time I go, there are always new cookbooks for me to read through. We also have a decent online book program, so I get digital cookbooks for free too! Sure, it means I don’t get to keep them, but I print out or write down the recipes I want to try out, and return the books for someone else to enjoy.

I’ve spent the summer tearing through several cookbooks, and these are just a few I’ve enjoyed lately!

5 Cookbooks for Summer

Everyday Food: Light: The Quickest and Easiest Recipes
from The Kitchens of Martha Stewart Living

Of the few cookbooks I still own, I have two Everyday Food books (Great Food Fast and Fresh Flavor Fast), so I was excited to take this one home. I’ve never had a Martha Stewart recipe go wrong on me, and if they’re healthy too, then sign me up! I have yet to try any of the recipes I saved, but I’ll make sure to share the ones that turn out well!

5 Cookbooks for Summer

Everyday Pasta by Giada De Laurentiis

Giada’s cookbooks are another set that I wish I owned, since I’m a huge fan of her book Giada’s Kitchen, which I’ve had for years. She has a lot of great advice on making easy sauces, cooking healthy pasta dishes, and stocking your kitchen to make any dish on the fly. It’s a great, practical book for beginner cooks.

5 Cookbooks for Summer

Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust by Ina Garten

I’m pretty sure I’ve read every single Barefoot Contessa cookbook at this point! I love her show, and while I’m not a huge fan of her love of fennel (sorry, I hate anything licorice or anise flavored), many of her recipes in this book look tasty and super easy to make. While I don’t throw dinner parties, it’s nice to read about those who do, and fantasize about a day when I get to have get togethers of my own! In addition to the great recipes, she also gives amazing advice to those who want to have a nice, stress-free night with friends or family.

5 Cookbooks for Summer

 My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your Gut by Hannah Hart

I just started reading this book, and I have mixed feelings about it so far. Sure, I know going in that it’s not “really” a cookbook in the traditional sense. It’s recipes mixed in with a self-help book, and a fun little history of how Hannah Hart has made a name for herself via YouTube. My problem with it mainly has to do with me not liking her writing style – it’s a bit confusing to read and inconsistent in places. Girl, if you need an editor for your next book, CALL ME!

I think this would be a great gift for a recent college graduate who is setting off into the adult world for the first time. The recipes are easy enough to handle, sober or not, and she is honest with her readers about the struggles of coming into adulthood – and even offers some great advice to make things easier.

5 Cookbooks for Summer

IT’S ALL GOOD: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great
by Gwyneth Paltrow

Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle site, GOOP, has become a strongly divisive topic in recent years. I know many people who can’t stand her or this site, with her “conscious uncoupling” to her lavish and unattainable holiday gift guides (she did put a $4,700 gold juicer on her list last year). Personally, I find her blogs about health and mindfulness to be very helpful. Her blog tackles issues I find women don’t talk about openly – like why we so often criticize each other, fear professional self-promotion, hold onto bad relationships, and can’t seem to find time to unwind. I can’t really blame her for wanting to show women that they deserve happy lives – and I certainly need to hear it from time to time.

I have wanted to read this cookbook for a while now, but never wanted to buy it because I kept hearing it was another example of her overtly posh, impractical lifestyle. What I found was a book full of simple, easy recipes that anyone can afford to make. Even if a recipe does include a more “high-end” ingredient, most of them are things you can easily swap out with something more affordable or practical. They’re also incredibly healthy, of course, and for anyone who is looking to “dabble” in vegetarian or vegan food, this can be a great place to start!

 

There you go! If you’ve hit the dreaded summer cooking slump like me, grab your library card (or go get one…it’s super easy) and bring home a pile of kitchen inspiration!