100 books in 2014

January 28, 2014

I read an article the other day that said it would take 60,000 years to read all the books in the world currently catalogued by the Library of Congress. 60,000 years!! That's just crazy. I really have no interest in reading every single book ever published, but because I feel like there are so many good ones I still have yet to discover, I made it a goal to read at least 100 books by the end of this year.

Three that I'd recommend (out of the few that I've read so far this year) are:
1. And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
2. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
3. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley

They're all entirely different, but all really good in their own way. If you enjoyed The Kite Runner or A Thousand Splendid Suns, you'll really like And The Mountains Echoed (though the first two were more of my favorite than this last one). I can't say too much about the story without giving the whole of it away, but in a nutshell the plot revolves around one fathers decision, and all the consequences that follow his family (and their relationships) for decades to come. Each chapter jumps from one character to another, all in different times and places, but naturally begins in pre-war Afghanistan. I think I liked it so much because Hosseini is so good at storytelling and involving the reader, anndd it has a somewhat of a happy ending. "Somewhat" because it's more real than happy (like his other books), but it's still, sort-of, "okay, I'm glad that happened," happy-ish too.

I picked up Wonder mainly because it's YA lit and a notable best-seller, and this book did not disappoint. I'm 24 and I think a seventh grader would enjoy it just as much as I did. Or maybe I should say that the other way around? The main character, August Pullman, "is an ordinary kid with an extraordinary face"and has been homeschooled all of his life up until the fifth grade, when his parents enroll him in a prep school. It's an easy read, something you could probably finish in a few hours, but I tried to take my time because I hate when I get to the end of a book I like so much with no sequel to follow. I promise, no matter your age, you will love Auggie Pullman so much by the end of the story. You might even cry with him. It's worth the read alone just to find out what happens on "Graduation day."

And lastly, although I've never been interested in reading "get rich" or "wealth in America" kinds of books,  I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The Millionaire Next Door. It just made a lot of sense, and honestly, mainly just changed the way I thought about "wealth" in the first place. The majority of it focuses on what we've already been told a million times before, the importance of how much you're saving vs. how much you're spending but more people really need to learn this. Like maybe Obama. The whole thing is just really good. And it makes sense even if the most you've ever learned about our economy is in that awful American Heritage class in college. We should have read this instead!

That's it. Recommend any books my way! I still have 92 to go!

sometimes i dread january.

January 17, 2014

It's true. Last January had to go down in the history of bad January's. 2012 comes in at a close second though, the month I was diagnosed with mono and barely felt alive. Call me sometime and I'll tell you all about my nightmares of that and Provo High School.

As I was explaining (more honestly complaining) the other day to Max about how the sun goes down too soon, and the cold weather is miserable and why does January have to be 31 days? Max made me say five things I was grateful for. It turned into a list of five things I Like More Than I Like January.

1. Chili's chips and salsa. It's the only thing I'll ever order. I even get them to-go every Monday on my way home from work. I'm not ashamed in admitting at this point that I can even eat the whole bag by myself, with no help. There are only a few foods I love that much.

2. Something I've always wanted to do is karaoke. I've talked about it forever and so I said, sure, why not make 2014 the year that I make it happen? And I made it happen. Unchained Melody and me. In public + in front of strangers. I felt like a million bucks afterward, (and not because of any standing ovation) I had finally accomplished a five year mission!

3. Roundtrip airfare from Provo to LA and San Francisco for as little as $45/each way. Yeah, we have a vacation scheduled every other month at this point.

4. I woke up on Saturday morning to Max cleaning. CLEANING. The entire apartment was finished by the time I got out of bed! I remember hearing married couples talk about these kinds of things and I always thought, what's the big deal? But I guess I just joined the club. If cleaning the house is a love language, it's mine.

5. Reading just for fun. Since most every book club I have ever joined has never actually happened, I told Max it's up to us. So we started our own book club a few months ago, and although we've only read two books together, and our "book club meeting" consists of eating fruit snacks and talking for ten minutes before we go to bed, I think it's the best book club around.

And that's it. This January, in all honesty, has been eons better than the last two so I won't complain anymore (and plus we're halfway over right?) Hope you have a happy January 3-day weekend!

what i read today.

January 12, 2014

"As a new year starts and we try to benefit from a proper view of what has gone before, I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives... This is an important matter to consider at the start of a new year - and every day ought to be the start of a new year and a new life. 

(quoting Robert Browning below)

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith, “A whole I planned, Youth shows but half;
Trust God: see all,
nor be afraid!”

-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Remember Lot's Wife 

Max reminded me of this talk this morning over our breakfast of ego waffles and blueberry muffins. I thought it was worth sharing (and definitely worth reading the entire thing... so, so good) and for those of you who have a minute or two more, my sister was featured here and I love what she had to say so much.

onto 2014!

January 8, 2014

Nearly every Christmas, (at least for the last thirteen years or so) one of the gifts I always give to my family is a "Christensen Family Year Book." It's just a recap of the year, with pictures and inside jokes documenting the big and little things that happened to each of us, and it's definitely become one of those gifts that get better as the years go by. There are just so many things I would forget if I didn't write them down!

As I was browsing through some of the older yearbooks on Christmas morning with Max, I noticed that in April 2000 I had included "Dream Street broke up." It was a significant day in the lives of a nine and eleven year old who had taken a vow of silence because our lives were "officially over" and our dreams of Kelsie Trousdale and Kenna Galasso were again, "officially over." We used a piece of paper to "communicate" to each other (and our parents) that day, and my dad had said that in order to have dinner that night we would need to "speak like adults." We went without dinner. Of course I still remember that day, but reading the details only an eleven year old could have written made me so grateful I started these yearbooks in the first place!

So as I thought back on 2013, I didn't even know where I could begin. Ups and downs, so many questions (and prayers) answered, little things and big things, like getting the best job (with the best law firm) I could have ever asked for, Max a year closer to finishing his undergrad, and being surrounded by family and some of the best kinds of friends.

As I thought about 2013, I realized that there are a countless number of things I am so grateful for, and let's be honest... a few things I'm glad are over too ;) Unfortunately there were no boy bands or vows of silence this year.
Maybe next time.

As for 2014, I've put a lot more thought and consideration into my own resolutions and goals. It's already been a great start, (this app has been a HUGE help!) and I'm so excited to see how life continues to unfold. I hope your holidays were wonderful. Now onto 2014!

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