Is it ok to cheat on your own goal a little?

I set myself a goal of reading a hundred books this year and so far it isn’t going that great. Granted it is actually going better than I expected (I don’t expect to meet the goal to be honest) and it is most definitely already going better than it did last year. Because yeah: I kind of set this goal for myself every year.

Anyway, I’m seven books behind if I want to meet my goal. I’ve only read five so far. But, I’m going away for a LONG weekend this weekend. It’s my momma’s 60th birthday and we’re leaving town to celebrate.

So I have devised a cunning plan! I’ve gone through my library of over a thousand books (nine hundred-ish of which I haven’t read yet – don’t judge) and I’ve pulled out all the skinniest reads I could find. Those are all coming with me this weekend. One day when I’m big I’ll read a hundred books of three hundred plus pages in a year.

For now while life is a silly kind of hectic…is it ok that I manipulate the odds?

Bookswap Heaven

I don’t do the bookswap thing. You know when you pop into a secondhand place and then they tell you “oh you can bring them back and swap for something else” — no. I don’t do this, ever. Instead I have a carefully and lovingly curated library that consists of a large number of books, all packed away in their various spaces waiting to be lovingly read. I don’t get to reading as much as I would like, but I find comfort in knowing they’re there. All that potential. All those beautiful spines.

The other day a friend of mine, Yolandi, was looking for folks to swap books with. And immediately I sort of thought oh no I don’t swap books but then I remembered a rather silly habit that I have: I buy books that I already have. Sometimes it is by accident, but most times it is because the book is super cheap and I think I might give it to someone else, or it has a better/different cover to the one I already have.

So I decided to give her one of my own books as well as swapping out a couple that I had doubles of in exchange for whatever it was that she had on offer. While I do already have quite a diverse array of books I must admit it’s quite exciting to consider diversifying my library even further with books loved by others instead of only books picked by me. I’m looking forward to digging in to her offerings, and am already starting to collect up my other duplicates with the idea of swapping out some more.

So if you’re looking to do some swapping, let me know.

Happy reading, folks!

Why I Chose to Read a Christian Book

I made an unorthodox choice last week: I accepted a Christian book to review from a friend of mine – JustEllaBella – who gets a lot of review books from Christian Art Media. She had some extra copies of some books that she got from them and was looking to bookclub-style share them with some friends. Normally I would have said no. I’m not much of a consumer of Christian media in general. I do like some Christian music, though, I suppose. But books? Yikes… Those seem quite a bit more serious, don’t they?

The thing is though: the description said something about the woman asking God to break both of her legs, and immediately I was like yeah chick I feel you. Weirdly, for someone who is feeling a little wobbly on the whole God thing these days, I kind of felt a little drawn to it (read into that what you will). And so I thought: let’s try. Because even if I’m not-so-much with the Jesus talk, I very much understand the mom-going-through-a-midlife-crisis talk. If you’ve been reading my personal blog at all you know that I am a bit of a disaster at the moment. Anyway, I am huge believer in the fact that we can all learn something from each other, even if our religious affiliations don’t necessarily match up.

And who knows? Maybe this lady (Chrystal Evans Hurst) will re-spark something in me. So far it’s working out. It’s one of those books that you can use in the morning to meditate a little. It asks questions that are probably good to answer and it feels like a sweet kind of self-care move.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

Can I read 100 books in 2018?

Probably no. But I’m going to try anyway. Because I’ve kind of failed at it for the last 5 or so years (I’ve been trying to pull this off for a while) and I imagine that if I keep trying I might eventually get it right. Oh…and I suppose I should mention that I’m back to book blogging for the year. Or at least I hope to be. Of course a re-start is necessary so it will take a bit to time to put my site back together.

But I want to read this year. Because above everything else it is important to read if I want to write. And I really want to write. Even if it has to wait until life is a little less chaotic. That’s fine.

And of course: since I’m a bit fan of watching too much telly I can at least use this space to share a bit about all of that too, now can’t I? Of course I can… It’s my blog.


How Many Books on you TBR List?

Photo on 2016-03-16 at 10.04 AM

There’s this episode of Sex & the City where Carrie is feeling a little broke and she suddenly figures out that she has spent around $40 000 on the shoes in her closet. Sometimes I look at my bookshelves and feel that way a little. Although, unlike Carrie, I almost never buy new books (nevermind new releases!) and the replacement value of my bookshleves is easily about 10 times higher than what I actually paid for it. I think…. I hope…

The thing is though… I currently have (no joke) 712 books on my TBR list. There are 712 books in my personal library that I have not actually read yet. This is ridiculous!

And yet… I still can’t resist a book sale…


The Incurable Depression of Being a Reader

20150721_140720-01My son woke up this morning and the first thing he said to me was, “Mom, I want to be magic.”

The only thing I could say to him was, “Me too, baby.”

We then went on to discuss how wonderful it would be to own a TARDIS.

I could see he was in pain. This lack of magic. This lack of a blue box. It hurts him. He’s a happy child. But this lack of magic really hurts him.

And I thought…this poor kid. If he’s anything like me it’s really not going to get better. He’s not going to “grow out of it”. He will probably try to stifle it. He might tell himself that his longing for otherworlds is silly and childish. And for a while he might believe it. He’ll try drugs and alcohol and they’ll be fun for a while. And hobbies. Sex. Girls. Boys. But it probably won’t go away. That need for an adventure is a parasite. Burrowed deep. And it wants more than what planes and money can do.

I know it won’t properly go away because I’m 33 years old now and I still wish I was magic. I still look at flowers and imagine that a fiary might pop out. I still think, “one day I’m going to walk into a cupboard and end up on a mountain” and I still think one day I will be able to type out blog posts using only my thoughts and not my fingers who are feeling a little cold right now.

I’ve been reading Lev Grossman’s The Magicians now for well over a month.  The character of Julia is killing me which is making the experience kind of painful – which is why it is taking me so long to read. But then….it’s kind of always painful, isn’t it? It pains me that Hogwarts exists only in a netherrealm which is only accessible to my mind and not my body. It kills me that here is just here, which at the same times seems such a strange way to feel considering my capacity to be delighted by earthly things.

I sometimes wish I wasn’t a reader. I wish I wasn’t a creator. I wish that I could indulge in the quiet content that everyone else seems to manage so easily. I wish reading made me happy happy instead of devastated happy.

Some books take the sad away for a little while. Sometimes. When you find the right ones (which takes work). But only for a little while.

But then you get back to life and life is kind of lacking unicorns.


Books that make me feel like I could possibly be a writer…

Photo on 2014-11-28 at 2.17 PM #3Nick Hornby wrote a new book which is about as wonderful as wonderful gets. Even more wonderful is that a book reviewer friend of mine sent me his new book when I gushed about what a fan I was to her (some people are just so damn cool!) and so I have the latest one in my possession. Of course it is also currently on my nightstand. There is something about this man that inspires me entirely, and while reading this latest novel I couldn’t help but marvel at how there are some books that make you feel like you have no business writing (Irving, King, Atwood, Tartt) and then there are some that are bright, brilliant, and beyond reproach, and yet they somehow still make you feel sort of yes I can do this. Hornby makes me feel that way. Sarah Addison Allen does too. Ali Shaw. Mark Haddon. William Kowalski. Tony Parsons. My conclusion is of course this: I should read these guys this month. What better way to start the new year than surrounded by people who inspire you?

Hogwarts on my mind

So I saw this video about a month ago and it’s been bugging me ever since. Of course, after spending the whole of New Year’s Eve as well as New Year’s Day having a massive Harry Potter movie marathon with the husband and kids, it has been on my mind even more. Now, I adore Laci Green. Really I do. I find her refreshing and vibrant and intelligent. She is without a doubt someone to look up to.  This bugs me though! I can’t figure out why any of this matters! I don’t really think it’s fair to tell anyone “you should have done this or that differently” when it comes to their work. No. You should have done it exactly the way you did it because that’s the way you wanted to do it. I don’t think there is anything puritanical or conforming to societal taboos about leaving sex out of any narrative – especially this one! You know – if you go ahead and use your own imagination, there were probably a ton of teens having sex at Hogwarts…just like any other school But when you were at school, did you see your friends having sex? Of course not! And if you did, it was most likely by accident. Without meaning to sound like a prude, sex is a private subject. There is nothing wrong with exploring sexuality,or writing about it, but for heaven’s sake expecting it to be part of the storyline because it’s “more realistic” strikes me as a little silly. It is not shameful to keep sex behind closed doors – that it where it belongs. And when it comes to stories, if all the sex being had at Hogwarts (gosh!) had anything to do with the narrative then it would have been included. As for Dumbledore being gay – it didn’t matter. So it wasn’t mentioned. Joe Rowling has every right to know things about her characters that she does not share in her books. And it is not her “job” to teach anyone about sexuality or sexual orientation. She has already taught so many children (and adults!) out there a thousand things about all sorts of important stuff like empathy and friendship and bravery and loyalty and love and compassion and and and…. To fault her for not also teaching everyone that “having sex is ok” is a little bit insulting. I just can’t get over how weird this observation is…. But then again, maybe I’m just a prude. I’m grateful that sex wasn’t part of my own personal high school experience because I wasn’t ready for it then. But that was MY choice. A choice that I made because it was my choice, and not because I was ever under the impression that it had to be a certain way. And come on: if it was ok for Joey and Pacey to be having sex, then really, the “sex is ok” message has been out there for a long time.  A lot of TV and novels are already preaching the “sex is ok narrative” – they have been for years. The taboos of sex are placed on us because of our own issues and because of the issues of our parents, ministers, friends, school teachers etc. We cannot turn around and start demanding that our artists fix what we ourselves have broken. Sex/sexuality is not an issue – that is what the more progressive of us would like to see in the people around us. JK never made it an issue. This video, however, kind of does make it an issue. Choosing to not have sex should be no more of an issue than choosing to have sex is. Turning around and berating someone for not sharing anything sexual is the exact same thing as berating them for being too sexy. At least, that’s the way I see it…

Children’s Book Week

10256499_10154169391275094_1680627886525252558_nIt’s been a disgracefully busy this week and unfortunately when that happens my poor Noah bears the brunt of all my neglect. Of course he is gloriously understanding and is quite happy to just steal hugs and kisses when he can, never bemoaning his lack of attention. I heard today that this week is Children’s Book Week. Of course, the source of this information was a random post on Facebook so it could be pure rubbish. I like the idea of a week dedicated to children’s book though so I decided to curl up with my little man this evening and have a bit of marathon reading session. We got through about six books before the little man decided that he was exhausted and therefore done humouring me. We’ll have to get through the others tomorrow night I guess…

Book Reading Blues

20140415_203735I am failing at my most sacred passion this month and it is getting me down. Does this ever happen to any of you other book readers out there? I set myself a goal of reading 100 books this year. I’m definitely not going to make it. It’s rather hopelessly too late for that unless I get very serious and take up speed reading.

The thing is…this happens to me every time I read a really good book…or at least one that is good to me. I then struggle to read something else because it’s just not the same. I know this book I’m currently reading is good. It is well written and interesting. But I miss the magic of Sarah Addison Allen. I miss that comfort. Yes, all (ok most) books are wonderful, but some gel so well with our cores that the others start to pale. I’m in one of those pale moods. It makes me sad. And it doesn’t help that I have been editing someone else’s book for the last couple of weeks. Reading for pleasure falls by the wayside when you spend all day reading for work.

Are We Not Reading the Same Books?

Photo on 2014-03-05 at 9.39 AMI was bullied pretty badly as a kid. I’m sure nothing as serious as what a lot of other people out there have endured, but it was pretty consistent (boring, tedious). I never considered killing myself. I don’t think I ever felt completely hopeless. But I did spend a lot of time in quiet tears that I didn’t let anyone see. It was a stupid thing. One of those things that I considered my problem because asking for help was too hard and I didn’t want anyone else to feel sad because of it. And your friends (and teachers) teach you very quickly that it is your problem and that they’re not actually going to stand up for you or do anything about it. They’re just going to sit on the sidelines and be grateful that you’re the target and not them, and sometimes they’re going to give off a giggle because being cool with the cool kids is what life is really all about. Your square ass doesn’t stand a chance! Kind of stupid I guess but you quickly come to the conclusion that you’re alone on this one, and if you’re lucky, you grow the boobs to deal with it and move on, hopefully unscathed.  (more…)

Hello & Welcome

Hello & welcome to The Katalina Playroom!

Maybe you stumbled in here by accident, or perhaps you were sent here by me and have arrived at this page out of some sort of sense of obligation. Either way, I thank you for being here and hope that you will come back again soon.

Really, The Katalina Playroom is simply a place filled with a few things that I love. There’s the well-known story of the teacher who asked her class what they wanted to be when they grew up. One little boy answered that he wanted to be happy. The teacher then told him that he didn’t understand the question, and the little boy told the teacher that she didn’t understand life. It has taken a few years but I have started to learn that holding on to the things that make you happy does not make you selfish. It makes you sane. And it gives you life. So in here, you will find a very big part of my life. Luckily, our humanity ties us so closely together that I think you might find your own bit of joy in the many things that I plan to share. (more…)