Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First, What Are You Reading? Volume 21, May 2012

Here are my answers to the four questions I ask on the first of each month:
first, what are you reading?
what do you like best about it?
what do you like least?
what's next on your list to read? 

As always, I hope you'll consider your current reads on your blog and/or sharing here in the comments or on Facebook.  Happy reading!

First, what are you reading?  

The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life  by Robin Zasio. 

Various Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace.

What do you like best about them?

Dr. Zasio is a featured doctor on the A&E series Hoarders and specializes in treating hoarding and other anxiety-related conditions.  I’ve never seen the show, but reading this book really makes me want to DVR a couple of episodes.  She is really excellent at describing why normal people—not just the people who end up living in total chaos—accumulate stuff and hold on to it, and ways to manage that better.  Basically, for her it comes down to anxiety—we manage our anxiety about stuff by deferring decisions about it.  If we can learn to manage the anxiety of getting rid of things, through healthier thought patterns, we can have more orderly spaces.

I think I’m like most moms in that I feel annoyed by stuff everywhere much of the time, but this book gives me hope to tackle some of these projects.  In fact, last week I did tackle a major purge of my home office, filled with far too many books I get to review for the Post.

In addition, different people have a different tolerance for clutter.  For instance, if I’m in the midst of a purge, I don’t mind disorder because it means I’m getting rid of things, and then the final product is less stuff.  My husband meanwhile, likes things more orderly (read: stacks), but may have a little more trouble letting go of things, in particular, the printed word.  At one point he said, “You know, I realize that I’m not the Vatican archivist, and I don’t have to keep all these old issues of L”Osservatore Romano.” I think he was joking about being the Vatican archivist.

I think much of the tips and tricks I gleaned from this book I’ve learned over the years from  http://flylady.net/.

I love everything about the Betsy-Tacy books since discovering them when our chlldren were very small.  My daughters & I have read them all, from Betsy-Tacy to Emily of Deep Valley.

It’s bittersweet that because of a family reunion, our family won’t be able to attend the Betsy-Tacy Convention in Minnesota this summer.  You can read more about the convention here (the sound you hear is me weeping in the background, of all the things I’ll be missing).

Truly, I am heartbroken not to be at the convention.  I’d love to meet other Betsy-Tacy lovers and be part of all the events, such as a book-signing with Meliisa Wiley (she wrote the preface to the recently released edition of Carney’s House Party.)  But our family is planning a trip soon to Minneapolis, and we've arranged a tour of Betsy's house.

So, in the meantime, both for solace and preparation for our own visit, we are re-reading lots of Betsy-Tacy books.  I just finished Betsy’s Wedding.

What do you like least about them?

The title of The Hoarder In You is a bit off-putting for those who might feel accused of being a “hoarder” instead of just “Vatican archivist.”  Otherwise, lots of good "stuff," pun intended.

I love nearly everything about the Betsy-Tacy books.  In Betsy In Spite of Herself, (one of the high school books) there is an unfortunate recurring theme of using a Ouija board.  It’s clear from the book and the time period that they perceived it as something like playing Monopoly, but it still freaked me out more than a bit when I first read it when kids were really small (not to them; we read only the first four books when they were smaller). 

By the time they were old enough to read the high school books, we talked to the kids about the occult (and, yes, I’m such a nerd, read to the Catechism to them).  I explained how it was a parlor game for them, and we know better today so we wouldn’t go within a mile of something like that.  It’s a bit like how in one of the later Little House books, you explain to kids that it was culturally okay for Pa dressed up in black-face and performed with other men of the town, but would never happen today. 

Otherwise, I really love all the Betsy-Tacy books.

What’s next on your list to read?

I’m still working through a list of potential fiction for my July column—previously fiction was going to be June, but I’ve got a GREAT book and Meet a Reader for June, so I’m pushing fiction off to later in the summer.

So, what are you reading these days?  Any books you would like to share?

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