Reading List

Since I joined Kim and Lu in their Possession read-along, I’ve been feeling somewhat overwhelmed with all the other books I want to be reading right now. Interestingly, Kim just posted her own list.

Here are the books on my immediate to-read list:

  • Beyond Belief: The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions: I am in so love with the cover of this book, I want a signed poster of it to hang on my office wall. I couldn’t wait for the paper version to come out, so I bought it for my Nook and immediately read my friend Pam Helberg‘s brilliant piece, “Body Language.” I’m going to try to read the rest of it in order, but might skip ahead to Cami Ostman‘s “Direct Line to God” and Susan Tive‘s “Tilapia Mikveh.”


  • Dora: A Headcase: After Tele loaned me Chronology of Water, I was eager to read Lidia Yuknavitch’s novel about mental illness, so I picked up the paper version of this book at Orca Books in December. Sad to say, I haven’t had a chance to crack it open yet, but it’s sitting on my writing desk along with
  • In One Person: John Irving’s The World According to Garp is one of my favorite books, but I’ve fallen behind in reading his more recent works. My mom passed this one along to me in hardcover, no less, and
  • The Crying Tree: My friend Jolene loaned this to me last night, again in hardcover. I need to read this before the Chuckanut Writers Conference, because author Naseem Rakha will be among the faculty. Fortunately, the conference isn’t until June, so I have some time.
  • The New Hunger: I’m more than halfway through this e-novella. I read it when it’s easier to tote my Nook around than my copy of Possession. It’s the prequel to Warm Bodies, the novel on which the zombie rom-com (zom-rom-com?) is based.
  • The Forgotten Garden: This is the April selection for my book club, from which I have been delinquent for an entire year. I only have the preview on my Nook, and my return to book club will be determined by whether I get around to reading the preview and liking it enough to buy the whole book.
  • A Dog’s Purpose: This book has been on my Amazon wishlist for years. I put it there to research for my dog novel, long before I became a dog memoirist. Rob’s folks gave it to me for Christmas, so now it sits on my bedside table, waiting to be read.

As if I needed to add any more books to my list, the other day I came across mention of

  • Bright as the Sun: Creative nonfiction about a dog rescued from dog-fighting, which is the subject of the novel that I backburnered while writing Bark and Lunge.

My long-term to-read list is much more extensive. Have a look at it on Good Reads.

In my next post, I’ll tell you why I’m so happy I decided to give Possession one more push.

(Did ya all notice how I named-dropped some of my awesome writer buddies and provided links to their sites?)

True Confessions, weight loss edition

Almost 10 years ago, I lost a bit of weight on Weight Watchers. Following the plan was fairly easy and it took me a little over six months. I lived alone and didn’t have much of a social life; controlling what I ate was a piece of cake. I didn’t even exercise that vigorously at the time. And I was in my twenties.

I mostly kept the weight off for several years, despite moving in with Rob, perhaps because I practiced martial arts with him regularly. If the pounds started to creep back on, I thought, no problem, when the number on the scale gets higher than I can stand, I’ll just do Weight Watchers again. I rejoined on two occasions. Once with meetings and once online. I didn’t find it as effective either time, and not because they changed the plan slightly.

Partly, I found it too hard to keep track of my points. I eat lunch at the Skagit Co-op a lot. How am I supposed to know how many points are in their tuna cassoulet? I also blame my thirtysomething metabolism. The pounds don’t just melt off anymore.

When you’ve been meaning for a few years to lose that pesky five pounds, it’s especially discouraging to watch that amount double… and triple… and …

“Okay,” I’d tell myself. “Let’s do this.” Then I’d finish Rob’s fries. A couple of fries can’t hurt, can they?

A few months ago, I saw Biggest Loser trainer Bob Harper on the Today Show talking about his new book, The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles for Getting to Thin.

The rules include:

  • Drink a big glass of water before every meal.

I can do that!

  • Eat apples and berries every day.


  • Go to bed hungry (don’t eat after 8 pm)

Challenging, maybe, but definitely a good idea and something I could work toward.

  • Eat protein at every meal.

This is a tough one for me, since I don’t eat meat (although I do eat fish, eggs and cheese). When I was on Weight Watchers, I considered a baked potato to be an acceptable meal. Which brings me to:

  • No white potatoes. Not even baked.

Uh oh.

  • No starchy carbs after lunch.

Oh, hell, no. That’s too hard. If I can’t have rice, potatoes or pasta, what am I supposed to eat for dinner?

The following week, I may have tried to drink more water and not eat after 8, but that was about it until Rob downloaded Harper’s audiobook from the library. (He downloads lots of books by trainers. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t telling me I needed to lose weight.) I spent a recent Sunday morning lying in bed listening to Harper’s twenty rules.

“Okay,” I told myself. “Let’s do this.” Then ate most of Rob’s fries at lunch.

BUT… I also stocked up on veggies, apples, and berries. Bought the Skinny Rules for my Nook, so I could reference Harper’s sample menus to give me ideas about what I’m supposed to eat for dinner.

A week and a half later, I’m down four pounds. Which is awesome, considering I cheat every day. Just a little.

What’s the difference? I needed some rules to enable me to make better choices. No potatoes. Fine. No starches after lunch. If you insist.

Also, I’m not thinking about what I can’t eat, but what I get to eat. Yay, salmon, peanut butter on apples, fancy hard cheeses, cucumbers and hummus, Greek yogurt mixed into my oatmeal. I feel like I’m changing the way that I eat, not just dieting. Remember that tuna cassoulet? I’m not eating it anymore (pasta noodles and creamy sauce). I stick to the vegetable dishes at the Co-op and make sure to get a small scoop of tuna or egg salad. That place is really a blessing, since I don’t like preparing my own lunches. (Or dinners, for that matter, which makes it less fun to follow Rule 15: Prepare and eat ten meals at home a week.)

I don’t usually tell people when I’m trying to lose weight. And incidentally, I’m allowed one splurge meal a week, so if you see me eating a cracker at 7 pm, don’t wag your finger at me.

If I gain those four pounds back by next week, I’m totally deleting this post.