snack bar

It’s a continual challenge trying to find things to eat that are delicious and also fit in with the current fitness regime. I’m back to taking long walks on the beach (thank you ankle! thank you Rachel who helped fix my ankle!) while I’m down in Westport for the week so I can also make bigger meals and eat more desserts. Last week in Vermont I felt like I ate, happily, nothing but squash. Every day I’d go to the farmstand and get a new type of squash and then find ways to cook it. This week I am having some people for dinner and even though they are incredibly friendly and polite I thought I could do better than “Here, I roasted this single vegetable for you!”

So, I’m putting together something with stuffed acorn squash and some butternut curry soup. While I’m planning these recipies I’m eating nothing but rice and green beans. I’m never great with desserts. I think my friends are bringing pie. I noticed that I have some marshmallows left over from a summer where I didn’t do many cookouts, so I tried to see if that old “put the marshmallow in the microwave” thing still works and it does! So, I put a melty marshmallow between two of those ginger thins that you can get at Ocean State Job Lots and am making a ton of those little sandwiches to stick in the fridge. Stupid tasty and only about 75 calories.

Another side project while I’m down here is going through the boxes of stuff that I got back, finally, from Seattle. There are a lot of books in there, many of which I liked and still look forward to reading or at least admiring on a shelf somewhere (note to self: get more shelving) but there are two types of books, maybe three, that I feel like I just don’t need anymore: cookbooks and medical type books. I took my favorite cookbooks with my when I left Seattle and the random ones I still have (a Cuisinart cookbook? a guide to soups?) have been supplanted by the easy keyword searching and ease of use of sites like this one. This is especially true when many sites online have calorie counts and/or have huge databases where you can search by what you have in your house. Health books are quickly outdated and, again, I am good at the searching online. I think for a lot of people it’s important to have something authoritative and they’re not sure if they know how to do that sort of thing online. I don’t feel that way, I know the truth about the tree octopus.

Between these books and a few different sorts of dictionaries (rhyming, crossword, Romanian/English) I have a small little pile of books that won’t make it home with me. This house has its share of useful and useless books so it may be part of a larger weeding plan. It’s good to have winter projects. I’m just happy to have one that isn’t all “Leg exercises.” and “Eat more salad.”

2007 reading list, a year end summary

My apologies to those who have already read this on This is the exact same post except for this paragraph right here. I track a bunch of data but usually only report on books, travel and lately swimming. It’s weird, I also watch a lot of movies but I just write them down on a long boring list, for some reason they lack the impact or import in my life of books and beds. In any case, here’s the reading list. If I were a New Yorker cartoon I’d be the one where all the guys are in the boardroom and they’re pointing to an arrow that is falling off the righthand side of the chart. It’s okay, time for a minor adjustment. I had a “watch more TV” resolution (in addition to the other ongoing resolutions) last year to get me off the laptop and maybe it’s time to change that to a Read More Good Books resolution. I’ve been enjoying a lot of genre fiction this past year but it can make deeper reading harder and/or slower. That said, I find both kinds of reading rewarding but the pendulum has to shift more towards at least the middle.

Here are previous year end lists: 2006, 2005, 2004. As you probably know, my booklist lives in a separate blog and it has its own RSS feed. I’m not a voracious reader and I’ve been heavy into genre fiction this year, but here’s the wrap-up of what I read in 2007.

number of books read in 2007: 53
number of books read in 2005: 86
number of books read in 2004: 103
number of books read in 2003: 75
number of books read in 2002: 91
number of books read in 2001: 78
average read per month: 4.4
average read per week: 1
number read in worst month: 1 (November)
number read in best month: 9 (March)
percentage by male authors: 78
percentage by female authors: 22
fiction as percentage of total: 63
non-fiction as percentage of total: 37
percentage of total liked: 89
percentage of total ambivalent: 11
percentage of total disliked: 0

It was not a good year for reading, to put it mildly. I did more travel than ever before, but I spent more time on planes either working or watching back-of-seat movies or just sleeping. Last year I felt like I got a lot of reading done on planes.

This year I also had a new time-consuming hobby which was (and is) swimming. In an attempt to meet a pretty ambitious goal — one which I did not wind up meeting, but boy did I try! — I spent a lot more free time swimming, driving to the pool, showering, etc. And then of course when you swim you sleep like a log, which means less fidgety before sleep time for reading which was a standard reading time for me. I like swimming a lot, but the impact it has on my reading is, to me, quite clear.

So, it’s interesting to do this every year to see how the years compare. I read a lot of genre fiction — six books by John Lescroart, two by Greg Bear, two by Henry Petroski, four graphic novels — and that will probably continue. I read a few books that I enjoyed but which took me weeks to work through, 1491 and Men of Tomorrow, which really put a damper on other reading. I did less parallel reading this year and more serial reading, so when one book bogged me down, I was less able to pick up something else. In any case, I believe that every single one of those books was a loaner from a friend or family member, a library book or a library booksale book and to me that’s a decent accomplishment. Happy reading to everyone in the new year.

Here are some other reader’s lists: Anirvan, Ruby.