Self Care and Reading List

It’s about halfway through summer and, if you are at all like me, you were so excited for the school year to end — no bus to catch and no homework –and now you’re getting a little snippy, a little rundown. YOU need a timeout. One minute per age. In a corner with no distractions and no one yelling for you.

You’ve been taking care of your kids — balancing your work with childcare, packing for the pool, trying to take a beach vacation that doesn’t include sharks or man’o’wars, eating ice cream, picking blueberries, movie nights, ice skating to escape the heat (rain if you are in Maryland), more ice cream. And the errands. What used to take you forty minutes now takes you hours and much coaxing (come on, Johnny, one more store. Do it for Mama).

Take a moment and check in with yourself!


1) Did you drink water today?

2) Have you eaten today?  Was it more than the remains of your child’s breakfast?

3) Did you get enough sleep? (I hear all my friends with young children laughing wildly. I have four kids. I get it. But grab a nap when you can. Even put your feet up and park it for ten minutes.)

4) Spend time with nature.

5) Physical touch. Get a massage. Exchange foot rubs with your honey.

6) Write in a journal. Whatever is happening will not last. Release your angry feelings or capture an endearing conversation.

7) Practice yoga or take an exercise class to combine work out and socializing.

8)Put away your phone. Trivia Crack will be fine. The game gives you two days to answer. (clears throat) Or so I’ve heard.

9) Do something that makes you feel pretty. For me it’s a pedicure. Don’t judge. I can handle a lot of things if my toenails are painted.

10) Have you read a new book? Have you given a book to a loved one?

I can help with this last one. Some recommendations by age:

Ages 7-12.

My story “Mama Salamander” was published in the July issue of Spaceports & Spidersilk This story came to me quickly, based on an incident in my youngest’s school cafeteria. I read the entire issue with my 7-year-old twins and they enjoyed all the stories and poems, especially the one about Zaxx the “human.”

Zita the Spacegirl graphic novel

Secret Science Alliance graphic novel

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman (We’re reading a chapter each night. What isn’t to like about a boy on his way to Asgard to help the Norse gods against frost giants?)

Young Adult

My son loves Brandon Sanderson and we’ve both read The Reckoners series (Steelheart and Firefight). I’ve heard there’s a reveal for Calamity coming out soon…and the book will be released in early 2016.

Juggler’s Blade by Rob Ross (Sequel is coming out in the fall)

Fablehaven Series  (Our copies are beyond dog eared)

The Paladin Prophecy Series by Mark Frost (I haven’t read these, but my son keeps checking them out of the library).

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (magical realism mystery. I’m looking forward to reading)

Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein (my daughter has read this, but I haven’t yet. A story with a modern spin on wish granting genies.)

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge  I enjoyed this twist on Beauty and the Beast. Nyx Triskelion has known for most of her life that she must marry Ignifex, the “Gentle Lord” who terrorizes her world, due to a bargain her father made before her birth.


Adult Nonfiction-y

Wild by Cheryl Strayed  The true story of a woman who hiked the Pacific Coast Trail by herself to escape her inner demons, but ended up facing them.

Searching for Sunday  by Rachel Held Evans (I bought this on recommendation from Glennon over at Momastery. I look forward to reading it)

Adult Fiction

JEFF VANDERMEER  That is all.  No, I’m just kidding (no, I’m not). His Southern Reach trilogy is a treat in surrealist mystery. Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (I’m about to start, but a little intimidated by all the footnotes).

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. National Book Award Finalist. I’m excited to read it. Devastating flu pandemic, a small troupe of actors and musicians, and a violent prophet…in a story that moves back and forth in time.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Everyone is talking about it — comparisons of unreliable narrator to the feeling of Gone Girl.

The Fifth Mountain by Paulo Coelho. Religious fiction of the biblical prophet Elijah.

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley. Cover says, “A smart, brutal, and ambitious epic fantasy.” An orphan evades death to uncover her bloody past against the backdrop of civil war. Brilliant reviews on Amazon.

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi. I heard Paolo read an excerpt at Capclave last fall and have been waiting for the book release.The American southwest has been decimated by drought in this near-future thriller. Here’s the Amazon last line: But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only truth in the desert is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.

Okay. You should all be able to find something on this list. Practice self-care and I wish you relaxation and enjoyment for the second half of summer. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these or plan to….or give me some suggestions to add to the list.