The 1000th post

While I blew past my 14th blogiversary in January like it wasn’t even a thing (totally distracted by other thoughts), we’re hitting another landmark here, and we’re hitting it TODAY.


This is my 1000th blog post. 

(Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash )

If I were a YouTuber, I’d do an elaborate celebration video, followed by an hour-long AMA. 

And yeah… not gonna do that here. 

Instead, we’re getting analytical, y’all. 

Here are the top 10 posts of the past 5 years, not including Book Bingo*:

  1. Great book discussion book: West with the Night
  2. Best nonfiction book of 2018: Rocket Men by Robert Kurson
  3. Bookish Advent calendar
  4. Elinor Lipman and the power of the comfort authors
  5. Bonfire of the Vanities
  6. My Year in Nonfiction
  7. Bookish Tourist: The Novel Neighbor
  8. Nonfiction November: My Year in Nonfiction So Far
  9. Home Organization Books: Asking the Expert
  10. Essays on the reading life

Full disclosure: Google Analytics was my 2nd thought. My first: 1000 posts reminded me of 1000 days, which of course reminded me of the Kennedy administration. Because of course it did.

Stay tuned for more presidential history geekiness, bookish delights, book discussion commentaries, and nonfiction all over the place. Thousands more, on the way…



*past 5 years cuz that’s how long I’ve been on WordPress, and excluding Book Bingo posts because they dominate the standings

Reading goals for 2022

Hello to 2022!

While greeting a new year can seem almost ominous these days, here we’re going to focus on one aspect over which we have some measure of control… our reading.

Some of these goals are ongoing (reading diversely, doing Book Bingo), others are cribbed from my 22 for 2022 list (read Marcus Aurelius, read comfort books), and others are just because.

My 2022 reading goals are:

  • Read at least 25% authors of color
  • Finish our very own Book Bingo 2022
  • Read at least 5 books set outside the United States
  • Read Marcus Aurelius
    • …because I could use a boost to my Stoic strivings
  • Read/reread comfort books
  • Reread Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • Have a Killer Bee with a friend
    • That’s a quilting bee where we discuss true crime, and we invented it
  • Do a readathon
    • …which might be a homegrown version that’s just for part of a day
      • …because my 22 for 2022 list was feeling kind of heavy and I wanted some lightness to anticipate in the year ahead


So… do you think I’ll accomplish all these things?

And more interestingly… what are your reading goals for the year ahead?

My favorite books of 2021

Probably people exist who despise end-of-year best lists and top 10 lists, but I’m not one of them.

The clickbait-iest clickbait for me is “Top 10 Best Books of the Year.” Gets me every time.


Here’s my version, in alphabetical order by title because otherwise there’s too much pondering:


Caste by Isabel Wilkerson

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton

The Guncle by Steven Rowley

How the Word Is Passed by Clint Smith

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler 

These Precious Days by Ann Patchett


So what were some of your favorites of 2021?

I’m building a 2022 TBR that compounds my existing TBR, and I’m not sad about it…

Book Bingo 2021: What I read



Book Bingo season is here – we’re releasing the new Book Bingo 2022, and now here’s the list of books I read for Book Bingo 2021.

It was a great reading year.

(I know: I say that every year. But when you bail on the books that don’t make you happy, every year is a great reading year.)

Here’s a recap of my reading for Book Bingo 2021:

1000 Books Before Die – Persuasion by Jane Austen

Anti-racist – Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Quest – Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo

Unconventional – You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar

Breezy – Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie

Black Author – The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans

Narrative Nonfiction – What Happened to Paula: On the Death of an American Girl by Katherine Dykstra

DIY – Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore by Patric Richardson

Restoration – The Guncle by Steven Rowley

Immigrant – The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Eye Catching – The Princess Spy: The True Story of World War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Romanones by Larry Loftis

Instant Classic – A Promised Land by Barack Obama

Blurb – Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight by Julia Sweig

Russia – The Spy’s Son: The True Story of the Highest-Ranking CIA Officer Ever Convicted of Espionage and the Son He Trained to Spy for Russia by Bryan Denson

Triumph – The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday 

Noir – Chase Darkness with Me: How One True Crime Writer Started Solving Murders by Billy Jensen

Defiance – The Final Revival of Opal and Nev by Dawnie Walton

Edwardian – A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

Rabbit Hole – True Crime Addict: How I Lost Myself in the Mysterious Disappearance of Maura Murray by James Renner

Sugar – Molly on the Range: Recipes and Stories from an Unlikely Life on a Farm by Molly Yeh

Survival – Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

The Explorer – The Address Book: What Street Addresses Reveal about Identity, Race, Wealth and Power by Deirdre Mask

Quarantine – The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Knotty – Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat

Final Book: The Whole Package – I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

I selected I’ll Be Gone in the Dark as my capstone book because this truly was my Year of Reading True Crime — including a re-read of Michelle McNamara’s masterpiece.

Did your reading have a theme or some go-to topics this past year? If so, was it something familiar or something new?

Introducing Book Bingo 2022

Welcome to Book Bingo 2022!

Let’s do some reading, shall we?

The Theme

This year’s theme is Time because we just kept thinking of time-related topics. And who doesn’t love a nice clockface image?

The Team

Book Bingo happens each year because of the collaborative efforts of two of the world’s finest humans

  • My dear friend, who brings inspiration and humor and intelligence and fun to the whole process
  • The Dear Man, who brings the graphical brilliance and creativity and delight to our design every year. We give him a few phrases and he turns it into something beautiful.

How to Play

  • Read a book that fits the category. Each book can qualify for only one category.
  • Complete just one row or column, or go for blackout by reading a book in every category.
  • All books must be finished in 2022. Books started in 2021 but finished in 2022 count.
  • We’ve provided some definitions, but you can free-style it if you like—as long as you can make a case that the book fits the category. (This is one of my favorite sports)
  • All categories can be fiction or nonfiction (your choice), unless otherwise specified.

The Categories

To Sign Up

Couldn’t be easier… just leave a Comment on this post with your name. If you’re a blogger, also include your blog name & URL so we can follow along with you.

The Printables

Here’s the bingo card in pdf format:

Questions? Answers!

If you have any questions about any of the categories, ask your question in the Comments of this post, and I promise I’ll respond.


Now let’s start doing some reading, my friends!

Top 10 Favorite Books

A top 10 list of favorite books: it’s a tricky little devil. I mean, what should the criteria actually be?

The options seem endless…

  • Books I’d be happiest to re-read
  • Books I’ve actually re-read and been glad about it
  • Books whose bindings have fallen apart due to repeated readings
  • Books that had the most impact on me
  • Books that represent who I’ve been at various phases of life
  • Books that represent who I am right now
  • Books that represent each of the genres and styles I love best
  • Books that spark the most joy
  • Books I’d want with me on a desert island
  • Books I keep recommending to others, over and over
  • Books that are my favorites of the past decade
  • Books that have been on my favorites list for more than a decade

You see my dilemma.

Depending on which of these sets of criteria I choose, the list is gonna shift. Some books will always be there because they’re my very top favorites (I’m looking at you, Young Men and Fire and Run), but others will appear or vanish, depending on the criteria.

So, after discussing this conundrum with the Dear Man and a good friend, I took their advice and went with:

  • Does it feel like a true representation of who I am?
  • Does it spark joy? (aka, Do I light up when I talk about these books?)


Based on those criteria, here’s my current list…

Young Men & Fire by Norman Maclean

Run by Ann Patchett

The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

All the President’s Men by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank


So now I’m wondering how you decide your favorites.

What criteria do you use? Which books always always ALWAYS make the list?

Narrative nonfiction for book bingo

Narrative nonfiction… the mere words create happiness.

This is my natural reading place, and I’ve delayed posting a list of five (only five!) narrative nonfiction books because paring down my list of favorites? Not so very easy.

If you ask me on a different day, you’re likely going to get a completely different list of books.

But these five are seriously solid choices for any nonfiction reader.

My fellow narrative nonfiction fanatics…
What titles would you put on your list of 5 sure-bet narrative nonfiction books?

(Can you tell I’m wanting to increase my TBR?)

Books by Black Authors for book bingo

Books by Black authors is our next book bingo category, and once again: way too many great suggestions come to mind.

But the goal with these posts is to suggest 5 books per category. So, after endless consideration, we’ve got a very short list of amazing titles. Today’s list features classics, contemporary fiction, and memoirs.

What book by a Black author do you plan to read for book bingo this year? And what books by Black authors are your all-time favorites to suggest to other readers?

Breezy books for book bingo

When we’re talking breezy books, I think: romance. And then I think: cheeky narratives. And then I think: fun-to-read cookbooks full of sunshine. Here we have some examples of each…

  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
  • Frost on My Moustache by Tim Moore
  • The Wedding Dateby Jasmine Guillory 
  • Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie
  • Indian-ish by Priya Krishna

So what’s your favorite type of breezy book? Any contrarians who want to offer up some grim titles for this category?

Quest books for Book Bingo

Hello! It’s time for our next installment of Book Bingo categories… Quest.

It’s one of those words that wants to be said with emphasis, isn’t it?

So here, we’re not just talking about a small “I want” — we’re going big.

We’re going fairytale-size quest, we’re going to the moon.

Here are 5 books of people on a serious quest…

  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  • Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James
  • Robbergirl by S.T. Gibson
  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
  • Rocket Men by Robert Kurson

So what amazingly quest-filled book are you going to read for this category? And what are the favorite quest books you’ve read earlier?

We could all use a little more quest in our lives…