Monthly Archives: December 2013

What I’m reading in 2014

I firmly believe the most ardent readers are the best writers.

I’ve been an intense reader since I was in the fifth grade. We moved from East Orlando to Windermere, Fla. – a quiet town that’s main features were its elementary school, the Ready Market and the neighboring library. I would ride my bike from my house to the library at least once a week to check the cart in the children’s section, then stop by the market for an Icee and some Twizzlers.

Our house was always scattered with copies of The Babysitters Club and the latest Fear Street edition from R.L. Stine. Occasionally I would get a copy for Christmas or for my birthday, and the pages were dog-eared and the covers tattered. I think my parents finally threw them out when I went off to college.

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Where the party was at in 1992.

I’m proud to say I’ve remained a persistent reader. I typically read literary fiction for several reasons, but mainly because reading reminds me how to properly propel stories forward and how to play with prose. But mostly, I just really, really enjoy it. I try to read about a book a week.

So, friends, I share with you my reading list for 2014. I usually keep a list on my nightstand of my to-do reading list, but I decided this was the year to make a list and finish it. It’s mixed with classics and modern releases. This year’s theme is, “I am 32 and should have read all of these books by now.”

What I’m reading in 2014

1. “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee- I read this book in high school, but I decided to re-read it. My oldest daughter is the same age as Scout is when the book begins, so I thought it would be fun to revisit.- Finished! I highly recommend anyone who read this in school to re-read it as an adult.

2. “Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt – I’m going to jump on the bandwagon.

3. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

4.”Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig. Can’t believe I haven’t read this, but it’s been on my list for years.

5. “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes

6. “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” by Richard Bach. I’ve wanted to read this since I would see Carol Brady reading it on “The Brady Bunch” movie. Or show- I can’t remember.

7. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn. I will finish this before the movie comes out.

8. “Everything is Illuminated” by Jonathan Safran Foer

9. “Room” by Emma Donaghue

10. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. Should have read this about five years ago.

11. “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck. I hang my head in shame that I haven’t read this one yet.

12. “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan. A recent “Jeopardy” episode reminded me I need to read this.

13. “Slaughterhouse-Five” by Kurt Vonnegut. See note on No. 11.

14. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood

15. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green. I am prepared to cry.

16. “Darkness at Noon” by Arthur Koestler

17. “The Way of the Flesh” by Samuel Butler

18. “Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck- see No. 11 and No. 13.

19. “The Satanic Verses” by Salman Rushdie, see Nos. 11, 13 and 18

20. “House of Mirth” by Edith Wharton

21. “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert

22. “White Teeth” by Zadie Smith

23. “Scoop” by Evelyn Waugh.

24. “The Heart of the Matter” by Graham Greene

25. “She’s Come Undone” by Wally Lamb

26. “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton

Freelancing: The first year

February will mark the one-year anniversary of my decision to leave the Times-Union and become a full-time freelancer. Each day that has passed since has cemented that this was absolutely the best choice I could have made.

I’ve had a great year. I’ve been fortunate enough to volunteer regularly in Ella’s kindergarten class, which would have been impossible last year. It’s been other simple things I’ve enjoyed this year – like the ability to keep Lydia with me last Tuesday for a “just because” day and seeing Declan embrace toddlerhood full-steam.

I’ve also been able to work on some amazing freelance projects. Of course, I continue to work with the Times-Union, where I wrote the profiles for the 10 Who Make a Difference, updated the salaries database, created the most expensive homes slideshows and wrote several features, including:

I’ve also picked up a few more clients throughout the year. I’ve been fortunate enough to write stories for the Jacksonville Business Journal, Jacksonville’s Financial News & Daily Record, The Diocese of St. Augustine, Jacksonville Magazine and many others.

Here I am getting photobombed by a horse at the Catty Shack Ranch on an assignment for the Jacksonville News and Daily Record.

Here I am getting photobombed by a horse at the Catty Shack Ranch on an assignment for the Jacksonville News and Daily Record.

This has been a spectacular year for me, both personally and professionally. I’m incredibly grateful for the support I’ve received from friends and colleagues on this endeavor. My goal for 2013 was to be a more present parent while also trying to write stories that are new to me, and I think I’ve accomplished both this year.

Now it’s on to 2014. I’m going to face some new challenges this year – Declan is turning 2, God help us, Lydia will start kindergarten and Ella will begin first grade. I don’t know where the time has gone this year, but I’ve loved every day of it. Here’s hoping next year goes the same.

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These guys have had a pretty great year (from left Declan, Lydia and Ella).