Posts Tagged ‘contentment’


Like a lot of readers, I have a stack or two (or five) of unread books around the house at any given time. They are library books, advance copies for my review gig, gifts or loans from friends, books I’ve bought but haven’t picked up yet. And some of them tend to linger for months.

About three weeks into quarantine, when I was really missing the library, I decided to tackle one book from these stacks every week. I bought or borrowed all these books because I thought I’d enjoy them, and now that I’m not able to browse the shelves at the library, I can give them some attention.

I started with Ivan Doig’s wry, wonderful novel The Whistling Season, and moved on to a comics collection my guy had lent me. I tried a book of poetry (which did not stick, for now), and am slowly making my way through A Fine Romance, an illustrated travelogue my friend Kate sent me. I have been loving Mardy Murie’s memoir of her life in Alaska, Two in the Far North, and am hoping to find some other gems in the stacks as I keep going.


This is good for my wallet, since I am just as tempted as usual to buy stacks of books from my favorite indie bookstores. It’s good for my brain, which relishes different kinds of books, and is particularly craving absorbing nonfiction right now. And it’s good for my sense of accomplishment – no small thing in these strange days.

What (and how) are you reading these days?

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The TBR table has gotten out of control again.

tbr table book stacks

I’ve bought a lot of books this summer. Many of them came from the used-book basements or the remainder piles at my two favorite local bookstores. Several came from my trips to PEI and Rockport. And I occasionally can’t resist a beautiful new hardcover. (One Plus One and Mambo in Chinatown, I’m looking at you.)

one plus one jojo moyes

I’ve given my book-buying impulses free rein, and this little table is groaning under the weight of so many new words.

The TBR stacks fluctuate according to my impulse buys and the vagaries of the library hold system, but the table usually boasts 20 to 25 books.

Current total: 36.

This does not include the six books I’m currently reading, the two books on hold at the library and the 15 (!) advance copies on their way to me. (I love my review gig at Shelf Awareness, but wading through the stacks of ARCs for September and October is like drinking from a fire hose.)

After buying two more books in Gloucester on Saturday, I decided something had to change. So I’m on a book-buying fast for the rest of the month, attempting to:

1. read the books whose review deadlines are bearing down on me;

2. read the books with short library loan times; and

3. whittle down these stacks a bit. (Longtime readers may remember that I tried something similar in February.)

There’s a similar thing happening in my kitchen, where I keep my tea stash.

tea stash shelf

I drink less tea in the summer than in any other season, though I’m making my way through my annual supplies of ginger peach and blackberry sage. Both of them are just right for these warm, breezy mornings, their fruit flavors an echo of the produce I buy at the farmers’ market each week.

When the mornings get cooler, I’ll start to crave my autumn teas: Boston (cranberry almond), Cranberry Autumn (cranberry orange), and variations on English Breakfast with milk and sugar. I usually get the urge to buy new teas as the season shifts, or when I visit a new and exciting tea shop, but for now, I’m well stocked on just about every blend.

So: no buying new books or tea till September. I don’t plan on giving up these indulgences for good, but a little voluntary restraint – and a little exercise in contentment – won’t hurt me (or my wallet).

Does this happen to you – with books or other favorite treats? Please tell me I’m not the only one who occasionally goes overboard and then needs a course correction.

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